by Jim on November 12 at 6:02PM
3GTPS6nr.jpgSorry Charlie but Lou Piniella is the winner of the 2008 National League Manager of the Year Award. As a Phillies fan I feel for Charlie that he didn't secure the hardware but as a fan of baseball I understand why Piniella received the award over the World Series Champion Charlie Manuel.

Manuel did lead the Phillies to the NL East title, the National League pennant and then the World Series title but none of this counts towards the voting for the award, which is completed at the end of the regular season. Manuel did not put together as strong as a regular season as Piniella but still warranted the award despite grabbing a second straight NL East crown after a late season run to catch the Mets.

The Cubs won a league best 97 games in 2008 only to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Dodgers three games to none. This was the second consecutive playoff appearance for the Cubs, which resulted in two straight sweeps in the first round. But it also was the first time that the franchise made consecutive playoff appearances since 1907-08.

Manuel came in second to Piniella, who finished with 103 total points to Manuel's 67 points. Piniella garnered 15 first place votes to Manuel's eight. But none of this really matters, at least not to Phillies fans. Why? Because Charlie led the Phillies to their first World Series title since 1980 and the franchise's second overall.

So, Phillies fans, Charlie got the last laugh you see. As much as Manuel would have loved to win the award but you can be sure that Manuel prefers the World Series trophy and subsequent ring over the NL Manager of the Year Award as nice as that honor sounds.

So, where does Charlie go from here? He had an hour long conversation with his agent in his clubhouse office not long after the Phillies won the World Series and expressed to his agent and the organization that he wants to retire as manager of the Phillies. Manuel has been at the helm of this team since 2005 and will be entering his fifth season in 2009 as the Phillies skipper.

Despite not winning the 2008 NL Manager of the Year Award, Charlie Manuel still deserves a hearty congratulations for the job he did with the Phillies in 2008, leading his group to a World Series title. Not every award matters, even though deep down it does to the players and coaches involved, but the one piece of hardware that matters most is the World Series trophy. Now, Manuel can finally say he is a winner, a World Champion.

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Today, Saturday, August 9th, marks the birthday of Phillies analyst Chris Wheeler.

Birthdays can be good or bad, depending on how you see them. It can be another year older, or a celebration of, yep, I made it through another year. Pain free and healthy, hopefully. How old is Wheels? I don't know. But the way he looks and talks, the way he thinks, I'd say he's closing in on 40.

I do know this, he is a terrific analyst and makes watching or listening to a Phillies game a pleasure for a baseball fan. If you played Little League, American Legion, high school or college baseball, you might think you know the game.

But when you watch a Phillies broadcast and listen to Chris Wheeler, you realize how much you don't know about the game.

Chris Wheeler is Penn State proud, too!

Not long ago, Wheels, a '67 Penn State graduate, made two sizeable philanthropic gifts to the College of Communications at Penn State, one to create the Christopher C. Wheeler Scholarship endowment, and another for student scholarships in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism.  

Wheels could have bought a yacht, a house at the shore or a nice condo in Florida. He could have taken a few trips around the world. But he didn't. He gave the money so kids could get an education at Penn State.

That right there says something about the man.

When asked about the Penn State support, Wheels simply said, "I just want to help out."

And no matter who his booth partner has been through the years--Richie Ashburn, Andy Musser, Tim McCarver, Larry Anderson, Scott Franzke, John Kruk, Scott Graham, Jay Johnstone, Gary Maddox, Mike Schmidt, By Saam, Kent Tekulve, or Tom McCarthy, Harry or Sarge, Chris Wheeler is always respectful and professional with his colleagues. Chris Wheeler is a class guy.

I hope that Wheels never retires. I would miss what the man adds to Phillies baseball.

Chris, Denise and I will be in section 115 tonight, nine from the field, looking up at the booth, waving, and wishing you a happy birthday. 

"Put me in Coach...I'm ready to play..."   (could be the Fanatic's favorite dugout-dance music)

Or maybe it's the dancin' Irish music...


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It's time to talk about money.

Have you noticed that in the AL East $43 million just swept $133 million? Lots of folks thought the $43 million would have died out long ago, but guess what?

And have you noticed that in the NL East $21 million has been hot on the heels of $98 million? Lots of folks thought the $21 million would be back down in last place by now. You know, as the Amish say about their corn, "knee high by Fourth of July." But guess what?

And how about $8.5 million now pitching in triple-A? Who would have ever thunk that back in April? He was the Ace. Lots of folks  thought he'd adjust from the closer role, but guess what? And get this: The pitcher the $98 million team could have gotten last January for $4.5 million, a bargain at today's prices, just won his tenth game for the Cardinals. That surprised lots of folks, but not more than it surprised Pat Gillick.

