July 19, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Braves sign Julio Franco

Less than a week after the Mets let him go, 48-year old Julio Franco signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves, the team where he played from 2001 to 2005. (Before that, he had played in the Mexican League.) As before, the reliable clutch slugger will serve as a pinch-hitter most of the time, while starting at first base on occasion. He says he wants to play until he is 50. Over the hill? NOT! See MLB.com.

I was lucky to take a photo of Julio hitting a home run in RFK Stadium late last September. He is the oldest major leaguer ever to do so, and he has hit one four-bagger this year. As you can see in the closeup view, his biceps are huge, and no one has ever accused him of using steroids, as far as I know. Wouldn't it be something if the Braves end up ahead of the Mets in the NL East divisional race this year? It would be like the Damon-less Red Sox finishing ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.

Nats beat Astros

Back at home after a brief road trip to Miami, the Nationals took two out of three games from the Houston Astros. Ryan Langerhans (another former Atlanta Brave) hit a three-run homer that made the difference for the D.C. team last night; it was his fifth of the year. The Nats have won five of their last eight games, a fleeting sign of hope as the second half of the season gets going.

The mail bag

Warm welcome to new visitor Eric Hines, who appreciates my hard work on the ballpark diagrams, etc., and says he "especially love[s] how the football fields can be overlaid on the baseball fields..." Well, I appreciate being appreciated! Also, Brian Hughes tells me that fans can get into the "Park at the Park" area behind center field at PETCO Park for only five bucks. That would be a fun way to enjoy an afternoon game with friends or Significant Others who are not hard-core baseball fans. Something like that should be done at the new Washington Nationals Stadium!