Friday, July 30, 2004

Swept Away and Fading Fast

Ugly doesn't begin to describe the Phillies continuing woes in Florida, as they lost yesterday to the Marlins on the road, 10-1 for an unprecedented 14th time in a row. Todd Zolecki and Marcus Hayes have the game stories. Hayes says it got so bad the fans at Pro Player Stadium got excited and started chanting "we want doughnuts," since fans get a free Krispy Kreme dozen when the Marlins get 12 hits. Jim Salisbury says it got so bad the organ player even joined in to accompany the chant. Zolecki's notebook believes the Phils are seriously interested in the Yankee's Kenny Lofton. Hayes says that, with the trade deadline fast approaching, "the Phillies find themselves wallflowers at the dance."

Rich Hofmann quotes Ed Wade the GM:
It's better that everybody just figures it out, that we don't get bogged down in a four-game losing streak in Florida, or the fact that we're 3 ½ games out now, or that we're tied with the Marlins. We can't lose sight of the fact that this journey still has a lot of mileage left to it.
Regarding continuing speculation that Larry Bowa is on the hot seat, Wade said, "I don't think, all of a sudden, that people have to do daily job-status reports just because issues like this occur." Meanwhile, Dennis Deitch continues to add fuel to this fire, by citing:
Two sources within the organization said that a gathering of general manager Ed Wade and his brain trust in Clearwater, Fla., this week has involved more than phone calls and powwows discussing potential trades as Saturday afternoon's non-waiver deadline approaches. Apparently the topics at the table include a plan to replace Bowa as manager. This takes the speculation of Bowa's potential firing to a dangerous level.
To this, Bowa replied, "When you write articles like that, no, it doesn't worry me. I don't care." Deitch also chimes in on the miserable trip to Florida:
This wasn't a sweep. It was an epitaph. The Phillies weren't merely swept by the Marlins at Pro Player Stadium. They were buried, eviscerated, humiliated. Thursday's grand finale to the four-game folly was the most insulting, most blatant example of a team that has decided it has better things to do than give a damn. If one of those better things to do involves getting the manager fired, then at least they are on their way to accomplishing something.
In his Phillies Scoop, Deitch talks about speculation involving a three-way trade that would send Ricky Ledee to Boston, Derek Lowe to San Diego, and Jay Payton to the Phillies.

Meanwhile, Eagles' training camp will start seriously heating up this weekend. One of the bigger stories (or non-stories) is whether Corey Simon will show up (as expected). Bob Brookover writes about this, and had Simon wondering whether he'll go the way of Jeremiah Trotter (before he returned this year), Troy Vincent, and Hugh Douglas. Bob Grotz chats with Simon's buddy Paul Grasmanis, who admits, "I've talked to him quite a bit. I mean, I've been living in his house, for Pete's sake, mooching off him while my house was being fixed up." When Les Bowen pressed him for further details about Simon, he said, "I plead the Fifth." Brookover's notebook says Jerome McDougle will likely miss a few more weeks of camp than Andy Reid initially indicated. Les Bowen looks at Camden standout Jamaal Green facing an uphill battle trying to make the Eagles' roster this year. Mark Eckel reports that rookie Dexter Wynn will have the first crack at being the special teams punt returner. Eckel also writes about Kori Dickerson's efforts to make the team.

Phil Sheridan wonders what we really mean when we say "Super Bowl or bust." He writes:
So here we are (again). This is the year (again). It's Super Bowl or bust (again). Nothing less will be acceptable (again). Here's where it stands. The Eagles have an excellent chance to win it all this year. For all the media alarmist talk that the window of opportunity was slamming shut, the truth is that the Eagles will have a chance as long as Andy Reid is the coach and Donovan McNabb is the quarterback. Just as the New England Patriots will have a chance to win it all as long as Bill Belichick is the coach and Tom Brady is the quarterback.
Paul Domowitch continues a big theme of this week's articles, the "what if the Eagles had selected Ricky Williams" scenario. He starts off the column by quoting former Eagles VP of football operations Tom Modrak, who often had fans telling him they absolutely had to draft Williams. Meanwhile, the article reveals some of the reasons (besides Reid's insistence that they build around a franchise quarterback) why the Eagles' braintrust went with McNabb. "A guy has to be wired right to fit in here," Reid said. "You know you're going to have ups and downs, and get scrutinized and praised. You have be able to handle both and keep it all in perspective." And this, "Andy knew this was a tough city to compete in," Eagles president Joe Banner said. "He knew we weren't going to be good from the first minute he got here. He needed somebody who could grow through all of that."

Don Steinberg says Comcast has agreed to carry the College Sports Television network. The channel will likely be available to digital subscribers only.

CSN has Phillies-Cubs at 3:20. ESPN.com reports that the Cubs received the all-clear from the city of Chicago after installing netting under Wrigley Field's upper deck.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Not Looking Good

If the Phillies are in Florida, then the forecast must call for rain and a loss. Their woes continued yesterday, as they lost their overall 3rd in a row (and a record 13 straight to the Marlins on the road), 6-3. Todd Zolecki, Marcus Hayes, and Steve Wine have the game (aka horror) stories. Dennis Deitch writes, "the Phillies have a new terminology for rain delays in Florida: Prolonging the agony." Todd Zolecki's notebook is the first of many to talk about the increasing tension in the clubhouse, which had Rheal Cormier being called to the "principal" (Larry Bowa's) office yesterday. Marcus Hayes describes it this way:
As onlookers gathered to gape at the pileup, the police chief stood on the curb amid mutilated egos and leaking life strewn all over the clubhouse and said, "Move along, move along, nothing to see here." Right.
Rich Hofmann believes "that the players hold Bowa's fate in their hands, just as they did after last year's infamous blowup in Montreal, just as they have since the beginning." He concludes "that on the subject of Larry Bowa, the players' actions will speak louder than their words." Jim Salisbury reports on this "poisonous" incident:
Position players, for the most part, hushed up on the subject of Bowa and environment yesterday. The boys who throw the ball for a living are probably a little more vocal because they don't exactly enjoy life under pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. In fact, there's an open disdain for Kerrigan. How else do you explain one pitcher greeting broadcaster Larry Andersen with "Hey, coach!" in the clubhouse, in front of plenty of uniformed personnel, on Monday?
Dennis Deitch takes a break from the clubhouse chaos and talks about a couple of the latest trade rumors, one which involves Houston's Carlos "he'll love the cheesteaks here" Beltran and the Yankee's Kenny Lofton. Dennis also mentions the potential for problems with the Phils' upcoming weekend series against the Cubs at crumbling Wrigley Field. George King of the New York Post also talks about the Phils' interest in Lofton.

The Eagles opened training camp yesterday at Lehigh University with all of their expected players. Phil Sheridan takes a look an "alternate" or parallel universe in which the Eagles selected Ricky Williams instead of Donovan McNabb. Bob Brookover writes about McNabb's increasing leadership ability and has him saying:
Although we've lost some key guys and key veterans, we also have some veterans here who have been in this situation. They know what it takes to prepare to get to the [NFC championship] and possibly further. So it's up to us to pick up our game another notch and lead the younger guys in the direction which we're all trying to get to.
Apart from his headline writer's inability to properly use a spellchecker, Les Bowen has a good articlea about how McNabb got together with some of his receivers in the offseason. "The chemistry is flowing now," McNabb said, after cracking a joke about bonding over "drinks with umbrellas." McNabb also had some words for those who feel the Eagles' season doesn't begun until the NFC Championship game:
Don't talk to us until Jan. 24th, then. Cut off your DirecTV packages and don't watch us on Sunday night or Monday night, wait and read about us in the newspaper the next day. If that's the way they feel about us, that's nothing we're going to get upset about. We're going to go out and give all we have on the field. It's great to know people feel we'll be back in the NFC Championship Game.
Bob Brookover has a look at the concerns regarding Shawn Andrews' nasal passages, which were recently operated on. Les Bowen also had Andrews a bit overwhelmed by the large media presence surrounding Eagles' training camp (hey Shawn, welcome to Philly!) Bob Grotz says Andrews is very thankful to be able to buy his mom a house with his newly signed contract money. He says "she's living a lot better than I am right now and that's the goal I set for myself." Jack McCaffery wonders, "has there been too much change for a franchise that regularly enters the NFC Final Four with a good chance to reach the Super Bowl?" After McNabb talked about taking the next step, Mark Eckel writes, point blank: "That next step is obvious. Anything less than the Super Bowl and the Eagles season will not be a success."

