Friday, October 20, 2006

Legends Of The Accordion: The Ed Spiezio Story

This is the World Series showdown which was meant to be (and the one which the Pitchfork Projection correctly envisioned last week by referencing Brandon Inge's meat-gravy-stain of a soul patch vs. Scott Spiezio's fuchsia-coloured-chinny-tail).
By this time next week, one of these teams -- Detroit or St. Louis -- will be on its way to a CHINcredible World Series triumph.
Which only goes to show ... a playoff format SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK.

In a college-football-like scenario, we'd have polls and computerized computations and, thereby, the Phillies would finish higher in the final rankings than St. Louis due to their victory over the Yankees in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and due to a "strength of schedule" quotient attached to the won-loss record.
As it was for the achy-breaky hearts of Phillie fans, all they got was ex-Phillie Placido Polanco snuggling with his ALCS MVP as ex-Phillie Endy Chavez took our breaths away by taking a homer away from ex-Phillie Scott Rolen.

It's true ... the playoff format is ridiculously flawed.
The Phillies had a better record than the Cards (85-77 to 83-78) -- and that includes the 34 games (almost one-fourth of the season) that the Cards played against those junior-college teams known as the Pirates and the Cubs (St. Loo went 17-17 in those games).

It might've been fun to see a bottom of the 9th last night which featured Adam Wainwright trying to close it out against Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
As it was, it was kinda weak seein' Cliff Floyd takin' Strike Three and Carlos Beltran takin' a Called Third on that filthy deuce.
There's one argument that states, "Those were unhittable hooks" -- and then there's the counter-argument which states, "With twi strikes, ya gotta stay alive."
Then again, Beltran was a .224 hitter at home this year; .317 on the road. Carlos Delgado hit .226 at Shea; .304 on the road.
Those are two of those "throw-the-stats-out-the-window" stats which cannot be thrown out the window.

There can be no argument about this: The Shea Stadium crowd was too quiet in the 9th. Maybe everybody was waitin' for somebody to take the bold step of Text Mookie for that much-needed grounder through Buckner's legs.
Either way, no decibel levels were threatened.
Detroit and St. Louis won't allow that to happen -- notwithstanding Brandon Inge's chocolate-syrup-chin-smudge and Scott Spiezio's cherry-syrup-chin-splotch.

Not that this'll be a great World Series, other than the poop stain on Inge's chin vs. the bloody squirrel pelt stapled to Spiezio's lower lip.
And, nobody's going to put last night's Game 7 with the vintage Game 7's of all-time.
Although Gammons might.
Earlier on Thursday, when he was asked to name the best Game 7 ever, Gammons didn't hesitate to say, "1991."
To reiterate: That's not really Gammons talking.
It's the Gamm-eurism.

Game 7 of the 1991 World Series doesn't crack a baseball fan's Top 10 because, ummmm ... it sucked.
That is, unless you liked the 4th inning recap.
Top of the 4th -- Justice struck out. Bream flied to left. Hunter doubled to left. Olson lined to right.
Bottom of the 4th -- Hrbek was hit by a pitch. Davis popped to left. Harper flied to right. Mack popped to second.
That's right, America -- Sid Bream AND Chili Davis hit weak flies to LF ... IN THE SAME INNING!
And, in his next AB, Chili Davis grounded into a DP.
Imagine that.

The Gamm-eurism Paradigm is founded on the notion that only a 0-0, pitcher's duel is a great game.
But, 2-2 in the 8th ... 3-3 in the 7th ... yup, that'll work.
So, while America awaits Gammons' recovery from the Gamm-eurism, we can detoxify our minds by ranking Game 7 of the '91 WS well below Game 7 of the '86 WS ... Game 7 of the '67 WS ... Game 7 of the '92 NLCS ... Game 7 of the '75 WS ... Game 7 of the '04 NLCS ... Game 7 of the '97 WS ... Game 7 of the '72 WS ... Game 7 of the '73 WS ... Game 7 of the '01 WS ... Game 7 of the '68 WS.
And those are from the past 40 years.
If we look at Game 7 of the '55 World Series ...

