This is strange for several reasons.
For one, I've never biathloned. And for that matter, I don't ever plan nor have any desire to go biathloning, even though that probably isn't even a word.
Next, I've never fired a thing in my life. Not a person, not a stove top and not your engine, much less a round while target-practicing.
Thirdly, if I were to one day have my "Oregon Trail" epiphany and whimsically decide to travel across the country, I assure you that skis would not be my means of transportation. I suppose my preferred method would be either teleporting (obviously) or Winnebagoing (preferably inside one infested with six incredibly confrontational people, filmed, unfairly edited and aired on MTV for your viewing pleasure).
Alas, my affinity for the biathlon lies in its sheer audacity. The fact that such a peculiar and dissimilar duo (cross-country skiing and rifle-shooting) could unite as one and actually pull off the façade of being an Olympic sport that attracts competitors from all corners of the world is rather perplexing yet simultaneously intriguing and refreshing. This is also why it probably improbably works.
So in this special baker's dozenth edition of Wiretap, I urge you to be brazen with your next trade offer and be bold with your next spot start. It's the most unlikely string of events that always make for fantastical results.
Ricky Nolasco, SP, Marlins: There's been a serious lag of famous people named Ricky lately. And with all due respect to Dick Clark, Richard Nixon and Rick James, I'm talking about Rickys only. Now, obviously, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat was awesome. But that was in 1987. Rickey Henderson was last seriously relevant like a decade ago, though he continues to refer to himself in the third person to this day. I'll gladly pretend that both Ricky Martin and Ricky Williams never happened, and Rickie Weeks is still fighting "The Love Guru" to find out who's the bigger bust of 2008. But just when you thought hope was lost, here comes Ricky Nolasco to help save the Nation of Rickys. The 25-year-old right-hander has been dealing lately, turning in four straight quality starts with a microscopic 1.82 ERA and an absolutely fantastical 27/4 K/BB ratio in that 29 2/3-inning span. Now that deserves a wow. Nolasco has always been rated as one of the Marlins' top young arms, so try him on for size if strikeout-heavy starters are your bag.
Grant Balfour and/or Dan Wheeler, RP, Rays: You might want to sit down for this one, but shockingly, 38-year-old and oft-injured closer Troy Percival has somehow found himself on the disabled list once again. I know, right? Anyway, typically, the pattern follows that when one closer goes down to injury, his saves opportunities are given to other peoples. In this instance, these other peoples are Dan Wheeler, who saved two games during Percival's previous timeshare on the DL, and Grant Balfour, who rocks a 1.08 ERA and closed out Tuesday's victory over the Red Sox by striking out the side, all swinging. If you have the spots, pick up both, and watch with baited breath to see who emerges as the new sheriff in the Bay.
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Well, look what the cat dragged in. After starting the season slower than an Ayn Rand novel, Adam Jones has picked things up in a hurry ... like ... an ... Ayn Rand novel. Anyway, the dude who was the centerpiece of the Erik Bedard trade is now the hottest thing in Baltimore, especially with "Ace of Cakes" only showing reruns. Jones has hit safely in five straight games with six runs in that span, and his batting average sits at respectable .272 after he turned in a .323 mark in June. Talent has never been a question here, so scoop him up before this likely free bird flies away (see what I just did there?).
Chris Davis, 1B, Rangers: If you already missed out on Chris Davis, I promise you, it's not my fault. I warned you about him ... twice. Once on June 5 ("there is enough room for about 20,000 Gheorghe Muresans to sit comfortably on the Chris Davis Bandwagon"), and all the way back on May 30, when I labeled Davis as a "Could" while he was tearing up Minor League pitching. So yeah, I'm not a complete waste of time. Anyway, Davis has continued to mash in the bigs, hitting .333 with two homers, five RBIs and a double over a mere 15 at-bats. He has the first-base job all to himself and should be in store for a sweltering summer in the bandbox of Arlington.
Damaso Marte, RP, Pirates: It's been a quite a downward spiral for Matt Capps. After starting the year with 15 saves in as many chances, the Pirates fireman has blown five of his last seven save opportunities in rampant fashion. I mean, not even slap bracelets or tamagotchis fell from grace this quickly. Anyway, few teams can afford to just giftwrap games away, and the Pirates are clearly no exception, so don't be surprised to see manager John Russell give reliable reliever Damaso Marte a call to fill in for some ninth-inning substitute teaching.
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates: Staying with the Pirates, it's time to start giving top prospect Andrew McCutchen a serious look. The 21-year-old center fielder continues to impress at Triple-A Indianapolis, hitting a rock-solid .284 with eight homers, 33 RBIs, 49 runs and a remarkable 23 swipes. He'd be up with the Bucs already if there was a spot in the outfield for him, and with the trade deadline quickly approaching, that might be sooner than you think. So consider this your Chris Davis warning because I'd hate to have to write something like this in a month or so: "Remember back on July 2, when I warned you about Andrew McCutchen and how he'd get called up and tear things up once he arrived in the bigs (see what I just did there?)?"