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.


Anonymous ChuckM said...

Obviously, nobody told Sweet Lou that the 2004 Word Champion Boston Red Sox (a team Lou has seen play numerous times while managing Tampon Bay) indeed is a team that pays mind to sabremetric principles and employs Bill James as an advisor. I am not a big fan of small-ball/squeeze-a-run but when the situation calls for it, I expect a team to be able to execute. Sad to say, that doesnt include the Phillies, who seem to be pretty inept at manufacturing a run during tight or extra-inning games.

16/7/06 5:14 PM  
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