We've officially entered the crazy times leading up to baseball's trade deadline. Luckily, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is on the case. He and Jonah Keri break down the big moves of the past 24 hours, including Cole Hamels's new mega-contract with the Phillies, Hanley Ramirez's trade to the Dodgers, and the Pirates(!) making a go-for-it move in landing Wandy Rodriguez. Also discussed: the Rangers-Angels arms race, the Yankees' injury woes, and the status of Zack Greinke, James Shields, Matt Garza, Chase Headley, and other fine, baseball-playing blokes.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday.
The New Orleans Saints have named top assistant Joe Vitt interim head coach during Sean Payton's year-long suspension, despite the fact that Vitt will serve a six-game suspension of his own to start the season. During those six games, the Saints will be led by offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who is serving a four-game suspension for watching cable television (Bridezillas, specifically) in the film room. For the first four games, Saints kicking adviser Marcus McCovey will take over, despite his two-game suspension for rhyming Sean Payton with "Sean Satan" in a Skype call with his daughter. The first two Saints games will be coached by New Orleans citizen Ernest Lambreaux, who is serving a one-game suspension for plotting to coach without a proper coaching license. For that first game only, Russian emigre and renowned castrato animal impersonator Gustaf Karpov will head up the Saints, though he's suspended for a quarter because he won't stop calling chocolate doughnuts "meatless pirozhkis" during strategy meetings. In the first quarter of the first game, the Saints plan to just fumble the ball and run into each other until someone dies.
The Tampa Bay Rays just did something no other team had ever done before: They marched into Fenway Park and held the Red Sox to three hits or fewer, three games in a row. Their starters just missed tossing three consecutive complete games against one of the best offenses in baseball, and the Rays are now on pace to win 88 games in what will likely be another solid season.
Too bad none of this makes a lick of difference. Not when your team plays in the AL East.