Saturday, June 27, 2015

Over And Out

Revision:

The other day I wrote this about Ryne Sandberg:

From the outside looking in Ryne Sandberg appeared to be a good man.  That's basically a variation on the customary opening to a post-mortem when one is then going to write that someone was really way over his head or worse.  Sandberg was really over his head as a manager.

He didn't have the temperament for managing today's high-priced ball player nor was he smart enough to manage generally.  When Chase Utley showed his displeasure with his manger's decision to use a position player to pitch in a blow-out recently the handwriting was on the wall.  Then came the dreaded vote of confidence.

Sandberg beat the ax man to the punch and resigned.  It was his best move though quitting won't get his a spot on any shortlists for future jobs.  But, then, he clearly doesn't want one.

What I should have written is this:

Ryne Sandberg knew he was going to be fired.  He just didn't know when.  So, not acting in the best tradition of the captain of a sinking vessel, Sandberg abandoned ship in mid-ocean.  His team was already the worst in baseball and steaming toward a 100-loss season, so Sandberg decided he didn'td want the ignominy of an axing on his resume, apparently believing that quitting would look better down the road.

Sandberg isn't overburdened, as my mother-in-law would say, but he's probably smart enough to know that managing a big league team is not for him.  Prospective employers down the road take note:  this guy quits when the going gets tough.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Big Time Loser

If the reports are true, Pete Rose's case for reinstatement to baseball fell apart yesterday.  Of course Rose is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but let's face it, the guy is a pathological liar whose ability to come clean when confronted with damning facts is in inverse proportion to his ability to hit a baseball.

His legions of apologists will still argue morality is not a condition for admission to the Hall of Fame. True enough...up to a point.  For every good guy there is a bum, wife-beater or racist in the Hall.  But Rose's transgressions fall under the category of genuine integrity of the game, which is precisely why gamblers have always been punished and banned.

Rose always felt he was a special case above the game.  Not only have we found out he lied about gambling as a manager, only to recant two decades later in a desperate and pathetic attempt to have his Hall eligibility reinstated, we now learn it is likely he bet on games as a player, too.  No doubt we will have to wait 20 years for his to confess to these allegations.

If nothing else, the new information coupled with what was already known prove one things beyond a shadow of a doubt:  Rose was a first class hitter but a lousy gambler.  His losses and debts to bookies prove he belonged in another pantheon, that of big-time loser.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Comings & Goings

"We knew that we were not going to necessarily be challenging for the National League East title, but at the same time we need to see improvement and that's what we expect," GM Ruben Amaro said yesterday as the Phillies losing streak stretched to nine games and counting.

For the moment, let's forget the awkward syntax for which Amaro is famous.  Instead, let's concentrate on content.  Did Amaro imagine for one nano-second the Phillies would challenge for the division title this year?  If so, he is even more delusional than previously thought.  The rest of the Phillies alleged brain trust must be acutely aware of Amaro's deficiencies in language if not baseball oversight.  After all, they continue to bring in new senior management types including, if rumors are accurate, at the top.  Word has it acting President Pat Gillick is about to hire his permanent successor in the person of Andy McPhail.

One of baseball's cherished truisms holds you cannot fire the team.  The Phillies would like to do that but MLB requires they field one 162 times a season.  Accordingly, the alleged brain trust is intent on doing the next best thing by replacing a number of management personnel from scouting director to player development director to president.  No doubt the next replacement will be GM, but Gillick will let McPhail have that honor once he assumes control.

Meanwhile, down on the field, the Phillies sink further into the basement.  Word has it they have already discovered the sub-basement and plan to keep digging.

* * * * * * * *

Can you name all the pitchers in the Phils' starting rotation?  I can't!

* * * * * * * *

The Phillies introduced top pick Cornelius Randolf at Citizens Bank Park yesterday. Randolf was introduced to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley among others.

A word of advice, Cornelius:  Do as they say, not as they do.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Plan B? Try Plan Q

Headline in today's Inky:  EMBIID FUTURE CLOUDY, 76ers center could miss start of regular season, maybe more

Well, that's a surprise. A big man in Philadelphia basketball may miss a season.  Isn't this the town where centers go to die?