Meanwhile, John Smallwood has the Team USA basketball players saying that with "a lot of hard work and sacrifice," they can be a better team than the one that qualified for the Olympics last summer. It seems as if Smallwood is the only columnist from either the Daily News or Inquirer to be in Jacksonville this week. I've read from plenty of other writers this week, from Orlando to Boston (sorry, they didn't get linked to yesterday because it was a busy day), that wrote about Allen Iverson's feelings on being the team's co-captain. As I mentioned earlier this week, I find it curious that none of the Sixers beat writers (in particular, one who is still making his regular appearances on Daily News Live with Michael Barkann on Comcast SportsNet) were assigned to cover this. This would be the same writer who continued to belabor the point late last season that "it has been X number of days since Iverson met with the media," but who has been curiously silent on this issue since Iverson's surprise appearance at a Sixers' rookie workout in recent weeks.

At last check, the Phillies were on route to getting swept and "embarrassed" (I'm sure that's Larry Bowa's take) by the Marlins this afternoon 10-1. Has a manager ever been fired during a game before?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

We'll Be Back Tomorrow

Sorry I didn't post a message earlier, but I wasn't able to compose a post today. I'm in the middle of switching laptops that I use for maintaining the site, and hopefully everything will be back to normal tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.

In the meantime, Eagles training camp officially started today. Fly, Eagles, Fly...

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Not The Start They Were Hoping For

The Phillies dropped the first game of their 13-game road trip yesterday, 11-3, to the Marlins. Todd Zolecki, Marcus Hayes and Dennis Deitch have the game stories. Kevin Millwood says these trips to Florida have been good, except "from 7:05 to 10:05 it has pretty much sucked for us here." Jim Salisbury writes about Ed Wade heading to his Clearwater bunker so he isn't bothered by annoying reporters this last week before the trade deadline. He concludes:
Florida is an important state for the Phillies this week. Over in Clearwater, they're trying to pick up some talent. In Miami, they're trying to pick up some wins. Neither will be easy. But if the Phillies are going to stay in the race for the long haul, they will need success on both fronts.
Zolecki's notebook reports that Ryan Madson is likely headed to the disabled list today. Rich Hofmann has something to say about this:
The assumption all along was that, if nothing else, Wade would come up with the reliever to bolster a bullpen teetering on the edge of overwork. Well, teeter became totter sometime after 9:30 last night, when the Phillies announced that righthander Ryan Madson has an injured right hand and is "99 percent" certain to be going on the disabled list after an examination in Philadelphia today.
He goes on to add:
The question has been there for weeks, unasked and unanswered: If you have guys in your bullpen you can't use except to mop up, why are they there? Now, take away Wagner and Madson and it becomes official: The Phillies cannot survive this road trip without some immediate bullpen help. The stretch here is too hard, and too crucial - 13 road games in 14 days in four cities. And the Braves have now moved 1 ½ games ahead. The trade deadline is no longer Saturday, not if the Phillies are serious about this thing.
Bill Conlin weaves in Trading Places references and imagines what would have happened if he had ended up as the Phils' GM and Ed Wade was the Daily News columnist. He also provides a few more details about the "incident" that Ed Wade had with a reporter over the weekend:
Wade sputtered an angry denial and was still steaming when a veteran sports writer, who has filled in for his paper's baseball beat men for years, asked for a trade-deadline update. You have to understand this is a question Wade non-answers every day with name, rank, serial number and little more. But the way the GM game is played, it's a question a beat writer must ask to perform - using one of Ed's favorite phrases - due diligence. Wade started the exchange by suggesting if the man came out to the Money Pit more often, he wouldn't have to ask the same question he has been non-answering for weeks. The writer suggested Ed should call his editors and request he be assigned more often.
Marcus Hayes also writes that, without issuing any ultimatums, Billy Wagner is keeping a close eye on what moves (if any) the Phils make this week, as he has an option to become a free agent after this season.
What they do as the trading deadline gets closer will weigh as part of my decisionl. That, and where we finish, and what they do right after the season - what free agents they want, who they bring back, all of that. It's not, like, if they don't bring in Randy Johnson I'm leaving. I just want to see what they do.
Dennis Deitch also finds it curious that Placido Palanco sat out last night's game. Polanco was apparently not happy with the move. He concludes, "Oftentimes a sign of an imminent trade is when an everyday player sits out a game or two so an injury doesn't throw a wrench into the deal. The Yankees and A's are in the market for help at second base. Stay tuned."

Bob Brookover has a look at the players headed to Eagles' training camp this week. One of the players who may (or may not) be at camp is rookie Shawn Andrews, whose agent is still trying to work things out with the Eagles' front office. As there was when Jeremiah Trotter was signed to a contract a few weeks ago, there seems to be some confusion among the writers as to just where things stand with Andrews' situation. Bob Brookover has Andrews' agent saying "it's not looking like he's going to be in camp on time." Les Bowen has the agent saying, "I'm working on a counterproposal right now, but I don't think the deal will be done." Bob Grotz has the agent saying, "we're trying to get him into camp and we're working on doing it now, and we'll keep working on it." Doesn't sound very promising does it? Yet, Mark Eckel reports the following:
Eagles first-round draft pick Shawn Andrews should be with the team when rookies report for training camp at Lehigh University tonight. At the latest, he should be there when the rookies practice for the first time tomorrow morning. According to sources close to the situation, Andrews' deal was "90 percent" done as of yesterday afternoon and just needed some final touches.
So which is it? Meanwhile, Jack McCaffery offers his look at the upcoming season:
There will be Eagles in Bethlehem Wednesday, and they will be executing purposeful football tasks for the first time since their annual loss in the NFC final, not including minicamps and volunteer gatherings. And that means it is the best time of all for a primal scream that has not had as much reason to reverberate in 23 years: How 'bout those Eagles?
The Daily News' John Smallwood looks like he's the only writer (from a Philly daily paper anyway) who made the trip to Jacksonville to report on Team USA. The Inquirer had to resort to an AP feed for an article about Allen Iverson's thoughts on being reunited with his old coach Larry Brown. Marc Stein has a more indepth interview with Iverson, and gets his thoughts on being named co-captain of Team USA, to his feelings on Larry Brown's winning his first NBA title, and whether he had ever considered being one of the many players who withdrew from the Olympic squad. I would have hoped to read these answers from a certain Sixers beat writer in a certain paper called the Daily News instead of having to surf to ESPN.com to find them. Finally, Don Steinberg has a look at the "airfare economics" that many sports teams in other cities are using when it comes to gouging their fans more than they already are. He also has some good quotes from the local teams as to why they don't engage in such questionable practices.

CSN has Phillies-Marlins at 7:05.

