Saturday, June 27, 2015

Over And Out


The other day I wrote this about Ryne Sandberg:

From the outside looking in Ryne Sandberg appeared to be a good man.  That's basically a variation on the customary opening to a post-mortem when one is then going to write that someone was really way over his head or worse.  Sandberg was really over his head as a manager.

He didn't have the temperament for managing today's high-priced ball player nor was he smart enough to manage generally.  When Chase Utley showed his displeasure with his manger's decision to use a position player to pitch in a blow-out recently the handwriting was on the wall.  Then came the dreaded vote of confidence.

Sandberg beat the ax man to the punch and resigned.  It was his best move though quitting won't get his a spot on any shortlists for future jobs.  But, then, he clearly doesn't want one.

What I should have written is this:

Ryne Sandberg knew he was going to be fired.  He just didn't know when.  So, not acting in the best tradition of the captain of a sinking vessel, Sandberg abandoned ship in mid-ocean.  His team was already the worst in baseball and steaming toward a 100-loss season, so Sandberg decided he didn'td want the ignominy of an axing on his resume, apparently believing that quitting would look better down the road.

Sandberg isn't overburdened, as my mother-in-law would say, but he's probably smart enough to know that managing a big league team is not for him.  Prospective employers down the road take note:  this guy quits when the going gets tough.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Big Time Loser

If the reports are true, Pete Rose's case for reinstatement to baseball fell apart yesterday.  Of course Rose is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but let's face it, the guy is a pathological liar whose ability to come clean when confronted with damning facts is in inverse proportion to his ability to hit a baseball.

His legions of apologists will still argue morality is not a condition for admission to the Hall of Fame. True enough...up to a point.  For every good guy there is a bum, wife-beater or racist in the Hall.  But Rose's transgressions fall under the category of genuine integrity of the game, which is precisely why gamblers have always been punished and banned.

Rose always felt he was a special case above the game.  Not only have we found out he lied about gambling as a manager, only to recant two decades later in a desperate and pathetic attempt to have his Hall eligibility reinstated, we now learn it is likely he bet on games as a player, too.  No doubt we will have to wait 20 years for his to confess to these allegations.

If nothing else, the new information coupled with what was already known prove one things beyond a shadow of a doubt:  Rose was a first class hitter but a lousy gambler.  His losses and debts to bookies prove he belonged in another pantheon, that of big-time loser.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Comings & Goings

"We knew that we were not going to necessarily be challenging for the National League East title, but at the same time we need to see improvement and that's what we expect," GM Ruben Amaro said yesterday as the Phillies losing streak stretched to nine games and counting.

For the moment, let's forget the awkward syntax for which Amaro is famous.  Instead, let's concentrate on content.  Did Amaro imagine for one nano-second the Phillies would challenge for the division title this year?  If so, he is even more delusional than previously thought.  The rest of the Phillies alleged brain trust must be acutely aware of Amaro's deficiencies in language if not baseball oversight.  After all, they continue to bring in new senior management types including, if rumors are accurate, at the top.  Word has it acting President Pat Gillick is about to hire his permanent successor in the person of Andy McPhail.

One of baseball's cherished truisms holds you cannot fire the team.  The Phillies would like to do that but MLB requires they field one 162 times a season.  Accordingly, the alleged brain trust is intent on doing the next best thing by replacing a number of management personnel from scouting director to player development director to president.  No doubt the next replacement will be GM, but Gillick will let McPhail have that honor once he assumes control.

Meanwhile, down on the field, the Phillies sink further into the basement.  Word has it they have already discovered the sub-basement and plan to keep digging.

* * * * * * * *

Can you name all the pitchers in the Phils' starting rotation?  I can't!

* * * * * * * *

The Phillies introduced top pick Cornelius Randolf at Citizens Bank Park yesterday. Randolf was introduced to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley among others.

