Monday, July 31, 2006

BOBBY'S GONE -- NOW GO KILL YOURSELVES


I got the e-mail between games of the doubleheader, just after the press conference about the Big Trade. It was my cyberfriend CandyEater53, the unofficial president of the Bobby Abreu Fan Club, and at first I thought he was joking.

“I’m going to kill myself,” he wrote, a sobbing emoticon punctuating the declaration. “You heard, right?”

Yes, I have heard the news, I replied, my joyous thick fingers caressing the keyboard. Our beloved Comedulce has been traded -- with Cory Lidle thrown in for funsies -- for a box of chocolates and four minor leaguers. Think we can buy a pitcher for his $15 million next season? I wrote.

Life goes on – and coincidentally, the Phillies proceeded to sweep a doubleheader to mark the beginning of the A.A. (After Abreu) Era. But before I had a chance to take in Game Two, there was the small matter of stopping a suicide. My lonely friend has a mancrush on Abreu, and he no longer wanted to live.

CandyEater53 (“Fiddy Tree” for short) told me he had just finished swallowing a dozen Diphedryl mini-tabs and washed it down with Scotch and Kool-Aid. He requested I stop at the Rite Aid to get him more pills and deliver them to his house, as he was, like, a little taken out by events. Of course, I wasn’t about to enable his death, so I told him I’d be right over with the little pink pills.

Fiddy’s house is a shrine to Abreu. Posters, jerseys, authographed baseballs, bats, maps of Venezuela, the porno pictures of his ex-fiancee, and other obsessive ephemera are plastered all over the walls. It always gave me the creeps. I felt as if I was in the lair of a child molestor. As George Carlin once joked, when you collect baseball cards as a boy, you’re collecting pictures of your heroes. When you collect baseball cards as an adult, you’re collecting pictures of men.

And when you contemplate suicide over the trade of your favorite Phillie, well…it could be argued you’re collecting evidence of your emotional immaturity.

Fiddy would be alright. He may be a little queer for Bobby, but he likes his Internet chat rooms too much to buy the farm. He’d go back to his job as a systems analyst, collect his fat paycheck and continue to enjoy the single life without the remotest prospect of pussy anytime soon. But as I explained to him, some of your team’s idols need to take their ball and play somewhere else, especially when one of them hits for a lower average than David Bell but are paid three times as much.

“Fiddy,” I began, handing him a container full of candy, “do you remember when you asked your boss for a new contract after you put in five years at the company and he turned you down at first?”

“Yeah,” Fiddy said, “I told him I wanted to make what they offered the other guy before he turned them down and worked for the competition. I thought they would pay me anything I wanted because they’d be afraid I’d walk out, too.”

“And what did they tell you?”

“They told me to pound sand.”

“Right,” I continued. “You asked to be paid what some companies pay their entire staff. A little unreasonable, wouldn’t you say?”

“Well, in hindsight, maybe it was,” Fiddy reflected. “They would never be able to pay other talented people to work with me. I understood that. I am compensated comfortably. I have a house that’s paid for. I buy cars with cash. I’m doing alright.”

I ate one of the candies and contemplated the picture of Abreu holding his Gold Glove. I continued with my point.

“Now look what happened with Comedulce,” I said. “He is arguably the best outfielder the Phils ever had. In fact, he’s one of the best players ever to wear the uniform. But you know what? He was one of the most overpaid players ever to put on a uniform anywhere. Ed Wade was mentally ill to offer him that kind of money.”

“How can you say that!” Fiddy screamed. “Get out of my house! What do you know about baseball?!”

I was wondering whether the sedatives he took had had any effect, or if the adrenaline fueling his knee-jerk reaction was overriding it. But this reaction was not to be unexpected. As he recited his marvelous sabermetric figures, I stood pat and contented myself knowing the Phils’ offense wasn’t likely to suffer too much damage in his absence. And what good are all the runs when your starting pitching is the worst in the National League? Even if you are suspicious of the owners’ intentions, it is hard to believe they will simply pocket the savings and barricade the gates when the barbarians like me come calling.

Then again, they are a collectively stupid bunch. They let Ed Wade get themselves into this mess.

Abreu’s deal was an albatross from the beginning, truly emblematic about what’s wrong with baseball finances. But for the Abreu worshippers – some of whom even admit he is not worth the $13.5 million this year or $15 million the next – now that the burden is removed, they are crowing about the return received in the trade, as if having him limiting Pat Gillick’s options to four teams put the aging GM in any position to get anything but four warm bodies and the liberation of his budget.

For fans like Fiddy, they’ll never get past their near homo-erotic attachment to Comedulce. For fans like Tacony Lou, I’ll never get past my attachment to winning, and not only winning, but winning with a little positive hate for the opposition. And face it, a little personality and intensity goes a long way in Philly.

As Fiddy continued reciting the laundry list of Abreu’s career achievements in every esoteric category, I remembered his last at-bat as a Phillie, the slow dribbler to the second basemen that forced the potential tying run out at second and left him standing on first…where he proceeded to get picked off to kill the inning. I tried to imagine what that would look like in Yankee pinstripes. I tried to imagine how much sympathy he would get from fans in the Bronx for a blunder like that.

Meanwhile, I consoled poor Fiddy, and he drifted off to sleep hugging his teddy bear adorned in his wee-wittle Bobby Abreu jersey. This morning, I got home and watched the ballgame. It was a beautiful new beginning.

Marlins 15, Phillies 2. That’s our Fightin’ Phils.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

DING DONG, THE BELL IS DEAD!


And so it has begun.

The flimsy house of cards that Ass Engineer Ed Wade constructed and christened his “ten year plan” – like any good Soviet would - is now being disassembled carefully by the grown up who replaced him.

Goodbye, David Bell. No, let me sing that:



Ding dong, the Bell is dead!
Red Means Go, Giles said!
Ding dong, the wicked Bell is dead!


Bell, traded for Wilfredo Laureano, an anonymous A-ball pitching prospect, had a truly remarkable career in Philly – if mediocrity is your criterion of success. Maybe I’m being too kind, but hey, he leaves our green country town for the suds and brats of Milwaukee WITH A HIGHER BATTING AVERAGE THAN BOBBY ABREU.

Did I say he has a higher batting average than Bobby Abreu? Well, that’s a fact, Jack. After both players’ virtuoso performance last night against the Marlins – Bell flailing wildly at air, Abreu taking a collar and getting picked off base while representing the tying run -- the corpulent Comedulce Abreu has his ever-fattening ass sitting on a .277 average. Bell, hot as dogshit most of July, elevated himself to .278. At one point, he broached .290.

Not half bad considering his replacement for now at third is Abraham Nunez, he of the gargantuan .157 average.

This is the point where the sabermetric Gestapo strap on their dildos and wander away to the nearest gay porno site. So go there if you want to suck on a little Bill James salami and feel an urge to scream batting average is not a relevant number, or that Abreu draws all those walks, has that high on-base percentage, and has led the Phillies to five appearances in the playoffs.