Monday, July 26, 2004

From No Hitter to No Decision, to Game Winning Walk-Off RBI

A strange day at Citizens Bank Park, as Eric Milton took a no-hitter into the 9th inning, gave up a cheap hit into "no man's land" in center field, proceeded to strike out two, give up a walk, and then gave up a game-tying hit. In either event, the Phillies managed to come out on top, 3-2, and the win went to Ryan Madson, who faced and struck out exactly one batter, Sammy Sosa. Sam Carchidi, Marcus Hayes and Jack McCaffery have the game stories. Carchidi's notebook has Jim Thome saying that if the Phillies go over .500 on their upcoming road trip, it'll have been a good one. Hayes has Bobby Abreu saying this about the trip: "This road trip is the one that's going to put us in the playoffs or keep us out, depending on how we handle it. Every team we'll play is fighting for their division or a wild card. Every game we've played since the All-Star break is a playoff game." Hayes also tells about an irritable Ed Wade, who was not happy about reports in this weekend's papers about whether pitching coach Joe Kerrigan could be on "thin ice", such as this one from Dennis Deitch (who Jon Marks, in an article on the subject, says is not "a regular beat writer"). Hayes also gets reaction from Phils' broadcaster Larry Andersen, who was mentioned in those articles as a possible successor to Kerrigan, and how the whole situation now becomes "incredibly uncomfortable" for him. How does he criticize the pitching staff on-air now without looking like he's throwing Kerrigan under the bus? McCaffery says maybe Kevin Millwood can be an ace yet, and talks about the rumors surrounding him:
For instance, no responsible New England-area baseball column skipped mention of the possibility that the Red Sox might acquire Millwood before the July 31 trade deadline, perhaps because Red Sox scouts were spotted last week in Citizens Bank Park. So, how humorous is the irony? As the Phillies are said to be browsing for starting pitching help, other teams seem to think Millwood is the answer.
John Smallwood has a look at Team USA, and has coach Larry Brown wondering whether they are the favorites to win the gold. Bill Conlin writes that there's only one day left until it's "All Eagles All The Time," predicting that the Phillies will soon be an afterthought. Les Bowen talks about the Eagles trying to nail down a contract with their first round draft pick Shawn Andrews. Over the weekend, Don Steinberg talked about how the Sixers front office staff brainstormed last Monday about marketing ideas for the upcoming season. Interesting ideas, and curious timing of the meeting, in light of my remarks last week on how the marketing materials enticing potential season ticket holders was postmarked on the day Snow was traded.

Sam Carchidi told us that, among players with 3,000 plate appearances, Jim Thome ranks 4th in at-bat/homer ratio (behind Mark McGwire, Babe Ruth, and Barry Bonds). Marcus Hayes said Larry Bowa was a bit surprised that David Ortiz, of the Red Sox, was suspended for only 5 games for throwing bats in the vicinity of the umpires, and if he had done that, when asked how long of a suspension he would get if he did the same thing, responded, "maybe life." ESPN.com has Antoine Walker looking to possibly reunite with his old coach in Philadelphia. Jack McCaffery says Austin Croshere could also be coming to the Sixers. Bob Brookover hopes that the changes made by the Eagles after "NFC Championship Loss III" don't lead to "NFC Championship Loss IV." Speaking of their offseason acquisitions, Bob Grotz (whose headline writer, coincidentally enough, borrowed a phrase I used here last Thursday) had this to say:
Largely because of Owens, the franchise is incredibly hot. It’s fifth in the NFL in merchandising revenue and boasts the most popular player in the league, for Owens’ No. 81 is the most sought-after jersey on the market. On an autograph engagement in Lancaster, fans began lining up for T.O.’s signature the Thursday before a Saturday afternoon appearance. (italics added)
Mark Eckel wrote: "This is the year. This has to be the year.... There will be no more excuses."

On Sunday night's Sports Final, John Clark chided the fans at yesterday's game for booing Doug Glanville. Howard Eskin berated Ed Wade for not being more proactive in making a trade as the dealine approaches this Saturday. Eskin also continued to make a big deal of "369-gate," and wanted to know why the Phillies "made a big deal of it," in his words. This is a complete joke, since he is the one who has made such a big issue of this over the past couple of weeks. Eskin continues to try and make it "all about him" with "reporting" like this. With Eagles getting ready for training camp in a couple of days, this is the type of story he chooses to cover for his "Eskin Inside" report. Pathetic. Reportedly, the Phillies were upset at Eskin getting into the ballpark and taking his own measurements. Question: wouldn't it be trespassing for Eskin to be on the field if the Phils weren't playing at home and the ballpark was closed? Nice example for someone who is constantly barking at others to "do the right thing."

Yesterday, Jim Salisbury and Todd Zolecki had an article hopefully putting and end to the whole "369-gate" madness. In that article, you can see how much the Phillies front office is clearly perturbed about the whole thing (as mentioned earlier regarding Howard Eskin). PR Man Larry Shank said, after the official tape measuring was completed Saturday morning, "Whew.... You guys going to the Linc now?" President David Montgomery offered a mea culpa about the whole fiasco. As for those who aren't buying the whole "we did it for asthetics" argument (Eskin, last night, said this was baloney), Montgomery offered this reasonable explanation:
When we went to place the 369 sign, the workers said, 'It's supposed to be here.' I wanted more space between the sign and the ad. They estimated it would only be a three- or four-foot difference. I said, 'Fine, let's do it.' We weren't attempting to deceive anyone. We made a mistake.
Salisbury and Zolecki also says that the Phillies are reportedly close to a deal to land Arizona Diamondbacks centerfielder Steve Finley.

CSN has Phillies-Marlins at 7:05.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Up and Down

The Phils mounted a failed comeback yesterday afternoon and fell, 10-8, to the visiting Marlins, dropping again into a first-place tie with the Braves. Todd Zolecki and Marcus Hayes have the game stories. Harvey Yavener says the clutch hitting seems to be "hit-and-mostly-miss." Dennis Deitch describes the season as a "maddening jog up the down escalator." Zolecki's notebook broke my rule from yesterday about not using the words "Pythagorean theorem," so we won't talk about it any further. Mark Lelinwalla looks at Jack McKeon's decision to put in closer Armando Benitez in the middle of Jason Michael's 3-1 count yesterday, with the bases loaded. Hayes' notes says that "since trade talk including Kevin Millwood began (talk the Phillies, to Millwood's digust, did nothing to dispel), Millwood is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA." Bill Conlin has some stinging words for Pat Burrell:
He's the only athlete in the town's checkered professional sports history to be consistently cheered during a season where he hit .209 while stranding more people than the last transit strike. This guy was Teflon with a coating of olive oil, dancing away from blame like a drop of cold water on a hot skillet. Well, big guy, the red laser dot is in the middle of your forehead now.
Jim Salisbury has a look at the upcoming series against the Chicago Cubs and reports the bizarre news that Chicago mayor Richard Daley is threatening to shut down Wrigley Field because of falling concrete from the upper deck. Kevin Mulligan says the city of Chicago is thinking of stealing the idea of the former "Eagles Court" for those hooligans outside of Wrigley Field. Speaking of Chicago, Don Steinberg talks about Comcast SportsNet extending its reaches into the nation's third largest market. He notes:
Unlike in Philadelphia, Comcast won't withhold Chicago games from local satellite TV. "In Chicago, we need to distribute by satellite in order to reach all the homes in the territory," said Jack Williams, chief executive officer of Comcast SportsNet. "It's really a distribution issue... Philadelphia is a small market geographically [where] we don't need to distribute by satellite." Comcast also will sell Chicago games to competing cable operators, because it doesn't dominate TV land lines there as thoroughly as it does here.
In other words, we don't allow satellite to carry CSN because we can get away with it in Philadelphia, and we weren't able to impose our monopolistic will in Chicago. Hopefully the legislators in this city and state remember that in the fall when the whole "give us a new tax-free skyscraper headquarters" issue comes up again. Steinberg also mentions an NFL documentary, Football in Philadelphia, which airs on the NFL Network next Tueday. Again, Comcast customers are screwed. You'll have to wait until the DVD comes out in September.

