(The children's comments are real, taken from memory, and usually followed by classroom laughter, including teacher laughter; "Oh how I loved to hear them laugh.")
Back when I was a teacher, like my Cuz, or a mentor of young, adolescent minds, take your pick, I'd always get the question: "Yo, why'd we got to study this crap?"
At first, I'd explain it this way. If you know about and study what happened in history and understand it, then the chances are you can prevent it from happening again. To which the response was: "You mean somebody gonna dump that tea in the ocean again?"
So I thought a little about it and changed the direction of my answers to something like this: Studying history is getting to the truth. The truth about what really did happen and how it affects what we do today. Not only what we do but who we are.
To which I got answers like: "Hell, they been lyin' all along about the stuff they been doin' and they still lyin' today. So how can you believe any of that crap?"
Okay, let's open our textbooks shall we?
Perhaps if we study what the Phillies administration did last year, we can truly look at what they need to do this year to improve the team. To start off today's discussion, let's examine both sides of the coin. If you listen to 610 radio in Philadelphia you get negativity generated toward Phillies GM Pat Gillick and field manager Charlie Manuel. The 610 bottom feeders say Gillick is "over the hill," and Manuel is "over matched" when it comes to game strategy. Yes.
"Do we need to take notes on this? No, I want you to think about both sides of the coin. "What coin you talkin' 'bout? I don't see no coin."
However, when the vote was tallied for NL manager of the year, Charlie Manuel came in second. Plus, the Phillies rewarded Manuel with a new two year contract, and of course, you know he managed the club to the Eastern Division crown. The amazing part about that, say the pro-Manuel campers, is he did it despite major injuries throughout the season. Do you agree with that? Go ahead.
"Jamaar, he lookin' at me, he ugly so tell him to stop lookin' at me."
The bottom feeders say he got lucky and when it comes to managing the club day-to-day, he's outmaneuvered and doesn't have the brain power to make NL changes, i.e, double switches, etc. Tonight's homework will be to define a double switch.
So I ask you, where does the truth lie? Yes, Jerome?
"Can I go to the boys room?" No, pay attention, this in important. "Ok fine, I'll go in my pants right here and it's your fault. You got a mop in that closet?"
They say Gillick is too old and is semi-retired and as a result neglected the bullpen last winter. Then when it became obvious that the bullpen was terrible--about 30 games into the season--he covered himself and moved Brett Myers there and brought in a bushel of wasted and washed up relievers headed by Generalissimo Mesa. He relied on Tom Gordon when everyone knew Gordon was going down before folks started for The Shore.
Actually Gordon went down on May 3rd, several weeks before folks started for The Shore. Yes.
"Sir, what's the shore?
Others say Gillick did the best he could with little or no bullpen help available on the open market, so he did a magnificent patch job with retreads like Mesa and Alfonseca and finding diamonds in the rough like J.C. Romero. He got the best out of Geary and Condrey; and if Ryan Madson hadn't been injured near the end of the season, the bullpen would have done quite well, thank you.
How do you find the truth here?
But the bottom feeders say Gillick brought in Jason Werth, Greg Dobbs and catcher Rod Barajas and sent a dangerous, late-game hitting threat to Ottawa named Chris Coste, who didn't resurface until three-quarters of the way through the season and when he did, he promptly did what he did in ' 06 and that was hit hit the damn ball. Go ahead, your hand is up.
"I think the truth is that Ebenezer cut the cheese again...can you send Ebenezer to the boys room, too?"
Speaking of Barajas, Gillick wasted good money not only on him but on Wes Helms too and both proved to be poor choices because they couldn't do what Coste did and that was hit the damn ball. Just think what the team could have done getting middle and back-end relievers with the millions wasted on Barajas and Helms?
But the pro-campers disagree: Hind-site is 20-20. They say sure, Gillick made mistakes on Helms and Barajas, but all GMs make mistakes. You win some and lose some. But look, they say, Dobbs and Werth turned out good, and look how quickly Gillick got Tadahito Iguchi when Chase Utley got hurt and how he found Kyle Lohse when the rotation sputtered.
But then the bottom feeders just say two words: Garcia and Eaton.
Garcia, $10 million and one win-and-gone. Eaton, a three year contract for $24.5 million with a first year 6.29 ERA. Just when the Phillies needed him down the stretch he stunk and then was left off the post season roster.
The pro-campers? Other than 'stuff happens,' no comment. Look how many dead body mistakes Andy Reid has made. Can you say Freddie Mitchell?
All right, what is it?
"At my home we don't say 'stuff happens' we say...."
Okay, okay, Ayana, not here, please. Keep that to yourself.
So maybe the kids are right. Finding the truth can be difficult. Now we are being told that Aaron Rowand can go fly a kite--after we've watched promotion video after promotion video of him crashing into the center field fence--and our new third baseman is Dr. Cement Glove, Wes Helms, who can do everything Chris Coste can do but...you got it, hit the damn ball. We are being told there is only money left for pitching, not center filed or third base.
Think maybe in May the club will be doing another emergency search for anybody or somebody who can stop a one-hop line drive to the right or left of Dr. Cement Glove? Or what about those of us who check the box scores everyday and see Rowand's name at the top of the list of leading hitters in the NL?
Do you think the Red Sox would be telling their fans: We are concentrating on pitching help and are not looking to strengthen position players.
Say what? Are you kidding me?
Yes, your hand is up, do you have a question?
"Sir, if they was lyin' last year 'bout the bullpen, don't you think they be lyin' again this year 'bout other kind of stuff like who they gettin' to replace that guy who ran into the fence and messed up his face?"
Interesting point, Rahdeem. Obviously you are interested in receiving extra credit for classroom participation.
Yes, go ahead, what do you want to say?
"I want to say that when I get home I'm tellin' my mama that you usin' the curse word damn and you ain't lettin' Jerome go to the boy's room when he got to go."
"Little darling...the smiles are returning to the faces." Thanksgiving Day song from the best group in the history of American music. Also from the Bee Movie. And yes I did see it.
A true Thanksgiving Day story from the heart.And since it's Thanksgiving, you might want some travel tips for the holiday. Then scroll all the way to the bottom to see the author.