The $8.5 million Ironpig pitcher might not win his 10th game until August. Next August. That's August 2009. Okay, you got it, I hear you. And the pitcher the $98 million team paid $10 million for last season, you know, the one who won just one game? Which surprised lots of folks, is ready to make a come back and guess what? The Mets, Yankees, and Tigers are lining up for him.

He'll most likely sign for another $10 million and go on to win 15 games, which would be quite a feat and surprise most everyone because the season is half over.

How about this little cookie: In the AL East, $209 million is in third place, seven-and-a-half games behind $43 million. If Papa George was still running things, he'd make France's Committee of Public Safety--that's the group that made the guillotine famous back in the revolution--look like a protest on high coffee prices. Which wouldn't surprise anyone. 

The $118 million club out on the West Coast that picked up the $209 million team's manager in the off season and quickly gave him $13 million is four games under .500 but has closed to within a game-and-a-half of the NL West leading $61 million team. Everybody thought the $13 million manager, who won all those championships with the $209 million club, would pick up where he left off. But guess what? 

Now the AL Central leading $121 million team's DH, the one who the $98 million NL East team is paying $22 million of his $85 million contract, is hitting .216 with 16 homers. That's seven dingers shy of the NL East $400,000 second baseman on the $21 million team. Now that suprised a lot of folks.

Now the NL East $98 million team just swept the NL East $102 million team with their $500,000 new Ace nearly getting the shutout. I hope this Ace doesn't end up  where the old Ace is...that would surprise a lot of people.

Anyway the $137 million NL East third place team is coming to town with their $19 million Ace on the mound against the $98 million first place team's minor league call-up who will get the major league minimum of $390,000, a big jump from his current minor league contract.

If the call-up out pitches the $19 million Ace it will surely, you guessed it, surprise a lof of folks. 

 


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When Robert Edward Lee brought the Army of Northern Virginia up through Frederick, the cherry trees were just beginning to bear fruit. Them Rebs ain't tasted nothin' so sweet since they left Becky at the roadside and joined-up to fight them Yankees. Short on food but not on guts, some 70,000 Rebs moved northward into Pennsy from orchard to orchard.

'Old Pete,' General James Longstreet, told Lee to back away from Pennsylvania. It wasn't the time or place to fight, he said. They argued about it, but Lee out ranked him. Lee was also minus his eyes and ears in Pennsylvania: J.E.B. Stuart (left), another Virginia-born West Pointer, who didn't show up until the second day at Gettysburg. Then he was soundly defeated by an upstart cavarly commander named George Armstrong Custer, who got himslelf promoted because of it. Most kids today know he died later at the Last Stand.

Stuart died at Yellow Tavern, not a southern drinking hole but a Richmond suburb which just happened to be in the way of Phil Sheridan's friendly little march to the sea.

How was was JEB Stuart Lee's eyes and ears? He constantly circled the Federal troops providing Lee with important troop size and location information the entire war. Until Gettysburg, that is. Lee was without Stuart's information at Gettysburg and it showed. 

Turned out, Longstreet was right. George Meade whipped Lee's butt, but Lee--out manned and out gunned--made it out of Pennsylvania and with what army he had left, back into Virginia. After the war, Lee became a college president, and heart disease finally killed him in 1870. Surely Lee must have been a liberal.

The rest is  history.

But eyes and ears are important, especially to Field Marshall Charlie Manuel.

Coming off two butt whippings of their own by platoon leaders J.D. Drew and Vladimir Guerrero, Manuel's troops limped West young man to face three more decsive campaigns at Oakland, Texas, and at the battle of Stone Mountain in Atlanta. If you can stay up late, there should be plenty of smoke and cannon fire.

Problem is, sometimes the Phillies are long on food and short on guts. 

Now just seven games over 500 and a slim lead over Florida, the club then returns home to face a ticked off Mets team whose slogan may be 'bickering will get you everywhere,' in a four game series, followed by central and western bullies St. Louis and Arizona.  

Charlie has got to have some eyes and ears.

Why? Because if it hasn't dawned on you by now, it might in a few weeks: This team isn't good enough have fun in October.

And if it isn't, here are some alternatives for you to ponder:

  • What about a trade for a top pitcher, someone like Houston's Roy Oswalt or Seattle's Erik Bedard?
  • Is there a young arm at Allentown or Reading who can step in, such as 'can't miss' Carlos Carrasco? 
  • Or how about retreads Greg Maddox, Randy Wolf, or God help us, Paul Bryd?
  • Are the Fightins' willing to let go of Shane Victorino or Jason Werth to trade for pitching?
  • Or do we stick with Myers and company and shore up on a hitting catcher and a pitcher someone has given up on and nobody wants; a Grandpa Moyer or another rough diamond find like Kyle Loshe?

