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It is just way hot out these days. I'm sure that if you are reading this from anywhere in the United States, then you have either just gone through the heat wave or are going through it right now. I knew that when the local weather yahoo said the the low temperature last night would be 80 F, that there was going to be trouble. I've been in the pool last after 9 PM for the last two nights. There is something relaxing about swimming in the dark (besides not having to wear anything). And the darkness allows me to observe my little bat friends who live in our backyard. I was a little saddened last week to see a bat floating dead in the pool skimmer. I thought there was only one bat that came to visit us at twilight. But apparently before his demise, he told his other bat buddies about the good bug eatin' that exists in our backyard. Either that or they are still flapping around trying to find him. I'm not too squeemish about bats, but I when I was in the pool at night for the first time I did have a fleeting concern that maybe he might smack into me 'cause he's not used to anyone being out there. Then DUH, I realized that the one thing that a bat would NOT do is bump into anything by accident. Its a bat! They're fuzzy, they're ugly, but the one ability they do have is to not bump into anything.

I'm involved in a wacky little ESPN contest. Its called the Baseball Challenge. Basically, you get $50 million dollars (in the game, not in real life) and have to pick the lineup of players that you think will generate the highest point total for the day based on the player's performance in real life. Here's how the points break down:

Individual Batters: Run, Total Base, RBI, Walk, Stolen Base = +1

Pitching Staff: IP = +3, ER = -3, Hit = -1, BB = -1, K = +1, Win = +5

All the players are ranked with a dollar amount at the beginning of the season. So Mike Piazza might be worth $5 million. If you pick him to be your catcher, you then have $45 million for the rest of your team. As the weeks go by, the salaries are adjusted by ESPN depending on how well that player is doing. If Piazza is doing really well one week, his value might go up to $5.3 or $5.4 million. Then you have to readjust your team accordingly. If you go over your $50 million dollar limit, you get no points for the day. To have any chance of winning, you have to change your lineup everyday. And all changes have to be done before 12 PM PST or they don't count for that day. So you have to watch the games and lineups very carefully. If a guy you picked isn't playing, you get no points for that player. You've got to watch out for injuries, weather, double headers, and ball parks. Right now I'm first in my little group of 50, and I'm ranked around 98.5% in terms of the 300,000 or so players. I'll never catch the actual guys in the lead, 'cause they are really into it. I can look at who's got a good ERA and all, but I can't be bothered with checking stats like "batting average against left-handed pitching on artifical grass during the day in a dome after a night game". I mean, I've got a job and a family.

But it does let me enjoy baseball after the Mets have taken themselves out of contention.