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.

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