Or is that a diamond in the rough? Temple University's first president--most likely a liberal, too--was good at finding those kinds of diamonds. He wrote a book, in fact, called 'Acres of Diamonds,' which was not a national best seller, but he got his point across.

Remember the day when the big trade at this time of the year was the most effective clout? Just think of the pitching a Chase Utley could bring, since the club has a rising star in the minor leagues at second base in Adrian Cardenas, another can't miss. They are all can't miss, untill they peek at a Johan Santana fastball.

If pitching is not everything but the only thing, like some people claim, perhaps an Utley deal would make sense. Only about 20,000 people, however, would cancel their season tickets. Not bad, let's do it.

The point is, if they do something, or if they stand pat and do nothing, it's the eyes and ears--the scouting system, the JEB Stuarts of the modern world--that will make the difference again this season. Calling up a Kendrick or sending minor leaguer Matt Maloney to the Reds for Loshe was crucial to the Phillies playing in October last year. Or how about picking up a J.C. Romero in June after Boston cut him loose. How big was that? 

Because you do know what the difference was between a hot dog in Atlanta or New York last season and a hot dog in Philly, don't you?

The doggie in Philly you could buy in October. "Hey...doggggggggggggggie here...dogggggggggggieeeee, get your dogggggggggieeeee, here" 

(By the way, I was only kidding about trading Chase Utley)

 

 

 

 

 


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Every school year teachers prepare children for the annual PSSA exam, a mandatory assessment test in Pennsylvania required by all public schools under the federal law No Child Left Behind. Let's take a peek into a fourth grade classroom to see how an experienced teacher drills her children to prepare them for this rigid test.

"Okay, class," Miss Aimes says, "we are going to do some review for the upcoming PSSA test so I want everyone to clear their desks, fold their hands on top of the desk, and listen very quietly. If you think you know the answer, please raise your hand. There will be no calling out. Okay? Everybody ready?"

"Yes, Amir, what is it?"

"Miss Aimes," Amir says, "I've got to go to the bathroom."

"No, no bathroom breaks during PSSA questioning. I want every child concentrating to their upmost ability, now are we ready?"

"But Miss Aimes, I got to go!"

"Okay," Miss Aimes says, ignoring Amir, "here is our first question. "Which state has the highest gross national product? Yes, Jamil, it's good to see your hand up, go ahead.

"Florida," Jamil says, "cause they got two teams in first place and they ain't payin' them nothin' cause they got the lowest payrolls and in New York they got no teams in first and the Yankees got the highest payroll and they suck."

The class erupts in  laughter..."ah, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..."

"Oh, Jamil, please, we don't speak that way here. You may say 'they are terrible', but not what you said. And besides, that's baseball and we are not focusing on that right now."

"Whatever Miss Aimes, but they still suck."

"Class, let's try a math question. What would be the square root of one million?"

"Jamil, it's you again, okay go ahead."

"It's one thousand," Miss Aimes, "cause Andruw Jones, he signed with the Dodgers for $36.2 million for two years and he's gettin' $8 million this year and $9 million next year, with a $12 million signing bonus and he's hittin' a buck sixty-five with just two dingers and he's fat and just went on the DL."

"Jamil, how does that figure into the square root equation?"

"Cause that figures out to be $1,000 a pitch and  besides, my Grandma says that greed is the root of all evil."

"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.....ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha"

"Okay, okay, that will be just enough of that. This PSSA test is the most important test of the year and we have to do well and if we don't I could lose my job and you don't want that to happen, yes Lawana?"

"Miss Aimes if you lose your job my father works at the Ford dealer and he says they is lookin' for a cashier."

"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha....ah, ha, ha, ha, ha....ah, ha, ha, ha.....ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..."

"Enough, enough, class, now settle down and take these questions seriously. Now this is a world history question that you will find on the fourth grade PSSA test. What country did the United States drop the atomic bomb on in order to end a war? Go ahead, Mei Xing?"

"Wait, wait," Jamil blurts out, "that's not fair, Miss Aimes, I had my hand up first. You're stifling my education."

"Okay Jamil, but I want a good answer to this question. This is very important."

"Miss Aimes, there is a player on the Cubs who came from that country, but I can't say his name because it sounds like a bad word."

The students gasp collectively as all eyes turn to Jamil.

