Friday, August 24, 2007

Phillies Obit: Overachieved To Reach 82-80

We can write the post-mortem right now: "Where there's a will, there's a way - - and where there's a way, there's a way out."
With tonight's 14-3 ugliness against the light-hitting Pod Squad, the 66-61 Phils remained on track for the 82-80 that some of us predicted before the season ... however, the Fightin's are essentially working their way out of the wild-card race - - a party which they were hoping to crash with a flimsy/brittle/imploding pitching staff.

This recent 1-5 stretch - - which began by blowing 4-0 leads Sat./Sun. in Pittsburgh - - isn't a shocker, by any means. However, the invasion of two weak-hittin' teams (LA/SD) and abusing the Phils' staff at The Cit, well ... after what happened barely more than a month ago in SD (a 1-0 loss followed by wins of 7-3, 12-4 and 9-0), it's a bit sobering.

Right now, it's difficult to remember if the season went out the window two days ago when Cole Hamels went on the 15-day D.L. - - or sometime in May when the staff's No. 1 and No. 2 starters (Brett Myers and Freddy Garcia) made a pact and decided to win a combined ONE game this season.
Or was it when Jamie Moyer decided that his fastball was finally going to match his age (44)?

Tonight's 14-3 massacre (two days after getting whipped, 15-3, by LA) to the Pod Squad which was without Phil Plantier and Ken Caminiti was a bad sign (two nobodies named "Bard" and "Kouzmanoff" went a combined 9 for 11 in the 22-hit assault) - - and it's laughable (now) to think that when the week began, the Phils were the N.L.'s top wild-card contender.

At the end of the day (as they say), this final mini-meltdown might be a blessing in disguise (as they say).
First of all, if the Phillies DID reach the postseason, who was going to pitch Game 3 at home vs. the D-Backs?
Adam Eaton and his 7.77 ERA?
J.A. Happ?
Ken Howell?
82-year-old Terry Mulholland?

Another thing: Maybe another postseason w/o the Phils (a streak which dates back to '93 ... before the Marlins' two world titles) is good for the city.
The reason for thinking this way has a correlation to what happened the other night - - when it was reported that when ex-Phil Mike Lieberthal came to bat, he received a mixed reaction from the fans at The Cit.

A "mixed" reaction? What was THAT all about? Were several thousand fans more disgruntled about Lieby's five solid-but-not-spectacular years ('97, '00, '02, '04, '05) or were they ticked off that his two injury-plagued seasons ('98, '01) were, in their minds, not enough to offset those two very good seasons ('99, '03)?
Were the anti-Liebyists more bothered that Lieby didn't give them enough to boo about when he played in Philly - - or were they more rankled that Lieby didn't mouth off when they felt he NEEDED to mouth off?

Maybe they were frustrated that Lieby oftentimes furnished a 15 HR, 50 RBI, .270 avg. season and wasn't the heart-throb that Dutch Daulton was when he was batting .204, .225, .194, .208, .201, .268, .196, knee surgery, knee surgery, knee surgery, divorce from Hooters chick.
And, they had a "Darren Daulton Night" in '98 because, ummm ... ummm ... ummm ... because he was a swell guy and an incredible leader (or something like that).
Even though he never hit 30 homers in a season (Lieby did) and although he never batted .300 over the course of an entire season (Lieby did twice).
But, Dutch was a great, great, great leader.
Or something like that.

Well, maybe before the world ends on 12/21/2012 at 11:11 a.m. (as Dutch has informed us that it will - - which seems to be wayyyyyy off-base because Almost-President Gore virtually guaranteed that the world won't melt unto itself until at least 2016 ... and, besides, if Dutch REALLY is obsessed w/ the number 11, shouldn't the world end on 11/11/11 at 11:11?), the Phillie front office (that means you, Stanford University biology major Ruben Amaro) and the Phillie fans will need to decide what they want.
Until then, all of 'em need to get on the same page and text message Scott Rolen with the word "booooooo" for all of those World Series titles he cost the Phillies, '98 thru '05.

