Welcome Michael Vick

The Kansas City T-Bones, an independent-league team, has an interesting promotion scheduled for May 28: It's "Michael Vick Welcome to the Neighborhood Night."

Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, is, of course, serving a 23-month sentence at nearby Leavenworth for his part in a dog-fighting ring.

The plan is to ring the field with rubber barbed wire. The T-Bones will wear classic black-and-white prison stripes and the visiting Gary Southshore RailCats will wear orange jumpsuit tops. There will be spotlights and escape sirens and "Who Let the Dogs Out" will be played.

This sounds really tacky. The only saving grace is that the team will auction off the uniforms and donate the proceeds to local animal shelters; there also will be shelter pets up for adoption outside the ballpark that night.

Still playing at 50?

Julio Franco turns 50 on Aug. 23. He's playing first base and also serving as hitting coach for the Tigres de Quintana in Mexico and, according to atlantabraves.com, still dreams of being back in the majors when he turns the big five-oh.

Power and prestige

Nationals manager Manny Acta caught the ceremonial first pitch from President Bush on Opening Day and on Thursday Pope Benedict XVI used his office at Nationals Park as a dressing room. "Not many people can say that," said Acta.

Not-so Teen Wolf

At the suggestion of Brian Giles, the Padres are playing "Werewolves of London" after each of Randy Wolf's strikeouts at Petco Park.

Values rated

Some tidbits from Forbes magazine's annual assessment of the value of major league franchises.

The Rockies' value increased 17 percent, the highest of any team in baseball. That's good news.

The Angels and Cleveland had 16 percent increase in their values.

The Rockies, according to Forbes, are worth $371 million, which is 21st in the Major Leagues.

While the actual financial figures can be challenged because Forbes does not have full access to financial statements and ignores expenditures in scouting and player development, it does provide an annual means for comparing franchises. More values below:

TOP 10


Team . . . . . Last week

1. Arizona Diamondbacks . . . . . 3

$379 million

2. Boston Red Sox . . . . . 1

$816 million

3. Chicago Cubs . . . . . 2

$642 million

4. St. Louis Cardinals . . . . . 4

$484 million

5. New York Yankees . . . . . 5

$1.3 billion

6. Chicago White Sox . . . . . 6

$443 million

7. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim . . . . . 9

$500 million

8. Oakland Athletics . . . . . 7

$323 million

9. Milwaukee Brewers . . . . . 8

$331 million

10. New York Mets . . . . . —

$824 million

Dropped out: Marlins ($256 million)


FORGIVE: Vernon Wells, OF, Blue Jays

It's time to consider Wells (.328-3-15) an elite outfielder again. He had a terrible 2007, hitting .245 with 16 homers a year after hitting over .300 with twice as many long balls. Wells had shoulder surgery in the offseason and has acknowledged he played through pain last year. Healthy again, he's been among the toughest batters to put away this season, hitting .364 with a league leading 10 RBIs with two strikes.

FORGET: Kevin Millwood, P, Rangers

Repeat after me: Millwood is no longer a good fantasy pitcher. A quick look shows Millwood has a 2.42 ERA through four starts, but even with that great start, his WHIP is 1.46 and that's the sign of a pitcher who allows too many base runners.