Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reality Check, Philly Style


Jinxed. Snake bitten. Star-crossed. Ill-fated. Hapless. Inauspicious. Unpropitious.

Doomed.

When’s it gonna happen? C’mon. You know what I’m talking about: The Collapse. The Fall. Black Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Friday. Take your pick. And don’t give me that claptrap about the easy schedule. Nothing is easy in Philly, or at least it seems that way. Go ask Mike Schmidt.

“I don't know if there's something in the air or something about their upbringing or they have too many hoagies, too much cream cheese, too much W. C. Fields. I don't know what it is. But they're always so pessimistic."

That’s what our Hall of Fame third baseman had to say during the team’s 1989 spring training. Just for the record, it was not a vintage season for which he was preparing. The team went 67-95 and finished in last place. He retired after 42 games. Some have opined he quit too soon; I have it on good authority Von Hayes made sexual advances on good ole Michael Jack after watching his trademark ass wiggle too closely. Whatever the reason, Schmidt could never put his finger on why Philadelphians are so skeptical on success. He still can’t.

You don’t know why? Let me offer a few reasons. I’m about as qualified as they come – I was born on Broad Street in the middle of the 1963 season and was issued an encoded birth certificate dictating the terms of my Phillies fandom. The strictures are severe.

For one, I was barely able to walk and do not remember the infamous 1964 Collapse – but every adult I grew up around did. So as I was becoming a sentient human, the utter disaster of ’64 was fresh on everyone’s minds and lips for years, a catastrophe endemic to a city where the times were changing. People were fleeing Philly fearing civil unrest, what with all those dope-smokin’ hippies in Center City and agitated Uptown black folk. And that would be the ruination of good neighborhoods like Kensington. Hell, even the Mafia in Bella Vista wasn’t the same anymore, and Pat’s was becoming a dump. Occasionally, everyone looked at their encoded birth certificate warning against false optimism, because after “Place of Birth” it said “Philadelphia.” The imprimatur followed them on their driver’s licenses and tax returns. It was everywhere. It’s the Mark of the Beast. Because of this, the glass, as it were, would always be half empty. Life sucked and so did the baseball team. You were from Philly -- be thankful for cheesesteaks and Schmidt’s at least and grow fat.

So, in my formative years, as I followed the exploits of the “Golden Era” team into the late 70s, everything looked peachy keen when they made it to the playoffs. But, as older fans were compelled to remind us younger ones, they’d find a way to blow it, and they did three years running in the post-season. As you can see, a pattern begins to emerge, and the weave and wove is the eternal Philadelphia. You were marked; the team was marked. With one exception.

When that Golden Era team won the only World Series in franchise history in 1980, those of us old enough to know better yet young enough to still hope knew instinctively the next time they’d pull something like that off people would be jetting around in flying cars. Somehow, it just didn’t feel right. It took a year to see the otherworldly conspiracy. The Carpenter family, all in all decent people who really wanted to win, sold the team to the current cabal of bluebloods on October 29, 1981 – the 52nd anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash that led to the Great Depression - and let PR huckster Bill Giles in on their booty to run the show.

Now the half-full glass was about to be emptied.

The carnie who brought you the death-defying Kite Man and Karl Wallenda (if would have been sooooooo Philadelphia if he fell from that high wire over the Vet) sold off the club’s entire future in monumentally moronic trades and other misbegotten adventures that, except for the 1993 fluke, has brought us to our current uncertain juncture. The same inbred fuckers pull the strings, and there is no reason to think that money they off-loaded in the Abreu trade will be spent anywhere but on the Main Line.

While the 2006 team is finishing with a fury and currently tied in the loss column in the wild card chase, don’t buy your playoff tickets just yet. Take a look at your birth certificate. It might be encoded with that hieroglyphic meme “Philadelphia” and you know that means success breeds disaster.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

QUICK - SOMEBODY FUCK LoDUCA!


I’m going to pass on reviewing how Team Shook Up’s bullpen failed them tonight and turned a close game into a disaster in the 7th inning. It hasn’t been a habit lately and the Mets have a potent offense. They didn’t lose ground in the wild card chase and I forgive them.

What I’m curious about is whether Mets catcher Paul LoDuca is still getting himself some of that teen pussy.

In case you missed it, you can read all about his escapades here and here and here, but suffice it to say, this paisano likes ‘em young and likes a lot of it at home and on the road.