Marc Narducci looks at "one trade rumor that won't die" that has Antoine Walker coming to the Sixers for Glenn Robinson. Narducci also says another Eastern Conference team is talking to the Mavs about trading for Walker. Jon Marks indicates newly acquired Kedrick Brown would have to be thrown into that deal in order to make the salaries match. Dave Zeitlin has some remarks from Jim O'Brien that seem to insinuate that Eric Snow might not have remained a starter had he not been traded to the Cavs this week. "If Willie Green beat out Eric Snow, that would have been uncomfortable for Eric." Responding to reports about an increasingly "bulkier" Kedrick Brown, Phil Jasner quotes Jim O'Brien, "I think, if you took Kedrick's body fat, you'd be shocked at how trim he is. He's a big guy. The first time I ever stood in front of Kedrick, I was shocked at the size of his shoulders. I've never known him to be out of shape." I will say one thing, after seeing him at yesterday's press conference, Jim O'Brien is right, he is "big."

Paul Domowitch has lots of questions about the upcoming NFL season. He says Carolina and Seattle are the biggest roadblocks to the Eagles' road to Jacksonville, the Patriots are still the favorites in the AFC, and that he doesn't think anybody in the NFC East poses a threat to Andy Reid's club as they look to hold onto their division crown. Finally, Frank Fitzpatrick doesn't like the NHL's move to callously layoff 70% league staff when the owner imposed lockout likely happens in September. He says with $300 million in cash reserves, the NHL should be showing a little more loyalty to its staff.

UPN57 has Cubs-Phillies at 7:05.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Ledee Saves the Day

In a tight pitchers duel, and the lowest scoring game in Citizens Bank Park's short history, the Phils finally conquered their division nemesis with a 2-1 victory. Ricky Ledee provided the game winning homer in the 7th, after robbing the Marlins of a sure home run earlier in the game. Todd Zolecki, Dana Pennett O'Neil and Dennis Deitch have the game stories. O'Neil talks with the struggling Pat Burrell, who was benched for last night's game. Burrell said, "I haven't swung the bat real good and this is part of the deal. Sometimes it helps to take a break, slow the game down a little bit and get away from it." Jack McCaffery writes:
The Phillies had to know that once it was activated--and it has--the day-to-day Burrell meter would not soon cease its haunting clicking.... The issue will be like the summertime humidity--it's going to linger for a while, and it will neither be comfortable nor aromatic.
Mike Olshin openly wonders, "what if the move that gets the Phillies over the top in the National League East this year is the one general manager Ed Wade didn't make" by sticking with a resurgent Kevin Millwood? Sam Donnellon has Ed Wade talking about some of the "market changes" as the trading deadline approaches. He quotes Ed Wade, "All of a sudden some of these teams that were close to the wild card, things happen and they slip out. And they're sort of stuck." Olshin has Wade stating the rather obvious, "I think we need to approach July 31 with the serious thought that it is an important date." Well duh.

As the fallout from "369-gate" continues, the Phillies admitted, to Howard Eskin's cackling delight, that the posted 369 sign in left-center was incorrect. Zolecki's notes column has Phillies VP of PR saying, "we went out and measured it." CBP leads the majors with 144 home runs over its walls. One pitcher says the Phillies are "going to have a tough time getting pitchers to come here in a few years." Deitch continues on this theme, and says it's going to cost the Phillies more bucks to lure free agent pitchers, as s result of the "bandbox" of their ballpark. In response to the Phillies reasoning for the original placement of the 369 marker for "asthetic reasons," Deitch chastises:
Those who have attended games regularly and don’t spend those three or more hours in a vegetative state know that excuse is outlandish, since the 369-goot sign was closer to the Bud Light ad. The panels to which Wade alluded are five-feet wide; the sign has moved at least 50 feet to the right of where it was.
He also goes on to "prove" the original posted markers were wrong by invoking the Pythagorean theorem. I'm sorry, maybe it's just me, but those two words should never appear in a sports column.

Kevin Mulligan sits down with Phillies Director of Broadcasting Rory McNeil and discusses issues related to current and future broadcasts. Kevin also has nice things to say about a classy Eric Snow as he departs town. I received a marketing promotion from the Sixers this week. I don't know if it was to former season ticket holders, or to just customers who've purchased tickets to single games, but curiously, none of the materials featured Snow. Prominently featured were Allen Iverson, Willie Green, Samuel Dalembert, and Kenny Thomas. The mailing was postmarked the day Snow was traded. Just thought I'd throw that out there. Earlier in the summer, a caller to Glen Macnow on WIP had mentioned that in the marketing materials sent to current season ticket holders with their invoices, Iverson did not seem to appear anywhere, leading to speculation that he might be moved, despite Billy King's insistence that was not going to happen. This was either inaccurate, or just a coincidence, it would now appear.

John Smallwood doesn't want the Eagles' season to be a "one-game season," but he admits that it's Super Bowl or Bust this year, and that "their season will officially begin" on January 23, 2005, the date of this year's NFC Championship game (exactly 6 months from tomorrow, so let the worrying begin!). With training camp less than a week away, Les Bowen has 15 questions about the upcoming season. He also mentions that the Eagles aren't interested in bringing in Eddie George. If I'm Andy Reid, I have to at least be giving this some serious thought, especially with the question marks that seem to always surround Brian Westbrook's health. If the Eagles were to add George, would this year's Eagles represent something like the LA Lakers "All-Star" cast from last year, minus the petulant, selfish player who stands accused of rape? Just wondering.

CSN has Marlins-Phillies at 1:05.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Wagner (Barely) Saves the Day

Well, closer Billy Wagner made things a bit tight, loading the bases before closing the deal and preserving the Phillies 4-3 victory over the Braves last night, in extra innings, moving them back into a first-place tie with Atlanta. Todd Zolecki and Marcus Hayes have the game stories. Dennis Deitch writes, "say what you want about the Phils. But somehow they continue to bob along in the swirling seas of the National League East." Deitch's notes column also shows how much importance the Braves placed on this 2-game series, recognizing a chance to put a little distance between themselves and the Phillies, by going to their closer John Smoltz for "double duty."' Jim Salisbury looks at Jack McKeon's victory cigar-lighting ways. Let's hope he won't be lighting up too much over the next 6 of 9 games. Zolecki's notebook has some follow-up, it seems, to Howard Eskin's "laser measurements" of CBP, and has the Phillies' apparent response. Eskin reported that the biggest discrepancy was in left-center field, near the 369 foot marker.
But that measurement hasn't been accurate since the season started. It's actually several feet shorter in that particular spot of the park. It should read "369" three panels closer to center field, and the Phillies plan to move that panel there. They apparently put the "369" panel in its original spot for aesthetic reasons. They wanted to avoid putting it too close to advertisements.
It was Eskin's contention for the past few weeks that all of the measurements were short, and he was emphatic that the left field line was off, which he now knows he was wrong about. Hayes' notes column talks about the success rookie middle reliever Ryan Madson has been having. His 0.93 ERA is best in the majors. Sam Donnellon whines that the state of Florida has been besting Philadelphia for the past couple of years. This column was entertaining a couple of months ago, when fellow Daily News columnist John Smallwood wrote it.

