Monday, April 30, 2007

9,970 (plus: The Josh Hancock Aftermath)

It was so difficult to get into a rhythm for the Phillies' Milestone Loss No. 9,970 last night because ESPN spent its second day instructing America that one day's worth of mourning the dead Josh Hancock is not enough.
Leave it to ESPN to determine a grief-management timetable.
Let's see if the Winter X Games Network is as sensitive when the autopsy findings are made public on Thurs. or Fri.

The Hancock car-crash hit PhillieTown especially hard because because, for the second time since last Oct., the all-time Phillies' pitching staff lost "one of their own."
First, Cory Lidle ... now Josh Hancock.
What a terrible decade this has been for ex-Phillie pitchers crashing their vehicles into objects which seemingly came from out of nowhere.
NYC high-rises ... tow trucks ...

Everybody has his/her own way of grieving over the loss of Hancock. It's a personal matter, no matter how much ESPN wants to fluff it up into a matter of national prominence.
Some of us opt for the candlelight vigil ... others will opt for the clasping of hands and the signing of hymns.

Tonight, a weepy nation saw Hancock's #32 uniform top (baseball players wear a "uniform" ... not a jersey ... get it right, Grief-Stricken America) on a hanger in the Cardinals dugout.
It does seem doubtful that "Hancock #32" will be retired immediately as Darryl Kile's #57 was when he died in his sleep five years ago. For one thing, most Redbird fans will always remember #32 as the number worn by Steve Carlton and then Joe Magrane.
Y'know ... back in the day before sabermaticians invented the OPS.

Some of us spent tonight worried less about the Phillies' Milestone Loss #9,970 and concerned ourselves with sittin' 'round the campfire and sharing unforgettable tales of when Hancock wore #50 for the Phillies.
We shed tears of joy when we remembered that first game that Josh Hancock pitched for the Phillies in early Sept. '03.

Acquired from the Bosox the previous December (for Jeremy Giambi, who'd hit 12 hGH HRs in only 156 hGH ABs for the '02 Flailin' Phils), Hancock was summoned from the bullpen in the 8th inning to protect an 18-4 lead against the Bravos -- a lead which had been punctuated when Jason Michaels hit a grand slam off of Jung Bong to make the score, 18-2.
Hancock, however, gave up one run in his one inning of work, so, gambling degenerates who had the Phillies giving 14, well ... they took a hit.
Your unforgettable final: 18-5.

In a similar vein, most of us will never forget the final game that Josh Hancock started for the Phillies. It was one of those "spot" starts in early June '04 ... and the Bravos roughed up the kid.
Ex-Phillie Julio Franco (who was only 56 years old back then) touched up 'Cockie (if that's what anyone called him) for a grand salami in the first inning ... and then Cockie allowed singles to three of the first four batters he faced in the second inning.

The Bravos had a golden opportunity to expand their lead to beyond 6-0, but Cockie came through and fanned Andruw Jones and the aforementioned Franco.

After that, Josh Hancock made two reief appearances at the end of July -- and then he was dealt to Cincy for Todd Jones.
And, Larry Bowa was fired two days before the end of the season.

Way to get the manager fired, Cockie.
(Yoo, too, Jonesy)

Nobody knows if the Phillies have any plans to wear a "50" patch on their sleeves to match the "VUK" patch they're already wearing for the late John Vukovich.
Maybe the Phillies are playing the waiting game, like so many of the rest of us.

After all ... nobody knows if Josh Hancock rammed headfirst into that flat-bed truck because he was in a rush to get home from working late at the homeless shelter ... or because he was zipping home to get some shut-eye before rising early for a 6 a.m. Bible study ... or because he was answering a text msg. ... or because he might've had some boooooooze in his bloodstream.

Hopefully, the answer will come soon so that America's anguish will abate -- the pain which comes from La Russa attempting to string together semi-lucid, mostly-unintelligible sentences.

Some of us are going to hold off on the flowery "Josh was swell, just a regular guy" prose until that autopsy is made public. If it turns out that he was drunk/distracted/whatever (which seems probable, given the late-night/early-morning hour), we will channel our emotions into the appropriate administrations of rage and cynicism.

Until then, it might be time to turn to Ecclesiates for comfort and wisdom.
While Ecclesiastes can't match Eckstein in terms of World Series rings won, Ecclesiastes seemed to have his shit together here in Chapter 9, Verse 3:

"This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward when they join the dead ..."

Ecclesiastes 9:5 -- "For the living know that they will die but the dead know nothing; they have no further record, and even the memory of them is forgotten ..."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

9,969 (Projections!)

23 games into the season means that we're one-seventh of the way through the season -- which means that we can take every Phillie stat after tonight's Milestone Loss No. 9,969 and multiply times 7 to calculate what we'll be looking at during the first week of October -- when the Phillies' 82-80 record will have some wondering what went wrong.

Yup, Dontrell Willis outdueled Adam Eaton -- and, oddly enough, Willis is on pace to finish with a 35-7 record w/ a 5.59 ERA.
Eaton, meanwhile, is on target for: 14-14 / 7.71.
Miguel Cabrera?
After tonight's 5-for-5 showcase, he's primed to win two or three Triple Crowns this year.

Just for fun: Pat Burrell stretched his non-stolen base streak to 324 games.
The apologists will point to the fact that he's on pace to finish with 7 HRs, 63 ribbies and a .304 avg.

But, wait ... if the Phils are 10-13, ummmmm ... they're NOT on pace for our prediction of 82-80.

They'd better get busy to avoid the 70-91 mark which is gonna get Manuel Labor axed ...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

9,968 = Snooze City

Today's Phillies' Milestone Loss No. 9,968 was one of those mid-week, businessman's specials which was bland n' boring -- and one of those defeats during this 82-80 season of '07 in which we'll all look back and remark, "That probably shouldn't have happened."
The Phils are 3-2 vs. the D.C. Nats -- but if they had any designs on winning this season, they'd have to be 5-0 vs. that opponent.
Ya can't go 9-10 vs. a 71-91 opponent (as the Philles did vs. the Nats last year) ... and you can't go 3-2 en route to a 10-9 record against a 66-96 opponent (as the Phillies will do vs. the Nats this year).

The only solution: Fire Larry Bowa.
'Cuz he's "too intense."
It doesn't matter if Larry Bowa's current job as third-base coach for the Yankees has no bearing on the outcome of Phillies' games.
He has to be fired.
That's how the Phils'll turn it around.
Just you wait.

The 5-game win streak is history. And, in case anyone is interested, the Phils have scored 40 runs in 12 defeats (3.33333 runs per loss) and have scored 64 runs in their 9 wins (7 runs per victory).
So, for those who are following The MLB for the first time (The Sporting News ... and anyone else who had punched Philly's ticket to the World Series), the following equation does not (and never has worked):
"The Phils will be in a lot of 10-8 ballgames this year."

Ergo, Rollins, Utley, Howard, Burrell and Rowland are not going to "slug" their way to 90-95 wins.

Which means that Cole Hamels can pitch a fairly-decent ballgame (as he did today) and he might come up empty -- especially against a mediocre hurler from Mississauga, Ontario (Shawn Hill).
Unless ColeHamelsSmokesCamels sparks up a few more 15 K performances (as he did in his previous outing), he can expect to go 13-10, maybe 14-11.

Well, let's see what happens when the Martians invade The Cit ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

ColeHamelsSmokesCamels 15, Cunnilingus 0

For those who became aware that the Phillies' Colbert Hamels struck out 15 Redlegs batters tonight, the obvious question which springs to mind is, "What was Cole Hamels smoking?"
That's an easy one, isn't it?
"Cole Hamels Smokes Camels."