Actually, maybe FOX will mess with our America's head and sneak in a clip of the '68 Tigers-Cards Series, particularly that moment in the top of the 9th inning in Game 5 when McCarver was standing on second base and Scott Spiezio's dad (Ed) was perched at first with one out.
McCarver had opened the 9th with a single and Ed Spiezio -- in his lone '67 WS AB -- hit a pinch single.
It could've spelled big frickin' trouble for Mickey Lolich (leading by a 5-3 score, but trailing the series, 3-games-to-1) especially with pinch-hitter Roger Maris settling into the batter's box and with Lou Brock (who was 3 for 4) in the on-deck circle.
With the season on the line, Lolich struck out Maris and retired Brock on a game-ending comebacker.
Three days later, Lolich -- pitching on TWO days' rest -- outdueled Bob Gibson in Game 7, holding the Redbirds without a run until a meaningless homer in the 9th by Mike Shannon (who has since used his broadcaster's voice to coax many a Cardinal homer over the fence with his trademark bark of "Come on! Get up, get up!").

Here's the sad part: That was Ed Spiezio's final AB as a Card. Two months after the season, he was dealt to San Diego.
The cartoon on the back of Ed Spiezio's 1970 Topps trading card tells the story: "Ed likes to play the accordion."

All anyone wants is Ed Spiezio to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" on the accordion before Game 3 in The New Busch.
That is, after Jerome Bettis throws out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1.
After all, Jerome Bettis is from Detroit ...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


When we heard the news, it marked another milestone moment in our lives in the chapter under the heading of "I Remember Where I Was And What I Was Doing When ..."
In the case of Cory Lidle's plane crashing into that 50-story high-rise on New York's Upper East Side, it became a matter of "I Remember Where I Was And How Completely Enamored I Was With The Flavor of The Bold Party Blend Chex Mix When I Learned of The Fatal Aviation Disaster."

Like most Americans, the first thought that came to mind when the initial reports of small-plane-into-building first came across was that some Joe Blow was off-course in his Cessna.
Then, once it was revealed that it was Cory Lidle -- THE Cory Lidle -- it was time to get all straight-faced and somber while offering philosophic platitudes.
"Our heart goes out to One Swell Guy & One Fantastic Pitcher, Cory Lidle. And to THAT OTHER GUY who died."

That's right, America. When it's Cory Lidle, it's all about "An All-Star Tribute To Cory Lidle & The Zen of the No-Decision."
Oh yeah ... and bummer for THAT OTHER GUY who died.

ESPN's wall-to-wall "Cory Lidle Coverage & Day of Rememberance & Atonement" definitely makes a person "take stock." It served as a wake-up call for those of us who maybe are too fascinated/obsessed with the possibility of dating that pink-haired chick on the Esurance commercials.
As usual, ESPN instructed a nation to look into its heart and re-evaluate what's truly important in life (besides the T.O. saga in Dallas).

Few of us will ever forget where we were on 9-11-01 -- and, now, thanks to ESPN, 10-11-06 is another date to remember. It's another stark reminder that skyscrapers in NYC serve not only as parking spots for Atta and stolen jumbo jets.
Believe this: America breathed a collective sigh of relief that this tragedy occurred on the posh Upper East Side and not on the turbo-posh Central Park West.

Anyway, here's another date to remember: 8-12-04.
That was the day when ex-Met/ex-Devil Ray/ex-Blue Jay/ex-Red Cory Lidle made his Philadelphia Phillies debut.
Against Colorado at The Cit.
Bill Welke was the home-plate ump.
Royce Clayton hit a 2-run HR off of Lidle to pin the "L" on the crafty/gutty/wily/gritty native of Covina, CA.
Todd Jones -- in one of his 27 games w/ the Phils -- replaced Rheal Cormier and surrendered a double to Clayton and an RBI single to Jeromy Burnitz for an insurance run in a 3-1 Rockies win.
Six days later, Lidle's second start as a Phillie saw him blow a 4-1 lead and leave the game in the fourth inning trailing, 7-4.
Jones came into the game with the Phils leading, 8-7. He faced two batters, allowing a single and then committing an error on a Jose Vizcaino bunt.
A 2-run double by Carlos Beltran paved the way for a 9-8 'Stros victory (rookie Chase Utley flied out with the bases loaded to end the game).
Lidle's third Phillie start was messy affair in Houston.
So, by the time he made his fourth start, he was 0-2 with a 8.16 ERA.
Oddly enough, Lidle came through with back-to-back, complete-game shutouts of the Brewers and Mets. Following a pair of no-decisions, Lidle won his final three starts of the season.