Mark Lelinwalla talks about the changing of the guard, with the Sixers trading Eric Snow for Kevin Ollie and Kedrick Brown yesterday. As a courtesy to Snow, Billy King kept him involved in the discussions. Phil Jasner says this is a homecoming of sorts for Snow, and also hints that there may be more deals coming, including "recent" conversations he'd had with Dallas (which could have Antoine Walker reuniting with Jim O'Brien). Caryl Kauffman says O'Brien is satisfied with what he's seen of Willie Green, and this deal shows he will "play a more prominent role than he had in the past." Stephen A. Smith weighs in on the deal, and writes, "to some, it is a sad day. To others, it's time to throw a party." I know "The Professor"', a season ticket holder who sat behind me when I had seats up until 2 years ago, is one of the ones throwing a party. He hated the way Snow would slow down a game (of course, at Larry Brown's pace). Jon Marks has O'Brien commenting on Brown's inclusion in the deal: "Kedrick's extremely athletic and is a big time leaper. He hasn't really found his niche, but when he's in the game he makes things happen." Well, he didn't get any playing time with O'Brien in Boston, and I don't see that changing here. He seemed to be included in the deal to help make the salaries match, with the added bonus that he's a free agent next summer. Unless he makes a serious turnaround this season (he's allegedly put on quite a few extra pounds this summer), look for him to be gone next year.

Bob Grotz writes about how the WIP phone lines have been lighting up with Eddie George talk. According to the Eagles, nothing will be happening here.

CSN has Marlins-Phillies at 7:05.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Sixers Trade Snow

In an otherwise slow day in sports news, the Sixers have traded Eric Snow. This is likely an indication that Jim O'Brien will have Allen Iverson playing more at the point. This is Kevin Ollie's third stint with the team. Curiously, Kedrick Brown is part of the deal. I say curiously because O'Brien was known to have used Brown very sparingly when he was with the Celtics.

Thanks to our parent site operator for pointing this trade out to me on an otherwise busy work day (for the both of us).
Chasing the Braves, Again

Talk of the Braves ending their 12-year reign as division champs was apparently premature. With their 4-2 victory over the Phils last night, Atlanta claimed sole possession of the top spot in the NL East. Todd Zolecki, Marcus Hayes, and Dennis Deitch have the game stories. Zolecki's notebook says the Braves have come a long way in the past 4 weeks, as they were 6 1/2 games back on June 23, and this morning, they're up a game on their rivals in the division standings. The Phillies will have to earn a split of the series tonight if they hope to undo last night's damage. Hayes' notebook has Eric Milton looking to remain a Phillie after this year. Stephen A. Smith has nothing good to say about "Mr. Winless, Paul Abbott (0-4)." He says the "city's patience is rail this at this point, tired of the excuses." Tells us how you really feel Stephen.

In his column yesterday, the Boston Herald's Jeff Horrigan adds some fuel to the speculation that the clubs are planning on swapping struggling starters:
Bill Lajoie, who is a special assistant to Sox GM Theo Epstein, was spotted at the Mets-Phillies series at Shea Stadium over the weekend, fueling speculation that Boston and Philadelphia may be considering a swap of disappointing free agents-to-be: Derek Lowe and Kevin Millwood.
A fairly light day in the sports world otherwise. Don Steinberg reports on a new book called Winning the NFL Way: Lessons from Football's Top Head Coaches. Andy Reid's agent is quoted in there, and makes this interesting observation:
These men are able to do what Jack Welch [the former General Electric CEO who inspired countless management books] couldn't do, and that's to get people who make five or 10 times the money they do, every day, to run, jump, skip, hop - and like doing it. If Jack Welch walked into a meeting room where we all made 10 times more than he did and told us 'Go out and get this done, the way I want,' many of us would get up and leave the meeting.
You can help contribute towards the maintenance of this site and its parent site by purchasing this book on amazon.com using the link below.



Finally, at our parent site, David Scott continues to have nothing nice to say about Philly.
Many people still think C Nothing at 8, 9, etc. . . is nothing more than bad community-TV for Philly. Which, with Lou Cannon always hovering, may very well be true. . . NOTE: Philly joke not intended to anger the legions of Scott’s Shots Philly phans who visit our sister site in our brotherly city. On second thought, those visitors can’t read anyway, so what’s the difference?
Not only can we read, but we can also tell you that your columns are examples of the kind of writing our English teachers told us to avoid.

CSN has Phillies-Braves at 7:35.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Battle with the Braves

Yesterday, the Phillies settled for a series split with the Mets, dropping a 6-1 loss, and ruining a good-but-not-good-enough outing for Brett Myers. Todd Zolecki, Marcus Hayes and Paul Flannery have the game stories. Looking at the upcoming 2-game set against the Braves, Jimmy Rollins confidently said that the worst-case scenario, a Braves sweep "won't happen." Despite Myers' improved performance, Jim Salisbury says "pardon us if we don't share in the giddiness," since a loss is still a loss. Hayes has Jim Thome saying that "starting pitching is what gets it done in the second half." Flannery has Larry Bowa reiterating those sentiments: "Whoever gets the best starting pitching, or makes the most significant move and comes up with a starting pitcher" will have the advantage when it comes to making the playoffs. Bowa is talking, but is Ed Wade listening? Speaking of the GM, Al Morganti says that "if he truly believes that the team that could not put a choke hold on the Mets is good enough to win the division and beyond, there really is no reason to think it will be the Phils in the postseason instead of the Braves or Marlins."

Sam Donnellon offers a mea culpa for being a no-show at the post-game press conference the day he wrote the "Bowa must go" article. He says, in retrospect, he should have been there, but he already had made vacation plans that he wasn't going to cancel. He adds, "that's the fun part of this job, the give-and-take, even if it occasionally requires an insult-filled conversation with Howard Eskin. (Is there any other kind?)" Speaking of Eskin, last week on WIP he continued to whine about the "innaccuracy" of the measurements at CBP. Last night, on Sports Final, he demonstrated that it's "all about him" when he made a big deal about how he had used a laser measurement and checked the posted distances on the outfield walls. Two of the four posted numbers were spot on, center field was actually 2 feet farther than the posted distance, and left-center was allegedly 7 feet shorter than the posted distance. Of course, Eskin did not detail the specific procedures he used, nor did he mention whether he bothered to have someone else verify his measurements. Apparently, if you're Howard Eskin, you can't make mistakes.

Yesterday, Sam Carchidi talks about Bobby Abreu joining the "20-20 club" for the 6th straight year (20 homers, 20 steals), adding him to the unique company of Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, and Willie Mays. His improvement has not gone unnoticed by other teams' fans, as he received a smattering of boos when introduced at Shea Stadium over the weekend. As Dennis Deitch notes, "when your performances cause enough heartache in opposing fans that they take time to boo you, you know that you've made it." Jim Salisbury looks at potential moves with the upcoming trading deadline, with Randy Johnson being this year's deadline sweepstakes prize. In Saturday's notes, Carchidi had more on the possible Derek Lowe-Kevin Millwood swap with the Red Sox. Sarah Rothschild had Larry Bowa saying "this race is going to be all the way down the wire."