At least Rolen found a way out.
And got his World Series ring ...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

International Walk-Offs

It doesn't get much better than takin' our minds off of the destruction of Hurricane Dean, the disappointment of Mike Vick and the demoralization of an Orioles pitching staff which gives up 30 runs (as it did last night) by watching 87 percent of the Little League World Series marathon during a Thursday at the office.

Four semifinal games stretching from noon 'til well-past-8-p.m. ... well, that's a lot of Little League damage.

And, while the walk-off homers by Curacao's Deoin Rosalina and by Japan's Junsho Kiuchi were the most-dramatic, they couldn't really compare to the line-drive HR that somebody named Payton Purvis clouted.

It was one for the ages.

While Purvis' shot was merely one of four hit by Warner Robins, GA players during the 16-6 rout of Chandler, AZ (a game which ended on an RBI single which triggered the 10-run mercy rule), his shot was memorable in the sense that it ricocheted off the covered bust of Howard J. Lamade beyond the outfield fence in CF.

"CLANK!" ... right off the forehead.

Payton Purvis conked the guy right in the coconut.

Not only that, but when America watched those replays of Purvis as he awaited the pitch, America probably noticed that the guy with the nickname "Publix" began his swing while blowing a bubble with his bubble gum.

This much is true: There'll be dozens more walk-off homers during LLWS games.

However, the probability of another kid striking Howard J. Lamade's statue-ized head with a line-drive HR is about 1,000-to-1.

And, the likelihood of a kid blowing a bubble while beginning his swing for the HR which skulls Lamade's bust is in the neighborhood of a million-to-one.

Probably the only thing wrong with Publix Purvis and his Warner Robins' teammates is that they are forced to wear gold tops with the gray pants.

Gold n' gray clashing in a horrific and egregious fashion faux pas is one thing, although it's not as disturbing as the NFL-sized shoulder pads inside Dusty Baker's sportcoat as he and the "Baseball Tonight" crew invaded South Willy.

To counter-act this unsightliness, the Japanese moms of the players were decked out in their kimonos.

Some of those moms didn't look too shabby ... and, naturally, it led us right to that expression: "Say, why don'tcha kimono my motel room later on."

As per the tykes from Japan and Curacao ... they're headed for a Saturday showcase for the ages, albeit nuthin' can probably match what they did today.

Thanks to the mighty aluminum wielded by Deoin Rosalina and Junsho Kiuchi.

And, Payton Publix goin' big fly off of Lamade's dome.

Friday, August 17, 2007

STUART SCOTT: Not Jiggy Wiff Black Little Leaguers

Does this have anything to do with the fact that, for the umpteenth year in a row, the largest continent in the world (Africa) will NOT be represented in South Williamsport by either Zimbabwe, Mozambique or Djibouti for this, the 61st edition of the Little League World Series? Is THAT the reason why Stuart Stooge took out his frustration on "the world" last night when he used the Worldwide Leader's airwaves as a platform to vent? If it was, then why was it at the expense of his adorable chocolate-skinned bruthuzz from the Caribbean?

Stooge, in a mini-promo for a first-round matchup, referred to Japan's opponent as "kerr (momentary pause) occo" - - when, at the same time, the on-screen graphic for that just-before-midnight SporkCenter could not have been clearer. In capital letters, the viewer saw that the matchup was JAPAN vs. CURACAO - - not "the Japs vs. Kerr-(pause)-occo."

Most of us are too put off by Stooge's recitation of the Ebonics Glossary to axe why he be all frontin' and playuh-hatin' and dissin' small (yet powerful) island nations which, square-mile-wise, are dwarfed by several African nations.
African lands such as ShaquilleTown.
And the Kingdom of Tupac.
And the Queendom of Latifa.
Near the Province of Moesha.

Still, that's no excuse for calling it "kerr-(pause)-occo." When a brutha disses a brutha-from-anuthuh-mutha like that, we, as a society, are inclined to yell, "No, you DITT-INT! No, you DITT-INT!" before grabbin' a 40.

Since we can't read Stooge Scott's mind, we can't accurately assess if he's hatin' because of the Carribean's involvement in the three-way deal which took place 300 or so years ago when a young America sent molasses to the West Indies, which, in turn, sent rum to Africa so that America could receive future ballplayers such as Mookie Wilson and Pokey Reese and Blue Moon Odom and Oil Can Boyd.