That final "W," though, came at a price. The 6-2 win over the Marlins was the final game managed by Larry Bowa. With two games remaining in the '04 season, Bowa got the axe from pencilneck (Ed Wade), know-nothing (David Montgomery), loudmouth (Dallas Green) super-douchebags (Ruben Amaro, Jr.) in the Phils' front office.

Now that Cory Lidle is gone, there's no use with anyone about the forces which conspired against Larry Bowa in a complex, power-struggle paradigm.
Also, the desire simply isn't there to reminisce about Cory Lidle's two innings of shutout relief for the Mets in his MLB debut on 5-8-97 in the Astrodome ... a spotless ERA which was preserved when LF Butch Huskey threw out Astros rookie Bobby Abreu at home plate as he tried to score from second on Brad Ausmus' single.

More than nine years later, Lidle and Abreu would be included in the same deal which would bring future stars Matt Smith, C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanchez and Carlos Monasterios to Philly for the sake of securing World Series championships in 2009 and 2010.
Either that, or all four will be out of Philly's minor-league system before the end of the 2008 season.
Bet on the latter.

The world may never know if Cory Lidle kept that ball which Butch Huskey used to cut down Bobby Abreu.
The world has learned so much about Cory Lidle in the 12-18 hrs. since his death -- although Tanyon Strutze has yet to chime in with a few uplifting stories about Cory's 12-15 / 5.75 season of '03 with the Blue Jays.
Where's Esteban Yan to provide some inspiration from the good times they shared together with those unforgettable '99/'00 Devil Ray teams?

It doesn't seem likely that the Yankees are ready to retire Lidle's #30, but the Phillies might pull the trigger on a special #30 emblem on the uniform tops next season.
It's how Cory would have wanted it.
After all, the first time that he buttoned up that Phillie shirt for the first time (before the Rockies' game on 8-12-04), he noticed that on his right sleeve that there was a logo for the inaugural season at The Cit -- an insignia which was flanked by a shamrock logo for Tug McGraw (who died on 1-5-04) and a ribbon logo for The Pope, Paul Owens (who died 10 days before Tugger).

Speaking of the Irish and their shamrocks, the Phillies can reverse the wrongs of several Pittsburgh Steelers, who, when they landed in Detroit for the Super Bowl last winter, were seen wearing green Notre Dame #6 jerseys in honour of Jerome Bettis, the native of Detroit who wore #6 at Notre Dame.
It was opined in this space at the time that Bettis himself should have worn a BLUE #5 Notre Dame jersey as a tribute to the fallen Rodney Culver, Bettis' teammate at Notre Dame.

Culver, also a Detroit native, was the Chargers' RB who, a year and a half after his Chargers were routed in the Super Bowl, died in that ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades.
Everybody forgot everything about Rodney Culver -- but, that's what ya get for crashing into a swamp.
ESPN educated us on the glory of flamboyantly crashing a plane into somebody's 40th-floor appartment in Manhattan.
Swamps are filled with gators n' snakes n' slimey matter.
NYC is full of pretty people with pretty apartments.
Which is why we had the Cory Lidle Plane-Crash Telethon. Not so much that Cory Lidle didn't get waterlogged in a Florida swamp, but that he likely, upon impact, fell 40 stories to the ground below as the plane disintegrated.
THAT OTHER GUY ended up on the sidewalk, too.

Still, Cory Lidle had so much to live for.
So much to offer the Indians in '07 and the Marlins in '08.
And the Pirates and the Mariners in '09.
It's not that he played on so many teams and played with so many different teammates (and that he would've spent the next three or four seasons acquiring 70-100 more teammates).
No, what set Cory Lidle apart is that he turned so many heads and touched so many hearts ... something that can't be measured by a 12-10 record and an ERA hovering near 4.88.
Which was your typical Cory Lidle season.

