Friday, April 15, 2005

Give Us a Break

ESPN’s obsession with the Yankees and Red Sox continues unabated. As is frequently the case in our society, cable television takes a cultural phenomenon, in this case an historic rivalry that over the years moves in and out of the nation’s consciousness, and overexposes it until the majority of the country resents everything about it.

Perhaps nothing better symbolizes how out of proportion the whole preoccupation has become than the focus on Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, which at various times is reported headed either to Cooperstown or to Ebay. Does anyone really care, except, of course, Schilling?

MLB accommodated ESPN and scheduled Boston and New York to meet in six of their first nine games. Viewers were [mis]treated to endless replays of Alex Rodriguez swatting the ball away from Bronson Arroyo in last year’s playoffs and, after last night’s contest, will no doubt be [mis]treated to endless replays of Gary Sheffield tussling with some of the Boston faithful in the stands.

The long-suffering and insufferable fans of Boston have been granted their championship at long last. Now, how about granting the rest of us a respite from hearing all the bloody details?

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No one has been a bigger fan of Placido Polanco than I. On merit he should be a starter on some major league team. I have come to the conclusion, however, that team shouldn’t be the Phillies at this juncture. It is time to give Chase Utley a chance to play every day rather than shuffling him in and out of the lineup. How else will he find his groove at the plate and, more importantly, in the field? If that means throwing him in there against a Dontrelle Willis, so be it. The best every day players have to learn to hit all kinds of pitching.

As it stands now, Charlie Manuel has focused on centerfield and second base as his platoon positions. He is hardly the first manager to employ such a strategy. Casey Stengel and Earl Weaver are two notable managers who thrived on platooning. But it is too early in Utley’s career to use him as a part-time player.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Don't forget Jim Fregosi. He had Inky and Milt in Left and Eisenreich and Wes Chamberlain in Right. Brilliant!