Monday, June 30, 2008

Thoughts from the Weekend


Can anyone remember the last series the Phils took from a team? Me neither. Only the Mets have a .500 record in their last 10 games in the NL East, so the Phils have been very fortunate that no other team has been able to take the bull by the horns in their division. The Phils now must stop screwing around, as they enter a portion of their schedule heavy with divisional opponents, starting tomorrow in Atlanta for 3 games and back home against the Mets for 4 games.

If the Phils continue to flounder through this next week, I would be shocked if a trade, even a minor one involving lesser known players, weren't made if for no other reason than to shake things up a bit.


The Flyers signed Steve Eminger, obtained in a trade on draft day, to a 1 year deal. The leash for Eminger appears to be a short one. At least we won't have to wait long to see if Holmgren pissed away a first round pick or not.


Spent the weekend with friends in Washington DC; had fun, but it gets oppressively hot there. I have no idea how people can stand going outside there at times, let along decide to take a jog around the mall.

Tried to go to the O's-Nats game on Saturday night, but it was inexplicably sold out.

Also - apparently - despite careers, age, marriage, children, and mortgages, beer pong was still alot of fun.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Carter Gets Paid

Flyers center Jeff Carter has been signed to a contract that the Flyers website is unwilling to discuss. Matt from the 700Level, quoting TSN, says he's getting 3 years at $5 Million per, which seems OK for a guy who has been, frankly, a bit inconsistent, but when he's on, he's an elite player.

Fact is, I'm not really sure what kind of player Carter will turn into. Usually, a center is a player who sets up other players and is typically the strongest defensive player on a particular line. Can you say these things about Jeff Carter? He's certainly a different type of center, with a transcedent shot when he uses it and improved puck skills. But you couldn't call him an elite passer. Remember: the Flyer got Kyle Calder because they thought he'd blend in well with Carter. How'd that work out? I'm glad they signed him, especially after watching the absolute tear he went on after Richards got hurt last year, but you wonder what type of player he'll become.

Still and all, the right thing to do by Paul Holmgren. If Carter doesn't pan out as a consistent top 6 forward, it's only a 3-year deal. If he does, well, then hopefully the cap is high enough to deal with it.

Interleague Play Not Kind to Phils

After yesterday's 5 - 0 spanking at the hands of the A's, perhaps the local nine are not out of the woods yet with respect to their dormant bats. In their last 6 games; all against AL teams, the Phils are hitting a lusty .174 as a team with a .252 OBP. These offensive numbers put the Phillies dead last in all of Major league baseball in those categories over the past 6 games. Counting this recently completed series with the A's and a previous 3-game set against losery Toronto, the Phils are 3 - 9 against the junior circuit.

Amazingly, despite an abysmal 2 - 8 record in their last ten games, the Phils are still in first place today, 2 games up on the Marlins and 3 1/2 ahead of the Mets. Any sort of winning streak at this point and the Phils have the opportunity to really pull away from the pack.

The Phils open up a 3-game series tonite in Arlington, TX as they take on the Rangers before heading to Atlanta to take on the Braves.

The pitching matchups:

Tonite: Brett Myers vs. Kason Gabbard; 8:05pm
Tomorrow: Cole Hamels vs. Vicente "Happy Hour" Padilla; 8:05pm
Sunday: Jamie Moyer vs. Eric Hurley; 6:05pm
Picture: (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Sixers Draft Forward

The NBA draft was held in New York last night and the Sixers went out and got themselves a low post presence. Marreese Speights in the newest Sixer. He's a 6-10, 245lb forward (or center) out of the University of Florida, who played in the shadow of Joakim Noah and Al Horford for a year before shining on his own last year.

I'm sure others will say it and I'll say it here: ESPN characterized this guy as someone who needs to improve his conditioning. If anyone catches this kid at the McDonald's around the corner from the Sixers practice facility, please rat him out to Ed Stefanski. If there is something you don't want to get tagged with as an athlete before coming to a demanding sports city, it's that you don't keep yourself in good shape. The other damning tag is if you don't have a good work ethic. Speights has been painted with both of these brushes by scouts, so he'll definitely have some questions to answer on these topics when he gets here.

I like the pick; he's got low post moves and he can rebound and play defense. But let's keep an eye on the kid and get him a gym membership.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finally! Phils Win!

Our (week) long local nightmare is over.

The Phils, behind 8 shutout innings from starter Kyle Kendrick, shut out the Oakland A's by a score 4 - 0. Kendrick struck out 4 and gave up only 4 hits in what was probably his best outing ever.

The Phils seemed to get right after it from the start, scoring in the first inning on a Pat Burrell sacrifice fly. They tacked on two more runs in the 4th on a Pedro Feliz triple and a Chris Coste sacrifice fly. The final run was posted courtesy of a Chris Coste base hit, scoring Shane Victorino.

The lineup featured a strange look, with Eric Bruntlett playing first and Ryan Howard as the DH. Furthermore, Jimmy Rollins was removed from the leadoff spot and moved to 3rd, with the slumping Chase Utley moved to the 2 hole. Jayson Werth led off. Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard swapped positions in the lineup. I mean, up was down, down was up, dog and cats were living together, mass hysteria, the whole nine yards.

Overall, despite the strange lineup, the Phils did what they had to do and broke out of their slump. They ran the bases aggressively (they had 3 steals last night) and yes, even Chase Utley seemingly to be figuring things out. Utley went 4 for 5 and amazingly, did not drive in or score a run (he was tagged out on a play at the plate in the 3rd innning).

The series continues today at 3:35pm, with Adam Eaton facing Rich Harden.

In other news

In a move that some Phils fans probably fantasized about during Ed Wade's tenure as GM here, Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon was suspended indefinitely for apparently attempting to choke the aforementioned Wade.

No report on whether Wade hit Chacon back with his green eyeshade and pocket protector.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Phils Fall Again

The Phils dropped their 6th straight last night, losing to the Oakland A's by a score of 5 - 2. The loss wasted a pretty good effort by starting pitcher Jamie Moyer, who gave up 3 earned runs over 6-2/3 innings and struck out 9.

