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 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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Maybe you saw it. The cartoon where the kid was practicing the piano with his mother standing behind him holding the sports page with the headline: 'Centerfielder Signs $90 Million Contract.' And she says, "Never mind with the piano, go on out with the boys and play center."

As deals go, the centerfielder Torii Hunter got the better of the three. At 32, he signed with Los Angeles of the AL for five years, $90 million. That rolls out at $18 million a year and by the time he's 35, the Angels might be mailing the checks to his Palm Springs retirement village.

Andruw Jones on the other hand had to settle for two years at $36.2 million. He could have run a few more ground balls out and maybe beat the throws and got five. But the Dodgers figured the 30 year old centerfielder still has a couple left, just not five.

Then comes Aaron Rowand. The Phillies wanted to keep this poster boy for toughness in centerfield, but were not willing to go the distance. At age 30, he plays risky defense--not risky for the team but for himself--and hit .300 just twice in his career. He was looking for job security and who could blame him. I am too.

The Giants rolled the dice and gave him a five year contract for $60 million, which pans out to a measly $12 million a year. Security? Who wouldn't want those numbers. For the average Joe, that's hitting the lottery. Not saying he's average, but check back with me in three or four years.

And the St. Louis Cardinals traded 37 year old centerfielder Jim Edmonds to the Padres. Edmonds is entering the second year of a two year, $19 million contract. He is not coming off a good year. 

Which brings us around to the Phillies. I don't blame the ball club for not landing Rowand. He plays a good centerfield and is a decent, solid bat down in the lineup. But five years can be a long time. Hell, in five years, Gillick may be fishing in the Puget Sound and trying to decide whether to use squid or a teaser jig.

Now though, he's trying to improve a ball club that took the NL East like it was an announced asile-sale at Walmart. And lots of folks are saying they didn't win it, the Mets lost it. Tommy Glavine took the ball in the final game of the season and pitched like it was an old timers game...and he was the special guest. Meanwhile 44,000 towel waving fanatics at Citizens Bank Park were scoreboard watching and going gitty after a 14 year lull of 'we'll get 'em next year.' Hey, thank God for Kyle Kendricks.

Well, next year is here. We Phillies fans are racing down the steps to look under the Christmas tree to see who Gillick got. Well, so far, Gilick ain't got much. 'Cept for a an aging arm-hanging veteran bullpen ace who's better days are several years before Ed Wade got done sky diving and got a new job. Even Wade knew Gillick would bite on this one: A race horse outfielder named Michael Bourn who may very well become a hit machine who steals 30-plus bases a year and covers center and the four oceans.

Listen, Gillick got Lidge on a one year deal and that we can all thank Santa for.

Since the Padres now have Edmonds in center, suddenly juicer and free agent Mike Cameron is attractive and Gillick is interested. On day it's Shane Victorino  and the next day maybe it's Cameron, who would be unavaliable for the first 25 games of the season because he tested positive for a banned substance for the second time.

Meanwhile, you kids keep practicing in center because one of  these days the Phillies will wake up and add some talent to that young core that's not getting any younger. So maybe we don't have to wait another 14 years.

Next: Things in common: Steroid use and smoking in the boys room.

 


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"Right you are Wheels, I'm surprised that Charlie is hitting Cabrera seventh but I guess he wants some pop down in the order and he'll certainly get that from Miguel Cabrera."

"Harry the Phillies have really helped themselves over the winter and went out and added a closer, a great starting pitcher in Willis and of course Cabrera at third and it will be a very interesting season for Phillies fans."

"So we are set go here on opening day..."

"Ron, wake up, you're dreaming again..."

Dolly Parton is no longer the big draw in Opryland and neither is Pat Gillick. Besides, anybody can get breast implants today--and big old is not as enticing as big young--and...everybody knows the Phillies don't have the young talent needed to draw a Miguel Cabrera or Dontrelle Willis (right). That is, if you want to trade-away some future Chase Utleys for a left handed starting pitcher who was  10-15 last year  with a  5.17 Era. Or, a third baseman who has been accused of dogging it. Don't look dogging up in the dictionary.
The Yankees appear to be out of the Johan Alexander Santana sweepstakes, with the signing of the left hander Andy Petite. However, one can never be sure if the Yankees are interested in Santana, or just staying in the hunt to drive the price up for the Red Sox. Gets nasty this time of year.

Santana is still big young at 28, but didn't have his greatest numbers last year. Ok, so his ERA 'ballooned' from the mid 2.00s to 3.33, nobody's sweating the small stuff. Keep an eye on the Mets in this endeavor. Mets' GM Omar Minaya has never met a pitcher who throws in the 90s he doesn't like and waits around until the bargaining gets more to his liking. Besides, ain't no way in hell  the Mets will stick with their current rotation.

Story in this morning's Inquirer about Gillick wanting to resign Tadahito Iguchi for third base. Seems like Iguchi doesn't have as many offers as he though he'd get on the open market. Besides, the Phillies could then platoon Iguchi with Dr. Cement Glove and leave it to Ruben Amaro, Jr. to hunt for a real third baseman next year. I think if you took a vote most Phillies' fans would welcome back Iguchi with open arms.

So for now, things are quiet for Gillick in Opryland. If he does do something, and you can bet he will, let's hope it's for big young and not big old.

Question: With the signing of Tom McCarthy for the television booth, where does that leave Chris Wheeler? Hopefully the Phillies' suits will leave plenty of room for the best analyst in baseball. Seems like it may be a little crowded upstairs with Scott Franzke, Larry Anderson, Gary Matthews, and Wheels sharing duties. I'll let you know if I hear anything!












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Winter means more to me than show and ice and cold. In fact, I like snow and ice and cold and would rather run in that weather, than in the humid dog days of August.

What winter means to me is an absence of Phillies reading material. Except for an occasional trade or signing, the sports pages are now left to the 'other' sports' teams.

Not here.

Here, you can read baseball right up until the first signs of spring training, and blame Al Gore because the season starts earlier every year. Here will get you ready for the the first pitch of the regular season against the Washington Nationals at the park on March 31. What did I say about global warming? March 31? That's 121 days from now varying a little according to when you read this.

But hold on partner, good things are coming to you.

I have faith that Phils General Manager Pat Gillick will make the proper adjustments to put the ball club right back in the hunt come March 31. This is Gillicks final season. He said he will retire. I'm certain he would rather go out with a bang rather than a whimper.

The Minnesota Twins lost their center fielder Tori Hunter to the Los Angeles Angels, signing him for five years at $90 million. It might give us an idea about how Aaron Rowand will do. By the way, Rowand is no longer on the Phillies roster so I have to use FanGraphs for his numbers. Go ahead and check them out and then figure for yourself what Rowand will get on the market.

Headed by the Red Sox, the big sharks are also after Twins pitcher Johan Santana (right), who is in the final year of his contract and could be traded. The Twins made an offer to Santana for a four year extension for $80 million. Santana will make $13.25 million in ' 08. If he accepts he will become the first pitcher to get $20 million a year. If he doesn't he'll be in a different uni next year. Lets hope it's not a Mets uni.

The Twins maintain a low payroll and have been criticized for not using the money they get from revenue sharing. In the past five years the Twins received an average of $20 million a year in revenue sharing but their payroll has not increased accordingly. The average increase in payroll over those years is $16 million.

To replace Hunter, the Twins made a 6-player trade to acquire center fielder Delmon Young from Tampa Bay. Whereas Hunter would have cost the Twins $12 million, Young will cost them $700,000.

The great baseball philosopher Roy Rogers and his side-kick Clint Black have some encouraging words for Pat Gillick.





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The late Harvard scientist Stephen Jay Gould called science and religion a "non-overlapping magisteria." Meaning, each has its own set of criteria to explain the universe, but that neither overlap into one another: Science is based on testable hypotheses, while religion is based on faith.

In science, skepticism is a necessity, whereas in religion, belief without evidence is a virtue. Science believes that nature is ordered and can be mathematically measured, but religion is either you believe or you don't believe. And if you don't, you'll most likely go to hell.

Baseball is similar.

Numbers mean a lot to baseball fans, and, they say, numbers are the true determination of whether a player is great, pretty good, or so-so. For example, the baseball mathematicians point to the hypothesis of Rodriguez vs Burrell. In other words, great numbers vs pretty good numbers. It's measurable, they say. Just open up  the statistical websites and see for yourself.

On the religious side of the fence, they counter that the handsome Burrell is way overpaid, strikes out too much, and is a  defensive liability. And if you don't believe that, then you CAN go to hell.

In baseball, however, and no disrespect intended toward professor Gould, the magisteria sometimes do overlap. Take the case of the J-Roll Hypothesis, or, the Multiverse Theory, sometimes known as the Meta-Laws Theory of  Explaining Hits and Errors.

Code name J-Roll, or Jimmy Rollins, certainly has the MVP numbers. Numbers, on a mega-cosmic scale, that no shortstop in baseball history has, in a single season, accumulated. Let's look at them to test our theory:

  • 716 at bats, a record--and proof that he didn't miss many games with an in-grown toenail
  • a .296 batting average
  • 212 hits
  • 139 runs scored
  • 38 doubles
  • 20 triples
  • 30 home runs
  • 41 stolen bases
  • .380 total bases
  • .531 slugging percentage usually reserved for the Thomes and Howards of the game
  • 94 RBIs--see reference above to larger, more powerful men
  • the fourth player in ML history to have 20 or more doubles, triples, homers, and stolen bases in a season
  • all the while, playing his shortstop defensively and statistically better than any shortstop in either league 
All measurable numbers that prove without a shadow of a doubt, that J-Roll is a great player.

On the other side of the fence the baseball purists say "hogwash" to the statistical analysis of one J-Roll. This man, they claim, cannot be viewed in facts and figures, RBIs and slugging percentage, but only from the heart.

This word makes the physicists uncomfortable. That can't be measured, they claim, how can one measure feelings from the heart. No, only mathematical equations and data can tell if J-Roll is truly an MVP.

But that's where you are wrong, the Love purists say. Did you notice throughout the season  when he made great play after great play at shortstop, bringing the Citizens Bank crowd to its feet? When he went deep in the hole behind second and flipped the ball back-handed  to Utley to complete the double play; did you notice the roar of the crowd?

And how about when he hit one of his 20 triples--that you analyzed in your numbers--and he rounded second, his helmet flying off, digging all the way like his very life depended on making third. The headfirst slide, beating the baseball by inches. And the crowd going bananas all the while. Did you put that into your slide ruler?

Don't tell me about your statistics, say the purists. Game after game during the season our J-Roll either set the table, or cleared it, either drove in the run, or scored it...with the type of hitting reserved for a player who is loved. He has been a Phillie from day one, while most players have been jumping from team to team like frogs leaping on a blistering hot pavement.

In numbers or in the heart, he's just one damn good ball player.



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(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.

Sound familiar?

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.

"Yea, whatever."

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."

Happy Thanksgiving!

J-Roll MVP!

"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.




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by Ron on November 13 at 8:07AM
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"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it
can never forget what they did here."

Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, Gettysburg Address, November 19th, 1863

"Nothing I say will cause the fans to turn their opinion of me, but what we do will cause the fans to turn their opinion of us."

Neal Huntington, Pirates new General Manager, Pittsburgh Address, October 10, 2007

Let's say I own the Pittsburgh Pirates and you my dear friend are a long-time die-hard fan, who, when cut, bleeds yellow and black for your beloved Pirates and Steelers. Maybe you live in one of the fabled Pittsburgh neighborhoods such as Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, or with the well-to-do on Schenley Heights.

Or maybe you live out in the shot-and-a-beer 'suburb' of Mt. Lebanon, where the Blue Devils football game with Upper St. Clair is a little sister to a Steelers' - Browns game.

Perhaps you teach or take notes at one of the finer bastions of education in Pittsburgh such as the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, or at Duquesne University, where first year basketball coach and Pittsburgh native Suzi McConnell-Serio--the pint size point guard with a five-gallon-drum-size heart and the pride and joy of Seton-LaSalle High School and the Nittany Lions, and U.S. gold medal winner in Seoul in ' 88; bronz medal winner in Bacelona in ' 92--leads the Lady Dukes on and off the court.

But no matter where you live or what you do, if you are a Pirates fan, life...is not good.

Your team hasn't had a winning season in 15 years. Meanwhile, the exodus of good ball players beginning in1992, when your skinny left fielder exercised his right as a free agent and you watched him surpass The Babe and Hammerin' Hank going yard, all the while mysteriously gaining weight and looking more like Shaq than Barry.

But what do you expect? With a miserable payroll of $38.5 million, which, doled out, can afford you a few good ball players but way too many Double AA players in major league uniforms. And the good ones, as soon as they reach either arbitration or free agency, leave town faster than your steel mills which at one time turned day into night.

To rub salt into open wounds, the money I did have to attract free agents to Steel City I burned up on more dead body mistakes than the drug dealers had this year in the Hill District: A four year, $15 million extension to Pat Meares who hit .230 in 219 games-and-gone; and a two year, $9 million contract to Derek Bell who played only 46 futile games-and-gone. Ouch!

 (If you want extra credit homework, Google Raul Mondesi and report back to me on what happened. I want a two page, word processed (double spaced) report entitled: 'Another Pirate Dead Body Mistake Goes Dominican Republic')

Oh, and clueless draft picks, did I mention them? Too numerous to list all of them here so I'll just pick one: In 1999 I selected Bobby  Bradley, a stiff you can add to a long list of Pirate pitchers who blew out their arms. Meanwhile, I passed over Barry Zito, Ben Sheets,  Bret Myers, and Alexis Rios. Wait, I have to mention this one too: In the 2003 draft I let Lastings Milledge (left) go and selected Paul Maholm instead; another blown-out-arm pitcher. Sorry about that.

Which brings us around to the Pittsburgh Address.

Given all the failure for a baseball proud city--home to hundreds of great ball players: Clemente, Hoak, Face, Friend, Groat, Stargel, Wagner, Mazeroski, Traynor, Sanguillen, Van Slyke, Parker, Kiner, etc., etc. and etc.--what do I provide you for the ' 08 season?

  • A club president that has never run a major league team or even worked for one.
  • A general manager, Neil Huntington, who issued the famous Pittsburgh Address, see at top of page, and who has never been a general manager and wasn't even an assistant general manager.
  • And a field manager, John Russell, who has never been a major league manager--in fact, I fired him as the Pirates third base coach two years ago because of his dismal success rate at getting Pirate runners home safely..."runner's outttttttttttt"--and last year managed the Phillies triple A Ottawa team to a 55--88 season. Wow. Impressive.

But you know what? Maybe, just maybe, this group of the blind leading the blind will stumble over each other and end their losing streak. By the way, if the Buccos do lose for the sixteenth season in a row, they tie a record held by...

The Phillies, of course!  

(Remember the Pirates theme song for the championship year in 1979? Sister Sledge in We Are Family.)

If inner-city school districts try to change, it will cost big money won't it?

 


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Let's say you own the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team that finished in last place in  the American League East, 66-96, and in 2006 lost 100 games for the third time in franchise history (1998).

Then November is an important month for you. Not because A-Rod may feel sorry for you and agree to sign as your third baseman for the next ten years at $3 million a year. That stuff is reserved for fantasy baseball and even there you'd have to be smoking something to dream up that.

November is important because baseball's bean counters are tallying up gate receipts to determine how much you will receive in revenue sharing. Then, some of the wealth of the haves will be redistributed to the have-nots. Since you own the Rays, you are definitely in the have-not group, along with the Pirates, Athletics, Twins, Tigers, Padres, and the Colorado Rockies.

Wait a minute, you say, the Colorado Rockies were in the World Series, how can they be in the have-not group? Because have-nots are have-nots not because of how far they advance in post season play, but because of gate receipts (how many fans show up), press coverage and local cable television deals. In 2006 more than $300 million was transfered from the haves to the have-nots.

The Rockies received $15 million from revenue sharing in 2006. The Red Sox, the team that swept the Rockies in the World Series, contributed more than $50 million to the pool. Now you may think that because the Rockies went all the way by sweeping the Phillies and the D'backs, the team's fan base would have gone through the roof. Not so. By mid-September, the Rockies were only four games above .500 and more than 40 percent of the seats at Coors Field remained empty, which is exactly what makes them a have-not.

But even with revenue sharing the Rockies payroll of $54 million was still way below the major league average of $82 million and $90 million less than its World Series opponent.

Which brings us around to you, the Rays' owner. Your club has never had a winning season and you've received money from the haves' pool every year. In 2006 you received a nice check for $35 million, which is what A-Rod may get each year for the next ten years. Did you take that money and improve your ball club? No, and shame on you.

In 2006 your team had a payroll of about $35 million, way below the major league average, and in 2007 your payroll, even with your revenue sharing funds (the $35 million check?), actually dropped to $24 million. So, I ask you, where did the $35 million revenue sharing money you received go?

And don't give me any bull-story. Since you received the money from the haves' pool, why didn't your payroll go from $35 million in 2006 to $70 million in 2007? With $35 million additional funding and a little luck, you might have played above .500 for the first time in club history, and maybe put some more fannies in your empty seats.

What's that you say? If you would have done that--put the $35 million into your payroll and improved the club--more fans might have showed up for the games and guess what, when they tallied up the gate receipts the following November, your $35 million revenue sharing might have drop to $20 million.

Hmmm, sure, I understand that. So I guess what you are saying is that you would rather have a lousy team with 40 percent of your seats empty game after game, than dare lose a dime in revenue sharing. Sort of like a coke  addict, and we're not talking sugar water, here.

Well, maybe baseball ought to devise a new payout scheme to reward under-achieving teams that will increase attendance instead of rewarding them for decreasing attendance.

But you know what? For Major League Baseball, that makes way too much sense.

The Trade: The Phillies traded prospects Michael Bourn and Mike Costanzo, plus journeyman pitcher Geoff Geary to the Houston Astros for 31 year old closer Brad Lidge. I don't like it and here's why: The Astors will insert Bourn as their starting center fielder in ' 08. Given the chance to play part time this year, Bourn, 24, did well. Handed a  full time job, I think he will become a star. Costanzo hit 27 home runs at Reading last year but also made a ton of errors at third. At 23, he could have Mike Schmidt kind of power. Schmidt hit 26 home runs at Eugene in 1972. 

 Lidge, 31, has had some issues in the last two years. Last month he had knee surgery to repair torn cartilage. In ' 07 he had 19 saves, compared to 103 saves over the previous three seasons. the Phils also received utility infielder Eris Bruntlett. 

The move allows the Phillies to shift Brett Myers back into the starting rotation.

 

 


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by Ron on November 4 at 10:47AM

My brother thinks that hitting a pitched major league baseball is the most difficult act in all of sports. Now, brother certainly has a right to his opinion. After all, he was a very good baseball player in his day and a winning coach for many years. So I'm not stepping on his right to voice his opinion.

However, I must strongly disagree. In fact, I will go a step further and say hitting a pitched major league baseball is one of the easiest acts to do in all of sports.

Not that I ever was a great hitter. Even when I played slow pitch for West's Lounge for ten years, I was one of the weaker hitters on the team. Could play third base defensively quite well, thank you, but wasn't a threat at the plate like my friend Dave Sikorski, who could rap a slow pitched softball in the right field corner when the game was on the line.

So let me give you a 'true story' example of why I disagree with my brother. A few years back I received a special birthday present that sent me to the Phillies Dreamweek. That's where aged players go to Clearwater, Florida, for a week and play baseball, wearing a Phillies uniform. For five days in the hot Florida sun in January, 'Dreamers', as they are called, play two games a day. Then, on the last day of camp, the "Dreamers" play the Pros, a team made up of former Phillies players. On the night before the Pro game, additional former Phillies fly in to attend the banquet and play in the game on the following day. And let me tell you, it ain't slow pitch.

  Thumbnail image for Banquet_hall_sized.jpg At the banquet prior to the Pros/Dreamers game, I sit next to former Phillies reliever Steve Bedrosian (above). Bedrosian, also known as Bedrock, was a relief pitcher in the Show from 1981 until his retirement in 1995. In 1987, he was the Phillies closer, going 5-3, with 40 saves and a 2.83 ERA, and winning the NL Cy Young Award. Bedrock had a lightening-fast, fast ball, no doubt. But a few drinks at the banquet and sitting next to Bedrock, I'm thinking I'm not Ron but maybe Mike Schmidt.

At one point during the banquet, I ask Bedrock politely, if he still had some 'gittie-up' on his fastball.  He said, "Costy;" the Pros called me Costy.  "Costy,  let's put it this way. Tomorrow, you won't even see the ball."  To which  I said, "We'll see."

During the game at Jack Russell Stadium, I played first base for the Dreamers. I had pitched three games during the week and could barely lift my arm, so Pat Corrales, our manager, put me at first. The Pros were pounding the ball all over the yard and we could barely get three outs on them. Former relief pitcher Mitch Williams hit a bullet line-drive over the left field wall and I can't ever remember hearing the sound of a bat hitting a ball like that.

In the fourth inning, Bedrock came to bat and hit a shot off our shortstop's glove and he beat the throw to first. As I caught the ball, I watched Bedrock run down the line with his back to me, and the thought hit me faster than a Manhattan on an empty stomach. I pretended to toss the ball back to our pitcher, whose name, I think, was Ken Silver, a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I kept the ball, and told Kenny to stay off the mound. He picked it up right away and shook his head yes, and he did indeed remain on the grass behind the pitcher's mound.

I went back to first, set up slightly behind the bag, with my glove on my hip and the ball hidden inside. Bedrosian comes back to first, steps on the bag, and immediately takes a two-step lead. I step forward, lean over, and swat his butt with my glove, prompting the first base umpire to yell, "Runner's ouuuuut."

As you can imagine, Bedrosian was ticked. He glared at me and walked slowly back to the dugout. Meanwhile, the Pro-dugout was getting on me big time. Clint Hurdle, who just managed the Rockies into the World Series, was Commissioner of Dream Week and was playing for the Pros. Hurdle has a booming voice and I could hear him yelling my name but I can't say--at least on this family blog--what he was saying.

And of course, I was due up next inning, ready to face a ticked-off Steve Bedrosian. Of course.

I can still remember him glaring down at me from the  mound, his glove on his thigh and the ball behind his back. He looked meaner than a South Philly alley cat that ain't eatin' in two weeks. I did think that he could have easily plunked me in the butt or in the back, or worse yet, up around the head. But after meeting him the previous evening, I quickly discounted that because I found him to be a  really good guy. Besides, if I had any chance of getting my bat on the ball, I had to clear the fear factor out of my mind.

The first pitch he threw me was a strike. I saw a glimpse of white and the thud of the catchers mitt behind me and the umpire yelling, "Srikeeeeee." I just stood there. I couldn't believe how fast he was. He'd make Tony Russo look like a T-ball pitcher. I had never seen anything that fast in my life. It took Dave Greer's slow-pitched softball about three seconds to come down across the place from an arch. Bedrosian's fastball had to be less than a second.

He was all business. He got the ball back and glared in. I stepped out and he made an impatient face. I could hear my dugout giving me verbal support: "Come on Costy, hang in there. Come on Costy get some wood on it."

I got back into the batter's box and dug my spikes into the soft dirt. He came in with his second pitch and that too was a strike. I stepped out and looked out over the beautiful field and at the pros at their different positions and I thought how lucky I was to even be there. It was a gorgeous day; clear blue sky, afternoon temperature in the low eighties. Indeed, global warming had not yet arrived.


I took a deep breath and got back in. His next two pitches were balls. Not that he was pitching around me or trying to get me to chase something. He could care less. I think he may have overthrown both pitches out of sheer anger and determination. What ever, the count was 2-2. After adjusting my batting gloves and toeing the dirt and trying to just look like a ball player, I got set. I told myself I was swinging on the next pitch. I didn't think he would throw another ball. I knew he'd be coming in hard with his best fastball to blow me away. And I was ready.

I had to start my swing as his arm was coming around from the top of his wind-up. I told myself to concentrate on the foot-tap and try to bring my bat around in the vicinity of when and where I figured the ball would be. As he started his wind-up, I lifted my front foot up off the ground and raised my hands up behind my head and I started my swing as his arm came around in front of him.

And then I swung, getting the fat part of the bat on the ball. It felt good, but I wasn't sure where the ball went as I started to first. I could see John Kruck moving in between the pitchers mound and first base, calling Bedrock off. By the time I got half way down the line, Kruck caught the ball. I popped out to first. As I turned and started back toward the dugout, Bedrock, with a slight smile on his face, pointed at me; his way of saying 'way to go.'

In the locker room after the game, Bedrock swatted me with a towel and said, "Costy, way to go...you..."

I asked him how hard he was throwing and he said low to mid eighties. "You got lucky, Costy," he told me. "Don't quit your other job."
  Now I ask you. The most difficult act in all of sports? I think not. After not playing ball for maybe ten, fifteen years, I get off a plane, don a uni, step in against Steve Bedrosian, and I get wood on the ball. And he's is right, I was lucky. But then there would be no way I could get off the plane, don a uni, and run a marathon, even though I still run today. I'm older now but still running against the wind.

Next time, Bedrock, make sure you know where the damn ball is before you step off first base.

(Anyone who reads this and can forward it to Ken Silver, Clint Hurdle, or Steve Bedrosian, please do so.)

 

 

 


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by Ron on November 1 at 7:38AM

The New York Times reported on its front page on Wednesday that major league baseball may be tipping off

players about getting tested for performance-enhancing drugs.


Under baseball's testing program, according to the Times artilcle, all 1200 players on 30 ML teams are tested for steroids and amphetamines within five days of spring training, and at least one more time during the season.

The point of this? Major league teams are notified the night before testers are to arrive at the ball park to do the random testing, and therefore arrangements are made for parking, space for testing--usually in the locker room, and any equipment needed such as tables and chairs, etc.

This could be tipping off the players who, given a 24 hour notice, have time to camouflage their drug use. Given prior notice, drug experts say, players can shower, urinate and remove any patch-like substances and in a few hours can drive down doping numbers.

Apparently it didn't give the San Diego Padres Mike Cameron enough notice because he was suspended for 25 games (at the start of the ' 08 season) by ML baseball after testing positive a second time for a banned stimulant. Cameron, a free agent, said he believed he took "a tainted nutritional supplement."

Baseball is not the only sport in the performance-enhancing drugs spotlite. The CBS Sports website lists the top ten drug scandals. Like Chicken Little, it's everywhere. Go ahead in and read for yourself. It is so rampant, that drug testing must be random, with no prior notice given, or athletes will cheat.

In the NFL, drug testers are given their own space in the locker rooms for year-round testing and players and teams are not informed in advance prior to testing. NFL players are tested in training camp, and each week during the preseason, regular season, and post season; 10 players from each team are tested randomly.

Baseball needs to get more serious about drug testing. Why doesn't baseball clean up its act to prevent performance-enhancing drugs? Why does it continue to give drug-using players chance after chance.

Remember former Yankees relief pitcher Steve Howe? He got EIGHT chances, getting busted for possession and  suspended from baseball for failing drug tests. Darryl Strawberry: Chance after chance for using and possession and throw in solicitation of an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute.

Which brings me to the real point of all of this: The banishment of Pete Rose from baseball.

While the 'goody-two-shoes suits,' namely Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and John Dowd, author and mother of all reports and member of Who's Who in America, sit in judgment, Rose sits in purgatory (non Catholics click on). But I've come to bury Rose, not to praise him.

Pete Rose is much like many of the guys I grew up with. I think my brothers and sister would agree (I've got the best sister in the world--she works for the Po-leech)). Cheat? You've got to be kidding. Kick your butt? Affirmative.  Lie?  They can't tell lies from the truth. Steal? Sometimes. I could tell you stories. Ask my kids.

But Rose, unlike my childhood friends and acquaintances, could play baseball. Better, in some aspects of the game, then anyone who ever lived. Write this down: He belongs in baseball's Hall of Fame.

And write this down: The Golden Boys of North Broad Street face Ohio tonight at seven. Not that Ohio, but Ohio University. Good thing, too. Temple is 3-5 and 3-2, and the Bobcats are 4-5 and 2-3 and are beatable. This could be a warm-up game for the Owls, giving their sophomore quarterback Vaughn Charlton (below) some playing time before the November 10 showdown with Penn State. Write This Down: That game (Nov. 10) could be a showing of the Old Coach vs the Next Coach.

Looks like Larry Bowa will be back in the NL, something we can all look forward to. Since former Yankees skipper Joe Torre signed a three-year deal with the LA Dodgers, he'll be taking his coaches with him, including Bowa and Don Mattingly. You can bet that the Dodgers, with money to spend, will be making a run at A-Rod. The Mets are already hitting fungos (non baseball fans click on) to David Wright at second base.

The Eagles will beat the hated Cowboys Sunday because Donovan McNabb is getting back to form and the Eagles defense will stop the O's: Romo and TO. Moreover, Brian Dawkins is back in town.

Write This Down: Just could be the Owls theme song for November 10th, in 'case you didn't know.'

"Okay, so then there are some stupid people who go to school out here."





 


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"I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?

I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?

Comin' down on a sunny day."  Pete Seeger

(Play it while you read this.)

The Boston Red Sox are not just the best team money can buy.

Granted, their payroll of $143 million is higher than Zimbabwe's GNP, and a little on the spending-heavy-side compared to their playoff foes--Angels, $109.2 million; Indians, $61.6 million; Rockies, 54.4 million. The Boston Red Sox are a team with balance and built for now and the future, and the best example of stocking a baseball team analytically rather than by hunch and gut feeling.

Rookies Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, both only 24, are two players most teams would die for. Both play outstanding defense and can hit. With just 116 ABs in ' 07, Ellsbury, playing behind the veteran Coco Crisp,  hit .353, and like Chase Utley, has captured the hearts of every young lady this side of puberty.

Something tells me Ellsbury will be the Red Sox opening day centerfielder. Pedroia hit .317 with 8 HRs in 520 ABs, earning possible AL Rookie of the Year honors. He hit a home run in his first at bat in Game One of the World Series.

 The Sox have other home grown players too, including Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester, Manny Delcarmen, and Clay Buchholz, giving them young talent but also giving them payroll flexibility so they can go out and get $103 million Japanese super-pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. And of course, the beloved JD Drew who is not to be confused with W.C Fields who said, "Here lies W.C Fields. I would rather be living in Philadelphia." Of course Fields also said, "I drink, therefore I am," and my favorite, "I cook with wine and sometimes I even add it to the food."

It has been recorded that Drew once said, "Are they Eveready or Duracell?" And we are sure he said it in Philadelphia somewhere near the intersection of Broad and Pattison.

I don't know if Boston has a bottom-feeder like Radio 610, I'll have to consult my New England Advisor Officer Jim Looney to find out, but if they do, Drew's name would be ringing up and down the Charles River: One if by land, two if by sea, and for $70 million over five years...three if JD hits only 11 home runs in a season, which is exactly the number he  hit in ' 07: The boos at Fenway will make Philly look like the Honey Bee Festival in Drew's hometown of Hahira, Georgia.