Do I have any young sluts out there reading this? Then go hang outside the Mets parking lot at Shea Stadium in September and shake a leg at him. Better yet, flash him a little beaver and turn him on to a little blow. I know what you’re asking. For who? For what? Hey, that’s a familiar Philly question. I understand. Simply put, it’s for the Phillies, that’s who. And here’s what for:

LoDuca has about five weeks to help get the Mets’ pitching staff ready for the playoffs. Their two best hurlers have injury issues; another guy takes three hours to pitch five innings; a fourth is a washed-up old man. The rest are rookies and the bullpen is full of other teams’ rejects. Worse for them, the remaining games aren’t all that important to win. They can mail in the rest of the season in and still be assured of claiming the division. Why should Dukey boy even try? Meanwhile, the Phils could -- shockingly -- roll into the playoffs with reformed and more effective pitching tested until the last game of the regular season. If they win the wild card and get out of the first round, their opponent in the League Championship Series likely will be the LoDuca-softened Mets.

Think LoDuca would rather have his little sausage doodled by a recently-graduated nubile than squat on dirt every night as a beefy umpire hugs him while he catches a Pirates reject like Oliver Perez? Maybe New York made Mike Piazza a little queer, but it’s pretty apparent LoDuca likes to be relieved of his seed by girls. Young ones. Real young.

This guy flames out every year after the All-Star break, and this year should be no exception. He'll lose all focus behind the plate. The batting average will dip in September. Watch the dark circles grow larger under his brown eyes. He will retreat as he usually does into the barely legal wet cubbyhole of abandon. And the Mets won’t have a prayer in the playoffs because he’s going to spend his spare time watching Jessica Simpson videos at his girlfriend’s Mom and Dad’s house out in Long Island or performing some other regressive act with a teenager. It could be with you! He has been known to tele-fuck in Philly!

All whores please report to 12601 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, NY. Here’s a map. Have fun, girls, and remember to make him use a condom. His wife says he sleeps around.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jelly Roll Is A Tattletale


Day games are tough on me. You stay up to the wee hours doing your thing after a night game, hit the sack at the crack of dawn, and even before the Ellen Degenerate Lesbo Show runs, the fucking game is on in Chicago.

It wasn’t much of a contest. Our Lord and Savior Cole Hamels got kicked around early and often, and his opposite number on the mound, Carlos Zambrano, the only healthy pitcher Dusty Baker hasn’t ruined during his tenure as the Cubs’ manager, pitched like an ace. Zambrano might end up winning the Cy Young Award this season for a last-place team, always a neat trick admired by Philly fans who still cherish memories of Steve Carlton, vintage 1972.

With Zambrano collecting the easy victory, 11-2, I surfed the sports sections online and found an interesting thought from our very own Jelly Roll, who has been hot as a red barbeque coal during his annual August resurrection, the modus operandi he favors to fool fans into forgetting his usual first half failures.

Jelly Roll’s comments explaining Team Shook Up’s newfound vigor for winning games borders on the scandalous, really, but the author wrote the column so awkwardly he masked the backhanded slap Rollins served the recently-traded Phils – whose exile he credits for the team’s new optimistic outlook. These are all the quotes, so judge for yourself:

"It's the attitude of the team. We have great players. We also lost some great players. And, you know, it seems funny to say that any bit of it is selfish. But in the way they played the game, they wouldn't expand outside their discipline. In sports, sometimes you have to do something you wouldn't normally do in order to help the team win. Some of the players, they came here, they did their job, and it was in the box. It was never outside the box. Now we have a group of players who are outside the box. They play, scrap, I don't care, let's just win. It's a different attitude. It's definitely been the key to this great run so far."

Let’s see. Who could he be talking about? Everybody but Bobby Abreu technically arrived after his debut with the Phils, so when he says, “some of the players, they came here, they did their job, and it was in the box” does he mean every body but Bobby? And, except for starters David Bell and Abreu, just how important was it for pitchers Rheal Cormier, Ryan Franklin and Cory Lidle to play “outside the box?” Were they supposed to DH in interleague? Braid his natty dreads? Go hunting for the Jersey Devil with him in the Pine Barrens?