Oh. Sorry. Bobby-boppy doesn’t do the playoffs. And Abreu’s numbers? Well, you may want to masturbate over that centerfold, but here’s something that might spur on a little erectile dysfunction: He is an impotent Number Three hitter. Somewhere in the small print of his mammoth contract (which would make an Enron felon giggle), Wade must have included another Soviet-style idea: A non-aggression pact to remain neutral against major league pitching.

Walks are nice, but I want more for a $13.5 million (and growing) hitter in the three-hole. Now go look up David Ortiz’s RBI totals the last three years. He bats third just like Bobby. See what I mean? He does all that for half the money, is the linchpin of his team’s offense, and would rather swing the bat than waddle to first like a salsa singer on a stroll to the delight of his audience.

I will sing again with joy when Pat Gillick the Grown Up removes Abreu’s card from Wade’s psychotic card house.

Before he announced the Bell trade after the moribund loss, 4-1, against the Marlins, Abreu and the rest of the morose bunch demonstrated the failings of their season in microcosm.

The first thought that washes over me every time Team Puke plays the Marlins is that Abreu makes just half a million bucks less than THE ENTIRE MARLINS PAYROLL. Now, later in the season and with Team Schizo BEHIND THE MARLINS in the standings, I am flush with wonderment at the exhuberance of hungry youth.

This Marlins team, on a slow boat to nowhere the first part of the year, has had a historical turnabout and now has a starting pitching staff which includes three rookies with as many or more wins than ANY Phillies starter and leads the National League in ERA. And of course, as our collection of spoiled, over-sexed millionaires paraded to the plate with their bats on their shoulders, they proceeded to be no-hit for almost seven full innings by Ricky Nolasco.

Haven’t heard of him? Didn’t think so.

Could it get worse? Oh, yeah. You bet.

Up in the eighth comes our last real chance: David Dellucci, Chase Utley, Abreu and Ryan Howard. On paper, you’d think so, at least. But on the field…that’s a whole different story.

Dellucci, choking on his scungilli, ran a 3-0 count and moronically swung at the next offering and ground out. Maybe he was channeling the spirit of Jelly Roll, as he was ineffective in the leadoff spot. But when Utley blooped a single to center to continue his impressive 28-game hitting streak, you would think having your Number Three hitter step up would be nothing short of optimal.

Nope.

After watching Utley almost get picked off by another one of the Marlins’ young arms, Comedulce dribbled a weak grounder to second, and Utley was extinguished at second. Abreu stood on first, the inning still alive. That is, until our champion silver slugger was fooled by the rookie’s deft pickoff move to first about 10 seconds after the ball was thrown back to the pitcher. Inning over, Howard not allowed to swing. And, of course, he proceeded to launch his 33rd homer to the upper deck when he led off the next inning. But it was already over.

Bell’s last hurrah followed Howard’s bomb and Aaron Rowand’s strikeout. It was one of his specialties – the weak fly-out to right field. Shane Victorino lined out to left and the Phillies had the fork stuck in them.

I wonder if Bell knew that was the last game in candy stripes for him. I wonder if he knew he had a higher BA than Abreu. I wonder if he’s snickering about that on the way out the door.

I wonder if any sucker wants to pay the declining Abreu a king’s ransom next year for a .275 average and 150 walks.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

THE ADDYTOOD IS IN THE WARDER


Old Pete the Water Guy usually kept to himself. In a blue collar town, he was the archetypical working man -- out the door at dawn, scrapple and eggs at the diner, an honest eight hours at the plant and then a cold one or twelve at the taproom to watch the Phillies.

Then the misery would begin.

On the surface, he seemed just like the rest of us suffering Philadelphia faithful, who, unable to control place of birth, are hopelessly damned to a life of futility rooting for the losingest sports franchise in human history. But Pete was different. As he watched every pathetic loss unfold, the old man would knowingly shake his head, offering no banter or solution to the team’s woes as his drinking buddies would dissect the Phillies’ manifold vulnerabilities.

As it turns out, Old Pete kept to himself for a reason -- he knew a lot more than he was letting on, and he was scared, terrified that if his secret were ever revealed, he’d be out of house and rowhome. He was a water guy, and he knew the root cause of the fans’ ailments.

But as retirement looms and death becomes a palpable thing, lips are loosened. And as Old Pete told it to me the other night, the Phillies and their fans’ woes start with the water.

“You heard the old saying, ‘Must be something in the warder,’ Pete murmured to me as he emptied a pilsner of Yuengling at Shamrock 13, our favorite Tacony tavern. “Well, in Philadelphia’s case, there is something in the warder.”

Our rotund bartender with the watermelon tits and sunny disposition approached and interrupted our tete-a-tete.

“Ya wanna anudder, hon?” she asked me.

Before I had a chance, Pete ordered for us. “One of what he’s having, a Ying for me, and two ice warders, sweetie,” he instructed the drink-slinging heifer.

I didn’t know quite what to make of his claim. Of course there’s something in the water…or at least there better be, considering it’s drawn from the Delaware and the Schuylkill Rivers. Wait a minute. There was something other than chlorine and other cleansers in the water? Old Pete mumbled on.

“I started at the Warder Department back in 1964. I was 23, fresh out of the Army, and I should say, happy as hell to get my discharge before Johnson escalated the shit in ‘Nam. Anyway, I had a buddy, Mickey Guerin was his name, get me in at the Department. Good gig, still is.”

Pete took a drag off his Pall Mall straight, coughed up a wad of green phlegm, wiped it on his blue Dickies pant leg, and weaved his tale further.

“I read meters for four years. Then I run into Mickey and he tells me, ‘Petey, I can get you into a better slot right inside the Torresdale plant, and you can work here until the next century if you keep a lid on how we do things here. That’s all there is to it. Are ya innerested?’ And I said, sure, it beats running away from German shepherds in North Philly backyards. So my first day inside the plant, Mickey goes, ‘Let me show ya somethin’. So he takes me to this room adjacent to the filtration works, and shows me these 55-gallon drums. Big deal, I’m thinking – it’s just chlorine or some shit like that. But it wasn’t chlorine. The label says ‘methylphenidate’ – most people know that as ritalin.”

“He had ritalin stashed at the water works?” I asked.

“No,” Pete said. “It wasn’t his stash. It was the city’s. And his job was to put it in the warder.”

When he told me that, I almost dropped my Jack Daniels. This guy’s a crackpot, I thought. No wonder he’s a little anti-social. No, this couldn’t be the truth. But still…

“I know what you’re thinking,” Pete said. “The old man’s off his rocker. Okay. I’m crazy. But let me ask you this: What makes us so hostile here in the City of Brotherly Love?”

“Any number of reasons, Pete,” I countered. “The natives don’t need ritalin to be assholes. We’re born that way.”

“Yeah, you’re born that way and drinking the fuggin’ warder. I’m tellin’ you, the warder supply is tainted. You drink it, I drink it, the Phillies drink it…and the whole while, as the ballclub loses year after year, they reinforce our irritability and depression. It’s an endless circle.”