Over the weekend, Jack McCaffery says Andy Reid listens to the fans, but only takes their advice reluctantly. Or something like that.
In all sincerity, give Reid this: He will admit when he is wrong and then give in, kind of like the Phillies did when they finally started spending money. And if that willingness to bend is what allows the Eagles’ Prime Minister to grand-marshal a world championship parade, well, he will deserve every aggressive salute.
CSN has Phillies-Braves at 7:35.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Not Exactly the Start You Were Hoping For

The Phils started the second half of the season last night in disappointing fashion, dropping an extra innings affair at Shea Stadium, 3-2. Sam Carchidi and Marcus Hayes have the game stories. The game winning play was a bases loaded infield "single" (scored very generously in my opinion). As I watched the game, I thought the "hit" was quite playable, and should have been caught by catcher Mike Lieberthal at the plate for the force out. The Phils are now 3-7 in extra innings games. Carchidi's notes column has Larry Bowa guessing that it will take 90 wins for the Phillies to take the NL East, which means they will have to do much better than they have so far. Hayes says pitching coach Joe Kerrigan will cease his laissez-faire attitude and will revert to his more hands-on approach. He also has Bobby Abreu calling the All-Star game "the greatest experience of my career." Rich Hofmann has a look at the upcoming difficult stretch for the Phillies and says, "while they can't win the National League East in the next 3 ½ weeks, and they can't lose it, there is the chance to move from favorite to long shot." Frank Fitzpatrick wonders how, with a taxpayer-funded new playground, the Phillies have the audacity to charge admission for ballpark tours ($8 adults, $5 children). This does seem a bit ridiculous, and is something the city should have included in part of its negotiating package with the team. But as usual, the politicians in this city can't get anything right. In the Business section of today's Inquirer, Andrew Cassel looks at capitalism at work with the vendors outside the ballpark.
Contrast this with what happens inside the stadium. It's clear from the moment you pass the ticket gate that different rules apply. Prices aren't based on competition, but on somebody's calculation of what the traffic will bear. That is to say, each pretzel, Pepsi, or plate of nachos costs just marginally less than whatever would make the average consumer walk away.
A very contrite Jeremiah Trotter was introduced as an Eagle again yesterday. He apologized to Eagles fans, and seemed to demonstrate sincere humility throughout his press conference. Even in today's papers, there continues to be confusion over how much the veteran minimum for a player with his years of experience, but it looks like the majority seem to indicate it's in the $535,000 range (thought Comcast Sportsnet still reports it as high as $775,000 on its main page). Several writers have quotes from the press conference. Mark Lelinwalla:
Sometimes in life you make bad decisions, and I should have never left Philadelphia in the first place. I was praying a lot, hoping God would lead me back here, and he did, so I'm happy things worked out the way they have.
Paul Domowitch:
But God is so good. He allows you to make mistakes and still fixes them for you.
And finally, this interesting revelation quoted by Mark Eckel:
I had this dream that I called coach Reid we talked and I apologized to him. When I woke up, I was breathing heavy. That might have been God's way of telling me something. I called my agent (Jimmy Sexton) and told him I needed to talk to coach Reid. He said he would get me his cell phone number. I couldn't believe I got through on the first try. Coach told me when he's on the boat the calls usually don't go through. If he had leaned one way or the other, I wouldn't have gotten him.
Sam Donnellon is sick and tired of teams just looking good on paper. Bob Grotz has the humbled Trotter fine with not having his old #54, now worn by Nate Wayne. "I don't want to step on anyone's toes or ruffle anyone's feathers," Trotter said. "I'll play without a number. I'll be the blank-man."

Phil Jasner clarifies the details of Brian Skinner's 4-year, $20.7 million contract. Stephen A. Smith looks at the mess that the NBA has been this summer. He mentions that with Kenyon Martin getting traded to the Denver Nuggets, "now Jason Kidd wants to be traded." I have not heard this elsewhere.

UPN57 has Phillies-Mets at 7:10.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Welcome Back, Trotter

That seems to be the theme in today's sports sections, begun yesterday by NBC's John Clark, who "remixed" the old TV show theme song from the 70s. As mentioned here late yesterday afternoon, the Eagles have signed a 1-year deal with former Eagle Jeremiah Trotter, who was cut by the Washington Redskins earlier in the summer. There seems to be some confusion as to what the deal is worth. All seem to agree that it is for the veteran minimum (which has positive salary cap ramifications for the club), but Bob Brookover says it's for around $660,000, Paul Domowitch says it's for $750,000, and Bob Grotz says the veteran minimum is $535,000. So which is it? And shouldn't it be fairly straighforward for NFL beat writers to find out what it is? Mark Eckel believes that "if Trotter is anywhere near the player he was when he left the team as a free agent after the 2001 season, he will be the starter by midseason or sooner." Rich Hofmann has this to say: "It is almost biblical, this story of Jeremiah Trotter, of the prodigal linebacker - except that this is a parable without either a lesson or an ending. Until January, anyway." True enough.

Todd Zolecki begins previewing the second half of the season for the Phillies, which will see them open with 19 of 24 games away from home. Zolecki notes that Jim Thome could be the first player in Phillies history to hit 50 homers in a season. Paul Hagen wonders if the trend of second half of the season collapses we've seen in recent years will continue. Marcus Hayes has the players believing that, for the injuries and pitching woes they've endured in the first half, they're not in bad shape. Dennis Deitch dreams up this wild trade scenario:
If there were no boundaries, the Phillies could have Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez (a hotly rumored deal that the Phillies can’t do has Boston offering those two to the Phillies in a three-way deal that would make Randy Johnson a Red Sox -- but the Phillies would have to unload Jimmy Rollins, Millwood and Cole Hamels).
Jack McCaffery wonders why the Phillies aren't participating in the Randy Johnson sweepstakes. He believes there's reasons the Phillies have to make this kind of move:
A five-star hotel lobby as a clubhouse in a breathtaking new ballpark, that’s why. Money -- the money the Phillies gather nightly from their ever-popular souvenir and concession stands -- that’s why. A rabid fan base that has created 26 sellouts, that’s why.
A hitter's ballpark, I might add. And while the Phillies can be rightly proud of 26 sellouts, one only has to venture a little northward to run into the rabid fan bases of the Yankees and Red Sox, which is why this pipe dream won't happen, Jack. Finally, Mike Olshin looks as the possibility of landing Boston's Derek Lowe:
Lowe might be the most intriguing of all the available pitchers. His ratio of groundouts to flyouts is 3.5-1, and even while struggling he has only given up nine homers in 93 2/3 innings - both ideal numbers for CBP. The Phillies play much better defense than the Red Sox and Lowe could benefit from the Phils' slow home infield. A trade involving Millwood or Polanco could benefit both teams.
Like I mentioned earlier, I think the starting rotation has enough troubles as it is, without venturing into these waters. Just ask Red Sox fans about the "Derek Lowe face," and that should be enough to tell you to run away from this deal, fast.

Billy King admits that letting Brian Skinner sign with the Milwaukee Bucks last summer was a "calculated mistake," according to Marc Narducci. During yesterday's press conference, Skinner also talked about how "frustrating" it was dealing with playing time during his previous stint here, under Larry Brown. He made this telling statement: "The bottom line is that I didn't get the minutes I felt I deserved, and it was a coaching decision." I guess I'm not overly disappointed that Skinner is returning, when I consider that the alternative was overpaying Mark Blount (his deal is about twice Skinner's) like the Celtics did. Phil Jasner has the Sixers being improved by about 8 games next year. He also mentions that in a meeting with season ticketholders yesterday, Jim O'Brien "indicated that it would be difficult for a shooting-challenged player to get many minutes." That's interesting, as that doesn't bode well for nearly everyone on the current roster, and yet this is the team O'Brien claims to "be very happy to go with...into training camp." Jasner also tells of how O'Brien caught up with Kenny Thomas on the golf course. Michael Walsh says O'Brien is "very excited about Willie Green...he can shoot it."

Things aren't looking good for Jeremy Roenick. Ed Moran says he's sitting out the World Cup of Hockey because his "health isn't great" and that he just doesn't feel good. "I tried to work out the other week and I did not feel well." The NHL released their 2004-05 schedule yesterday, assuming there is a season. Adam Kimelman notes that March 26, 2005 will be a historic day, because "on that day, for the first time in NHL history, all 30 teams will be in action." I was somewhat surprised by that.

