Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring Notes

Random thoughts while waiting for the season to get underway...again.

What's with this day off between Opening Day and game two? I've heard several explanations, none of which are remotely convincing. The most often-repeated one suggests that iffy early Spring weather is the reason some teams take a break between the inaugural pitch and game two. A quick check of the weather in Philadelphia Monday, Tuesday and today suggests MLB knows as much about the weather as, well, the weatherman! Monday and Tuesday were gorgeous with weather in the low to mid 70's. As of this writing Wednesday, the heavens have opened up and a cold, brisk wind is promised for later with evening temperatures in the '30's.

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Old friend Randy Wolf made his first start in a Dodger uniform yesterday and looked an awful lot like the guy who wore red pinstripes for so many years. Wolf pitched six innings and yielded four earned runs including two home runs. Plus ca change....

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The Barry Bonds apologists are out in force already headed by Steve Philips, the fast-talking ex Mets GM who rarely makes any sense even on a good day. Philips says we should forget the man and the controversy and just sit back and admire the achievement he believes will inevitably come around mid-season. Thanks, Steve, just what we needed: another feeble reminder urging us to separate the individual from his behavior and responsibilities.

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C'mon, everyone, it's still early and the Phils have only played one game. Ah, yes, but if they lose tonight (or don't play at all given the downpours in the area) they will already trail the Mets by two games. Don't tell me those guys in the clubhouse aren't already watching the scoreboard. Oh, yes, and by the way, they'd also trail the Braves by two games and some of the best bloggers out there figure the Braves are just as much a threat to win the division as anyone else. All I know is I don't want to see Adam Eaton take the mound with the Phils down two games.

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A table the other day listed the 2007 Phillies salaries and it made for interesting reading. Of the top five salaries on the team, two belong to players the Phils tried to get rid of (Burrell and Lieber), one to a reclamation project of sorts (Eaton), one to a guy who will be a free agent at the end of this season (Garcia), and one a guy who is 43 years old. The next five include a fellow who is one pitch away from being disabled (Gordon), three guys who with Ryan Howard form the nucleus of the team (Rollins, Myers, Utley), and one more guy the team is shopping (Rowand).


Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

Watching the opener, I'm reminded of why I am still unable to put my belief behind this team. The Phillies may have upgraded the pitching and boast a strong offense, but here's one thing they still decidedly lack: presence. The Braves have it. The Mets have it. Even the Marlins have it, and we'll see that starting Friday. It's difficult to believe in a team which demonstrates no visible signs of believing in itself, regardless of certain empty pronouncements from would-be team leaders. Someone on BL noted that every time the crowd got all worked up, it worked against the Phillies. It's absolutely true, and this has been going on for years. And this is not just in my head. Brett Myers made the comment: "they could make us or break us". Well, the crowds are always going to react the same, and frankly, given the context of so much frustration and so much loyalty, it's impossible to blame them. It's a matter of whether the players *let* it make or break them. It's an emotional home crowd, and this team simply cannot handle it.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

I watched the game sporadically so I am confused about something: if the crowd got worked up it must have been when there were runners in scoring position for the Phils or pitchers (Myers vs. Renteria??) had batters 0-2, so what does Myers mean about "making or breaking"?

I am tired of hearing how tough Philadelphia fans are. It really has to be one of the greatest exaggerations in all of sport today. Try Boston fans or NY fans if you want tough fans. I don't want to hear players telling me the fans here make it too hard on them. It's convenient, easy and ultimately a red herring.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

It's not just when the fans are 'tough'; it's actually when they become enthusiastically supportive that the team becomes most crippled. I have watched time and time and time again that a Phillies player will get caught up in the emotion during a crucial situation and get himself out when the crowd is on its feet cheering - and I have noticed that it does not work that way in other cities. In most places, some teams and players feed off this kind of energy. Not in Philadelphia, where the players know that the heaping boos are next if they don't come through. This town is in the Phillies' heads. It's obvious they want to be the ones that turn the corner and appease the long-suffering fans. The fans want so much, the players know it and try too hard. I'm surprised you can't see this, Tom. Philadelphia is the same but different from Boston and New York. Same passion, far less success through the years. It's a stigma which is specifically endemic to Philadelphia alone.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

I guess I don't see it. I am not sure the players feel so much pressure they are destined to fail here. Most players tune out the crowed for the most part. I think Phillies fans are tough, but they are quick to forgive and normally give players a lot of latitude before they turn on them. If a player cannot tune that out he's in the wrong business. It can be argued even Mike Schmidt, who complains to this day about his treatment here, figured out how to tune out the fans sufficiently to forge a HOF career!!!

2:16 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Add Jim Caples to the apologists for Barry Bonds list. Here is what he wrote on ESPN's site following the opening day ceremonies there that featured a lot of retired HOF players from earlier Giants' teams:

"[Gaylord] Perry's introduction also brought up another thought: Why are all the talk show blowhards and self-righteous columnists so quick to condemn Barry Bonds for "ruining'' the game when an admitted cheater is in the Hall of Fame and no one questions it? If it was all right for Perry to grease his way to 300 wins and Cooperstown, why do we hold Barry to a different standard? Why is one considered mere gamesmanship and the other a threat to civilized society? That's something for you to consider as the Great Home Run Chase resumes."

Ah, yes, the "he cheated so why can't I" defense. Brilliant, Jim. And very original.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous RickSchuBlues said...

'specifically endemic'? that's an awful redundancy. no one cares but me, but the least I can do is acknowledge it...

5:29 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

I care, RSB, and you are forgiven.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Oisín/Wizlah said...

I expected better from Caple. I remember Stark trotting out that line last year, and asking myself why cheating was being treated like some kind of acceptable legal precedent. You'd think drawing a line in the sand would make some kind of point, even if it is shutting the door long after the horse has gone.


9:03 AM  

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