"Oh Jamil," Miss Aims says, "a person's name is his identity. You shouldn't worry about that, go ahead, what is this person's name and what country does he come from?"

"Ok, Miss Aimes. But don't say I didn't warn you. The country is Japan and his name is Kosuke Fuk-u-dome."

"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, , ha, ha, ...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha....."

"Class, class that's enough. Settle down. Jamil, do you want to go to the office? Is that really his name? Yes, Amir, what is it now?"

"Miss Aimes, I got to go..."

"We are almost done, class. This is a health question about eating properly. Why should a person try to eat fruits and vegatables instead of foods that contain sugar and fats? Okay, Jamil, your hand was up first, but no usage of words that have other meanings."

"Okay, Miss Aimes, but a person shouldn't eat sugar and fats so you don't end up like Charlie Manuel lookin' like he just came from a Wing-Bing Bowl and got runner up."

"Ah...ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah ha, ha, ha, ha, ah....ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..."

"All right, unless you would like to continue this after school, we better stop fooling around right now. Jamil, plu---lease let another child answer the next question.

"Here it is: Does the Mississipi River flow north or south?"

Not one student raised a hand, and all eyes shift toward Jamil. The classroom fell silent.

Finally, Jamil shoots up his hand.

"Miss Aimes, I don't know nothin' 'bout no Mississippi River, but I do know that the river under Amir's chair?...is headin' south right toward Kierra's new shoes."

"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha,...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ...ah, ha..."

From that great movie, The Witness: Don't Know Much About History..........


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Thumbnail image for p3bJwzFO.jpgMatt and I left State College in a minivan heading east on 322 and it was raining cats and dogs. By the time we got to Harrisburg and banked left to the Pennsy turnpike, it was no longer raining cats and dogs; it was raining bull mooses and elephants. Wipers at high speed was the only possible way to see twenty feet of highway. 'This is crazy,' I thought.

"You got to dance with the one who brought you"

Going into center city the rain was back to cats and dogs and slacking off. We parked on Broad Street and looking like two deck hands on the Maid of the Mist, we anxiously skipped down the subway steps and caught a train that was jammed packed. We stood the ten minutes or so to the Pattison stop, then followed the multitude back up the steps and into the cool October night air. It was sprinkling now and by the time we got to our seats, the rain had stopped. 

"Stay with the one that wants you"

Matt was 13 when he and his dad on a perfect evening for baseball, watched from their first row upper deck seats behind first base at the Vet, Curt Shilling take apart the Toronto Blue Jays with a five hitter in game five of the 1993 World Series. What a game! What a night.

It took 14 years and lots of report cards through junior high, high school and college--some good, some not so good, and some that didn't make it to mom and dad's hands--to replicate that championship feeling. In the final game of the 2007 season against Washington, with 44,000-plus towel waving fanatics at Citizens Bank Park--scroeboard watching and roaring on every pitch from the sixth inning on--a talent loaded Phillies team back-peddled into a division championship.  (And what it looked like from our seats.)

"The one who is going to love you when all the others go home"

Fourteen years is a lot of time to think about a fastball down and in, which is exactly where Mitch Williams threw it to Joe Carter in the bottom of the ninth; at night, in a foreign country, with lots of kids staying up late. "Aw, Ma, one more inning, please? It's the World Series."

"Don't let the green grass fool ya"

The 13 year old is a big boy now and has his own company; a big shot entrepreneur, and William's fastball to Carter is old news. But the lanky, funky, smart-aleck hard throwing lefty who struck me out in Dream Week, just got a major career boost from the New York Times with a nice feature in Sunday's paper. Well, sort of.

"Don't let the moon get to ya" 

 

The Times story, nearly a full page, isn't all peaches and cream. It points out some of the Wild Thing's weaknesses, like anchoring 610 radio and yelling profanities at a female referree at one of his kid's games. His response? He's an emotional guy. I am too, but...

He's also quoted in the Times article as saying Roger Clemens didn't take steroids and Shane Victorino should be the Phillies everyday center fielder. Hmmm, interesting.

"Dance with the one that brought you and you can't go wrong" 

Which brings me around to Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler. Wheels is without a doubt the best analyst in baseball, bar none. I've played some ball in my life, been to some Phillies games--still go to 15-plus a season--and listen, watch and read about baseball as much as I can, even write about it now and then. But when I listen to Wheels I can appreciate his depth of knowledge for the game. I learn something every time I watch or listen to him, whether he's with T-Mac, Sarge, or Harry the K. I tip my hat to the Phillies because along the way, they could have replaced Wheels with an "up and comer." But they didn't, and shouldn't. It would have been a big mistake. 