A word of advice, Cornelius:  Do as they say, not as they do.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Plan B? Try Plan Q

Headline in today's Inky:  EMBIID FUTURE CLOUDY, 76ers center could miss start of regular season, maybe more

Well, that's a surprise. A big man in Philadelphia basketball may miss a season.  Isn't this the town where centers go to die?

There's more?????.  You mean the alleged brain trust of the 76ers may have to rethink their plans. What? You mean all that tanking and wait-until-two-years-from-now jive was just talk?

Wait! Wait! You mean to tell me Sam Hinkie is not a genius?

Say it ain't so.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Every Generation Has Its Heroes

Every generation has its own heroes.  Not their grandfathers' heroes.  Not even their fathers' heroes. And certainly not their childrens' heroes.

I was forcibly reminded of this truth this morning when I read Albert Pujols, a star of this generation, had passed Micky Mantle, a star of mine, for 16th place all time on the home run list.

Mantle was actually my brother's hero.  We grew up in Baltimore, but my brother was a Yankee fan.   "My team is still playing in October," he would point out.  When you are ten or twelve years old you worship the stars of your world.  We knew who  Babe Ruth was, but we only saw him in photos and newsreels.

In our youth the two leagues only mingled twice a year, at the All Star game and World Series.  Baseball games were not televised every day of the week.  Living in an American League city we never saw NL players.  We knew who Willie Mays was but we hardly ever saw him.  We never saw him play live.

I kept things local.  Brooks Robinson was my hero.

Albert Pujols is one of the great players of his day, but how is a 67 year old man going to put him on a pedestal?  That's for some youngster in Anaheim or St. Louis to do.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What Do I Know?

Let's get this out of the way first....

What do I know???!!!

The Phils new scouting director makes his debut by selecting a shortstop with his first round pick. Turns out the Phils top prospect at the moment is also a shortstop.  Of course they also have Freddy Galvia at short, but, then, Freddy's torrid start at the plate is now a distant memory so it would be hard to say the Phils have a logjam at that position (if you consider the ability to hit as well as field constitutes a logjam.)

Word is the Phils would likely convert their pick into an outfielder, a commodity in very short supply at the moment (if you consider the ability to hit OR field a condition for calling someone a legitimate major league outfielder).

But, what do I know????

* * * * * * * *

Only a few weeks ago Aaron Harang looked like a sure bet to be traded by the July deadline.  Today he looks like a pitcher toiling for his eighth major league team.  A couple of bad outings will do that. It's called reversion to the mean.

* * * * * * * *

Cole Hamels hasn't exactly set the world on fire recently either.  He's back to serving up the long ball, an early nemesis.  Still, Cole is going in July.  The only question regarding his status begins with "Where".

But, what do I know????

* * * * * * * *

Ryan Howard has also disappeared again.  There are really two questions regarding his status:  "Where" and "How much"?  The first part starts with the American League.  The second part starts with how much of his contract will the Phils eat.

* * * * * * * *

Chase Utley hasn't disappeared again.  Chase never really appeared in the first place.

* * * * * * * *

Finally, name four pitchers on the Phils's staff excluding Harang, Hamels and Papelbon.

But, what do I know?

Monday, June 08, 2015

Good Luck With That

Most if not all hopes for the Phillies' rebuilding effort begin with the coming draft, so it was interesting to read the thoughts of the new Director of Amateur Scouting, Johnny Almaraz:

"I know we are going to get a good player at 10.  You can't predict what's going to go ahead of us, but it's either going to be good high school player or a good college player."

Now those are words to hang your hopes on!  Middle school phenoms need not apply.

After years of mostly disappointing (or worse) drafts, the Phils hired Almaraz to improve their chances.  So, what's the outlook?  At least it wasn't the usual "best athlete still on the board" nonsense, but, jeez, can't he come up with something a little more, well, insightful?  I know there's this attitude that teams do not want to tip their hand, but saying he's going to draft someone out of either high school or college is playing things a little more than close to the vest.