One day, Stooge might find it in his heart to forgive and forget that indiscretion, erase the hate and shelve the bias by embracing the dark-skinned natives of Kure-uhh-sow, particularly Jurickson Profar and Sorick Liberia, two Curacaoans who this Planet paid homage to last year ("Children of the Corn" -- 8/23/06).

Profar and Liberia were super-studs for the '04 Curacao team which beat the 21-0 Thousand Oaks, CA All-Stars in the title game and then played for the '05 championship - - although, it was Profar and Liberia who wore the expressions of disbelief and anguish when they were three outs from a 6-3 win and back-to-back titles when the nation of West Oahu, Hawaii rallied for a 7-6 victory w/ a walk-off home run (in the greatest game played, at any level, in this millennium).

Logic would seem to dictate that Stooge Scott might realize not that Sorick Liberia's last name is the same as an actual African nation (inagine that ... "Liberia") -- or that Jurickson Profar and Sorick Liberia have little brothers (Juremi Profar and Rileyson Liberia) playing for this Curacao team.
Then again, we have no way of knowing is Stooge has a hidden agenda - - one which barely conceals his contempt for the fact that Jurickson and Juremi Profar and Sorick and Rileyson Profar are governed by Dutch rule as they live in the Netherland Antilles.

Usually, the only geography Stooge knows pertains to Carolina - - which is ANOTHER reason why he should be givin' major mad props for little Ryshelon Carolina, the tiny outfielder from last year's Kerr-(pause)-occo team.

It's not completely Stooge Scott's fault, though.
You'd be pissed, too, if your great-great-grandfather's tribal name was Boumtje-Boumtje Mbah a Moute Mfume - - and then Whitey came along and Americanized it to something like "Scott."

This is upsetting to Ogun, the African god of iron.

Still, when Stooge was "corrected," he did mention that he was going to invent his own nation ... apparently forgetting that he already had done so some years ago.
It's known as "The People's Republic of Ebonics," fo shizzle, ma nizzle ...

These are the social ramifications which don't get discussed much when the boys come from halfway 'round the world to convene in South Williamsport.
For those of us who are hardcore LLWS addicts, we pray that Stooge Scott - - the guy with Kerr-occo/Curacao problem - - is nowhere near the highlight package when Chinese Taipei is in the field and a little looper lands on the outfield grass between LF Chun-Jen Cheng, CF Chung-Yen Chen and SS Chi-Yuan Chen as coach Chen-Jung Chen looks on in frustration because, only moments earlier, Chen-Jung Chen had instructed Chun-Jen Cheng and Chun-Yen Chen to play a little deeper after Chen-Jung Chen had told Chi-Yuan Chen to move back one or two steps.

Nobody knows if Stooge realizes that Chinese Taipei is what used to be universally known as "Taiwan" (an island nation which Stooge could peace-out-ize by calling "holla fuh Ty Juan, all y'all").
Then again, the only Asians that Stooge knows anything about are Ichiro, Yao, Eldrick Woods and Hines Ward.
However, as black activist/ex-Little League hero Gary Sheffield suggested (in reference to Derek Jeter), Eldrick and Hines may not be "all-the-way" Asian.
Or all-the-way black.
Or 100-percent moron (like Sheff).

Luckily, the little lads from various corners of the globe will gather and refuse to acknowledge African-American contempt for their sport (while many completely-African kids living in Africa will resist the urge to play Little League baseball so that they can clock 15-hour days - - maybe taking a bullet in the kneecap or the shoulder - - while mining diamonds so that White America can enjoy the cut, color, clarity and carat).

The Disneyland Sports Station (ESPN/ABC) always tries to peddle this yearly event as a big-time fun-filled funfest, but let's face it - - as we examine these brackets for our office pools, the consensus is that if the tykes from that island nation (Japan) located not far from Ty Juan in a different ocean than Kerr-(pause)-occo don't bring home the title, they will have disgraced their proud heritage.

During the past 17 months, it's been a real roller-coaster ride for the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan won the World Baseball Classic in March '06 -- but, five months later, Columbus, GA's Kyle Carter outdueled Go Matsumoto in the LLWS title game - - the Japanese children crying BEFORE the final out was recorded in the 2-1 ballgame.