And sure, I get pumped when Harry (plus Sixers call "are you kidding me?") makes a home run call, who doesn't? But when it comes to knowing the game and articulating it day in and day out, nobody does it better than Wheels. He's a hall of fame broadcaster who adds so much to the game and is appreciated my thousands of staunch Phillies fans. Wheels has been there and has been good long before Tim McCarver dyed his hair. 

Mitch Williams and others like him are working their way through the system to be where Wheeler is now, and perhaps take his place when retirement calls.

But I have some advice for them: Keep practicing.

Dance with the one who brought you and you can't go wrong"

 


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Optimists see just the good in life; pessimists worry about the bad. Optimists see silver linings in clouds, pessimists worry about hidden tornados. 

But worrying is part of humanity. Sometimes we worry about ridiculous stuff, just to worry about something. I think worrying runs in the family I came from, worrying about things either real or perceived real; and adding in negative thoughts dreamed up. 

Are you getting this?

Worrying is waiting at a traffic light and thinking something bad might happen to your kid, or the boss looked at you funny, or you mailed the credit card payment late, i.e., interest rate doubles. The list goes on and on. I use to worry about many things until I started running but since then I'm worry free.

And when it comes to the Phillies, I'm forever an optimist.

Pessimist: He made his first big league plate appearence at the age of 24--that story is for another day-- pinch hitting for Vicente Padilla against Jaret Wright and struck out.

In 2005, his first year in the bigs he hit 22. If you remember, Jim Thome had season ending surgery in August and he jumped in and won the Rookie of the Year Award. That gave the Phillies a slight problem so in November Thome was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Can you say Wally Pipp?

In year two he hit 58, setting a record for most home runs in a players second year and breaking Mike Schmidt's Phillies record. And nobody ever uses the words steroids and Ryan Howard in the same sentence. Year three? Forty seven in 2007 after spending time on the DL.

Tuesday night against the Nationals he struck out three times and Ryan Howard Wednesday morning was hitting a buck eighty three with 10 and 25. He was a flash in the pan!

Optimist: Don't worry about Ryan Howard, he went two for three including a double and dingers 11 and 12 last night, with four ribbies upping his totat to 29. Just a little dip early in the season, is all. Pitchers will soon start paying.

Pessimist: Brett Myers is currently sporting a 5.76 ERA, is 2-5, and is looking more like Adam Eaton lately than John Smoltz. Putting it in baseball terminology, Myers has been getting hammered. Besides, he's overweight and hasn't prepared himself for the season. He's a discrace. If he's the Phillies ace, we should find a new deck of cards.

Optimist: Listen, he was jerked around from starter to closer, then when Lidge surfaced, put back into the rotation. He's got to adjust and he is. He was less hammered Monday night allowing 8 hits, 3 earned runs over six innings. He's coming back, trust me. He'll be fine. You'll be eating your words come September.

Pessimist: Jimmy isn't getting on base, have you noticed that? When that happens, we start losing. Is his ankle bothering him? I bet that's it. You can't trust the Phillies to tell you the truth. If he goes back on the DL, we are cooked. The Phillies can't win without him.

Optimist: What are you talking about, he  had two hits last night. He's hitting .315 for crying out loud. Every player goes through a little funk, as Chris Wheeler says. Call me back when you see who the starting shortstop is at the Allstar game.

Pessimist: My God, the rotation is a mess. Between Myers, Eaton and Moyer, a bunch of ERAs in the high fours, low fives. What kind of rotation is that? Eaton might not win another game all season and Moyer, at age 45, is lucky to be on the roster. No way can you be optimistic about this lousy bunch.

Optimist: Trust me, Eaton is going to turn it around soon. He's been on the verge of it. He just needs to string a couple of wins back to back to build his confidence. Myers will make the adjustment to the rotation, and Kendrick will be Kendrick, he'll kick it up. Did you watch Moyer pitch last night? He scattered seven hits over six innings, no runs, and lowered his ERA to 4.37. Besides, when you need a win, Moyer can rise to the occasion. See final game of the 2007 season against Washington.

Pessimist: Brad Lidge. The way he's pitching he's pricing himself right to New York next year because the Phillies won't pay him what he'll want. So Rent-A-Lidge is beefing up his stats and saves to make his get-away.

Optimist: Hey, we wanted a closer ever since Wags left town and now we have one. Stop worrying about things you can't control. If he leaves town for more money, he won't be the first or last. Enjoy him while we have him. If the Phillies want him, they will keep him.