That's why America forgave him for crossing the picket line to pitch that one inning as a scab for Milwaukee during spring training during the strike of '94 which turned a lot of us away from the game (despite Big Mac and Sammee saving the sport -- to Mike Stupidca's delight -- back in '98).
Cory Lidle brought an intangible lovableness and likability to the game during those hard-fought 9 yrs. in the bigs.

Which is why there's a National Cory Lidle Day of Mourning.
When the legendary Buck O'Neil died five days earlier, the fanfare was limited to ESPN throwing the guy a bone with a 3-minute segment.
It's not fair to compare. Buck O'Neil was an ambassador for the Negro Leagues for 70 years -- but he was beset by a few shortcomings.
First of all ... he was black.
Secondly, he was 94 years old.
Thirdly, he was interesting.

Three strikes and yer out, Buckeroo. Promoting the appeal and talent of the Negro Leagues doesn't quite stack up against Cory Lidle preparing to make a 2-2 pitch to Chuck Knoblauch.
ESPN often wonders why if those Negro League players were so good, then how come they weren't playing in the N.L. or A.L. and facing the likes of Cory Lidle?

THAT'S why Buck O'Neil gets three MINUTES (if that) and why Cory Lidle gets three hours (or more).
Cory Lidle was noble and heroic.
When modern-era Negro Leaguers such as Lyman Bostock get gunned down on the streets of Gary, Ind. it's not because of mistaken identity and bad aim.
It's because "those people" are looking for trouble.
And finding it.
In Gary, Ind.

Conversely, Cory Lidle and Thurman Munson were attempting to better themselves through recreational aviation. Roberto Clemente, on the other hand, was asking for trouble when he overloaded that plane on New Year's Eve '72 and he crashed it into the ocean.
The fact that Roberto Clemente was not actually flying the plane does not strengthen the argument for white pilots vs. black pilots.

But, at least Cory Lidle died doing what he loved.
And now ESPN can return to doing what it loves -- ignoring black baseball people who dwarf Cory Lidle so that milquetoast Sean Salisbury can break down the latest Terrell Owens pissfest.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


That's FOX Sports' promo for The MLB playoffs ... "You can't script October."
Lame, no doubt ... but it's better than ESPN's pre-playoff teaser, which was, "The Hunt for October."
Ergo, according to the Worldwide Leader, October may never come your way.
Unless you hunt for it.
Anybody need a musket?
What about a crossbow?
Slingshot, anyone?

Think about it, though. If "you can't script October," then, maybe you're not trying hard enough.
With Detroit's 5-0 win in Oakland last night, America "inched" that much nearer to a World Series wherein the best matchup will feature Brandon Inge's dorky asswipe-stain-of-a-soul-patch on his chin vs. Scott Spiezio's super-queer, bright-red-ponytail-of-a-soul-patch on his chin.
On the late highlights on the Worldwide Leader, Steve Levy informed America that Pudge Rodriguez is the first Tiger catcher to hit a playoff homer since Matt Nokes in 1987.
That's weird ... considering that '87 was Detroit's most-recent trip to the playoffs.
Note to Levy: Inge is the first player in MLB history with the last name beginning with an "I" to homer in the playoffs since Pete Incaviglia went yard in Game 1 of the '93 playoffs.
That's the thing about Detroit, though.
You give 'em an Inge ... they'll take a mile.
Note to America: Inge's homer off Barry Zito marked the first time in MLB history that a catcher who batted .202 with 101 strikeouts in only 321 ABs for a team which lost 106 games (which Detroit did in 2002) ever homered in a playoff game against the pitcher who won the Cy Young Award (which Zito did in '02) in THE SAME SEASON in which the catcher batted .202 with 101 strikeouts in only 321 ABs for that team which lost 106 games.

This just in: There exists a secret, hidden text for these so-called "unscripted" playoffs.
If Detroit wins, the players will follow the text: "Nobody believed in us" ... "After we beat the Yankees, everybody said we were a fluke" ... "Jim Leyland makes everyone else around him better. He forces you to believe in yourself" ...

And, if Oakland wins, you can read along from the A's cue cards:
"No one ever gives us any respect unless it's to talk about Billy Beane and 'Moneyball' " ... "Everybody's been talking about the Yankees Dynasty, the blue-collar Twins, the Cinderella Tigers and they forgot about us on the West Coast" ... "When the Tigers carried Leyland off the field after they beat the Yankees, they acted like they'd won the World Series. Nobody said, 'Oakland's waiting for Detroit.' " ... "It's okay if nobody believes in us because we believe in ourselves" ...

