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.