So that leaves us with Bell and Abreu, because Sal Fasano will be lucky to find work as a mascot next season, let alone a catching gig. Unfortunately, the author didn’t pursue that angle further, instead preferring to attribute Jelly Roll’s upswing as critical to the team’s ascendance. While that’s not false, it doesn’t tell the whole story, leaving the readers wondering what our shortstop specifically thought about Bell’s pathetic at-bats at crucial times the last few seasons and Abreu’s chronic fear of fly balls – but at least the sportswriter will maintain his sources so he can write more nebulous bullshit.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Staying Away From The Rest Home


By now, you’ve probably heard that “feel good” story 65 times about Jamie Moyer coming “home” to Philadelphia, even if he grew up closer to Allentown in a bedroom community full of Mennonites as opposed to a block from the El next door to a houseful of meth-crazed bikers.

You have heard over and over again how he is a “crafty” hurler who “knows how to pitch” and is “intelligent and poised” because he is a junkballin’ old dude. How old? Moyer’s so old he exposes the stirrups on his socks. Moyer’s so ancient his Mom and Dad gave him permission to attend the 1980 Phillies Championship parade down Broad Street and gathering at JFK Stadium. Don’t remember that place, kiddo? Well, try this on: When Moyer was born in 1962, JFK still had a year to live and the place was called Municipal Stadium. The Navy Yard down the street was actually occupied by the Navy. The Vet and the Spectrum weren’t even on the drawing boards. Televised baseball games were in black-and-white. Information wasn’t available at your fingertips on Google – you fingered index cards at a library and “surfed” the Dewey Decimal System. If the book wasn’t there, you were up shit’s crick.

It was another world.

Yeah, things were different when Moyer was born, but 43 is far from geriatric. Or at least it better not be – I’m virtually the same age, a mere eight months younger, and though no longer capable of pitching effectively like he did tonight, I’d like to think the rest home is a few decades hence, and only then if I’m oblivious to being there. I spent 17 days re-habbing after a long hospital stay at one of those places (that’s what happens when you have no health insurance) and it was a house of horrors. Body fluids were out of control; death pangs reverberated through the halls; delirious residents wandered in my room for naps; nurses and their aides wondered what bad karma assigned them the task of cleaning bed pans and maintaining order in this assisted-living loony bin.

These uplifting thoughts manifested themselves to me during Moyer’s continent six-inning, three-earned run winning effort tonight against the Cubs. Unlike one of the babies on the Phils’ staff, here is a pitcher not yet in need of adult diapers. The 20-year veteran was supported with six runs and made it look easy, failing to lose his composure after surrendering the three runs, which all crossed the plate with two outs. Clearly, with age comes perspective. So try the following mental exercise.

Take your current age and subtract that figure from the year of your birth. If you’re 43 like Moyer, that takes you back to 1919, a year the vast majority of people on this planet were not alive to remember. The next time somebody tells you about “the good old days,” ask them to perform that simple exercise.

Chances are, if their year takes them back further than 1900, they can explain the Dewey Decimal System to you, but can no longer pitch in the big leagues. There may not be a clock in baseball, but time waits for no one.

Not even you, Julio Franco.




Monday, August 21, 2006

Lighting A Candle For Abe


The Old Lady struck the match, lit the black candle and began the chant. Abraham Nunez was at .198, and the Mendoza Line was in reach. Maybe this would be the push to lift him over the other side.

As much as I am a godless fuck, the Old Lady is into her religion. She’ll chant Hare Krishna as easily as Hail Mary, wear a sari as comfortably as a burka. Vegetarian? You bet – don’t kill a cow, they’re holy. But get her at a ballgame and ask, “Hot dog, honey?” and she’s all over the pig like white is to rice.

For all you single guys out there: Despite what internet dating services advise, don’t ever marry a chick with similar interests. Your dick stays a lot harder when, say, you’re an atheist like me who marries a nun or a wiccan. And there are fringe benefits. Take Abe Nunez’s struggle to hit .200 this season, for instance.

All year long, I’ve had to answer the Old Lady’s stupid questions about why this guy was on the team. Worse, I had to answer for Nunez and Alex Gonzalez until the latter retired in shame. (Some deep background: She knows little about baseball, but she does know when a guy can’t get on base, that’s bad.) So you can see the quandary I’m in. Or more accurately, the quandary Pat Gillick has put all of us in:

Why has Abe been so bad?