There's more?????.  You mean the alleged brain trust of the 76ers may have to rethink their plans. What? You mean all that tanking and wait-until-two-years-from-now jive was just talk?

Wait! Wait! You mean to tell me Sam Hinkie is not a genius?

Say it ain't so.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Every Generation Has Its Heroes

Every generation has its own heroes.  Not their grandfathers' heroes.  Not even their fathers' heroes. And certainly not their childrens' heroes.

I was forcibly reminded of this truth this morning when I read Albert Pujols, a star of this generation, had passed Micky Mantle, a star of mine, for 16th place all time on the home run list.

Mantle was actually my brother's hero.  We grew up in Baltimore, but my brother was a Yankee fan.   "My team is still playing in October," he would point out.  When you are ten or twelve years old you worship the stars of your world.  We knew who  Babe Ruth was, but we only saw him in photos and newsreels.

In our youth the two leagues only mingled twice a year, at the All Star game and World Series.  Baseball games were not televised every day of the week.  Living in an American League city we never saw NL players.  We knew who Willie Mays was but we hardly ever saw him.  We never saw him play live.

I kept things local.  Brooks Robinson was my hero.

Albert Pujols is one of the great players of his day, but how is a 67 year old man going to put him on a pedestal?  That's for some youngster in Anaheim or St. Louis to do.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What Do I Know?

Let's get this out of the way first....

What do I know???!!!

The Phils new scouting director makes his debut by selecting a shortstop with his first round pick. Turns out the Phils top prospect at the moment is also a shortstop.  Of course they also have Freddy Galvia at short, but, then, Freddy's torrid start at the plate is now a distant memory so it would be hard to say the Phils have a logjam at that position (if you consider the ability to hit as well as field constitutes a logjam.)

Word is the Phils would likely convert their pick into an outfielder, a commodity in very short supply at the moment (if you consider the ability to hit OR field a condition for calling someone a legitimate major league outfielder).


But, what do I know????

* * * * * * * *

Only a few weeks ago Aaron Harang looked like a sure bet to be traded by the July deadline.  Today he looks like a pitcher toiling for his eighth major league team.  A couple of bad outings will do that. It's called reversion to the mean.

* * * * * * * *

Cole Hamels hasn't exactly set the world on fire recently either.  He's back to serving up the long ball, an early nemesis.  Still, Cole is going in July.  The only question regarding his status begins with "Where".

But, what do I know????

* * * * * * * *

Ryan Howard has also disappeared again.  There are really two questions regarding his status:  "Where" and "How much"?  The first part starts with the American League.  The second part starts with how much of his contract will the Phils eat.

* * * * * * * *

Chase Utley hasn't disappeared again.  Chase never really appeared in the first place.

* * * * * * * *

Finally, name four pitchers on the Phils's staff excluding Harang, Hamels and Papelbon.

But, what do I know?

Monday, June 08, 2015

Good Luck With That

Most if not all hopes for the Phillies' rebuilding effort begin with the coming draft, so it was interesting to read the thoughts of the new Director of Amateur Scouting, Johnny Almaraz:

"I know we are going to get a good player at 10.  You can't predict what's going to go ahead of us, but it's either going to be good high school player or a good college player."

Now those are words to hang your hopes on!  Middle school phenoms need not apply.

After years of mostly disappointing (or worse) drafts, the Phils hired Almaraz to improve their chances.  So, what's the outlook?  At least it wasn't the usual "best athlete still on the board" nonsense, but, jeez, can't he come up with something a little more, well, insightful?  I know there's this attitude that teams do not want to tip their hand, but saying he's going to draft someone out of either high school or college is playing things a little more than close to the vest.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Still Alive....

The Reverse Curse is STILL alive.

Six in a row.  Wow.  If they keep this up much longer Cole Hamels is going to ask Rube not to trade him.

Don't get used to it.

Even with Ryan Howard enjoying a "comeback" and Freddy Galvis hitting nearly 125 points above his career average and Aaron Harang defying Father Time, these Phillies are lousy.  There's nothing like a string of games against other lousy teams to make all that doesn't glitter appear for what it is:  fool's gold.

But, hey, it's fun to win and to watch a bunch of no names and has-beens romp for a while.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Friday, May 08, 2015

Not Even In His Dreams

Alex Rodriguez passed Willie Mays for fourth place all-time on the home run list.  Those are the facts.

