Friday, May 25, 2007

Blue Jay, Blue Hen, Blue Devil, Big Red

About the only thing missing from this NCAA Final Four lacrosse equation -- Blue Jay, Blue Hen, Blue Devil, Big Red -- is Blue Thunder, the baddest of all bad-ass helicopters from that movie of nearly 25 years ago (let's face it: there isn't a one of us who saw that movie who didn't dream that one day WE would be selected to pilot Blue Thunder to either obliterate evil-doers or pick up chicks for midnight joyrides ...).

Meanwhile back at the ranch, maybe we don't have the Blue Demons of DePaul or the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State, but this current scenario plays out as Blue Jay (the traditional and local powerhouse), Blue Hen (the underdog/dark hen which crashed the party), Blue Devil (America's sweethearts for the way that tragedy was turned to triumph) and Big Red (the undefeated team which no one believes in).

One fish, two fish ... red fish, blue fish ...

Lacrosse ... it's the sport which most of us didn't play and the sport which most of us don't fully comprehend (except possibly for the fact that it's North America's oldest sport ... born right here in Maryland ... just another thing that Whitey ripped off from the Iroquois and Tuscarora nations).

Despite that bad break for the Native Americans, we of the paleface persuasion remain intrigued by Memorial Day's blockbuster event (which is, basically, the only time we bother with concerning ourselves about those guys using their funky wickets to sling around the hard rubber ball).

Again ... we don't fully grasp every nuance -- such as why college lacrosse STILL hasn't made a dent in kid appeal on the West Coast (where we once lived).
When they use the letters "LAX" out here, it stands for "la-cross."
When we use the letters "LAX" way out west, it means "Los Angeles International Airport."

Indeed ... we're sad that there won't be an epic showdown tomorrow and/or Monday between Virginia's John Christmas and Syracuse's Brett Bucktooth (as there might've been when they played against each other at some point two seasons ago).

The history of "Christmas vs. Bucktooth" ... it's the stuff of legends.
From what they tell us, Christmas and Bucktooth both play pro LAX nowadays.

Makes ya wonder what people at LAX think of pro LAX.

Anyway, we'd better fasten our seatbelts 'cuz ya never know how it'll all shake out.
Tricky bounces ... weird hops ... and those guys with the long poles whacking/slashing the bejeezus outta their opponents padded forearms.

One thing we should remember: Lotsa Big Red fans will be wearing their "CORNELL #21" shirts to acknowledge George Boiardi, the player who died of commotio cordis in that freak accident back in '04 when a shot hit his chest at the precise moment that his heart was between a "lub" and a "dub."

When we think of Duke's bogus battlecry -- "succisa virescit" ("cut it down and it grows back stronger") -- we remember that the "nightmare" began with underaged drinking and a stripper or two.
The "stolen" '06 season of Duke ain't worth talkin' 'bout.

George Boiardi is.

9,980 (bonus: Josh Hancock's Dad v. The World)