Due to this lack of credible-and-creative scriptwriters, Game 1 of the ALCS didn't make it onto the telly at Haystack Headquarters. Furthermore, anyone who allows Lou Piniella to get anywhere near an open mike WITHOUT a script is committing a crime against humanity.
Hint: Lou's a tool.

So, rather than curl up with FOX Sports coverage, it was more important to spend the night cuddling with the Retrosheet ... just for the sake of gettin' '72 back into the bloodstream and remember what it was like to be a 5th grader.
Fireman's Fund Flashbacks are good for the soul.
But, maybe not Dave Duncan's.

It makes ya wonder -- does the St. Louis Cards' pitching coach (Duncan) wanna talk about "the unscripted"? After all, it was he who was the Oakland A's everyday catcher back in '72 -- until Sept. when Fiore Gino Tennaci played the bulk of the games behind the dish.
Fiore Gino Tennaci went by the name of what it is when you wear denim and pick up the racquet.
"Jean Tennis."

Of greater concern to the Detroit Tigers the last time they met the A's in the postseason was a pitching staff which featured a postseason rotation of Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman and Blue Moon Odom with Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers coming out of the bullpen.
Fiore Gino Tennaci batted only .225 w/ 5 HRs during limited duty in '72 -- and he was 0 for 14 heading into the decisive Game 5 at Tiger Stadium.
With a trip to the World Series on the line, it was Fiore Gino Tennaci's passed ball in the first inning which helped Detroit take a 1-0 lead ... then, it was Fiore Gino Tennaci who was called out on strikes with runners at the corners in the second inning (Mr. October was on third, SuperJew on first).
Only ... Reggie Jackson was NOT yet known at "Mr. October" (but, yes ... Mike Epstein was the one who called himself "SuperJew").
And, it was that mix which pulled off the double steal which tied the game, 1-1.

The thing was ... Jax injured himself on the play -- and since Campy Campaneris had been suspended for throwing his bat at Tigers pitcher Lerrin LaGrow in Game 2, this is how the top half of Dick Williams' lineup looked by the third inning:
Matty Alou (acquired Aug. 27 from St.L) was batting leadoff; Dal Maxvill (acquired Aug. 30 from St.L) was in the No. 2 spot; Joe Rudi batting third; and youngster George Hendrick in the cleanup spot.
Although Hendrick would blossom into a talent for mid-'70s Cleveland and the early-'80s Cardinals, he was in over his head.

Game 5 of the '72 ALCS was the last A.L. game played before the DH -- which was a shame, considering that with light-hitting Alou, Maxvill, Hendrick, Tenace and Dick Green, Odom was the second or third best stick in the Oakland lineup that day (in fact, he led off the 5th with a double).
That occurred one inning after Tenace snapped his 0-for-15 slump by singling home Hendrick (who reached on an error) with the go-ahead run.
With Vida pitching four shutout innings, Oakland reached the World Series in only their fifth year in its new West Coast home (but their FIRST season while wearing their new green caps and green shirts, replacing the yellow pants, yellow vests w/ green sleeves and those heinous yellow helmets).

Since the "Alou & SuperJew" combo was a brick in the World Series (a combined 1-for-40), Oakland needed "other" means to take down The Big Red Machine.
Fiore Gino Tennaci set the tone with his 2-run homer in Game 1 @ Riverfront which gave the A's a 2-0 lead and his solo shot which stood up as the winning run in a 3-2 victory.

In 24 postseason games in '73, '74 and '75, Fiore Gino Tennaci would compile a woeful .139 avg (9 for 65). Although he did draw 23 walks in those 24 games, he came nowhere near matching his World Series MVP production.
During the '72 World Series, though, Fiore Gino Tennaci was the toast of baseball (4 HRs, 9 ribbies, .348 avg).
Dave Duncan? 1-for-7 in the '72 postseason with 4 strikeouts.

