After 40 games, the Festus Miracle are 22-18, lead the wild card race, and are within reach of the division lead in the most competitive division in the SL. Is it a Festus miracle? Not really. The defense has been about what I expected; the pitching has been slightly better than I expected, and the offense has been slightly worse. Even if the pitching gives way a little bit over the remaining 75.4 percent of the regular season, hopefully the hitting will pick up enough to balance it out.

The Feats of Strength

In the first two rounds of the draft, every team is looking to grab two sure things. Carpenter was a pretty sure bet, but I think most SL managers probably viewed Andruw as a reach when I took him. So far, both have been very solid. Andruw is tied for the SL lead in home runs with 13 and is on pace for a 100 RBI season. With 8 HBP and 14 walks, his OBP is a respectable .299 even though his batting average is .193. Carpenter is the SL ERA leader at 2.10 and has very solid peripherals: 6.0 H/G, 2.9 BB/9, 8.2 K/9, and .97 HR/9. A good start by the top two picks.

The Airing of Grievances

After 40 games, I am not sure I have a single every-day player whose RC/G exceeds his MLB 2005 production. That is somewhat unusual in that this early in the season, every team should have one or two players who have jumped out to a hot start. For example, Greg has the inexplicable performance of David Wright and Jim Edmonds. I don't have many outliers yet, except in a negative way. Hence my hunch that the offense will get a little better the rest of the season.

"I am familiar with this syndrome: he's a two-face."

After a very slow start, Mark Teixeira has recently found his groove. He has 11 home runs and leads the team with 25 RBI. He is tied for the team lead in runs with 21. Hopefully we can expect Mark to stay hot for a while. If he had only made it to 24 runs, he could have been a submarine captain.

"You know who's a man? Jose here is a man. You know who else? Me. I'm a man."

The performance of the bullpen so far has been fantastic. As Greg's 40 game report highlights, Festus is the best in the league in relief ERA and HR allowed. Rincon, Nathan and Gonzales are also all over 10.0 K/9. I hope these numbers don't turn out to be fake.

"A Donation has been Made in Your Name to the Human Fund."

The early season award for most uninspiring contribution goes to AJ Burnett, whose solid 3.86 ERA has not translated into wins. He record after 8 starts is 1-4. Despite his G rating, he is among the worst on the team with 1.21 HR allowed per 9.

"Frank invented a holiday? He's so prolific."

Many of my fellow SL managers are probably tired of seeing Juan Rincon pitch every day, especially since he went deep into the season before giving up his first run. The perception that I am way ahead on my bullpen usage allowance is incorrect, however. Festus is actually in the middle of the pack in bullpen IP, which means I should be in good shape down the stretch.

"This new holiday of yours is scratching me right where I itch."

The scratch where it itches award goes to "Danger" Dave Ross, who has 8.7 RC/G and a .759 SLG percentage in 8 starts as a substitute for Joe Mauer. So far the two catcher experiment hasn't felt too limiting, but Mauer is a little ahead of pace on steal attempts, so we will see where we end up.

"You might not know it to look at me, but I can run really fast."

Chone Figgins, the defensive and pinch-running specialist, is a woeful 2 for 6 in stolen base attempts so far on the season. The Miracle as a whole is only 64 percent. This needs to get better if we are going to max out our run potential.

"I find your belief system fascinating."

If Keith ever writes a 2006 Draft Notes, I assume he will want to spend some time on my decision to eschew the coveted Z rating in assembling my pitching staff in favor of HR allowance. So far, so good on this experiment. We lead the league with a 3.15 team ERA and 39 home runs allowed. Yes we also lead the league in walks allowed, but base runners don't kill people, runs kill people.

"Yama-hama. It's fright night."

Mumps? Typhoid? There has to be some explanation for Jermaine Dye's 2.0 RC/G. Whatever it is, we need to get Jermaine back on track. Of course I am going to keep playing him. It's like a long, bad movie, but you want to see the end of it.

"Stop crying and fight your father!"

Everyone knows that the season of Festivus isn't over until someone pins the head of the household. We still have a long way to go and I am hopeful that Greg's last 20 games is more indicative of his team's performance than his first 20. Either way, it is amazing to see so many teams at or near .500 at the 40 game mark. For awhile it looked like things might break differently. I personally am ready for the rest of the season, so let's rumble!