Even though St. Louis Cardinals outfielder So Taguchi gained a measure of redemption by becoming the first Japanese player to have his name engraved on the U.S. Pro Baseball Championship trophy after the S-T-L defeated Detroit in The MLB Championships (a "world" title would include opponents from all around the world, no?), there was no escaping the humilation that Japan felt when, a little more than one month ago, Super-Happy-Fun-Eating-Hero, Kobayashi, was defeated by San Jose State student Joey Chestnut in the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (66 dogs to 63 in the 12-minute pig-out).

Nobody has adequately explained the inner-workings of Joey Chestnut's gastric rapcity - - and nobody really knows why those kids from the Kawaguchi City LL All-Stars were bawling their eyes out before the game had concluded.
Maybe it's a Kawaguchi City thing.
Maybe they're wusses.
Or maybe they were fed up with American imperialism.

Either way, Little Leaguers from prefectures in Takarazuka and Ushibuka will be pulling for Tokyo's Kitasuna All-Stars - - the baseball machine which samuraied Hachinohe Aomari, 39-2, in pool play of the Japanese qualifier for South Williamsport.
As any under-aged drinker will tell ya, "Takarazuka Ushibuka" is a great name to have on a fake I.D. (that's to say, it's better than what happens in Taiwan when your name is either Chun-Jen Cheng or Chung-Yen Chen and your fake I.D. reads "Chen-Jung Chen").

Since Stooge Scott's "Hooked On Ebonics" cassettes didn't inform him that most of these international rosters have players with colorful names which are, phoenetically speaking, very easy to pronounce, we're on our own (thank God) to I.D. these kids - - even if that means recognizing those players with chocolate-brown faces, who might have names such as "Jurickson" or "Sorick" and come from an island nation which Stooge Scott can neither pronounce nor identify as the one which produced not only Andruw Jones but also Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens.

Just as Stooge Scott doesn't know jack about what transpires beyond the borders of the United States of Boo-Yaw (he hates it when you pronounce "boo-yeah" as "boo-yaw" instead of "boo-yeah"), the foreigners who are taking the ferry to South Willy may not know much about the U.S. - - other than it's the land of terror, fraught with bridge collapses, coal-mine cave-ins and the simultaneous collapse/cave-in of Lindsay Lohan's mental stability and acting career.

If Stooge DID try to connect with a Little Leaguer, he might try to approach Kentaro Ii, offer one of those soul-brother handshakes and say, "Go, Japan. Peace out."
Which would be a shame - - considering that Kentaro Ii (pronounced "eeeeeee") is a Japanese kid who plays for the Netherlands.

If that's confusing to anyone, then get ready for another "go"-'round with another Japanese kid named "Go."
Last year, it was the previously-mentioned Go Matsumoto pitchin' for Kawaguchi City - - this year, it's Go Matsumori on the Tokyo roster.

It's symbolic in the sense that, "yes" ... it's go time for Japan, a team which HAS to be geeked about playin' in the '07 WS with the best-lookin' uniforms in the tourney (white w/ red trim).
Apparently, Russell has outfitted the 16 teams with a new (and sharper) look for '07 after three years with the uniforms that the boys had been wearing.
And New Era has a new (and smarter) look for the ballcaps.
So, for those of us who had come to know Kerr-occo players with their maroon caps and maroon tops trimmed with white, we must now transition to a team with bright yellow tops trimmed with black and bright yellow caps.

Sadly for Kentaro Eeeeee, he and his purple-clad Dutch teammates are going to get their purple doors blown off (the European representative always does, notwithstanding the Netherlands' qualifying victories over baseball factories from countries which Stooge Scott can neither pronounce nor find in an atlas - - Moldova and Lithuania).

Another bummer is this: The past two years, Stooge and the black youth of America had that gigantic, black American kid - - Aaron Durley - - to look up to as he was playin' (not all that well, though) for the Saudia Arabian team.
Durley was 6-5/238 as an 11-year-old ... 6-8/253 as a 12-year-old ... and now, as a 13-year-old, probably no longer playin' hardball.