This game mirrored other Phillies games recently, where the team was simply unable to string hits together. They seem especially unable to string clutch hits together. The fact that they were baffled by a guy like Joe Blanton, who was 3 - 10 coming into the game with an ERA approaching 5, speaks volumes about the hitting drought the team is currently experiencing. The Phils got only one run off of Blanton, courtesy of Pat Burrell's 19th home run of the year. The rest of the offense was supplied by a Ryan Howard RBI single that drove home Shane Victorino.

On the downside, the Chase Utley "mix up" continues. Dating back to June 14th, Utley is now 1 for his last 29. Utley is my favorite player on this team, but to paraphrase Larry Bowa, our 3-hole hitter is "killing this team" right now. This team needs Utley to figure out his issues and start raking again.

The series with the A's continues with Kyle Kendrick facing the A's Greg Smith. The game starts at 10:05pm and will be on CSN-TV.

Did you notice?

- Look, I understand that maybe you can make an argument that Charlie Manuel should have pulled Jamie Moyer in the 7th inning, when it was apparent he was missing his spots. But I thought Moyer deserved the benefit of the doubt and frankly, I wouldn't kill Manuel for leaving him in. If Moyer is getting into the 7th inning, the Phillies HAVE to win that game. Pitching is not the problem in this losing streak and I would hate for some Charlie Manuel nit-picking to take the focus off of the broken offense.

- Ruiz's double play in the bottom of the 7th was a killer. The Phillies should have gotten at least one run out of that baseloaded situation. If you want to second guess a Manuel decision, how about questioning the leaving of Pat Burrell on the base paths in the 7th inning after taking a walk? Would Taguchi have scored on the Pedro Feliz single, which occurred just prior to the Ruiz DP? It's not like Manuel has never pulled Burrell in that situation before.

- Geoff Jenkins. 3 strikeouts in 4 ABs as the DH. Thanks for that.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Philadelphia and the A's

At the risk of sounding like Andy Rooney, did you ever notice that when a local media talking head goes on and on about the Philadelphia sports landscape, that they refer to Philadelphia as "Eagles town"? Well, there was a time where that wasn't true.

Once upon a time, Philadelphia had two baseball teams.

One was incredibly successful, winning World Series championships and constantly challenging the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig Yankees for dominance.

The other, was well......not so good. As a matter of fact, they were bad. Real bad. As in, 1 winning season in the interval between 1918 - 1948 bad.

Guess which one of these franchises remains in Philadelphia today?

At one time, the Oakland A's, whom the Phils will be playing starting tonite out in Oaklan, actually made their home in Philadelphia and in the period between 1901 and 1935, they were one of the most successful franchises in baseball. The A's won 9 AL Pennants between 1901 and 1931 and 5 World Championships. They had the most famous manager/part-owner in baseball in Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy.....also known as Connie Mack. Those Philadelphia A's teams from the early 20th century into the early 30's had some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Second baseman Eddie Collins, who played with the A's from 1906-1914 and again in 1927-1930, is always in the conversation of greatest second basemen ever. Jimmie Foxx was one of the premier hitters in baseball during his time with the A's between 1925 and 1935 and finished his career with 534 home runs. Catcher Mickey Cochrane played for the A's between 1925 and 1933 and is considered one of the greatest catchers of all time.Cochrane had the further distinction of being one of the only people in baseball, from whom, noted sociopath Ty Cobb hadn't alienated himself.
The A's teams of the late 20's and early 30's were in direct competition for the AL pennant with the Ruth and Gehrig Yankees pretty much every year from 1925 to 1932. That the A's took a World Series and two additional AL pennants during that time period speaks volumes about the type of talent that the team possessed. Like most business ventures during the Great Depression, however, the Philadelphia A's were not running profitably, and they simply couldn't afford to keep talented players anymore. This put the A's franchise into a tailspin into which they would never really recover.

The A's did have some talented ballplayers in the post WWII era. First baseman Ferris Fain (my dad's favorite player) was a two-time batting champion for the A's in 1951 and 1952 and formed a great doubleplay combination with second baseman Pete Suder and shortstop Eddie Joost. Pitcher Bobby Shantz would go on to win the AL MVP in 1952 going 24 - 7 and an ERA of 2.48.

Even though both the A's and the Phillies were both brutal in their own special way from 1935 through the 40's, the tide turned for the Phillies, as a franchise, with the 1950 Whiz Kids. As a result of the success of the Whiz Kids, the Phils became the most popular team in town, drawing fans away from the American League A's. As a result, the A's ran into further financial difficulties, resulting in the sale of the team to Arnold Johnson, who promptly moved the team to Kansas City.

Some of the details of the old A's I learned from my Dad, who was a big A's fan growing up. Some of the details I learned from wiki pages and the internet. But if you want to learn more about the A's in Philadelphia, I strongly recommend a trip to Hatboro, PA to check out the Philadelphia A's Historical Society. They have all sorts of neat items from DVDs and books on the A's and memorabilia as unique as seats from Connie Mack Stadium.

Lost Phils Weekend; Flyers Draft Redux

The Phils

Wow, that didn't go well. Six games against the elite in the AL on your home field and you could only manage 1 lousy win. I hope Pat Gillick was watching closely. It was a good wakeup call for this team.

The Phils' lead in NL East is down to 1 game. Now, they go on the road against Oakland and Texas, and if they don't win 4 of 6 games on this trip, I think some personnel will need shaking up.

Look for JRoll to have a good trip in his hometown of Oakland.

The Flyers

The NHL draft was held last Friday and the Flyers were busy with shifting their roster around. They traded RJ Umberger to Columbus for two draft picks; one of which was the 19th pick overall. What they were trying to do, according to the Courier-Posts Chuck Gormley, was to trade up to get a goaltender. When the goaltender was taken, Holmgren took 18 year old defenseman Luca Sbisa. I had no problem with the selection of a defenseman....that is definitely an area of need for the Flyers in their system right now.

There was definitely a logjam at forward and someone was going to have to go. I've never been a huge RJ Umberger fan. Because of how he did in the playoffs against Montreal, Umberger's value was never going to be higher. Umberger has the air of a guy who considers his skills to be vastly more superior than they really are. I would have much rather seen Umberger go than a guy like Scottie Upshall or Joffrey Lupul, both of whom are younger than Umberger and much more skilled.