But Drew certainly redeemed himself in the first inning of the sixth game of the ALCS with a grand slam, at which point a collective moan could be heard up and down the Schuylkill River: "Oh, hell no."

Or, as Alexandra The Great, my Interational Advisor would say, "Cet incapable Drew est encore une autre erreur."

Like every team in baseball, the Red Sox have free agent decisions to make, and you can bet it won't be done on hunches and gut feelings, but in number crunching and scouting reports. Curt Shilling, Tim Wakefield, and third baseman Mike Lowell: Will they return for another season, or be let go?

And of course there's A-Rod. Check out his numbers and cry, because baseball is all about numbers. Will the Sox resign Shilling? No. Will they resign Lowell? He's coming off a four year, $32 million contract which, at age 33, paid him $9 million in ' 07. You can bet he'll parlay a very good regular and post season into more money and more years. Of course, why do you think they have good years?

Alex Rodriguez was paid $27 million for ' 07 and opted out of his contract so he go stratisphere: A $300 million, 10 year deal. He will get it, but will he get if from the  Red Sox?  

Boston GM Theo Epstein won't decide on sentiment, but on examining every number produced with the possibilities of producing big numbers again. And with that you can be sure that JD Drew and the Boston Red Sox will again be playing baseball next October. 

Notes: Who would have throught that the Eagles would have the same number of wins as Temple at this point in the year? Penn State is grooming Al Golden for head coach when Joe Paterno retires by letting him work in the minor leagues for a while. If he can win at Temple this year and next year, watch out.

The Inquirer's Jeff McLane had a story in this morning's Inquirer that hit Paterno below the belt, in my opinion. My question is, who the hell is McLane? He must be new, I don't remember seeing his byline before. Here is one of the lines from the article: "There's a significant number of Nittany Lions fans who just don't want to hear the excuses." What is a significant number?

I think there is also a significant number of fans who think he's a hell of a coach and want him to continue coaching. Here's another one of his brilliant lines: "Before the 2005 season, Spanier (Penn State's President) and Curley (AD) famously visited Paterno to gauge the notion that he should perhaps, maybe, please? think about stepping down in the near future." Two questions for McLear. 1) Were you there? 2) Did you speak to anyone who was there?

If not, how do you know all this? Get a life.  

 Here are two questions for you: Do you know Donavan McNabb's uniform number? Do you know what AYP means?


 


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The working parts in major league baseball will soon start changing faster than the numbers at Godshall's Poultry

in the Reading Terminal. Free agency will again have players moving around from team to team, jockeying for more money and more years.

Take the Phillies, for example. You probably won't see in a Phillies uniform again: Antonio Alfonseca, Tom Gordon, Kyle Lohse, Jose Mesa, J.C. Romero, John Ennis, Freddy Garcia, Jon Lieber, Rod Barajas, Tadahito Iguchi, Abraham Nunez, and Aaron Rowand. New faces most likely will replace all of them.

Same for managers. If your favorite team played less than .500 baseball, you might see a new skipper at the helm in spring training. In Philly, the bottom feeders at radio 610 were calling for Charlie Manuel's head after his team won the Eastern Division and finished, 89-73.

But the biggest changes are the general manager's (GM); changes not only in new faces, but in philosophy, too. The Atlanta Braves' John Schuerholz, the longest-tenured GM in baseball and Four Star General of the Old Guard, has stepped-up to team president, leaving behind an impressive run of 14 consecutive division championships, five NL pennants, and a World Series championship.

But for the past two years, the Braves have not made the post season, and for four years before that, the Braves suffered through four straight first-round playoff exits. In baseball, it's not what have done for me? But what have you done for me lately? Schuerholz's assistant Frank Wren will take over as the Braves' GM.

But the change of guard in Atlanta also signals a move away from how players are examined--away from gut feelings and hunches about players, to statistical analysis. Away from the Old Guard--clip board carrying scout in the stands, to the new Smart-Guard--number crunching analytical-college-educated-mathematicians. Can you say Theo Epstein? (photo left)

Florida Marlins' Terry Beinfest is out, his assistant Michael Hill is in. Minnesota Twins' Terry Ryan is out, his assistant Bill Smith is in. Pittsburgh Pirates' Dave Littlefield is out, and 37 year old Neal Huntington is in. Tim Purpura was fired in Houston and Ed Wade, the Phillies GM for 8 years with zero playoff appearances to show for it, is in.

But Phillies fans may thank Temple University's Ed Wade (right), the skydiving GM who never met a tree he didn't like, for not going for the quick fix by trading a Myers, Hamels, or Utley, to fluff his resume.

Jim Duquette resigned in Baltimore and Walt Jocketty, whose club won the whole enchilada in ' 06, got fired in ' 07. The Cardinals said his leaving was a "mutual decision," which means he wasn't fired but didn't quit. Anyway, you can apply for either position online. But don't bother if you are not a Harvard or Yale alumnus/a. Etes vous obtenant ceci, Drew?

Not only are clubs going after the numbers crunching analyticals, but it helps if you went to an Ivy League school. Boston's Theo Epstein, Yale; the Indians' Mark Shapiro, Princeton; the Rangers' Jon Daniels, Cornell; the Marlins' Hill, Harvard. And a dozen other Ivy League grads hold front office positions in baseball. The Pirates Huntington is an Amherst graduate.

Which brings us to the Phillies. GM Pat Gillick is entering the final year of his contract and said he would retire in  ' 08.. His predecessor is sure to be Ruben Amaro, Jr., perhaps a card carrying member of the Smart-Guard and a graduate of the Ivy League West, Standford University. Where Gillick won and lost on hunches from  pot-bellied scouts who were sure Jose Mesa still had some gittie-up left on his fastball, Amaro will certainly number crunch.

Currently Gillick's assistant, Amaro (left) is a pedigree baseball man whose 'no-hit-great-glove' dad was a shortstop for the  Phillies from ' 60 through ' 65; while the color barrier certainly denied his Cuban born grandfather, Santos, who played for the Tampico Lightermen of the Mexican League, access to the major leagues. Ruben Amaro, Jr., 42, spent time with the California Angels, Cleveland Indians, and the Phillies between 1991 and 1998, hitting .235.


He was a bat boy for the Phillies and was the closest human being to Pete Rose when Rose snared the ball after it popped out of Bob Boone's glove at the Vet on a chilly October night in Philadelphia in 1980. In college he helped the Cardinal win their first ever NCAA baseball championship as a senior in 1987. As the lead off hitter that year, he led Stanford in runs (77), triples (6), and stolen bases (38).

From the Old Guard to the Smart Guard. For the Phillies, it won't come too soon.

How do drug dealers get their guns, anyway?



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by Ron on October 21 at 10:27AM

 I was sitting in traffic minding my own business, listening to a George Strait CD, when it hit me harder than the first bill for our kid's college textbooks. "Go on, go on, you were saying how a fool can only fool you so long...it's true, it's so true..."

Thumbnail image for pres.jpg

That's when I got to thinking: Wayne Hardin issued the Hardinian

Thumbnail image for Hardin.jpgProclamation before the football season started. He proclaimed he would fill Lincoln Financial Field for Temple University's opening football game against Navy. That was July, 2007 A.D. Hardin was the last winning football coach before the university started ushering coaches in and out faster than Bill Cosby can say 'do your homework.' Although quite admirable and noble, the Hardinian Proclamation fell short of its goal.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lincoln.gif Former President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. That was one year after Russell Conwell enlisted in the Civil War. Of course, we know that Conwell founded Temple,  just before he appointed Peter Liacouras lifetime President General of the University. You can look it up.

Now get this. Conwell made a famous speech in which he said, "Your diamonds are not in far-away mountains, or in distant seas, they are in your own back yard, if you will but dig for them." This Conwellian message was discovered by John MacDonald in encrypted code on the walls of the Baptist Temple. Was it put there by Conwell? Or some mysterious unknown relic like Al Shrier?

We'll never know. But we do know this: It's an omen. It tells of a great battle in the Golden Era of Temple, a David and Goliath war that will find the Lost Temple, and bring it out of the back depths of the Inquirer's sports pages.

The first clue is the far away mountains. The next, the distant seas. Temple's head coach loves the ocean and the beach. And with three straight wins, maybe four by the time Penn State arrives...is Golden not a diamond in our back yard? Okay, Red Bank isn't that far away.

The key is this: "if you will but dig for them." It must mean that Temple will dig in and stop Penn State's drive in the waining seconds of the game.

Even with the devastating loss of Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele, the Lost Temple football program is ready for Goliath. On November 10, the Raiders of the Lost Temple--the Golden Boys of North Broad Street--will be found. After the defeat of Penn State, the curse will be lifted for eternity.  

Thumbnail image for look.jpgIn school, 'the look' is way worse than 'the punch.' Part One
 
 
 
 
 

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by Ron on October 12 at 12:03PM
charlie-manuel-176.jpg


In March I wrote a spoof called Premonition The Movie. It was a prediction on what will happen when the Phillies come north from spring training in the ' 07 season with no bullpen. I got pretty close to reality. Not that I'm Madame Rue the fortune teller, but it didn't take a genius to look at the Phillies bullpen in spring training and see disaster..

The bullpen was horrific. Brett Myers, the opening day pitcher, was moved to closer because Tom Gordon went DL. Then the injuries mounted. Not just normal injuries that all teams suffer, but injuries to key players one after another, pretty much through the entire season. Without a competent rotation and bullpen, Charlie Manuel kept the Phillies afloat all the way to September 30.

He not only kept them afloat, he managed them to the Eastern Division crown. Sure the Mets helped, but Manuel kept the Phillies playing solid baseball down the stretch, clearly establishing the team as 'the team to beat.' He has the respect of his players, which is no easy task considering that most of them make a lot more money than he does. Moreover, with the Philadelphia media taking shots at him everyday, questioning his intelligence and questioning his mannerisms, his players played hard. Charlie Manuel deserved the new two year contract the team awarded him on Tuesday. Congratulations Charlie, and thank you for a great season.

Now...here is what I wrote on March 18:


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for preminwheels.jpg

Out in theaters near you starting April 2...staring Pat Gillick, Charlie Manuel, Harry the K, Wheels, and Sondra Bull-mitt.

Harry the K: "Uh oh this ball is trouble...deep in the gap in left center going all the way to the wall, it skips off the wall and is headed toward Burrell, Lee scores, Floyd is coming around to score, Cedeno will score...Rowand after the ball AND HERE COMES SORIANO HE'S FLYING...Rowand can't pick it up and Soriano is going to score standing up on an inside the park, grand slam home run and Wheels, the Phillies bullben has given up the lead AGAIN here in the ninth and now trail the Cubs 8-6...

Wheels: "Harry this is unbelievable and it doesn't seem to matter who the Phillies bring in after the sixth or seventh inning they can't hold a lead...now Jimmy is coming out to get Geary and it looks like the lefthander Matt Smith is gonna come in..."

Hear heavy voice in background: This is the 7th game in which the Phillies bullpen has surrendered the lead after the fifth inning.

Harry the K: "Here we are in mid-May and it's the seventh game the bullpen has given up and Wheels it doesn't look like there is any end in sight and the Phillies are really struggling...it doesn't matter if they are home at Citizen's Bank Park or on the road."

Wheels: "That's right Harry first it cost Charlie Manuel his job and...uh oh here come the boos as Geary leaves and it's loud right now, most of the fans are standing between first and third and booing Geary as he leaves the game...

"It cost Charlie Manuel his job and the Phillies, after so much was expected of them this season are mired in last place in the NL East simply because their bullpen can't hold a lead..."

Harry the K: "The boos are loud aren't they...the fans are really getting on Geary..."

Wheels: "Yea there goes Geary he flips his glove in disgust and it lands on top of the dugout and the fans are now standing and booing him for that, boy that's frustration...but Harry the Phillies ought to know better than this you can't leave spring training with a bullpen ERA of 6.44 the worst in the major leagues...then Gordon goes down in the second week of April and he's lost for the season..and they are scrambling to find consistency out there and it's not working..."


Sarge: "Not only are the players frustrated but the fans are frustrated as well. It's gonna be a long season with no closer or set up men. It's too  bad because the Phillies can hit the ball well but if they can't get anyone out then yea it's frustrating."

What I wrote on March 18 was a premonition, but by May it was close to reality. Of course, Charlie didn't lose his job, and without him the Phillies would not have been in contention in late September.

Skipper. You deserve the new deal. Now for the bad news: Charlie, we've got to get you on a nutrition and exercise program so when you come out to get Geary in ' 08, you look more like Arnold than Humpty Dumpty.

How about it?

 

 What are they saying about Philadelphia in those small town, coffee clutch, one stop light towns?

 To my sister...thanks for the book, I love it.

 

 

 





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by Ron on October 8 at 8:37AM

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears...I've come to bury Gillick, not to praise him."

Failure is a big part of baseball. Offensively, good hitters fail seven out of ten times. So maybe you see a player six out of those seven? Typically then, the word 'bum' comes to mind. Doesn't matter that he tripled while you were at the refrigerator.

Defensively, not a player alive goes through a major league season without making an error, and that's not counting the mental errors that can cost games.

"Here, under leave of Cataldi and the rest; so are they all; all honourable men."

The 610 morning motor-mouth 'cell-phone-oil-salesman' and international free newspaper columnist Angelo Cataldi recently hammered away at Phillies GM Pat Gillick, knifing him in the back for his mistakes on Freddi Garcia, Adam Eaton, Wes Helms, and Rod Barajas. In his column, Cataldi says that Gillick deserved none of the bubbly that flowed like sweet vindiction for a 14 year playoff drought brought on by cheapness or stupidity or both.

"The evil that men do lives after them...the good is oft interred with their bones."

  Cataldi has fallen into that trap of picking out the bad, i.e., trade Chase Utley, after all, he made 354 outs in 2007 and 89 of them were strike outs. What a bum! General managers, like second basemen, fail; they couldn't possibly succeed all of the time. Take for example a few GMs whose names might ring a bell.

"So let it be with Gillick, the nobel Cataldi; Hath told you that Gillick is ambitious...if it were so, it was a grievous fault."

Boston Red Sox GM and wonderboy Theo Epstein has a World Championship flag hanging from the roof top in Fenway Park, but several dead-body-mistakes hang there, too. Mistakes like Byung Hyun Kim, Edgar Renteria, Jeremy Giambi, Ramiro Mendoza, and Jeff Suppan.

Check out the numbers on $100 million pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and decide for yourself if he was a mistake. 

South on I-95, the Yankees Brian Cashman also has some dead-body-mistakes hidden amoungst the Yankee Stadium monuments and plaques of Ruth and Gehrig. Mistakes like Hideki Irabu, Jeff Weaver, Kevin Brown, Jose Contrares, Javier Vazqie, Jon Lieber, David Wells, Carl Pavano, and Jaret Wright.

Let's just take Pavano, for example. The Yankees gave Pavano a four year deal for almost $40 million through 2008. Often injured, Pavano was a complete flop for the Yankees. Shoulder, back, elbow, ribs, you name it, Pavano had it. He made J.D. Drew look like a poster boy for BodyBeautiful.

Atlanta's John Schuerholtz, through an amazing run of 14 division titles, can also count the costly mistakes he's made on players that didn't pan out. Can you say John Rocker? Schuerholtz's dead body mistakes are buried beneath the peach trees that surround Turner Field. While trading three players for Tim Hudson was sweet cream for Schuerholtz, his acquisition of Lance Cormier is more like half-and-half. Win some lose some. But don't dwell on the negative. 

"But Cataldi says he was ambitious...and Cataldi is an honourable man."

What can be worse than making mistakes as a GM, is the fear to make a mistake. The next lefthander you take a chance on shouldn't be hindered by the mistake you made on Adam Eaton. Like a closer, one night you strike out the side: Save. Three nights later you make a good pitch but it goes yard: Blown Save. So what, who cares? Move on. You can't carry it with you. So let the bottom feeder Catali point his finger and condem Mr. Pat Gillick.

"I speak not to disprove what Cataldi spoke...but here I am to speak what I know."

As for me, I say to Mr. Gillick, are these your only mistakes? All right, way to go. Thank you for a great season.

Thank you for signing Aaron Rowand, and for Greg Dobbs, Jason Werth, J.D. Romero, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Lohse, and thank God you went out and got Tadahiito Iguchi to hold down second base while Chase mended.

Then I toast Mr. Gillick with the bubbly, that same bubbly enjoyed by players and fans alike, and I tell him to him go forth without fear or trepidation and build us a team for next year that will go beyond the good deeds of the ' 07 Phillies.

"Et tu, Cataldi?"

 

 

 

 


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by Ron on October 7 at 3:36PM

One of my senior advisors had some questions going into Saturday night's game, game three of the division series between the Phillies and Rockies. He wanted to know why Wes Helms started at third base in games one and two.

The Senior Advisor from the west said he understood that Helms had a decent average against game one starter Jeff Francis (however, if you look at this USA Today story on one scout's take on game one, you have to scroll way down to Best Matchup to see where the scout says Helms will have trouble with Francis).

But in game two, Helms made a mental error by not scoring from third base on an infield ground ball, and a bad defensive play that would have ended the inning before Charlie Manuel "brilliantly' pulled Kendrick. Then Kazuo Matsui's grand slam off Kyle Lohse pretty much put game two away.

But in the sixth Jose Mesa made damn sure it was and gave up three more.

Let the examinations begin.

My Senior Advisor isn't alone. 610 talk-radio was buzzing about both decisions on Thursday and Friday.

Trying to beat the Christmas rush, 610 morning motor-mouth Angelo Cataldi, who writes a column in the free commuter newspaper, the Metro, started in on Phils GM Pat Gillick last Tuesday. You can click on Gillick and read the column for yourself.

I'm not defending Charlie Manuel's decisions. Or Pat Gillick, for that matter. But as a fan I do have questions and I'm going to work on those questions for the next several weeks. Not that what I say will make any difference,  but it will for me.

My wife and I enjoyed the Phillies season very much. We went to 20 games, including the final division clincher--the best Phillies game since a 12 year old kid named Matt and his Dad drove through the pouring rain from State College to see Shilling shut out the Blue Jays at the Vet in game five--and my nephew and I stood in 'standing room only' in game two. It was a great season; I have two rally towels to prove it and I thank the Phillies organization for it. I wonder what these rally towels are going for on e-Bay?

But is Cataldi correct in saying that Pat Gillick is worthless? I mean, what's with Clay Condrey and Geoff Geary shuffling back and forth to moose country all season? Both players seem questionable major league pitchers.

And Jose Mesa? The Phillies signed Mesa on June 9th to return for $2.5 million--$26.5 short of what the Yankees paid Roger Clemens to return for--after Colorado declined a club option on Mesa for ' 07, and Detroit released him two months into the ' 07 season. But on the other hand, the Red Sox released J.C. Romero on June 19 and ten days later the Phillies purchased his minor league contract.  Be my guest and click on both Mesa and Romero and compare their numbers.  You can blame Gillick for one, then give him credit for the other.

The Phillies opening day payroll was $89,428,213, compared to the Rockies $54,424,000. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle opened the ' 07 season with a one year $800,000 contract, but in April got a two year extension. Charlie Manuel opened the season on the last year of a three year contract that paid him $800,000 in ' 07. Surely he will get an extension for at least ' 08 and maybe ' 09.

Here's something else interesting. The highest paid Phillie in ' 07 is Pat Burrell at $13 million, signed through 2008. The highest paid Rockie is Todd Helton at $16,600,000 per year, signed through 2011. MVP candidate Matt Holiday is on a one year $4.4 million contract while Jimmy Rollins is earning $7 million, signed through 2010 with a buyout in ' 11.

Holiday would certainly look better in red and white pinstripes than the black and purple he wore this year. 

Look, things could be worse. They could have given Rod Barajas a three or four year deal worth $11 million.

Let the examinations begin.

You mean some schools can separate out disruptive students?
 


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Thumbnail image for toilet.jpgYesterday was St. Francis Day and I had the day off. So the wife said fix the toilet or else. Not wanting to know what "or else" meant, I drive to the hardware store at 17th and Ritner, get the parts for the toilet and get back into my truck.

My cell phone rings. Now, as nephews go, I've got great ones, on both sides of the family. This one nephew, the one that flies the big jumbo jets around, calls me from the ball park. "Hey Uncle Ron," he says, "I'm at Citizens Bank Park."

This is equivalent to calling a level-10 alcoholic in the second day of rehab and saying: "Why don't you come out to the parking lot, we've got a keg of Miller Lite here."

But knowing that I have domestic duties, I return home to fix the toilet. I'm in the bathroom with the lid off and parts all over the place and I start thinking: Ball game. Toilet. Ball game. Toilet. Ball game....

The subway was loaded with fans heading south for the Phillies-Rockies game. Getting on a crowded subway car with all kinds of people dressed in red, and without a ticket, is like going to a dance without a date. You are on your way, yes, but you're not sure what will happen when you get there. They are happy and I am not. Well, sort of not.

Once above ground there are opportunities with scalpers, but I have enough ball game experience to know not to buy a ticket from them. I envison myself standing at the turnstile: "Sorry, sir, this ticket is invalid." Meanwhile, the scalpers are headed to Pottstown for their  second beer run. I walk the thousand yards to the Park and there are hundreds--no thousands--of happy people all around me. Just one fan, I tell myself, just somebody, has an extra ticket to sell. But how do I know who?

Standing by the Park entrances, I make my move. Like jumping into a cold swimming pool, I go for it. I thrust my arm straight up with my index finger extended and yell, "Need one ticket, who's got one ticket to sell?" At first it was awkward, but heck, I'll never see these people again. After a few minutes, I got use to it and in a way it was slightly enjoyable.

 "One ticket, need one ticket. Who's got a ticket? One ticket here, who's got one ticket?"

  You would not believe the folks who came up to me with all kinds of tickets to sell, from $200 Diamond Club seats to the last row in the Harry the K bleachers. Of course, they were all trying to make big bucks. But this is one situation where time was on my side. The closer I got to game time, the cheaper the seats became. Finally, one lady approached me and said she had one standing room only ticket that she would let go if it would pay for her parking. I offered twenty bucks, she took it, and I was at the dance with a date. Once inside the Park, I used my cell phone and called my nephew. We met in front of Tony Lukes--he had a standing room only ticket, too--and we began to try various locations around the park.

We stood behind home plate. We stood in center, in left, upstairs, downstairs, in Ashburn Alley, near Harry the K's, back to center, then we moved over to right. We stood in places at the Park that I've never imagined existed. I learned one thing from this experience, people who buy standing room only tickets are real fans. They don't have fancy season ticket packages, 18 game plans, or an air conditioned suite or prime seats two rows behind the dugout. But they are there, cheering, slapping five, drinking beer, eating, and having fun.

We cheered the National Anthem. We saw the Bull throw out the first ball, and then we saw J-Roll lead off the Phillies first with a home run, and the crowd chanted M-V-P as he circled the bases. But by the 4th, after Colorado put up a four spot and led 6-3, to tell you the truth, I started thinking about the toilet, and the parts scattered around the bathroom floor.

So in the fifth, I waved goodbye to my nephew and headed for the subway. Got home, fixed the toilet, did the dishes, straightened up, and greeted my wife when she arrived home from work.

"How was your day, dear?" she said. "Fine," I replied, "just fine."

By the way, the Phillies lost 10-5, but you  know what? It didn't matter. I was there.







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by Ron on October 3 at 7:31PM
In 1991, Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent announced that South Florida and Denver were the sites of the National League Expansion Committee's selection for two new teams. Two years later the Rockies were born when Colorado opened the 1993 home season on April 9th in Denver against the Montreal Expos in front of a 80,277 baseball hungry people at Mile High Stadium. Coors Field, where the Colorado Rockies now play, opened in 1995.

Since that inaugural opening, the Rockies have made it to the playoffs once; in 1995 when they lost to Atlanta in the division series, 3-1. Eleven straight years the Rockies were playoff-less. Rockies manager, Clint Hurdle, 1978 Sports Illustrated cover boy, has had four straight losing seasons and by now would have been lynched by 610 talk-radio. But Hurdle and his Rockies are making up for lost time and are on quite a roll winning 15 out of their last 16 games and beating the Phillies yesterday, 4-2, at Citizens Bank Park.

But wait, don't throw away that rally towel just yet. The kid pitches today.

Kyle Kendrick was drafted by the Phillies in the seventh round in 2003. In 2004 he pitched 15 games at Lakewood and 13 games at Batavia, going 5-16, with a 5.77 ERA. His mother wrote to him often and recommended that he take the SAT test and forget about this fantasy of throwing a baseball past an ash bat. Because the bat was winning.


Now fast forward to 2007 where the 22 year old Kendrick is at Reading and the ash bats are still winning. He is 4-7  with a 3.21 ERA. But somebody saw something because 22 year old kids who are 4-7--at double A not triple A, mind you--aren't usually invited to the show. But sure enough, on June 13, 2007, he faced the Chicago White Sox before 42,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park. He went six innings, gave up 3 earned runs,  walked two, struck out four, and handed the ball over to four relief pitchers. Ryan Madson got the win.

Since June 13 the kid has gone 10-4, with a 4.57 ERA and has earned a spot in the Phillies rotation this year and most likely next year, too. But as fate will have it, Kendrick turned down a football scholarship from Washington State University. Instead, the kid took the Phillies $135,000 signing bonus and the nationally ranked high school quarterback reported to the low minor leagues.

In order for Kendrick to be successful this afternoon, he has to keep the ball down. So early on, if he isn't getting a lot of ground balls, he could be in trouble. And if he gets in trouble, it may get late early for the Phillies, who can't afford to lose two home games in a first-team-that-wins-three series.

The righthander Kendrick will face the 21 year old rookie lefthander Franklin Morales, who signed for $50,000 with Colorado our of Venezuela at the tender age of 16, even before he took his driving test. You can be sure that young Morales will be firing smoke and Hurdle will try to get all he can from him before turning to his bullpen. Morales is 3-0 in his last four starts, allowing just three runs in 22 innings, and this kid throws hard: A 70 mph curve ball and a fast ball that runs in the low 90's. Which means, to the Phillies' hitters, he can come at your hard, or slow and soft.

Today's kid vs kid match up will be interesting to see who can last the longest.

For the Phillies, Chase Utley has to get back on track after yesterday's oh for four outing. But Chase isn't the only one who had to stand in the corner after the game. Charlie Manuel also punished Shane Victorino (0-4), Ryan Howard (0-4, three whiffs), and Wes Helms (0-2). This is playoff baseball, a couple of 0 for 4's and there may be no tomorrow. The Phillies skipper will have to decide on using Jason Werth in right today instead of Victorino.

So rookie vs rookie, kid vs kid, the Phillies go into today's game needing a win. Let's just hope our kid outlasts their kid.

Are you scratching your head over the inner-city school problem?




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There are baseball Gods, this I'm sure of. How else can you explain how one team spent 159 days of the 183 day season in first place, and get nothing. The other team was in first place for two days tied and two days by themselves, and they willl open the playoffs today at home against the Colorado Rockies.
 
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for hooever.jpgHow else can you explain how one player was at the bottom of the well in mid-season, and is cheered and honored at the end of the season. Baseball Gods at work.
 
For the past several years he's been an outsider. Talk radio roasted him everyday like he was corn on a grill. Pretty as a picture, sure. Well paid, sure. But pretty or paid doesn't help when you are facing a John Smoltz slider on the fists and you buckle at the knees and look skyward, like you're watching for Ed Wade skydiving.

Earlier in the season he was one bad-breath above the 200-Mendoza line, that mystical degree of measurement that says go below it, and you just don't stink, you stink worse than road kill.

In June, Pat Burrell sat at .201 and the 610 talk-radio mongrels circled like Death Valley buzzards and the cell phone prognosticators called him a money stealing, gutless, no nothing of a ball player who was the biggest mistake this winless franchise ever wasted $50 million on. He became the poster boy for 10,000 losses and for a team that hadn't made the playoffs in 14 years. We sat at the Park and watched grown men and little boys call him names that weren't fit for man or beast. One guy, and I kid you not, when Pat came to bat, he stood and held his arm out with his middle finger extended while Pat was up. Never said a word, just stood there with his middle finger extended. I turned to my wife and said, "That guy has got to get a life."

But now look at Pat Burrell's statistics. Maybe not A-Rod stuff, but you have to hand it to him, he fought his way back to respectability. He's had some key jacks and if you add his base on balls to the picture, that .400 on base percentage is making Ed Wade  look more like a genius than a dope.
 
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for vuk.jpgPat is dedicating the playoffs to his friend and mentor John Vukovich,
who showed him tough-love when Burrell broke into professional baseball from the University of Miami. Burrell will be the key to this potent Phillies offense starting this afternoon. Whether he hits third, fifth or sixth, Burrell's going to make Phillies fans forget the words trade and Burrell in the same sentence. I can feel it in my bones.

Today's game will not only decide who goes 'one love' in this first-team that-wins-three-series, it will be the battle of the MVPs, too. Not since the Missouri Compromise have people on opposite sides of the Mighty Mississippi been so split. On the West, you have those who hail Matt Holiday as the second coming of Doc. And admit it if you will, but Holiday's statistics back up the high praise.
Thumbnail image for east.jpgIn the East, fans are rallying around the beloved J-Roll, who predicted that his team was the 'team to beat,' then went out and did everything he could to ensure that it was. Coupled with his defensive play, Jimmy Rollin's statistics are something to behold as well. Rollins has become a Philadelphia icon and his own poster boy on don't do what I say, but do what I do.
 
Both players will be leading their team on and off the field. And fans on either side of the Mississippi are saying Matt Holiday and Jimmy Rollins, one of them at least, is the NL MVP.

Two lefthanders will start game one, the Phillies Cole Hamels vs the Rockies Jeff Francis. Game one, the Phillies vs the Rockies. Hamels vs Francis. Get ready to rock and roll.

Can you pick out that school that shouldn't be on the 'most dangerous list?' Go ahead and click on The Top Twelve Most Dangerous.

 


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by Ron on October 1 at 8:07PM
Before the Phillies take the field tomorrow against the Colorado Rockies, some decisions must be made. Playoff rosters are set at 25 players. The Phillies currently have a 35 player roster. So, who do you cut?
How about Adam Eaton (L), would you keep him on the roster? (10-10, 6.29 ERA) Would you start this guy in a playoff game, or  make the call to the pen for him if Jamie Moyer faltered in the third?

Who would make your list?

How about catcher Rod Barajas (.230 ave., 4 HR) would he make your list? Carlos Ruiz was plunked on the elbow Sunday and is questionable. You've got to make a decision now. If you go with three catchers you are eliminating one other position player.
 
And what about Ryan Madson? He's been on the DL with a strained shoulder. Healthy, he'd be a shot in the arm for the Phillies, no pun intended. But is there time for him to get ready? Go ahead, you make the call. Can the team carry both Geoff Geary and Clay Condrey? Which one watches on TV? How about Tadahito Iguchi? Oh, you say, that isn't even debatable. He stays. But if you have to carry three catchers because one is injured, then a position player has to go. So get out your pencil and pad. You can click on here to get the current roster (Phillies roster) Fifteen position players and ten pitchers: You make the call. 
 
