CLEVELAND — We now rejoin the AL Central division race already in progress.

  • We apologize for the technical difficulties we experienced.

Like, did I say the Indians couldn’t catch the Twins back when Minnesota’s lead stretched to 11 games?

That was a typo. I meant to say “could.”

  • That lead is now down to six.

The Twins and Indians play each other early and often when the season resumes following the All-Star break.

So much time. So little reason to make any grand proclamations one way or the other.

But, of course, we won’t let that stop us.

  • I still think Trevor Bauer gets traded for the right package. He has increased value for another team acquiring him for two playoff runs versus waiting a year. He'll cost more than the Indians want to pay in arbitration next season. And beyond that he's vowed to only sign one-year deals -- not a great scenario for any team desiring to fix its costs as much as possible.
  • I think Brad Hand stays. And should.

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And I haven’t been wrong in the last five minutes.

  • The question isn’t whether the Indians will sell or buy at the trade deadline. It’s whether they will sell or not sell.
  • When they’ve added payroll in the past they did so to secure a lead in the division and better position themselves for an October run. 

The Indians don’t have enough time between now and the trade deadline to build a cushion in the AL Central.

Unless the Twins turn into the Tigers or Royals overnight.

And as transformations go, that would be like Joey Chestnut being introduced as the chief nutritional advisor to the U.S. Olympic team.

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  •  Chestnut failed to reach his goal of 74 hot dogs consumed in Thursday’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, settling for 71. And — should we call it — the “win?”
  • If Chestnut were President, I imagine his 4th of July show of force would involve a parade of food trucks and a flyover of banner planes advertising smorgasbord dining.
  • One of 19 questions is asking about the Browns: “Can Mike Priefer improve the Browns special teams?”

To which the only reasonable response is to ask if this is a trick question. How could he not?

  • The Warriors announced plans to retire Kevin Durant’s No. 35 after winning two titles with him in their colors.

This has sparked surprise, even criticism, in some quarters for two main reasons.

Durant willingly departed to join Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

Durant played just three seasons in the Bay area.

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Or what the late Nate Thurmond might’ve called an eternity.

  • Thurmond played in just 114 games for the Cavaliers, averaging 5 points and 6 rebounds in 19 minutes.

Then became the first number retired by the Cavs.

And if you’re are surprised to learn this, then we can dismiss the notion that you always remember your first.

  • Thurmond’s contributions to the Miracle of Richfield Cavs were important. It doesn't happen without him in face. But also proof that jersey retirements are often subjective. Sometimes being beloved and appreciated is the biggest factor.

Of course, great contributions in big moments and certainly titles won easily trump that personal connection with fans. 

So you’re probably still in luck, Kyrie.

  • I’m all for delaying decisions to commemorate athletic achievements. Sometimes the years bring instructive context to the issue.

That said, one more Roberto Perez triple should result in a statue commission.

  • Perez triple Wednesday night in Kansas City was — if I understand the numbers I’m looking at (and that’s never certain) — the fourth of his career.

 Kenny Lofton had 116. 

I mention this only because someone bet me I couldn’t get Kenny Lofton and Robert Perez into the same sentence.

  • Trevor Bauer is averaging 112.2 pitches per start, highest in the major leagues.

When his arm goes, it’s going to go quickly.

At age 55 when his series of one-year contracts finally results in his pitching for every team in MLB.

  • Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t the only one who must adjust to Baker Mayfield’s strong arm. Also: anyone on the receiving end of Saturday's garter toss.
  • Mayfield’s marriage to fiancee Emily Wilkinson will take place in Malibu. If you’re reading this, Colin, I’m pretty sure your invite was lost in the mail.
  • Why do I imagine him at the church waiting for the priest to ask if anyone has an objection?
  • Ezekiel Elliott apparently won’t face another suspension stemming from an incident in Vegas in which the Cowboys running back pushed a teenage security guard.

Elliott vows to "work harder" after what he called a poor decision.

Or he could just stop being a jerk.

  • Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is said to be working on a new throwing motion. 

Presumably after receiving copyright infringement cease-and-desist letters from former shot putter Randy Matson.

  • That satisfies the one-dated-reference-per-column average.
  • Have a weekend.