Tonight's outcome was considerably better than the frustration of throwing away Jon Lieber's super-stud pitching performance.
And, the nice thing about tonight was that a Pitcher Named Colbert, not a Pitcher Named Cunnilingus picked up the W.

No, wait!
His name is "Coutlangus," not "Cunnilingus."

Either way, the victory tonight came at the expense of Eric Milton, the poster child for "Why Larry Bowa Got Fired."
It was Aug. 20 in '04 when Milton was sportin' a 13-2 record for the Phils.

Then, he went 1-4 during the final month-and-a-half.
Bowa got the axe -- but, at least Miltie got a big, fat contract from the Reds.

Milton pitched a lot worse than his 8-15 / 6.47 numbers indicated in '05.
And, although he was 8-8 laast year, his ERA remained an atrocity.
Now that he's 0-3, ya gotta wonder if the Reds have yet to figure out that, "yes" ... they overspent for Eric Milton.

Overspent, all right ... quite severly.
And irrevocably.

Maybe 15 strikeouts (and an around-the-horn triple play) is what the Phils need as impetus for winning 22 of the next 29 games to climb right back into the race.

Friday, April 20, 2007

9,967 (BonusCoverage: Alligators and VPI)


Jeez ... that reads a lot more like the warning on the visitors' clubhouse wall in Cincinnati -- the one which Manager Manuel forgot to remind his Phillies of before tonight's game -- rather than the signs posted along the shore at Lake Baldwin here in the Orlando suburb of Winter Park.

In other words, there are dangers everywhere.
On this Friday when some of us were avoiding the gators on the west shore of a lake called "Baldwin," the rest of us were aghast at the voicemail message (to his daughter) by an actor named "Baldwin."
And, neither Baldwin should've mattered because this was the day in which we were supposed to wear our maroon and orange for Virginia Tech (which some of us did ... in the form of a $5 cap which was purchased by the Mrs. in, of all places ... Ocala).

When the MET-Rx World's Strongest Man Network showed highlights of VPI's baseball team in action during the school's first athletic event since the Monday slayings, the Mrs. alertly pointed out her favorite player (the lanky kid who wears #21 ... the guy who fits the "good patient/quality individual profile" ... Robbie Waszkiewicz).

The bad news is that due to an underdeveloped attention span (not to mention a sense of empathy), most of America spent today forgetting to mourn for the slain VPI students while occupying their minds with what Alec screamed on that voicemail msg. to his daughter, Ireland.
(Wow ... just the mention of a female with the FIRST name "Ireland" makes ya think of a female with the LAST name "Ireland" -- and then we're reminded that Jill Ireland was probably too good for either David McCallum or Charles Bronson ... so the Lord took her away before her time ... )

The good news is that Alec told us how he REALLY felt, so none of us will be surprised when he supposedly "snaps" and shoots up a college campus.
None of us can say we weren't warned.

(And, in a related note, some of us wonder why there aren't any VPI-logo'ed caps, sweatshirts, etc. -- rather than "VT" -- given that the university is "tech"nically THE Virginia Polytechnic Institute ... not to be confused with Georgia Tech, which, "tech"nically is the Georgia Institute of Technology and/or Texas Tech, which had its name changed, thanks to Bob Knight, to "O'Reilly Auto Parts University")

If it's any consolation to VPI, any minute now, CNN, CBS, CBC, the BBC, NBC, MSNBC, ESPN, E.T., E!, FOX News, FOX & Friends will get their trucks out of the VPI parking lots and get their mikes out of the faces of the VPI students so that the extended Blacksburg community can grieve in peace while the rest of America can forget about 32 faceless victims while getting its fix of the 11th or 12th "Inside The Mind Of A Killer!" special.

Back by the lake, though, a lot of us wondered about the lack of documentaries re: "Inside The Mind Of An Alligator!"
The sign instructed us to refrain from actions which would attract an alligator.
Which means that we have to wash off this Tag Body Spray.

The situation in the Situation Room is clear: This state is full of lakes (thousands of 'em) -- and those lakes are full of alligators.
Hungry alligators.
Except for Lake Lorna Doone -- the lake which, apparently, was named for a tasty cookie.

Lake Lorna Doone is across the street from the north end zone of the Florida Citrus Bowl ... the 60-plus-year-old stadium which has served as the home for so many of the greatest Tangerine Bowls ever played.

As this Planet has reported during the holiday season, that crummy, ol' no-frills, cement stadium in the rough section of Orlando was the site of the Tangerine Bowl from 1947 thru 1982.
Then, it was gone.
But, then, it came back as the Blockbuster Bowl (1990 thru 1993).
Before it was renamed the Carquest Bowl for four seasons (1994 thru 1997).
Before it was known as the Micron PC Bowl for three years (1998 thru 2000).

THEN (!) ... somebody put the tangerine back into the Tangerine Bowl -- the topper being in Dec. '01 when the bowl was called the Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl (when the word VISIT was painted in one end zone and the word FLORIDA was painted in the other end zone).
What was the Florida Tourist Board trying to say to us?
That they wanted us to pay a visit?
To Florida?

(Note: Philip Rivers was the losing QB in that Visit! Florida! Now! Tangerine Bowl, although he was the game's MVP one season earlier -- as a freshman -- and two years later, as a senior ... and some say it might be the only bowl games Philip Rivers will ever win ...)

Anyway, in 2002 and 2003, it was the Mazda Tangerine Bowl ... and, for the past three Decembers, the game has been known as the Champs Sports Bowl (sponsored by Champs Sports).

It's important to note that when the Tangerine Bowl suffered its first death following that 1982 tilt between Auburn and Boston College, the bowl itself didn't die.
It was merely renamed "the Florida Citrus Bowl" from 1983 thru 1993 ... then it became a New Year's Day staple beginning with the 1986 season ... then it became the CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl (1994-1999) ... then it was the Florida Citrus Bowl in 2000 ... then it was the Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl for two seasons (2001-2002) ... and, for the past four seasons, it's been known simply as the "Capital One Bowl."

That's right ... for the past 16 holiday seasons, we've had TWO bowl games played each Dec./Jan. across the street from Lake Lorna Doone, the glittering waterway that we see from the blimp shots provided by the MetLife airship, Snoopy 1 (or Snoopy 2).

To refresh your memory, Wisconsin has won the past two Capital One Bowls (with wins over Auburn and Arkansas from the "vaunted" SEC) -- but, when Tennessee appeared in the Citrus Bowl three times in four years ('New Year's Day '94, '96. '97), Steve Spurrier quipped that you can't spell "Citrus" without a "UT."

And, leave us not forget that the final game that Nick Saban coached at LSU was the Capital One Bowl game played one year after he'd won the national championship -- only the sting of the 30-25 defeat was punctuated by Iowa's Drew Tate chucking that 56-yard Hail Mary TD pass on the game's final play ... a play in which no Tiger DBs felt compelled to cover receiver Warren Holloway.

Alas, if only there was a Tangerine Bowl-Florida Citrus Bowl-Capital One Bowl or a Blockbuster Bowl-Carquest Bowl-MicronPC Bowl-Visit Florida-Champs Sports Bowl for the Phillies to shoot for.
Or, if only there was a gator-filled lake for Manager Manuel to dip his head into.