Are you ready for some baseball? The Colorado Rockies are on their way to South Philadelphia, and what a shoot out this will be. Both teams have high octane offenses. Last night in beating San Diego, the Rockies used nine pitchers. Perhaps that will put them at a slight disadvantage tomorrow.
The Rockies have won 14 of their last fifteen games and have momentum. They didn't have much time to savor the champaign. You can be sure that the NL MVP debate will heat up with Rockies leftfielder Matt Holiday (5, right) coming to town. Holiday hit .340, tops in the NL, and drove in 137 RBI, tops in the NL. But get this, if Ryan Howard doesn't miss 18 games because of injury, Holiday doesn't win the RBI crown.
 
This playoff matchup will result in high scoring, down to the wire games. The Phillies must get to the sixth inning with their starting pitching, or even with patch work pitching. If not, if the Rockies get to the middle relievers early, it may not be pretty.
 
But the Phillies will win in five and move on to the face the Cubs.
 
Note to my sister who asked about the festival my wife and I attended after the Phillies game on Sunday. You can read about it here: Festival 

 

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F  -  A  -  N  -  T  -  A  -  S  -  T  -  C

It was the greatest sporting event I have ever attended. Here are my top three:

1. With wife, Phillies win the NL East Division by  beating the Florida Marlins, 6-1, on September 30, 2007.

2. With son, Phillies win the fifth game of the World Series when Curt Shilling pitches a five hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on October 21, 1993. Phils win, 2-0.

3. With brother, Pete Rose breaks Stan Musial's NL hit record of 3,361 hits at Veterans Stadium on August 10, 1981.

Before Jamie Moyer took the mound yesterday afternoon, the Florida Marlins jumped on Mets starter Tom Glavine for seven runs to set an electric atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park. We were hoarse by the fifth inning and our arms were tired from waving the towel.

Jimmy Rollins received a thunderous roar when he hit a two out triple in the sixth which set a franchise record of 20. It scored Chris Coste to put the Phillies up 5-1. Rollins became the first player in baseball history to have 200 hits, 20 doubles, 20 triples, 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases in a season.

J-Roll has clearly emerged as the leader of this team. If he is not the NL MVP, then the selection process is a fraud.

If you were not at the park yesterday, you missed the stunning rendition of God Bless America in the seventh inning by six year old Geoffrey Gallante. He played his trumpet while the capacity crowd sang along.

What a game, what a day. Afterward we went to the Vendemmia Festival and drank homemade wine, danced and celebrated the Phillies fantastic win. Now, if only I didn't have this headace this morning!!!!

 

 


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by Ron on September 30 at 8:54AM
                 1 left to play.

There are more combinations today than at Subway. But one thing and only one thing you have to remember: The Phillies have to win.

They could lose, however, and still remain in first in the Eastern Division, if the Mets lose, too. But that's no fun.

Here is today's pop quiz, fill in the blanks:

  • The Phils win and the Mets lose:________________
  • The Phils win and the Mets win:_________________
  • The Phils lose and the Mets win:________________
  • The Phils or Mets win and the Padres lose today in Milwaukee________________.
In the final game of the season, soon-to-be 45 year old Jamie Moyer (13-12) on the hill today against the Washington Nationals'  Jason Bergmann, the former Rutgers righthander who just turned 26. So here is another pop quiz: Let's say Bergmann is the son of Jamie Moyer. How old was Moyer on the day Bergmann was born? Scary, huh?

We'll be there today for Fan Appreciation Day. We are excited and we anticipate a great day in Phillies history.

Family Feud: Here's one I need help on. Last year my brother predicted all season that the Mets would collapse at the end. Well, they didn't. However, brother now says he should get credit for the prediction because it came true this year. I say no, last year was last year, but maybe I'm wrong. Won't be the first time.

Here are some questions to ponder about that. If the Mets go on and win the East, can you say they folded, or collapsed? Then could you say that the Phillies collapsed, since they were in first place, too?

Get this headline in today's New York Times: A Brief Reign in First as the Phillies Fumble the Division Lead

So the Times is saying that the Phillies are collapsing. Pretty gutsy for a city with a team that held a seven game lead with 17 to play.

Penn State: We once lived close enough to Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois, that we could hear the band play and the crowd roar on Saturday afternoons. As it was back then, the crowds were not roaring much because the University of Illinois football team stunk. But we would have heard them yesterday as the Illini took it to Penn State, 27-20.

As soon as the Phillies season is over, I want to look at the offensive records of Penn State's quarterback, Tony Morelli and Temple's quarterback Adam DiMichele.
 To me DiMichele is so impressive and fun to watch. I'm looking forward to the Temple vs Penn State game in November so I can better compare the two.

One thing that always infuriates Temple administrators is the placing of Temple football stories in the Inquirer. Penn State, of course, is almost always on either the cover of the sports page or on the second or third page. Today, however, the Nits got page nine. The Temple story was buried in the second section.

Anyway, here is a comment I received on my Temple postings: "My spouse, my father and I are all Temple Owls. Golden gives us the most hope for the football program in thirty years. I can see him putting his team on the map in four years."

Now, if I predict that Temple will win two games this year and they win two next year, will I get credit for my prediction?












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             3 left.  

 

How 'bout them first place Phillies!  

Phillies      87-72  

New York  87-72

"The Mets may be angels that spend all winter

Giving the homless blankets and dinner

Regular nobel peace prize winners..

But I really hate 'em, I'll think of a reason later**

Three teams tied for the Wild Card, one game behind San Diego: Phillies, Mets, and the Rockies.

  • Tonight: Phillies vs Washington Nationals, Citizens Bank Park, 7:05
  • Cole Hamels, 14-5, 3.54 vs Tim Redding, 3-5, 3.53

The Phillies celebrated "Reverse Night" last night, they had firewords at the beginning of the game instead of the end. Two hits, two erros, four runs in the first inning. Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard hit dingers and the Fightins' beat Atlanta, 6-4. Coupled with the downward spiral of the Mets, the Phillies are tied for first.

The Mets held a 7 game lead with 17 to play and are 4-10 in their last 14 games. They have lost four in a row.

"Inside their heads may lay all the answers

To curin' diseases from baldness to cancer

Salt of the earth and real good dancers...

But I really hate 'em, I'll think of a reason later"

The Mets open a three game set at home with Florida. The Padres are at Milwaukee and Colorado hosts Arizona.

"It may be my family's red neck nature

rubbin' off, bringing un-kind-like behavior

It sure ain't Christian to judge these strangers

But I don't like em...and I hope they continue to lose"

The Phillies looked loose last night and they played that way. During the game the Phillies broadcasters interviewed Milt Thompson from the dugout.

From the background came water, pop corn and whatever on Thompson and they even set his feet on fire, you know, a good old fashioned hot foot (kids, don't try this). Chris Wheeler did a masterful job keeping the interview going. I think he sensed what was happening and that it was fun and good. And it was. It's how winning teams stay loose and keep winning. It was very enjoyable to watch.

After the interview you could see Thompson stomping his feet on the dugout floor trying to put out the fire.

Maybe those Mets can try it tonight, only the way they are going, they may not put out the fire. It's already out. 

"But I really hate 'em...I'll think of a reason later." 

(**Country music song by Lee Ann Womack, "Think of a Reason Later," slightly altered.)

Click on: Over 40 percent of kids don't graduate???

 

    


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by Ron on September 27 at 7:49AM

4 left.

  • One game behind the Mets in the NL East
  • One game behind San Diego in the NL Wild Card (but tied with Colorado, both teams a game out)
  • Last night a 5-2 win over Atlanta
  • Tonight, vs Atlanta, Kyle Kendrick vs John Smoltz

The Phillies will win the National League East because of two words: Charlie Manuel.

Take last night's game for example. After getting ripped by Atlanta Tuesday night 10-6, the Phillies came back last night and won 5-2.

The team looked relaxed, not uptight. Charlie doesn't panic. He doesn't make faces in the dugout when somebody screws up, i.e., Larry Bowa.

In fact, Charlie is the opposite of Larry Bowa, who will never win as a manager because he puts pressure on his players.

How many times have you seen Bowa, with arms crossed, rolling his eyes and shaking his head when a Phillie struck out, or made an error? You will never see Charlie Manuel do that. That kind of stuff is BS when you are the manager.

The Phillies love Manuel, especially their franchise player, Chase Utley. They respect him and they loved the way he stood up to 610 radio guy Howard Eskin. Sure, I've poked fun at him, but like the players, I respect him as a manager. I just think he needs to start an exercise program.

Besides, the Mets are imploding right before our eyes. Remember 1964? The Mets will remember 2007, the year they gave the NL East over to the Phillies.

We have tickets Sunday, the last game of the season. We also have tickets for the Vendemmia Festival in South Philly, from 2 until 6 p.m. Unless the game is changed to accommodate Sunday Night Baseball, it will begin at 1:30. Maybe, just maybe, we can do both.

You can bet that we'll be there Sunday to see the NL East winning Phillies.

 


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by Ron on September 26 at 8:01AM

 

 

5 left to play.

  • Two games behind the Mets in the East
  • One game behind Wild Card leader San Diego
  • Kyle Lohse tonight vs Tim Hudson

When the Master and Commander pulled the Sloop of Atlanta into the Port of Wilmington on Monday, he heard the drums along the Susquehanna.

Camp Ottawa in the north country has been closed, the drums said, and no more would Ye-Philadelphia send pitchers up there. This meant only one thing to the Commander.

He summoned his lieutenants on board the Sloop and outlined the battle strategy. If they could get to Moyer by the sixth, it meant that Geary might be summoned now that camp Ottawa is closed. The Commander, winner of 11 straight sea battles, 14 overall with the Sloop, told the deck hands that if Geary is summoned, their guns must be ready or heads would roll.

"Ah, eye-eye Captain," they responded.

He knew Ye-Philadelphia had cannons too, and they could rain hell on the Sloop...and that they did, with volleys from Rollins, Howard, and Werth. But when the smoke cleared at the end of five rounds, the Commander knew he had 'em where he wanted 'em. 

When Captain Lucky Charlie went out to get Moyer in the sixth and brought in Geary, the Commander allowed the closest thing to a smile since Queen Fonda blew him a kiss from her third base perch in the World Battle of ' 95.

After Geary's warm-ups, the Sloop's cannons roared again and this time, after three damaging blows to the bulkhead, Ye-Philadelphia was badly crippled.

"We got them two studs on Wednesday and Thursday," the Master and Commander bellowed in the dugout, meaning Hudson and Smoltz. "They got Lohse and Kendrick."

The dugout burst with laughter: "Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, eye-eye Captain, ah, ha, ha, ha.."

"Man your stations," the Commander shouted,"Ye ain't won nothin' yet, you miserable sea mongrels. Until we get Wild, nobody does no laughin,' Ye got that straight?"

"Eye-eye, Captain, eye-eye."

"And no rum until we have the heads of Utley, Howard and Rollins in a pickle barrel, you worthless dogs of scurvy."

"Eye-eye, Captain, eye-eye."

 

 


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by Ron on September 25 at 8:36AM

 

6 left to play!

Here we are entering the final week of play:

  • The Phillies are 85-71
  • Two games behind the East leading Mets
  • Dead Even with San Diego in the Wild Card
  • The next three games against Atlanta
  • Will face two tough pitchers in John Smoltz and Tim Hudson
  • Atlanta has the edge, they are relaxed, nothing to lose
  • The Phillies could be tight, they are so close they can taste it, but they must play well
  • Jamie Moyer tonight vs Chuck James

For the Phillies to do well, the big guy at right, Ryan Howard, must cut down on his strike outs and drive the ball.

The skipper, Charlie Manuel, in the final year of his contract, has got to make important decisions under pressure. He's got to use his bench players better than he has in the last couple of games. Chris Coste can be a key player if he is used properly.

 

And what about the cagy, aging veteran Jamie Moyer? He turns 45 in November and works the plate like an artist recreating the Mona Lisa. First you see it now you don't. Teasing with the fast ball just off the plate. If he gets the calls he'll be tough, if not?

So fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride for what could be the six most exciting games in Phillies history.

 

To keep score of  tonight's game, to to:

http://www.baseballscorecard.com/kscore.htm

Then download "The Scorecard."

Then click on "download page" in Getting A Scorecard

Then click on Excel

But set up the page in your computer to print on letter size paper, portrait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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by Ron on September 24 at 7:53AM

It simply amazes me that a professional athlete would let himself go like this, or that a professional baseball team would let him.

Antonio Alfonseca is no spring chicken. On the Phillies website he is listed as 35 and has been at the major league level since 1997 when the Marlins brought him up. He had a big year in 2000 saving 45 games and earning the Rolids Relief Man Award.

But if you look at his ERA over the past two years, it's rising faster than the Eagles injury list. Last year with Texas he pitched just 16  innings, gave up 23 hits and his ERA balooned to 5.63. 

It seems like he's run out of gas. I wonder why? Yesterday in a crucial game in the sixth he gave the lead away, then Kane Davis comes in and gives up two more and the Phillies end up losing the game to Washington, 5-3.

I listened to the 8th and 9th innings yesterday sitting in my truck while my wife shopped in BJs. "Are you sure you dont' want to shop, dear?" No you go ahead, I'll sit here and listen to the Phillies game. But see if you can find out where those little Hummels come from, will ya?

I am really impressed with the Phillies radio broadcaster Scott Franzke. He does a great job setting up the game for you when all you can see is the entrance to BJs. This guy is really good. I hope the Phillies keep him for a while. 

I'm not second guessing Charlie Manuel on his use of starter Cole Hamels or handing the ball to Afonseca or Davis. I do question the team as to why they let one of their athletes get out of shape like this. Tonight is an off night for the Fightins' before they begin a six game schedule at home, three against Atlanta and three against Washingon to end the season.

But Skip, how about we leave Alfonseca and Davis in the bullpen broom closet? 

Box Seats

Not that I'm on the same intelligence level with famed and fabled Coach Joe Paterno of the Happy Valley Nitany Lions, but I wonder if the team hadn't played two weaklings along with a poor Notre Dame team, they might have fared better against Michigan?

Speaking of Notre Dame, the good Fathers couldn't ge rid of Tyrone Willingham fast enough and hired the pro coach Charlie Weiss. I wonder if they are second guessing themselves after ND's 0-4 start. That start could go to 0-8 with the next four games the Irish have against Purdue, UCLA, Boston College, and USC, before they get some relief agaisnt Navy on November 3rd.

Willingham's 21-15 record at ND is looking pretty good right now.  His Washington Dawgs however got beat by Ohio State and then UCLA on Saturday and are 2-2. They face USC next week. Perhaps the Huskie's AD should have scheduled Florida International, Buffalo and Temple this year. Maybe he/she should attend that athletic scheduling conference next week at the Nittany Lion Inn. You know, the one that guarantees that each participant's school will land a bowl game.

The Golden Boys of North Broad Street looked good on offense but horrible on defense, losing 48-35 to Bowling Green. Turnovers killed them. But that Owl quarterback Adam DiMichele is something else. You've got to watch Temple just to see this kid play.

It was impressive the way the Owls came back at the end of the first half to tie the score. 

Temple 'could've-should've' won over Buffalo and BG, but it is what it is. Next Saturday the Owls visit Army at West Point, NY.

The Black Knights are 1-3 with their lone win coming over Rhode Island and look beatable if Coach Golden can tighen up that Owl defense. The game is being carried by ESPNU at Noon.

Mechanicsburg High School dropped to 2-2 after losing to Middletown in its first Mid-Penn Keystone conference game. The 'Cats defense looked sensational again holding a tough Middletown squad to two scores. The Wildcats take on the Lower Dalphin Falcons at 7 next Friday evening at home. The Falcons' high school is located in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, just a stones throw up 322 from Hershey.

The question that I was asked recently, 'do the Hummel figurines come from Hummelstown?' You know, those expensive little collectibiles? It is known that the Hummels (Mr. and Mrs. Hummel, not the figurines) from Germany settled the town, but did they bring those little statues with them? And, get this: Newt Gingrich once lived in Hummelstown. Impressed yet? 

If that's true, how come there's no hummel of Gingrich? 


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by Ron on September 22 at 4:45PM



















Tonight Kendrick, tomorrow Cole...
Next day the offense has got to roll

With Lohse, Moyer and Eaton
It's a toss up, we can win or get beatin'

Then it's Durbin or even Ennis
Lord please, don't make this our penance

Counting tonight there's eight to play
If we get to Gordon and Myers, we're on our way







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by Ron on September 21 at 8:21AM

Of all the decisions Pat Gillick made over the winter the acquisition of Jason Werth has to be up near the top. Werth can flat-out play, and last night his pinch hit three run home run in the seventh cut Washington's lead to 6-5. Chase Utley and J-Roll followed with clutch  hits to put the Phillies over the top, 7-6.

With nine left to play, every game is a must-win. With the Mets losing last night, the Phillies are a game and a half behind them in the NL East and two and a half behind San Diego in the Wild Card.

Let's hope Adam Eaton has five or six innings of shutout in him tonight. It seems if the Phillies can get to the sixth or seventh, they've got a shot with J.C. Romero, Tom  Gordon and Brett Myers, who picked up his 18th save last night.

It appears that Penn State might have it's first test of the season when the Nit's travel to the Big House tomorrow to face a 1-2 Michigan team.

Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr may need a win to hang on to his  job. You recall the Wolverines being embarrassed by Appalachian State, then knocked off by Oregon before beating the Irish, 38-0.

Teams like Michigan and Penn State fatten up the front of their schedules with weaklings to pave the way for a bowl invitation. Well, Michigan got 'licked' by one of those weaklings.

Tomorrow we'll see if Penn State is good, or have they fattened up by 'licking' the weaklings?

You know the Golden Boys of North Broad Street should be 1-2 but we won't go there. Let's see how well Coach prepared the Owls after they had a win snatched away from them last week at Connecticut. It must be frustrating to a coaching staff trying to revive a program without a pulse by being cheated by a bad call. Tomorrow's game against Bowling Green (last year's only win for the Owls) is on local television.

Last night an old friend offered me two tickets to the Penn State-Temple game in November so Denise and I will be there in our cherry and white. Everybody knows that Temple is going to upset Penn State, 24-21.

Just when I was saying Hollywood doesn't make good cowboy movies anymore, we saw 3:10 to Yuma. I never thought I'd say this but my favorite actor is an Englishman.  He was great in the Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, and Master and Commander. Russell Crowe is the man. 

 3:10 to Yuma is a great  movie: "Kid, I have to be rotten as hell to ride with this gang." But why didn't he take the kid and go back to get the woman instead of getting on the train? We'll never know. Fear not, I didn't ruin it for you.

Tonight the Mechanicsburg Wildcats travel across the Susquehanna River to take on the Middletown Blue Raiders at Memorial Field. This is the 'Cats first league game of the season. Both teams are 2-1 so a  win will put the 'Cats in the playoff picture.  

Middletown is that bedroom community nestled in close to the Harrisburg Airport settled by German immigrants from the Black Forest and less than five miles from the nuclear power plant, Three Mile Island. As you may remember, Three Mile Island suffered a partial meltdown in 1979, causing Governor Dick Thornburgh to evaculate the area. Let's hope the  Blue Raiders experience a different kind of meltdown tonight. Kickoff is at 7. 

And oh yes the Eagles.


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Thumbnail image for 062207rowand390.jpg
Thumbnail image for atlanta.jpg

















Two very good ball players who cover center field like wallpaper. Both just turned 30, and both can hit, although one is having an off year and the other a good year.

The Braves Andruw Jones is currently hitting .220, but has 25 home runs and 91 RBI. Aaron Rowand is hitting .313 with 26 home runs and 87 RBI.

Rowand leads in on base percentage .382 to .314 and in slugging percentage, .526 to .414. Rowand also leads in hits, 177 to 119 and runs scored, 101 to 77. He's clearly having the better year. Jones has been playing longer, starting his major league career in 1996, Rowand in ' 01.

Who do you think is the better defensive centerfielder? Their career fielding percentages are close: Jones: .991 and Rowand: .998. Rowand may have run through a wall for the Phillies, but over the long haul I'd take Jones. His arm is better, too.

Now here's the big difference: Money. In 2002 Jones signed a six year, $75 million contract with the Braves; he's making $13.5 million this year. To avoid arbitration Rowand signed a one year deal with the Phillies in ' 07 for $4.35 million. He was traded here for Jim Thome in ' 05.

Rowand only hit above .300 once in his career, in ' 04, .310. Last year he hit .262. Jones has never hit .300, but his home run and RBI production far exceeds Rowand's.

Now get this: Both players will be looking for big money, starting around $10 million for multi-year deals. The Phillies will have money to give away next season, but do they want to give it to Rowand? Or do they go after one or two rotation pitchers and a relief pitcher to set the table for Brett Myers?

With the likes of Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber (and a few others) leaving town, the Phillies could have over $30 million to spend on free agents next winter. They can also move Shane Victorino to center and use Michael Bourn and Jason Werth in right, and still have a solid outfield.

Considering their current problems, e.g., no pitching, all those in favor of spending the money on pitching raise their hands.

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Last night's game was typical of the Phillies season.

Up, down, back up, down and back up.

A decent job by the right handed starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick, who gave up a three run dinger in the sixth. Then to give back six more--five by Clay Condrey and one by Jose Mesa in the seventh. But Condrey is in luck, Camp Ottawa is closed for the year, or he'd be heading back up there today. Antonio Alfonseca gave up two more in the eighth.

An offensive slugfest by both teams with the Phillies  out slugging for the win, 12-11. Is this not a typical 2007 win for the Phillies?

Jimmy Rollins, at right, had another big night, going 2 for 4, with a three run home run, three RBI, and two runs scored. Ryan Howard hit two, his 39th and 40th, a grand slam in the sixth.

With 12 left games left, the Phillies remain a game-and-a-half behind the San Diego Padres--a team that refuses to lose--and now two-and-a-half games behind the Mets, a team looking for a win after losing their fourth straight last night against the Washington Nationals.



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by Ron on September 17 at 7:20AM
After sweeping the Mets, 13 games left. Three at St. Louis, then four at Washington. Then home for three with the Braves and three with the Nationals. Final game: Sunday, September 30, vs Washington.

Currently three-and-a-half games behind the NL East leading New York Mets. One-game-and-a-half behind the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card.

Things are looking good for the Darlings of  Destiny. But they can't let up. Takin' 'em one game at a time, which brings us to tonight, 8:10, vs  the Rolen-less St. Louis Cardinals. Kyle Kendricks taking the mound, with Cole Hamels Tuesday night and Jamie Moyer Wednesday.

One game at a time.







                     He's back....







  

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Two old men of the grand old game square off tonight at Shea Stadium for the playoff bound Phillies.

Say what? Playoff bound?

Jamie  Moyer and Tom Glavine (go ahead, pick them out of the photo at right) have more character and smoothness than barrel-aged wine.

And the Phillies, the Darlings of Destiny, now only a game-and-a-half behind San Diego with 16 to play, are hanging tough and will at the end take the NL wild card.

Thursday night's game is the perfect example. J.D. Durbin goes one and done and guess who picks him up? The bullpen. If that isn't a sign of things to come...

The Darlings of Destiny get pick-me-up when needed and will stay close--down to the final series against the Washington Nationals--to the end.

Just watch and see!

"Ooooooooo, ooo, ooo, ooooooooooooooooo." The wolves are beginning to howl already for the  Golden Boys of North Broad Street. The 0-2 Temple Owls have not started the season as anticipated. But I  don't know what can be expected of a football program than hasn't had a pulse since the Captain and Tennille were singing "Love Will Keep Us Together." A program like that you can't turn around overnight, in spite of the howling wolves.

Take Rutgers, for example. That program was kick-started too but it didn't happen overnight. Tomorrow the Owls travel up the Jersey Turnpike and visit Big East opponent Connecticut.

I'm putting my head on the chopping block and predict the Golden  Boys will surprise the wolves (and the Huskies) with a big win...resulting in the wolves jumping on that band wagon. Get ready, here comes that wagon...

"Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo." Temple 21-20.

Maybe some of the stink from the Bill Belichick mess will drift over to South Bend. Charlie Weiss was Belichick's offensive coordinator during the videotaping scandal in which the Patriots allegedly stole signals. The Irish play another tough opponent on Saturday when they visit the Big House and take on an embarrassed and hungry Michigan team.

Speaking of Charlie Weiss, the criticism voiced against the Irish hiring him from the Patriots said that in New England he didn't have to recruit. He went to Notre Dame and became an instant winner. But were those his players or were they recruited by former coach Tyron Willingham? It appeared that Willingham was shown the door a bit early, before he had the opportunity--the same opportunity given other ND coaches--to continue winning. 

In spite of all this, it will be the Irish who come out on top over Michigan, 17-14. The Washington Huskies, by the way, are 2-0 after thumping Syracuse and Boise State.

It looks like Penn State gets a bye this week when they host the University at Buffalo. Even BlueWhiteIllustrated is quiet about Saturday's game. What really can you say? PSU 56-10 over Buffalo.

And finally the Mechanicsburg Wildcats take on a tough Northern football team tonight at home. Athough the offense, led by junior quarterback Jake Zeigler, has been solid in the 'Cats first two victories, it's the defense that is lighting up the night with an astonishing seven pics already. And how about that goal line stance the 'Cats defense pulled off in the waning seconds against Carlisle?

This defense makes one think..."Who are those guys, anyway?" With another solid performance by the defense tonight, it will be Mechanicsburg 17-10

 

 


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Here we are. With Eaton's outing  last night, we're at the edge of the cliff.

Forget the NL East, the Phillies are six games behind the Mets.

In the Wild Card, the Phils trail San Diego by two-and-a-half. Colorado, tonight's opponent, trail the Phillies by a game.

Counting tonight, there are 18 games left to play. Is it possible for the Fightin's to pass the Padres? Of course.

Probable? Not really, not with their bullpen and rotation. Adam Eaton's performance last night is a good example.

The rest of the rotation, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, Kyle Loshe, and J.D. Durbin are not exactly setting the world on fire. In this morning's paper Eaton was quoted as saying that his 6-plus ERA wouldn't be too bad if he was winning. Say what? Who can win with a 6-plus ERA.

But I checked and you know what? J.D. Durbin's ERA is 6.12 and he's 6-5.

How about this quote: Joe Paterno when asked by the press if Penn State is considering the reestablishment of the Penn State-Pittsburgh rivalry, said he still has girlfriends in Pittsburgh who want tickets. However, Coach said, they have to use their canes to get to the game. Not bad Coach. But Coach, please stop using the word "lick." As in, we'll lick 'em this Saturday. People don't use that word anymore except when they eat ice cream.

It's too bad Penn State is playing the University at Buffalo on Saturday. Pennsylvanians driving all the way to State College to see this one will be leaving at the half. Of course, the hotel room prices--and you have to get both Friday and Saturday nights--won't be any cheaper for this weekend. Same price. That is, if you can get a hotel room on a football weekend.

We'll be looking closely at the big game in Mechanicsburg this weekend when two undefeated high school teams square off. On Friday the Wildcats host the Northern Polar Bears. This game, like the Pitt-Penn State rivalry, was hot a few years ago, but then took a few seasons off. Hopefully, the 'Cat coaches won't have girlfriends coming to the game with canes.

Hey...they better not have girlfriends!

In spite of no girlfriends, we are looking for Mechanicsburg to lick the Polar Bears.







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by Ron on September 11 at 12:02PM

Let's face it...cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke rates are rising faster than Pat  Burrell's batting average.

With 47 million Americans lacking health insurance, and millions more with only limited coverage, lifestyle disease is a serious subject.

When it comes to good health and looking fit, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and Eagles coach Andy Reid leave a little to be desired.

This is surprising considering both teams employ exercise and fitness gurus. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink... 

Besides risking high blood pressure and bad cholesterol, there is stress, and plenty of that comes with both jobs. During the televised Phillies games it's easy to see how stressed out Manuel gets especially when Adam Eaton pitches.

Stress? Who could have more stress than Andy Ried, with one son in jail and the other at home with a monitoring anklet bracelet? Then his team gets beat on opening day because he was unprepared, or at least it appeared that way. He put J.R. Reed (released this morning) out on the field in a key punt return situation, when Reed has never fielded an NFL punt in his life. What? He couldn't find Brian Westbrook at the time?

Stress can affect all of us in many different ways, from how we treat our family to the kinds of decisions we make in the work place.

It doesn't matter how important the job is, or how stressful, or how demanding: Daily exercise, not smoking, and good nutritional habits are essential, and will help us lead better lives. And...be able to make decisions in pressurized, stressful situations.

Head coaches included.

   


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What does this photo?

 

 

 

And the next photo below...go ahead, scroll down, don't be lazy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have in common................................................................?????

 

The key to this question is inept. All winter, Phillies brass, namely Pat Gillick, did little if nothing to shore up a bull pen with a closer pushing 40. Once the season began, Gillick and company did lots of patch work. That patch work cost the Phillies many games and perhaps a playoff spot.

In yesterday's Eagles-Packers game an inept Eagles special teams unit threw the game away. In the photo left, inexperienced punt return 'specialist' J.R. Reed fumbles with a minute to play in the game setting up rookie Mason Crosby's 43 yard field goal and handing the Packers the game, 16-13.

Donovan McNabb was average at best (coming off major knee surgery), Brian Westbrook got his 20 carries but gained just 85 yards. The Birds' defense played well.

Overall, the team looked sloppy and unprepared, certainly not an 'Andy Reid looking team:' In the first seven minutes of the game, two Eagles holding pentalities and an Eagles personal foul. Combined with the pre-season losses, it appears something is not right with the Eagles. Could it be the Coach's family problems? Who could blame him if it is? 


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by Ron on September 9 at 10:47AM
You know about the unwanted step son. Let's look in at the dinner table:

"Ryan, super job, son. And don't worry about those strike outs, it's the dingers that count. And Chase, we are so proud of you. Leading the league in hitting, how nice is that?

"Cole, you make us proud. We'll get 'em next year, son, you wait and see. And Bret, it doesn't matter what happened in Boston, you keep working on closing out the game.

"Oh Chris, you did hit a home run yesterday, but what about the other two times up to bat? You failed there.

"Okay, except for Chris, who wants seconds for dessert?"


He's hitting .304 with five home runs and 22 RBI since they brought him in from camp Ottawa. He handles the pitchers as good, if not better, than Ruiz.

During the winter caravan, GM Pat Gillick spoke about the players he was bringing in: Werth and Dobbs to play the outfield, and Rod Barajas to share the catching duties with Carlos Ruiz. Coste heard it because he was there. Turned out, Barajas was a joke. You may not see him play another game in a Phillies' uni.

For Coste, it didn't matter what he did last season. The unwanted step son gets no seconds for dessert.