“You mean endless cycle, Pete?”

“Whatever. It’s a circle of shit, that’s what it is. And I’ll tell ya what else. It ain’t just ritalin in the warder, either.”

“Oh, come on!”

“Look, I’m not shittin’ ya. They put LSD in the warder back in ’72. And how many games did the Phils win that year?”

“Fivety-nine.”

“You are correct. That’s why Carlton won 27 of them – he only drank the wine. And when the team was goin’ good in ’80 and ‘83, they panicked. Thought the chemical balance would be thrown off by success. So they threw in PCP right after the last World Series in ’83 – what, with the Sixers winning it a few months before, something had to be done. And two years later, in ’85, look what happened. Wilson Goode ordered the MOVE house bombed and set Osage Avenue on fire. And what was the Phils’ record that glorious season?”

“Ridiculous, Pete,” I said. “How many of those Yings did you have?”

“Six. I’m not feeling a thing, though. I had a chaser of warder. We put a little morphine in the mix this week at the plant. But mostly, it’s still ritalin, is what it is.”

I looked at the ice water in front of me, and all of a sudden I felt a cramp in the pit of my stomach. Ritalin? That’s what psychiatrists give hyperactive kids to calm them down. If taken by someone with normal brain chemistry, it has just the opposite effect. It’s like a hit of meth. Even with the properly diagnosed patient, it has unsavory side effects. I was starting to see Pete’s point.

“Look at this place,” Pete said. “Philly fans are the most aggressive in the country. We chuck snowballs at Santy Claus and batteries at J.D. Drew. The city had to build a courtroom and jail at the Vet because of all the fights. And not because of the booze. Remember that Dallas Cowboy that got carted off on a stretcher? Wazhisname…Irving? They were cheering that like we just nailed Osammy bin-Laden or somethin’. And remember – the players drink the warder, too.’”

“So how’d this all start,” I asked him.

“Rizzo,” Pete said. “Police Commissioner Rizzo, back in ’68, right about when I started inside the plant. Mickey said he figgered if we doped the warder supply and calmed people down, the hippies and the Black Panthers and all the other radicals would get the stick outta their asses and we wouldn’t have riots like they did in Watts, Detroit or the South. They was different times. People were talkin’ revolution and shit. But as it turned out, the ritalin calmed the freaks down, but made the normal people hyper. We’ve had 40 years of people up all night shootin’ each other and all kinda mayhem. That’s what ritalin does. Rizzo was a good cop and a great mayor, but he wasn’t a chemical engineer, that’s for sure.”

I did my shot and washed it down with the ice water, bracing for the worst. Or maybe it was the dose I needed to even me out. Maybe I’d run screaming down the Boulevard with a machete, screaming at an imaginary Mitch Williams…there was a whole bunch of shit I never considered before. But one thing was certain.

I hate paying for bottled warder.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Okay, Franklin. Give Us The Pictures!

So over in the fan forums in cyberspace, Phillies fans are fretting about Backwoods Chollie’s decision to cede the game last night against the D-backs by inserting Ryan Franklin in the 11th inning.

It has also been remarked in that contentious world that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In the Phillies case, fans have watched -- much to their chagrin -- Franklin’s repeated use in close and late situations, and rarely has this career loser shut the door.

If it’s not insanity, it has to be extortion. Somewhere, under lock and key, Franklin must have pictures of Chollie fucking a pig. How else can he justify trotting this guy out unless he’s mopping up a mess?

The plaintive cries in the digital woods were well-founded immediately after the ball game, because there were two other relievers – Geoff Geary and Fabio Castro – who Chollie could have used instead of Franklin. But old bumbling butthole believes in confidence-building through losing, especially if the player grew up as backward as he did. Franklin hails from Oklahoma, which is bad enough, but last week admitted he may not have it in him to be a reliever; that was bad news for the team, because the comment evidently has bought Franklin more innings in Chollie’s estimation.

Considering the club took great pains in maintaining Fabio Castro’s place on the active roster, demoting a veteran pitcher, Clay Condrey to AAA when he was acquired, and more recently, designating catcher Sal Fasano for assignment when it could have just as easily kissed the unused Castro goodbye (as Sally pointed out as he packed his bags), I’m convinced that any of the aforementioned alibis can be deduced from tonight’s bad ending.

In short, Chollie’s insane, extorted, or just plain dumb.

So instead of the highly competent Geary (5-0, 3.29 ERA) or the untapped and dwarfish Castro, both hurlers sat in the bullpen and got a fantastic field-level view of the solo homer the de-steroided Franklin surrendered to the first batter he faced, Carlos Quentin, who debuted as a major leaguer just five days ago and has been permitted to work for his pay.

Castro, acquired June 29 from the Texas Rangers for Daniel Haigwood – one-third of the return the team received for Jim Thome – last appeared to confirm his existence July 6. Aside from that, he pitched the day after the trade. That’s been it. The totals are clean: Four innings, one hit, no runs. Not bad. So what’s wrong with this guy?

Maybe a better question would be what’s so right about Franklin?

Where’s the pictures, asshole?

Monday, July 24, 2006

SELL! SELL! SELL!


I will say this for Flash Gordon: He’s making a case to stay a Phillie. He sure doesn’t look like good trade bait anymore.

Friday night, he let Tomahawker Jeff Francouer – who has all of eight walks this season and swings at garbage – beat him for a two-run homer in the ninth. No harm there. Gordon had a three-run lead and proceeded to sew that one up. Phils 6, Braves 5.

Last night, old Flash served up a three-run bomb to Francouer, who somehow has 69 RBI despite an on-base percentage of .288. That must tie the sabermetric geeks up in knots. To say the guy gets timely hits goes without saying, and his homer tonight in the ninth won the game for the Braves, 5-1. He may swing at trash, but he hits it.

Atlanta scored five runs on five hits; the Phils had 11 hits, yet could only manage one measly run. They left a collective 13 runners on base. Meanwhile, accused wife-beater Brett Myers’ return to the mound in Philly was a resounding success. He hurled one of his best games of the season and entered the top of the ninth with a three hitter. However, his inept offense had kept the game knotted at 1-1.

Fellow wife-beater Bobby Cox, who made the mistake of of getting beat by keeping the wrong pitcher late in the game Friday, must’ve salivated seeing his criminal peer sweating and laboring in the ninth, because Chollie was making the same mistake tonight. Myers was spent. Before you could say “Mike Tyson was railroaded,” Myers had relinquished the lead and Team Phutile was looking at a 2-1 deficit.

Chollie, his head bobbling like a six-foot figurine, came shuffling out of the dugout and took the ball from Myers, who doffed his cap to applauding fans as he exited. Who says Philly is an unforgiving place?