Tonight's dilemma in Cinshitnati had nothing at all to do with "manual labor" -- but rather "Manuel/Lieber."
Lieber came out of bullpen exile to pitch a gem vs. the Redlegs ... but then he was removed from the game in the 6th inning, having allowed only one hit.
The Phils had that 1-0 lead when Freel got to second on that throwing error by Nunez ... and then Freel moved to within 90 feet of scoring the tying run when Lieber's pickoff attempt went into CF.
But, then Leebs got big-swingin' Adam Dunn -- only Geoff Geary was summoned to pitch to Brandon Phillips.

What kind of backwards logic is that?
OK ... so maybe Skipper Chuck didn't wish to burn out Lieber's arm in his first start (although, to that point, he'd thrown only 77 pitches).
Did Jon have a blister?
Did he leave the stereo cranked in his aircraft-carrier-sized truck back home?
Did "the book" state that Brandon Phillips would have far less success vs. Geary than Lieber?

It mattered not.
Geary walked Phillips ... and then Matt Smith walked red-hot Josh Hamilton to load the bases for Edwin Encarnacion to face 6-fingered Alfonseca.
Alfonseca got the inning-ending forceout ... and he worked a clean 7th ... whereupon the new set-up guy (Brett Myers) retired the Reds in the 8th.

Then, Flash came on for one of those formulaic saves ... and, after groundouts by Hamilton and Encarnacion, Scott Hatteberg torches him for the game-tying homer -- only the Reds' second hit of the game.

We all know how it ended in extras.
And, on top of everything, the winning pitcher for Cincy was some guy named "Cunnilingus."
The dude's name isn't "Cunnilingus," but "Coutlangus."

Oh, well ... given what VPI went through four days ago, the Phillies' dreadful 4-11 record is definitely nuthin' to get all worked up about ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

9,966 (And Other News)

Just about everybody knows the feeling of ambivalence and uncertainty when beginning the day by putting on a white, Champion UNLV ATHLETICS sleeveless T under a gray, Adidas VIRGINIA CAVALIERS t-shirt while the Mrs. is wearing a gray CLEMSON t-shirt.
That's a lotta orange to be wearing while roaming the Florida campus and spending a few minutes inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and the orange contained therein.

It's even better when several Gator players are performing some conditioning drills on Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and one Gator concludes his routine by wearing a pained expression and pointing to his hip.

Said America's most-astute observer of physical-therapy malfeasance: "Of course your hip hurts. You weren't using your pelvis."

Remarks such as that make her worth marrying all over again -- especially if she substitutes "I do" for sweet nothings re: the pelvis.

Then again, America isn't all that concerned about improving "core training" because America is riveted to the package that Psycho Cho sent to NBC -- now, we'll get a week's worth of "Go Inside The Mind Of A Killer!"

In other words, don't worry about your pelvis, America, because Cho's gonna put a bullet in it, anyway.
If only NBC could give us some more of those PSAs wherein that dork from "Will & Grace" or someone from "St. Elsewhere" can deliver a heartfelt message such as, "That Korean sitting next to you and muttering the F word during your mid-term ... get to know him. And give him a hug."
Cue piano music.
Display gimmicky, colorful graphic "The More You Know."

If only America could smarten up and put down its Psycho Cho Manifesto -- AND START OBSESSING WITH THIS BLOG.
Alas ... if only America was interested in material which was relevant and coherent ...

It's not "agendas" which are killing the USA -- it's the "hidden agendas."
Then again, knowledge ... is a powerful/dangerous thing.

Just a few days ago (in the late Sat. nite/Sun. a.m. hours), the Disney Sports Channel playfully "reported" that the University of Florida is caught in the void somewhere between "Are we a football school -- or a basketball school?"
The Home of the Winter X Games went a step further by attempting to convince America that maybe, just maybe, Florida is one of the best sports colleges in the nation (because of a track and field national championship a bunch of years ago or a tennis title won five years ago, whatever ...)

It was a cute feature from the Entertainment & SometimesSports Programming Network (ESSPN).
The truth, though, is that Florida is a cute little minor-league sports college against the Goliath of sports universities.
Wake up, Bristol.

The name of the game is STANFORD UNIVERSITY, the sports (and academic) powerhouse on the opposite side of the continent (y'know, the Left Coast ... where that loudmouthed, schtick-pimp Chris Berman does all that golfing at Pebble and, after sinking one 20-foot putt per weekend, gets it on a plays-of-the-week segment).

At the moment, Stanford leads the points standing (again) en route to what should be a 13th consecutive Directors' Cup trophy (the award presented annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directos of Athletics, the United States Sports Academy and USA Today to the best overall college athletic program in the country).
North Carolina won the first Directors' Cup during the '93-'94 school year -- and Stanford has won all 12 since.

The point tallies and eligible sports have changed through the years, but be it men's and women's volleyball, tennis, swimming, soccer, cross country, gymnastics ... Stanford pummels Florida (and the rest of the world, too).
Oh ... and the academics are mighty impressive on The Farm as well.
A 1,300 on the SAT might get ya a sniff from the admissions office.
Again ... "might."
Maybe ...

So, the next time ESSPN X-Games Central tries to promo this Little League sports program in G-ville, those of us with an I.Q. higher than 70.1 will chuckle.
And, then we'll scoff.

The song goes like this:
Florida: "We've got spirit / Yes, we do! / We've got spirit! / How 'bout STANFORD: "Later, Gators." (spits on the ground)

Speaking of sports programs who have school spirit, but not quite the talent to hang with the big boys -- hey! It's the Phillies!
The Fightin's coulda folded up their tent when they fell behind, 4-1, but leave it to Greg Dobbs to lace that 2-run single and to Carlos Ruiz to tie it with an RBI groundout in the top of the 9th.
Still, a loss is a loss -- and this one was lost long before the 13th.
It went down the drain when Adam Eaton gave himself a a 1-0 lead with an RBI double in the top of the 2nd before giving it back by surrendering a 3-un shot to Brian Schneider in the bottom half of the frame.

It makes ya wonder if Milestone Loss No. 9,966 is the one in which the Phillies learned that Adam Eaton is on a collision course with a 3-8 / 5.81 season.
Or will that eventuality play itself out during Milestone Loss No. 10,008 ... three games before Chuck Manuel is fired and Jimy Williams is turning the 82-80 season into a 73-89 mess.

(Reminder: John Felske was 29-32 in '87 -- after that 86-75 record in '86 -- when he got the axe. We don't know how Chuck's 37-44 record at the point of Milestone Loss No. 10,000 will be judged ... )

For those who are into the "Star Search" aspects of this 3-10 squad, well ... Jimmy Rollins still leads the N.L. with 6 HRs ... the $13-mil "athlete" which we know as Wheels Burrell extended his streak to 314 consecutive games w/o an official stolen-base attempt ... Brett Myers simply dazzled in his bullpen debut ... and Ryan Howard, apparently, tweaked his leg ...

That may sound bad -- but it's not as atrocious to settling into the Orlando, FL scene (here at the Holiday Inn ShootingSpree Resort) and then hearing Phil Esposito attempt to do color commentary for the Lightning-Devils playoff game on 1080 AM.

Espo interrupted the play-by-play call with, "Awwwwwwww, gimmm-meeee a brayyyyyy-k. That is so bad. Honest to .. God. Boy oh boy oh boy. Honest to God ..."

Just listening to the first 10 minutes of any game in which Espo has a microphone near him is a total delight.
Oh, sure ... it's unprofessional as hell -- but it's a treat.
Espo is terrible, but he's not evil.
He's the equivalent of eating an entire box of C&H Brown Sugar just before dinner -- after you already had TWO boxes of C&H Brown Sugar for breakfast.