Indeed, there was a massive dark cloud hanging over the Phillies' defeat last night.
The team's focus might've been less on the developments in Milestone Loss No. 9,980 -- i.e. a lotta smack-talkin' takin' place in Miami re: the intent of pitches which sailed behind hitters, etc. -- than what happened off the field on Thursday.
What is of great concern to the Phillies -- and why their minds might've been elsewhere last night -- is the possibility that Dean Hancock (father of the drunk-and-dead Josh Hancock) might feel inclined to file suit against the Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Club, thus naming the team as a defendant in "Dean Hancock's Rampage Against Every Irresponsible, Mutha-Effin' Bastard Who Didn't Adequately Protect The Sober Josh Hancock From The Wasted Josh Hancock."
For those of us who mourned Josh Hancock (in entries dated 5/1 and 5/5), it was interesting to learn that Dean Hancock will not only wage war against the owner of Mike Shannon's Restaurant (Mike Shannon himself) and the restaurant's manager (Mike Shannon's daughter), but also against Eddie's Towing, the driver of Eddie's Towing flatbed tow truck and the driver of the car which stalled on I-64 (which led to a service call to the driver of the available Eddie's Towing flatbed tow truck).
The litigation might seem somewhat (if not totally) frivolous to 93 percent of America.
Yet, those who are chuckling are using that laughter as a futile attempt to disguise their own culpability.
Maybe we should listen to Deano when he answers his own rhetorical question.
"Who killed my son? You ALL did!"
Apparently, we're all going to pay for what we did to Josh Hancock.
Once you break it down, though, Papa 'Cock has a winnable case.
However, Deano's list of defendants seems woefully short, aside from the obvious culprits -- i.e. the restaurant personnel which offered a boozehound more and more booze and the motorists (stalled vehicle; flat-bed tow truck) whose due diligence was not apparent when it came to protecting America from boozehounds which are intoxicated two times the legal limit when they get behind the wheel.
This is where the trial could hang in the balance -- when a Phillies rep (probably puppet Asst. GM Ruben Amaro) testifies that at no point during Hancock's two games w/ the ballclub in '03 or his four games in '04 did Hancock arrive drunk to work.
On re-direct, Amaro will be queried about his own sobriety.
"Mr. Amaro, are you, in fact, drunk right now? Are you under the influence of any recreational drugs? Are you addicted to any prescriptions meds, i.e. Vicodin or Oxycodon? If we checked the Thermos in your briefcase, would we find cough syrup mixed with butter ripple schnapps?
"And, remember ... you ARE under oath ... "
Makes ya wonder who's on trial here.
The Phillies surely will be cast as an organization which failed to identify Hancock's substance-abuse issues.
And, it will be argued, that it was the Phillies' mishandling of the young pitcher back in '03 and '04 which , in fact, drove the player to the bottle in the first place.
That's on you, Larry Bowa and Joe Kerrigan.
As per the matters of marijuana, that's a clear-cut, distributor/end-user matter.
However, if the dealer who sold the weed to Hancock was a little more into customer relations, he'd've smoked a bowl with the pitcher and, thus, maybe prevented the Redbird from hittin' the highway.
Therefore, it's probably serves Deano's best interests to have the dealer subpoenaed as we all sing that merry tune from 25 years ago:
"I smoke two joints in times of peace / And two in times of war / I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints / And then I smoke two more ..."
In the grand scheme of this Dead Redbird, the drunk pitcher's name seems less like "Hancock" -- and more like "Jackpot."
And, Papa 'Cock is doin' what any grieving father would do if his own Junkie Josh Jackpot got hisself all drunk and dead.
He's exercising his Contitutional rights, here in the Jacoby & Myers of America -- and what that means is that we're not finished compiling our list of farging bastages who killed the junkie jackpot.
What about the asphalt company which got the initial I-64 contract -- and which failed to apply to the highway an anti-drunk-driver sealant, thus rendering the blacktop "DWI-proof."
What about the rental car company which failed to offer Junkie Josh the rental package wherein he had the a choice of the armor-plated vehicle which would have ensured the protection of any/all drunk operators of said vehicle from the sober motorists who clog up traffic?
What about M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) ... and S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Drivers) ... and D.A.P.A.D.P (Drunk Airline Pilots Against Drunk Pitchers) ... and T.D.A.D.L. (Topless Dancers Against Duke Lacrosse) for not vigorously picketing every St. Louis home game and brigning attention to Josh's "illness"? What about 30,000-plus Cardinal fans who showed up at Busch Stadium and New Busch Stadium and asked for autographs from Junkie Josh -- giving him the false sense of indestructability and thus empowering Josh with the unrealistic hope of one day claiming, "I'm gonna see if I can drive my rental car at 100 MPH while on PCP AND HGH, baby!"
Left to our own devices, we could probably list 50-100 defendants -- and then submit that list to Dean Hancock. In a twisted way, spending time pondering who killed Josh Hancock is a lot more enjoyable than remembering how god-awfully crappy he was in relief for the Cards in Game 2 and Game 4 of last year's NLCS (which was worse than watching Jeff Lahti pitch for the Cards in the '85 World Series or Danny Cox attempting to pitch for the Cards in the '87 World Series).
La Loser didn't allow Junkie Jackpot anywhere near the mound in last year's World Series -- not with that unsighly 162.00 ERA (which, no doubt, shook Josh's confidence and exacerbated his substance-abuse issues).
In the end, it does seem as though Dean Hancock is doing the right thing -- just to take our minds off the fact that, in the pantheon of mediocre Cardinal pitchers, Junkie Josh probably ranks at No. 78 (between No. 76 Reggie Cleveland and No. 77 Tom Urbani and No. 79 Omar Olivares and No. 80 Rick Folkers).
And, once the dust has settled from these lawsuits, we can expect Dean Hancock to use his courtroom winnings as start-up money for the creation of J.D.D.M.P.A.D.D. (Jackass Dads of Dead Mediocre Pitchers Against Drunk Drivers) ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Thanks To Carlos Ruiz ...