But Gordon took care of all those good vibes, throwing a fatty to Francouer, the reincarnation of Manny Sanguillen, and it was OVER. Does anyone expect this team to recover from a four-run deficit in the ninth? That’s as likely as Bobby Abreu’s progressively fattening ass hustling up a double in the eighth – which didn’t happen, courtesy of a perfect assist from (guess who?) Jeff Fucking Francouer. Abreu helped Frenchy out, as replays showed him tanking it around the bend at first. Ironically, replays also showed Comedulce to be safe, as the throw beat him, yet he maneuvered his engorged body away from the tag and put his hand on the bag before he was touched. But if he had put more of an effort into it in the first place, he would have beaten the throw and the ump would most likely have given him the call.

Please, let me hear again how the critics are wrong when they say this guy dogs it. Then tell Bill James to invent the stat for that one.

The ESPN telecast had its interesting moments, aside from Joe Morgan’s asserting that Pat Gillick brought Ruben Amaro Jr. with him as an assistant GM. (He’s Ed Wade’s old buttboy). The new rumor has Pat Burrell going to the Cardinals. The last trade the Phils made with Walt Jocketty was when he ass-raped Wade in the Scott Rolen deal. I wait with baited breath.

Maybe the Cards will send a case of Bud over for Burrell; certainly, Francouer is worth more, as he now has NINE more RBIs than our alleged cleanup hitter, this despite being primarily the seventh-hole hitter behind the Joneses, Chipper and Andruw, who take advantage of the ample RBI opportunities in front of them a helluva lot more often than Baby Girl.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Requiem For A Mascot


In a move as devastating to the region as the summer’s floodwaters, Sal Fasano was designated for assignment by the Phillies yesterday.

No longer will the Citizens Bank Park right field upper deck be populated by Sal’s Pals, the two dozen fans who tried establishing a cult around the career journeyman, now finished with his tenth franchise. The 35-year-old has vowed not to report to the Phils’ Scranton-Wilkes Barre AAA affiliate, which is a real shame. They need a good laugh after the flood.

Maybe it was the fans’ desperation to find a hero that deluded the chubby backstop into thinking he was part of the team’s solution, because to hear Sal tell it, what the Phils did was fucked up and nasty.

"I just didn't think that being outrighted is a reward for going on the DL when you didn't want to,” Sal cried. “Maybe I should have made it a little bit more known then. It just goes to show you they'd rather go with guys they just picked up than guys that were here."

If he was referring to the catchers that remain with the big team, Sal really should do a little research. There is, of course, the veteran albatross Mike Lieberthal, playing his swan song injured as his corpulent contract expires at the end of the season. And then there is Chris Coste.

Coste, a 33-year-old rookie, has been assaulting half the pitches he has seen the last month, cruising along at a .333 clip and providing timely hits in the bottom third of the order – something unheard of this season until Chollie began to give him a shot. And he wasn’t “just picked up,” either. He was signed as a minor league free agent by the Phils in 2004 – a year before Sally signed -- and all he’s done since then is produce in AAA and the majors.

Sal, on the other hand, has produced a funny fan club, 10 RBIs, a .243 average, and has a hand in the pitching staff’s National League-worst ERA. And unlike Coste, he is unable to throw out base stealers from his chronically injured knees.

Insanely, he thought the pox he has laid upon the team would last the remainder of his marginal career.

"It hurts a lot, because I finally found a home," said Fasano. “This is where I thought I might retire.”

The axing of Sally is especially notable insomuch as Team Vomit’s limited partners were recently exposed as meddling in front office affairs for years when “fan favorites” were on the verge of being released or dealt. Surely, Fasano quickly emerged in that category this season, if only because of his cool hair and Fu Manchu moustache. That’s a hell of a reason to keep a guy on a roster when your team’s 13 games behind the fucking Mets. Thankfully, it didn't happen.

Here’s hoping the deluge is coming. Is there a good reason to subject us masochists to Abe Nunez or Ryan Franklin anymore? Can’t some would-be contender be snookered into taking the pathetically ineffective Arthur Rhodes off the team’s hands?

Do it quick, Gillick. These guys don’t have fan clubs yet

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Burrito Full Of Blues


The sun seared the San Diego skatepark, the SoCal Summer heat no longer just a wisp blown in from the desert mellowed by the surf, but instead an open oven kindled by overpopulation, Al Gore’s flatulence and carne asada burritos.

It was the Mexican version of the cheesesteak that inspired Our Lord and Savior Cole Hamels to visit his old haunt, El Culo del Rico, for some jalapeno-inspired home cooking today after his start last night against his hometown Padres. Not surprisingly, the same old shit happened again. He left with the lead and the bullpen blew the game. His rookie season with Team Schizo so far had left him with a bad taste in his mouth, and El Culo had just the right elixir to cleanse his tainted palate. He met up with an old teacher and brought an appetite.

“Seriously, Tom, Philly is a pit,” Hamels said as he liberally applied salsa and sour cream to the beef delicacy. His pitching mentor, Tom House, listened attentively as the young lefty detailed his woes.

“I mean, like, you know – this team has issues,” the burrito-eater described as he hunkered down and set to work on the fat double-wrapped tortilla tube.

House has handled his share of up-and-coming pitchers from his “school” based in San Diego, the National Pitching Association, most notably Mark Prior, Kevin Brown and Rob Nen -- to be sure, successful pitchers, but nevertheless, consistently injured. House, who has authored three books on pitching mechanics and “BioKinetics,” has a PhD in psychology – but no degrees, not even a bachelor’s, in any of the physical sciences are listed in his biography. He has his critics, not the least of whom is Dr. Mike Marshall, the retired Cy Young Award winner who does, in fact, own a doctorate in physiology. Marshall was known for his durability as a big leaguer and, more recently, what “baseball people” contend are his “unorthodox” methods geared toward avoiding injuries to developing pitchers’ arms. For some reason, “baseball people” think he’s the charlatan, not House.

But so far, the only students with a pattern of injury after instruction have been House’s.

Whether House has already set the stage for Hamels’ ruin is still unknown – Hamels has had arm and back problems, not all pitching-related – but yesterday, he was there just to listen to his student, a convivial, calming spirit; an old “master” with his charge, if you will.

“I made a big mistake with Chollie,” continued Hamels. “After one of my bad starts, I told him I wasn’t motivated, and he, like, freaked out! Told me if I can’t get motivated in the big leagues, there was no point in being here! Can you believe it? I think that shithole of a city is getting to him.”

Young Cole inhaled the last of the burrito and wiped the face that has always inspired big-titted and nitwitted blonde babes to line up for a little beach blanket bingo with him. “Let’s take a walk on the beach, coach, do you mind?” Hamels asked.

“Sure, Cole,” House answered obligingly, “it’ll help clear your mind.”

Once they hit the sand, Hamels reached in his pocket and took a look around.

“Mind if I smoke a bone?” he respectfully inquired.

“Hey, you’re in friendly territory,” House chuckled. Hamels sparked the joint, took a long hit, exhaled, and continued his assessment of Team Schizo.