"That's interference!" Espo yelled into the mic.
(Translation: It was probably an unwhistled cross-check)

Gotta run. It's time to get our questions ready for Espo on the postgame show.

"Phil, does the fact that Ted Bundy strangled co-eds in Gainesville make Ted more or less evil than Cho? Does the fact that John Wayne Gacy needed years to torture, kill and then hide approx. 33 bodies under the crawl space of his house make him more or less evil than Cho, who needed only a few hours to eclipse the 30-dead-body plateau?"

Would you like to defer to Nancy Grace, the social commenter of our era?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Phillies Odometer: The Thrill of 9,965

We're just a few clicks past midnight on Tuesday's spill-over to Wednesday -- and the personal odyssey of PF7, the Magnificent Mrs. and the superdog known as The Outlaw Josey Wales can be plotted by these sleep-over stopping points:

-- Chester, VA (Fri. nite)
-- Southern Pines, NC (Sat. nite)
-- Greenville, SC (Sun. nite)
-- Macon, GA (Mon. nite)
-- Gainesville, FL (current)

Here's a newsflash (which may not be that flashy): Georgia sucks.
There's nuthin' that the B-52s and R.E.M. can say (or sing) which'll change anyone's mind.

Another fascinating observation: Situated very near Exit 439 on I-75 (the exit which takes ya west on 136 to Live Oak), there's that giant Confederate flag on the northbound side of the interstate.
Not that it offends those of us who are transplanted California boys, but some are a mite cheesed off about the flyin' of the stars n' bars.
In fact, it was only a few days ago when Steve Spurrier voiced his disapproval over "that damn flag."

It was only a few hours earlier when some of us transplanted California boys heard Spurrier's comments for the first time -- as we were wolfing down one of those exquisite chili cheese dogs which DQ serves up real nice, y'all.

Spurrier's right about one thing, though ... he shouldn't speak up about matters which are beyond his comprehension (and, just in case you're trying to grasp the enormity of Spurrier's intelect, query anybody who got to see him up close when he was coaching the Redskins. Jeez, now there was a guy who was out to lunch ...).

Spurrier used to play his football right down the street here ... inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (home of the '06 BCS football champions), which is next door to the Stephen C. O'Connell Center (home of the '06 and '07 b-ball national champions).

This is Gator Country!
And, if you isn't a Gator, you's Gator bait!

Whatever ...

What really matters is that Chris Doering is one of the co-hosts of a drive-time sports show here in G-ville (1230 AM on your radio dial).
What's NOT to like about Chris Doering? We all remember that when Spurrier won his national championship in '96, Danny Waffle was pitchin' passes to Ike, Reidel and Jacquez ... and Doering missed out on all the fun because he was in the NFL.

Three seasons, three games played, three receptions for Indy in '96, '97 and '98 ... three seasons, three games played, three receptions w/ Denver in '99, '00 and '01 ... 14 games, 18 receptions for the 'Skins (w/ Spurrier) in '02 ... 16 games, 18 receptions for the Steelers in '03 ... three games, zero receptions for the Steelers in '04 ... on the roster for the '05 Steelers (practice squad? taxi squad? pep squad?), DNP ... MAYBE received a paycheck (a small one) from the Houston Texans in '06 (cut in preseason, we presume) ...

Exactly! It's hard to believe that Doering actually saw action in all 16 games for our beloved Steelers in '03 -- but, that's what happens when you're a 6-10 team (which will go 15-1 once Doering is kept as far away from the action as possible).

Still ... we don't know who Ben Hill Griffin is.
Or Stephen C. O'Connell.
No one does.

Speaking of a team which is now 3-9 (and nowhere near being good enough to be 6-10), the Phillies did a bang-up job tonight vs. the Mutts.

It was the Phillies' Milestone Loss No. 9,965 on the road to the totally-magical, almost-mythical 10,000 -- and Freddy Garcia's debut was a bust.

The point of interest here is that Freddy is wearing the uniform number (34) of the pitcher he was traded for -- Gavin Floyd.
FG fared no better than GF with that number.
Come to think of it, #34 has always been a source of mystique for the Phils.
Sarge (Gary Matthews) made it work ... but Mike Easler didn't during his 33 games with it in '87.
Then, it was Big Ben Rivera's turn ... and the results were mixed.

However, the more we inspect the landscape, isn't the 2007 season shaping up like the 1987 season?
Back then, there was the new pitcher acquired from the White Sox (Joe Cowley).
Back then, Scmidty was coming off an MVP season and began '87 needing 5 homers to reach 500 for his career.

HALT! No one's saying that Freddy Garcia is going to end up like Joe Cowley (5 starts for the Phils, an 0-4 record, an ERA of 15.43 and self-esteem issues up the wazoo).
And, Ryan Howard probably won't hit anywhere near 500 homers this year.

ON THE OTHER HAND, the electric John Felske was fired in June when the Phils were plodding along with a 29-32 record.
It's always difficult to remember if Paul Owens retired before or after that '87 season -- even though we all remember the short-lived tenure of Woody Woodward as GM in '88 before he was axed and Lee Thomas took over.

One person who doesn't care about the Phillies' '87 front-office paradigm is Charlie Manuel.
No doubt, Chuck wants to be around for Milestone Loss No. 10,000.
The smart money says that, despite the team's 37-44 record on the day of Historic Loss No. 10,000, Chuck will survive two weeks beyond that -- until Gillick axes Chuck to get Jimy Williams into the role of righting the ship to that 82-80 finish.

It all begins much later tonight in RFK vs. the DC Nats. Against the Bravos tonight, the Natswore various Virginia Tech caps -- and ya can't say enough about that move.
Hard to believe that a complete goofball doofus tool like Jim Bowden would think of such a tribute -- after all, this team ran out of hot dog buns during the third inning of the home opener.

Someone HAD to phone in with such an intelligent suggestion.

'Tis probably better to keep remembering those slain VPI kids than to acknowledge that April 18 is the 20th anniversary of Michael Jack's 500th homer.
A lot of us remember where we were when Schmidty went yard for that 3-run shot in the top of the 9th to turn a 6-5 deficit into an 8-6 win.

It seems a lot less significant nowadays since we'll never forget how we felt on Monday ...

Black Day In Blacksburg

Usually, we limit our chat on this Planet to sports chatter -- and, that's no different today as we sift through what occurred yesterday in HokieTown.
For one thing, Mrs. PF7 wants to know where Marcus Vick was with HIS gun (Answer: "Marcus only unholsters his sidearm when he finds it necessary to secure the parking lot of a McDonald's" Punch line: "Only Marcus don't wear no holster.")

The shooting spree hit the Haystack Headquarters road show because two of Mrs. PF7's patients are pitchers for the VPI baseball team. Thanks to cellular-to-satellite technology, a Greenville, SC (home of the orange-and-purple) hookup with Blacksburg, VA (home of the orange-and-maroon) resulted in pitcher Robbie Waszkiewicz giving the thumbs-up that he, fellow pitcher Andrew Wells and the rest of the VPI baseball team is safe n' sound.
Robbie and Andrew are quality individuals -- but 32 other quality individuals weren't as fortunate when it came to some dickhead who put the "CHO" in "PSYCHOPATH."