... there was no Milestone Loss No. 9,977 last night at The Cit.

The Phillies' catcher -- whose uniform #51 makes him one of the few catchers in the history of The MLB to wear a uniform number greater than 50 (except for those Grapefruit League and Cactus League rookie backstops who we see wearing #63 or #74 every spring) -- put his stamp on this eventual 82-80 season with that walk-off HR against former folk legend Derrick Turnbow (Mr. Baggy Uniform & Bad Haircut ... Phillies' 7th-round draft pick in '97 ... mild sniff with Anaheim in '00-'04 ... 7-1 / 1.74 w/ 39 saves / 4 blown saves for Brew Crew in '05 ... 5-11 / 6.59 ERA, 25 saves / 9 blown saves in the 1.25 seasons since that "breakout" season).

Of course, it was ex-Phillie Johnny Estrada (.220 in 99 games for the '01/'02 Phils ... .314 for ATL in '04; .302 for ARIZ last year; .301 for MILW this year) who necessitated the heroics when he hit that solo HR off of the new closer, Brett Myers, in the top of the 9th -- which was OK for a lot of us because it cost Adam Eaton a W -- appropriate punishment for a pitcher who's picked up some trashy W's this season (evidenced by that STILL hovering above 6.00 ERA).

So, tonight ... the Phils go for the sweep against the team which they trailed by eight full games in the wild-card standings (25-12 vs. 17-20) when the series began. And, with Ruiz's heroics, the 19-20 Phils inched to within one-half game of the teams tied for seventh place (SF and HOU at 19-19) and remained percentage points ahead of the Cubs (18-19).

Moving into a three-way tie for seventh place might not seem like a big deal -- but, they taught us at the Academy that you can't get to sixth place until you reach seventh place.
And, so on and so forth ...

It was reported that, of the 41,000-plus at The Cit last night, 11,000-plus were "walk-up" ticket sales ... the largest in Cit history.
So, what's with Phillie Fans Who Actually Live In/Near Philly?

Are they gettin' all geeked because the Magic Number is 24 for Landmark Loss No. 10,000 -- and now the buzz is gettin' intense?
Or, was last night's turnout the best chance Philly pholks had to see "The Ryan Replacement" ... Greg Dobbs?
In the span of a week (since the N.L. MVP went on the DL), Dobbsie has raised his average from .188 to .313.

There's no way that those fans were out there to see N.L. home run leader ... J.J. Hardy.

"J.J. Whooo-dee?"

There may be one other explanation:
Although he's batting .243 (15 points below his stellar .258 career average), Pat The Bat extended his consecutive-games-without-an-official-stolen-base-attempt streak to 339 games.
Not a hit-and-run which the catcher couldn't handle, but the official scorer gave him the swiped bag anyway ...
Not a moment when he was leaning the wrong way, got himself technically picked off and then slid in under the tag of a weak throw to the wrong side of the bag by the first baseman ...
Not the tail end of a double steal when Rollins/Utley/Victorino stole third ...

"Mr. Excitement" is bringin' Philly fans back -- which is a pleasant surprise, given that, after that sparkling '04 season of The Cit's debut (when the Phils' attendance was 2nd in the NL), Phillie fanatics spent '05 and '06 NOT showing up during wild-card-playoff near-misses, finishing 9th and 7th in attendance.

Those drop-offs were shameful ... the easy explanation being that Phillie fans came to visit the new shrine in '04 ... and maybe to say goodbye to Larry Bowa.
And, Phillie fickleheads (apparently) weren't into the Manuel Labor policy which was implemented by that big ol' yokel who wears the "MGR" cap when he took over for the '05 season.

Either way, we could either spend the rest of this day theorizing all hypotheticals -- or we could ponder those catchers who have worn uniform numbers greater than #50 (Fisk = #72 w/ the Chisox ... Bob Geren = #53 for those crummy Yankees teams of the early '90s ... any others?).

Or we can salute the other great Phillies who wore #51.
Such as ... Heathcliff Slocumb.

Any others?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

9,974 and 9,975 (Desert Downers)

Phillies Landmark Losses Nos. 9,974 and 9,975 weren't as traumatic as they might've been because they were a pair of 1-run defeats to the D-Backs -- and the Snakes are part of that recent trend which is afoot whereby we might have every N.L. team decked out in RED.