Where I thought Holmgren went a little off of the reservation was when he traded the Flyers' own 1st round pick (27th overall) to the Caps for D Steve Eminger and another draft pick. Isn't that a little bit of a high price to pay for a guy who has never finished an entire season in the NHL? This past year, he was little more than a spare part for Washington going into the playoffs, but with all of the injuries to the Caps blueline, the Caps were forced to play Eminger, who looked pretty good. It'll be interesting to see if a fresh start can help Eminger, who was the 12th overall pick in the 2002 draft. For Holmgren's sake, I hope it does, because the price was very high. If Eminger tanks, it could be Homer's first real mistake as GM.


- Saw Pearl Jam Friday night at the Susquehanna Bank Centre. Great show and a great time in the parking lot beforehand. Highlight of the night was either "Better Man" or "Alive", but I also enjoyed the "Baba O'Reilly" cover that Pearl Jam does.

- Saw an interesting documentary on HBO about Roman Polanski, but I'm not sure of the point of the documentary. Was it to maintain Polanski's "innocence"? Or to point out judicial misconduct? Because, while judicial misconduct almost definitely occurred, let's not obscure the undisputed fact that this guy drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. And the documentarians do imply that not only should the 13-year old girl have known better (???) but that we shouldn't have expected better of a known poon hound like Roman Polanski. While I believe the documentary was wrongly sympathetic towards a convicted rapist, I still found the documentary interesting......

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gratuitous Flyers Post; Phils Weekend

I doubt you thought you'd see a hockey post, but tonite is the NHL Entry Draft. In the spirit of all of the major sports leagues trying to make money off of their amateur draft and televise it, the NHL will televise the happenings on Versus at 7pm. I also believe this is the first year the event has been held on a Friday night. I seem to recall this as an event you'd roll over one random hungover Saturday morning and find this event on ESPN2 and wondering if I had drank myself back to December or something.

As for the Flyers, I have no idea what fresh faced 18 year old kid still battling pimples they will happen to draft. If I had a request, I would like them to find a good young goaltender, as if you look in their minor league system, the Flyers seem bereft of any big time goaltender talent.

Another request would probably be for puck moving defensemen, but a puck moving defenseman in the NHL is the rough equivalent of starting pitching in baseball. Everyone needs and wants the defenseman that can not only take care of business in his own zone, but kickstart the offense on the breakout. With the Flyers having a plethora of forwards at the NHL level and with two blue chip prospects (Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk) on the way, I don't think they need to go out and draft a big time sniper.

Other than who the Flyers pick in this draft, the NHL draft is notorious for fostering an atmosphere of an stock exchange trade floor. Remember, it was on draft day 2002, where the Flyers made a big move to trade Ruslan Fedotenko (who went on to win a Cup with Tampa) and a couple of draft picks for the right to draft Joni Pitkanen. This year, there are various rumors around the league not only with respect to the Flyers (who were rumored a couple of weeks ago to be interested in signing D Andrej Meszaros from Ottawa), but also with respect to one of the Flyers' rivals.

Rumors are starting to surface that the Penguins are interested in trading Evgeni Malkin. If they do trade Malkin, it could be a sign that they keep Marian Hossa. Regardless, if you're a Flyers fan, it's a development worth following.

Other Flyers news you may have missed while partying at CBP and going downashore:

- Sami Kapanen retired. The guy was an absolute buzz saw when he was on his game. He'll always be fondly remembered in Philly.

- The Flyers acquired D Danny Syvret from Edmonton for Ryan Potulny. Meh. He'll probably play on the Phantoms.

- The Flyers gave the rights to Vinny Prospal back to Tampa for a late round pick. We weren't using those rights, anyway.

- If you're as old as me, you fondly remember Czech defender Miroslav Dvorak, who passed away at age 56.

- James Van Riemsdyk......going back to school this fall. Sorry Phantoms season ticket holders.

Phillies this Weekend

Probable pitching matchups this weekend for their series against the Angels

Tonite: Adam Eaton vs. Ervin Santana; 7pm on csn-tv

Tomorrow: Brett Myers vs. Joe Saunders; 7pm on csn-tv

Sunday: In my favorite matchup of the weekend.....Colbert Michael Hamels vs. Jared Weaver....a must see matchup....1:35pm

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sox Smack Phils

The Phils needed a good start from Kyle Kendrick yesterday. They needed a win yesterday to take 2 of 3 from the Sox and to set themselves up for this weekend when the always-tough Anaheim Angels come to town. Most of all, they needed a win to reassure themselves that they were contenders and had what it took to play with the big boys.

Didn't happen yesterday.

The Red Sox beat the Phils by a score of 7 - 4 in a day game down at CBP. The first inning was not kind to Kyle Kendrick, as he gave up four straight hits to start the game, including a 3-run bomb to JD Drew (who went 4 for 5 yesterday) and a solo shot to Mike Lowell (who used to wear the Phillies out as a Marlin). The Red Sox tacked on two more runs in the third off of Kendrick, officially ending his day.

The Phils' offense, meanwhile, remained static. The team managed only 6 hits yesterday; all singles. The Phils' 3-4-5 hitters went a collective 1 for 12 yesterday. Chase Utley left 5 men on base and saw his slump continue on to become an 0 for 21 slide.

For the second straight day, the Phils simply got outpitched and the fact is, I do believe this series demonstrates that the Phils are NOT ready to be October contenders just yet. If you've been listening to Mike Missannelli recently on ESPN 950, in his interviews with Jayson Stark and David Montgomery, he's been beating the drum for the Phils to go out and get CC Sabathia. And the fact of the matter is, he is right. The Phils cannot go into October with this starting pitching staff as currently constituted.

Do they have what it takes, both in intestinal fortitude and prospects in their minor league system to go get Sabathia or a pitcher of his calibre? To be determined.