When such dementia touches our lives (by the unjust taking of someone else's life), the sickness that afflicts sickos is painful. However, the CNN/Fox News/MSNBC summit which'll last until it's time to return to our national obssession with Britney is almost as brutal.
It'll be "What makes a pyschopath tick?" and "What were the warning signs?" and "How could we have prevented this?" until it's time to return to "Why did Britney shave her head?" and "Was Britney wearing panties when she shaved her head?"

Since there are no answers/solutions, the Mrs. is severely reprimanded any time she clicks to TV channels which explore the life n' times of freaked-out psychos (i.e. the deranged gunman, not Nancy Grace or LayKing, in case you were wondering).
Any time those media outlets cares to air bios on the victims, THEN we'll tune in.

Refusal to acknowledge the gunman's name or his lowlife existence aids in the healing process.
By this wack job, we're playing into the hands of the media who'll point out that yesterday's massacre broke the single-day, killing-spree records established by Charles Whitman atop the tower at the University of Texas in '66 and of James Huberty when he gunned down 20-plus inside the McDonald's in San Ysidro nearly 20 years ago.

(Note: Sorry, Dr. Phil ... Whitman and Huberty weren't desensitized, video-game addicts or rap-music degenerates)

Hopefully, Robbie Waszkiewicz and Andrew Wells will prosper in endeavors which extend beyond the ballfield.
No matter how their lives unfold, they'll never forget the day that tragedy occurred and robbed their fellow campus-mates of a future.

Their grief and rage is worth discussing.
What's NOT open for discussion: The life n' times of some pile of crap who knew how to shoot a gun.

CNN/Fox News/MSNBC will talk about it anyway.
Because it's easier to act all experty on things they know nothing about (such as mental health) -- instead of compiling interesting life stories about 30-plus victims who were actually worth a damn ...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Different Jackie Robinson Tribute

No matter how old you are, it's almost impossible to dismiss Jackie Robinson's impact on the game.
After all, it was the injury to Jackie Robinson (causing him to miss the entire 1976-77 season) which forced Tarkanian to re-work his rotation ... giving rise to the Hardway Eight of Owens, Gondrezick, Moffett, Smith, Smith, Theus, Brown and Smith to reach the Final Four for HOLD THE PHONE!!!

Somebody just said that we're talking about the baseball Hall of Famer named Jackie Robinson, not the UNLV Hall of Famer named Jackie Robinson (UNLV HOF inductee in '94 w/ Sidney
Green ... the standout we knew as "El Sid" ... father of Taurean Green, who some may remember from the Florida Gators natHOLD THE PHONE!!!

How does this keep turning into the story of The Wrong Jackie Robinson?
(And, we don't mean "wrong" in a "bad person" sense, but rather in the "not right for America at this time" sense)

Jackie Robinson didn't get a chance to play in the tourney in '78 -- not because of the color of his skin or because he wasn't right for America at this time, but because UNLV was on probation.
Not that Tark had anything to do with that.
Just ask him.

Although he had barely a blip of an NBA career, Jackie Robinson got something better than a participation certificate from the NCAA for a tournament which he was denied.

That's right ... Jackie Robinson got a world championship ring as a bench-warner for the '79 world champion SuperSonics and HOLD THE PHONE!!!

We're having a real problem getting on board with which Jackie Robinson we're 'sposed to be r'memb'rin'.

Well, most of The MLB did its job yesterday by paying tribute to the baseball Jackie Robinson and not the basketball Jackie Robinson -- and many, many players did so by wearing #42.
None of us remember what number the basketball Jackie Robinson wore at UNLV.

Nevertheless, the Phillies were scheduled to have all their players wear #42 (as the Dodgers and Cardinals did in separate games), but, alas ... the game was rained out.
That might seem fitting to those who believe that the Phillies of the '50s (like the Red Sox of that time) were an organization which begrudgingly integrated its roster.

As the years went on, the Phillies more than held their own with rosters which had an adequate balance of white, black and brown ballplayers.
Still, some of us don't ever want to see an entire roster of #42 Phillies -- merely for the simple fact that we don't want anything to diminish the mind-numbing mediocrity which Don Carman showcased as the last player of note to wear that number in Philly.

(NOTE: We're pretty sure that pitcher Mike Hartley was THE last Phillie player to wear #42 in Philly -- which shouldn't take anything away from the years of steady relief pitching which Ron Reed logged while wearing that number ... )

Anyway, we hear a lot of negative talk these days about how the percentage of African-American players on MLB rosters has shriveled from 20-something percent in the '70s to an eye-opening low of 8 percent nowadays (FYI: The Braves and the Astros have zero African-Americans).

For the Phillies, an Opening Day '81 outfield of Gary Matthews (LF), Garry Maddox (CF) and Bake McBride (RF) has yielded to an Opening Day '07 outfield of Pat Burrell (LF), Aaron Rowand (CF) and Jayson Werth (RF) -- and, doggone it, it just doesn't get much more milky-white than that.

However, with Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Tom Gordon on the Opening Day roster, the '07 Phillies are 12 percent African-American, so, "yes" ... they're doing their part.

Now, if the mission is to compile a Phillies All-American, All-African-American, All-Star squad, it only makes sense that a starting lineup would look like:

2B -- Dave Cash
RF -- Bake McBride
SS -- Jimmy Rollins
1B -- Ryan Howard
3B -- Richie Allen
LF -- Gary Matthews
CF -- Garry Maddox
C -- Lenny Webster

Offensively, that's some firepower -- the only thing is: "Which black pitcher do we trot out there to protect that 7-0, first-inning lead?"
Ken Howell?
Robert Person?
Charlie Hudson?
Frickin' Floyd Youmans?
Starvin' Marvin Freeman?
Dave Stewart? (Four relief appearances in the final month of the '85 season; eight relief appearances in the first months of the '86 season; released by the Phils, signed two weeks later by the A's; 20-game winner in '87, '88, '89 and '90 ... )

And, what if Richie Allen goes on the DL? Is Charlie Hayes ready to step up at the hot corner?
Is everybody clear on the concept that Ricky Jordan, as one of the most-underrated Phillies ever, is a distinctly better gloveman than Ryan Howard -- which is why he made the roster as a reserve?

It's difficult to round out the reserves on the roster of our Phillie BlackStars -- because there's so much to choose from, especially the incredible depth among the outfielders.

That includes everyone from the always-steady Milt Thompson to the always-Slap-Hittin' Mark Whiten to Downtown Ollie Brown to Ronnie Gant ("he's jih-GANT-tik!") to the Hit Man, Mike Easler (33 unforgettable games in Philly in '87 after the Phils gave up Charlie Hudson to get him) to Phil Bradley (who had his milestone HR in the first night game at Wrigley -- on 8/8/88 -- forever erased by a rainout) to Doug Glanville (not only the middle name "Metunwah" but a middle name of "Metunwah" AND an engineering degree from Penn AND a walk-off HR off of Rocky Biddle -- over the head of Terrmel Sledge -- in the first-ever Sunday game at The Cit).

There probably isn't any room on the bench for sentimental faves such as speedy Jeff Stone and the guy with the wrecked-by-Vet-turf Ron Jones (not to mention Oscar Gamble in the early stages of the baddest 'fro of all-time) -- and unsentimental un-faves such as Wes Chamberlain, Wes Covington, Marlon Byrd, Billy Hatcher and Tony Longmire.
And, you, too, Dwayne Muphy.

No ... that's DWAYNE Murphy, not DALE Murphy, everybody.

Backup infielders could be a little thin with only Hayes, Steve Jeltz (who amazed us all when he switch-hit HRs to erase that 10-0, first-inning deficit in that 15-11 win over the Pirates) and Kim Batiste (blackest of the black men ever to play in Philly) to choose from -- unless you feel as though Marlon Anderson and Joe Morgan should start ahead of Dave Cash at second base.