Last week, the Phillies picked up Pete Laforest, another catcher. Does this spell doom for Coste in 2008? Once again, the unwanted stepson who can produce--a two-run shot in yesterdays win over the Marlins--gets pushed to the side. Sure, he hit a two run home run yesterday to put the Phillies ahead 3-1. But what about his other two at bats?

Questions surround the Eagles season opener today against the Green Bay Packers and the biggest one has to be the durability of quarterback Donovan McNabb. Can he return to form and lead the Birds to another title run? Will he be able to play the entire season? Will he get up the first time he gets hit hard?

Thumbnail image for Donavan.jpgThe second question is how much will Andy Reid's family problems effect the team? It has to effect the coach. He wouldn't be a father if it didn't.

Then what about leadership? Is it Donovan? Will it be Brian Westbrook? Brian Dawkins? Will the team leader be someone else?

Will the defense be good enough? Will Jim Johnson's defense we quick enough? Omar Gaither is unproven at middle linebacker. How much of a learning experience will it be for the Birds' defense?

Will Westbrook get his 20 carries a game? Will Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis get open and catch the ball (and hold on to it)?

The Eagles have more than a few good players, but they have become an veteran team. Do the pre-season losses indicate a problem, or are simply a meaningless warm-up for the regular season? Perhaps we'll know some of the answers by the end of today.

I look for a big win for the Eagles today, and a game from McNabb that will quite his critics...at least for the moment.

How 'bout them Wildcats, huh? Mechanicsburg High School continued to roll with a decisive win over Spring Grove, 34-13. The defense stole the show holding the Rockets on the ground and in the air. Last week Spring Grove racked up 41 unanswered points...but not this week, not against this defense! The 2-0 'Cats are on the move.

The Golden Boys from North Broad Street are not ready to make their mark. This coach needs time. Temple football hasn't had a pulse in years and one good coach can't turn it around overnight.

The Owls have the right man to do the job. Once he does, once he turns the corner, everybody--all the Owl bloggers--will be jumping on the bandwagon. Some day, Al Golden will look back at last year, this year, and say, "We hung tough and turned the program around."

Hang in there Coach.








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Well it's about time.

I'm happy to see that the Phillies have some sense in their collective heads. After all these years, bringing him back to pitch this afternoon's game.

Maybe the most abused player in Phillies history, possibility the least recognized, the last one to be appreciated for his home run power.

Booed so much he'd make Pat Burrell look like a hometown favorite. He'd make Dick Allen look like the Director of Community Relations.

In 14 seasons, 288 home runs, 1,284 RBI, and 2,063 hits.

But, leave it up to the Phillies to screw things up. Instead of putting him in the field today, they are pitching him. Go figure.

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Charlie's door was slightly ajar.

Geoff Geary peeked in and saw the Phillies manager sipping a Diet Coke. He was listening to 'Ole Tyme Country' on the computer radio that Jose Mesa hooked up for him.

In a grey t-shirt and his Phillies pin-stripe baseball pants, white socks and sandals, he was sitting back in his chair, thinking it won't be long before he and Thome are casting a couple of blue duns out over the Jackson River.

Or hitting out of the back lip of a bunker at the fifth hole at Vista Links, watching it roll off the angle down a slopping green and into the cup for a birdie.

'Yea,' he thought, clasping his hands behind his head, 'get out of these pinstripes and into some good fishin' clothes...hittin' them fairways, git away from those tom-fool reporters asking stupid questions.' On the computer radio, Dolly Parton was signing something about two doors down...

"Two doors down...they were drinkin' and havin' a party...two doors down they were..."

Charlie didn't like the rap that Jimmy and Flash played in the locker room. "I can't see how they call that stuff music, man," he would say, "sounds to me like somebody got somthin' stuck in their throat."

Geary rapped on the door. "Skip? Skip? You in there," he said.

"Who's there?" Manuel said, "balls in a chicken coop, I can't get away from these cry babies, no how. What you want, Geary?"

Geary came to see Charlie to talk business. Geary told him he's been sent to Ottawa so many times this season, he completely wore out a seat on Continental flight 7307, which had to be covered so passengers didn't get stuck by a loose spring.


"With all this experience, me and Condrey," Geary told his boss, "have been talkin' about starting a moose huntin' business up north. But we ain't never hunted and we know you have, so maybe you can guide us....."

Charlie cut in: "What the...what's goin' on here? I'm not fallin' for this again. You boys recordin' me again? Victorino, Rowand, you out there recordin' this?"

"No Skip," Geary stammered, "nobody's out there. This ain't no joke. It's me, Geoff, wantin' to talk with you. Taking people to Ottawa to hunt moose, 'cept me and Condrey, we ain't never hunted before."

"And you want me to.....?" Manuel asked.

"Well Skip, Condrey and me, we know you hunted a lot, being the outdoorsman you are, so we thought you could teach us some things about hunting. Whatdaya think, Skip?"

Charlie sat back in his chair and rubbed the stubble on his chin. He wet his lips and his eyes danced, moving around like he was trying to make a decision to bunt, or let Nunez hit away.

"Well hell, Geary," he said, "I got a good moose huntin' story that will surely help you and Condrey. Want to hear it?" Geary shook his head yes. "Well, you know how funny Thome approaches the batters box, kind of walks bow legged, and the way he points his bat out toward center field, don't you? Good, cause there's a reason he does that."

"Close that door, son, and pull your chair up here. You see, Thome and me we been huntin' together for years. We'd get flown in to the back country about 160 miles north of Ottawa, long before you and Condrey started gettin' sent up there.

"But we hadn't had much luck gettin' the moose to come in close enough to get off a shot. So one day, Somoarro, a half Eskimo half Cherokee injun guide, said he had a moose costume that he used several times to call in big moose. You see, son, the moose costume was of a female, a darn nice lookin' female in moose lookin' terms, if you git my drift.


"Now, Somoarro had some moose smellin' stuff and a genuine moose call and he told us to go to the backside of the mountain at dawn, spread around some of the smellin' stuff, and for both of us to git in the moose costume.

 "Let me tell you, it stunk in there like an outhouse that ain't been ventilated. Son, it stunk worse than a dumpster behind the Outback Steakhouse that the substitute driver forgot for six months.

"So we make our way through the woods, and we settle on a nice little clearing at the edge of the Big Riff. It took us about a half hour to get into that putrid smellin' moose costume. Thome was in the back working the Moose's butt and I was in the front working the head and shoulders.

"Well, Jimmy lets go with a couple of moose calls: Wooooeeee, woooooeee. Off in the distance I hear a bull answering and I tell Jimmy to get ready. Well let me tell you, I see this bull comin' faster than the Norfork Southern comin' through the Flat Rock Tunnel 30 minutes behind schedule.

"So I yell back, 'Jimbo, he's comin' a hellin,' get that 30 ought six ready to go.' And Jimmy yells back to me, 'Charlie, I through you had the ought 6. And I peek through the little moose eye hole and I see them two ought 6's leanin' up against a tall oak lookin' prettier than than if they was on the cover of Gun & Ammo Magazine.

"Now this bull moose gets within 15 yards of us and he slams on the brakes. And he's givin' us a once over makin' sure he ain't fallin into no trap.  All of a sudden, I see him start smilin' ear to ear and he let's out a howl that would have woke the dead in the Buena Vista cementary. And he's sniffin' the air and snffin' the ground especially where we spread that smellin' stuff.

Now Geary, who's looking like Casper the ghost meeting Frankinstein, says, "What did ya do, Skip?"

"So I see this bull moose smilin' like he was and sniffin' the ground, and I yell back to Thome, 'Hey Jimbo, you got that smellin' stuff back there? And he hollers back yes he does. So I yell, 'what's it say on the cover?' And he yells back, 'it says Moose French Perfume.'

"All of a sudden, this big bull moose starts swingin' around behind us. So me, being in the front with the head, I start eatin' some dandelions and twigs and I yell back at Thome, 'Jimbo, if you want to make spring training next year, you better brace yourself real quick like.'"

With that, Geary gets up and runs out the door faster than Carl Lewis doing the 100 in Seoul. And he yells back, "Condrey and me ain't interested in moose huntin.'"

And Charlie? He laughs so hard he almost busted the stitches the good doctors in Atlanta used to sew up his hernia in between two night games.

And Geary and Condrey? Well, they forgot about moose huntin' real fast, and started looking for other business opportunities, especially in the Allentown area.



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by Ron on September 2 at 1:18PM
The other day my brother reminded me of the great season Jimmy Rollins is having. He was saying people may not appreciate the shortstop as they should. I think he's right.

It's easy to take him for granted.

He signed a five year, $40 million contract that will take him through 2010. Plus an $8.5 million club option for 2011, with a $2 million buy out.

Here's what J-Roll said after yesterday's disappointing loss to Florida: "We needed today, no doubt. We jump out there, throw a five spot. There's no way in the world that five spot should be given up the way it was."

It seems that the Phillies starters give up the ball too early to inept middle relievers. In the case of J.D. Drubin, on Saturday he was removed in the first inning without getting an out. Ouch!

Newbie Kane Davis came in on Sunday and allowed back to back home runs.

It's frustrating not only for good ball players like Jimmy Rollins, but for the fans too.

And what about Jason Werth? Is he earning an outfield spot for 2008? Could be. If Aaron Rowland moves on, Victorino in center, Werth in right?

Penn State could be grooming its next coach right here in the City of Brotherly Love. If Al Golden can turn the tide for the Temple Owls--not make them National Champions, but competitive, with back to back winning seasons--could the suits in Old Main take notice? Maybe they have already. Golden, a former Nittany Lion tight end, would fit the mold perfectly.

Thumbnail image for paterno-large.jpgNot enough experience, you say? He's got more experience than the last head coach the Lions hired. Now let's see, who was that, anyway? But Golden has to start winning now and Buffalo at the Linc on Saturday may be the start.

Penn State will have a real football team to play at Beaver Stadium on Saturday. It appears, however, that the Nittany Lions will be too much for a Notre Dame team still searching for a quarterback: 27-10, Penn State.

The quote of the year from Kane Davis after surrendering back to back home runs: "I feel I can do the job. I don't think I made bad pitches. I feel like I let them down. I came in and gave up two runs. I hope I get the opportunity to do it again."

No, no, please no!

 



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        Mets                                                         Braves                                       Phillies

Pedro Martinez**      9-8     4.48                Tim Hudson    15-7   3.32         Cole Hamels   14-5      3.50

Orlando Hernandez   9-2      3.32                 John Smoltz   12-6  3.06        Jamie Moyer  12-10      5.08

John Maine            14-8      3.57               Chuck James     9-9  4.22         Adam Eaton     9-8      6.23

Oliver Perez           12-9      3.39               Buddy Carlyle    8-5  5.02          Kyle Kendrick  8-3      3.79

Tom Glavine           11-6     4.14              Lance Cormier    1-4    7.59          Kyle Lohse    7-12      4.54

** - 2006 records, may pitch for the first time in '07 Monday

The Golden Boys on North Broad Street opened their season with a loss to Navy, 30-19. An announced crowd of 30,000 turned out at the Linc. Temple QB Adam  DiMichele threw for 199  yards and two touchdowns.  Through the media Owls head coach Al Golden said he was disappointed with the loss. But Temple looked much improved and has a full season ahead to cash in on that improvement.

Mechanicsburg High School defeated Carlise, 14-7, in a squeaker. The game was a thriller all the way to the end with the Wildcats' defense making a goal line stance as the clock ran out on Carlise. Mechanicsburg's next opponent, at Spring Grove next Friday night. Go Wildcats!

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by Ron on August 31 at 9:26AM

Patty.jpg

Or one to forget.

Let's give credit where credit's due. Pat Burrell's surge from a .203 batting average to a feared number three hitter, has to go along with regognition to Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson.

Somebody helped Burrell with the outside slider and the fastball in on the fists and that someone is Thompson.

Milt.jpg

I met Milt when I attended the Phillies Dream Week several years ago and I found him to be a nice man. He's done a great job with Pat, so give credit where it's due.

After his game winning hit yesterday, Chase Utley was interviewed by Harry the K. But in my mind, the player who stood out in this dramatic win, amongst all the heroism...?

  • Utley's walk off hit
  • Ryan Howard going 3 for 5
  • Aaron Rowand's leaping catch in front of the Southwest Airlines' sign in left center
  • Clay Condrey's two scoreless innings
  • Carlos Ruiz picking off Carlos Delgado
  • Burrell's two home runs
  • Tadahito Iguchi's stolen base

...was Jason Werth fighting off Wagner for a broken bat single, then stealing second and third on two consecutive pitches, and scoring on Iguchi's single. That was huge.

When Utley won the game and Harry was calling the play, listeners could hear an excited Sarge in the background. And it added to the excitement. It reminded me of when Rich Ashburn, early in his broadcasting career, would yell "oh brother, oh brother," while the K was calling an exciting play.

In this morning's New York Times Harvey Araton questioned Willie Randolph's use of Billy  Wagner for two innings, and not going with Aaron Heilman in the eighth. However Randolph decided "to go with his strength when the situation demanded it." I wonder if that was what Charlie was thinking when Alfonseca gave up four runs in the eighth without getting an out?

The Golden Boys open their season with Navy at the Linc at 7:30. The game is being carried on FM radio 94.1, so while Denise and I are watching the Phillies-Marlins game, we'll tune in to Temple. Last season the Midshipmen spanked Temle 42-6, so tonight's game will be interesting. 

Joe Paterno opens his season with huge heavyweight Florida International tomorrow at noon at Beaver Stadium. If Penn State  wants to content in the Big Ten, it must get some solid performances from quarterback Anthony Morelli. Notre Dame takes on Georgia Tech tomorrow at South Bend. This will be Charlie Weis' first test after losing many of  his key players from last season including quarterback Brady Quinn.

I'll be saying good things about Notre Dame this year so when my niece Kaitlin gets there, she'll send Denise and me tickets. 

The latest issue of Sports Illustrated has picked the Eagles to win the NFC East. Says SI, "A rejuvenated quarterback and a retooled linebacker corps have this aging team primed for a run at the Super Bowl." Hopefully a losing preseason won't make a difference for this "aging team." SI says the Birds will be 11-5.

News which you all have been waiting for: Freddy Garcia underwent surgery yesterday to repair torn cartilage in his right shoulder. Let's see if Freddy gets another big contract, after spending his last year of a three year deal with the White Sox, with the Phillies at $10 million.

And finally, speaking of contracts, Jason Werth's one year, $850,000 deal is looking pretty good. Let's hope the Phillies can keep him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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street.jpg

Carmen Cossavechi will be a guest columnist from time to time. Carmen writes from South Philadelphia.

Ron asked me to write-a this for the newspaper or sometin' like that. Anyways I don't want no payment or nothin'.

I live-a in South Philly, down near the Broad and Mifflin. We love-a the Eagles and the Phillies, dem bums, but nobody sits out on the stoops no more. Nobody.

In the old days, we use to listen at night when Del Ennis struck out, or on the holy days when that bum Norman Snead threw the interception all day. And to think-a, we traded him for Sony Jurgensen. Madonna!

Now, nobody-a sits out no more to listen. Not anymore. And I'll tell you-a why.

Today-a, everybody  got to have a dog. It's-a fashion, walkin' the dog. They bring-a the plastic bag and when the dog goes, they scoop it-a up with-a the bag. Then they go home.

But I'll tell ya, the bag-a doesn't get it all. No. The bag-a leaves a-excess. So when they go-a home, there is-a the excess on the ground.

Now you times-a this by...who knows, maybe a thousand-a dogs in a South Philly. Who knows-a?

So I'm-a saying, you have-a lots of-a the excess on the sidewalks and streets. The excess draws-a the flies. So times this-a by a thousand and you have-a lot's a flies all over. Okay? So-a nobody sits out no more. Let's say-a we are-a sittin' out and a fly lands on-a the rim of the Mrs.' Bud Lite, know-a what-a I'm saying? Who knows-a where that flies-a been? Could have-a just come from a pile of the excess. You know I ain't-a givin' her no good night kiss.
When-a the Mrs. and-a me walk down the Passyunk-a to look at the lights, we have-a to step over all the excess. It's a crime-a. Some-atimes it ain't just the excess-a, it's-a the whole thing, if you-a know what I mean. Just sittin' there.

People have-a no decency no more, with the dogs and things. Excess-a all over the place, and the flies. Whatayagonnado?

Another thing, them bums is making too much money. Gettin' paid-a millions, and-a we suppose to sit out with all them flies comin' from the excess-a?

Them-a dogs ruined a good thing. Next time I'll write about sometin' else-a, God Bless.

Oh-a, one-a more thing. No kids is playin' in the parks no more. Use to be playin'-a ball all day. But them parks, these people walk-a dem dogs there and they go in the park. How many? Who knows, could-a be thousand dogs. Now-a you know why these kids is-a sittin home in front of-a da computer all day. It's-a dem dogs. Madonna!

 

 

 


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by Ron on August 29 at 7:57AM
Thumbnail image for Hey.jpg

Michael Vick said he's found God. So I Googled God to see what he might have found and I came up with all sorts of photographs. I like this one the best.

Michael is this what you found?

Speaking of God, if you saw that ball rolling down the line last night in the tenth with three Mets standing there watching it, and with Victorino rounding third and heading home, now that's God.

That was divine intervention, no doubt about it.

I'm going to ask the Sisters of St. Francis to pray for the Phillies. Hey Michael, that's God.

Last night the law firm of Geary, Romero and Myers combined for four and a third innings to shut down the Mets.

Michael, that's God.

Former Temple coach Wayne Hardin has taken it upon himself to fill the Linc for Temple's opening game Friday night. He must be doing okay because I can't get tickets.

Rumor has it that if Hardin does fill the Linc, the University will give him an office in Sullivan...and get this, Peter Liacouras will report to  him. If it happens, that is definitely the workings of God.

 The Washington Redskins, the Eagles home opponent on September 17, cut Todd Pinkston. Now that's HUGH becaue it means that both Pinkston and Jeremiah Trotter are unemployed. It will be interesting to see if the two former Birds find a team. Did I hear you thinking 'who cares?'

One team to  keep an  eye on in Pennsylvania high school football this year is Mechanicsburg High School.  The Wildcats open play against Carlisle Friday  night and I understand there is a lot of excitement about the season. Good luck Wildcats. Go all the way to States.

 


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by Ron on August 28 at 11:32AM
werth.jpg
How about Jason Werth, is he on fire, or what? Sunday five for five, last night four for four. Let's see, I think that's nine straight hits. Is that right?

The NL record is ten, held by ten players. While he keeps hitting, Victorino keeps sitting.

It wasn't too long ago some people were calling him Werth-less. Hey, it wasn't me. Tune into 610 radio.

Some guys can get out of bed in the middle of the night and get a hit. Yea, sure we've all heard that line. But I bet Chase Utley could do it. He can flat-out hit. Three for five with a double and HR, coming off the DL. Not bad, Chase.

And what about Pat Burrell? His numbers are climbing. Twenty-one home runs, 72 RBIs, 88 BB, a .412 on base percentage, and a .501 slugging percentage, and a .270 BA. Not bad.

Wasn't long ago people were calling him Pat-the-tic. Hey, it wasn't me. But Burrell's climb back to respectability can mean one of two things: 1) the Phillies are happy as a hoot Owl on North Broad Street after the Golden boys win their first four, or 2) Burrell's trade bait value has increased more than yesterday's Whole Foods stock. Which is it, keep him, trade him? What do you think?

Is it strange that a certain Phillies player allegedly beats up his wife in public and pitches the next day, then for  punishment he gets sent to a counselor; but, Michael Vick allegedly tortures and kills dogs and most likely will get 2-3 years in prison and banishment from the NFL? Or is it me? Animal lovers please don't send me threatening email, but to me it doesn't add up. I love animals and I love my wife and I wouldn't beat up either.

Adam Eaton takes the mound tonight with a rested shoulder. We'll take 'em one game at a time.

Finally, after 25 years, my brother and I agree on something: That the Philadelphia media suck up to Donavan McNabb and the Eagles. Speaking of the Eagles, since I listen to 610 am and pm for fifteen minutes each day, I can't believe all the callers that are jumping off ship like it was the Titanic. It's humorous.

A month ago, it was "E-A-G-L-E-S...and , Fly Eagles Fly, on the road to..." Now, after three pre-season losses, it's "no passion, no hustle, no drive...they're bums."

I think my brother will agree with this, too; (because we've been there when Pete Lisk was QB): When they start losing,  the Linc seats will become lonelier than a polar bear on a melting ice cap in global warming. They'll be able to paint the place. They'll have so many empty seats it will make a Temple game look like a national championship.

Speaking of Temple, I have it on good advice from a friend I met at  Finnigan's Wake  that the Golden Boys are for real. Therefore, I'm predicting they will win their first four games: Navy, Buffalo, Connecticut, and an upset win over Bowling Green, and will have the city on fire, with 610 callers pulling themselves out of the icy water and calling  in to Angelo and Howard and hollering, "how 'bout them Owls."

"Fly Eagles Fly, on the road to..."





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by Ron on August 27 at 5:28PM
Thumbnail image for groved.jpg
Those two home run balls he gave up Saturday night; could he have...?

Was he ticked because Charlie brought him into a non-save situation?

Why did he get into a verbal battle with a reporter after the game? He was going to slug the guy. Is he out of control?

When your character is in question, and his definitely is, you wonder.

Could he have...?

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by Ron on August 25 at 1:09PM
unknown.jpgUtley & Vick: At first blush you might not think Michael Vick and Chase Ultey have anything in common. But you are wrong. They do. Well, sort of.

You know about Vick, no use in belaboring that any more. But here's where Utley figures in. Chase's wife Jennifer is a volunteer for the SPCA. So while Chase is either rehabbing or driving in runs, Jennifer is helping abused animals.

In fact, recently in West Philly a boxer mix was found severely beaten and tortured (someone doused it with gas and set it on fire) and the Utley's are paying for the dogs medical treatment and rehabilitation. So on one hand you have Michael Vick, and on the other, Jennifer Utley.

If you were a dog, which one would you like to go home with?

The Eagles and them some: Seems like the Eagles get a free pass with the media in this town. I don't see a lot of good reporting, I see a lot of ass kissing. I listened to Howard interview Donovan McNabb on my way home from work and it made me so sick the way Howard was kissing up to McNabb, I had to turn it off. But call in and say something good about the Phillies? Forgetaboutit.

And when Britt got busted for breaking his parole and thrown into jail, later at the Eagles' press conference Coach told the press to stay away from family questions. And they did! With the exception of one producer who asked if Coach was planning to take any time off. Whoa, tough question. I wonder if Charlie Manuel was in the same situation...would they have kept their traps shut? I don't think so.

The newspapers seem like public relations pieces for the Eagles. Bring back Bill Lyon.

Cell phones: Not that I would call in to 610, but you would be amazed at how many people I see driving seventy miles and hour on I-95 and talking on their cell phones. So I wonder, how many accidents have been caused by someone calling 610 on their cell and arguing with Howard or Angelo?  Or dialing for that matter. I realize they have a shortened call number but it only takes an instant when you are doing 70 on I-95(and that's slow).

Ballpark tonight: We'll be there tonight. But after watching the Padres on television for a few innings, I'm not sure the Phillies can beat them. They reminded me of what a Maryland farmer said about Lee's troops passing by on their way north to a little country shoe-making town in southern Pennsylvania: "They looked mean and hungry, like hungry wolves..." The Padres do look mean and hungry.

And the rookie made a mistake.  Sarge was wrong, that slide Ruiz made wasn't just aggressive baseball. Ruiz brought his body up into Giles--like a body block--and I think Ruiz was lucky Giles couldn't get to him. But it woke up the Padres and they took the Phillies apart with their bats, not their fists. A good lesson for kids.

Coste: Hope Coste is in the lineup tonight, but I still don't think he's a good catcher. He looks uncomfortable and awkward. Our seats at PNC Park were very close to the catcher and I watched the whole night...and  awkward is the right word. But my God, he's hitting .345. And he's trying his heart out.

He looks kind of awkward swinging the bat, too. He's got that little hitch in his swing. Hmmm, maybe Ryan Howard should look so awkward.

A ball guy: In Pittsburgh we were right behind the Phillies dugout; 30 minutes prior to the start of the game, there were lots of kids trying to get Phillies autographs from behind the dugout. That's because there were a lot of Phillies' fans at the game and they brought their kids (and it was fireworks night). Anyway, a Phillie in the dugout was tossing out balls one right after another to the kids. It appeared he had a bucket of them. The kids in turn would toss them back, he'd flip the ball to another Phillies player to sign, get it back, and toss it back out. This was ongoing for maybe ten or fifteen minutes. The kids were going crazy and having fun, and it appeared the Phillies were, too.

We couldn't see who was doing all the flipping from our seats. But I had to know so I got up and walked maybe fifty feet to our left so I had a better angle into the dugout. The flipper? New Phillie Russell Branyan. Well, he's got two new fans.

Hey Russell, that was nice.

 




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by Ron on August 24 at 5:35PM

utleyshot.jpgThe best is coming back.
  • The best? He'll be the best all time Phillie player ever. Better than Schmidt, better than Ashburn, better than Ennis, better than Daulton, and better than Allen.
  • He hits for average.
  • He scores runs.
  • He hits home runs.
  • His on base percentage is up there with Allen or Callison or Dalton.
  • He strikes out, sure, but compare his strike outs to Schmidt, Luzinski, Ennis, or whomever. It doesn't matter.
  • He's a clutch hitter who wins games.
  • While Ryan Howard gets all the hype and marketing videos, Chase Utley is the cornerstone of the team.
And he's coming back...maybe Sunday. That's why the Phillies will be in the playoffs.

The best is coming back.

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by Ron on August 22 at 6:02PM
Skipper.jpgPat-thedic.jpgPat Gillick and Charlie Manuel were stuck in Lincoln Tunnel traffic. It was an off day Monday and Gillick and Manuel were beside themselves trying to figure out how to deal with all the injuries.

    First it was Freddy Garcia, then Flash Gordon and Bret Myers, and Jon Lieber, followed by Ryan Madson and Adam Eaton. And what was that all about with Kyle Lohse coming over from the Reds and getting plucked on the arm in the first inning?

    Then Yoel Hernandez, Francisco Rosario, and Mike Zagurski. Then the catcher Barajas, followed by Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn. And to add insult to injury, the star and cornerstone of the team, Chase Utley. And Ryan Howard missed more time than Mikhail Baryshnikov with a bleeding hemroid.

    Then Cole Hammels.

    Enough is enough. The Phillies locker room is lookin' like the 8th Illinois' medical tent just south of the Antietam Bridge. Only this time Pat and Charlie were taking matters into their own hands; driving up to the Great City to visit Madame Rue. She and the ball that sees can get the Phillies out of this mess.

    But Charlie wasn't so sure.

    "Got-damn Pat," Manuel said, half way up the Jersey turnpike, "I know we're snake bit, but I ain't got much faith in these kinds of people. Hell, back home anybody like this seeing lady would have been tar and feathered and dumped in the outhouse back of ole' Fatty Johns' place."

    "Listen Charlie," Gillick said, "trust me on this. Madame Rue predicted the Blue Jays would win the World Series when I went to see her half way through the season. She'll help us, you've got to have faith, man."

    Once the tunnel cleared, Gillick headed for the Village and parked near Vanick Street. They walked the short distance to Madame Rue's office. Pat rapped on the door. The small metal plate opened and shut faster than Curt Shilling's mouth, followed by the door.

 FortuneTeller.jpg   "Patty," Madame Rue said, "so good to see you again. But who's this with you?"

    "Madame Rue," Gillick said, "this is the manager of the Phillies, Charlie Manuel."

    "Evening Madame," Charlie said, tipping his Phillies cap.

    "Oh Patty," she said, "this one looks like he's on a permanent cruise on the USS Hope medical ship."

    With that, the three of them sat around the table with the ball that sees in the middle. Madame Rue asked Gillick the nature of the problem. Manuel was still reeling from the medical ship dig.

    Gillick explained the injuries and Madame Rue peered into the ball that sees. Suddenly, the room got smoky and Gillick and Manuel could feel the temperature go up.

610.jpg    "Patty, oh Patty," Madame Rue said, "it's a curse. You have a curse on the men with sticks and balls, a curse from the big mouth they call 610."

    Gillick looked at Manuel, then said, "But Madame Rue, who is 610? Is that the number of losses in the new millennium? What the..."

    "Patty, the man with the big mouth in the morning, he's 610, and he put a curse on your team through the paperless-brain. It's out there, Patty. It's nowhere, but it's everywhere.

    "The paperless brain," she continued, "is more powerful than the ball that sees. When people read the curse on the paperless-brain, it makes your men with sticks and men who throw...very sick. Your best stick man and throw man are sick now, aren't they?"

    Gillick turned to Manuel, "She's talking about Utley and Hammels."

    "Madame Rue," Gillick said, "how do we end this curse?"

    "First," she answered, "you need the place on the paperless-brain to find this 610 curse. Go to it, and see it for yourself. You will find it here; When you get there, go downward and downward until you see 'A Letter to the Philadelphia Phillies.'

    "This is the curse that you will read," she said.

    "But Madame Rue," Gillick said, "how can we end this 610 curse?"

    Madame Rue pointed to Manuel. "Only he can end the curse by answering it on the paperless-brain. When he does, the men with sticks and the men who throw will get better, and you will play with balls in the Celtic month of ghosts and goblins."

    "Well I'll be a drunkin' duck on a frozen pond," Manuel said, "you mean little lady that if I write an answer to this 610 curse on the paperless-brain, we'll be in the playoffs?"

NEXT: Charlie answers the curse.

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He's been out since July 26 after getting hit by Nationals' left hander rookie John Lannan. Yet, he is still among the National League leaders in numerous categories:

  • Seventh in RBIs with 79
  • Eighth in runs scored, 82
  • Second in doubles, 41
  • Fifth in slugging %, .581
  • Fifth in on base %, .414

The amazing Mr. Utley. If he doesn't get back soon, it will get late early for the Phillies.

With the inept middle relievers, and a spotty rotation, the Fightin's can't afford to lose any more ground on the Mets.

Plus, with the Law Firm of Coundrey, Mesa, Alfonesca, and Romero, it's personal injury and wrongful death after the starter comes out before the eighth.

Zagurski in now on the shelf, and Hernandez and Castro are back from Moose Country and report that Geary is doing fine up there. We wish him the best, and hope that his visit to Moose Country is a long one.

Cole Hammels has a strained elbow, whereas Myers and Garcia had strained shoulders. All of these strains use to be called "sore arms." Such as, Madson is on the shelf with a sore arm. Okay, we understand that and hope that he gets the hell back soon...so the Law Firm is not overworked.

It's gettin' late early. 