Discussing 1972 is good for the soul.
And, it helps us to understand the greatness of Mickey Lolich (who had an average record of 17-13 during a 12-year span, which, even though was a pitcher-friendly era, did include an 18-loss, 19-loss and 21-loss season in that span because Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson were victimizing him in the Tiger Stadium bandbox).
It beats the hell outta yakkety-yak-yakking about the heroism of Barry Zito (whose average record is 14-11 since the 23-5 Cy Young season of '02 ... that's 14-11 in a pitcher-friendly ballpark ... pitching for a contending team every year).

Barry Zito vs. Mickey Lolich ... that's like comparing Frank Viola to Warren Spahn.

Monday, October 09, 2006


What a week that was in Philly.
A tickertape parade for the Phillies reaching the 85-win range (or thereabouts) for the sixth year in a row since Francona was axed ... Brett Favre coming to town for MNF and stretching The Pack's in-Philly nightmare (dating back to G.B.'s 49-0 win in Philly in 1962) to 0-8 ... the mid-week "dropping of the charges" (for spousal abuse/punching) against Brett Myers by Mrs. Brett Myers (raise yer hand if you DIDN'T see that coming) ... and the weeklong buildup for the big anti-T.O. pep rally over at The Link, highlighted by the Anti-T.O. Eve festivities at The Cove wherein the Flyers and Rangers tangled for 13 rounds of a shootout.
The recap of "Lundqvist vs. Niitymaki" battle royale was: "Save, save, miss, miss, save, save, save, save, save, save, save, save, save, save, save, miss, save, save, save, save, miss, miss, GOAL!"
Damn you for failing to convert in Round 12, R.J. Umberger!
Once again, it was, "Two saves, two misses, 11 saves, a miss, four saves, two misses and a goal."

Maybe it was for the best that across the street from The Link and The Cove, all was quiet at The Cit ... as another year of wild-card baseball (what the natives call "The MLB's LDS") was not to be for the lads who wear the red pinstripes.
Timing-wise, the first week of Oct. '06 simply wasn't the time for the Phillies to clutter up everyone's day-planners with playoff complications.
This was a time for anti-Farvites and anti-Terrellistas to get their hate schwerves on before unleashing the mild-manneredness which Philly is famous for following days n' days of anticipation.

In reality, there was probably a lot more hostility that went into the burning of the 16 or 17 remaining "ABREU #53" replica Phillie shirts which remained in eastern PA.
And, actually, those 16 or 17 shirts were not actually burned.
Someone said they were.
They were, in fact, given to Goodwill.

A lot of us still can't figure out why energy cannot be harnessed and synergy cannot be channeled into booing Pat Burrell out of the ballyard.
Sure ... Pat The Bat (Burrell The Pearl) will begin the 2007 season with a streak of 301 consecutive games w/o a stolen-base attempt (honest ... lookit it up), but here's who else hasn't attempted a steal in 301 consecutive games:
The late Ty Cobb; those 700-lb. guys who guest on Maury Povich's show; your dog; your grandpa; your pet turtle; Daisy Fuentes; John Elway and his artificial hip ...
During the '06 season, it was easy to be sarcastic and quip that Burrell was "saving his best at-bats for the NLDS and the NLCS ... the World Series ... and maybe even the next World Baseball Classic."

Then again, a better visual might be the one wherein Officer Wendell "Bud" White is roughing up Burrell in the bathroom stall and, as Officer White is ramming Burrell's head into the toilet, Burrell blurts, "Get him off me, Exley!"
Lt. Exley (grim-faced and dispassionate): "I don't know how."
Which is when an enraged Officer White -- with eyes wild with fury and a vein bulging from his forehead -- yanks Burrell's sopping-wet head out of the toilet long enough to tell him, "Now, I know you think you're the A-number-one hot shot, but HERE'S THE JUICE!!!"

And, the juice is: Despite his 29-homer, 95-ribbie numbers, it should be pointed out that every homer Burrell hit ... every run he drove in ... occurred either when the Phillies were winning 7-1 or losing 8-1.
Whether or not there's data to support this theory -- or whether it's merely a hunch or a gut feeling, well ... it sure seemed that way.
Those knowledgeable Phillie phanatics should have picked up on this and, rather than boo Rolen outta The Vet and Abreu outta The Cit, maybe they shoulda realized that their beloved LF is a Dave Kingman/Ron Kittle reincarnate.
Apologies to you, apologists for the former Miami Hurricane 3B and Bellarmine College Preparatory QB.
Kid's got no wheels (which means a "Wheel Burrell" nickname won't stick) and no knack for hittin' in the clutch (which means a cheer of "Drat your luck, Patrick! You'll get 'em next time!" won't fly, either).