Pessimist: What kind of manager do we have. All he does is chew bubble gum and look fat. Cataldi says he's the worst strategist ever. He doesn't look like he knows what he's doing. We should have hired the guy at Detroit like Angelo says.

Optimist: Stop listening to 610 radio and think for yourself. Charlie is the right man for this team. There are not a lot of managers who know more than him. He knows his baseball. He could write a book on hitting. Besides, wasn't Cataldi a hockey writer? What the hell does he know about baseball? What the  hell does he know about anything?

Pessimist: I've got you on this one. He's so over paid it's a joke. Fifteen million for what? Okay, he had his little perky fluke in the beginning of the season. Now he's back wailing and flailing at the ball, and leaving runners in scoring poistion. If he's back next year, I'm a Yankees fan for sure.

Optimist: Better get those Yankees' tickets. Pat Burrell has solid numbers over his career. He comes to the park to play. But he suffers from DelEnnisism, people expect him to hit one out every time up and if he doesn't he's a bum. I'll take him on my team this year and next. By the way, how them Yankees doing?

  


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Well, look who's back in town!

Some folks asked me about writing the Phillies blog. But when my friend at the Reading Terminal said he missed reading it, I figured it was time to eat or cut chicken. Or maybe that's fish or cut bait. Whichever, it's baseball season and time to get excited.

theone.jpgI took some time off to concentrate on a new book I'm writing. The book is 60 percent, maybe 70, so I think it's okay to return to the blog, as long as I don't go crazy with it. If you wish not to receive this, email me and I will take you off the mailing list. Believe me, you won't hurt my feelings. If you know somebody who would like to read it, send me their email address. So here goes...

Some things change, some things stay the same. So let's take a look at 'some things' since my last post in the fall.

Just when Brad Lidge brought to mind visions of Danny Tartabull and Freddy Garcia--and a few in between--with a spring training first-day-knee injury, the Phillies good fairy sprinkled some Phillies gold dust. Or did she? 

In 1997 the Phillies paid $2.3 million for Tartabull's seven at bats, but mild in comparison to the Freddy Garcia trade and a one year deal for $10 million...for pitching 58 innings, a 1-5 record, and a 5.90 ERA.

OUCH.

Making matters worse, the Phillies traded Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez for Garcia. Floyd is currently 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA with the White Sox.

But Lidge ain't no Freddy Garcia: Except for a rocky save Tuesday night, Lidge has been unhittable with that nasty slider. But think about this: With a one year contract for $6.35 million (Billy Wagner is makinig $10.5 million this season), if he continues to pitch the lights out the Phillies won't be able to afford him and maybe he'll end up in New York next season.

Then there's Barry Bonds. He was charged Monday with a new indictment with 15 felony counts for denying using performance enhancing drugs. Also that he tried to disrupt the federal investigation, or what is called obstruction of justice.

In simpler terms, he's again accused of lying to a grand jury when he said his personal trainer Greg Anderson never supplied him with steroids. He's also unemployed at age 43 because no major league team would sign him. Meanwhile the Major League Players Association, one of the strongest unions in the world, is  considering whether to file a collusion grievance against teams for not signing Bonds. We having fun yet?

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens continues to deny he had any sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. "I did not have sex with that young woman," the Rocket was quoted as saying. At least I think it was him who said that.

Was at the Phillies game Wednesday night with two engineers, one from Wales, who was attending his second baseball game and the other from Ukraine, who was attending his first. Two pretty smart dudes if you don't mind me saying so. About the second inning, the engineer from Wales leans forward and says, "Ron, don't you think the chap pitching is a bit out of shape?"

Our of shape? It's appalling how out of shape and overweight Phillies pitcher Bret Myers is; he looks like he was recruited off the street, handed a uni, and sent to the mound. And Myers, who will turn 28 in August and is sporting a 5.91 ERA, wonders why he's getting hammered and says he's going to work his way through this. Hey Bret, lose some of the baby fat and get back to us.

But the Phillies continue to insist that his weight has nothing to do with the speed of his fastball, which is dropping faster than Eliot Spitzer's..., no, I'm not going there, this is a family website. 

Did you read where President Bush said if he was starting a major league team and had to pick one player to build around, it would be Chase Utley? I'm not sure Utley needs that endorsement. After all, didn't Bush declare victory from an aircraft carrier in the Gulf about...five years ago? Besides, chances are Utley's a liberal, after all he and his wife Jen saved that puppy. Have to be a liberal to do that, right? You can read about that and see the news report . (click on the play symbol on the puppy)

And motor mouth Angelo Caltadi is still raking Charlie Manuel in the free newspaper The Metro. I see lots of people reading The Metro on the buses and subways so its got to be eating into the Inquirer and Daily News' circulation. Plus add home delivery of The USA Today and the New York Times and you wonder how long the two Philly papers will stay in business.