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PNC Park Vs CB Park

(On scale of one to ten)

  • Park Beauty - CB 9.5, PNC, 8--CB has it all over PNC. Especially the center field area; at PNC there is a wooden wall painted green and some trimmed hedges that say Pirates; it's plain and ugly. CB is much more picturesque
  • Closeness to game - PNC 9, CB 8.5--our seats at CB are row 10, middle of visitors dugout; we sat in section 112 at PNC, first row of second section, which would be the 10th row even with a walk-way in between, and we were much closer to the action at PNC. In fact, the Phillies could hear us yell from our seats, not so at CB.
  • Food - PNC 8; CB, 7.5; Food was similar but PNC has various little stations set up where you could get a cheesesteak or gourmet hot dog and a seafood concession stand, which gives it a slight edge over CB.
  • Beer - PNC 9, CB 8; since we are draft lite beer drinkers, we were able to choose from three, Bud Lite, Miller Lite or Coors Lite, unlike at CB, only Bud Lite and Miller Lite. The beer was fresher. Several times at CB we bought stale beer. Once we had to take it back to the concession stand because it was sour. They did throw it away and poured one for us from a different tap.
  • Fans - PNC 9, CB 8.5; both of us were in Phillies shirts and not one Pirate fan berated us. They were very friendly and polite. Even when we were standing inside the tunnels trying to figure out which way to go, guards and seat ushers would come up and ask if we needed help. Just like at CB? Yea, right.
  • Crowd - CB 9.5, PNC 7; Even on fire works night the Pirates didn't have a sell out. They claimed they did, but there were parts of empty sections high up where the stadium crew could have painted the seats during the game. No shows? I doubt if half a section would classify as no shows.
  • Players - CB 9.5; PNC 6; Phillies of course have a much better team.
  • Streets of the City - PNC 9, CB 5; we saw lots of these little metal containers with City of Pittsburgh painted on, in which people would throw their trash while walking the streets. At first, we didn't recognize what they were, but then we remembered: Trash cans. None to be found in South Philly, where litter is everywhere, along with dog poop and cigarette butts. Maybe Philadelphia can think of something to put out where people can throw their garbage. Now theres a novel idea.

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by Ron on August 15 at 12:16PM
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It's a gift of a lifetime, but you've got to do it.
Been married 35 years, been all through it
Doesn't matter the cost, or the time it takes
The Anniversary Gift...for her sake

Three wonderful kids and a gorgeous wife
Still together...in the prime of our life
The Anniversary Gift, it has to be unique
Cause' together we've climbed to the mountain peak

Our wedding day was long ago
Since then together, through rain and snow
Even today through a climate shift...
So it has to be special...this Anniversary Gift

What does one do to make it special and all?
How does one thank her, for walking thru walls?
How does one approach, such a high degree?
How does one thank her...shamelessly?

It takes thought and study in the highest form
It takes concentration to weather this storm
What else can a man do when she has given her all?
What gift to give...she made life a ball!

For The Anniversary Gift must be the one
To thank her for the earth, moon and the sun
I gave it more thought than Plato or Freud
For a lifetime of happiness I certainly enjoyed

Was it diamonds and pearls for this special gift?
Or around the world on a special trip?
Was it a vacation in France or rain in Spain?
Or how about a trip on a long distant train?


Then it hit me...like a shot in the dark
How could I not think of providing this spark?
I am so dumb, its way beyond pity
Why had I not thought of a trip to Steel City?


First with USAirways was my number one act
Then call the Hilton for a reservation pact
Then search for tickets for this special gift
Oh what thoughts I'd given this trip


Behind third base was the perfect spot
What a perfect place for us to squat
A trip to Pittsburgh to see our team play
The chance of a lifetime to see Jason Bay

 
To be with Wheels and Charlie and the boys
With a beer in hand and making some noise
To celebrate the years of bliss and grace
By seeing the Phillies in a pennant race


With Eaton there Friday to turn things around
And she and I there, what better background?
She'll be so happy she'll give me a big kiss
When I give her at last this Anniversary gift.


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charlie-manuel-176.jpg     It was hotter than the deck-surface of the land-locked Exxon Valdez sitting all day in the New Orleans-port sun. Charlie Manuel looked down the length of the visitors' dugout at Wrigley and contemplated using Bret Myers to finish off the Cubs, even though it wasn't a save situation.
     Then it hit him.

     It hit him harder than a cleaver locked in the beefy hand of a Sumarao chef-d'oeuvre smashing through garlic for the shrimp tempura at a Whacker Drive, west-side Benihana.
     David Yamamoto peered over his left shoulder and saw Charlie Manuel staring at him with a glare that could've born a hole through a steel girder on the Ben Franklin Bridge. Yamamoto looked out at the infield, then back at Charlie.
     Still glaring at Yamamoto, Manuel through to himself: 'This is the best got-damn idea I've had since I sent Ruiz home.'
     Charlie uncrossed his arms and made the little wiggling finger movement at Yamamoto. David looked out at the infield, then back at Charlie. Knowing Manuel is straighter than Paula Abdul in a Ukrainian Restaurant, he slowly got up and made his way toward the Phillies' skipper.
     "Sit down right here, son," Charlie said to him. "You and me got to have a heart to heart chat."
      Yamamoto bowed slightly, and then sat down on the dugout bench. David Yamamoto is Tadahito Iguchi's interpreter. The second baseman Iguchi, who is filling in for the injured Chase Utley, speaks about as much English as a Mexican immigrant ordering a steak wit-cheese at Pat's in South Philly:  "Cebollas adicionales, gracias."
     Manuel let Alfonseca finish off the Cubbies and after the on field line-up hand shaking ordeal, ventured back into the clubhouse. He spoke individually to a few players, and then he nodded to Yamamoto to follow him to the press room. Yamamoto glanced sheepishly at Iguchi, who shrugged his shoulders and sat down to remove his baseball shoes.
      When the two entered the Wrigley Field press room, Manuel, two steps ahead of Yamamoto, greeted about 12 to 15 press corps, many traveling with the team from Philadelphia. Surprisingly, even Howard Eskin was there taking a busman's holiday in the Windy City.
      Manuel went to the podium and cleared his throat.
     "Ah, let's git this thing started," he told the media throng. "It's gonna be a bit different this time around 'cause my spokesman Mr. David Yamamoto, will be interpreting for me so when you ask your questions, you'll git my answers through Mr. Yamamoto. Understand? Okay let's go, who's first?"
      With that, Charlie stepped away from the podium and took Yamamoto by the arm and moved him toward the microphone.
     "Yes, the lady reporter from the Chicago papers, go ahead with your question," Manuel said.
     "Well, first off, I'd like to ask you Mr. Manuel why you are hitting Pat Burrell third when he's walking all the time?"
      Manuel leaned closely to Yamamoto's ear and said, "Tell her she ain't got the sense of a possum climbing a fern tree with a got-damn blue tic on it's ass and I ain't never heard of a woman askin' good baseball questions, anyway."
      He stepped away and Yamamoto just stared at him.
      "Go on son," Charlie said, "answer the lady's question."
      Yamamoto looked out over the reporters and leaned in toward the microphone, and nervously said: "Charlie say, question smarter than American possum. Mr. Burrell, he going to come around. Charlie say, season only half over. Got plenty to play. In September, Burrell make Charlie smart as hunting dog."
      The group of reporters laughed.
      "Yea, Conlin," Manuel said, "go ahead if you got a question. This should be interesting."
      It was Bill Conlin with the Philly Daily News.
      "Well," Conlin said, "back when I was covering the Phillies and Danny was managing the team, we often caught the manager making mistakes not only in his verbal responses to the press, but in little things on the field, too. What little mistakes are you making, Charlie?" With that, fat Bill looked around at the other reporters with a smirk on his face.
     Manuel leaned in close to Yamamoto's ear. "Tell him if he takes 200 pounds off his backside, he won't take up two seats on the damn bus and my biggest mistake is not putting my 11 and-a-half-inches of got-damn shoe leather up his big bazolla."
      Charlie leaned away and Yamamoto looked directly back at him.
      "Boy, if you don't want to run back to Philly while we is flying, you better answer the man's question."
      Yamamoto leaned toward the microphone.
      "Charlie say, Mr. Conlin, you biggest of knowledge of all reporters. Charlie say you don't sit on backside, but you get on the bus and make sure you use good shoe leather covering ball game. He say only you can see the mistakes 'cause you big man on game knowledge."
      Again, the reporters bust into laughter, with Conlin smiling and looking around the room, making sure they all heard the answer.
     Manuel thought to himself: 'Hell, this is more fun than pissin' off the balcony at the Chicago Hilton.'
      He turns toward Yamamoto and says: "Son, you doin' a hell of a job, but now we ain't done yet."
      "Okay Eskin, what you got to ask?"
      "I'd like to know when you are going to get rid of Eaton and bring in some pitchers that can pitch, that's what I'd like to know," Eskin said.
     Charlie leaned in toward Yamamoto's ear.
      "You tell that bozo that if I had my way, I'd take him out to the parking lot right this minute and turn his ears inside out. You tell that piss-pot that he ain't got enough brains to git himself out of a rain shower in a bull field. Then tell him to get a real job instead of talking to all those morons who call him cause they ain't get nothin' better to do."
      Yamamoto looked at Charlie.
      "Go on son, you doin' a hell of a job, now."
      Yamamoto turned toward the media.
      "Charlie say, Mr. Eskin, you bull in china shop when it comes to baseball strategy. He say, when Howard piss in pot, it right on, never misses."
      The room erupts in laughter.
      "Only thing," Yamamoto said, "too bad brain is little as ying-yang, or you wouldn't need moron friends calling in, or pot to piss in."
      And with that, Charlie turned, trying to hide is smile, and walked toward the clubhouse door, with Yamamoto right behind him.
      By the time they got to the locker room, the reporters were still laughing.
      "I'm sorry Utley got hurt," Charlie said to Yamamoto, as he put his arm around him,"but son, I'm sure glad you're here interpreting. Let's go have a beer."


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Jill Porter had an interesting column in today's Philadelphia Daily News. I like Ms. Porter. She is a good journalist who looks for stories and tells it like it is. Ms. Porter is not a Phillies basher.

Under the headline of:"Attention, alleged wife-beaters: Phils want you,"Porter jumps on the Phillies brass for signing Julio Mateo after the team went through the Bret Myers fiasco. I felt the same way when I first heard the news. The key word: Insensitive at best. Out of touch at worst.

You remember the Myers fiasco, don't you? After he slapped his wife on a Boston street, he started for the Phillies the next day. 

She makes comparisons between Mateo's comments about the 'incident' and Myers' comments.  They are eeirly similar: "I'm not guilty of anything," he said. Like kids in school: "I didn't do nothin'"

The namby-pamby liberals like domestic violence coalition's Susan Kelly-Dreiss slammed the Phillies for trading for someone accused of wife-beating. Jill Porter isn't namby-pamby. Said Porter, the Phillies priority? "Who cares about battering when a pitcher can handle batters?"

I don't always agree with her, but on this one I do. "It's a disgrace that demeans the game and is a self-incficted wound to a team that can ill afford another injury," she wrote.

Another injury? Ms. Porter wasn't talking about a broken hand and a pulled calf muscle. 


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by Ron on July 31 at 5:14PM

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The Phillies will get some flak for this one.

The made a deadline trade for Mariners pitcher Julio Mateo to bolster their bullpen and possible rotation, giving up Jesus Merchan, a .330 hitter at Double A Reading. But it wasn't the player they gave up that will cause a stir, it was the player they received.

First, the Phillies got bad press for pitching Bret Myers the day after he slugged his wife on a Boston street, now they trade for a guy who also bopped his wife. Birds of a feather... How insensitive is this to baseball fans who think that hitting a woman is inexcusable?  

Mateo, who was 1-0 with a 3.75 ERA in nine appearances this season, will be assigned to Triple-A Ottawa, though he could end up with the Phillies quickly.

It was the club's fourth trade since Friday. The Phillies entered the day trailing the NL East-leading New York Mets by three games.

Mateo, who turns 30 on Thursday, is 18-12 with two saves and a 3.68 ERA in 219 games over six seasons in Seattle. He had an 0.79 ERA in 24 games at Triple-A Tacoma, allowing just three earned runs in 34 1-3 innings. Opponents batted just .200 against him.

Mateo missed most of spring training last season when he returned to the Dominican Republic following the death of his brother in an automobile accident. He came back and was 9-4 with a 4.19 ERA in 48 games. But, in late August a weight plate fell onto his left hand and broke it. He missed the rest of the season.

He pitched well for Seattle the first month before he had more troubles. Mateo was arrested May 5 in New York on charges of assaulting his wife. He reportedly hit wife Aurea in the eye, choked her and bit her lip, opening a wound that required stitches, after she told him she wanted out of the marriage. He faces a June 15 court date, but the Mariners didn't wait to take action. The club immediately demoted him to Tripl-A and then suspended him for 10 days without pay. He underwent counseling before returning to the mound.

 We'll see how much negative publicity the team gets for going after a guy who was arrested for spousal abuse.

 


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A friend of mine, who's opinion I respect a great deal, pointed something out to me recently. He said I am making fun of the Phillies President without really knowing him. After I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that he is right.

It's true, I don't know the Phillies President. But it's also true, that I think he is doing a great job with the Phillies. If you listen to Cataldi and Erskin, you would think that Dave Montgomery is an idiot. Well, I don't think that.

I don't think he's a cheapskate, either. So why do I portray that way in my postings? Good question, and it took my friend's email to make me see that.

 Dave Montgomery has brought many high priced players to Philly, from Jim Thome to Freddie Garcia. Have they all turned out to be winners? No. But do you think the other teams like the Mets, Atlanta, and the Yankees are mistake free? Not on your life.

My wife and I attend about 20 Phillies home games a season and we are going to Pittsburgh to see them play the Pirates. The team hustles, is exciting, and is a good blend of young and old players. Each night, it seems, a different player makes a major contribution.  With all of their injuries, they are still within shouting distance to the Mets and Braves. I think they will be in first place by October.

The Phillies field a good team. The kind of team I like to follow, day in and day out. So you've got to give credit where credit is due: I thank Dave Montgomery for that.

In my opinion, Cataldi and Erskin are the idots, not Dave Montgomery. Sure, I listen to them. Most of what they say is BS, and they have callers who love calling in and kissing their butts. They grow their list of listeners by making fun of Montgomery and others. I think true baseball fans don't give them much credence.

So that's how I really feel. From now on, I'll write that way, too. 

 

 

 


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by Ron on July 24 at 6:00PM

doit.jpg Dawn is taking over the city with an orange haze in the east. The city's pollution is not yet visible, but if you stand still long enough and breathe-in, you can fill your lungs with that hydrogen fluoride Sunoco uses to produce high octane gas at its Marcus Hook plant on the Delaware River.

‘Mmmmmmmm...wake up and smell those roses.'

Eastbound traffic is starting to back up at the Conshohocken curve down to Girard Avenue. There is a disabled vehicle in the southbound lane on I-95 that will, before mid-morning, have cars in four southbound lanes creeping and crawling like cheetahs hunting buffalo in the tall African grass.

And its been at least 40 minutes since listeners tuned to 610 radio heard Angelo's annoying signature greeting, "Gooooood Mornnnnnning," just before he and his callers commence to making kindling out of the likes of David Wharton, Geoff Geary and Pat the Bat. It's the first tandem of the CIA.

"Go ahead, you're on 610 radio."

"Hey Ange, it's me, The Boomer."

"Yo Boom, what's up buddy? How they hangin?"

"Ange, I want to talk about that bum Pat-thetic. What a bum that guy is."

"You can say that again, Boom, what's on your mind this morning, pal?"

"Ange, that bum Pat-thetic, he wouldn't know a ball player if he walks into him, know what I mean? Know what I'm sayin'? Givin' that bum Garcia $10 million. If he give it to me, I'm down the shore for the summer, Ange."

"I'm with you on that one, Boomer, all the way, pal. Go ahead Boom, let's hear what you've got to say."

"Well, I'm thinking, Ange. Let's say Pat-thetic's walkin' down Market Street near the Reading Terminal, and Babe Ruth walks out of one of them stores? And bumps into him? I think Pat-thetic would say, ‘Hey fatso, watch where the hell you walkin'.'

I think he would say that, know what I mean, Ange?"

"Ha, ha, ha, ha, yea, Boomer, I know exactly what you mean.

"Thanks for the call, Go ahead, you're on 610 radio."

  "Ange, how ya doing this morning?...I want to talk about them bums runnin' the Phillies."
On this morning, the CIA, (Cataldi & Iskin on the Airways) were hammering Phillies President, David Wharton. It was hit ‘em high, hit ‘em low. Cataldi in the morning, from 6 a.m., then Howard takes over in late afternoon, and he hammers him some more.

For David, it's been a tough week.

"Ange," did you hear what the Phillies president said the other day, about the Sixers and the Flyers?"

"You better believe I did," Cataldi screems into the mike. "It's a disgrace. A total disgrace. An embarrassment to the city. He said ‘if we were the Sixers or the Flyers, we'd be in the playoffs for the past six years."

  "Can you believe that?" Cataldi continued. "What's this guy got for brains, mush? A total disgrace."

Then Howard takes over at four.

"Listen nitwit," Irskin hollers at a caller who had the steel ones to say that David Wharton has done some good as Phillies President, "if you knew anything about anything, you'd know that David Wharton is an idiot. He built a house without any doors or windows, can't you see that, genius?

"I mean what's wrong with you? Are you an idiot or something? He says ‘if the Phillies were the Flyers or Sixers they'd be in the playoffs the last six years,' how stupid is that? Goodbye, bird brain."

And with that, Irskin hangs up on him.

"Go ahead, you're on 610, but don't go callin' me to say something good about David Wharton because off you go, you're so stupid..."

  "Hey Howard," the next caller says, "you're the King, man. You are so right about David Wharton..."

On and on they go. This week, David Wharton can't catch a break.

He sits at his desk inside the Phillies complex, dabbing his nose with a hankie. ‘How can they say those things about me,' he thinks.

Then he picks up the phone.

"Get me Wheels right away."

Next: Wheels Saves David Wharton


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Owens.bmp   David Wharton was sound asleep in his Motel 6 room just outside of San Francisco. The Phillies President and finance graduate of the great Pennsylvania College was on a mission to scout the best players in the game at AT&T Park. He figured maybe one of them held the key to the Phillies success.

    It was half time in the long drawn out baseball season and the Fightin's were dangerously close to their 10,000th loss. While some of the players were either hitting 550 foot dingers off plump baseballs thrown at whiffle ball speed, or resting at the Shore like LA, boring even the charcoal he was fixing, or, like Geoff Geary, taking time out to smell the roses in moose country in the north, when they finally bloom in September.

    But David Wharton was dreaming.

    He was dreaming about the time his old pal in the sky, the Pope himself, the magnificent architect of the 1980 World Champions: One day long ago, David and the Pope were out fishing in the Pope's Bass Killer, G-7.

    David said to the Pope: "Listen Pope, I wonder if they have baseball in heaven?"

    "Sure they do," said the Pope, as he flipped his junebug, plastic night crawler out over some 50 feet of crystal clear Florida lake water.

    "Hell," the Pope said, "it's a lot tougher up there because you can't argue close calls with the umpire."

    "Why is that, Pope?" David asked, "why can't you argue?"

    The Pope bellowed out his patented laugh, which was more like a witch's crackle, and said, "because, Davie, the damn ump is God, ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."

    It wasn't long after that when the good Pope--perhaps the greatest baseball mind the Phillies have had since Mamie Van Doren sat along the third base line at old Connie Mack flashing signals to her beau, the Bo--pulled out a largemouth that was fightin' like the Tugger at 3 a'.m., gettin' flagged at the Doll House in downtown Tampa.

    "Speaking of God," the Pope told David, "you know what I'm a gone-a do, Davie? When I get up there first, I'll be sure to let you know what kind of baseball they have there."

    "But Pope," David said, "how you going to do that?"

    "You let me worry about that son," said the Pope, "meanwhile, you keep learnin' baseball and maybe when you grow up you can run your own club." And with that, the Pope laughed so hard he nearly fell out of the G-7.

    And in the dream, the one David Wharton was having at the Motel 6, a flash of light bolted from the motel ceiling, smoky and mysterious like. 

    "David," the Pope bellowed. "You got to get off your keister and so somthin' to fix them Phillies, dammit. Them boys are closer than a tick on a dog's ass."

    David was sweating profusely and mumbling in his sleep.

    "Pope," he cried out, "what can I do? Tell me what can I do?"

    "Get ahold of yourself, man," the Pope boomed. "The people of the city are countin' on you. Best damn fans in the world, I'll tell you. Give that Gillick a kick in the tooshie  and tell him to get on the phone."

    "Okay, Pope," David said, "okay, I will."

    "Tell him to get the list of free agents. Them owners are greedier than George Bush at a Texas corn roast. They'll trade a 20 game winner for a one-legged hot dog vender if they think they'll save a quarter."

    "Tell Gillick if he doesn't trade for a couple of free agents, he'll be cleanin' every stinkin' comfort station and portable toilet in Ottawa that ain't got Geoff Geary sittin' in it readin' the Sportin' News. You listin' to me, Davie?"

    "Oh yes, Pope, oh yes."

    "Tell Gillick to tell that yahoo manager you got stinkin' up the place, that if he ain't got the boys in first by the Eagles trainin' camp, he'll back in Chicago washin' Thome's filthy underwear and shinin' his spikes. You got that, Davie?"

    "Yes, sir, yes I do." 

    "Oh Davie, there is baseball up here. But I got some good news and bad news about that. The good news is all the old players are up here havin' a hell of a time, playin' on sparkling diamonds in front of huge crowds that never boo, like they do in Philly. We got the Babe here and all them stinkin' Yankees; and Konstanty is striking them all the hell out."

    "Great, Pope," David said, "but what's the bad news?"

    "The bad news  Davie, is that you are scheduled to pitch next Thrusday. Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha..." 

     

     

     

 


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by Ron on July 8 at 12:40PM

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     Now that we have two weeks off from following the Fightins'--the All Star break, then a west coast road trip--it's time to speculate about who is the best Phillie player, ever. Is it Dick Allen, Richie Ashbun, Mike Schmidt, or will it be Chase Utley?

     Let's go to the stats, then. The first year of each player has been eliminated to make it easier. All stats accumulated are for the first four years, with Utley's  prorated  through the end of this year, because it's Utley's fourth year. It's easy to do because Chase will get his numbers. Okay,  here we go.

At Bats: Ashburn, 2512; Allen, 2238; Utley 2,104; and Schmidt, 1,657; 

Base On Balls:  Schmidt, 369; Allen, 284; Ashburn, 246, and Utley, 212

Home runs: Schmidt, 130; Allen 112; Utley 103, and Ashburn, 8.

Strike outs: Schmidt, 603; Allen 541; Utley 406, and Ashburn 137.

RBI’s: Schmidt, 370; Utley, 364; Allen 363 and Ashburn 143..

On Base Percentage: Allen, .389; Ashburn, 368; Schmidt, .366; and Utley, .363.

Batting Average:Allen .311; Ashburn, 303; Utley, .294; and Schmidt, .247.

Hits: Ashburn, 762, Allen, 696; Utley, 637; and Schmidt, 525.

Slugging Percentage: Allen, .562; Utley, .527; and Schmidt, .492; and Ashburn 384.




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by Ron on July 3 at 8:39PM

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     Pat Gillick didn't take Amtrak to New York this time to see Madame Rue. Instead, weary of failing again, like the last time (type in  Madame Rue  in the  Search This Blog  slot and hit search, then click on the blue title:"Curse of the Stingy Paper Promise,"and read about Gillick's last meeting with the ball that sees). Gillick decided to change his pattern of behavior--and his luck--and drive to the Big Apple.

     He parked in the Hilton garage at $25 bucks an hour, and took the C train south toward Greenwich Village.  Coming above ground, he walked south again, just like the last time, and turned right onto King Street, then climbed the five or six concrete steps and knocked on the door. The small metal plate opened and shut quickly, and the door opened.

     "Ah Patty," Madame Rue said, "how good to see you. Did they not fire you this time?"

     "Oh no," Gillick told her. "No, not at all. Everything is still good."

     "Patty," Madame Rue said, "You can't fool the ball that sees. I know in the place where you keep the bull, great trouble has fallen upon you. Men with sticks have hit and hit until the score has fallen against you. You keep sending them to where they hunt the moose in the north country and it doesn't help, does it, Patty? It's good you came to see mama."

    "Mama helped you with your last two teams where the birds fly. You beat down the wild thing in the last bracket of the world game...but Patty, you haven't been back to the world game since, because why?"

    "Well, Madame Rue, I just haven't had the luck..."

    "Ah but Patty," Madame Rue said, "it's not luck. Your mama will get you back to the world game. Now sit. Let's look into the ball that sees and discover where we go from here."

    "Ah, Patty, you made bad choices. Choices where you didn't check with your mama, like the catcher who fears the slam. The third baseman you signed who can't hit long with the stick. And Patty, I told you to get rid of the Pretty Boy with eyes that look upward when the stick misses. I told you last year, but you haven't done so. Why Patty, why?"

    "Madame Rue," Gillick said, "he has a no trade clause. I can't just get rid of him."

    "But Patty, if you would have come to mama, we could have sprinkled on the special powder and he, the Pretty Boy who looks upward and makes many people do low noises with their throats, would have asked to go to the team by the Tampa Bay as a no-field hitter. Why didn't you come to mama about that, my son?"

    "I'm sorry Madame Rue, I really am. I'm in trouble now, what can I do to get out of trouble?"

    "Okay Patty, take it easy," Madame Rue said, as she placed her hand over his. "Mama is here to help you now. Mama will get you back into the world game."

    And with that, Madame Rue reached into her magic purse, the one with many sparkling diamonds, and pulled out a sheet of paper.

    "Patty," she said, "here is the list. You must study and study this list and think about who you can pick from it, that will quiet the long sticks of men from New York and Atlanta."

    "Wha...what is it Madame Rue? What is this list?" Gillick said, peering over his glasses.

    "Patty," she said, "it's the list of No Tomorrows. It's the list of unloyal men who will jump to where the greener grass is for the goat on the season next. But you have to study this list and pick the ones who will silence the big sticks. Only a few on this list will take you to the world game again, Patty."

    "Don't worry about where you keep the bull, my dear," Madame Rue told him. "The Young One with the weak shoulder and strong arm will return soon, along with the Old One who has still some very good strikes left this one last year. They will combine to keep you strong in the bull area."

    Madame Rue reached into a small cup on the table next to the ball that sees, and sprinkled on the list some white-looking dust. It made a smoky effect.

    "From this list, Patty, if you make the right choices, will take you back to the world game where once again much liquid will fall from the sky and you will ride on a great wide platform down a Broad Street with little white specs floating in the air, and children calling out your name."

    "Patty, only a select few will take you there from the list of  No Tomorrows.

    "Oh Madame Rue," Gillick said, "oh how I want to experience that again.  But what names shall I pick?"

    "I have sprinkled the dust, Patty. Go home to the City of Brother loving Brother, and make your choices wisely. Greedy men who pull strings will want to give them up to you before they flee when the ball becomes pig and the field long.One or two will take you for a ride down that Broad Street.

    With that, Madame Rue handed Pat Gillick a list of next year's free agent pitchers. Gillick took the list, and on the way home, called David Wharton on his cell phone and asked for a special meeting to pick from the list of No Tomorrows. 

    Here is the list Madame Rue gave Patty (their age in brackets): 

Carlos Zambrano (27); Curt Schilling (41); Jason Jennings (29); Kenny Rogers (43); Mark Buehrle (29); Bartolo Colon (35); Joe Kennedy (29); Tomo Ohka (32); John Thomson (34); Kip Wells (31); Wade Miller (31); Livan Hernandez (33)*; Randy Wolf (31) - $9MM club option for '08; Paul Byrd (37) - $8MM club option for '08; Jeff Weaver (31); Tom Glavine (42) - $9MM player option for '08; Kris Benson (33) - $7.5MM club option for '08; Jaret Wright (32): David Wells (45): Eric Milton (32): Kyle Lohse (29); Matt Clement (33); Rodrigo Lopez (32); Josh Fogg (31); Byung-Hyun Kim (29); Odalis Perez (31) - $9MM club option for '08; Brett Tomko (35) - $4.5MM mutual option for '08 You can see Ron's book at: http://www.ourcitythebook.com/


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   Uncle Charlie had his arms up above his head and his fingers through the wire mesh screen of the dugout, watching the Phillies swap runs with the world champs. The Redbirds jumped all over starter Jamie Moyer, scoring four runs in the first inning and six more in the second.

    But the Phillies bats were hot, too. Ryan Howard hit a three run dinger in the first and Chase follow with a solo moon shot, clearing the Cardinals scoreboard.

            By the time Uncle Charlie got through three pitchers from the Phillies beleaguered bullpen in the sixth, the score was 10-9, St. Louis.

            "We got to do better from da mound," Manuel thought to himself. "I'm so tired of getting' our butts kicked because we ain't got any roosters in the damn hen house who can throw worth a tin can."

            He started to pace back and forth, back and forth, in front of the extra men and pitchers sitting on top of the bench rail. Jimmy gave him a strange look that said "go ahead and quit Charlie, I'll take over from here."

            Charlie was flustered to say the least.

            "Pat-thetic ain't given' us nottin.," he said in a low voice, barely audible to anyone in the hot visitors dugout. "I ask for this, I ask for that, and what do I get? Some scatter brain hogwash idea of our pitchers using both arms to throw the dang ball. Hell, they can't throw with their pitching arm, how the hell they suppose to throw with their other arm. Don't make no sense to me."

            Indeed, Uncle Charlie was talking to himself.

            He told Dubee to get Mesa up.

            "Got-damn Geary is gettin' butt whipped again," Charlie said to no one in particular. "I got ulcers, I got hair fallin' the hell out, I got ingrown toenails, and I ain't dumped a good one in a week, I'm so backed up."

            "Get that dang-gum Mesa up and let's see if he can get us a couple a outs here and we can score some more runs and git out a Dodge."

            "Ask for a god damn relief pitcher and get a bunch a bummed-out inmates from a dad-gum retirement home who can't git their sister out even if she had cataracts and hemorrhoids at the same time."

            "Come on GG," Charlie yelled from the dugout, "we got to git winnin.' We got to stop throwin' the damn thing where they can see it bigger than a got-damn mellon in a Georgia bull field. I'll have that demon-like sons a bitch Eskin on my tail before the dad-gum plane crosses over 291in Essingtin."

            Then Albert Pujols lines a rope that froze Pat Burrell like ole Stonewall himself in a North Georgia wax museum with the air condition turned up double digits. While the ball rolled around in the corner, Albert jogged into third like he was a few seconds late for the A-bus. Charlie yelled out at Burrell.

            "God dang it Pat, you ain't chasin' no damn cutie ball, man (southern speak for whiffle ball), you got to go git it ‘fore it wears its damn self out."

            "Charlie," bench coach Jimmy Williams yelled from the opposite corner of the dugout. You see Charlie was still puttin' on that underarm stuff that he bought in an LA boutique the last time they were chasin' the Dodgers. Charlie didn't know he was in the gay part of town and what he bought was the stuff transvestites wear when they go huntin' turkey on Santa Monica Boulevard.