For those young black kids aspiring to become the next Milton Bradley (one of the 8 percent of American-born black players on rosters in The MLB), there appears to be no LLWS role models (again).
Except one.
That would be Dominique Reff, the kid for the Coon Rapids, MN All-Stars who, in the five games he started in the Midwest Regional, hit five homers and drove in 16 runs.
Kid was ballin'.
He was "REFF"-resentin'!
(That's a play on words for "representing" - - not meant to disparage Reff with some form of resentment misconstrued as "resenting REFF")

Despite D-Reff's baseknockin' acumen, it's impossible NOT not to select one of those chocolate cherubs from Kerr-occo as our black "pick to click."
By perusing the most-excellent site, we can access the team photos and the mug shots and determine that Rudson Pietersz (all 4-9/90 of him) might be the most-angelic-looking of the bunch.
But that's a tough call.
Based on actual ability and leadership, however, catcher Kirvin Moesquit might be our pick to click.

"Kirvin Moesquit" is such a vintage Caribbean baseball name.
Right up there with Sixto Lezcano.

The U.S. cannot hang with such cool names - - mostly because our modern-day Lyman Bostocks, Heathcliff Slocumbs and Terrmel Sledges are playing other sports.
Which is why when an all-star team from Warner Robins, GA - - hometown of ex-Florida State Seminole football stars Ron Simmons (a future pro wrestler) and Willie Reid (a current Pittsburgh Steeler) - - advances to South Willy, the names on the roster are Stooge Scott-friendly.

Seriously ... a "Hunter" AND a "Hunt"?
That makes no sense at all.
And what's a Payton Purvis? Isn't he that dude who's a co-defendant in that Mike Vick/dogfighting indictment? (Actually, that's Purnell Peace, so settle down, America)
Furthermore, what's with a kid using the totally-made-up last name of "Umphreyville, Jr."?
That makes about as much sense as gettin' a fake I.D. with the name "McLovin" on it.

It's a disturbing situation for the Southeast Region champs - - although not as unsightly as gold shirts (with red trim) clashing with gray pants.
Hence, the Southeast kids will be named "worst dressed" while the Southwest kids will be best-dressed with their navy blue tops trimmed in gray.
While the Southeast has a Zane (Conlon), so, too, does the Southwest ... that kid with the Jeromy Burnitz swing, Zane Ancell.

Ancell and his mini mates from Lubbock, TX got to this point by batting .407 in their region, led by Bryndan Arredondo (3 HRs, 2 2Bs, 13 rbi in 5 games) and Tyler Thorne (4 HRs).

With those wide, round eyes and those pudgy cheeks, Arredondo is going to be driving the 14- and 15-year-old girls 'round South Willy crazy (even if teammate Garrett Williams is the future teen idol).

What's more, the city of Lubbock NEEDS Zane and Bryndan and Garrett because, let's face it, there are hundreds amongst Lubbock's thousands who find it unacceptable that, year in and year out, Bob Knight and Mike Leach take fifth-place talent and turn it into a fourth-place finish before everybody from the coffee shop to the O'Reilly Auto Parts is praising the great coaching job those two did.

Of course, we have the celeb/coach w/ son scenario for two teams - - Neil Lomax's kid playin' for Lake Oswego, OR and Clay Bellinger's kid playin' for Chandler, AZ.
Neil Lomax sits in the stands while his 6-foot-2 kid unleashes his mediocrity on an unsuspecting baseball landscape.
Clay Bellinger, though, coaches the Chandler, AZ team - - and the .200-hittin' ex-Yankee will probably have about as much success as the last time that a Chandler team with a weak-hittin', ex-MLB middle infielder with a no-talent kid came to South Willy (back in '03 when Mike Benjamin and Mike Benjamin, Jr. went to the LLWS and scared nobody).

Clay Bellinger is worth a chuckle, though - - merely from the standpoint that he can say he won two World Series rings with the Pinstripers.
Bellinger was a defensive replacement in LF for David Justice (the ultimate postseason zero) in all five games of the '00 Subway W.S. - - one year after Bells had no ABs in the least-remembered World Series in the history of the universe (almost as memorable as the '94 World Series, which, as we know, was cancelled).