Here's what Caltadi says about the Phillies skipper in The Metro. You can make up your own mind, and I don't agree with every move Charlie makes, but I'm not on board with Caltadi. Might be that the Wild Thing, a frequent quest on Caltadi's radio show, may be feeding him stuff, along with some other disgruntled know-it-alls.

Scott Bruce Rolen is coming to town this weekend. I'm sure you saw that Rolen had a little tizzy fit with Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa and consequently was shipped off to the Toronto Blue Jays in the off season. The Jays come to town for a three game series starting tonight and the boos will rain down on Scottie boy. Poor Scott signed an eight year, $90 million contract with the Jays. What's that? You wonder how he's doing?

He missed the first few weeks of the season with an spring training finger injury but through 19 games and 70 at bats is hitting .300 with 2 taters and 9 ribbies.

Which brings me to J.D. Drew. The Boston slugger is hitting .296 with 3 taters and 17 ribbies, through 33 games and 115 at bats.

If you are wondering how these two compare to Mr. Pat Burrell, stop because I'll show you. Burrell, who my father-in-law is trying to trade like crazy, well...you decide: .299, 9, and 31, through 41 games and 134 at bats. As I tell my father-in-law, a pretty good athlete for the North Catholic Falcons and semi-pro football, you can't look at individual at bats, you've got to look at the overall numbers.

But when you're 90, you can look at any damn thing you want. Oh, sorry about that, family website, remember? It looks like Mr. Burrell might just stick around next season.

Pat, here's hopin' that you do.

 


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by Ron on January 8 at 4:47PM

 

 

 

 

Here is an interesting take on the steroids mess:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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by Ron on December 28 at 6:46AM

I'm going to leave Pat Gillick and steroids alone for a while, so this is my last column.

With my  new  job at Drexel University, I need what little time I have for rewriting parts of my book Our City, and to continue seeking publishers. I had a couple of close calls, but the book still remains unpublished. And I think it's  more than good enough.

It took Tom Clancy five years to get his first book published. I've been at it a little over a year.

But since it's that time of the year, I'll end it all with a few predictions:

  • Pat Gillick has  not done enough to ensure the Philles repeat in ' 08. So Taduchi, Brad Lidge, Geoff Jenkins, and Chad Durbin are mere cosmetic touch-ups to what's really needed: One or two first rate starting pitchers and one or two key bullpen additions.
  • Andy Reid will rebuild the Eagles in ' 08 and it will not include Donovan McNabb. Reid will build the team around Kevin Kolb and Brian Westbrook and take them back to the playoffs.
  • That my son and I will enjoy our tickets to the new game in town, the indoor football team, the Philadelphia Soul.

Thanks for reading my column and I hope you have a great New Year!

 

 


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Have you ever wondered what the rich buy each other for Christmas?

What's there to get? If they have everything they need, how can you shop for them?

I know this rich family; well, they may not be the richest, but they are quite well off. More so than the next family; more than you and me. They live in a gorgeous home and for the first time in 14 years were recently mentioned in Forbes Magazine.

But there was something funny about this family. Parked in the driveway, in front of their 12 car garage, was a beat-up old Chevy that has had better days.  

The dad's Ferrari and the mom's Mercedes Vaneo would veer around it nicely, seemingly to ignore the beat up old junker like it was a hedge fund they knew would go south faster than Enron stock after Ken Lay fired all the Arthur Andersen accountants.

And that was puzzling because it didn't fit in with the decor.

Now the neighborhood was about as happy with the  driveway junker as with a country club bartender who never laughed at their jokes or a chat room addicted Nanny. They were paying big bucks where they lived and frankly weren't overjoyed with the eyesore relic.

They made numerous suggestions to the family that the rotting Chevy has to go or they won't make Fobes for a another 14 years and and if that happened then surely many of the loyal neighborhood supporters might begin leaving faster than Eagles fans down by 14 late in the third quarter.

But this year the family just didn't want to make Forbes, they wanted to rise to the top of the rich list like the peppermint schnapps in their creme de menthe. And everybody told them" "You can't do it with the junker in your driveway."

So the family hired a consultant and he looked at the neighborhood and the home and the junker and said the family has enough wealth that the junker really doesn't matter. He told them they should still rise to the top of the list in spite of it. In fact, he said, the family, if it wants to get to the top spot, should put their emphasis in not removing the junker but in putting their wealth in blue chip stock to bolster their portfolio.