Here are the realities:

Not even in your dreams, A-Rod.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

How Bad Are They?

Everyone knew the Phillies were going to be lousy this year.  Just how lousy?  Well, when Freddy Galvis is your leading hitter then Rock Bottom must be just around the corner.

But wait!  Most folks figured at least the Phils would be competitive every fifth day when Cole Hamels took the mound.  So yesterday, less than a week after his best start of the season, Hamels was shellacked by Miami, losing 7-0.  Can't blame this one on lack of run support, Cole.  Hamels gave up a major league worst eighth home run of the season and in the process surely must have given some pause to the alleged legion of suitors out there waiting to bid for his services.

So, how bad are the Phils?  There only hope for this season, trading Hamels for legitimate prospects, continues to take its own special hit.  We aren't suggesting the Phils will be forced to give Hamels away, but a few more starts like yesterday's and his value will be affected.  The only good news is that when teams are desperate to acquire that last piece to get them over the hump (read: into the post-season), they don't mind over-paying.  Indeed, they can't help themselves.  That's the MLB way.

The Phils' offense is the worst in the majors and no matter who is on the mound they might be hard-pressed to beat the NCAA champs, aluminum bats notwithstanding.  It wouldn't surprise me if Chase Utley announced his retirement at the end of the season.  He is a proud guy who must be suffering terribly as his batting average flirts with .100.  The Phils will unload Ryan Howard before the end of the season and will eat almost all of his huge contract.  Some major league team, probably in the American League, is going to want his bat even if it's worth one or two wins.  Carlos Ruiz will fade away after this season.  Jeff Franceour and Grady Sizemore will be released as soon as the Phils can find two warm bodies to take their place in the outfield.  You see, it is still a requirement to put nine men on the diamond.  Dom Brown will presumably be one of those replacements, but after his umpteenth demotion to AAA one has to wonder for how long.

Meanwhile, Cody Asche is working out in left-field in anticipation of the call-up of Maikel Franco, so that's another potential "outfielder".

These guys are a mess.  Guys playing out of position.  Ruinous contracts burning cash.  Player skills eroding before our very eyes.  Attendance records for smallest crowd in the history of Citizens Bank Park being set weekly.

Does Stub Hub have a give-away section?  Would there be any takers?


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rotten To The Core

Checked up on old friend Jimmy Rollins this AM and it looks like J-Roll's change of address did nothing to improve his performance.  After homering in game one for the Dodgers, J-Roll has matched the pace of the remaining core players from the glory days in Philadelphia.  He, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are all batting below the Mendoza line.

Ouch.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Take My Ticket...Please!

Here's one record that's gonna' fall...guaranteed!  The lowest announced paid attendance in the history of Citizens Bank Park saw the Phillies shellacked yesterday by the Miami Marlins, 9-1.

That's a record that will broken numerous times before Phillies fans are put out of their misery next Fall.  Of course, these same fans can avoid the misery by staying away from the stadium in droves. They will.

It says here that by late September, on a dreary day in a meaningless game, the vendors and ushers will outnumber paid admissions 2-1.

You read it here first.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Many Games Remain?

Their ace is winless and it's almost May. (He has two losses.)

The one-time phenom has yet to make an appearance and nobody even remembers his name.  (Dom Brown.)

The once-rollicking, always sold-out stadium is half-full now.  (It could get much worse by August.)

Their core players are hitting below the Mendoza line, collectively. (One of them is floating with .100.)

Their manager is living on borrowed time.  (Being in the HOF does not guarantee job success or security.)

Their GM has been silent all Spring.  (What's he gonna' say at this point anyway?!)


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Has-Been Heaven

Look, let's be honest.  I don't give a hoot about pro football.  Oh, sure, I want to see the Eagles win but only so that 6 million fellow citizens in the metropolitan area don't look so glum when they don't.

That said, yesterday's signing of Tim Tebow amused me endlessly.  A washed up football player at 27 whose claim to fame is kneeling and praying is not going to make an iota of difference to the Eagles, reverse curse notwithstanding.  Yet, the hoopla was, to be kind, a little excessive.  Even the Inquirer's esteemed staff weighed in on Tebow's prospects.