This season, the Snakes have ditched the bluish-purplish combos of previous seasons in favor of a reddish, brick-coloured ensemble.
It's up to America to decide if The MLB has enough red.
Or not enough.

As it stands, we now have the Phillies, Reds, Cardinals, Nationals as the NL teams wearing bright red and Arizona and Houston as the teams with a southwestern, brick-red-esque motif.

Let's not forget the Bravos when they wear their Sunday red tops and the Pirates when they wear those insanely-hideous, red, roadworker-approved vests.
If only the Dodgers could incorporate something ugly to match the red numbers on the front of the uniform -- and if only the Cubs could work out something to coordinate with the red "C" on their blue caps, well ...

"HEY! The Phillies' first baseman went deep!"
If we'd yelled that last night, we'd've been talking about Greg Dobbs filling in for Ryan Howard and hitting his first Phillie HR.
But, TONIGHT ... it was the more-traditional power source (Howard) goin' yard in a less-traditional manner (as a pinch-hitter).
"R.H. The PH" came off the bench and put a real jolt into the matchup which pitted the oldest southpaw-vs.southpaw matchup in history.
The Snakes built that 3-0 lead against 44-year-old Jamie Moyer, but after 43-year-old Randy Johnson left the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the seventh -- after the Unit had struck out the first 6 Phillies he faced -- super-dorky Bob Melvin went to his 'pen.
That's amusing from the standpoint that it illustrates the pussywillow nature of those delicate flowers that we call "pitchers" and those genius managers who are talked into "please don't hurt my fragile daffodil."
Think about it: Johnson was pitchin' a shutout ... he'd thrown 101 pitches ... and he had the DANGEROUS Wes Helms. Abraham Nunez and Carlos Ruiz coming up.
What's the problem here?
Instead, Melvin yanked his Unit ... and brought in Brandon Medders, prompting Manuel Labor to use Howard.
Medders was facing a .198 hitter who has struggled and struggled and struggled and struggled -- but, Medders freaked out and figured, "Maybe I can sneak one of my 83 MPH Main Street, no-movement pus balls past him."
First pitch ... GONE!
That was a quality "all-access/inside peek" into why Bobby Melvin won all those world titles up there in Seattle after Piniella left him with that record-setting, 116-win team.
No faith in his Hall of Fame starter ... too much faith in his sack-o-crap reliever ... it looks like another 82-80 season in the desert (the first of three more before The Melv is axed and then required to arm-wrestle Manuel Labor for that K.C. Royals hitting instructor's post ...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Another Poignant Josh Hancock Tribute

Last night's Phillies' Milestone Loss No. 9,972 in 'Frisco (the locals hate it when their town is referred to as "Frisco") was a lot easier to swallow now that we -- after several days of waitin' on pins n' needles -- have the results of Josh Hancock's final moments on Earth.
Good thing SOME of us waited before we knee-jerked our way into a teary-eyed eulogy of "Josh was such a swell guy/Why do bad things happen to good people?/Life ain't fair."

The results appear incontrovertible:
*** A blood-alcohol level of .157 ...
*** Seatbelt not buckled (i.e. lapbelt and shoulder harness not "deployed properly") ...
*** 8.55 ounces of ganja in the vehicle (glass pipe included, chuhhh-ching!) ...
*** A cell phone which was engaged in a call to a chick at the time that the collision took place (at 68 MPH) with that parked flat-bed tow truck ...

While those are the cold, hard facts from the lab boys, there's a more-human, sensitive angle which has us remem'brin' that Josh Hancock died doin' what he loved.
Gettin' wasted and lookin' for 'tang.
Giddyup, darlin' ...

Some of us (and some of us won't) assign blame in the "taking" of Josh Hancock at age 29.
Whose fault was it -- or, more to the point, who could have saved Josh Hancock from Josh Hancock?
Do we point the finger at M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) and/or S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Drivers) and/or D.A.P.A.D.B. (Drunk Airline Pilots Against Drunk Ballplayers) for failing to keep America's asphalt free of broken glass, twisted metal, puddles of blood and World Series rings wedged within gnarled wreckage from America's drunken assholes?

Sometimes, when grief yields to guilt, it's best to turn to the source that we mentioned the other day.
That's right ... it's Ecclesiates to the rescue!

After seeking solace in the tender embrace of Ecclesiates 9:3 and 9:5 (as we did the other day), it becomes necessary to follow it up with the comforting wisdom of an Ecclesiastes 9:11 and 9:12 chaser to complete the "Why did Josh have to leave so soon?" equation.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 -- "The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all."
Ecclesiates 9:12 -- "Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them."

