Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Up to the Minute Phillies Reaction! 

Phils 4-0 in the 6th ... looks like the bottom of the order hit well ... and Wolf has a two-hitter! Well, done, Randy!

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How do you spell relief? E-X-P-O-S!  

I'm thrilled over the Phillies hitting last night: Byrd was 2 for 6 (thanks to Larry for having him leadoff), Abreu was awesome, Thome clubbed another homer ... I'm very bothered by Millwood's performance. He was extremely dominating last year early on, and he hasn't quite looked the same.

-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.

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Well, that stunk! 

I actually got to watch a little of today’s game thanks to ESPN. It really stunk, didn’t it? Well, I liked Pratt's scrappyness in fighting it out with Gonzalez, but all of it was bad:

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.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wagner, et al.: Bowa's Safety Blanket? 

The Inquirer has a nice article about Bowa's penchant for going to the bullpen. I suppose it is natural, now that the Phils finally have a decent bullpen, for Bowa to want to use it more often than he did last year. I imagine Bowa is testing out his faith in the new Wagner-led unit, but he risks burning these guys out. Do we really want to have Wagner's arm fade down the stretch again? Bowa needs to re-establish confidence in the starting rotation, which hasn't looked that good thus far.

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.

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Same old, Same old... 

Well, we have to beat the fish eventually. Last night's 3-1 loss was a classic Phillies-Marlins game: Phils pitching looks good, but the Marlins hurlers look better. Marlins hitters get timely knocks, the Phillies look like they are flailing wildly at anything that moves.

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.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Baseball Books, Con't!  

David Halberstam's Summer of '49 is a good book too, but the tales of Joe DiMaggio and the Yankees of the 1940s have been told over and over and over again. (Blame the publishing world's obsession with New York City. I'm sure they'd be astonished to know that the world does not end when you leave Manhatten.) So often have these tales been told that they have become stale. A good deal of the book is devoted to Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. Two giants of the game. Both were terrific players (and Halberstam gingerly notes, not the best of human beings), maybe the best the game has seen. I enjoyed Halberstam's profiles of them, but I was more interested in his profiles of players like Tommy Heinrich, and Dominic DiMaggio, Joe's brother. There were really terrific stories in there.

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.)

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Two New Bloggers... 

I wanted to welcome two new Phillies blogs: yuda.org, and PhilliesBlog. I wish you both well and I hope you have as much fun blogging the Phils as the rest of us do. Best of luck to you both.

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Monday, April 19, 2004

Is Citizens a Hitter's Park? 

Yes, according to MLB's Ken Mandel, who notes the eight Phils home runs this weekend suggests that when the weather is warm Citizens is a hitters paradise. I sincerely hope not: I really respect the open dimensions of Detroit's Comerica, and I dislike Enron / Minute Maid because I think the shallow dimensions cheapen the game. Babe Ruth clubbing 714 home runs in the old era of open parks and train travel is vastly different in quality and quantity from Barry Bonds' Playstation era 661+.

(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!

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Minor League notes:  

Chase Utley had a great day Sunday. How long can management keep him in Scranton?

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Home Field Advantage has to count for something... 

Check out this amusing article in the Inquirer about fans intimidating the opposing bullpen.

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Thanks to Redbird Nation... 

This morning I was reading Redbird Nation, a blog devoted to the Cardinals, and I was touched by the fact that they singled A Citizen's Blog out for praise.

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.

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Birthday Update:  

in addition to Moneyball, my fiancee also bought me The Phillies Encyclopedia for my birthday, which I naturally began reading right away. It is a terrific book: 121 years of history going back to the team's founding in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers. Everything you wanted to know about the Phils.

I highly recommend it.

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Favorite Baseball Books, con't! 

My favorite baseball book is David Halberstam's October 1964. I first read it about eight or nine years ago, and it is still a book that I love to pick up and read a few chapters.

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.

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And now for the Marlins Again... 

A day off, then another series against the Marlins. Give the fact that the Marlins have won 16 of the last 22 games against the Phillies I'm pessimistic about the outcome. However the Phillies have a golden opportunity to surge ahead of the fish: they are just 2.5 back and could slide into first place (provided that the Braves lose two out of three these next few days) by Thursday night.

A bad start, but things are looking up...

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Expos Sweep... 

Ah, nothing like tuning up against the worst team in baseball to inflate your sense of self-esteem: Yeah, the Expos are terrible this year, but the Phillies sweep suggests some good things. (It also suggests some bad ones.)

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!

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