But, nobody feels that way because Dave Cash was unmistakably "the man."
And many of us would take Rod Booker or Derrel Thomas as our second baseman on the Phillie BlackStars ahead of Joe Morgan.

It's all about everybody knowing their roles.
The only thing is -- is our closer Al Holland, Tom Gordon or Heathcliff Slocumb?
Tough call.
And what about Grant Jackson?
He was the Phillies' lone All-Star in '69 -- and he was 14-18 that year, only his ERA was excellent (3.34) and he tossed four shutouts.
In other words, "yes" ... he was a better pitcher in his era pitching for lousy Phillie teams than Brett Myers in his era pitching for slightly-above average Phillie teams (which, by the way, are not as good as they should be because of Myers, et al).

Look ... the Phillie BlackStars are a shoo-in to reach the semifinals of the all-black tourney, considering that the Chicago Black Sox have a trio of big sticks in Chet Lemon, Thad Bosley and Lamar Johnson, but the only pitching they've got is an ineffective Jesse Jefferson and a washed-up Blue Moon Odom.

The problem which most teams would face in this Dream Team All-Star tourney of American-born black players is that there simply aren't enough black catchers to go around -- which, inevitably, would lead to several forfeits.

We all remember that HOF Roy Campanella was half-black, half-Italian -- and he opened the door for black catchers of the '50s and '60s, such as Elston Howard, John Roseboro, Choo Choo Coleman (34 games w/ the Phillies as a rookie in '61 before making a splash with the 40-120 Mets of '62), Earl Battey, Paul Casanova and Elrod Hendricks.

However, memories of Charles Johnson during the 10-year window of the mid-'90s thru mid-'00s are quite possibly our last of the American-born black catcher.

Which is why the Minnesota BlackTwins will win our fantasy tournament.
With Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Kirby Puckett, Lyman Bostock, Dave Winfield, Disco Dan Ford, Larry Hisle, Al Newman, Don Baylor and, yes ... a black catcher (the aforementioned Earl Battey), there's no way that the BlackTwins can be stopped.

Especially not with a pitching staff of Mudcat Grant, Les Straker and Pat Mahomes.

That's right ... Les Straker AND Pat Mahomes.

How ironic for Minneapolis-St. Paul ... which doesn't have very many blacks per capita.

And, ya have to feel for the Houston Blackstros. They have the black catcher (Cliff Johnson), but their all-star pitching staff took quite a hit when J.R. Richard had that stroke at age 30 and Don Wilson -- with two no-hitters to his credit -- committed suicide at age 29.

The thunderous bats of Jimmy Wynn and Bob Watson will not be enough.

Still, Jackie Robinson opened the door for black catchers everywhere.

And because of his football prowess at UCLA, he opened the door for black, left-footed placekickers -- such as Justin Medlock, who'll be available for the NFL draft in two weeks.

Soon, it will be Medlock's turn to blaze a trail for other black, left-footed placekickers.

That is ... the black left-footed placekickers who aren't lining up to become the MLB's next great black catcher ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

On The Road While On The Road To 9,964

When they were trailing the Astros, 8-3, in the 4th inning, well ... the Phillies could've folded up their tent and said, "The hell with this!" -- but then they chipped away and cut it to 8-6 and (HEY! This reads alot like the intro from a week ago when the Braves had that 8-1 lead in the 9th before the Phils slapped together a meaningless 3-run rally in the 9th, blah blah blah ... ).

Interstingly, matters haven't changed significantly since that 3-game sweep by The A-T-L to open the 2007 season.
Except that the Phils are now 0-4 at The Cit ... and that 2-8 record finds them one-half game ahead of the woefully-untalented Washington Nationals (the Washington Generals of The MLB) and one-half game behind the ungodly-piss-poor K.C. Royals in the super-crappy team food chain.

It now boils down to a matter of "Will Charlie Manuel make it to the All-Star Break?"
Larry Bowa, from the Yankees dugout, is laughing his ass off.
Justifiably so.
Everybody in Philly knows that Larry Bowa can't manage because he's too uptight and ready to explode.
What the Phillies need is a low-key, down-home kinda manager.

Enn-eee-wayyy, it was somewhere in Spotslyvania county -- probably somewhere between Massaponax and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine -- that Carlos Lee whipped out his grand salami and turned a 3-1 Phillies lead into a 5-3 deficit.
Team Haystack was listening to the game on 1210 AM, the Philly station whose signal no longer reaches our pocket of the Mid-Atlantic Corridor after all those memorable games of the forgettable '98 season.

That Phillies play-by-play announcer was halfway decent -- and Larry Andersen sounds much more coherent.

Still, Brett Myers is one hurtin' bucko ... he of the 0-2 record and the ERA hovering near 10.00.
It may sound crazy now -- based on the way he's pitched so far -- but, with a little luck and a lot of breaks, he just might turn it around and give us a season to remember, such as, say, Don Carman's 10-14 / 4.29 season of of 1988.
Or Mark Leiter's 10-17 / 5.67 season of 1997.
Or Chad Ogea's 6-12 / 5.63 season of 1999.

Once again ... that's "with a little luck."
And a lot of breaks.

C'mon, Brett ... we're just needlin' ya.
Suppress that inner rage and the urge to allegedly slap her.

In all fairness to the guy we know as "Big B.M.," he pitched well enough the past two seasons (13-8 and 12-7 with sub-4.00 ERAs), but he is the king of the "no-decision."
25 of 'em the past two years.

Despite our Big B.M.'s tough luck, most of us are curious if Chuck Manuel will still be the manager for Milestone Loss No. 10,000 (or if it'll be interim mgr. Jimy Williams who'll be doffing his cap to the crowd of 10,000 fans).
After all, is it not a manager's job to steer the ship through murky waters?
So far, the Phillies have held the lead in eight of the nine losses -- so, ummm ... the math seems to indicate that Chuck is little more than a guy who says, "Go get me a 3-run homer, Chase. You, too, Ry ... "

Alas, just like in the final game of the Marlins series, the Phils scored three in the first and the starting pitcher immediately squandered it.
However, in the Marlins' game, the starting pitcher was a kid (Zack Segovia) making his MLB debut.
Brett Myers (in theory) should be better than that.

Again ... that's "in theory."
One Carlos Lee solo shot, one Carlos Lee grand slam and one Morgan Ensberg 3-run jack later, Brett Myers was gone.

Team Haystack lost the 1210 signal somewhere south of the Mattponi River ... and then when we got it back, Shane Victorino singled to begin the 8th and Utley worked a walk to put the tying runs on base for Ry.

Howard singled, but the Flyin' Hawaiian got cut down at the plate.
Then, Chad Qualls came on to get Wes Helms -- wearing Vuk's #18 -- to tap into a Vukovich-esque 5-4-3 DP.

Then, Mad Dog came on to pitch and served up Carlos Lee's third homer of the game.

Madson ... he's doin' a bang-up job of comin' in and grooving pitches for guys to hit over the fence.

Suddenly, that 82-80 season which this Planet predicted seems a little optimistic.
Especially after the Nationals take two outta three when that series begins on Wednesday ...

The 9,963 Report: Glavine Locks Up HOF Election

That's the great aspect of the Phillies' voyage to Milestone Loss No. 10,000 -- this will not be accomplished by waving a magic wand, but rather through trial and error.
Painful though it may be at times.