Items of Note:

- Speaking of the aforementioned David Montgomery interview with Mike Missannelli, he did comment on the Philadelphia magazine story about the Phillies ownership group (that I blogged about here) as being "not a very balanced story". Hey Dave: Know how it could have balanced? If those frauds you represent would come from out of the shadows and be accountable to the fanbase. I'm sorry you can't grasp that we don't respect you as the titular owner of the Phillies. You're a mouth piece and a puppet and everyone knows it.
Photo from ((AP Photo/Tom Mihalek) )

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Phils Bats Silenced

Boston's Jon Lester pitched 7 innings of shutout ball as the Red Sox beat the Phillies 3 - 0 at CBP in front of a packed house.

Lester seemed to flumox the Phils from the get-go. On the contrary, it seemed Jamie Moyer did not have his A-game with him on this day. Moyer did manage to only give up two runs in 5 innings of work, but he also walked 5 and could not seem to hit his spots. The biggest blow struck against Moyer was the 2 run homer off of the bat of Coco Crisp.

The series against Boston concludes today with Kyle Kendrick going up against Justin Masterson in an afternoon game at the Cit House at 1:05pm

Did You Notice?

- Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard were a combined 0 for 8 with 7 strikeouts.

- Monday and Tuesday's games seem like a microcosm of Howard's year to date. On Monday, he raked Boston pitching and last night, he whiffed all 4 times at the plate. Is this sort of helter-skelter inconsistency the real Ryan Howard? The one folks are going to clamor to sign long term again this off-season? Or is this bizarro Howard, who simply faced a guy last night they hadn't seen before and just looked silly.

- St. Chase of Utley's batting average is now below .300 (at .299) as he is 0 for his last 16. In light of this, I predict a 3-hit game from Utley today.

- Tough night for Carlos Ruiz, both at the plate and in the field. Boston was particularly active on the basepaths last night, stealing 6 bases. Ruiz also went 0 - 3, including hitting into a double-play in the 2nd inning.
Photo: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hamels, Howard Humble Sox

Ryan Howard clouted 2 homers and Cole Hamels pitched 7 strong innings as the Phillies beat the Red Sox last night going away by a score of 8 - 2.

Howard's home runs, both off of Red Sox starter Bartolo Colon, were hit to the opposite field and mark a return of Howard's classic opposite field MVP stroke. Howard also later added an incredibly entertaining triple on what was probably his hardest hit ball of the night to right-center field. RyHo knocked in 4 runs on the night. Jimmy Rollins also enjoyed a big night, with his second lead-off homer of the year, and a big base hit in the 6th inning that drove in two and broke the game open.

As for Cole Hamels, he only had the one bad inning where he gave up back-to-back homers to Dustin Pedroia and JD Drew. Otherwise, he pitched a very good, but not overpowering game, in striking out 5 and walking 2. He even contributed offensively, with an important sacrifice in the 6th inning that led to JRoll's 2-run single and a fluky base hit in the 7th inning.

Chad Durbin held down the fort in the final two innings to preserve the win. Can't help but wonder where Clay Condrey was here, but I guess Charlie Manual didn't consider this a true mop up situation. I would possibly have wanted Durbin for tonite's game in case Moyer gets knocked about, but it's hard to complain when they beat one of the best teams in baseball.

The series continues tonite with Old Man Moyer going up against Jon Lester. The game starts at 7:05pm and will be on CSN-TV.

Did You Notice?

- Terry Francona leave Mike Timlin in FAR too long in the 6th inning? Nice going, Tito. It brought back a lot of memories of how incompetent Francona was when he was the Phillie manager. Still can't believe he owns World Series rings. No, I can't let it go, either.

- The sweet defensive play in the 2nd inning by Hamel off of Jason Varitek? Looked like a Martin Biron glove save.....

- The Pat Burrell triple? What made your heart stop more? Watching Ryan Howard chug into 3rd or watching Burrell lumber the bases? Both of these forays could have led to DL trips as unathletic as those two players looked on those plays.

- Weird stat I heard on a Podcast: According Eric Karabell and Peter Pascarelli on yesterday's ESPN Baseball today podcast, Adam Eaton had more quality starts this year (this was before last night's game) than Cole Hamels. I've tried to find a website that actually keeps the quality start as part of their statistical package, but I can't find one. That Eaton has more "quality starts" than Cole Hamels should tell you all you need to know about that particular statistic.
Photo: (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Monday, June 16, 2008

From the Weekend....


Phils finished their road trip a respectable 5 - 4, but it could have been much better. They lost 3 1-run games on the trip (including dropping 2 1-run games to the Cards alone) and they could have very easily run and hid from the rest of the division.

As it is, they start a 6 game homestand, with 3 games against the Red Sox and 3 games against the Angels. They will need, at least, a split of the 6 games against these teams, who are two of the elite teams in the AL.

The first 3 games of the homestand will be a proctologist's dream, as a flood of assholes in Red Sox gear will invade Citizens Bank Ballpark. There probably won't be the fan animosity you would see in a series with, say, the Mets, but with this many opposing fans horning in on our ballpark, don't expect peace and harmony, either. Hopefully, Murph and Sully will be on their best behavior.

US Open

I don't really care about following golf on television, which to me, seems as boring as an insurance seminar. But I am certainly rooting against Tiger Woods in his playoff today. Honestly, what does this guy have left to prove? Hasn't he, by all standards in life, won? He's got the great house, the hot Swedish nanny wife, the world class golf game, and all the money in the world. Honestly, what else is left? What more does he need and how many yachts can this guy water ski behind?

Father's Day

Hope everyone had a great Father's day. The wife and I took our son to the Ocean City boardwalk for rides and water ice. Tremendous day of watching my 2 year old smile and laugh his way through some of the kiddie rides.

Weird thing I saw on the boardwalk yesterday: An older, grown man in a Cleveland Cavaliers Eric Snow jersey. Of all of the players whose jersey you would want on the Cavs, would Snow be your first choice? Just weird....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Old Man Moyer Manhandles Marlins

His birth certificate says he's 45, but Jamie Moyer pitched last night like he's significantly younger. Moyer's pitching led the Phils to a 3 - 0 win last night, avoiding a sweep against the upstart Marlins.