The final week of Sept. served as a perfect example why the Phillies (mostly Burrell) didn't spend the first week of Oct. filling up The Cit with wild-card love as The Link and The Cove across the street remains dens of hate and hate-mongering.
That Tues. nite loss to the Nats ... Burrell made it his personal mission to F-up every rally.
First inning vs. the shaky Ramon Ortiz, crisp singles by Victorino, Utley, Howard and Conine made it 2-0 -- and, for a pitcher who was BEGGING for the shotgun to be pressed against his forehead and for Burrell to be the guest trigger-puller, well, Patty Cakes ... whiffed.
A few innings later, Utley and Howard singled to start an inning and Flat Pat ... whiffed.

Burrell's exaggerated follow-through of a swing through a postage-stamp-sized hitting zone is annoying and only moderately effective. While "knowledgeable" Phillie fans were pre-occupied with booing Rolen outta town because he was "too expensive" and booing Abreu outta town because he was "too expensive," it was baffling why someone with Bad At-Bat Pat's obvious limitations has been spared the wrath of the boobirds.
Maybe it's his lack of speed or his less-than-capable LF defensive skills which have won the fans' hearts.
In the end, though, he's little more than a taller, skinnier, (allegedly) handsomer Pete Incaviglia.

At least Burrell has always fashioned his .258 talent while offering a stiff upper lip, so it appeared as though he cared.
And Philly seemed to care that Burrell seemed to care.
But, Burrell cashed his paycheck -- and Philly showed up at The Cit to help provide Burrell with that paycheck.
A paycheck which had no playoff shares.

Upon further review, the Phillies are too irritating to be heartbreakers. They anger more than they disappoint.
So, posting a 9-10 record vs. the Nats (which had the worst team ERA in the N.L. at 5.03) was a telling stat.
The capper on that failure was the 3-1 loss on that rain-delayed Thurs. when the game began at 11:35 P.M. and ended at 2:10 A.M. on Fri.
For those of us to stayed with it to watch every pitch (on TV), there must've been 100 Phillies diehards in RFK that night ... and maybe 63 Nats fans.
No lie ... 163.
Okay, maybe 212.
But, that's it
It looked like a lot of fun. Ballgames in a big empty ballpark are top notch because it's every fan's chance to heckle -- and be heard.
"Hey, Burrell! You couldn't hit water if you fell out of a boat!."
And then you discover that you're actually heckling Lieberthal.

Oddly enough, earlier that day, Gammons was on ESPN Radio and he told Patrick and Olberman that the Phillies had underachieved.
Any time we hear Pete say something like that, we have to realize that it's not really Gammons speaking.
That's the "Gamm-eurysm" talking.

The Phillies went into '06 with a starting rotation of: 1) Lieber 2) Myers 3) Lidle 4) Floyd 5) Madson.
Let's examine that:
Leebs is always a roll of the dice, not withstanding his 20-6 season in '01 w/ the Cubs and his 14-8 record w/ the '04 Yanks and 17-13 for the '05 Phils ... Myers is the king of the no-decision (in '05 and '06 -- 65 starts, 25 wins, 15 losses, 25 "no-decisions" ... Lidle is a quality junior-college pitcher ... the Gavin Floyd Project is now filed in the black filing cabinet next to the gals in Accounts Payable ... and Mad Dog, a set-up man as a starter, ohhhhh-kayyyyy ...
If not for Cole Hamels making great strides in his first taste of pitching in The Show and Jamie Moyer making several quality starts after the 6-12 mess he made of himself in Seattle, the Phillie pitching staff would've been a disaster.
Kudos too to Flash Gordon for maximizing the most out of his 38-year-old arm for a 34-save effort.