Last night was like that. J-Roll hit those two homers to put the Phils up, 3-1, but 56-year-old Jamie Moyer was unable to make it stand up against Future HOF'er Tommy Glavine.

And, in other Phillies news, minor leaguer Hector Made -- the guy acquired from the Yankees for Sal Fasano last summer -- was suspended for 50 games for use of a banned substance.

So, as the team readies for a home series against the 2005 N.L. Champion Astros, at least they'll go into that 3-game set with the N.L.'s home run leader ... Rollins.
One-eighteenth of the way through this 82-80 season, Rollins is on pace to hit 90 homers -- although the Phillies are on pace to win only 36 games.

Somehow, neither of those trends figure to continue.

Or will they?

Interestingly, Krukker, on Baseball Tonight, said that the Phillies should bat Rollins in the cleanup spot.
Bat Rollins fourth?
Is that Krukker talkin' -- or is the Glycemic Index ... the phenomenon which made him not as disgusting to his wife as he used to be?

The jury is still out -- but if Kruk keeps adding more n' more gel n' mousse to that rapidly-reaching-mullet-status 'doo, the needle on America's Disgust-o-Meter will inch to the right from "kinda disgusted" to "the type of disgust which is more along the lines of contempt."

In other words, the sloppy, shaggy factor was cute in '93.
Not so much nowadays ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Since the Phillies beat the Mutts at Shea and, thus, remain stuck on Milestone Loss No. 9,962, there's not much to talk about.
Unless ya wanna throw another log on the Imus fire.

Seems like it took wayyyyy too long for this Earth to have an initial reaction -- and now the ripple effect is intensifying, one week after one of America's Scariest-Looking Douchebags made his "nappy-headed hos" remark directed toward the Rutgers chick b-ballers.

From what we can tell, America is divided on the matter. On one hand, America is appallled.
On the other hand, America says, "That's just Imus being a rascal. Be glad he didn't use the N-word or the C-word."

One thing that most of us Americans can agree on -- without regard to race or gender -- is that chicks b-ball sure sucks.
We know that this is a sentiment shared by many Americans because too often when we'd check in for our weekly five minutes per week of chicks' b-ball, we'd stumble into an NCAA Tourney game -- and when we'd see some gal readying to shoot a free throw, we'd notice an alarming amount of empty seats behind her.
This ... in a game which was a so-called "regional final."

And, now that ya mention it ... who won the Women's NIT, anyway?
Why no love for the Women's NIT champion?

One of the more-amusing sidebars to the recent furor which could irrevocably tear this nation apart is the news that Imus will supposedly meet with the team at an undisclosed location sometime in the near future.
What exactly will that accomplish, C. Vivian Stringer?
Doesn't she know that these "Let's Create A Dialogue" get-togethers solve nothing?

Think about it: If this Planet called I-Mess "a deranged, bedwetting pedophile" (of which we have no proof that he is or is not), would an "understanding" be reached if this Planet and I-Mess had a coffee shop sit-down post-"deranged, bedwetting pedophile" remark?
If this Planet proclaimed that I-Mess and that "thing" he calls a hairstyle positioned above that "thing" which he calls a face is proof positive that hillbillies mated with billy goats, does a contrived meeting later on help to smooth things over?

Joe Jackson said it best when he sang, "Vegetarians against the Klan / Every woman against every man / Never one to one ... "

Giving the Rutgers girls some face time with I-Mess merely creates more publicity for the media mongrel. It's not as though I-Mess will "connect" with the Rutgers players and have some sort of an epiphany -- unless, of course, Epiphany Prince throws a punch and connects with I-Mess' eye socket and actually improves that beast's appearance.

It's not really a question of "Is I-Mess a racist?"
His comments prove that he is, notwithstanding the ranch he established in New Mexico for kids to avoid becoming a booze-guzzlin' cokehead like he once was (or whichever chemicals-of-choice it was which made his face all scraggly and jagged and weatherworn).

The issue for America isn't if we're racist -- it's a matter of how profound and prolific our levels of "Mommy, that person looks/thinks different than me."

Where do the answers lie, oh, Son of the Hillbillygoat?

MR. SPARKLE Night at the Ballyard

For a lot of Americans interested in making nice with our Pacific Rim overlords, Wednesday was a day filled with the type of electricity in the air that we haven't witnessed since that time when Matsumura Fishworks and Tamaribuchi Heavy Manufacturing Concern combined forces to give us Mr. Sparkle dishwashing detergent.
Who can forget the videotape which we watched in our home (or prefecture)?

What we learned about Mr. Sparkle was that dirt gets banished to the land of wind and ghosts.

"Join me or die, can you do any less?
Awww-summa powwuh, indeed!

Dice-K made his Beantown debut tonight -- and even though the Dice Man was outdueled by that pitching studcake, Felix Hernandez, there was no hiding the sheer thrill we all felt when Dice-K squared off against Ichiro.
That definitely took us back to the pitcher-hitter confrontations that the two waged during the Seibu Lions-Orix Blue Wave showdowns of yesteryear.

Join me or die, can you do any less, indeed!

For those of us who remember classic Japanese League battles -- or for those of us who have a bitchin' collection of Japanese League trading cards from the 1990s (after our girlfriend-who-later-became-our-wife brought back a pack from her trip to Japan) -- we have to admit that Dice-K vs. Ichiro was fascinating, but it didn't quite live up to the buzz of previous encounters of such magnitude.

Such as Masaharu Motohara of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks vs. Toyozo Minamimure of the Chunichi Dragons.
Or Motofumi Nishimuri of the Nippon Ham Fighters vs. Tokitaka Minamibuchi of the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Or Tatsuhiro Yuminaga of the Hanshin Tigers vs. Yoshihiro Yamagoshi of the Orix Blue Wave.
Or Izumi Takayanagi of the Kintetsu Buffaloes vs. Takehiko Kobayakawa of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

Dammit, people ... stop confusing Toyozo Minamimure for Tokitaka Minamibuchi!
And, no ... Takehiro Kobayakawa is not that dude who can scarf a world-record 53.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes.
Takehiro Kobayakawa is not Takeru Kobayashi.
(And, three months from now, San Jose State's very own Joey Chestnut will take down The Tsunami on the Fourth of July outside Nathan's on Coney Island -- although, ever since the tidal wave hit Phuket the day after Xmas '04 -- nearly costing this world one Petra Nemcova -- we're not supposed to use the term "tsunami" so casually ... )

Anyway, it always brings a smile to our faces any time we think about the days when those who played for the Chiba Lotte Marines could brag that they were the only athletes in a major sports paradigm who had the guts to do their baseballin' thang in a PINK-and-black color scheme.
Y'know, the black-n'-pink is a lot less-objectionable than you might've thought.

Anyway, remembering how the Japanese had the courage to twin the pink with the black helps to ease the pain of the time when that son of a bitch, Hans Gruber, seized control of the Nakatomi Building in L.A. and then shot Mr. Takagi in the head.
Which is why some of us have vowed that, if we ever do have children, our first-born will be named "Takagi Nakatomi" -- which should greatly please Toyozo Minamimure, Tokitaka Minamibuchi, Takehiro Kobayakawa and Takeru Kobayashi, who, we suspect, found Hans Gruber's act of wanton cruelty quite objectionable.

True ... there are a lot of hillbillies livin' in the Don Imus Memorial Trailer Park who think, "Them Orientals sure got some wacky names, y'all."
Naturally, such remarks usually come from some Cletus who spent all day listenin' to either his dad's Ferlin Husky 8-tracks or his uncle's Conway Twitty's 45s.