People often forget that in Game 6 of the '01 World Series, Clay Bellinger was allowed to bat when the Yankees were winning the Series, 3 games to 2, but losing on the scoreboard, 12-3.
Bellinger struck out when the score was 12-3 in the seventh, then he struck out to end the 14-3 loss.

Vintage Torre managing, though. It's the ol'-school method of "Don't-let-this-benchwarmer-get-anywhere-near-the-batter's-box-unless-we're-up-by-eight-runs-or-losing-by-eight."
It's how Joe won all those pennants with the Mets, Braves n' Cards.

The good thing about Little League, as we've come to learn, is that it doesn't matter how much nepotism pervades the game, Clay Bellinger must allow everyone on the roster - - be they not as handsome, powerful and hygenic as The Adorable Cody Bellinger - - a chance to play.

Sometimes, the strategy backfires - - such as when West Salisbury manager David Yingling tells a TV audience that his favorite player is Gavin Yingling.
Only Gavin is right in the middle of one helacious slump which has him going 1 for 11 during pool play and then 1 for 6 during the regional semis and finals.

A 2-for-17 slide is no way to enter LLWS play.
Then again, nobody's expecting much from West Salisbury.
Just as no one expects much from Sean Salisbury.

Salisbury, as America knows, is the vanilla version of Stooge Scott - - y'know, thinks he's "down with it" when, in fact, he's a square from Umprheyville with no discernible talent whatsoever.

Basically, that leaves us - - fans of Kerr-occo and the LLWS -- with only one option: Sit around, take in the action and wait for Stooge to call it "Howard J. Lemonade" Stadium ...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Phillies' Win Labelled "BRAN"tastic

For any/all Phillie Phans who were puzzled as to what was missing in their lives, the answer came tonight.
A diet which includes more bran.
And a lineup which includes more Branyan.

With another wild-card berth looming ever so tantalizingly just out of reach, the recent acquisition of Russell Branyan -- a guy who strikes out while brushing his teeth in the morning and then gets rung up at least once more on his way to the ballpark that day -- paid immediate dividends.
Sure ... a lot of us thought, "What's Russell F-ing Branyan gonna F-ing do except F-ing strike out every other F-ing AB?" (depending on one's F-bomb usage).
Then again, when the guy with the middle name "Oles" isn't taking a mighty hack at a pitch which bounces twice before reaching home plate, he has the capability to do what he did tonight -- jumping on a belt-high, 83 MPH fastball and frickin' jacking it halfway to the Lincoln Memorial. That melodramatic bat-drop after his follow-through, well ... that was a BRANtastic personal touch.
That was vintage "Branny."

Still, most of Phillie America probably won't be satisfied until it sees the vintage "Bran Slam."

What a weird one to watch while finishing up some paperwork at the office.
The Nats broke the scoreless deadlock with those 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th -- and with the way that Ayala had looked in the top of the 7th when he fanned Burrell, Howard and Rowand, well ... it sure as heck looked as though the team's record was going to dip to 1-30 in games in which they score 3 runs or fewer.
Leave it to the BranMan to decide matters.

As Metallica told us, "Enter night / Exit light ..." et cetera, et cetera ... "We're off to never-never land ..."

Nats mgr. Manny Acta made the mistake that 93.57 percent of managers do nowadays -- ("My reliever looked brilliant against the heart of the order ... let's put in somebody new.") -- he gave the Fightin's a chance to fight back.
"By the book" can get a guy killed.

STILL ... the recent acquisition of Russell Branyan -- the MLB's all-time striking-outtest striker-outter -- makes Phillie Phan rewind it 11 years when we all wondered, "What the frick?" when -- in separate deals -- Mike Benjamin and J.R. Phillips were brought to Philly. It always makes ya wonder what goes through the minds of front-office people and player-personnel lunkheads when somebody speaks up and says, "This .225 hitter might be just what we need to win the pennant!"
It makes ya wonder about about the food chain, which goes something like: Child molestors, MLB front-office staff, serial rapists, et cetera ...