“Dude, Dubee’s a moron, dude. He is so whack. Do you know he spent most of his career in Double A ball? Never made the majors – and he keeps a flask of hooch in the dugout!”

“You’re kidding me!” said House, who pitched all of 536 innings in the majors, mostly as a reliever in a mop-up role for eight seasons. His most memorable big league moment came when he caught Hank Aaron’s 715th homer in the Braves bullpen. But he never got liquored up in the dugout like Dubee.

“Yeah, can you fucking believe it?” Hamels went on. “And I’m not sure about this, but I think Pat Burrell is doing that trailer trash shit OxyContin, you know, the heroin-like stuff Rush Limbaugh got busted for? I can’t count the times I noticed him nodding off at the plate looking at a called third strike.”

“Holy shit!” House said, feigning flabbergast. After all, his was the era of the greenie, and the team Hamels got drafted into was notorious in the 70s for being crankheads. They all did it. He began to wonder whether Hamels would ever be able to handle Philly, or if the Phillies could handle their drugs.

“Cole, you do realize that team’s going to look completely different next season,” House averred. “I hope they hire my consultant Dusty Baker. He lets pitchers pitch.”

“Whoa, grandmaster dude!” Hamels droned in his native CaliSpeak. “Didn’t the Duster burn out two staffs in San Fran and Chi-town? He, like, isn’t too groovy about pitch counts.”

“Well, he’s not Mike Marshall, either,” House shot back. “That asshole would have you do shit like long toss everyday to strengthen your arm. I’ve laid down the law about that: You don’t need arm strength to throw hard. It’s sequential muscle loading. It’s late torso rotation, it’s…”

“Speaking of torso rotation, check out that chiquita hottie with those hooters, dude! I could stand for a little pinoche. Ee-yah!”

“Ignore the chicks and listen to me, Cole. Thus, I have written: ‘A pitcher must find and keep an upper body spine-to-hip relationship with a constant angle of flex in posting knee at front leg lift, stride and landing -- directing upper body into torso rotation and launch of a baseball.’"

“I never understood all that shit,” Hamels said, gazing at his sensei through reddened eyes. “I gotta get to the ballpark and get ready to watch my team lose again.”

And so the two parted, their relationship fortified by carne asada, ganja and bullshit. They tread similar paths in different eras, pitchers both – and that’s about where the similarities end. For the neophyte Hamels, his road has ended about the sixth inning every quality start, a yanking further irritating his impressionable spirit each time the bullpen blows the lead. Just like last night’s disaster. And things will not change as long as the other pitchers are about as untalented as Tom House.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

An Earful From Our Next Manager


When Pat Gillick ends Chollie’s misery and cuts him loose, he would be well advised to hire Lou Piniella for comedic effect.

Piniella and nepotistic gasbag Thom Brennamen were assigned by Fox Sports to cover today’s Phillies contest against the Giants from beautiful, kooky and gay San Francisco. They came armed with every bad baseball cliché and then some, spouting soporific syllogisms and misguided malaprops galore.

To be honest, Team Schizo would give any broadcaster ample opportunity for clever commentary, as they were a veritable Keystone Cops when it came to playing ball before the All Star break. After last night’s boner-filled 5-3 loss, it was clear the hijinks are to continue, and Cory Lidle today honored the proud tradition of starting pitchers digging an early hole for themselves. Before Piniella could mention the lust in his heart for Marge Schott, the Fightless were behind, 2-0.

Although he told Buttboy Brennamen – who clearly is channeling a Muppet in an alternate dimension - he has “more time to watch baseball” since quitting as the Devil Rays’ manager, Piniella evidently has had the volume turned down in his luxury suite or home entertainment center. Somebody needs to hand this guy a player pronunciation guide; surely he has not heard these names before today:

Lidle became “Lie-DELL.” Pat Burrell transformed into “Burr-ELL.” Aaron Rowand got another letter as in “ROW-land.” The manager in the Giants’ dugout, after all these years, would have cringed to hear “Fah-LEEPY.” And, of course, there was the man he would replace, now known as Chollie “MAN-yew-ah.”

But Piniella didn’t limit himself to baseball. As we all know, for the Bay Area’s wealthy fans, it is a social occasion, a chance to fire up what he described as a “High-BOTCH-ee” on the boat in the bay and enjoy some barbeque. And when Fox flashed some video with 38-year-old San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom unveiling the promotional sign outside AT & T Park for next year’s All Star game, Sweet Lou commented he was “a young-lookin’ mayor.” Maybe a few days in the Gay Area had Lou noticing the plentiful young men?

(Just as an aside – what is this bit with the all the gay guys harassing the Jamaican shopkeepers in Massachusetts, growling “breeder” right in their faces because some reggae musicians are freaked out by anal sex? Are they supposed to wire the old country and demand they change their lyrics? And the magazine publisher confronting a hetero woman and shouting “breeder” at her in front of her church? Or the other faceless fags stealthily smearing shit on properties owned by known heterosexuals because they don’t support gay marriage? Sounds like the fairies up there are out to one-up the Klan. If you didn’t hear about it, the publisher’s being charged with a hate crime for that one, and if you ask me, he deserves all the hassle he gets. I never understood Queer Nation’s disgust with people who follow their instincts and have children. Here they want people to at least tolerate their lifestyle – no problem there – but then they act as if receiving big wads of jism squirts up their colon is natural, and the “breeders” who continue the species (and, coincidentally, that would include unborn gay people) are doing something wrong. Can somebody send Ozzie Guillen up to Red Sox Nation to counsel these people?)

Anyhow, the Phils wound up putting on a good show for their would-be future whipcracker, winning 14-6, the most runs they have posted this lame season. And in between all the shit the tandem spewed, there were some telling thoughts bandied about regarding strategy between Brennamen, son of a Reds broadcaster who never played the game nor worked a real job in his life, and Piniella, who played and managed for 37 years.

Most baseball fans are aware Piniella displayed an on-field disposition akin to Larry Bowa – but unlike the Phillies’ cock robin, who never won more than 88 games in a season, he won 90 games or more seven times as a skipper. Moreover, Piniella worked under Gillick in Seattle (where he won a mind-boggling 116 games in 2001), so it’s only natural his name is at the top of any list to replace managers at the helm of failing teams, and especially managers who request prayers for help with the job.

Aside from the on-field pyrotechnics, Piniella has hinted what to expect from him if he gets the gig. For one, he’s not a fan of “Moneyball,” the sabermetrically-driven philosophy of Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane and his minions, as well as millions of geeky fantasy league “owners” who insist the game has passed old-timers by, that the stolen base and hit-and-run are overrated if not useless devices, and that Joe Morgan is the anti-Christ for not agreeing with them, despite his own supersaber career numbers.

“How many World Series has Moneyball won?” Piniella jabbed rhetorically at Brennamen, who was reciting Beane’s reasons why the Phillies should not be bunting with a four-run lead in the late innings with speedburner Shane Victorino at the plate.