I guess Philadelphia has become the place where has-beens go to die.  Jeff Francoeur found a place on the Phillies' roster this year so why shouldn't Tim Tebow find his spot, too.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Grievances

Leave it to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Sports to hire Pete Rose, banned from baseball, as a baseball analyst. They deserve each other.

* * * * * * * *

The prediction was the Phils would not hit.  They haven't.  The prediction was the Phils wouldn't have much starting pitching after Cole Hamels.  They don't have much even with him.  The prediction was Ryan Howard was in steep decline.  The only question now is how will the Phillies rid themselves of him.  His fat contract stays...and stays...and stays....  They said Chase Utley had a poor second half in 2014, cause for worry in 2015.  His slow start in 2015 remains cause for worry.

* * * * * * * *

The only person the Flyers haven't fired in the last several years is Ed Snyder and they can't fire him. This franchise is stuck in loyal soldier mode and until someone other than Snyder calls the ultimate shots it will remain there.

* * * * * * * *

Well, even tanking seems just beyond reach for the Sixers, who are going to need luck to get the top draft pick.  Three years of misery look like they will stretch into at least next year to absolutely no one's credit in the front office.

* * * * * * * *

Let's not leave out the Eagles, who rid themselves of a lot of premiere players and/or healthy ones so that coach Chip Kelly could call this his team.  The bet here is this proprietary attitude will come back to haunt him.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

No Respect

The Phils have won half their games this season.  Who'd have thunk it?

Of course they relied on Aaron Harang, pitching for his eighth team, and Jeff Francoeur, who's been released by four teams in a couple of years, to even their record, but let's not quibble.

And before the Phillies regress to the mean, or at least to the pre-season predictions, let's also note they haven't exactly won the hearts and minds of the local media, quite a feat given hope springs eternal in the first days of the season, even for major league teams that could be expected to struggle to even win the Mexican League championship.

Of what do I write?

The lead article in this morning's Inky was another fluff piece on the Eagles.  Yes, baseball fans, even when it's your turn to shine your football brethren take the prize.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Curmudgeon In Mid-Season Form

One game does not a season make, but who can resist drawing a few conclusions anyway?

Cole Hamels is a premier pitcher and the ace of the Phillies' staff.  Of course, the cynic would argue the latter title is equivalent to being named an admiral in the Swiss Navy, but let's leave that question for another time.

What I have argued in the past is that Hamels, excellent as he is, does not have the fear co-efficient associated with his name.  When opposing teams see him on the schedule they don't start having nightmares about his high inside hard one like they used to do with, say, Randy Johnson.  Heck, they don't even fear Hamels' out pitch, his change, like they did Johnson's sweeping breaking stuff that moved AWAY from the batter.  (Of course it moved away after sweeping across his body and appearing to aim right for the batter's knees.)

Cole just doesn't strike fear.

He also perennially gets off to a slow start.

Yesterday he had nothing against the Red Sox, reportedly one of his suitors in the off-season.  If yesterday's game is any indicator, and it is early, the Red Sox are probably just as glad they didn't bite.

Someone will, however, because Cole is going to get vocal about the lack of support he receives this season.  Yesterday the Phils managed three hits altogether, a harbinger of things to come.  Cole will be grow increasingly unhappy after losing a lot of 3-0 and 2-1 games and the Phils will have to move him just to keep the peace.  Who knows?  If the Sox are in the thick of a tight race they may still covet him, especially since they also know it's early.

* * * * * * * *

Speaking of the Red Sox, did I mention I detest interleague play!?  Did I also mention that as much as I hate interleague play I especially loathe seeing National League teams open their season against American League clubs!?

Spoiler alert!!

Here comes the curmudgeon paragraph.

Baseball loves to remind fans how tradition-bound in the best sense the game is.  When it suits them.

In my youth the leagues never met except during the All Star game and World Series.  Televised games were also few and far between so one rarely saw players from the other league except during the aforementioned special occasions.

Some time in the sixties or seventies (I am too lazy to look it up, another by-product of being a curmudgeon) the alleged brain trust running MLB even tried holding two All Star games one or two seasons.  Talk about greed and stupidity!  Even THEY realized how stupid a move that was.