Moyer was masterful as he took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of last night's game against the Marlins. A single off of the bat of the opposing starting pitcher Scott Olson (of all people) ended the no-hit bid. All in all, Moyer only gave up two hits and struck 3 in 8 innings before giving way to Brad Lidge, who notched his 18th save of the season. I can't imagine how fast it must have seemed Lidge was throwing last night after looking at the array of slop and change ups from Moyer for 8 innings.

Offensively, the Phils benefitted from Marlins' defensive miscues when Matt Treanor threw away a ball, retrieved after a wild pitch, into the Phillies dugout, allowing 2 runs to score. It would turn out that would be all Moyer needed, who incidentally, also notched a base hit.

From Miami, the Phils travel to St. Louis to start a 3 game series against the Redbirds. KK vs. Wellenmeyer at 8:15pm on CSN-TV.

Did you Notice?

- Couldn't watch the game at home (my central air is down), so went to a bar to catch the action. Ended up at Kaminsky's in Cherry Hill (after a false start elsewhere) and I heartily recommend it. I'd been there in the past to watch ballgames but I always remembered the place as dark and not terribly fun to hang out in. They've seemingly done a bunch of renovations in the last few years and the place looks great and the deck was fairly crowded as they had live music.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Phils Waste Hamels Stellar Outing

Phils reliever Tom Gordon gave up a walk-off grand slam to the Marlins' Dan Uggla in the bottom of the 9th to give the Marlins a 6 - 2 win.

The loss overshadowed a great pitching duel between Cole Hamels and the Marlins' Andrew Miller. Cole Hamels made two mistakes the whole game. The only problem is that both of them ended up as Jorge Cantu homers. The Phillies could only cobble together one run off of Andrew Miller, who kept the Phillies off balance all night. Miller was so good, he got Utley out twice via strikeout before Utley touched him up for an RBI single in the 7th inning.

Down 2 -1, the Phils managed to scratch out a run off of Marlins closer Kevin Gregg. The money play in the inning was a steal of 3rd by pinch runner Eric Bruntlett on an attempted sacrifice. From there, Bruntlett scored on a Chase Utley fielder's choice to tie the game at 2.

In the bottom of the 9th, Tom Gordon promptly loaded the bases on two walks and a single (from Cantu) before serving up the game ending meatball on a 3 -1 BP fastball to Uggla.

The Phils will look to salvage the last game of the series with Old Man Moyer going up against Scott Olsen. CSN-TV....7:10pm.

Did You Notice?

- Hamels retired 17 straight batters between Jorge Cantu's homers in the 1st and 7th innings. Hamels was truly dealing last night, striking out 13 and walking only 1. Hats off to Andrew Miller, who also pitched a helluva game.

- Know what I could have done without last night? The post game interview with Jorge Cantu. In high definition, no less. Yikes! Cantu had more craters and acne than the 15 year old on the french fry machine at the McDonald's on Rt. 70. Cantu seemed like a nice, upbeat kid, but get him some Proactiv or something.

Cantu's facial issues reminded of that story where someone asked a young Larry Bowa to describe what Mike Schmidt looked like and Bowa replied that it looked like someone was using Schmidt's face for an ashtray. Ouch.

- The rare 3-6-1 double play the Phils turned in the Phils? Nice play by Hamels getting over to first to complete the play.

- This was the 2nd straight game where Victorino lined out sharply into a double-play. I wonder if that frustration played a part in Victorino arguing balls and strikes in the 9th inning of the game last night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Phils Lose; Myers Brutal

You had to know that once Brett Myers gave up two homers and a walk in facing his first 3 batters that it just wasn't going to be the Phillies' night. The Phils dropped the first game in their series against the Marlins by a score of 5 - 4.

Myers, who clearly did not have his best stuff on the mound, lasted 5 1/3 innings giving up 5 earned runs. The telling blow was the home run Myers gave up in the 5th innning to Mike Jacobs to make the score 5 - 2 came just a 1/2 inning after a Jimmy Rollins homer made the score 3 - 2.

Winning Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco pitched 6 strong innings and gave up no earned runs. The Marlins helped the Phillies on two seperate plays, where they threw the ball away in one inning (Hanley Ramirez) and another where Luis Gonzalez allowed a ball to clank off of his glove. The win is Nolasco's second win of the year against the Phils.

Offensively for the Phils, Pat Burrell went 2 for 4, including a home run in the 8th inning to draw the Phils within a run.

The series continues tonite with CMH going against Andrew Miller.

Did you Notice?

- Two straight at-bats, where Shane Victorino hit the ball very sharply towards the first baseman in the 7th and 9th inning. Both times it happened, there were men on base who were fast enough to score on an extra base hit. Either of those balls get past 1st baseman Mike Jacobs, and the outcome of this game is markedly different.

- The innings called on the local telecast by Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler were especially painful last night. Wheeler went on and on about how hard it is to see the ball in the outfield in Miami and how the outfielder should not get an error when they lose the ball in the lights. Even if I thought Wheeler was right (which I don't), there was no need to beat a dead horse with his point.

Fact is, outfielders at the major league level ARE SUPPOSED to be able to catch the ball in the lights. Yes, even in those parks where the lighting isn't great. It's their JOB. That Gonzalez play where the ball clanked off of his glove was clearly an error and whatever happened to using two hands to catch the ball if he was that unsure he could make the catch? I mean, what's next? Further lowering the standard for a quality start to 4 innings? How about gold stars for plays the outfielders DO make?

- If you're old enough, you remember the Phillies buried a time capsule on their 100th anniversary back in 1983 (yes, I remember it well). Apparently, they dug up the original time capsule early to move it over to CBP.

- Interesting stat on I heard during Jody McDonald's interview with Jayson Stark on Monday.....the Phillies are the only team in MLB to not have a starter miss a turn. Underscores that as good as the Phils have been this year, they've been a little lucky for once as well.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Wilt Chamberlain, Larger than Life

If you grew up in the Delaware Valley like I did, and you were born during the Nixon administration or later, you grew up hearing something about this really tall guy named Wilt Chamberlain. You are told he went to Overbrook High.

You're pretty much told from birth around here that he was probably the greatest basketball player that ever lived. You are told he was really, really tall and really, really good. You are told they changed the rules of basketball just because of his height and his skill.

You are told that he once scored 100 points and about 500,000 people claim to have been there. Everyone has a cousin or an uncle who was there.