Doggone that Ecclesiastes ... he was so wise.
That guy totally had his shit together.

And, if our math is correct, time and chance happened to Josh ... and that Redbird was taken in a snare ... trapped by .157 and 8.55 worth of evil which fell "unexpectedly" on him.
At 68 MPH.
Without a seat belt (click it or ticket, pal!)

As far as wreckless driving goes, this Planet is inclined to rank The 'Cock's exploits a verrrrry distant second to the one which took down ex-USC footballers -- receiver Mike Bastianelli and DL'er Darrell Russell -- in late '05 in Culver City, CA.
That one ended sometime around 6 a.m. with Bastianelli behind the wheel, usin' the death maneuver of curb-to-tree-to-newsstand-to-fire-hydrant-to-light-pole-to-Tree No. 2-to-unoccupied-transit-bus.
"Tree No. 2" is a rarity in cars which spin outta control at 6 a.m.
However, we give thanks to Ecclesiates that the transit bus was unoccupied.
Then, as now, we praise Ecclesiates that he didn't allow any innocent bystanders to be taken in a snare or trapped by evil times which might've fallen unexpectedly upon them as dickheads engaged in dangerous dickheadish behaviour.

At least, now they're dead dickheads.

Hancock? Well, the Lord summoned Josh to Heaven because, ummmm ... the Lord decided that The Big Cock's time on Earth was complete and that Josh could better serve Heaven by acting as someone who could begin loosening up in the holiest of bullpens in case a mediocre set-up man was needed.

However, back on Earth, it seems as though Josh won't be available to volunteer any more at the homeless shelter before his 8 a.m. Bible-study w/ the kids at the orphanage.

"Kids ... Josh won't be coming in this morning. The Lord gaveth ... and the Lord hath taken away. Now, let's go grab some Lowenbraus ... "

What so many of us learned is that it's wise not to be impulsive and to Sharpie a "JH 32" onto the sleeve of our best dress shirts -- as a tribute to "fallen" Redbirds -- before all of the findings are in.
Which is why we're goin' on-line and ordering a St. Louis Cardinals "HANCOCK .157" uniform top (remember, you orphans ... baseball players wear a "uniform," not a jersey).

Still, ya gotta wonder what the confusion will be with Hancock .157 and "Kile #57."

Uncertainty aside, it has come full circle for La Loser -- the super-bozo who made headlines during spring training by using his steering wheel as a pillow and goin' sleepytime as the stoplight was turnin' from red to green.
After all, La Loser can offer all the somber, choked-up platitudes he likes re: "JH 32"-- but SOME of us remember La Loser's inaction when, during the first week of Oct. '96, former Cardinal pitcher Joe Hoerner -- an excellent Redbird pitcher for the '67 and '68 N.L. champion Redbirds -- was killed tragically when he jumped off his moving tractor to clear some debris in the vehicle's path ... and then was run over by the tractor.

There was no "JH 43" patch or black armband for the Redbirds to wear then because most ballplayers believe that baseball was invented in 1985.
But, God (apparently) did find it necessary to punish La Loser for the mgr.'s indifference -- because one week after Joe Hoerner's death, La Loser held a 3-games-to-1 lead over the Braves in the NLCS -- and then God punished La Loser by handing the Redbirds three consecutive losses by scores of 14-0, 3-1 and 15-0 (the only run scoring on a wild pitch by Wohlers).

As Lt. Kendrick might've summed up, "I believe in God and His son Jesus Christ. And, because I do, I can say that Hancock is dead and that is a tragedy. But, Hancock is dead because he had no honor. And, he had no code.
"And God was watching."

On the other side, for those of us watching La Loser's baseball death in '96 ... that was fun.
That'll teach ya to mess with Joe Hoerner.

Still, none of this schadenfreude will bring back Joe Hoerner (damn you to hell, D.A.P.A.D.B.!).
And, it didn't keep the Cardinal organization from allowing Joe's #43 to be worn by Juan Encarnacion while he was batting a robust .182 during last year's postseason (just as he'd worn the #43 while batting a triumphant .185 in the postseason for the world champion Florida Martians in '03).
Agreed ... .182 and .185 sucks -- but not as much as .157 sucks.

Funny thing is, Encarnacion wore #34 during those formative years that he spent in Detroit 10 years ago. #34 is significant because it was the number that Chet Lemon wore while leading the Tigers to a World Series title in '84.