Dem fellers ain't never gonna "get it" when it comes to the global significance of what we saw tonight ... Dice-K vs. Ichiro.
So, we're not gonna break it to them that while Dice-K vs. Ichiro works on the Land Of The Rising Sun level, it is NOT the ultimate in MLB, pitcher-vs.-hitter Pacific Rim showdowns.

That distinction would belong to a matchup which featured Korea's Jung Bong pitching to Korea's Shin-Soo Choo.
Jung Bong hasn't pitched in the bigs since those few games w/ the Reds in '04 (after spending most of '03 with the Braves) -- and Shin-Soo Choo didn't reach The Show 'til '05 ... when he went 1- for 18 with the M's, then, after going 1 for 11 with the M's last year, was shipped to Cleveland in the Ben Broussard deal.

But, imagine the possibilities ... Jung Bong vs. Shin-Soo Choo.
It's mind-boggling -- almost as fascinating as that white goat-tee that M's manager Dudley Michael Hargrove is wearing this season (but not as fascinating as watching "Ninja Warrior" on G4).

It makes ya wonder if the Koreans have a dishwashing detergent which can match Mr. Sparkle in terms of "awwww-summm-muhhh poww-wuhh!"

Or an ad campaign to match.

"Any plans for the summer?" the reporter asks the cow before pointing his microphone in the face of the cow standing nearby.
The cow cracks, shatters and falls into a hundred pieces on the ground ...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Phillies Odometer: 9,962 On The Road To 10,000

That's the adorable component of a team which has a loaded lineup, but a pitching staff composed of question marks in the starting rotation and a bullpen with some shady suspects -- the preseason prediction from the pundits is almost always, "Well, it looks like we can expect (Team X) to win a lot of 10-8 games this season."

Except that it almost never works that way -- and definitely never for the Phillies.

That's pretty much how Phillies Milestone Loss No. 9,962 became a matter of public record this afternoon in the Mutts home opener at Shea.
The extremely mediocre John Maine -- who went 3-0 against the Phils last year -- did NOT get the win. However, the Phils usually-dependable Geoff Geary got himself into one helluva mess during the Mutts' 7-run 8th and ...

Look ... it was the Phillies' third home opener in a little more than a week and, frankly, they've gotta be tired of all the fanfare.
Before we all know it, the Phils will turn these 11-5 losses into 11-5 wins -- and the entire MLB will be running for cover.

At least 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard went deep for the first time.
Everybody's wunderin' what's wrong with Big Fly Ry, but everybody seems to forget that, on the way to 58 HRs last year, How Hard Howard had only one HR in April.

If only he could add a few more 5-run HRs and 6-run blasts to his arsenal ...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Farewell to Segovia & Bisenius (The Story of 9,961)

A lot of people write in and ask, "Once the Phillies achieve Milestone Loss No. 10,000, what will be left to cheer for in this 82-80 season of '07?"

Isn't it obvious?

"Dear Reader: By the time the Phils' odometer turns over to 10,000, Wheels Burrell's un-stolen base streak should be up to 368 or 372 consecutive games. It's our job to support his quest to reach to 450 by season's end."

Ain't it just like the Phils to finish the first week of the season with a 1-5 record by dropping two of three in south Fla. before traveling back up the coast to act as clay pigeons in a Shea Stadium skeet shoot?
Well, as per the "collateral damage" aspect of that 1-5 record, it's unfortunate that Zack Segovia and Joe Bisenius were cast as scapegoats.
No, Zack Segovia isn't a Phils diehard from Bryn Mawr -- and, no, Joe Bisenius is not a Phanatic from Bala Cynwyd.

It sez here that Segovia and Bisenius were rookie pitchers who were first-week casualties of the season in which Charlie Manuel was axed three weeks after the All-Star Break and Jimy Williams put on his "interim manager" gameface.

Zack Segovia barely had time to break his #73 uniform. And, to be honest, he pitched kinda, sorta, semi-adequately today in his MLB debut.
The Phils, though, they didn't figure that they'd be done in by shortstop Alfredo Amezaga (who entered the game when '06 N.L. Rookie of the Year Hanley Ramirez left the game) and center fielder Alejandro De Aza

De Aza hit the sac fly in the 2nd which pulled the Fish to within 3-2 and Amezaga hit the RBI triple in the 7th which provided an insurance run.

Probably nobody figured that Alfredo Amezaga would win that confrontation with Antonio Alfonseca.

But, because Zack Segovia couldn't protect that 3-0 lead which he was spotted in the top of the 1st, well ...
As it turned out, Zack Segovia took Joe Bisenius down with him.

Now the Phillies are Segovia-less.
Not to mention Bisenius-less.

We'll all remember how Milestone Loss No. 9,961 was painful, but the aftermath was brutal ...

Friday, April 06, 2007

9,959 ... 41 to go!

They could've folded up their tents ... they could've rolled over ... they could've gone home with a 15-1 loss to punctuate a painful, 3-game sweep by Mylanta, but NO! The Fightin' Phils would have no part of that.
They scratched out three run in the bottom of the 9th yesterday to make an 8-1 ballgame a respectable, 8-4 final.

Three losses in three tries might be cause for concern everywhere from Bryn Mawr to Bala Cynwyd, but, hey ... that merely gets us to Historic Loss No. 10,000 that much sooner.
Possibly before the All-Star Break, rather than after.

For those who are looking to attend Historic Loss No. 10,000 and are planning a special "Throw Something Onto The Field From The Upper Deck" tribute to the ex-Phillies bussed in for the occasion (probably Rick Schu and Gregg Jefferies w/ special guest star appearances by Sil Campusano and Bruce Ruffin), now is as good a time as any to pick out which of your sweatshirts or trousers have the best pockets for filling up with 9-volt batteries.

Cargo shorts are a good idea because they tend to have several outer pockets.

(Note: Most of us are in agreement that a 9-volt battery buzzing past Mark Whiten's ear or glancing off of Jeff Juden's shoulder would've meant so much more from the top deck of The Vet as opposed to stretegic perches from The Cit -- and, everyone knows that a 9-volt is better than a AA when the game plan calls for "distance AND accuracy")

The only drawback to this game being on the workplace TV with the sound off (and a work day in progress) was that work-related tasks were taking place when Joe Bisenius made his MLB debut for the Phils when he took the mound for that enormous stiff, Atom Eat 'Em.

When we had the lab boys piece together the crime, we learned that Joe Bisenius was immediately greeted by a 2-run double off the bat of Scott Thorman (whatever the F a Scott Thorman is).

In Joe Bisenius' first full IP in the bigs, he really found his groove -- especially when it came to facing somebody named Kelly Johnson, who'd homered in his (or her) previous AB.
Atom Eat 'Em simply wasn't smart enough or talented enough to see that Kelly Johnson is a weakling who might hit .236 this year (if God drops everything else) -- so it was up to Joe Bisenius' testosterone level to make Kelly Johnson take a called third strike.

For those of you who know your way around an official scorebook, this means that we now must always spell Kelly Johnson's first name with a backwards K.

If only this keyboard had a backwards K on it.

Speaking of backwards, that's the way we're counting as "the magic number" might dip below 40 before the end of the weekend series which begins tonight in Miami (and what promises to be an electric Marlins' average crowd of probably 12,000).

Then again, attendance could receive a major boost if fans come out to witness Joe Bisenius and his three-pitch repetoire: "The Crippler" ... "The Emasculater" ... and "The Widow-Maker" ...