So, Gamms is off the hook because we all know that if he'd been in his right mind, he'd've tore the shrink-wrap off his pet expression for why every pitcher struggles in Sept.
"He's tired."
So-and-so "is tired" is how Gamms describes any pitcher who either lacks the ability or the huevos to get the job done during crunch time.
One would think that Gamms -- with his street-cred for jammin' on the guitar w/ Bronson Arroyo -- would re-shape his remarks to something like, "That dude is tiyyy-yudd."
As in "weak" -- not as in "lacking energy."

It wasn't the same without Pete to explain to us how baseball really works -- such as when everybody described the Flyin' Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, as speedy or blazing fast, how come that translated to FOUR stolen bases in SEVEN attempts.
"Shane's legs are tired."
"Pat's bat is tired."

Excuse you, Gamms ... but Pat's bat has gone sleepytime.
Now that ya mention it, Jimmy Rollins is a nice kid with some wheels and some pop in his bat. Those 25 HRs got him damn near close to being a 30/30 player.
Then again, when a player is successful on 36 of his 40 stolen-base attempts, what happens is that fans of that player wonder what might happen if that player tried to swipe 70 bases, maybe even 80 or 90.

Why not 70? The obvious answer is: Jimmy don't steal 'cuz Jimmy's body will get "beat up"
Well, what's he saving it for? Prom night with the dashing Pat The Bat pinning on the corsage during an uncomfortable interracial, same-sex tryst?

Sure ... we all know that ballplayers today stayed camped out at first base because it saves the wear n' tear for the next contract negotiation.
Which is why The Flyin' Hawaiian is going to arbitration with 10, maybe 11 stolen bases to his credit in '07. It's the proverbial "wait for the 3-run jimmy jack" scenario,
And go 4-16 during the final three weeks of a June Swoon.
4-16 ... while waiting for that 3-run jimmy jack.

One of the best examples of the psychosis of the Phillie '06 squad was offered by Gus Bell's grandkid/Buddy Bell's kid. David Bell was having a typical .248 season when he caught fire in July. In his first 17 games of the month, Bell batted .423 (30 for 71) with five doubles, two triples, two HRs and 9 RBI.
The hot spurt lifted his average from .249 to .288.
Then ... the Bell Boy went 0 for 12 in the next three games and was traded to Milwaukee.
In his first 9 games in Brew Town, Bell went 5 for 29.
Back in form!
Naturally, the Phillies traded Bell w/o any idea of how they'd handle the 3B situation.
Problem solved: Abraham O. Nunez to the rescue!

Without question, the Phils woulda stacked up nicely with the likes of the Mets, Cardinals and Padres in postseason tussles -- particularly given that St. Loo finished 2 games behind the Phils in the won-loss records.
In fact, the Philles' 45-30 record since the All-Star break was the best in the N.L. -- which provided no relief as they went 3-4 during the final week whilst L.A. went 7-0.

Maybe one the most-interesting footnotes of the season came during the Fri. nite broadcast on ESPN during the final series vs. the Marlins. Dave O'Brien and Rick Sutcliffe were discussing (with Eric Karros as a non-violent observer) how 2006 Home Run Champion Ryan Howard was adamant last year (when he was a rookie) about requesting a trade if the Phillies weren't going to play him as the regular 1B when Jim Thome went on the DL.
One can only imagine what transpired if Howard went to asst. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. and the dialogue which might've taken place in a Ry-Rubes Summit.

Howard: "I've hit at every level. I'm ready to hit here."
Amaro: "We have a first baseman. His name is Jim Thome. He's injured now, but these backups, Tomas Perez and Jose Offerman, they're veterans. Did you know, for example, that Jose Offerman was a 1999 A.L. All-Star?"
Howard: "I can outhit either of those stiffs any day of the week."
Amaro: "Did you know that I have a biology degree from Stanford University? Did you hear me?That's Stanford, pal ... Stanford!"

In the end, it's another October-as-usual 'round The Cit (across the street ftom The Link and The Cove).
The only meaningful dates on the Phils' '07 refrigerator-magnet calendar are: 1) Historic Loss No. 10,000 scheduled for sometime in May (the Phils will begin '07 with 9,956 defeats).
Oh, and scheduled (TBD) for July 31, 2009: The trading-deadline deal in which the frequently-booed Ryan Howard is traded to Arizona or Boston for two minor-league pitchers who will be out of organized baseball by 2011.

So much for their past.
And their future.