            "You want me to get Mesa up?"

            Then Charlie remembered the letter he got from the guy upstate coaching a Little League team loaded with girls who read  Little Womenwhile they was warmin' up and exchangin' glances with the hunky catcher on the other side...and how he screwed things up with a switch pitcher. This coach had everybody so shook up his team won more damn games than it lost, even with all the girls playin' and readin;' so he was giving Uncle Charlie some pointers.

            Charlie took a few steps into the tunnel and pulled the letter out of his briefcase, and scanned it.

            "Jesus in a drainfield," Charlie mumbled to himself, "I'll try anything to git that Eskin the hell off my ass." And with that he threw the paper on the tunnel floor and headed out of the dugout to the mound walkin' faster than Bill Clinton headed to a New Orleans whore house near closin' time.

            "Gimme that dang-gum ball," he said to Geary. With that Geary plopped the ball into Charlie's hand and started to walk toward the dugout.

            "Hey, you ain't goin' no place, did I tell you to go to any place?" he said to Geary.

            Geary stopped and turned to his manager.

            "I thought you were taking me out," Geary said.

            "Git the hell back here and take the ball like a man, son," Charlie said.

            Confused, Geary walked back onto the mound.

            "Now this is what I want you to do boy," Charlie said to Geary. "I want you to put that dang glove on the other hand, and throw the ball with your left hand. You got that?"

            "Whaa...what the hell are you talking about Skip, I can't throw left handed," Geary said."

            "You ain't got no pot to piss in either, boy," Charlie told him, "I'm tellin' you to throw with that got-damn left arm or I'm going to pry it up so far into your poop scoop that even the good Lord ain't goin' see it from his high perch in heaven. Now you getting' my drift, son?"

            Charlie's face was about six inches from Geary's and redder than an Alabama beet left in the field too long.

            Now Charlie, walkin' back to the dugout, yelled to the home plate ump that Geary needed his normal warm-up pitches, and the ump, already boiling over from the hot steam air that rises from the mighty Mississippi and the Great Missouri, turning ole St. Louie into a city-wide outdoor sauna, whipped off his mask and hollered at Charlie that if he ain't changin' pitchers, then nobody gets no warm-up time.

            But Charlie got in his face and screamed that he's switch pitchin,' and if Geary don't git no warm-up time, then this here umpire crew will deal with the Boss up in the big city who just signed a switch pitcher out of Creighton University. So the umps had an infield pow-wow and decided that screwin' Uncle Charlie was one thing, but messin' with the Boss was another, and let Geary have his warm-ups.

            Then Scottie Rolen steps in lookin' meaner than a bull that just go neutered and circumcised at the same time and let out in a Tennessee field with half a dozen cows standin' around grinnin' from ear to ear.

            The first pitch Geary throws left handed has the radar gun guys behind the plate smackin' their guns against their fists cause' the pitch didn't ever register, and Rolen laughs and squirts out a stream of tobacco juice longer than an Amtrak train with sleeper cars headed to Miami, and steps back in doing that little shuffle he does with his butt and paws at the home plate dirt with his right toe.

            Now Geary, who was getting' shelled all year throwing right handed, figured if he gets shelled switch pitchin,' then it ain't his fault, but the fault of one David Wharton, who earned his degree at the great Pennsylvania college in finance, not pitchin.'

            But low and behold, Geary does a bang-up job. Rolin and company are so perplexed at Geary switch pitchin,' that they can't hit their way out of a St. Louie ribs joint with all the doors and window wide open.

            Geary gets the win and the save and Uncle Charlies goes stomping out to the line up to shake hands after the game with his head bobbin' and his waist over his grey pin stripes lookin' like the Missouri Compromise.

            He's thinkin', as he's grinnin' and shakin,' that he's gone-a write that guy up in Mechanicsburg who sent him the switch pitchin' letter and maybe send him a bottle of Jim Bean and a couple of extra bottles of that sweet smellin' stuff he got from the nice tall ladies on the Boulevard.

            "Geary," he bellowed as they both walked back toward the dugout, "that was some good got-damn switch pitchin' boy. I know you could git us back winnin.'   "We got to take ‘em one day at a time, son..."

 

 


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by Ron on June 20 at 5:56PM

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              She opened the door slightly.

            "Sir," she said, "the fellows are ready for you in the bullpen."

            "Oh damn," David Wharton yelled out, as the crackers tumbled down into a heap on his desk.

            "I'm sorry sir," she said, "did I startle you?"

            "No, no," Wharton said, "just not good timing, is all."

            "Sir," she said, "may I make an observation?"

            "Of course, Miss. Ains," Wharton said, "you know we encourage employee input into our management style. What is it?"

            "Well, Sir," she said, "if you would use square crackers? Instead of Ritz, you might be able to build your fort better."

            "Miss Aines," Wharton bellowed, "observations are one thing, but trying to change strategy? That's uncalled for and not allowed."

            "I'm very sorry sir," Miss Ains said, "it won't happen again."

            David Wharton gathered up his papers and headed for the door.

            "Anybody who calls? Tell them I'm in the bullpen. Oh, and start the process to get World Series ring sizes on all the players. It's now a done deal."

            "Sir, what's that?" Miss Ains asked David.

            "What's what?" he said

            "The World Series," she said, "is that something you want me to do research on?"

            "%@##*&^**$##," David exclaimed.

            And with that, he slammed the door behind him.

            The idea started with an email. David received it from the Boss in New York: "You may have a pitcher with six fingers," the email stated, "but we've got the switch pitcher."

            This infuriated David. When he calmed down, the idea hit him like an upper deck rocket off the Bull's bat.

            ‘Sure,' David thought. ‘That's it, that's it, damn it.'

            When he arrived at the bullpen, the fellows were there, along with Ramon Henderson and LA, who likes to keep his hand in pitching in case he has to give up his night job. Like last week when he called a Ryan Howard second inning home run. It was so boring that Scott Franzke fell asleep and didn't wake up until the bottom of the fifth.

            "There's a drive to right field," LA said in that slow, deep Texas voice, "looks like it may, well, it may, it's over the fence for number 14 for the big guy....Scott what do you think about that? Scott, Scott? Scott, wake the hell up."

            But what drove David Wharton to insanity were the Yankees signing of Pat Venditte out of Creighton University. Venditte, taken by the Yankees in the 45thround, can pitch with either arm. His velocity is is 88 to 91 miles an hour as a right-hander, but slower with the left, relying on a sidearm slider. He pitched with both arms in 30 of the 38 games he appeared in at Creighton.

            He went 8-2 overall and set a team record with a 1.88 earned run average and struck out 99 batters in 95 and 2/3 innings.

            In games where Venditte is available, the Yankees won't have to change pitchers to pitcher to a left-hander or right-hander. This is what impressed David Wharton.

            "Okay, listen up," Wharton said to the bullpen pitchers. Everybody's here? Where the hell is Condrey?"

            "I believe sir," LA said, "he's in Ottawa."

            "This isn't the time to go moose hunting," Wharton said. "Send Geary up there to get him."

            Geary put his head down and walked slowly toward the clubhouse. LA started to think that if David sent all the pitchers to Ottawa to look for Condrey, maybe he could get another chance on the mound.

            "I want you fellows to start pitching with both arms," Wharton told the Philly pitchers. "I want you to become switch-pitchers, like that guy the Yankees just signed. He's got..."

            "Sir," Jose Mesa piped up, "you ain't thinkin' about that Chinese pitcher-catcher the Yankees signed a while back, the guy who can pitch then run and catch it himself, are you?"

            "No dammit," David said. "the only guy who could do that on our staff is Moyer. He's slow enough in ball speed, but too damn old to get there fast enough to catch it.

            "No, I'm talking about pitching with either arm.

            "Now are there any questions?"

            Alfonseca raised his hand.

            "Does this mean we can renegotiate our salaries, since we now will be pitching with two arms?"

            "Hell no," David hollered. "You have six fingers on one hand, Anti, do we pay you anymore money? Yes?"

            "Sir?" It was Yoel Hernandez. "Does this mean that some of us might come into the game earlier, cause you might want a right-hander sooner than later?"
            "Hernandez." Wharton said, "if you can throw as fast with your left arm that you do with your right arm, you might be in the game the whole damn game."

            Hernandez shook his head yes like he understood.

            Young Matt Zagurski stood in the back staring at David Wharton.

            "What's the matter, Zagurski," David bellowed, "you got a problem with this?"

            He shook his head no.

            Then LA offered some philosophy.

            "Well I'll tell ya," he said, "if you throw a curve ball with the right arm, does that same pitch thrown with the left arm be a screwball?"

            Wharton stood there staring back at the fellows.

            "The only screw balls I know about are here in the bullpen.

            And they all laughed at that.

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

            And with that, David Wharton went back to his office to plan for the World Series.

 


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     When four brothers grow up, all playing ball, then all thinking in later years they are the second coming of Gene Mauch, differences of opinion come and go faster than birthdays, father's days, and  beautiful nights at the ball park, when you are seated close enought that you can hear the umpire call a third strike, and the third beer was defintely doused with a chemical that makes you a baseball expert.

     Sometimes, a brother hits on an opinion that's as good as gold. That's truer than true. That turns out to be right. Okay, once in  a while.

      Trading Placido Polanco (Poly) may go down as one of the worse trades in Phillies history. They received nothing for him, short of a convicted felon who sits in jail...try calling him in the seventh (Ramon, cool it, I'm only kidding).

     Brother Tom, when it wasn't popular to say so, said it from the beginning. Mixed in his opinion were words such as stupid, regret, and assnine.  So when you are right, right from the beginning, it should, on this father's day, be recognized, to a father who most likely played more games in his backyard with his children, than he did on the diamond, both hard and soft ball. Now that's saying something! I know that because he struck me out with that damn wiffle ball curve more than a few times.

     So it be noted and documented.

     Now, but here's what I think...

 

 


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     He could-a have been in the first base dugout last night. If not for the fabled Wade-er-gate, maybe he would-a. Same with Poly; could-a had him at third. They both could-a, and the Phillies would-a, be a much different club, had we should-a.

     But we've got an exciting, young team, a team that's fun to watch. A team that sweeps, then loses some.  Maye next time we'll do better; in the game, and in the front office. And should-a won't be a could-a.


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     "A tract of land completely surrounded by water, not large enough to be called a continent." The Phillies may very well be called an island. A good team, a decent nucleus: "a central part about which other parts are grouped or gathered around." 

     Unfortunately, the "other parts" that gather around it are sometimes suspect. The club may have the best nucleus it has had since Lee Thomas and chief boy scout leader Eddy Wade put together in the '91 and '92 seasons. Then '93 was a joy ride through the rapids. Unfortunately, that club fell apart faster than a barrel over the Niagara Falls. Let's take a look at the present day nucleus, or the so-called untouchables:

  • Chase Utley
  • Ryan Howard
  • Jimmy Rollins
  • Shane Victorino
  • Cole Hammels
  • Bret Myers
  • Carlos Ruiz

     I say, don't trade any of these players prior to July 31. That leaves a barrel full of players led by Aaron Rowand, who just might be the best card Gillick-an's Island can play. Rowand is a good ball player. He might be able to bring a middle inning reliver whose name isn't Jose Mesa and go on and help a team that needs an outfield bat and glove in mid-season.

    That way, the Phillies can put Victorino in center where he belongs and move Greg Dobbs to right. Dobbs is hitting a respectable .284 with 6 HRs and 25 RBI, not bad for a part time player. This would open a spot on the bench for Chris Coste, who could help the club with his bat late in the game. I'm not saying Coste can push the island over the top, but he can hit, especially in pressure situations.

     What else can they do? Are any of the other parts gathered around the nucleus worth enough to draw talent to Gillick-an's Island, to help push the team ahead of the Mets and Braves? Will clubs trade for Barajas, or the home run ripping-demon, Helms? Or any of the stiff arms out in the bullpen?

     You're kidding right? I asked someone the other day, "what would you do to improve the team." He answered, "I'd trade for one or two good relief pitchers." Trade what? Trade one of the nucleus? Or one of the spare parts? Or perhaps empty the already depleted minor leagues?

      So, unless I'm missing something here, a Mesa signing is about the best we can get excited about. Maybe Aaron Rowand bringing someone slightly better than a stiff. So get ready for the rest of the up and down Phillies season, because on this Gillick-an's Island, there are no rescue boats in sight.

      

      

    
 

    
 


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by Ron on May 30 at 6:13PM

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Recently someone wrote in and said I was too harsh on Pat Gillick, that "on paper" the Phillies bullpen wasn't "too shaby," but he can't prevent injuries. You can read the full comment by clicking on "Comment" belowBest of the Brightest.

Pat Gillick knew over a year ago that Tom Gordon was at the very least unstable, at the very best--the kid who lives next door to me and plays little league said: "Flash is good but he's old and he might get hurt during the season."

That was back in February. A LITTLE LEAGUER!!!!!

Gillick inherited a core of very good players. But he has done little to improve the club to contender status, short of Jamie Moyer and Dobbs and maybe Werth.  Here is what Mr. Gillick hasn't done:

1. Let's start with themanager. I'm not going to insult the man, everybody else has already done that. But he shouldn't be managing the Phillies. He got the job because he was Thome's buddy and Wade wanted to please Thome.

Look at last night's game. He has the infield in during the second inning with a runner on third. He should never have had the infield in that early and it cost him dearly. Then brain-trust Rowand steals second when the Fightens' are down 5-1. I could site example after example but there are too damn many.

Gillick should have fired Manuel over the winter and replaced him with a quality manager who can manage in the NL.

2.Pat Burrell. Enough said, do I have to elaborate? He's an anchor about the Phillies neck currently hitting at  .226 with 6 HRs and 22 RBIs. Sure, he has 41 walks but he also has 36 KOs. I can just hear Harry the K: "Well Wheels, Burrell is on deck with the game tied here in the eighth and Glavine has to be weary of facing him."

"That's right Harry, Burrell is tearing up the league with bases on balls and he may get number 42 tonight."

Gillick should have handled the Burrell situation instead of spending half his time in Toronto. And he wasn't watching Ottawa. Gillick said the team wasn't ready to compete until '08. Sure, as long as he's sitting on his hands.

3.Right field. Shane Victorino is out of place. He should be in center. Instead, we have both left and right field short of power. While Rowand buys time to beef up his batting average so he can sign a nice, fat contract next season with the White Sox. Gillick does nothing.  

4.Third base. Wes Helms and Abraham Nunez are not putting fear into opposing NL teams. Helms is Dr. Strangeglove. Nunez is not the answer. He's a good bench player and that's all. Another hole Gillick left unattended. 

5.Catcher.Carlos Ruiz is doing well. But Barajas? He's too slow behind the plate and he can't hit. But he put a snow job on Gillick and got his money. He's a joke.

6.The bull pen...it's a disgrace. Don't credit Gillick for moving Myers there. If that move was to be made, it should have been better planned. Gillick moved Myers there because he went with a fragile, old player who was not able to carry the team through May. This is not an injury on paper. This is an injury made to happen. He couldn't get through last season, and everybody who knows anything about baseball knew he wouldn't get through this season. Except Gillick. Funny how that is, isn't it?

The bull pen is Gillick's Folly because he knew it stunk and he did nothing about it all winter, except bring in a bunch of stiffs who can't get anybody out. This team is going nowhere until somebody takes over who knows what the hell they are doing. And that ain't Gillick! 


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by Ron on May 25 at 9:19PM

 

 

A few days ago I sent an email to the famous Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin, a man who never met a diet he didn't like. Or is that liked? Not sure. Anyway in my email I asked Conlin two things:

1. Why does he live in the past? I'm tired of reading about Uncle Hughie and how it was in the seventies. Perhaps, I suggsted, he should retire like Hockman and start doing 'bandwagon' stuff.

2. Is it true he goes to Pat Gillick's house every night and tucks the GM in?

You can imagine the response I got: %*#@%#**&#. And then some.

But it was what he said after that, that got my attention. He said "Pat Gillick is too bright of a man for me to disrespect him." So, I've selected the "Best of the Brightest," no disrespect intended. Conlin also said in a recent column in the paper that he is impressed that Gillick has two citizenships, one here and one in Canada. Yea, Bill, so do all the illegal immigrants. Well sure, eventually they will. Gillick didn't get his overnight.

The Phillies bullpen!  Perhaps Gillick should give dual citizenship to certain members of the bullpen--the Best of the Brightest--so when they get shipped back to Ottawa, they don't have to waste time going through customs. What Conlin should ask Gillick, after he tucks him in, is how the hell did he assemble this crew of inept pitchers who lose game after game between the sixth and eighth innings?

Or better yet, if a guy, one with dual citizenship, can't get anybody out, what's he doing on a major league team? Did it ever occur to Conlin--or anybody else--that as'bright'as Gillick is, he handed over to Uncle Charlie a Double A pen? At best?

It has been rumored that Gillick spends half his time at his Toronto home. Perhaps he missed the game where Geary came in and gave up three straight home runs. It is also rumored that Bobby Cox told his team: "Let's get 'em to the seventh and get them relief boys in. Anybody who can't hit 'em ain't playin' tomorrow."

So what we end up with is a club with potential to win, but handicapped game after game because of an a minor league bullpen.The Best of the Brightest.

No disrespect intended.


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by Ron on May 20 at 12:44PM
"I been having a ball since I was a boy in Beaumont
I love that town but I just couldn't stay
Two-stepped all the way to Amarillo
Shuffled my way into Santa Fe
I just had to see she sunset out in Frisco
The golden gate is great, but it ain't home
Give me a Rodeo
Blame it on Texas don't blame it on me"
  (Mark Chestnut) 

3528.jpg I guess last night we can blame the pitiful performance    on Texas...since the Phililes Clay Condrey is from Beaumont, on the tidewater of the River Neches, and one of the first cities in Texas to vote to secede from the Union, just after the Confederate artillery open up and shelled Fort Sumpter.

Speaking of getting shelled, at least at Ft. Sumpter there were no casualities, but we can't say the same about last night. The fan in the lower deck who caught the rocket that ricocheted off the facing of the upper deck from the bat of Matt Stairs, has two fingers in a bandage after staying up half the night walking the floor and wondering why he stuck his hand out in the first place.

We were there last night, nestled in our seats with the family relatives hoping to witness a dry game and a spectacular night of Jamie Moyer's magic tricks: First you see it, now you don't. Moyer didn't have it and that was okay. The Grand Old Guy of the Grand Old Game deserves an off night now and then. 

But the kid from Beaumont? That was single A Lakewood stuff. Either that or we dosed off and  awoke during batting practice. He may have two-stepped his way to Amarillo, but now he should two-step his way back to Ottawa. I hear the sunset over the Ottawa River, just before the water rafting in the spring, has the sunset beat in Frisco 7-2, which was the score last night before Condrey gave up six in a hearbeat.

"Give me a Rodeo." 


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 "You ready to go tonight, Jamie?" 

"Yea Tom, I am. Got a little arthritis in the hips, but overall I'm feelin' okay, how about you?"  

"Well, I should be playin' bochie ball at the retirement home, but I need number 300, so I got to keep goin"  

"Know what you mean, Tommy, know what you mean...."

                               Tom Glavine:                                         Jamie Moyer:

 Age:                              41                                                            44

Career wins:                  291                                                         217

Career loses                  192                                                         166

Career innings             4,161                                                      3,357

Strike outs                   2,485                                                      1,995

Career ERA                    3.46                                                        4.16

2007 Salary                $7,500,000                                            $6,500,000

Team Salary                $117,915,819                                        $89,368,214 

 

 


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You wish you had the Phillies problems? Okay I understand that as a Yankee fan your life is in turmoil because it's the second week of April and you haven't clinched the division yet.  But let's examine the facts of this young season so far.
 
Maybe you have stranded a few more runners than the Phils, but that only really matters when you lose every game.  Right now you're at .500 and sitting comfortably is second place after putting a hurt on the defending Central Division Champions last night.  Most of the time runners LOB isn't that big a problem for the Yankees, you may leave 15 on but you knock ten in and your staff only gives up six.
 
My fightin' Phils on the other hand leave fourteen on base while only scoring four and despite the fact that their starting pitching for the most part has been stellar, their bullpen has the ability to give up seven runs in an inning.
 
But this year aside, because it is still young and thing could change lets consider this:  
 
My fightin' Phils have missed the playoffs each and every year since their heartbreaking loss to Toronto in the World Series in 1993 and haven't won a championship since 1980.  Your Yankees haven't missed the playoffs since 1994, and have won how many championships?  I think it's twenty-six right, that's more championships than any team in any sport right? 
 
So Brian, and believe me it pains me as a Phillies fan to say this, you can't even compare the Phillies to the Yankees.  The two aren't even in the same league, and this comparison goes much deeper than the simple fact that one is an NL team and the other an AL team.
 
And as far as your trade for Cole goes, I said we should hold onto him like grim death, not trade him for grim and death, I will however take that bum A-Rod off your hands, who do you want for him Abraham Nunez? 

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by Ron on April 8 at 5:34PM

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Haven’t seen the Bandwagon recently in the Philly Daily News. Stan the Man must have gone back into retirement. What with the Phils bitin’ the dust lately, who can blame him?

I noticed in recent letters to the editor inThe Inquirer, fans are diving off the bandwagon faster than the deckhands on the Titanic.

And Angelo can’t take all the calls that are coming in fast enough...back to calling Uncle Charlie a moron and trade Burrell and Lieber and Rowand. Hell, they are saying, "trade half the damn team."

But I say...now just hold on. In the words of a Tim McGraw song:

Carry on
Carry on
What don’t kill us makes us strong
Carry on

Now this little April swoon is not killing the Phillies. So here’s what’s going to happen:

  • Uncle Charlie is going to get fired, just like Angelo and the boys say:“On or before May 10, that Bum’s gone”
  • Davy Lopes will take over the team and it will make a big difference
  • Freddie Garcia will come off the DL and zip off five straight wins
  • Rowand will get traded
  • Myers and Hamels will become a potent 1-2 punch
  • Burrell will catch fire...and get the boobirds off his back
  • Utley will go bonkers with the bat
  • And Ryan Howard will find his groove

"What don’t kill us makes us strong….carry on."

 


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by Ron on April 8 at 12:48PM

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 Baseball is a game of numbers. So when you watch today's game, the Phillies vs the Florida Marlins, keep these numbers in mind.

Team Payrolls:

  •  Phillies........$89,368,214
  • Marlins........$30,507,000

Highest paid player:

  • Phillies.........Pat Burrell.......$13,250,000
  • Phillies........Freddie Garcia..$10,000,000
  • Marlins.......Miguel Cabrera..$  7,400,000
  • Marlins.......Dontrell Willis....$  6,450,000

Phillies pitchers who make more than Willis:

  • Jamie Moyer.......$6,500,000
  • Jon Lieber..........$7,833,333
  • Adam Eaton.......$7,208,333
  • Tom Gordon.......$7,000,000
  • Freddie Garcia...$10,000,000


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by Ron on April 8 at 10:20AM

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 My brother-in-law is all over me about the Phillies again. He thinks I throw away my money when I go to 15-20 games a season. Yesterday I saw him and the first words out of his mouth were: "Hey it's the second coming."

What are you talking about, I said.

"The second coming of Millwood. It the body of Adam Eaton. It will be Millwood all over again, and we've got three years to watch it."

Ah come on, I said, it's his first game. It was cold. Give the man a break.

"Okay," my brother in law said. "you watch. They gave a three year $25 million contact to Millwood in a different body."

Naw, I thought, he'll pitch a shutout next time out. Won't he? 


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When Tom Gordon injured his shoulder last August, the Phillies knew they needed to revamp their bullpen. Over the winter, the Phillies said their main goal for 2007 was to improve their relief pitching.

When spring training started, the Phillies knew they had to add to their bullpen. All during spring camp the bullpen struggled. When the season began, the Phillies bullpen lost two of the first four games.

Well, Gillick finially did something.

He added 26 year old Francisco Rosario who last season with the Blue Jays was a whopping 1-2 with a 6.65 ERA in 17 games. Over eight seasons in the minors Rosario was 20-26 with a 3.38 in 148 games with 478 strikeouts. The Phillies bought the righthander for $100,000.

The Phillies also signed free agent righthander Rick Bauer to a minor league contract. Bauer, 30, went 3-1 last season with the Rangers with two saves and a 3.55 ERA in 58 games. In spring training, Bauer had a 15.63 ERA in 16 and a third innings, allowing 19 hits, 15 runs, four home runs and four walks. 

Moreover, Gillick said the Phillies might look at righthander Dustin Hermanson, recently released by Cincinnati. Hermanson didn't play much last season because of back problems. 

At least Gillick is talking...and hopefully, he knows something about these pitchers that nobody else does. Maybe Rosario will become the fireballer closer the team desperately needs now and in the near future.

Hopefully, Gillick's moves for the pen won't turn out to be bull. 


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by Ron on April 5 at 12:02PM

Question Number One: Where is Pat Gillick? Has anyone seen him? Is he working at home in Toronto? And what is he doing about the obvious problems?

 At least with Ed Wade he was around. He was visible. Right or wrong he stood his ground. 

Question Number Two:  Where are the writers? Gone are the days of Sandy Grady, Frank Dolson, Bill Lyon, and others who would have hung David and company out to dry. Conlin is still around, yea, if you like the good ole days. I'm tired of hearing about Uncle Hugie. Bill, either retire or get after them. Stop living in the past.

And there's Hockman's bandwagon. Two words of advice: Stay retired and stay retired. 

 Here's a good line from Sheridan in today's Inquirer: "Every major league team is flawed. These Phillies it seems are flawed in just such a way as to make diehard fans want to, die. Hard. Metaphorically speaking of course."

 It's like getting hit with a cat paw that's been declawed.  Can't you just hear Angelo talking to the boys on air like that? "That bum, that stinkin' bum, speaking metaphorically of course."

Question Number Three: When is marketing going to catch up with reality? Do you feel like the Phillies are a little off in their between-innings marketing? I know several people who turn off the sound on their television between innings, they are so tired of the propaganda.

The Phillies hire some computer geeks that spice together reels of tape and we have to watch it game after game. Maybe their strategy is to get you so sick of the marketing that you will end up buying a ticket to the game just to get away from it.

Where is the tape of Burrell taking a slider on the outside corner with the bases loaded in the seventh, game after game? Or brain trust Victorino stealing third with Utley and Howard due up. Under Leyland Victo-runner would have splinters on his pineapple in about a week.

Where are feeds of Burrell letting that ball fall in front of him last night, the one my sister could have caught?  Wheels said it all by his silence.

Maybe Conlin is right, maybe we ought to go back to the good ole days. 


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 Their payroll is frighteningly similar.

  • Atlanta: $89,492,685
  • Philly: $89,368,214

Then why does one club look good while the other looks embarrassing?

One club takes its $89 million and distributes it so the team is good across the board. The other club takes a young team with great potential into play, with a 41 year old closer and an almost nonexistent bullpen.

And it’s not like Gillick, David Wharton and company woke up one morning and said, “Guess what, we don’t have a bullpen?” They knew they wouldn’t have a bullpen since the season ended in October, 2006!

One team has a manager who is highly regarded and most players want to play for. The other club has a guy who should have been fired at the end of last season. A guy who takes his number three hitter and suddenly puts him in the cleanup hole. A guy who one day pulls his pitcher too soon and the next day leaves another pitcher in too long.

I ask you, is this anyway to run a business?

One team’s shortstop proclaims his team the team to beat in the NL East and the other team’s third basemen says lets play the season and see which team is THE team to beat.

One team’s manager has won  more games (1,510) in the 16-season span since 1991 than any other team in baseball. He has won 15 division crowns in his career, including 14 in Atlanta that have led to five pennants (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999) and one World Championship (1995).

The other team’s manager? He was hired over another highly regarded field general who took his rejection to the Tigers and led them to a World Series.

Is this any way to run a business?

Forty-one thousand fans of one team turn out on a cold night in April to see their team blow another lead with a bullpen and closer that couldn’t make some triple-A rosters.

David Wharton…wake the hell up!


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by Ron on April 4 at 1:40PM

426936585_429b420d00.jpg David Wharton was busy with his stop watch timing the traffic light, the one he could see out his office window at the ball park. He picked up his office desk phone and called the mayor’s office to complain for the eleventh time that the red was 45 seconds longer than the green.

As usual, he got nowhere with the call.‘No wonder,’he thought,‘with his own family running the city. I wish I could hire my brothers and sisters.’

He looked at the wall clock and decided it was not yet time to walk out to the outfield to meet the head groundskeeper and tour the gardens to make sure the petunia plants being put in at center field did not exceed the count of 164. A ball club with a budget approaching $90 million could not overspend on petunias and David was going to make damn sure they followed the budget guidelines.  

He didn’t get those plaques on his wall for nothing. He looked down at his desk and smiled. A huge tack formed into a paperweight and inscribed: Put This On Somebody’s Seat.Then right below that:The Best Deal 2007.And yet below it:Annual Award for Cheapest Contract to Most Productive Player, Major League Owners.

He was proud of that one, but the one he really wanted was theScrew Award, also given by the major league owners, for theLowest Payroll to make the Playoffs. That one went to the Minnesota Twins. ‘Damn,’ he thought,‘might have that one if we coulda gotten rid of Burrell. I gotta’ get that award this year.’

Then his intercom buzzed.“Sir, the gentlemen have arrived in the Tug McGraw conference room and are waiting for you.”

 “Oh,” David said, “Okay, I’ll be right there.”

Seated in the McGraw conference room was Assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., Community Relations Specialist, Dick Allen, Tickets Vice President, Harvey Neuman, and team broadcasters Harry the K and Wheels. General Manager Pat Gillick, who was working at home in Toronto, was hooked in by conference call.

After taking his seat at the head of conference table, David brought the meeting to order.

“Gentlemen, I arranged this meeting to discuss a potential situation where if we got rid of two players, our team salary would drop lower than the Twins. So I want to address how we do that.

"We’ve got to get rid of Burrell and Lieber. Besides, Lieber’s damn truck is taking up three parking spots in the players’ lot.”

David continued: “So, I’m giving you all marching orders to dump those two sooner than later.”

“We’ve tried to get rid of Burrell,” Amaro said, “but nobody wants him, David, his salary is too high.”

And I’ve been trying like hell to trade Lieber buy nobody wants him, either,”crackled Gillick from the inner-com.

“Okay, I think I have a solution,” David said. “First, we buy Lieber’s damn truck, then we throw it in as a gift to the GM of the team that takes Lieber and Burrell.

“That might work,”crackled Gillick. “We threw in Lidle and the Yankees bit on that.”

“Let’s get to work, then,” David said, “or should I say, ‘let’s get truckin.’ Ha, ha, get it Dick? Get it? Ah, go write your name in the dirt.”


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by Ron on April 4 at 12:49PM

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"Hey Jimmie...we got them articles up on the board that says your boys are the team to beat...if you want to come over after the game to see em...let me know." 