Which brings us back to the match and the black candle. See, tonight was santeria night at the house in Tacony, and seeing that Abe, hitting .198, was teasing the Mendoza Line, what better benefactor of that old black magic than he? So, short of slaughtering a chicken and smearing its blood over our flabby, middle-aged torsos, the Old Lady was content to light one of those black “Good Luck” candles for our Little Third Baseman Who Could to help him along in his efforts against the Cubs this evening.

The results were not entirely disappointing. In the fourth inning, Abe chopped a ball to short for a two-run fielder’s choice, a somewhat rare occasion that no doubt could be attributed to the Old Lady’s charming candle as much as an errant throw to home that kissed Baby Girl Burrell on the back and fluttered toward the Wrigley backstop bricks. While that didn’t hike his average, that at-bat’s result staked the Phils to a 2-0 lead. And Abe was just getting started.

In the eighth inning, our magical benefactor stroked a single to drive in a timely insurance run to make it 6-3, an enjoyable moment insomuch as Cubs reliever Roberto Novoa jumped off the mound in shock, awe and regret as Dusty Baker, his beleaguered manager, swallowed his toothpick and flung his ink pen into his notepad in disgust.

Fuckin’ Abe!

That run turned out to be the game-winner, as Arthur Rhodes, looking more like Arthur Treacher while subbing for Flash Gordon, allowed a two-run dinger in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cubbies hope for a comeback. But Team Shook Up held on for a 6-5 victory and Abe Nunez, our Little Third Baseman Who Could, finally went to sleep this year with a .200 average. The team he stewards kept pace with the Reds in the wild card chase, and with a pitching staff upgraded with the wily 43-year-old veteran Jamie Moyer, one can’t help but wonder if Gillick’s removal of David Bell, Bobby Abreu and the other zombies that had populated the roster reinvigorated the living dead that followed those voodoo dudes’ stultifying lockstep of mediocrity.

Leaving little to chance, the Old Lady and I are stepping out tomorrow to West Kensington and stocking up on live chickens, plantains and candles.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The (Almost) Fightin' Phils


They’re alive! They have a pulse! They’re ready to fight…well, close but not quite.

In a rare show of good old-fashioned (natural?) testosterone, Team Shook Up collectively considered – gasp – charging the mound and assaulting a pitcher tonight who had plunked the oft-thumped Aaron Rowand after the team ripped him for eight runs in the second inning.

Rowand, who I suppose is used to getting hit by pitches after taking 19 of them this season, started jogging down to first base like a good soldier when Chase Utley – victimized on the thigh by a ball the same inning – came running out of the dugout steps like a fox terrier, yip-barking admonitions to the pitcher.

Utley was but the first almost-Fightin’ Phil out of the dugout. Of all things, there was Baby Girl Burrell, cheeks plump with chaw, making like a lazy bulldog, staring like a guard dog eyein’ up the mailman, tangy drool dribbling down his cheek for added effect.

And there they stood glaring at Washington Nationals pitcher Ramon Ortiz – in foul territory – as home plate umpire Paul Nauert tossed him out of the contest. Utley and Burrell were joined by various beefy Phils and an indignant-looking Chollie as backup. After ten seconds, they went back to their pews, the apostasy answered.

Rowand seemed a little shocked by the whole affair and simply stood on first base, skeptical that Yip-Dog Utley would charge the mound like a little brother spoiling for a fight his big brother decided wasn’t worth his time. Maybe it’s because he’s been hit two more times this season than he has walked and he’s used to it.

Whatever he was thinking, Utley sat down, but the “message” was delivered: The Phillies will fight if you throw at them.

Maybe.

Hey, any signs of life from the 2006 Phillies is a break from the routine. I can’t help but wonder how quickly Bobby Abreu would have bolted from the dugout to join a free-for-all, or if Ryan Franklin would have stayed in the bullpen.

Then again, unlike scab Cory Lidle, at least Franklin would have been watching what was going on from his highchair in the pen as he was developing new pitches in his religious imagination for next season. Lidle would have been back in the clubhouse playing poker online or cruising ice-cream-and-pussy fetish sites.

Now Sal Fasano is someone that would have been good help in a brawl. Fat hairy dudes with garlic breath scare skinny pitchers. So do bald, potbellied relief pitchers who favor the Bluto look like Rick White, and he’s still on the team.