The point I am slowly making here is that the separation of the leagues was near absolute so when they did come together arguments over which was the better league were hot and furious and fun.

Then came the DH in the AL.  Then came Saturday games of the week.  Then came ESPN.  They came Saturday and Thursday games of the week.  Then came Sunday night baseball.  Then came interleague play.   (We might as well throw in free agency, which meant more movement of players between the leagues.)

Now, who cares?  The Leagues are fungible save the DH difference.  The All Star game is a television special like the ones Dean Martin might have hosted.  All fluff and partying.

* * * * * * * *

J-Roll sure knows when that red light is on and what better place to prove it than Hollywood?  Jimmy hit a three-run homer in his Dodger debut to lead his team to victory.  I'll bet he was having such a good time he forgot to look at the box score of his former mates.

I'll bet they looked at his, though.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Waiting For The Season To Begin

This headline from the Phillies' website caught my eye:

Scott Palmer gets the breakdown from Freddy Galvis on what's so special about the shortstop's bat

My reaction?  Nothing!

You're kidding, right?  No, there really is a video on the site under that heading.  I declined to watch it.

* * * * * * * *

So, Dom Brown isn't going to be ready for the beginning of the season because of tendinitis in the Achilles tendon.  I guess the off-season didn't provide sufficient time for Dom to get in shape.  Let's give him the benefit of the doubt:  maybe he just has a chronic condition that no amount of rest is going to completely correct.

OK.

So, let's look at this another way:  Dom is never going to be ready in the larger sense.  He's been a top prospect, a bust, a first-half sensation, then a bust again, then a real big bust.  Dom has used up his nine baseball lives.  Maybe his mother just should have tossed him completely in the River Styx.

* * * * * * * *

Then there is J-Roll, the West Coast edition.  Jimmy should have kept his trap shut and just put on that Dodgers uniform and thanked his lucky stars he'd escaped the disaster that is the Phillies, but, no, that wouldn't be Jimmy.  He had to take a few shots at the Phans.  It's a national past time and Jimmy couldn't resist.  It does him little credit and will likely increase the percentage of boos when he returns.  Then he can say I told you so. 

* * * * * * * *

The Phils have precious little pitching.  They have even less hitting.  Their defense isn't going to make anyone feel better about their prospects either.  If they win 63 games it will be a miracle.  So, how does the brain trust that runs the show react?  They still force season ticket holders to purchase plans that include the meaningless Spring Training game that takes place at Citizens Bank Park after the club heads north.  No amount of fan appreciation days is going to compensate for that insult.


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Pepper

If it's Spring Training time we must be talking Chase Utley's health.

* * * * * * * *

The Sixers may have a plan but no one including their GM can predict how draft picks turn out.  Just remember Shawn Bradley and Leo Rautins.

* * * * * * * *

Could Ron Hextall finally be ending the Flyers' streak of terrible deals and signings?  The last few days would suggest so.

* * * * * * * *

Let's hope Cole Hamels, always a slow starter, comes out of the gate healthy and strong.  If he isn't gone by Opening Day, he will be by the July trade deadline.  The worse case scenario for the Phils would be he suffers an injury.  The best case scenario is that a contender with plenty of elite prospects to trade sees Hamels as the key to getting into the post season.

* * * * * * * *

The stories coming out of the Eagles' front office this off-season are hardly reassuring they will begin the process of filling their many holes come the draft and free agent market.  Let there be no mistake the Eagles weren't close to an elite team last year.  They have too many holes to fill to contend with the best of the NFL.

* * * * * * * *

Speaking of the Eagles, a good friend recently pointed out the biggest disadvantage to Chip Kelly's hurry-up offense is that with 3 and outs the defense is back on the field that much quicker.

* * * * * * * *

Mike Schmidt can work all he wants with Domonic Brown regarding his swing.  When you've been in professional ball this long you deserve the swing you've got!

* * * * * * * *

Go ahead, name five players on the Sixers team.

* * * * * * * *

I watched the last ten minutes the other night as the Flyers held off the Rangers to win 4-2 (the final goal coming on an empty net).  Steve Mason was brilliant.  The defense was decent.  The offense hardly mounted any offense those final ten minutes.  Mason was the entire difference.  The Flyers scoring difficulties will keep them out of the playoffs for another year.