My buddy and I often go through the same type of conversation when we're hanging out. It's pretty simple. We'll go over some of the biggest surprises in sports and life and think back about how they could have never been predicted. For instance, he might say, "What if I would have told you five years ago that Mark Madsen will likely end his career with more NBA championships then Kevin Garnett?" We then sit back, contemplate the statement and continue with whatever pointless activity we were participating in.

It works in other walks of life too. For instance, maybe you go to your high school reunion and the guy who used to resemble Napoleon Dynamite walks in with a model on his arm and money in his pockets. You can turn to your friend and say, "What if I would have told you that guy would go on to be a millionaire and marry an Eva Longoria look-alike?"


Anyway, with three weeks of the 2006 baseball season in the books, the "What if game" certainly fits for fantasy owners.

What if before opening day I would have told you that two AL East teammates would be leading the league in RBIs on April 24? You probably wouldn't have had too tough of a time believing me. Boston's David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez? Maybe the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield?

Try again. What if I told you those two players would be Tampa Bay's Jonny Gomes and Ty Wigginton? Going in to Tuesday night's games, the two Devil Rays were tied for the AL lead with 20 RBIs apiece. Wigginton has never driven in more than 71 runs in a single season. Gomes showed some pop in his bat last year when he hit 21 homers and drove in 54 runs in 101 games. He's tied for the AL lead in homers also with nine.

Remember, it's still early.

Fasano's facial hair

Orioles fans are familiar with current Phillies backup catcher Sal Fasano. He played 64 games last year with Baltimore. While reading The Sun yesterday, I stumbled on a story about Fasano's fan club in Philly. A group of fans call themselves Sal's Pals and wear fake mustaches in an attempt to resemble Fasano's fu manchu, which is becoming legendary. Props to the new Phillie, who sent 20 pizzas to the fans in the stands to show his appreciation.

On a sidenote, can 2006 officially be labeled "The year of facial hair" in sports? Think about it. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (and yes, I had to look up the correct spelling) and his goofy beard started off the calendar year by leading the Steelers to the Super Bowl in February. Then, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and his schoolboy mustache dominated headlines for much of the college basketball season in to March. Next, sports fans turned to the NBA, which is simply a gold mine for unusual facial hair (start with Phil Jackson's soul patch and go from there). And finally, that brings us to baseball. I'll keep an eye on the situation, but let's just say Randy Johnson winning the Cy Young and Fasano being named MVP wouldn't surprise this blogger.

That might have been too much. I apologize.

The Pujols line?

What do they call the ticker on the bottom of the screen on ESPN? The Bottom Line? Can it be renamed after Albert Pujols? The guy is on that ticker every night. Has he ever not had three hits in a game? Anyone who spent big dollars in auction leagues for Pujols is getting their money's worth. He led the majors with 12 homers and 28 RBIs going in to Tuesday night's games. I was wondering the other night how this whole steroid controversy would be different if someone like Pujols was the one being investigated. Would the media be all over a guy as likeable as him? Would Major League Baseball act differently if the suspected user was someone capable of being the face of the league for years to come, rather than a guy on his way out? Just something to think about.

Final thoughts

In 3 up, 3 down last week, I told  you to monitor where Phillies slugger Ryan Howard hit in the lineup. He's no longer buried at No. 7 and has batted fifth for the last two games. Expect his power numbers to improve...Did anyone see this coming with Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips? After putting up monstrous numbers last week, Phillips is hitting .362 on the year with 17 RBIs. He had 38 career RBIs going in to this season and is a lifetime .221 hitter...Oakland's Nick Swisher seemed capable of putting up solid power numbers this year, but he's hitting for average too. After batting .236 last year, Swisher was at .333 going in to Tuesday night's game.