Strangely, Thommy Boy retreated to the safe womb of the Red Sox – not surprising as both Fox and ESPN have obsessed over Boston like a teenager jerking off to a Hustler spread – saying that the Sox won the World Series with a payroll of $120 million.

Right, Brennamen. Now that’s Moneyball. Unfortunately, it’s not what Piniella was talking about when you started to recite the Scripture according to Bill James.

“Baseball teams that advance runners consistently win a lot more than they lose,” the aging manager said in pointing out the obvious. “You use your bunt as much as an offensive weapon as a defensive weapon.”

That’s a good thought, as defensive metrics have not been as easy to come by with the sabermetric maniacs. It’s also an idea expressed ad nauseum by Phillies color man Larry Anderson, mostly in his regular indictments regarding Team Vomit’s futility in their rare excursions into the Lost World of Bunting.

Better, Piniella demonstrated he likes to go for the kill to goad the opponent into surrender, saying, “You need to keep on moving runners and piling on runs.…Remind the other team it’s not their day today.”

Not exactly the most intellectually advanced baseball thought, but still, for a guy who has trouble pronouncing English like Chollie, it seems he has more going on upstairs. And as the Phils tied their previous season-high run total at 12, he tellingly added, “You would think they would have scored more than 12 in a ballgame.”

Team Schizo finished with 14 runs today. Knowing full well their starting pitching woes nearly eradicate the efforts of four hitters with more than 50 RBIs – as he pointed out at length – Piniella summarized the demolition with one of the most shop-worn assessments of a mediocre team.

“A game like this can really jump start you,” he said, reading from his dog-eared Old School Manual (or would that be the “Man-yew-AH”?). “Hitting is contagious.”

Here’s hoping whatever afflicts Brett Myers doesn’t spread tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Of Pigs And Gladiators


For some reason, I found myself watching “Gladiator” the other night, the day before Phillies Unlimited Idiot General Partner Bill Giles, returning from Italy, the setting of the movie, said the team’s alleged wife-beating pitcher was “trying to help her get back to the hotel.”

The whole thing was a big misunderstanding, he said, implying what Brett Myer’s victimized wife and four eyewitnesses told the police was a pack of lies.

No need to replay the whole back-and-forth, hem-and-haw and regurgitation Team Puke Managing General Moron Dave Montgomery tried in spinning what Giles said into a big misunderstanding, too. Just assume both these guys take the fans as stooges.

It would be fair to assume Les Invisibles -- the inbred group of bluebloods that own the rest of the franchise – view the fan base as Commodus thought the Roman mob at the Coliseum: Crazy, bloodthirsty hedonists looking for a daily bacchanal to enliven and amuse their base instincts. For our modern masters, certainly only an unclean, uncouth brood descended from enslaved barbarians would be sucker enough to fund a stadium for their profit.

Alas, their richly-compensated gladiators have failed miserably this year, and the year before, and the year before that since the new Coliseum was erected. Now the barbarians, to the owners' shock, are screaming for heads. Their heads.

As they see it, the modern forum for the "crazy" loudmouthed masses to vent their bile is talk radio and other mass media. Giles said as much in his fateful interview with reporters before the All-Star game Monday. He must view the Internet as the work of the devil. There’s no seven-second delay here, and better, no “owner” telling you to assume your readers are chowder-eating grannies.

Many years ago, I wrote a story for a “family” newspaper about one of the slaughterhouses that make scrapple, the inimitably Philadelphian breakfast delicacy with ingredients of pig heart, pig liver, pig tail, pig lip and pig snout, among other viscera. The plant is not a sight for the faint of heart. The pictures accompanying the story were gruesome.

They did, however, depict the truth. And the words wrapped around the hanging, gutted pigs succinctly described their fate.

It took about a day to get all the approvals needed from On High to run the pictures, and the photos were critical, because this was a cover story for a tabloid insertion in the broadsheet newspaper to which the aforementioned chowder-eaters subscribed.

Would people never know how scrapple was made if the story never ran? Of course not. Anybody could find out if they wanted to see for themselves. But the story took people to a place they might have never have thought to have gone, or had the time to do so.

The Brett Myers public wife-beating arrest has involuntarily exposed the public face of the ownership – Montgomery and Giles -- innards and all. Like scrapple or hot dog lovers, Phillies fans might not have ever wanted to see how the cooks made the product. Now for our mid-summer’s pleasure, there are Monty and Giles, hanging with all the dignity of a slaughtered swine on a meat hook.

Now the hungry hordes want more flesh to hang - or at the very least, somebody from Les Invisibles to disown their idiot stepchildren who interface with the customers.

Here’s a heads up, Billy boy. When you call fans “crazy” for expressing their displeasure with your suckass joke of a team, and then deny violent criminal charges “never happened” with the clear certainty of a true believer, you should fear the masses and stay out of the Coliseum. Bullshit smells the same in Villanova as it does in Tacony. When you say -- at age 71 -- you will never sell your share of the team as long as you are alive, you should hope the other shareholders or creditors don’t end your run with the modern day equivalents of assassination, the hostile takeover or cash call. If that doesn’t happen, here’s hoping your heirs hate baseball and sell.

If anything, old man, you should be grateful that you can take the pulse of your customers anytime of the day and take the good advice of people who know a helluva lot more about baseball – as opposed to generating millions in borrowed wealth – than you do. Boycotts are already being arranged, Billy boy, as if the second half of this season didn’t portend empty seats a-plenty. Judging from what all the “crazy” fans are saying, there are legions more who have decided to stay away after your idiocy this week.

Unlike a good hunk of scrapple, your product is indigestible.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Chollie's Paranoid Evangel: Let Us Pray


Whenever somebody starts saying prayers are needed to help him, you can be assured the white flag of surrender has been raised.

Worse, when somebody starts saying that somebody must be out to get him when there is no articulated or demonstrable threat, anti-psychotic medicine should be considered, as the rest of the sane population might need to control the deluded party before he hurts the innocent.

Read this and tell me if it isn’t the rambling of an unsound mind:

“I don't know if it's you guys or the players or what, but somebody out there has got something against us. Or somebody's not living right. If you guys are very religious, please go to church. Pray for us."

That was Phillies Manager Backwoods Chollie, the imbecile son of a preacher, after last night’s 3-2 loss to the Pirates. The “you guys” to whom he was referring were the reporters surrounding him armed, as he implies, with deadly pen weapons and tape recorder bombs. “The players” were the shizophrenic, coddled millionaires he attempts to “manage,” yet now, as he speciously contends, they got something against themselves.

Somehow, I can’t imagine these narcissists hating themselves.

As far as the somebodies that are “not living right,” I won’t get started on that one in detail, but suffice it to say beating the shit out of your wife would define the term. Not to mention the team brass that let unmellowed angry boy Brett Myers pitch his next turn, thus setting up the blackening of the collective eye of a city the rest of the country takes great schadenfreude in bashing as regularly as Todd Jones’ morning dump.