And you grow up believing these things despite never having seem them for yourself.

As you get into your teens and early 20s, you begin to view this mythical hero a little more cyncially. Why?

Two reasons: 1.) He seems to never want to be honored by the Sixers for whatever reason; 2.) He writes a book where claims to have had sex with 20,000 women.

20,000 women? Really?

Anyway, the 20,000 women line from his book "Wilt Chamberlain: A View from Above" made Wilt a sort of a late night punchline. I can't even imagine what the sports blogs would have done with this line if the book had come out today instead of in 1991.

Fast forward to earlier this spring. I'm at the Wachovia Center for a Flyers game. I walk into the 11th street entrance, and lo and behold, there is the Wilt Chamberlain statue outside of the Wachovia Center. I knew the statue was there (it's been there since 2004), but I never gave much thought to the statue, nor to Wilt himself (other than the 20,000 women line), figuring I knew all I needed to know about Wilt.

The next week, I was returning an audio book, when I saw the book "Wilt Chamberlain: Larger than Life" as a book sitting in a sports themed display. Taking it as a sign, I figured, I might as well check the book out and give it a chance. It was written by Philadelphia native Robert Allen Cherry (not to be confused with WIP's Rob Charry), who is a few years younger than Wilt and also attended Overbrook High.

The book itself is a rather comprehensive telling of Chamberlain's life. To follow Wilt's basketball career is almost a telling of the history of NBA basketball from the late 50's to the early 70's. From the playgrounds of West Philly to his sweet bachelor pad high in the Santa Monica Mountains, Wilt's life was nothing, if not eventful. He started out as a bit of a gawky looking kid, who could not only play basketball, but loved track and field as well. As a matter of fact, Wilt's love of track and field would follow him throughout his life up to the point of using his own money to sponsor track clubs on the West Coast which produced Olympic athletes (Jackie Joyner Kersee and Florence Griffith Joyner are two athletes affiliated with one of the most famous of Wilt's track clubs).

From his athletic prowess came the high school stardom at Overbrook High, which ultimately landed him at Kansas University. While at Kansas, Wilt starred in both basketball and track. Also while at Kansas, Wilt would encounter the first high profile defeat at the hand of a better all-around team, the 1957 NCAA Championship game against the North Carolina Tar Heels.

The loss to the Tar Heels would foreshadow future championship games in Wilt's NBA life, where, because of his size and basketball prowess, his teams were always expected to win. This expectations exists despite Wilt's teams being deficient in one or several areas. It was these losses that Wilt always seemed to have to explain away and ultimately seemed to make him act somewhat defensively when discussing his career.

From his years at Kansas, the book chronicles Wilt's life in the NBA, playing for the old Philadelphia Warriors during the NBA season and playing for the Harlem Globetrotters during the off-season. Wilt cherished the time he spent with the Trotters and it is almost mindboggling to believe that the marquee player in the NBA would spend his off-season with an travelling basketball exhibition. Remember, these sojourns with the Globetrotters often took place after disappointing losses in the Championship rounds to the powerhouse Celtic teams of the late 50's and early 60's. Try to picture LeBron James or Kobe Bryant doing this same thing today and it is almost impossible to imagine.

After a year stopover in San Francisco, after the Warriors were sold, Wilt was back in Philly playing for the Sixers. After further disappointments against Boston, Wilt's championship dream finally came true with the 1967 Sixers, who many consider the greatest NBA team ever. The team featured Hal Greer, Villanova's Wali Jones, and Chet Walker, and they simply rolled through the regular season right to the Championship, finally beating Boston in 5 games.

Ultimately, that would be the apex of Wilt's pro career in Philly. Because of a feud with Sixers ownership, Wilt ended up being dealt to the LA Lakers for what Bill Simmons would call the pupu platter of Darrell Imhoff, Archie Clark, and Jerry Chambers. Cherry's telling of the feud is probably the most comprehensive and objective telling that you'll ever read, as the story is a typical he-said/she-said story that one can encounter in a complex relationship. This one-sided trade would foreshadow other one-sided trades in Sixer history; notably the Charles Barkley deal, and depending on whom you believe, the Allen Iverson deal.

Wilt's time with the Lakers did result in a Championship, but Wilt could only play at his formerly dominant level in fits and starts. What also resulted from Wilt's time with the Lakers would be his life long love of the West Coast.

In retirement, Wilt did attempt to stay close to the game, coaching for a season in the ABA, but ultimately, the bachelor lifestyle called. He did make endorsement money (see commercial below), so it wasn't as if he was hurting for money. At one time, there was even the thought of getting into boxing and fighting Muhammad Ali just to show he athletic he really was. Common sense prevailed, however, and Wilt spent a great deal of his time playing volleyball with a whole new group of friends that he found on the beach (he felt that playing volleyball actually allowed him to extend his NBA career). He also went looking for women.

Lots and lots of women.

There are times when the book does sound like a bit like a valentine to Wilt, but I found it balanced for the most part. For example, the issue of the "20,000 women" is dealt with by the author and people quoted in the book make no bones about Wilt's bachelor lifestyle. The author doesn't really attempt to justify Wilt's boast; he simply restates many of the legends about how the ladies just loved to be with Wilt and what could have driven Wilt to want to bed so many women.

All in all, I found the book to be very fair towards Wilt, with respect to his playing career as well as his off-court demeanor and habits. For example, Wilt would probably be described today as a "coach killer" ala Allen Iverson. And while Wilt's foibles are openly discussed, his accomplishments and personality shine through pretty brightly, as well as they should. If you have any interest in Philadelphia sports teams or NBA history, this book is a must read.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Quick Thoughts From the Weekend

- Holy crap, was it hot all weekend. Looks like this weather will continue right into the beginning of the week, with the weather getting up to 100 degrees today. Unless you were drinking, being outside was something to be endured and not enjoyed.

- You know, if the Belmont stakes were a prize fight, you would almost make an accusation of a fix or a dive. How could Big Brown, one of the most dominant horses ever to come down the pike and winner of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, finish dead last in the Belmont? Has that ever happened? It has to be unprecedented, right?