CSN has Phillies-Mets at 7:10.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

He's Back

Breaking News: In a fairly unexpected move, the Eagles have signed Jeremiah Trotter to what is believed to be a 1-year deal for $600,000. Comcast SportsNet and Philly.com have brief articles mentioning the deal. More details will surely follow in tomorrow's papers. If I am able to catch Daily News Live on CSN today, I will try and add anything else that I find out.
The Quiet Before the Storm

Todd Zolecki talks about the Phillies' combined 0-3 contribution to yesterday's All-Star Game, where the big story was Roger Clemens getting rocked in the first inning, paving the way for the AL to win (thus securing World Series home field advantage), 9-4. Paul Hagen has quotes from Commissioner Bud Selig's annual "State of the Major League" address, if you will, where one of the topics addressed was possible playoff expansion. Here's what he had to say:
A year ago, I would have said I believed we would. But we've done a lot of work with the schedules and mathematicians and it's become obvious it might not be what I thought it would. We're going to stick with what we've got for a while unless some compelling reason comes along to change it.
Regarding the "This One Counts" theme first discussed yesterday, there seems to be differing opinions about this, even among the players. One player who has an opinion about everything, former Phillie Curt Schilling, was quoted by Jim Salisbury:
I didn't like it from Day One. I don't see why it's so difficult to be like everyone else and let the best record dictate home field. Home-field advantage is big. I'm sure it would be big in a place like Boston. But I still don't like this. It's Fox's game and they have a significant voice. I just don't think people outside the game should dictate something with as much impact as this.
On the other side of the fence is Jim Thome, who had a different take, according to Paul Hagen:
I think it's been good for baseball. They've experimented with it and I think the fans have enjoyed it. I don't know why the National League has had so much trouble winning lately, but we've just got to find a way to turn that around.
Interesting that Schilling (who opposes the idea) and the Red Sox, would benefit from the arrangement this year, whereas Thome and the Phillies would not.

Despite the up-and-down nature of the first half of their season, the Phillies are still one of the favorites to win the World Series (albeit at 5-1 odds, behind the Yankees and Red Sox), according to Vegas Vic.

Phil Jasner has the Sixers set to sign Brian Skinner today, the first official day teams can sign free agents. So this is what the Sixers get me for my birthday? Why do I feel like the kid who got a package of tube socks for Christmas? Stephen A. Smith begins to wonder about the very real possibility that Kobe Bryant will not be playing in the NBA for any team next year. Regarding the current soap opera surrounding the beleaguered star, an unnamed league executive is quoted in the article as saying, "Kobe really comes off looking bad."

Al Morganti wonders when poker became a sport (on TV at that). Rich Hofmann seems to wish it was 1943 again.

Last night on WIP, host Glen Macnow referred to this column by the Boston Herald's Michael Felger from a couple Sundays ago. He quoted Felger's opinion on the Eagles' off-season acquisitions:
Desperate to get over the NFC Championship game hump, the Eagles landed a huge name on each side of the ball. Here's the only problem: Kearse may have a good heart, but he no longer has the wheels. And while Owens is a physical marvel, he is one of the worst locker room influences in football. Prediction: Kearse and Owens won't be the difference and the Eagles still won't make the Super Bowl. The signings will remind the Eagles why they didn't like to spend money in the first place.
Agree? Disagree? Send your thoughts to Philly Sports Media.com using the link above.

The locals are off tonight.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Stars Will Be Out

Jim Salisbury previews tonight's All-Star Game in Houston, including the much-hyped Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza pairing from the mound and behind the plate. He warns us that Fox will run drag out the footage of the "history" between these two over and over again. Thanks for the heads up Jim. In a dually authored notebook, he and Todd Zolecki say that the Randy Johnson "bidding" wars may have officially begun, and that the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, Angels and Dodgers could be in the running. The Phillies? "Their shaky status in the National League East probably wouldn't fit his criteria" to join an actual contender, not "a team that has a theoretical chance to win." Paul Hagen has Jim Thome attributing some of his success to the patient at-bats of first time All-Star Bobby Abreu. Even though he didn't make it out of the first round of the home run derby, Hagen says Thome had "a lot of fun." Hagen also has an article about the "This One Counts" theme (for the second straight year) for this year's All-Star extravaganza. He includes these quotes from Joe Torre regarding what's at stake with the outcome of the game:
You always want the homefield advantage. But there's a certain pressure that goes with having homefield advantage because you play the first two games at home. You probably need to win two games, because otherwise the other team can win on their home turf. I think homefield advantage is good when you get to that sixth and seventh game, but getting there is not easy... I know what Bud Selig is trying to do, but as far as determining the homefield advantage, I don't care for that.
As I mentioned in this space around the NBA Finals, it's interesting how less of an advantage home field seems to be in MLB as compared to, say, the NBA.

Sam Donnellon says the Phillies aren't the only team looking for a pitcher (or two) as the trading deadline approaches. "Eighteen days, 11 suitors, 18 other potential competitors - those are long odds. Pull it off and [Ed Wade] might be in the lead car during an October parade down Broad Street." Jack McCaffery looks on the bright side of things for the Phillies season so far.

Mark Lelinwalla has a look at the flip side of the coin tossed up by Stephen A. yesterday, and notes the decrease in white athletes in the NBA and NFL. Rich Hofmann tries to shield his eyes from the spotlight Kobe Bryan has been focusing on himself for the past year. Once you get past the Kobe stuff, he actually makes an interesting observation regarding the impending Shaq-to-Miami trade:
The result is that the balance between West and East is at least starting to approach equilibrium again. On the other hand, Shaq lives here now. No longer can general managers look at certain names on their rosters and say, "Well, he can play center in the East." Because he can't, not anymore. It used to be such a comfort, being able to get away with fake centers. Well, no more.
Maybe losing out on Mark Blount as a free agent center wasn't so bad after all. Not that the alternative is much better.

FOX29 has the MLB All-Star Game at 8.

Monday, July 12, 2004

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Well, on the bright side, at least Phillies fans won't have to endure any rain delays while sitting at Citizens Bank Park today, as we have come upon the All-Star Break. The Phils entered the break by dropping a disappointing 6-4 decision to the Braves yesterday, maintaining their first place standing "by a whole one game" (according to closer Billy Wagner). Sam Carchidi, Marcus Hayes, and Dennis Deitch have the game stories. Deitch has starter Randy Wolf at odds with his glove, which was thrown 20 rows into the stands when he was taken out of the game ("I didn't like that glove anymore and it didn't like me.") Larry "Mount" Bowa erupted for the second time this weekend, this time getting tossed after disputing the strike zone of the day. Bowa conceded that he "only had four [ejections] coming into the series. This crew helped me out." The ejection didn't necessarily please Wagner, who said, "When I saw Bo, I said, 'I have no chance of getting a call now.'" Carchidi's notebook has Ed Wade acknowledging "[I'll] be bringing my cell phone [to Houston for the All-Star break], but I think it'll be a fairly quiet three days."

Bill Conlin evaluates the Phillies mid-season, and throws in a bunch of Tour de France references, concluding, "can any amount of trading and body-shuffling do enough to redeem what might be a basic slightly over-.500 team?" Hayes has Kevin Milwood practicing his pitching against a plastic dummy, and somewhat blaming CBP's "wind chutes" for his poor outings at home this year. Jack McCaffery has a look at the statistics for the starting rotation, and well, they're not pretty. He sums it up, "lousy pitching means the pitchers are lousy."

Stephen A. Smith believes more volunteers are needed if kids in the city are to succeed at baseball.
At a time when sports have proven to be both a microcosm of society and a model of meritocracy, they have joined economics and education on a list of things that have left a portion of our society behind.
Jim Salisbury has an article on pitching prospect Rodney Floyd.