No, Chollie, Jesus ain’t gonna help you or this collection of slugs. As Sister Mary of Lesbos reminds us heathens, your so-called Lord said, “When I was hungry, you gave me to eat,” and we miserable fans of this 123-year atrocity are starving. The owners, Les Invisibles, have offered us crumbs from their kingly table of plenty (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard), but the nourishment they offer has been soaked in the vomit and piss of the team’s ineptitude. More worrisome, the kids seem to be picking up the bad habits of the other career losers, as prophesied by naysayers who revel in the team’s ineptitude. Billy Wagner can’t keep his mouth shut about his old team, but it turns out he is correct in his assessment.

And now, you say, “Pray for us?” I don’t know if you noticed this lately, dummy, but you’re wearing the monkey suit of a baseball manager, not the cassock or turban of a fairy tale salesman. Maybe you should ask the assembled interviewers after the game to “play for us.” Maybe they can manage more than three hits and a run against a starting pitcher for the Pirates, the worst team in the National League. Did you or the players watch the game video from Ian Snell’s last stellar start against your team, or were you too busy reading your “Strong’s Concordance?”

Did the Apostles in heaven conduct fielding practice or was it you who permitted your All-Star second baseman to become the third-worst fielder in the league? Did Jelly Roll speak in tongues and come up with that lineup card every day that has him leading off? Was Baby Girl Burrell fucking Mary Magdalene every night before looking like a leper at the plate?

There are libraries filled with descriptions of the “variety of religious experience.” Without a doubt, the next real-world epiphany in this town will be when Chollie is cast into the hell of unemployment, where his idol hands, already the devil’s playthings, will be far away from Philadelphia.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Korean Missile Finds Target, Hits Phillies


Did somebody serve up a heaping bowl of Castor Avenue kimchi with steroids to Chan Ho Park before last night’s game, or is this failure just too good for Team Vomit?

Park could have fed the starving mass of estranged relatives he has in North Korea for life or bought a few more missiles for its psychotic “Guardian Deity of the Planet” after he took advantage of Texas Rangers GM John Hart’s latent retardation and signed a contract worth $65 MILLION for five years in 2001, one of the costliest busts in baseball free agent history. He was perpetually injured and won a sparkling 26 games in four years. A seasoned cuttlefish in your local Korean grocery could have done better than that, and probably wouldn’t have demanded the same money as Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson, which is what Park’s agent, the Satanic Scott Boras, snookered the Rangers into doing.

Talk about fucking stupid.

But the Padres, starved for good pitching and no doubt seeking to engender the good will of SoCal’s large population of emigres from the Land of the Rising Sun, took an enormous chance on Park and dealt away Phil Nevins for him, a certified asshole, but a cheaper one. Park is collecting the last segment of Hart’s charity by proxy --$15.3 million – this season. But in contrast to Kim Il Jung, Park has weapons that really still work – at least against Philadelphia.

Park has been pedestrian this season, six wins, four losses and an ERA in the mid 4's -- but against the The Fightless, he was Tom Seaver. It was astounding he made it out of the first inning. I was listening to the game as I was driving back from the Shore, and the opening frame lasted until I passed through Hammonton on the White Horse Pike. Certainly the Padres would be trotting out as many pitchers as there are blueberries for sale at Jersey farmers markets. Or so I thought. Maybe I was having a flashback to my Shore trips in the late 70s, when the team I heard on the radio on the way home had a killer instinct in the early innings. As it turned out, Park would last as long as Lucy the Elephant. He pitched seven innings, threw 119 pitches, and allowed three earned runs. That’s about par this season against our alleged vaunted lineup. They were dead ducks against the Pod’s bullpen, and the final, boring result was a 5-3 loss.

Ryan Madson, who has come to epitomize the schizophrenic character of the Phils’ collection of uninspired losers, pitched the requisite shoddy performance five days after a winning effort, a maddening, alternating sequence that has left him with a deceiving 8-6 record but an outrageous 5.91 ERA. Ever the charmer, after his impressive win Sunday he refused to speak with reporters, one of the favorite scapegoats for the team’s dickless labors. He probably didn’t know how to explain his success anyhow. Last night, he spoke, clueless as to why he got battered. “I don’t know what it is,” said the pitcher. Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut.

Hey Ryan? Fuck you. At least Silent Steve Carlton was a weirdo who knew how to pitch. Your butt buddy Brett Myers is so outta here. Maybe you should “out” yourself and go, too.

Amazingly, Madson is going to be permitted to stay in the rotation instead of up-and-comer Scott Mathieson, who flung eight innings of three-run ball the previous night, an effort wasted by the Phils insipid, clutchless offense and rapidly deteriorating bullpen – where Madson plainly is more suited to pitch. So many homers, so few timely RBIs, so many dollars for Arthur Rhodes to fuck up a lead. Sigh.

So let’s summarize where this rant is going: The Phillies lose their EIGHTH STRAIGHT SERIES, yank Cole Hamels out of the first game after a rain delay for a team effort by the bullpen (the only game they won), demote Mathieson, who merely had the team’s best starting effort in a week, and cleared a spot for fat Jon Lieber, who was raked in his rehab starts by Single A hitters.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Fabio Castro, by all appearances fathered by a dwarf and who speaks only Espanol, will remain with the big club to be tutored by pitching coach Rich Dubee, who speaks a hillbilly English and whose Spanish is limited to asking for shots of tequila during spring training.

Now we’re getting places.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sister Mary's Midterm Phillies Report Card


I told you before I am a godless fuck. I didn’t tell you why.

The seeds of my devilment were sewn by the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Considering the clergy’s recent collective arrest record, and the scores of other “men of the collar” who never have been or never will be indicted for their crimes against humanity, it’s easy to understand the impact this gang of sadists and pederasts can have on impressionable youth.

No, this ain’t a sexual abuse story – I would have slugged any priest who tried to diddle my dinkus. Besides, they stunk of church wine, so I was never inclined to be an altar boy. As for the nuns, who reeked of stale panties and insisted they were married to Jesus, it was easy to see he preferred old maids and homely dykes.

Protected by their spouse, whom they daily cannibalized by a magical bread and wine proxy, the nuns got away with murder when it came to beating on pre-pubescent boys for the smallest infractions. Unlike Brett Myers, I was taught by my Kensington-bred father boys aren’t allowed to hit girls. So when the blue penguin came at you with a ruler and made hay, you more or less had to take your punishment. It was their way of giving your folks their tuition’s worth.

I was reminiscing about my joyful childhood in The Church of Perpetual Sorrows Parish School when it struck me there would be no better assessor of the Phillies at mid-term than my beloved seventh-grade teacher, Sister Mary of Lesbos, I.H.M., who is still alive and residing at Immaculata Rest Home For Old Closeted Diesels. She is still married to Jesus. She is still a Phillies fan. And she is not one bit happy. What follows is our conversation and the Phillies report card.

Tacony Lou: Hey there, bulldog. You don’t look a day older than 108.

Sister Mary of Lesbos: Well, if it isn’t the Son of Satan himself. Did they finally parole you?