- Big weekend from the Phightin' Phils. The swept Atlanta in their home ballpark; a place where the Braves had lost only 8 times all year. The Phils are now 3.5 games ahead of Florida in NL East and they can widen that lead, as they head to Miami for a 3-game set starting tomorrow, when Brett Myers faces Ricky Nolasco.

- Saw "Walk Hard" over the weekend on pay-per-view. One word review: meh.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hamels Dominates; JRoll Benched

Cole Hamels pitched a complete game shutout as the Phils took this game (and the series) from the Reds by a score of 5 - 0. Hamels gave up 3 hits, walked 3, and struck out 4. This outing comes on the heels of two outings where he got pounded, so it was reassuring to see Hamels right the ship in such an emphatic way.

Other than Hamels, the big story of the game involved last year's MVP, Jimmy Rollins. Rollins, who had been struggling at the plate recently, appeared to have popped out in the 3rd inning, but instead the ball was dropped by Reds' SS Paul Janish. While the ball was in the air, Rollins did not appear to be running the play out as is the custom. Therefore, when the ball was dropped, instead of being on second base as he probably should have been, he was on first. Essentially, Rollins violated one of baseball's longest held maxims to always run out a play, even when it appears you are going to be out.

As a result of the play, Manager Charlie Manual, showing quite a bit of chutzpah, pulled the MVP of the NL from the game and replaced him with Eric Bruntlett (who turned in a great defensive play in the 8th inning). For his part, Rollins did not pout (at least not publicly) and showed real good character in accepting the consequences for his actions:
"He has two rules -- be on time and hustle; and I broke one of them today. I know better. Sometimes the manager gets you. I just have to go out there and make sure I don't do it again. It's something you learn from." - from Ken Mandel's story

As a fan, I am already over this incident. Rollins did it, Manual punished him for it, and Rollins recognized that it was wrong. As far as I'm concerned, as a fan, this incident is over. It's not too difficult to see that Rollins is currently frustrated at the plate. His BA has dipped below .300, into the .280s, and it just looks a little bit like he's fighting things at the plate. As the weather heats up, and the stakes become bigger, I have no doubt that Rollins will pick it up.

From here, the Phils go on a road trip that starts in Atlanta and takes them to Miami to face the Marlins and then to St. Louis. Jamie Moyer is scheduled to go against the Braves tonite against Atlanta's Tim Hudson. The game starts at 7:30pm and will be on CSN-TV.

Phils Draft HS Infielder

The MLB amateur player draft was conducted yesterday and the Phils, picking at 24, selected Connecticut high schooler Anthony Hewitt. According to the article on, he is supposed to be a 5-tool player targeted for an infield position, but the way things go with prospects drafted out of high school, who knows when we'll actually see this kid at CBP. He has a commitment to go to Vanderbilt, but sounds open to starting his pro career sooner rather than later:

"I don't want to drag out the process too long," Hewitt said. "I'm pretty sure [the talks] will go pretty well. I really want to go ahead and pursue my professional career as soon as possible. I'm eager to start."

The Phils also drafted a high school outfielder (Zack Collier) with a compensatory first round pick and a slew of pitchers in the rounds following round 1.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Phils Drop Game Despite Myers Gem

Brett Myers could have tossed a perfect game last night and it wouldn't have mattered, as the Phils dropped a game to the Reds by a score of 2 - 0. The fact is, Myers did have a no-hitter going through 6 2/3 innings last night before giving up a double to Joey Votto. Unfortunately, the Reds had Brandon Phillips on second base at the time (who walked and stole second), who ultimately scored what proved to be the game winner. All in all, Myers struck out 8 in 7 1/3 innings of work last night and as a Phils fan, you have to be enthused that Myers was able to build on his last start, when he went 8 innings against the Fish.

The Reds' Edison Volquez, acquired from the Rangers in an off-season deal for Josh Hamilton, pitched 7 innings of 2-hit ball. In doing so, Volquez lowered his NL leading ERA to a microscopic 1.32.

The Phils get a chance at the series win today at CBP (1pm, CSN-TV), with Cole Hamels facing Homer Bailey.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Burrell Powers Phils; Lito A No-Show

Pat Burrell, in his march to have someone overpay him next year, hit a 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 6th inning to break a 1-1 tie to propel the Phils to a 3 - 2 win.

Adam Eaton (!) pitched 6 2/3 strong innings to pick up his second win of the season. Eaton struck out 5 and didn't walk anyone. That Eaton didn't walk anyone is nothing short of amazing, since he averages a little over 3 walks per 9 innings pitched this year. Brad Lidge came in and saved it for Eaton and picked up his 15th save in the process. Both Eaton and Lidge were bailed out at a couple of points in the game (Eaton in the 7th, Lidge in the 9th) by a pair of esthethically pleasing 5-4-3 doubleplays.

Chase Utley was, again, in the middle of the proceedings, knocking in the Phils' first run with a broken bat single and scored on Burrell's homer after doubling off of the Reds' Aaron Harang (who took the loss for the Reds).

As it is currently raining pretty hard outside of my office window right now (a mere 10 minute drive down the Schuylkill from CBP), who is to say if the series will continue tonite or not. Since Thursday's game is a day game, there is always the possibility of a double header tomorrow. But if the series does continue, the Phils will send Brett Myers against one of the best young pitchers in baseball in Edison Volquez (7:05pm - CSN-TV).

Lito A No-Show

Lito Sheppard blew off an optional OTA yesterday and it made big news across the area.

The fact is, with Sheppard unhappy with his situation, you can't be surprised he blew an entirely optional team activity. He did attend the mandatory mini-camp last month, but the operative word is "mandatory". I doubt Sheppard is dumb enough to miss events that will get him fined. To do so, would only further deteriorate his already non-existent leverage in this situation.

If Sheppard decides to be a no-show at training camp, that will an entirely different matter. But the fact is, if he were to miss any training camp, you wonder if he'll be committing some sort of bizarre career suicide. Who will want a small, injury-prone CB who holds out of camp, who is pissed off about an extension he signed in good faith just under 4 years ago? Furthermore, what makes Sheppard think anyone will give him the contract numbers he's looking for even when healthy?