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by Ron on April 4 at 12:14PM

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 And after the game, Uncle Charlie wasn't laughing at the final stats:

  • Good starting pitching
  • 10 runners left on base (5 in scoring position, less than two outs)
  • Bullpen loses game

Tonight the Fightens' may be rained out, although the skies are suppose to clear, with the air to become more frigid like.  With a 7:05 start, it could be miserable down at the ole' ball park.

 


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by Jeff on April 2 at 6:34PM
edgar.bmp
 
How about Edgar F***king Renteria.
 
The Phils battled back from a two nothing defecit to take a late lead in todays opener.  Brett Myers was looking good, he struck out eight and had only given up a couple hits when he took the mound in the eighth with a 3-2 lead... that is until Edgar Renteria stepped to the plate with two outs and ripped a solo shot to knot the game at three.  Myers made a mistake, he left a fastball out over the plate on an 0-2 count, and Edgar made him pay.
 
In the tenth inning with Ryan Madson on the hill, Renteria again stepped to the plate.  There was a man on and Renteria flubbed a sacrifice, not once but twice before smashing a two run homer that would ultimately give the Braves the win.
 
This isn't the first time that Renteria has beaten the Phillies with his bat, and it's also not the first time he pounded one into the seats after he was unable to get down a sacrifice bunt.  Hey Charlie, when you play on Wednesday if the game is on the line and Edgar is at the plate, do me a favor and walk him.
 
I can't blame the loss entirley on Renteria, the Phils bats missed a golden opportunity to put this game out of reach in the seventh when Brett Myers was walked on four pitches, then Jimmy Rollins followed that with a double putting runners on second and third with no outs.  The big bats came to the plate and disappointed the sell-out crowd: Victorino struck out, Howard struck out and Utley was retired on a weak ground ball to short.
 
It's alright it's just the first game, as long as the boys learn from their mistakes and don't make a habit of leaving too many in scoring position and leaving fastballs out over the plate then everything will be fine, for now I'll just chalk up my first disappointment of the season to a little bit of missed opportunity and a lot of Edgar f***king Renteria. 
 
 

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by Ron on April 2 at 4:35PM

Two old foes returned to for the home opener at Citizens Bank Park today to haunt the Phillies: A weak bullpen and stranded base runners.

The Phillies lost to the Braves at Citizens Bank Park today, 5-3. Ryan Madson taking the loss, Pat Burrell 0 RBIs; two hits apiece for Aaron Rowand, Jimmy Rollins (only Phil HR), and Shane Victorino. Bret Myers pitched a 7 and two thirds gem giving up four hits and three runs.

Chase Utley switched to clean up behind Ryan Howard went 1 for 5, leaving three key runners stranded. Rowand left two.

Tough loss, but it was so good to hear the voices of Spring.

Besides the Utley/Howard switch, the Phillies made another move, putting three in the television broadcasting booth, making the Voices of Spring  even better.

  • Harry the K, the best home run caller in the game today, with that velvety grandfather voice…”that balls outta here…”
  • Chris Wheeler, the best overall 'color' broadcaster I’ve ever heard…EVER. That’s EVER.
  • With the addition of 'Sarg', Gary Mathews, the three worked well together

Wheels was so good with his insight this afternoon. Example: “Renteria here against Myers …considering the pitch count Bret is on and Chipper Jones on deck, if Myers looses Renteria we’ll most likely see Charlie come out and make a pitching change…”

Renteria hits the first of his two home runs and here comes Uncle Charlie out to get Bret Myers. Wheels is good in tight baseball situations.

Earlier Harry the K asks Wheels his opinion on seeing closer Tom Gordon pitch the ninth. “Yea Harry I spoke with Charlie earlier today and he said he would use Gordon in a tie ball game here at home.” Homework done.

The three broadcasters blended in nicely, but Wheeler made the game complete with his knowledge and timing. Now, if we can get the bullpen on track too...


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by Jeff on March 30 at 1:21PM
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Well older anyway.  The Phil's have released 31 year old Karim Garcia to(potentially) make room  on the twenty five man roster for Michael Bourn.  Garcia had great numbers in Clearwater, he was hitting .305 with four doubles in nearly sixty at bats.
 
Manuel said he was releasing Garcia to give him a fair shake at landing another job.  He said that Karim just wouldn't see enough playing time to be productive for the Phil's.
 
Garcia was competing for a fifth outfield position behind the starting three - Burrell, Victorino and Rowand and fourth man Jayson Werth.
 
This move makes sense to me, Garcia has paid his dues with the Mets, the Orioles and the Indians - it would be nice for him to land a full time gig with a team who needs an outfielder.  He wasn't going to get that chance in Philadelphia.  Bourn on the other hand is a kid, this will give him a chance to be in a big league clubhouse and learn from guys who came up the ranks with the Phils.
 
Bourn could serve as a pinch runner and late inning defensive replacement.  He has a strong throwing arm and his speed on the base paths is tremendous, he'll be one of the guys who truly benefits from Davey Lopes experience.
 
Of course, the youngster's stay in the bigs may still be brief, if it even lasts until opening day.  A lot of Uncle Charlie's final decisions will probably come on Sunday after the team re-evaluates the condition of the walking wounded - Lieber, Freddy Garcia and Chris Coste may not be ready to join the team for the opener.  If either Coste or Lieber's injuries are worse than previously thought, or if either isn't as close to being one-hundred percent as Manuel would like, then Bourn may have more of an extended stay. 
 
 

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by Ron on March 30 at 8:24AM

Some baseball milestones may fall this baseball season by the old men of the game.

  • Barry Bonds, 42, Giants, of course is chasing Hank Aaron’s home run record. Bonds is 21 shy of tying Aaron’s mark of 755. But Bonds is also closing in on another record. There are just three players in the game who have 2,000 RBIs: Babe Ruth, Aaron, and Cap Anson. Bonds needs 70 RBIs to join that illustrious group. In 2006 Bonds had 77.
  • Tom Glavine, 41, Mets, needs 10 wins to join the 300–win club. In 19 seasons Glavine twice failed to win ten games in a single season. Incidently, Randy Johnson, 43, has 280 wins and will have to win 20, either this season or over the next two to reach the 300 club.
  • Kenny Lofton, 40, Rangers, is one stolen base shy of 600. Lofton entered the majors in 1991 with Houston and has played for a multitude of teams since then, including the Indians, Braves, Blue Jays, White Sox, Giants, Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers and Rangers. There are 16 players ahead of Lofton in career stolen bases with Ricky Henderson at the top with 1,406 swipes. Henderson, by the way, is 468 stolen bases ahead of second place Lou Brock.
  • Craig Biggio, 41, needs 70 more hits to reach 3,000. It’s possible that Biggio could accomplish it this season, and if he does he will be the 26th player to have 3,000 or more hits. Exiled Pete Rose is at the top with 4,256 career hits.
  • Roger Clemens, 44, team to be announced, needs just two wins to have 350 major league career wins. There are seven former players ahead of Clemens with Cy Young at the top with 511 career wins.
  • And how about the Mets Generalissimo (Julio Cesar) Franco, the ageless wonder, still playing at the age of 48. When Franco made his major league debut, two current Mets players, David Wright and Jose Reyes, were not yet born. But Franco has a ways to go to catch the oldest player ever to play the game: Satchel Paige pitched in a major league game in 1965 at the age of 59. Generalissimo was dealt by the Phillies for ole' Five-for-one,' Von Hayes, in 1982. The other four players were: Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, Jay Baller and Jerry Willard.

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by Ron on March 29 at 3:58PM

The New York Mets will not win the wild card in the National League in 2007. Their pitching is too old at one end—Tom Glavine and Orlando Hernandez, and too young at the other end—Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, and Oliver Perez.

The Mets will finish behind the Phillies and Braves in the East.

Speaking of the Phillies and Braves, they will play close to each other for the entire season, even seesawing back in forth in and out of first place. In late September, the Phillies will sweep through a successful road trip, then return and sweep the Braves at home, nipping them at the wire.

The Lou Piniella and Alfonso Soriano led Cubbies will win the NL Wild Card, edging out a surprising Pittsburgh Pirates team in the final week of the season.

The Cubs Kerry Wood will rebound from a sore arm to be effective out of the bullpen and Mark Prior will find his fastball at Triple-A Iowa, and return to help the club. The team’s $300 million off season shopping spree added free agent pitchers Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis to the rotation, which includes righthander Carlos Zambrano.

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild will help closer Ryan Dempster rebound from a shaky 2006, where he was 24 for 33 in save situations, and recorded nine losses and an 4.80 ERA. Dempster, however, recorded a season high12 straight save opportunities from July 5 to August 14.

No longer a team dependent on Wood and Prior, the new look Cubbies will have decent speed at the top of the order in Soriano and Jacque Jones, followed by effective power in Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and free agents Cliff Floyd and Mark DeRosa.

With Piniella now calling the shots in the dugout, the Cubbies can definitely get Wild in the Friendly Confines.


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Can the Phillies win the East?

Yes, they can.

They are nearly good enough now, but Pat Gillick will make them better as the season begins. This prediction, therefore, is based on faith in the general manager to make a trade or two, either now, or as we get close to the trading deadline of July 31. Or both.

If we still had fast Eddie, I’d put the Fightens third, behind the Braves and Mets.

The bullpen appears shaky, but there are some key components that could come through. Ryan Madson, Geoff Geary, Matt Smith, Antonio Alfonseca, and Tom Gordon make up the core of the Phillies’ bull pen. Gordon, the closer, 40, is prone to injury and may not last the season. Smith is the unproven rookie in a key role as the bull pen’s only lefthander. Then add in soon to be 37 year-old Jon Lieber, who is currently on loan.

Gillick must add one or two arms, including a closer--in case Gordon goes down--to bolster the bull pen.

The starting rotation can carry the Phillies into the playoffs, barring injuries.

The offense is strong, with key additions in Wes Helms at third, and Rod Barajas behind the plate. They have speed at the top of the order. The combination of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will provide plenty of excitement.

Pat Burrell must get his numbers, at least to equal to last season. If not, he could be an overt weakness in the offense. If his spring training numbers are an indication, the boos my begin to haunt him early. Let’s hope Burrell’s spring numbers were an aberration, and he jumps off to a good start.

The bench appears good enough, too: Jayson Werth, Greg Dobbs, Abraham Nunez, Karim Garcia, with Chris Coste to appear either sooner or later. Gillick may do something to shore up the bench as well, perhaps adding another lefthanded pinch hitter.

Defensively, the Phillies are weak on the left side, with Burrell backing up Helms at third. A ball hit down the line between Helms and the bag could spell trouble for Burrell and the Phillies.

So three ingredients are needed to make the Phillies winners of the NL East: A potent offensive attack, check; a good starting rotation, barring injuries, check; and Pat Gillick making the necessary moves to add to the bull pen and bench, check on hold. Last year the Fightins won 85 games. To win the East in 2007, they’ll need to add six more wins.

As I see it: Phillies, Braves, Mets, Nationals, and Marlins...with one check on hold.


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by Jeff on March 28 at 12:06PM

 

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It's that time of year, Spring is in the air and spring training is coming to a close.  Opening day is practically upon us so here goes nuthin'.  I’m more of an NL guy, so I'll hit the senior circuit now and get back to y'all after more thought on the AL.

 The East:

1. Phillies
2. Mets (Wild Card)
3. Braves
4. Marlins
5. Nationals

 That's right kids, my misery is over, after 14 years the hollow feeling that comes at the end of every regular season since '93 will be replaced by elation.   I know the Mets have a solid line-up, but look, I've been worrying about the Braves for a decade and half, I'm not going to start worrying about the Mets now.  I think the Phils have made enough positive moves to get over the hump and take the East by the horns.  They had the bats in place last year, now they've got the arms as well, and here's an extra prediction - Ryan Howard repeats as MVP.


Central

1. Cardinals
2. Cubs
3. Astros
4. Reds
5. Brewers
6. Pirates 

The Cubs sure didn't hesitate to shell out the green in the off-season, but I don't think it'll be enough.  The Cards fans will be expecting a lot - Pujols is a freaking monster and Chris Carpenter is still one of the best arms in baseball.  This division will be tight, maybe a few games separating the division winner all the way back to number four, but the Cards squeek in.  This certainly isn't the best division in baseball, but it may be the most evenly matched.

West

1. Dodgers
2. Padres
3. Diamondbacks
4. Giants
5. Rockies

Pitching is the story in the West, so that determines how they'll finish.  The Dodgers have the strength from number one through the pen to edge off the Padres who come in a close second - Lowe, Penny and Schmidt win the race for the West.  The rest of the division is pretty meaningless in my opinion, the West is a race of two unless you're in the market for a spectacle(Bonds) instead of baseball.

Playoffs:

So who goes to the big dance - the Phillies!  They don't bring home the World Series trophy in '07, but you can bet I'll be wearing that NL Champs shirt  all too often until they win the World Series in '08.  That's right I'm making my prediction for next year here too, Phil's in '08.


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by Jeff on March 27 at 2:50PM
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Well I'll be damned, as recent as last week the Phil's were in a quandry about which one of their six starters was going to be pushed into doing some time in the pen.  Now all of a sudden, they may be starting the season with a pitcher too few in their rotation.

Projected ace and giant offseason aqcuisition Freddy Garcia is nursing a sore bicep, and may very well be on the DL on April 2nd when Brett Myers takes the field opening day against the eastern division rival Braves.  Though there doesn't seem to be any severity to the injury, there is a chance Freddy may not go in the second game of the year.

No big deal, right?  We had an extra starter in Lieber anyhow, he hasn't even gotten a chance to get used to his bullpen role yet, just throw him into the number two role until Freddy's ready to throw... Only problem is - Lieber's hurt now too.

Uncle Charlie announced Sunday that he expects the right hander to miss about ten games with a sore oblique.  I have a question, after the ten days are up and Lieber  is ready to throw again, will he be able to pitch on an everday basis without re-aggravating the injury? 

There was a lot of question as to whether his body would be able to handle the rigors of middle relief pitching while he was "healthy".  If he can't go an inning or two on a regular basis he's not going to be a very effective relief pitcher.

So what are the options now?  I guess Eude Brito's trip down to the minors will be ultra brief, and Charlie Manuel is going to have to adjust his rotation a bit after opening day to allow Garcia enough time to be 100%.  The last thing the Phillies need is an ongoing problem with the pitching staff early in the season.

I thought, finally, my days of worrying about starting pitching in Philadelphia were over.  Suddenly the weight of the world is looming very close over my shoulders again.  Hurry up and get better Freddy, the hopes and dreams of an entire city are resting on that right arm and you can't possibly hold all that weight with a sore bicep. 


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People who think the Phillies gave away Bobby Abreu away may be right. But then again, there is Matt Smith.

Smith, of course, was one of the minor league players the Phillies got from the Yankees for Abreu. Smith's name, when listed in the trade, didn’t raise eyebrows. But last season Smith pitched well for the Fightens. He didn’t pitch often, 8 and 2/3 innings, but when he did, he sparkled: 2.08 ERA.

Coming into spring training this year, the 28 year old lefty had to win a job. His competition was Fabio Castro and Eude Brito, both lefties, too.

But Smith didn’t have a good spring. In fact, he stunk: An ERA of 9.00 in nine appearances. For most 28 year old rookies, that’s pack your bags stuff. But the Phillies must see more of the other stuff in Smith’s pitches. So faster than you can say Chris Coste, Castro and Brito were sent back to the minor leagues.

With that comes the distinction of--being the only lefthander out of the bull pen--facing the toughest left-handed hitters in the National League, like Barry Bonds and Carlos Delgado; in the late innings, perhaps with the game on the line.

“…Harry the Phillies have the lefthander Matt Smith up in the bullpen…with Jeff Francoeur in the on deck circle, Charlie Manuel might go to Smith here in the seventh with Phillies up by a run.”

“Right you are Wheels…with Jones popping up here comes Manuel out of the dugout to get Myers and bring in the lefthander and we’ll take a quick break here in the top of the seventh with the Phillies leading the Braves, three to two.”

Like Yogi says, ‘it may get late early’ to see if the Phillies did indeed give Bobby Abreu away.


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There's nothing more exciting in baseball than an overpowering offense.  The homeruns, the RBIs, the stolen bases, the runs scored, hit after hit after hit, but the Phil's gotta know that their fans don't want to see it all in just one game.  

You've heard the saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket", I'd like to amend that for the Phillies to say "don't score all your runs in one game."

Yesterday the Phil's put up 10 runs in an all out trouncing of the Minnestota Twins.  Chase Utley was three for four with two bombs and 4 RBIs, Jimmy Rollins went two for three, Cole Hamels was even in on the offensive action going two for three with an RBI.  All in all ten different Phillies had hits and six different Phils knocked in runs.

So why am I complaining about an eight run win, because(including todays game against the Yankees) in the four games surrounding yesterdays massacre the Phils managed a total of nine runs with three losses and a tie to Boston.

Before that it was more of the same - a 10-6 victory over Toronto where the bats were alive.  The four games before that saw a total of eight runs and four losses.

 The Phillies stand a good chance of scoring the most runs in the National League this year if a few of their bats can wake up from their spring slumber (Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand), but that's not necessarily going to help them if they only swing the bats every five days. 

Their pitching staff may be the best it's been in a decade, but even Brett Myers and Freddy Garcia are going to need some run support to win games. 

The Phillies have a spring record of 9-16, which is damn near the basement in the grapefruit league, this goes to show that you can't make a playoff run by winning  every fifth game, no matter how convincing the victory is.  The Phil's coaching staff is pretty good, hopefully they can teach the boys to spread out the twenty runs evenly over four games instead of scoring more than half of them in one afternoon, and hopefully they can do it in less than a week.


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by Jeff on March 25 at 1:28PM

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 If I were in Charlie Manuel's shoes I'd have made the same exact decision, there isn't another guy on the Phillies staff that deserves to get the ball more on Opening Day than Brett Myers.  Brett's pitched his a$$ off this spring and looks to be in top form, he lost a bunch of weight before the spring even began (don't worry the team still has all that weight, Jon Lieber found it on the way down to Clearwater).

 It doesn't matter that Freddy Garcia might start the season on the DL because of a sore bicep, or that Lieber got moved to the pen, or that Cole Hamel's has given up more home runs than Pat Burrell has strikoutes, Myers would have deserved it regardless.

Any guy who was projected to be a number one or two going into the season, who volunteers to give up his starting role to help out an ailing bullpen will do whatever it takes to win a baseball game.  Brett's been throwing strong going more than six in his last couple starts and piling up the spring strike-outs.

Myers went 12-7 last year with a 3.91 ERA despite having some off the field drama that could have thrown a serious monkey wrench into his psyche.  The guy is an all out, exciting pitcher that wants nothing more than to win and I, personally, couldn't ask for a better opening day match up than Brett Myers squaring off against John Smoltz and the Braves.  

It's just over a week until we show the Braves that their reign over the east wasn't just interrupted, it's over - Call me over-confident, but I've got my broom in hand already! 


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by Ron on March 24 at 1:57PM

 “The Chief” could be the answer to the Phillies bullpen problems.

Chad Patrick Cordero is 25 years old, who last season had a respectable .319 ERA and struck out 69 over 73.1 innings for the Washington Nationals. Even more impressive, at least to the Phillies, he recorded 29 saves last season and is considered one of the best young closers in the game today. Moreover, he’s not eligible for free agency until 2009.

With Cordero in the bullpen ready to pitch the seventh or eighth inning and close occasionally, he’d be ready to step in to fill the void left by Gordon upon injury or retirement.

But it won’t be easy to get Cordero. The Nationals want high end players in return, and can wait out any and all trade proposals, or not trade Cordero at all. With that in mind, who would the Phillies be willing to trade to get Cordero?

Ryan Howard? Chase Utley?

Let’s move on. Would the Nationals take Bret Myers for Cordero? Would the Phillies trade Myers? How about Cole Hammels?

The Nationals would most likely jump at either Myers or Hammels for Cordero, but I don’t think the Phillies would pull the trigger on either pitcher.

So let’s keep going.

How about Jimmy Rollins? Did you say, “Ouch?” Remember, to get something good, you have to give up something good. Perhaps if the Nationals added shortstop Felipe Lopez to the trade, and the Phillies added Chris Coste or Gred Dobbs (or both), it might work.

Lopez is not Jimmy Rollins, but at 27, he can hit a little and has some pop in his bat, with 11 home runs last season. His defense, on the other hand, is average. But then Rollins can’t pitch the seventh or eighth innings and be the Phillies closer for the future, either.

So this deal is hanging out there: Cordero and Lopez for Rollins and Coste or Dobbs (or both). Would you do it?

There doesn’t seem to be another pitcher on the Phillies who the Nationals would trade for Cordero. So let’s look at other position players. There's Pat Burrell, and perhaps Burrell and one or two other players might work. But who would those ‘one or two other players' be?’

How about Burrell and Rowand for Cordero? Doubtful the Nationals would go for that. But if they did, the Phillies would still have a chip to trade in Lieber for an outfielder, which might be easier to trade for than a relief pitcher. How about Burrell and Victorino? Interesting.

My gut tells me the Nationals wouldn’t give up Cordero for Burrell and Rowand, especially since Rowand can walk at the end of the season and Burrell has been struggling. The Nationals may not think Victorino is high enough to qualify as a high end player. Yet.

So we are back to JRol.

The Chief is considered one of the top ten relief pitchers in the game and he’s young. He’s inexpensive, too. Rollins may be one of the best lead off hitters in the baseball, and paired up with Utley, he provides outstanding defense. He'd give the Nationals solid offensive and defensive leadership. No question Jimmy Rollins is a blue-chip player.

 But so is"The Chief."

Victorino could fill the gap at the top of the order. The Phillies could then trade a pitcher for another bat and hope that C.J. Henry--the young shortstop they received in the Abreu trade, who the Yankees selected number one, 17th overall, in 2005, matures quickly. Meanwhile, Cordero solidifies a weak and unpredictable bullpen, and gives the Phillies a flame-throwing closer for the future.

Chad Patrick Cordero and Felip Lopez for JRol and Coste and Dobbs.

Would you do it?

 

 

 


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lieber.jpgIt's official, the Phil's announced Wednesday that Jon Lieber will be pitching out of the bullpen. After a few months of the baseball world knowing that right-hander Jon Lieber was available for the taking and still no bites, the Phil's have made the ultimate decision that Lieber was the odd man out of the rotation and would be serving some time in the pen.

 Lieber made his disappointment public almost immediately stating that he thinks he's still very capable of starting. It's no wonder that Lieber's a little upset, he's been a starter for his whole twelve year career. He's a former all star and even notched twenty wins with the Cubbies in 2001, and it's not like they're making him a closer.

Let's face it, middle relief is a big step down from his position last year as the Phil's number one starter. Lieber seems convinced that he won't spend the whole 2007 season in the pen, and he may not even be there at the beginning.

Phil's new "ace" Freddy Garcia is nursing a sore bicep as we speak. Garcia will likely be ready to go come the start of the regular season, but having Lieber right there waiting to jump back into the rotation, should the necessity arise, should put both the pitching and coaching staff at ease.

 Lieber needs to view this as an opportunity, he's got to take the ball every game, if they need him and throw for all he's worth. Solid middle relief is hard to come by these days, if Lieber goes out and helps the Phil's hold on to slim leads and is able to jump into the rotation when someone goes down, he'll be viewed as much more valuable than his 9-11 record as a starter from last year shows.

There isn't even any guarantee that his arm will hold up to the everyday wear and tear of middle relief, so he should keep his attitude and chin up and his mouth closed and take the ball whenever Uncle Charlie wants to give it to him. Think about it Jon, the only thing this team is lacking is someone who can throw the ball in the seventh and eighth, become that guy and you'll be awfully popular in the city of Philadelphia.


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moyer.jpg Jamie Moyer may prove to be a better acquisition to the city of Philadelphia off of the playing field.

Seven years ago Jamie and his wife Karen developed the Moyer foundation, which to date has raised over nine million dollars for helping children cope with the loss of a parent. The Moyer foundation has opened 8 bereavement camps in six states to help children deal with the pain and problems associated with the death of a parent.

Now the Moyer Foundation is teaming up with MLB and some big-league heavy hitters like A-Rod and his wife Cynthia, Curt and Shonda Schilling and Trevor Hoffman and his wife Tracy. The goal of the union is to open a camp in every city that has a big league team. The newest "Camp Erin" is slated to open here in Philadelphia, taking place on the weekend of August 17-19. The camp is named in honor of Erin Metcalf, a seventeen year old girl who lost her battle with liver cancer in 2000.

Jamie and his wife plan to have an additional 10 Camp Erins' up and running by the middle of '08. Currently the camps are helping close to 500 kids a summer cope with their loss. There are professional counselors as well as community volunteers at each camp to teach the kids the right way to deal with their feelings. To register for a Camp Erin or for more information on the camps or the Moyer Foundation go to the Moyer's webpage.

If we can get a couple more guys like Jamie Moyer here in Philly we might not only be able to get over the hump and back into the playoffs, but make the world a better place while we're waiting.


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by Ron on March 21 at 8:31AM

Spring training is an oxymoron.

No, I’m not calling Uncle Charlie a mean name.

Here’s the definition of oxymoron: a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect.

Huh?

All right, you do understand figure of speech, something like Burrell can’t hit a slider. And you do understand a self-contradictory effect, like awarding Howard with a $900,000 contract.

Are you with me on this?

Here are a couple more examples of oxymoron: Colossal shrimp, or thunderous silence, cruel kindness, or a poor little home run hitter.

Florida in the spring—at least before Al Gore made up this global warming stuff—is a wonderful time of 75 degree days, cool evenings, girls in bikinis, the sun glistening off the Gulf, marlin fishing—Dontrelle not included—then smackkkkkk--following a tee shot down the fairway into the deep blue sky, and drinkin’ with LA till 3 in the morning at the 19thhole.

Training; well, you get the picture.

So spring training is an oxymoron. And what exactly do they do in spring training? They stretch out doing these little exercises where you lift your arms up over your head, then bring them down. Wow, tough.

They play in B games--which means if the A games didn’t mean anything, the B games sure as hell don’t either. Pitchers throw a couple of innings working on arm speed and location. When they get hammered, they say it doesn’t mean anything cause they are gettin’ ready. If they pitch a three-inning shut out, they want to renegotiate their contract.

Sometimes they don’t want to go to away games because they have to ride in a bus. Listen, when you are making $15 million a year, you don’t want to ride in a bus, you want the whole freakin’ field to come to you! Sometimes they get a little muscle twitch and sit out for a few days. If your last name is Gordon, a little muscle twitch and they are flying you back to Philly to get reexamined. I wonder if he flew first class?

Hitters face pitchers workin’ on arm speed and location.

Some guys take advantage and actually hustle and do well in spring training, knowing it means nothing except to the wife and kids back home in frigid Philadelphia following you in the box scores. Chris Coste hit .450 in spring training last year and when camp ended he was shipped to Scranton-Wilkes Barre. I wonder where Gregg Dobbs will go this year? He likes moose hunting so maybe he’ll end up in playing in Ottawa.

Well there you go, another oxymoron: Spring baseball in Ottawa, Canada.


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by Jeff on March 20 at 2:07PM
Almost every baseball fan who payed attention to what happened in the off-season knows that the Phillies picked up pitcher Freddy Garcia, who will most likely be their number one or number two starter. What no one is talking about is an addition to the team that has the knowledge to impart on the players that may end up helping the team get more wins than Freddy alone.

The Phil's have netted themselves a new first base coach, a guy that knows all about getting around on the base paths - Davey Lopes.  Lopes is no stranger to running the bases effectively, he stole more than 40 bases seven times in his career, and swiped more than 60 bags twice - topping out with an amazing 77 steals with the Dodgers in 1975.

In recent years, sound base running has been somewhat of a struggle at times with the Phillies and good base running can mean the difference between a win and a loss.  Players need to know how to get themselves into scoring position and there are few that can teach that the way Lopes can.

Davey's been working with the guys in spring training, developing sound base running strategies and trying to develop keen base stealing senses in some of the players who are more fleet of foot.

Jimmy Rollins is working on his patience at the plate, with Lopes coaching and direction a Rollins lead off walk could turn into a double, putting a runner in scoring position with no outs and eliminating the possibility of a double play.  The same goes for speedster Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and even Aaron Rowand.  Stolen bases turn into great opportunities for runs, and those runs can mean the difference between taking the "w" in a close game and just barely missing the playoffs for the fifteenth year in a row.

I'm not suggesting that Davey Lopes is the ultimate answer in the Phillies quest for a World Championship, but they have been pretty pathetic in the area of leaving runners on base.  A guy who has the ability of advancing himself a bit on the base paths will certainly lead to more runs which in turn will lead to more wins, Davey Lopes is certainly a guy who can dispense that knowledge.  Think about it, how many games did the Phil's miss the playoffs by the last couple years, and how many of those losses were by just one run?  

Do the math, better pitching plus more runners in scoring position equals playoff contention.
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Pat Gillick came up out of the subway and walked south on Vanick Street in Greenwich Village. He made a right onto King Street and stopped at the stone steps and black door with the sign that read:Madame Rue, and beneath the name it said:'Enter only if fate has your tomorrow.'

He rubbed the stubble on his face. Since taking the early morning Acela out of 30th Street at 7 a.m., he hadn't had his morning coffee or his croissant. She says to come on an empty stomach.'Eat or drink nothing to keep your spirit fresh and your soul empowered.'

Nervous, he climbed the five or six concrete steps and knocked on the door. A small metal plate two inches wide and three inches high at nose level opened briefly in the door, and after several seconds it slammed shut. The door opened."Patty,"she said,"it's so good to see you. The Great Spirit welcomes you. Won't you come in?"

Not much for small talk, Madame Rue wanted to get down to business. The room was dark and Gillick remembered the musty old smell from the incense Madame Rue uses to keep out evil. He took his seat at the table and she took hers directly across from him. On the table was what Madame Rue called the future. It was a large glass ball that appeared smoky and mysterious. It was the ball that sees.

All this made Gillick remember the last time he visited Madame Rue and she made what she called the Big Slammer Prediction. ""An African man with a large club will slam to the ground three times the string bean crazy-like jokester who is worn out from too much yakking and smacking in the final episode, and all this will cause the physical spirits to walk and make Patty happy-happy and much liquid will fall from the sky."

Translation: Joe Carter will hit a walk-off, three run homer off the worn out 'Wild Thing' in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series and the champagne will flow in the locker room.

But, Madame Rue warned,"Patty must not show too much joy when in the heavens or a body-like rupture will cause harm to the physical realm of things not yet decided by the knife."

Translation: If Gillick celebrates too much in his box at the SkyDome in the final episode, he will tear his achilles tendon and have minor surgery three weeks later. "Are you ready?"Madame Rue asked.

Still very nervous, Gillick told her he was. Madame Rue peered into the glass ball.

"Oh Patty, how could you? Madame Rue said. "How could you do so much harm to a new-born spirit and block the energy mastered from so much advancement and joy?"