TL: Never spent a day in jail, you old hag. By the way, I still got the scar from that crucifix you imbedded into my arm.

SM: That’s lovely. Blessed be the transfiguration. That’ll teach you to keep your hands folded when I tell you.

TL: My hands are perpetually folded, Sister. Are you still a Phillies fan?

SM: Those losers.

TL: So you’ve been watching?

SM: Do I have a choice?

TL: Now don’t get me into that pre-determinism versus free will argument again. Of course you have a choice. You could be offering up indulgences or incanting ejaculations from The Baltimore Catechism.

SM: I’ve never made anyone ejaculate!

TL: I’m sure you haven’t. I’m talking about a shout-out to Jesus.

SM: What in the name of our Blessed Mother are you here for?

TL: I’m trying to tell you. I’m here to get your grades on the Phillies.

SM: Those losers.

TL: You’ve established that. Let’s get more specific. You’ve been watching. Let’s go through the roster position by position. You may have been a terror in the classroom, but you sure knew how to critique a performance. Shall we?

SM: Well alright. I’ll start with pitching. They all get a red F.

TL: Go ahead, Sister. Get more specific.

SM: Lieber is guilty of the cardinal sins of sloth and gluttony. Look at the baby fat around his middle. No wonder he’s injured.

TL: He’s 37.

SM: Then it’s a beer gut. Who else is on that staff?

TL: I’m not sure the manager even knows.

SM: Oh, that man is a moron. Do you ever hear his press conferences? You can tell he never went to Catholic school. And the language of that man! He said team meetings were a bunch of “crap!” He gets a red F minus! And he is more gluttonous than Lieber.

TL: He is indeed fat. And he may never have gone to school, judging by his command of English.

SM: That’s not English he’s speaking. It is the forked tongue of Appalachian devil worshippers! Those families have a long history of incest, you know. My word! What is the world coming to? I much preferred Larry Bowa. He was Catholic.

TK: Let’s get back to the pitching. How about Brett Myers?

SM: Oh, the wife-beater. How lovely. He is slothful and angry. His soul is eternally corrupted by envy. He is headed to hell. He gets an F.

TL: Go on. The others?

SM: What others? Cory Lidle and the rookies? That’s not a pitching staff. It’s stand-up comedy. Whatever happened to Johnny Carson? They all get an F.

TL: Carson’s dead, Sister Mary. But let’s move along. Catcher?

SM: I like Sal Fasano. He gets an A. Good Italian Catholic boy.

TL: I see you’re still partial to your fellow cannibals. What about Lieberthal and Coste?

SM: Lieberthal is Jewish. Go ask his rabbi. Does he even play anymore?

TL: For $7.5 million this season. But he’s been injured.

SM: Well, he’s Jewish. So I suppose he doesn’t appreciate how Christ suffered his injuries carrying his cross. Maybe some of his relatives sentenced him to death.

TL: Well, for all we know, that’s a fairy tale.

SM: Regardless. He gets an F. All that money and he can’t play? Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

TL: Moving right along, then. How about Ryan Howard?

SM: He can hit the ball far but he can’t catch it. I noticed he has had a child out of wedlock. He’s a fornicator. Big deduction there. B at the best.

TL: I’m sure you’re a Chase Utley fan. Almost everyone is.

SM: I have my informers still. He’s Protestant. And I’m sure he committed sins venial and mortal as a youth in Babylon, California. B at the best.

TL: Now comes some rough spots. David Bell.

SM: His bad back are the wages of sin upon his flesh. I would say he has wasted the talent God has given him, but he has none. Could you give him one of my laxatives to get that pained look off his face? A red F for Mr. Bell. His bell has already tolled.

TL: And Jimmy Rollins, the Jelly Roll?

SM: A pathetic excuse for a hitter who will never learn to hit leadoff and who gives nothing but pathetic excuses for his blunders on the basepaths on the rare occasions he gets on base. And he listens to that evil rap music. He is prideful and greedy. He will burn in hell. A red F.

TL: Well, that leaves the outfielders, the bench and the bullpen.

SM: What’s there to like? The team is a failure. One big red F.

TL: Well, would you trade Abreu or Burrell?

SM: I’d keep them in detention for a year. I’d like to tan their biscuits, that’s what I’d like to do. Abreu reminds me of you. Good grades, bad conduct. He looks bored and his very presence on the team causes trouble. He truly is a manifestation of Satan. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is ruinous to the franchise. He has baseball fans acting like homosexuals in their praise of his numbers. Well, how about these three numbers: 666. He is the beast, and like Satan, he needs to be cast into hell.

TL: You would cast one of the greatest Phillies hitters ever into hell?

SM: That’s just what I mean. As the Lord God Almighty will intone to the fallen, “Depart from me, ye wicked.” He’s like pornography for a married man. He ignores his wife and loses sight of his obligations to her. Sex is a sacred gift from God, yet he masturbates over dirty filth and drops his seed as Onan did. This is sin. Filthy, disgusting sin.

TL: What you really mean is that he takes too many walks, right?

SM: In the temporal world, yes. In the spiritual world, he is Mystery Babylon, the Whore.

TL: You sound like a television evangelist.

SM: Then this is my evangel: Trade Abreu and Burrell. They are two sides of the same coin. One is quietly evil, the other a drunken reveler and adept of buggery!

TL: And on what authority do you make that judgment?

SM: The Revered James J. Pederast.

TL: He’s out of the clink?

SM: Not only that, he’s drinking again. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.

TL: You mean he’s still light in the loafers, right?

SM: Well, I suppose a man can find a man anywhere these days. Suffice it to say Burrell earns his red F. A womanizer. An alcoholic. A whore. Father James plays in Olde City, you know. Burrell is headed to jail – then hell.

TL: That leaves the bench, and I can guess what your assessment is of that bunch.

SM: A perverted aberration!

TL: Hail Mary, full of grease, the load is with me.

SM: You always liked that obscene Irishman James Joyce, didn’t you?

TL: He’s an inspiration for any heretic.

SM: That’s just it. Abraham Nunez has lost his faith. What else explains an average that drops from .285 to .146? He is a perverted aberration. An exorcism might be in order. Could you pass me that bedpan?

TL: Wait, sister. Squeeze the old cheeks for a minute. How about the ownership. What do they get?

SM: You remember what Father James was put away for, don’t you?

TL: He buggered an altar boy.

SM: And the owners treat the fans no differently. I would say God should send them to hell to be with Satan, but there is no greater hell than the one they have created for the fans. They are the valedictorians of the bunch. A sparkling, hold-it-on-high A for their efforts. Make that an A minus. They should be kissing us as they fuck us. Oh, my. I can’t believe I said that!

TL: Don’t worry yourself, you old heifer. Philadelphia has lost its faith already. Join the club.

SM: I have half a mind to give you detention for the rest of the year.

TL: I’ve been detained since 1980 with the Phillies. I can do the rest of the season standing on my head.