And, some of us prefer wearing a #34 decal on the left sleeve of our softball uniform top (like we did 13 years ago) because there's a greater good in action when you're commemorating your teammate who wears #34 but has to sit out an entire season whilst he battles lymphoma -- rather than paying tribute to some drunken waste case.

Also, it's getting tiresome watching these drawn-out tributes to cruddy, .500 pitchers such as Cory Lidle and Josh Hancock.
Crashing into a NYC high-rise is tragic.
Crashing into a parking flat-bed tow truck is cruel.
Decapitating yourself and killing your teammate while doin' some drunken boating at dusk (we're talkin' 'bout you, Tim Crews, Steve Olin and Bob Ojeda) and crashing the craft into a pier on Little Lake Nellie ... well, that's really, really unfortunate.
Unlucky, too.

Gettin' run over and killed by yer own tractor is ... "yer own goddamn fault," someone seems to be saying.

All that's left now is to await the arrival (via UPS) of that replica St. Louis Cardinals uniform top w/ the big "HANCOCK .157" on the back so that when it's time to hit the bar scene, the chicks go ape shit over fact that this maybe/maybe not big league pitcher is buyin' another round of Tuborg Golds.

We'll save the weed for the quote-unquote "postgame" show, wink wink.

And, it'll be too damn bad for that guy wearing the "TAGUCHI #99" Redbirds shirt ...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

9,971 (any Saltimbocca with that Saltalamacchia?)

Milestone Phillies Loss No. 9,971 was a bit of an oddball affair -- and that means that there was more to the 4-3 loss in The A-T-L than the MLB debut of the player with the longest last name (14 letters) in MLB history.
And, as any Phillie fanatic would expect ... Saltalamacchia was smack dab in the middle of the go-ahead rally for the Phillie opponent.

As fate would have it, Saltalamacchia was hit by a pitch from Freddy Garcia -- the last pitch of the night thrown by Frickin' Freddy -- before Geoff Geary was summoned from the 'pen to surrender an RBI single to Willie Harris which snapped the 3-3 tie.
Willie Harris? That does seem like an odd choice for the the Bravos's LF job ever since Langerhans was jettisoned.
Sure ... there's the so-called "established star" in CF (Andruw Jones ... who's good, no doubt, although he's a career .260-something hitter with a lousy arm and someone who stopped stealing bases at age 24 because it was interfering with his ability to appear on ESPN's home-run derby highlights and "Web Gems") and the alleged "rising star" in RF (Francoeur ... Mr. Swing-At-Anything, although he IS a very nice gent) -- but Harris in LF???

He's the perennial journeyman OF'er, given his track record of sub-.250 nonsense for the O's (9 gms. in '01), the Chisox (nuthin' much in '02 thru '05) and the Bosox (47 games last year; a .156 avg.).

Bobby Cox is gonna try n' win a pennant with that?
Well, maybe if Saltalamacchia has a rookie year to remember (more than his 14-letter last name), no one will notice that Andruw and Francoeur are tremendously overrated and that Willie Harris is complete slugbait.

Alas, the Phils no longer have a Campusano or an Altamirano to throw out there when the bad guys put a Saltalamacchia in the lineup, so there's nuthin' much that Manuel Labor can do 'cept maybe order another plate of SALTIMBOCCA.

There are a lot of conflicting viewpoints re: Saltimbocca. Traditionalists insist that thinly-sliced veal should be used as the main meat before the prosciutto and sage are added. Others argue that chicken or pork can be used.
And, don't get the traditionalists and the free lancers started about whether the meat should be marinated in white wine or oil or merely braised in wine.

Hopefully, Saltalamacchia has his Saltimbocca strategy all squared away -- and, hopefully, Saltalamacchia won't discuss Saltimbocca recipes with that Reds pitcher, Cunnilingus.
Oooops ... that's "Coutlangus."

As per the Phillies, that 12-15 record indicates that, at the exact one-sixth mark of the season, they are on pace to finish 72-90 and that the high-priced "talent" such as Burrell and Garcia are not hindering the wild-card process.
Burrell's on pace for 6 HRs -- and Freakin' Freddy's on pace for 6 wins and an ERA higher than 6.00.

Moreover, the team will limp outta The A-T-L with a 1-5 record vs. the Bravos.

There'll be plenty of time for Manuel Labor to ponder that next year when he's the bench coach for the Devil Rays.
Unless he ends up as the bench coach in Seattle ...