Gillick leaned forward in his seat. "What?" he said. "Madame Rue, what is it? What did I do?"

"Patty, you did spirit-larceny. Your soul is now marked because you took advantage of such a nice young man, one who carries the biggest stick of all and has the biggest heart. You did a 900 when you should have did a 2 mil, and now the paper-deal-spirits are mad at you."

"Oh my God," Gillick said. "Madame Rue, tell me please, what does that mean?"

"Patty, we must end this sayonnance now. Your punishment will come late. Many men you have in the area where you keep the bull will be tarnished in your image. They will let floaters reach men with big sticks from New York, Chicago and Atlanta, and all those who oppose your turn in the stick box will let bullets fly. Patty, this is the curse of the Stingy Paper Promise."

"Oh no, say it isn't true Madame Rue."

"I'm afraid it is Patty. It's all true in the ball that sees. Patty, Patty, where are you going?"

"I'm gettin' out of here Madame Rue. I'm going back to Philly and I'm trading Rowand today."

"No Patty, don't do that. Patty listen to me, don't do that, Patty, PATTY..."


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by Jeff on March 19 at 5:18PM

The Phil's dropped another one today, this time to their Pennsylvania neighbors, the Pirates. Adam Eaton got the call and threw pretty well allowing three runs through five innings, but one of the most potentially potent offenses in baseball was unusually quiet, managing only one run from the bat of Brennan King in the bottom of the eighth.

It's a touch disappointing seeing the Phil's fall to a 7-12-1 record in the spring, but I'm just going to pretend that they're getting all of the losses out of the way in the spring in prep for a 162-0 record come the regular season. So my question for the moment is going to go back to the pitching staff, the single part of the team that's been the perennial sore spot since the last playoff run so many years ago.

The problem this year is two-fold: Too many starters and zero in the way of quality middle relief. My earlier advocation for Brett Myers potentially taking over as the team's closer has been put on ice. The Phil's brass wants Myers to start and even though Brett entertained the idea, Flash has passed his physicals and, barring any further injury, will be the team's closer.

Okay so here's what we have so far: Garcia, Moyer and Hamels are, without question, not going to the pen in any fashion; Myers would be willing if asked, but unless it's some kind of dire emergency he won't be in the pen either. That leaves Adam Eaton, who already stated openly that he plans on being a starter, and Jon Lieber. My question to the Phil's brass is: Why don't you stick Lieber in middle relief and see what happens? Think about it, having an arm like Lieber's in the pen could drastically cut down on the wear and tear put on Flash, helping him stay fresher deeper into the season and I think Lieber could hold up if he had to pitch two or three innings every few days. It would also eliminate any need to scramble should one of the five starters get injured, Lieber could just slip right back into the rotation.

Jon Lieber's been in the bigs for a while, I'm sure he wants to play on a championship team no matter what it takes. I'm also sure he's got enough confidence in his teammates to think that this team has the potential to be a World Series contender. He's already seen Brett Myers offer up his services to the bullpen, should they be required, so I think he would probably be a team player and follow suit without putting up too much of a stink.

This situation is probably just crazy enough to work and I honestly think Lieber would perform better in the pen than anyone they could get in a trade for him, his numbers weren't exactly out of this world last year, and top notch middle relief isn't always so easy to come by... I suppose only time will tell what Uncle Charlie's got up his sleeve, he hasn't even felt the need to announce his opening day starter yet. He says he knows who'll throw on April second, but just hasn't felt like sharing. Maybe we're all under-estimating the old boy, maybe he's got the whole staff from opening day starter all the way through Flash finishing up planned out and he's just waiting for the right time to share with all the Phillies' faithful


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by Jeff on March 18 at 7:12PM

We'll start off with the bad news, the Phil's bullpen dropped one in Florida today to the freakin' Devil Rays, but it is still spring traing so who cares.  The games still don't count for a couple weeks.

 The Good news is a bit more plentiful, Aaron Rowand who'd been hitting a dismal .150 thus far in the spring had a couple good strokes today and Pat the Bat broke a one for nineteen drought with a two run bomb that made the stands despite a powerful wind blowing in.

The best of the good news was made by Brett Myers, who already looked in mid-season form going six plus.  Myers only gave up two hits and was charged with one unearned run after a fielding error.  Myers had all his stuff working, he mowed down seven Devil Rays over the six innings.

 Uncle Charlie, who, for the time being is still calling the shots, says he'll be making his decision soon as to who will be on the mound for the opener on April second against Atlanta.  I got a piece of advice for ya Charlie, give the ball to Brett.  He's slim, trim and focused, today was still a spring training game and he's already painting the corners like Picasso.  Let's not get the season off on the wrong foot, let's show the Braves, and the rest of the NL east who's going to be boss this year.


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Two things about Chris Coste: First, he can hit; second, he can hit late in the game and under pressure. He proved that last year, hitting .328.

A catcher? No. But the 34 year old Coste did catch a lot of games last year for the Phillies. With Rod Barajas and Carlos Ruiz penciled in at backstop, things don’t look good for Coste. Maybe he could catch for a team that’s desperate like the Phillies were last year. San Diego is rumored to be looking for a catcher. Maybe he’d be good for a club that wants to keep a third catcher just in case, plus a guy who can come off the bench.

Last season it came out that Coste was writing a book about his life in the minor leagues. He may soon be back at Ottawa getting some filler for his book. Or he may need to find a publisher quickly if his baseball career goes ‘belly up,’ as The Donald would say.

Karium Garcia, Greg Dobbs and Michael Bourn are getting most of the playing time in Clearwater. This could mean a couple of things: 1) Charlie knows what Coste can do so he’s finding out about the others. Or 2) Coste no longer has a shot at making the club.

Dobbs is having a killer spring, but spring is different than when things get real in April. Garcia at 32, is a non-roster invitee who played the last two seasons in Japan. But he can switch hit, which gives the Phillies a left-handed replacement for David Dellucci.

Bourn is a fourth round selection in the 2003 draft and just 25. He was honored with the Paul Owens Award as the Phillies best minor league player last year, while splitting time between Reading and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, plus hitting .125 in 17 games with the Phillies.

Bourn is a sure shot to start the season in Ottawa, which leaves Coste, Garcia and Dobbs fighting for two bench jobs. Garcia has an edge because he hits left handed, and if he’s not on the opening day roster, he can ask the Phillies for his release. Coste and Dobbs hit right handed, and Dobbs, 29, has been impressive with his bat in spring training.

The bet here is that Dobbs and Garcia will start the season in Philadelphia, while Coste goes to Ottawa. That way, if Dobbs proves he was a spring training flash, or if Garcia falters, Coste will be packing his bags again.

Either that, or Coste can get ready to start the book signings.


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by Jeff on March 17 at 6:33PM

I really enjoyed watching the Phil's take a win over the New York Yankees today.  It was good to see the boys out there on the field as the game unfolded, all of my baseball info thus far this spring has come from live updates on MLB.com or ESPN.com.  It was great to actually see how each player was performing rather than just reading about it.

 Moyer looked solid going five innings and only giving up one unearned run after two shakey defensive plays.  Utley looked good, despite making the error that lead to the unearned run, he was swinging the bat well and extended his spring hitting streak.  Ryan Howard made a fantastic stop on a ball hit down the line by Giambi, they didn't finish the play but the stop was highlight material.

All in all the team looked pretty good for this stage of the spring.  Don't get me wrong, there are still some kinks that need working out but they've got two more weeks to get their bearings and to figure out why Howard is, all of a sudden, pulling off the ball at the plate.

 It wasn't anything I saw on the field that had me feeling funny, it was a comment I heard from the broadcast booth.  When Pat the bat steeped into the box for his second AB, Chris Wheeler said that Burrell knew how important he was in terms of what the team was going to accomplish this year, and then "Sarge" Gary Mathews chimed in that Rowand was going to be integral in terms of the team's success as well, of course not as important as Pat, the organization was really counting on Burrell, but Rowand was going to be instrumental as well.

Let me get this straight, this team's success depends on one guy who doesn't really seem to want to play here anymore, and who, if he can't be traded before the end of the season is going to stroll back to Chicago as a free agent once the year is done; and another guy who the Phil's have desperately been trying to trade for the last three seasons.  Call me crazy, but that seems like putting all your eggs in the wrong basket.

 The Flyin' Hawaiin said before the spring began that Pat Burrell was going to have a big year in '07.  I hope he does, I hope Burrell has everything to do with the Phil's not only getting into the playoffs, but going deep into the playoffs but I don't know how comfortable I am relying on him for the team's success.  I'm not going to bash Pat, he puts up some decent offensive numbers, but I'd like him to be a little more consistent, I want to see his batting average floating around .275 not .255.

I'll root for Pat the Bat all day long, just like I will for any other guy in a Phil's uniform, all I'm saying is: If there are men on second and third with two out in the bottom of the ninth and the Phil's are down by one, Pat is probably about the sixth or seventh guy I want to see coming to the plate.

 And as far as Aaron Rowand is concerned, I think he could be a very reliable guy - in the past he's been pretty consistent at the plate and, at times, beyond amazing in the field.  I want Rowand to be a Phillie, but I won't feel comfortable really counting on him either, at least not until I know he wants to be a Phillie.

Hey Pat and Aaron, I'll make you a deal: Prove me wrong this year and I'll be happy to count on you next year. 


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Today was Tug McGraw's favorite day: The wearin' of the green. He coined the phrase "Ya Gotta Believe" during the Mets 1973 NL Championship season. Philadelphians remember Tug striking out Willie Wilson to win the 1980 World Series against the Royals and leaping into the air.

But perhaps Tug be most remembered by the way his lived his life, or in the words of the song sung by his son, Tim Mcgraw:

"He said I was in my early forties, with a lot of life before me
And one moment came that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking bout' the options and talking bout' sweet times.
I asked him when it sank in, that this might really be the real end
How's it hit 'cha when you get that kind of news?
Man what did ya do?
He said...

I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'..." 


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Ryan Madson is a baseball enigma. Selected in the 9th round of the amature draft in 1998, he was projected as a sure-shot-can't miss rotation pitcher, easily a number three or four or higher. He's got a good low ninties fastball and a wicked change-up. He also has a nasty curve when he can throw it for strikes and he's working on a slider.

But he's flip-flopped back and fourth from the roatation to middle inning relief, having more big-league success coming out of the pen in the sixth or seventh inning. Last year Manuel used him as a starter and it didn't work out. Now he's back to middle inning relief. 

As GM Pat Gillick searches high and low for middle inning relief help, what about Ryan Madson?  The genial 27 year old pitcher could be a big key in the Phillies run for the East this year. That, however, depends on which Ryan Madson takes the ball. Last year his ERA balooned to 5.69, and he struggled through times of ineffectiveness. But if the real Ryan Madson shows up in April, he could give the Philles the boost they need to contend.


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by Ron on March 16 at 2:47PM

"No, don't stop...please don't stop..."

Pat Gillick wasn't yelling at JRol rounding third. He was dreaming. Dreaming about how he and David took The Rocket to dinner at Chickie & Petes and convinced him that Philly was the place to be. What with the King Tut exhibit, the Constitution Center, and Kenny Chesney at the Linc, well, come on. Are you kidding me?

The Rocket was about to put the pen to paper when he stopped...

Gillick was out like a Pat Burrell strike on a two-seamer that razored off a half inch of the plate, making the pretty outfielder buckle at the knees and look to the heavens like he was talking to God and God said, "Pat, get the damn bat off your shoulder."

The Phillies GM finally woke from his slumber on the tenth ring of his cell; reaching for it and knocking it off the nightstand, he managed to get it and open it on the 14th and final ring.

"Pat, that you?"

"Yea, who the hell is this?"

"It's Brian, Pat, Brian Cashman. How's it going buddy? Did I wake you?"

"No," Gillick told him, "I was going over some minor league rosters." Gillick looked at the clock. Holy hell it was 3 a.m.

"Listen Pat, you know the problems we are having with our fans and A-Rod. And I know you've been trying to unload Pat Burrell. What would you think about a swap. A-Rod for Burrell straight up."

Gillick was trying to get his bearings. It was only a few hours since he was sucking the last few drops of Jack Daniels from the ice in the hotel bar. His head hurt and things were blurry. He managed to stumble over to the bureau and open the Yankees press guide and he put his hand on the roster. His finger slid down to the list of outfielders.

"Throw in Cabera and you've got a deal, Cashman."

"Pat, what are you smoking? I'm offering you perhaps the best player in the game for guy who can't hit his way out of the Tampa Doll House and you want Melky Cabera, too?"

 "We threw in Lidle didn't we, when you stole Bobby? Come on Brian, fair is fair. Sure, A-Rod might be the best, but he's also the highest paid. Plus we got Helms at third and Jimmy at short. We'll have to make some adjustments."

"Who's Helms, Pat, I don't think I've ever heard of him? Look, it's late. Why don't I call you later this afternoon, like around 4 o'clock. Think you'll be up by then?"

"Sure," Gillick said. "Hey, how's Johnny Damon doing? We hear he hurt his wrist again. Brian, you need any starters? We got some extra ones."

"Pat, get some rest. You sound tired. I'll be back to you."

To be continued...


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by Ron on March 15 at 3:49PM

Sometimes trades leaked to the newspapers are what baseball people call saber rattling. Of course, sometimes they're not. One never knows except the rattler himself, in this case Pat Gillick. For example, let's say you are a GM and you have a strong middle reliever who Gillick wants for starting pitcher Jon Lieber. You think you can get more for your reliever than Lieber, so you play stubborn and hold out. Then you read in the papers that Gillick is shopping Aaron Rowand for another middle reliever. Might make you nervous.

Rowand is a good player, the kind of outfielder that makes a team go from pretender to contender. Problem is at the end of the 2007 season he can waltz into free agency. And if you suspect he wants to go back to the White Sox, or to the highest bidder (see Billy Wagner), that might make Gillick a little nervous. Right now, he could get prime rib for Rowand, if he waits until mid-August, it'll be cube steak.

So is Gillick saber rattling or is he nervous about Rowand walking? If I had Pat's email address I'd send him one and ask. But I'm sure he wouldn't tell me anything. One thing for sure is that Gillick is a pro from the old school, the gunslingers school, where one big shootout can make your team that contender. 

Signing free agents? That's easy. Ed Wade did that, and look where that got the Phillies. (But then again, see Pete Rose). When you get in the position the Phillies are in now, or when your shirt collar is a little tight and sweaty in mid-June, approaching the trading deadline five games behind, making a meaningful deal is for grown-up general managers who buckle on the holster, tie the rawhide around mid-thigh, and get ready to shoot it out. 

I saw Gillick heading toward the Broad Street subway the other day. But I couldn't tell if had his holster on or not.


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by Jeff on March 15 at 3:37PM

Over the last few years I've been conducted an ongoing experiment where I ask Phillies fans to come up with their all time Phils' starting nine.  Take any Phillie from any era and plug them in at their appropriate postition to make their ultimate version of the Phils.

 What I've noticed is that one position remains the same in virtually everyone's answer - Schmidty.   I get varied answers depending upon the age and baseball knowledge of the person asked, but third base is always the same.

I'll hear Garry Maddox/Ritchie Ashburn/Lenny Dykstra, Lefty/Jim Bunning/Robin Roberts/Curt Schilling, Pete Rose/Dick Allen/John Kruk, Johnny Callison/Chuck Klein/Bobby Abreu... No matter the position the answers can be all over the map with the exception of the "hot corner"

 Don't get me wrong, I was the first in my experiment to answer the question and Mike Schmidt was the first name that came to mind, but after examing the stats I have to wonder why I haven't heard at least one Scotty Baseball.

 Rolen actaully beats Schmidty in average over the course of their respective careers .285 - .267.  A good deal of other offensive stats are virtually identical - strikeouts, rbi's, stolen bases, caught stealing, triples.  Scotty has the edge in doubles while Schmidt has the edge in walks and a resounding 37 to 29 edge in home runs per 162.

 Mike has the edge in the awards department capturing the NL mvp three times to zip for Rolen, Schmidt had ten gold gloves to Rolen's seven(four with the Phils) and six silver slugger to only one for Rolen.

 So why, with statistics so similar, is every vote cast for Michael Jack? Is it because of the 548 home runs?  Is it because of the only World Series Championship in Philadelphia?  I personally think the answer lies in the fact that Phillies fans hold a grudge.  Mike Schmidt didn't always say the nicest things about his experiences in Philadelphia, but he stayed here, from his first at bat through his last, Schmidt was a Phillie and he hit home runs and dove for ground balls every chance he had. If Scotty Baseball had hung in there as a Phil and helped them get into a few playoff runs I'll bet the choice for third base would be a bit more split.

When Rolen was traded to St. Louis third base became the ultimate weak spot for the Phils and it still is, with Rolen in the line-up at third the Phils probably would have made the playoffs in the last few seasons, it may have even ended the playoff drought before it reached the dreaded decade mark. 

So what does this have to do with the here and now of Phillies baseball?  The answer is absolutely nothing, but yesterday was a little slow in the world of Phillies news, so let me hear what you think - who's your starting nine? 


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by Jeff on March 13 at 3:54PM

So far this spring I've yet to hear much talk about Aaron Rowand around my office.  I work in a place loaded with baseball fans, many of them rooting for the Phils.

 There was a decent amount of hype in the area when we landed Rowand for Jim Thome before last season.  It was official that Ryan Howard was going to be the one and only first baseman, and those of us who knew the sport looked forward to a guy with Rowand's talent coming in and taking over center field, a position that had kind of been in Limbo in Philadelphia over the course of the previous few seasons. 

It was all set, Aaron Rowand was going to the be second coming of Lenny Dykstra, but offensive struggles in the beginning of the season were a bit of a head scratcher. Aaron just couldn't seem to get his swing together against National League pitching.  He was a far cry from a guy who hit .310 and banged 24 homers in Chicago in 2004.  Rowand was quickly becoming the odd man out until "the catch" against the Mets that saved at least one run and ultimately the game.

 You saw "the catch", everyone saw it - a dead run, face smashing against the wall resulting in broken bones and heavy blood loss.  Rowand was an instant hero in Philadelphia sacrificing life and limb for the good of the team.

Aaron returned from the injury to uproarious cheers and fan adoration followed by some more mediocre play.  His season came to a crashing halt following another dramatic injury in a collision with second baseman Chase Utley in an effort to make another circus catch.

 Rowand only played in 109 games last year, batting .262 with 12 home runs, not exactly Lenny Dykstra numbers, but my question is - Why are the fans around here so ready to let Rowand go?  He was injured for almost a third of the season and it was his first year against National League pitching.  I, for one, would like to see an outfield with Burell in left, Rowand in center and Victorino in right .

The latest rumors have Aaron potentially returning home to the White Sox in the not to distant future  and I'll be a bit sorry to see him go, I still think he had a little bit of Dykstra in him.  With two guys who can cover ground like Rowand and Victorino, you almost don't even need a third outfielder.


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by Ron on March 13 at 8:17AM

It's interesting why people boo ball players and of course I have my 'father-in-law theory.' Here's another example. Couple of years ago I was at the ball park with my father-in-law. Atlanta is at bat with two outs and a runner on first.

A sharp two-hop grounder is hit to David Bell at third. Bell immediately looks to second which he should do--to get the shortest out. However, Chase Utley forgot to cover second. Bell double pumps and then goes to first but it's too late, the runner beats the throw.

Next guy up for Atlanta hits one into the right field seats for a three run home run.

Sure enough, Bell is the first batter up for the Phillies and my father-in-law boos him. I say to my father-in-law, 'why are you booing Bell?' He says Bell was too slow on the ground ball which led to the three run dinger. He says Bell should have just gone to first.

I tell him 'no way.' The play was at second but it was Utley's fault for not covering. Father-in-law, who loves Utley but hates Bell, didn't see it that way, so an argument resulted.

Bottom line: Father-in-law doesn't understand the game and boos Bell. Go figure. 


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by Ron on March 13 at 7:47AM

After my Ennisism piece, the question has been asked: Does Burrell deserve the boos? Answer: Absolutely not. Del Ennis didn't and neither did JD Drew. Pat Burrell has decent numbers. Go to the Phillies website and check them out.

People who boo ballplayers don't understand the game. Remember, if a player goes three for ten his entire career, he may end up in the hall of fame. But what about those other seven at bats? Project those seven at bats over a career and you'll see a lot of whiffs, men left on base, or perceived 'choking' at a critical point in the game. That's baseball, stuff happens.

My father-in-law turns on the game and sees Burrell in an o-fer. Next day, Burrell goes 3 for 4 with 4 RBIs and a home run. Father-in-law didn't see that, he had the TV off because he was reading the paper. On Sunday, father-in-law takes his grandson to the game and Burrell goes 1 for 4 but strikes out three times. Now the father-in-law is really mad at Burrell.

At the end of the season, my father-in-law doesn't look at Burrell's numbers because he never pays attention to the game's numbers. So he doesn't see that Pat the Bat had 95 ribbies and 29 home runs. All he remembers are the three strike outs when he paid fifty bucks for the seats and another hundred bucks for the sodas, hot dogs, cotten candy, popcorn and ice cream which got his grandson sick and the kid pucked in his Cadillac Escalade.

Bottom line: Father-in-law doesn't understand the game and thus he boos when Burrell comes up to bat. Now times that by 25,000. No, Burrell does not deserve the boos, but the next time he has a o-fer, he'll probably get some; from people who do not understand the game. Same with Del Ennis, who also didn't deserve the boos and had a great career with the Phillies.

And no, I wouldln't trade Burrell for A-Rod. Pat is going to have a great season. 

 

  


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Pat Burrell surely may suffer from Ennisism if he hasn't already, and no, contact lenses won't help the handsome outfielder when he starts whiffing again.

Former Phillie Del Ennis was most likely booed more than any Phillie in Phillies history; more than Richie Allen and Lance Parrish. Even more than JD Drew. Ennis played the outfield for 11 seasons with the Phillies and in the second half of his Phillies career was often, if not every night, roundly booed. Ennis and Burrell's statistics for their first seven years are remarkably similar, with a couple of glaring differences. Strike outs: Ennis averaged 57 a season, where Burrell averaged 127 a season. Burrell hit more home runs than Ennis, averaging 27 a year to Ennis' 21. They are close in RBIs with 95 a season for Ennis and 92 for Burrell. Ennis leads in batting average .292 to .258, and in slugging percentage, .483 to .477.

So starting his eighth Phillies season, Burrell may catch Ennis in another Philadelphia tradition: 'Booooooooos.' It may start early in April, when Burrell looks at a slider third-strike on the outside corner with the score tied and the bases loaded: 'Boooooooooo.' And by May, when teams are pitching around Ryan Howard to get to Burrell: 'Boooooooo.' By July, Charlie, if he's still around, will move Burrell down in the line up, but it won't stop the boos, it will just make them worse. So get ready. Ennism is just around the corner.


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by Jeff on March 11 at 3:58PM
The weekend began with a bang, unfortunately it was for the Red Sox, who beat up on Cole Hamels in the first inning Friday on their way to taking the Phils in an eleven to ten shootout.  The offense was potent, putting up twelve hits and Wes Helms banged his second homer of the spring, but Boston proved a little more potent edging the phils by one.

Saturday was a split squad with half the team taking on the Houston Astros and the other half taking on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Victorino continued on the offensive, with two knocks on the day, and he scored the Phils first run by stealing home.  Jon Lieber was rock solid on the mound again, allowing five hits but only one run in four frames.  Despite the whole staff looking solid the Phils dropped this one in the extra frame, the offense just didn't show up, aside from the flyin' Hawaiin stealing home and Greg Dobbs popping a solo home run there was no run production to work with.

The Phils nabbed their only "w" against the Devil Rays.  Number one man Freddy Garcia looked a bit shakey during his Grapefruit league debut, giving up three in three innings, but the pen held on.  Non-roster invitee Jason Jamarillo jacked a homer in the seventh to tie the game and the Phils added one in the eighth and another in the ninth to seal the victory.

Sunday saw another stellar start on the mound, old man Jamie Moyer went five strong allowing no runs and only two hits.  The Phils were up on the reigning AL champs three to zip in the seventh, looking like they had the "w" all wrapped up until Fabio Castro stepped on the mound.  Castro gave up four runs including a two run bomb to left fielder Marcus Thames.  The fightin' Phils wouldn't recover giving up another run in the ninth and taking a 5-3 loss, ending a pretty dissapointing spring weekend.

All four games had positives and negatives, but after the results were tallied all I can say is "thank God it's still spring" and look for a lot more consistencey as the days go on.  It's exactly three weeks until games start to matter, let's go Phils.
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by Jeff on March 10 at 5:13PM
The Phillies lost more than a coach on Thursday, they lost more than a former player, more than a friend.  The Phillies lost a member of their family when John Vukovich passed away from an inoperable brain tumor on March 8th.

Vuk had two stints as a player for the Phils ('70-'71 & '76-'81), he played for the Reds team that won the World Series in 1975 and was a member of the only Phillies World Series team in 1980.  John Vukovich spent nearly half of his life in a Phillies uniform as a player and coach, and though he was with a few other baseball organizations, Vuk was always a Phillie.

Though John Vukovich probably won't go down in history for his impressive statistics on the field, he will always be remembered as someone who lived and breathed baseball.  He had immense knowledge of the game as was integral in developing a lot of the teams' current players.  Vuk had the longest tenure of any coach in Phillies history, spanning a period of nearly two decades and there isn't a guy who sets foot in the Phils clubhouse this year that won't miss him.

The Phillies have had a lot of problems over the course of their almost decade and a half long playoff drought, from lack of pitching at the front, to lack of pitching in the pen, to just plain stinking it up all over the field, but the last couple years they have been close enough to smell the post season.

I think that on paper they look good, in the very recent past they've had some missing pieces and what looked like a real lack of direction and desire when the game was on the line.  They've filled up their biggest hole with the acquisition of Freddy Garcia in the off season, if they can clean up their bullpen issues, this team has the talent to win the east.  Maybe the loss of one of their own can give them a purpose to go along with their talent and they can get over this wretched hump and into the post season. 

They couldn't pull it together and do it for Ritchie, I hope they can get some focus and do it for Vuk.
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by Jeff on March 8 at 7:26PM

As the spring gets underway in Clearwater the Phillies are suffering from two potential problems as I see it. One, as a Phillie fan, I’ve never experienced before – too much starting pitching. The other is one the Phils and their fans are all too accustomed to – not much of a bullpen.

With off-season additions and little in the way of subtractions the Phillies are in a position where they have what could be six starters: Freddy Garcia should be number one, followed by Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, Jon Lieber, Jamie Moyer and finally Adam Eaton.

One potential solution to the problem would be to deal a starter for a reliever, but who do you deal? Freddy Garcia stays, so does Myers and the Phils should hold onto Cole Hamels like Grim death, once he gets his bearings this kid is going to be a perennial twenty game winner and all-star. So that leaves Lieber, Moyer or Eaton – Eaton would be a sufficient fifth man, but he won’t bring a top notch closer or set-up man on his own; Moyer is forty three years old, there aren’t a whole lot of teams that would be willing to take a chance on an arm with that many miles on it; Lieber has pitched well so far in the spring, but he came to training very overweight and won’t bring much in a trade based on his performance from ’06.

Maybe a better solution for the Phils brass – make Brett Myers your closer. The subject has already been broached and Myers seems open to it, he’s young and his arm recovers fast. A lot of fans would question why you would take your best starter from the previous season and send him back to the confines of the pen, my response – see John Smoltz. A good closer can mean the difference between making the playoffs and swinging a bat through October or not making the playoffs and swinging a golf club. When explained in those terms I can’t think of one fan that would rather have Tom Gordon close out every game than Brett Myers.


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After 14 years of no post season appearences, the Fightens appear confident about owning the NL East and shortstop Jimmy Rollins has pronounced the Phillies the team to beat. With a solid rotation of Myers, Garcia, Hammels, Eaton and Moyer, and a lineup that boosts both speed and power, the only weak link in this '07 club could be exposed beyone the sixth inning, when the bullpen takes over.

Hey, who the hell is going to pitch the eighth? Let's bring back that Canadian bum, what's his name, Cormi something? And let's cut the b.s., the Phillies haven't sewed up up dick. All this talk about keeping Lieber and putting Myers in the pen is as boring as...what was the name of that movie, 'Winless in Seattle?' exactly where Moyer might be as soon as the NL hitters learn to hit a slow ball. And trading Rowand for a middle inning reliever is like asking for Mariano Rivera for Chris Coste. Come on Phillies fans, get serious.

Now who wants to talk about Pat Burrell?


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by john on February 28 at 3:02AM

If you arrived in Philadelphia with no prior knowledge of the Phillies and/or Pat Burrell, turned on 610-WIP, you would likely get the impression that Burrell is one of the worst players in Major League Baseball. Philly fans’ disdain for Pat the Bat seems to grow every day. As the 2007 season approaches, and sports talk shows start to focus on baseball more and more, the anti-Burrell fervor is growing. Aside from the extremists who will always hate Pat for being a non-Philly type guy (you know, pretty boy vs. lunch pail guy), there are certainly those with legitimate concerns. Burrell is assigned the duty of protecting Ryan Howard, the reigning NL MVP, in the Phillies lineup. It’s a job in which he allegedly failed miserably in September 2006, perhaps costing the Phillies the NL wild card spot. Will 2007 be any different?

Well, for starters, is Pat Burrell really that bad? Since the Phillies’ move to Citizens Bank Park two seasons ago, Burrell has 61 HR and 212 RBI. Not too shabby. He has an OBP of .388 (very solid) and SLG of .503 (ditto). He has also whiffed 291 times (not so solid). On the surface, these are the kind of numbers that should force pitchers to give Ryan Howard lots of pitches to hit, or at least to give them pause at pitching around him. Still, last September, in the heat of a playoff race, nobody was pitching to Howard. Was Burrell really that bad in September? The answer is yes and no.

Burrell’s September 2006 numbers (2006 overall numbers in parentheses): .250 BA (.258) .407 OBP (.387) .474 SLG (.501) 5HR (29) 11 RBI (95). Let’s be honest, those numbers aren’t a big fall off, if even a fall off at all. Burrell’s reputation suffers from a couple of key strikeouts with runners in scoring position in games the Phillies lost. It’s that simple. Burrell wasn’t great in September, but he wasn’t awful. But he was awful in a couple of spots that Phillies fans have trouble forgetting. Accordingly, 610-WIP is flooded with legions of Burrell haters.

So, what of 2007? Burrell may very well be the key to the Phillies season. If he can provide protection for Howard, the Phillies are likely headed to the playoffs. If not, the calls to 610-WIP will just get angrier and angrier, and Charlie Manuel may end up on the chopping block. From this fan’s viewpoint, it is integral that Burrell get off to a strong start; he needs the confidence back in his swing. What Phillies fans don’t realize is that they need Pat Burrell, and Pat Burrell needs the fans. If Pat the Bat has a big April, it will go a long way towards erasing the bad taste of last September.


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