Sure, Russell Oles Branyan is a stop-gap measure (sayeth the front office: "an insurance policy" with Victorino and Bourn on the DL), but, is it really? Does his HR tonight make up for the 10 strikeouts in his next 11 ABs? What about your Aunt Freda -- or that guy workin' the graveyard shift at the Citgo Xtramart? Couldn't they do that?

Tonight was BRAN-tastic ... until Russell's next AB ... when he's showin' un-bran-lievably bad discipline and plate coverage ...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Clearin' The Flower Bed: The Philly 6'er Story

Tonight's Sunday Nighter on The Disneyland Sports Station sure seemed to be headed for a frustrating finish for Phillie Phan - - that is, until Big Fly Ry launched that higher-than-a-skyscraper blast just beyond the pretty flower bed atop the LCF wall.

The Philly 6'er definitely needed that one because, during that recent road trip against the Cubs n' Brew Crew, he was overmatched.
In the 4-game set at Wrigley, Howard went 3 for 18 with 11 strikeouts. At Miller Park, he was 2 for 11 with 5 punchouts.
Since the Cubs or the Brewers figure to be the Phillies' opponent for that one-game playoff to determine who faces the D-Backs in the NLDS, these are important measuring devices.

Orrrrrr ... we could simply leave it to Joe Morgan to educate America as to how baseball functions.
He made Phillie Phan chuckle in the first inning tonight when he observed that Mark Teixeira was playing behind the runner at first base (Pat Burrell) with Howard batting.

"That surprises me because Burrell runs well."

Since most of America tunes out Little Joe, that remark fell on deaf ears - - but, alas, some of us Phillie Phans are STILL keepin' close tabs on the Ol' WheelBurrell's basepath exploits.
What Little Joe didn't comprehend - - due to the fact that it wasn't on a stat sheet in front of him and it wasn't whispered into his earpiece - - is that Burrell began the night with a 410-game streak of ZERO stolen-base attempts.
Joe didn't know that for the past three seasons, the people with as many steal attempts as Burrell are janitors, paraplegics, paralegals, deceased Korean War heroes, orphans in Lithuania ... hence, Joe might've forgotten that, when Burrell's on second base, it takes two triples and a ground-rule double to get Pat home.
It's a fun little game that's known around some parts as "Putting The PAT in 'BasePATh'."

PRESTO! Burrell was on second base with two outs in the first when Jayson Werth smacked that solid baseknock to RF.
True ... Werth hit it sharply - - which meant that Burrell was toast at the plate when he tried to score ahead of Francoeur's rocket throw.
Here's the deal, though: There were two outs ... it was a 3-2 pitch ... so, why wasn't Burrell approx. 20 feet from third base with a full head of steam when Werth made contact?
Answer: 'Cuz MLBasebore ain't about running the bases. It's about Home Run Derby (and little else).
Sure ... Burrell's been on fire since July 1 (batting exactly .400 entering tonight) - - but that doesn't mean that Phillie Phan is going to forgive him for hitting .157 in May and June.
And, some of us aren't going to overlook the fact that, paycheck-wise, the Ol' Wheelbarrow is supposed to set a good example by performing 14 times better that The Philly 6'er (based on $13 mil vs. $900 K).

Some sanity was restored when Jimmy Rollins cranked that ball to the RCF gap and breezed for a triple (later scoring on a sac fly when Francouer's throw to the plate sailed just a weeee bit and hit the railing of the Braves dugout).
Disney Baseball did note that J-Rol could become the first player since Mays to go 20-20-20-20 (doubles, triples, homers, stolen bases) - - and wouldn't that be a nice feather in his cap? (that is ... if ballplayers still wear feathers in their caps)

OKAY ... Jimmy is just a tad more exciting and complete than Juan Samuel, circa '84 thru '87.
But, that's "a tad."
As in "negligibly" better ... not as in "appreciably" better.