The best move for Sheppard is to do what he's told with respect to team activities and it's possible (though not likely) he'll be traded. In this scenario, Sheppard would be the team's nickle corner and if he has the year he thinks he's capable of if he's healthy, there may be more demand for his services. Only by performing on the field will Sheppard get what he's after (i. e. -- a renegotiated contract).

Monday, June 02, 2008

Phillies May 2008 By The Numbers

Now that Memorial Day has past and Summer is in full swing, we've officially entered the heart of the baseball season. Hell, you've probably already had your first night downashore where you got a little overserved by now.

As for the home team, as May gave way to June, they were challenging for (and eventually got to) first place in NL East. In years past, this news would have been a much bigger deal. Now, it's sort of expected, with the offensive talent the Phils have on the roster. It is that offensive talent that carried the day in the month of May, as the Phils slugged their way through their schedule, dropping only two series during the month (@SF and Toronto at home).

Onto the numbers.....


The number of wins for the month of May. This is two games better than last May, and as the calender month was winding down, the Phils entered a 3 game set against the Marlins, with first place on the line.

The biggest culprit? Starting pitching sunk the Phillies on several occasions (5/8 vs. Ariz, 5/10 vs. SF, and 5/14 vs. Atl). There is not one guy in the rotation that can look themselves in the mirror and say they pitched their best in May. There are a couple of guys that should feel worse than others. We'll get to them momentarily.


The number of runs scored by the Phils in the month of May, which led all of Major League Baseball. The Phils scored runs in bunches during May; especially towards the end of the month. The Phils scored double-digit runs 6 times during the month, including hanging a 20 spot on the Rockies and 15 runs on the Astros.

As you would expect when your team puts up 175 runs in a month, the Phils also slugged to the tune of .468. That was good enough to tie them for first in MLB with the Texas Rangers. As you'd further expect, the Phils hit 42 homers for the month. That was good for 2nd in MLB behind the Florida Marlins.


The May 2008 batting average of embattled outfielder Shane Victorino.

It had appeared that, earlier in the month, Shane Victorino had all but lost the starting CF position to Jayson Werth. Werth punctuated the gains he had made during the beginning part of this season, by going off for 3 homers against Toronto on May 16th. Everyone, including Charlie Manual, seemed to be questioning Victorino's ability to be an everyday player.

Apparently, Manual's machinations got Victorino's attention. By the time Werth was put on the DL on May 24th, Victorino was well on his way to rescusitating his season. Victorino's batting average had risen from .235 on May 1st to a season high of .293 in the month ending loss to the Marlins on the 31st of May. He also continued to make things happen with his legs, stealing 11 bases on the month.

Amazingly, with all of the offense the Phillies produced during May, it was Victorino who had the best batting average amongst the Phillies regulars for the month of May.


The combined number of home runs hit by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the month of May. Ryan Howard, the subject of much conjecture earlier in the month because of the brutal slump he has endured so far this year, has definitely found his power stroke. He hit 10 homers in the month of May, tying him for 3rd for the month in all of MLB. Howard's 30 RBI was tied for first in the month of May in all of MLB. Though his average has not shot up like you would like to see (still only around .210), he is still knocking in runs.

The same could be said of 2B Chase Utley. While Utley saw his overall batting average dip in the month of May, his power stroke is intact. Utley slammed 8 homers on the month and ended the month of May riding a 6 game hitting streak (.360, 5 HR, 16 RBI). There is nothing more that needs to be said of Utley, of whom, I have run out of superlatives.


The number of wins logged by Phillies' starters Adam Eaton and Brett Myers. When you combine their ERAs for the month, the combined figure approaches 11. You don't need a degree in fake baseball math to know that you can't go far with two starters performing this poorly.

Other than the early season slump of Ryan Howard, the issue of what to do with these two guys is the most vexing. Eaton, were he not so well paid, would either have been cut or in the bullpen by now. He is in the rotation strictly because the Phillies do not believe they have a better or more cost effective option at this time. Unfortunately, help from Kris Benson does not appear to be forthcoming as he has had another setback in his attempted comeback. Either Eaton needs to figure things out or the Phillies need another Kyle Kendrick to come out of nowhere in the minors and save the day.

Brett Myers, on the other hand, is a good pitcher who can still get better. Since May 14th, when he went only a 4 1/3 innings in a 4 - 2 loss to Atlanta, Myers has gone further and further into games. On May 30th, he went 8 innings, in giving up 3 runs to Florida in a 12 - 3 win. Maybe that is the game we look back on later in the year, and say that was the game Myers turned his season around on.


The ERA of Cole Hamels in the two starts following the two starts in which he gave up zero runs. He gave up 6 ER vs. Houston on 5/25 and 7 ER against the Fish on 5/31. I don't think this is the start of anything sinister, but I think it warrants mentioning that sometimes we treat young Hamels like he is already Steve Carlton, when in fact, Hamels still goes through occasional growing pains as he grows into his role as an ace.


It was great to see the Phillies remain somewhat consistent with respect to their win total relative to what they did in April, but they cannot withstand going through another month like May, with such anemic starting pitching. You cannot rely on Jamie Moyer winning 4 games per month like he did in May. Both Hamels and Myers need to take the bull by the horns and act like the leaders of the pitching staff both player purport themselves to be. It would behoove GM Pat Gillick to begin formulating a plan B with respect to Adam Eaton. Is Kris Benson the answer? Or is it someone in the minors like Carlos Carrasco (4 -4, 3.46 ERA in AA Reading) ready to make the jump to the Big Leagues?

Quick Thoughts from the Weekend

- First place Phils! After yesterday's come from behind win, the Phils are back in first, with the Cincinnati Bruce's, er, I mean, Reds, coming to town for 4 games. Hoping to get to my first game of the year this week. I'm working on my "by the numbers" article for the month of May right now (ready by tomorrow AM, I hope), and let's just say the Phils' starting rotation hasn't been that much of a help in the past month.

- It's official. We have a Celtics-Lakers final. Thanks for nothing, Kevin McHale and Chris Wallace.

- Stayed up on Saturday to watch Kimbo Slice and that other guy fight. It was the first time I actually made an effort to watch an MMA event. One word review: YAWN!