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)