The Fightin's, though, better not louse things us and go flat on this road trip to D.C. and the Steel City. Those are two pitching staffs which are lookin' to get roughed up ...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Six Who Missed 756

If you were one of the Americans who tuned into the overnight version of Disneyland Sports to flag down some highlights of Ryan Howard muscling up twice last night vs. the Florida Martians, you were probably bummed (as a lot of us were) that there was wall-to-wall Bonds nonsense on the telly.
We call it "nonsense" because it was nearly THREE WEEKS AGO when Bonds broke Aaron's U.S. record for career homers with Nos. 761 and 762 during that fun-filled, asterisk-ish fiesta at Wrigley.
Hence, last night's hullabaloo in 'Frisco seemed superfluous.
Especially when we don't know the fate of the six coal miners trapped inside the collapsed mine in Utah.
Did those miners pass the time one mile underground by watching Bonds on their cellphones equipped with podcast technology?
America prays that they are alive because we all remember how so many baseball fans were deprived of a "Barry-bration" back in '01 when Atta's crew crashed those jumbo jets into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.
Luckily, Barry was there for America in its darkest hour ... uniting a nation by using his plutonium-enriched Sam Bat to whack uranium-filled baseballs.
Seventy-three times Bare would CREAM a pitch and watch it CLEAR the fence as he stood at home plate, watched the drive, did a moonwalk, offered a shimmy-shake of the hips or signaled "touchdown!" before taking the slow trot around the bases, the tin of Copenhagen jiggling in his right rear pocket and the mini-crucifix jangling from his left ear lobe.
America was led to believe that Cal saved The MLB in '95 -- and that Big Mac and Sammy re-saved the game in '98 ... but those beliefs are baseless.
Since Barry hit 73, there has been no anti-USA attack on U.S. soil by Atta-like evil-doers.
That's because BareRoid educated us about facing our fears, usually doing so by beginning a sentence with, "Dude ..."
It stands to reason that if anyone can save those trapped coal miners, it's Big Bare.
America will hold its breath -- if not for the coal miners than for Big Bare breaking Sadaharu Oh's world record of 868 homers sometime next week.
He's THAT good.
"Trapped coal miners ... use your flashlights to bang on a pipe and signal to America how geeked you are about Bonds LoveFest '07 ..."
What's truly sad about those miners trapped in a world of darkness and despair is that they must feel like they're a million miles away from an America wherein everybody received their new issue of Sports Illustrated today ... the one with Bare on the cover.
One day after Bonds hits Actual Homer #765, S.I. has a cover shot of Bonds hitting Actual Homer #764.
The safety of those miners depends on rescue workers putting down their new S.I.'s long enough to perform the necessary diggin' n' drillin'.
"Miners down below ... send us a sign if you want America to send down to you today's S.I. with Barry on the cover or if you want fresh drinking water sent down ..."
Anyhow, one thing America is coming to realize is that a special #765 party w/o Rod Beck is a celebration which feels empty. We see that #47 BECK patch on Bonds' shirt sleeve and we're reminded of the reports which surfaced early last week that Shooter had a mighty bad cocaine addiction.
Whispereth The MLB: "Shhhhhhhhhh!"
Speaking of what we're not supposed to talk about, "sure" ... many Americans were dispappointed that Greg Anderson and Kimberly Bell didn't bother showing up for last night's gala.
On the other hand, when we see what a wonderful young man Nikolai (the first guy to greet Bonds at home plate) has become, we're glad that his mother, Sun, was there to raise the boy when Barry and Kimberly were on the road and saving the world from those Atta-like bastards.
Dude, it's about family, dude.
In the end, "yeah" ... there's probably a role as a backup for Barry on America's All-Time All-Stars, but only to offer late-inning ABs in case Teddy Ballgame or the Iron Horse -- two players w/ higher career slugging percentages than Bonds (.634 to .632 to .604) -- get injured or if Rickey's bein' Rickey and has to come out of the game.
The good thing about the non-Gammons regions of America is that most of the non-Gammonsistas are too smart to compare Bonds to Williams, Gehrig or Henderson.
Those players changed games.
Similarly, it's kinda fun to ponder Gehrig playing in the '90s. He'd be dying of arteriolateral sclerosis, but with some num-nums cooked up at Balco, the incontrovertible projections which we have formulated in this paradigm have Gehrig hitting anywhere from 103 to 117 homers per season.
Imagine a Gehrig who WASN'T dying of ALS gettin' some candy from the BALCO candyland.
The math sez: "Anywhere from 132 to 143 homers per."
With time enough to save trapped coal miners on the way home to his beloved Eleanor ...