Over the weekend, Phil Sheridan summed up the Phillies' hold on their division this way:
They haven't exactly seized it, but they haven't blown it. Unfortunately, given their history, you get the queasy feeling they're more likely to blow it than not.
Salisbury handed out his mid-season awards. Deitch proposes instant replay as a measure which would prevent errors such as the 3-run homer that was incorrectly ruled fair by the umpiring crew on Friday. He also has this puzzling trade conjecture regarding Derek Lowe:
Lowe might be the most intriguing name on the list. He has been awful for the Red Sox, but he has worked with Phils pitching coach Joe Kerrigan in the past (although there are questions how fruitful that working relationship was). The Red Sox are seeking the best deal for Lowe and have interested parties, so it could take Millwood and a little more to get it done.
Why would the Phillies (or the Red Sox for that matter) want to just swap struggling pitchers when that is one of their more pressing needs? Paul Flannery says, "it doesn’t take a super genius to see the Phillies need a starter. Stat." He also refers to the ESPN "Most Tortured Sports City" list I linked to last week, and speculates that Cleveland will win the #1 spot on that list. Harvey Yavener predicts nothing but doom and gloom for the rest of the season.

Phil Jasner has some interesting quotes from Allen Iverson regarding an incident in which he refused to suit up for a game against the Pistons in which he was not going to start.
I wish it didn't get to the point it got to. It's obviously something I'm going to have to learn from. The way that it rubbed everybody, I think wasn't the right way. For people to feel like I would let my team down and I'm not the warrior that I am, it was tough on me, because I'm a fighter, and that's what I do. I've been doing that for the city of Philadelphia my whole career. I've always been a fighter. I've always been there for my teammates. It was just a bad time for me. It was a bad situation I wish had never happened.
Marc Narducci quotes USA Basketball's Stu Jackson, saying of Iverson's being selected, and remaining, on this summer's Olympic team:
He was originally the eighth player picked on the team, and there were those who questioned at the time him being on the team at all. I find it ironic in the end that he showed such a commitment to the team.
Ed Moran wrote that Mark Recchi is now officially an ex-Flyer, as he has signed with the Penguins, as was rumored.

ESPN has the Home Run Derby from Houston at 8.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Another Disappointing Outing

The Phils dropped their second straight game to the Mets yesterday, this time losing 10-1, slicing their hold on first place in their division to 1 game over those same Mets. Todd Zolecki and Dennis Deitch have the game stories. Deitch's column cites an in-game chat Larry Bowa had with the Comcast SportsNet crew during a point in the game where the Phils were trailing 10-0, where he said, ''Today is one of those days where you wish you just stayed in bed." Zolecki's notebook talks about Bobby Abreu's being selected to the All-Star team by the Phillies fans on MLB.com. Phil Sheridan says when this was announced at the game last night, Abreu got a well deserved standing ovation. Marcus Hayes talks about how close the vote had been, that it had been too close to call on Tuesday night, that he actually trailed by a couple thousand votes around 6PM, and pulled out the win with 2 million votes at the finish. Deitch talks about the Phils finally kicking in some "marketing" efforts to help get Abreu selected: "There was even a skit between innings during Tuesday night's game where a well-fed man with 'Vote For Abreu' painted on his spacious stomach and back danced with the Phanatic."

Hayes also acknowledges that Mike Liberthal was "just joking" when he was discussing retirement plans after Tuesday's game. Hayes was the subject of some minor ribbing on yesterday's Daily News Live on CSN for not picking up on Liberthal's tongue-in-cheek remarks, a mistake the panel readily admitted could have been made by anybody. Bill Conlin has some rather harsh words for the Phillies TV broadcast crew:
There are a lot of brutal umpiring crews in major league baseball, but none more annoying than the crew of Wheeler, Andersen, Kalas and Graham. What non-stop whining. And it wouldn't be as much like falling asleep naked on a red anthill if the umpcasters weren't basing their personal strike zones on a centerfield camera located several degrees to the right of dead-on. That's so that your view of the plate isn't blocked by the pitcher, of course. Put a camera slightly off center and what you see is not going to be what an umpire sees. But, damn, I'll bet every once in a while, the plate umpire does get a close call right.
Kevin Mulligan doesn't understand why people would stand in line 45 minutes to an hour for a cheesesteak at CBP, which is something I openly wondered about in one of last week's post while reviewing the new park. Harvey Yavener talks about some speculation from baseball expert Peter Gammons, who thinks the Phillies might be interested in Barry Zito.

While talking about Sixers summer league action, Marc Narducci also mentions that talks are "ongoing" with free agent Mark Blount's agent. Well, apparently the talks are ongoing no longer. My colleague at our parent site informs me that Blount has decided to re-sign with the Celtics. The story is now posted on ESPN.com.

CSN has Mets-Phillies at 7:05.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Can't We Come in First for Anything?

Sorry for no links yesterday. It's been a real busy week, and we'll have to stick with abbreviated links for the remainder of the week...

The Phils failed to homer for the second consecutive night, and this time it cost them, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to their division rival Mets. Todd Zolecki, Mike Olshin, and Dennis Deitch have the game stories. Zolecki's notebook reports on the progress of Marlon Byrd's swing down in the minors. Harvey Yavener has Billy Wagner's take on Eric Gagne, closer for the LA Dodgers, and his recently ended 84 consecutive-save record. Wagner believes that record will last "forever."

Marc Narducci has John Salmons trying to use the Sixers' summer league games as an opportunity to adjust to Jim O'Brien's offensive (and defensive) schemes. Al Morganti believes the concept of players getting bonuses for making the All-Star team is bogus, and grinds his axe a bit today with Curt Schilling, who stands to potentially get a check from the Red Sox for $150,000 should he be named the starter for next week's All-Star game. Morganti feels this is just another example of how out-of-touch with the fan base (who typically make significantly less annually than these bonuses) today's professional players are.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Philly comes in second in something, yet again. This time, it's ESPN's "most tortured sports cities" list. Yep, the only city with 4 major professional sports with a championship drought of over 21 years, and we can't even win this. Check out Sal Paolantonio's take on why Philly is cursed. Strange, no mention of the "curse of Billy Penn" in there, you know, the one that says the city is cursed because it hasn't won a championship since buildings started to exceed the height of ol' Billy Pen atop City Hall. Glen Macnow, who was mentioned briefly in the article, made this his topic of discussion on WIP last night. ESPN.com also has a failry accurate list of the top 10 most painful moments, including the absolute gut wrencher that was Bucs-Eagles in the now infamous Last Game at the Vet.

CSN has Mets-Phillies at 7:05.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Back on Track

Sorry for no links yesterday. Let's just say it was one of those days and move on to today's links...

The Phils powered their way to a 10-5 victory, winning 3 of their 4 against the Expos. Todd Zolecki has the game story. Marcus Hayes says there were fireworks, both during and after the game last night. Zolecki's notebook talks about how moving to the leadoff role has helped sparked Jimmy Rollins' production at the plate lately. Hayes says he's not just doing well at the plate, but that his defensive play should give him consideration for a Gold Glove. Sam Donnellon is calling for Larry Bowa's head on a platter: "Sometimes change for change's sake makes sense. This is one of those times." I'm not sure what Sam has against Bowa, but he certainly sharpened his axe while writing this. His timing is a bit off too. This might have gotten a listening ear had the Phils, say, dropped 3 out of 4, instead of putting up over 40 runs in the past 4 days.

Phil Jasner and Joe Juliano describe the courting of Mark Blount, the free agent who played for Jim O'Brien and the Celtics last season.

Don Steinberg looks at the so-called experts and their Superbowl picks, none of which seem to have the Eagles winning the big one this year (though a few of them apparently have them breaking through their NFC championship game hurdle of the past 3 seasons). Steinberg also mentions the interesting marketing being done by the Red Sox front office, as select broadcasts are being aired in select area theaters. For those who watched the out-of-town scoreboards this week, you can see that Philadelphia fans aren't the only ones who suffer. Red Sox fans can now watch the agony in HD.

Phil Mushnick comes down hard on some comments made by Andy Reid about some of his new players who missed rookie camp to complete their college degrees.

CSN has Orioles-Phillies at 7:05.