Monday, September 06, 2004

Do Not Call

Brett Meyers’ other half showed up yesterday and the Phils completed a sweep of the lowly New York Mets marking their third sweep in as many series against sub-500 teams. They visit Atlanta today and will make yet another attempt to prove they can compete with teams playing over .500. Recent history is not encouraging; the Phillies have lost eleven straight games to teams playing above that level.

Yesterday’s game also marked the most recent return from the DL of closer Billy Wagner, who instead pitched the 8th inning as Larry Bowa hedged his bets on how effective Wagner would be after this latest layoff. Todd Worrell pitched the ninth for his 17th save. Bowa has not normally been so astute in his handling of pitchers.

Speaking of Bowa, in today’s Phildelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford comes down firmly on the side of the beleaguered manager, whom he sees as the victim of a bunch of complainers unwilling to assume responsibility for their own failures. In his if-you-can’t stand-the-heat harangue Ford exonerates the manager and scolds GM Ed Wade and the crybabies in the dugout. “As a group, the Phillies are thin-skinned, petulant and so sure of their greatness that their failures must certainly be attributable to something else - like the pressure of playing for mean old Larry Bowa. That's the story they tell their nannies before getting tucked in, anyway.”

We can expect much more finger-pointing and recriminations as the season mercifully winds down.

I am not about to get misty-eyed over Bowa, but it is worth noting that after approximately 40 years in professional baseball he is likely to become unemployable at the end of this season. No one in his right mind would hire him to manage again (though there are surely some candidates in their wrong minds who might think about it) and I doubt coaching at third is an option for him any longer. Thus, Bowa will enter that fraternity of ex-managers who have failed at two posts. Years ago, Roger Angell wrote that one of the qualifications for being hired to manage a baseball team is to have failed at the same post somewhere else. With the notable exception of Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner, however, more than one failure (on or off the field) normally relegates a candidate to that special do not call list.

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