Saturday, April 24, 2004
-I read in my father-in-law's Sporting News yesterday that the Phils intend to start Byrd against righthanders and sit him against lefties. At least that's what I think it said. Can anyone confirm that? I hope not: Byrd deserves to play everyday.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Myers got shelled. The bullpen gave up runs again. Byrd, Lieberthal and Abreu still aren't hitting. (Thank goodness Thome and Burrell are on fire.) I was glad to finally get to see some live-action shots of Citizens on ESPN, but disappointed that they lost again.
A few thoughts...
-Please, Larry, leave Byrd in at lead-off. He'll start to hit again.
-And leave Abreu in at the third slot. He's going to start hitting soon. (A good sign Abreu is still good to go: he has more walks than strikeouts: 10 to 9. His eye is good. His hits just need to start falling.) Having Burrell and Thome's bat behind him will hasten that.
-What will also hasten the Phillies return to form: a nice three game sweep of the Expos this weekend. That would be sweet.
-I looked at the Phils pitching stats today and I realize I should qualify my statements about the Phils pitching from the other day: Milton (.238 BAA) and Padilla (.239 BAA) are pitching well. Millwood looks a little off, and Wolf and Myers are getting shelled. Aside from Wagner, the bullpen looks grim. If they could just get some consistency in their pitching, they'll be fine...
-We need to get some guys for the bench that hit the Marlins well.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Oh, (sorry to beat a dead horse) and he needs to get Byrd back in the lineup and Rollins out of the lead-off slot.
C'est la vie. As Todd Zolecki notes in the Inquirer, the Fish have won 7 in a row against the Phils, and 16 of the last 18 games. Yikes.
I see that Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu didn't play. I know Byrd is in Bowa's doghouse, but this Rollins thing still isn't working. Let's hope Abreu breaks out of his funk soon.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
This is a good book, but baseball in the 1940s is very different from modern game: very little base-stealing for one thing. It was a very station-to-station game. The players were different: as I recall from the book, Jerry Coleman, the Yankees second baseman, sold suits in the offseason to make ends meet. Hard to believe there actually was an era when the players weren't that different from you & I. Halberstam's October 1964 is a more modern book because it deals with how players changed with the advent of television and increased money. The '49 season was one of the last of the old era.
Alas, the book pretty much focuses on the 1949 American League Yankees - Red Sox pennant race, which the Yankees won by a game when they swept the Red Sox in the season-ending series. Halberstam devotes a chapter to the 1949 Yankees - Dodgers World Series, but mentions of National League baseball (the Phillies) are few and infrequent.
Not as good as October 1964. But still good.
(Halberstam recently wrote a book called The Teamates which deals a little with Williams and his Red Sox teamates: I guess it is a sequel of sorts to Summer of '49.)
Monday, April 19, 2004
(I'm not a big Barry Bonds fan: I submit his proper place in the record books and in baseball history is tenuous at best.)
Let's end the Playstation era in baseball, please!
Redbird Nation is one of the best blogs I've come across: a terrific source of news and analysis about the Cards, and always well-written. Cardinals fans have a reputation among baseball players for being among the most knowledgable and friendly in the majors: I think that Redbird Nation captures the spirit of Cards fans to the T. If you haven't had a chance to check it out, I encourage you to do so right away.
I highly recommend it.
The basic story is a tale of two teams: the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. Halberstam takes the theme of racial integration (that summer the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law) and looks at how that year, and that World Series, marked the end of the old baseball world with the death of the Yankees epic dynasty, and the beginning of a new age in baseball with pitching, defense and base-stealing as tactics (instead of the Yankees home run slugging), and parity as the league rule. One thing I thought was very interesting was the fact that Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in 1947 created an inbalance in MLB: National League teams moved swiftly to sign Negro League stars to keep up: Don Newcombe, Hank Aaron, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, etc. The American League teams moved slowly to integrate and pitched their teams to southern white kids as having fewer African-Americans. (The Yankees didn't integrate until 1955.) As a result, there was a real difference between the two leagues.
The '64 Cardinals were a terrific group of Hall of Famers (Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver, Lou Brock, etc.) and their story is very interesting. The publishing world is obsessed with the Yankees and Red Sox, so it is nice to see players from a city outside of Boston and New York get some attention. And it is difficult to dislike the St. Louis Cardinals (although I know that Cubs fans would disagree!) because the city's fans are so knowledgable about the game and are such friendly people. Even knowing the outcome of the '64 World Series, I still cheered at the end when Gibson retired the Yankees.
Phillies fans have a definate reason to pick up the book: one of the later chapters deals with the Phillies epic collapse in the '64 pennant race against the Cardinals and Reds. It is a cautionary tale about how the Phillies simply fell apart under the strain of losing their confidence after seeming unbeatable, and having a manager yell and scream at them 24/7 on the field. (Hey, remind you of anyone?) It is a terrific chapter, and it reminds Phils fans of all of the times we've seen the team try, falter and fail: the '93 World Series, last season's swoon against the Marlins, the '76-'78 losses in the NLCS, etc.
This is my favorite book about baseball. I haven't read anything better.
A bad start, but things are looking up...
Sunday, April 18, 2004
The Good News:
1) Consistency: beating up on bad teams is what good teams are supposed to do.
2) Thome had two homers. An early end to the April slump?
3) Burrell is the man. I think you stop talking "resurrection" and start talking "MVP".
The Bad News:
1) Going into games one and two, and three, the Phillies had hit four home runs in eight games: astonishingly, they clubbed eight in just three games. That's not good: home runs can't come in bushels against just the bad teams. (Although Glanville's walk-off home run was nice- a clutch hit and it suggests that management made a good decision signing him, despite skepticism from bloggers like myself and others.)
2) We need a better leadoff guy than Rollins. I know he got on base twice yesterday, but he's batting .139! C'mon!
I had a good weekend (more on my birthday monday), the Phillies had a good weekend... Can't beat that!