Unlike many other families in the neighborhood, this rich family doesn't have a lot of younger internet stock which secures the future, or they trade the internet stock for more stable blue chip sfuff to help them rise to the top faster, like some of the families in Boston and New York do.

Now the consultant is an old school guy who is near retirement. So maybe he doesn't quite see that the true wealth of this family isn't getting any younger; and the family may have to sell some of its valuable portfolio to avoid paying astronomical taxes on several of its commodities.

So if this family has any chance of making the Forbes top spot, before some of its blue chip stock has to be sold, maybe this is the year.

Then why leave the junker in the driveway?

It proved to the family last year that it couldn't make the long drive or stop the gas from leaking out of its tank.

Get rid of the driveway junker!! Put a BMW in its place, and lets rise to the top next year! There may not be another year. 

  


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George J. Mitchell, the former senator of Maine, spent the better part of a year writing a 400 page report that says Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire were not the only major league baseball players who used illegal, performance-enhancing drugs.

In fact, Mitchell identified 89 other major league players including:

  • Hall of Famer Roger Clemens
  • seven former MVPs
  • 20 men who played for the Yankees
  • players from all 30 major league teams

Out of all the investigating, only one player cooperated with Mitchell: The Yankees' Jayson Giambi. What did you expect?

So let me ask you this. Did you think that Barry, Mark and Sammy were the only users? Did you have to sit down and hold on to something when you either read about Mitchell's report in the papers or listened to it on radio or television? Were you astonished that Lenny Dykstra, the bloated up little Pete Rose clone who led the Fightins' to the World Series in 1993 was a 'roid man?

Come on, let's get serious about all this.

I remember when I discovered my entrepreneurial skills in high school. You see, at my high school you were either born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or you stole it from the cafeteria, and I was definetly in the cafeteria group (Lisa, don't let my neices read this). 

At my high school, at least with those I kept company with, you proved you were in the cafeteria group, or from the Hill, in one big way: You smoked. You not only smoked but you smoked in school, which, like performance-enhancing drugs, was a no-no. Later, if you quit smoking, like me, okay. But if you continued smoking you are most likely dead now. 

The place at school where most Hill kids smoked was the boys room. It was our sanctuary. The silver-spooners wouldn't even enter the boys room so I'm not really sure to this day where they went to the bathroom. Perhaps they simply held it in.  The teachers and principals had to catch the smokers with a lit cigarette. Just a smoke-filled boys room would not implicate you. Can you see the parallel here?

Anyway, I invented the wet paper towel trick at my high school. That's right, I'm not making this up. Upon entering the boys room, with some 20 kids from the Hill puffing away, you would pull several paper towels out from the dispenser and hold them under running water. Ring them out, then light up.When the look-out spotted a school official heading toward the boys room and gave the signal, like: "Put out them butts, Miller's comin'," you simply wrapped the soaking paper towels around the lit cigarette and drop the whole mess in the trash. You could never be implicated.

I also played high school baseball and several of us--I won't mention any names besides Pete and Gary--did some smoking in the locker room boys room between games of a double header. The wrestling coach caught us. He couldn't believe we were smoking between games of  double header. We swore up and down that it wasn't us. He was both astonished and amused and let us go (besides, our team would have lost the second game if he would have busted us). Another parallel.

If you asked me today if I was smoking in the locker room between games, I most likely would say no, especially if my three children were anywere in listening distance. Unless, of course, I was being asked by a grand jury. Yea, sure.

So I ask you, what did the Mitchell report actually do? We know they juiced up, we know Bonds and McGuire weren't the only players to juice up, and frankly, there were a hell of a lot more players who juiced up than the 89 Mitchell named. In fact, I think Mitchell should be barred from the game for only coming up with just 89 players, who, if I may add, were dumb enough to be caught. Even old man Miller back in high school could name more Hill smokers than that. That is, if he's still amongst the living.

So let's do this, shall we? Forget about the players who juiced up. Let's stop tattletailing like the silver spooners use to do, let's let Barry off the hook and reinstate Pete Rose to the Hall and let him counsel young players in spring trainging every year against the evils of gambling, and forget about all this crazy steroid stuff. How the hell can you prosecute Barry when Roger, Sammy, and Mark are sitting home counting their money?

But be damn sure about this: Make your drug testing stringent and fool proof enough that people who love baseball won't have to worrry about any more juicing up. Can you do that major league baseball? As a fan, I don't care about the past. I care about spring training and the start of the 2008 baseball season. And I don't want to see any more Phillies' players showing up for camp looking like Lenny.

PS: And get Pete Rose back in baseball, did I mention that? 

 


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