In all seriousness, the Phils should make it a point to continue these pleasantries Sunday. Nats manager Frank Robinson should be more than willing to accommodate. He took his share of balls to the ribs when he was a player (one of the great ones), and just because he’ll be 71 years old in less than two weeks doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

So here’s the plan, guys. Chollie brings in White when the game’s out of hand tomorrow. The way Team Schizo’s been going, they might even have a big lead. Bluto goes to the mound and starts jawing at Robinson. He’ll take the bait and come out to the field.

Where White hits him with the ball is entirely up to his big ugly self. Then we’ll see what old Frank has left.

PISSED OFF


Brett Myers' secret came gushing out in private shortly after his confidential life as a wife-beater was exposed in full view of the Boston public.

For three years, clubhouse jock washers the league over wondered who was throwing the adult diapers in the laundry bag; after all, major league ballplayers leave their crack-burned undies in front of their lockers for the little people to fetch and clean, just as they did for their mothers during their extended childhoods.

Every time the Phils hit the road, there was that soaked Depends already in the duffel bag in the clubhouse after games, much to the puzzlement of the help there, who assumed it had to be Chollie or Bill Dancy or one of the other aging coaches with plump prostates. And at Citizens Bank Park, it was no different, except the cleaning guys knew whose diaper it was and kept it discreet. They had witnessed its user’s famous temper, and preferred to keep the teeth they had left in their mouths rather than spill the beans. But they knew all along:

Brett Myers still pisses his pants.

Following his unseemly arrest and after his sessions with Phillies Immaturity Therapist Dickie Noles, the truth was spoken to power – or rather, Myers was honest about the lack of power over his bladder. Noles, who spent most of his playing days in a drunken haze, knew he had found the crux of Myers’ “anger issues,” the excuse drunks usually are given for their alcoholism. If Brett could gain control of his pee-pee, he reasoned, the wife-beating would stop because the anger would disappear. Hell, he might even become the ace the team had long expected him to be.

For two and a half weeks before the All Star break, Myers worked to develop his bladder control and with it, his composure. No longer would he wear the Depends in the dugout or on the mound. He would liberate himself and become a new man -- calm, cool and collected even if the team was going to dump salary and announce it would no longer be a contender.

Initially, Myers came back diaper-free and pitched like a sharpshooter. He shrugged off the few boos the fans hurled his way about the wife-beating and got right back to work. High on life and dry all over, Myers let the bullpen kick back and practically take the day off his first three starts post-Boston. Everything was fine – until the trade deadline.

He had it all under control until the Abreu/Lidle trade. But when he realized that GM Pat Gillick really meant it when he said there were "no untouchables" on the Phils, he literally shit himself in his anxiety, and has not been the same since.

Worse, after Sunday’s drubbing at the hands of the Reds, and tonight’s flummoxing by the Washington Nationals, it has become painfully obvious Myers has had another incontinent relapse. By the time the first inning was done in both games, he was wet all over, not to mention ineffective, confused and lost.

Myers took an early shower after allowing six earned runs in less than four innings of work tonight, applied a cool cream for a rash on his ass, and recited a revised Serenity Prayer in front of his locker.

God grant me the serenity to accept the urine I cannot hold;
courage to serve homeruns when I can;
and wisdom to carry enough diapers.

It will be a long, hard struggle for our hard-throwing and bald would-be ace, but our thoughts are with him and his family. When a grown man wets his pants, we need to hate the act and not the actor.

The Phillies have posted guards at Myers’ residence to ensure that his incontinence does not lead to violence.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

FUCKING NEW YORK


When it comes to New York City, I like the Manhattan architecture a fuck of a lot more than the people inside the buildings. I didn’t always feel that way. I spent a three-year interlude as an eager young adult getting a taste of Times Square and its pornographic splendors amidst the theater district before Sodom and Gomorrah was displaced by Disney’s idea of a G-rated mall lit large by family-friendly neon.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that move by the city’s fat cats was like putting lipstick on a pig, because it did push a lotta whores and their swinging customers away. Who likes walking over wet condoms? But I much prefer the bitches and the sex shops to Niketown or the MTV Store. The garish street walker and the guy buried in the latest edition of “Pulsating Flesh” had a lot more going on upstairs than Kurt Loder ever did. Now there’s somebody that gives me the creeps. Those veejays are vacuous lowlifes.

We all know Mets fans fit that description, too. They were the type of porn shop customer who drove through a tunnel from Queens or some comfy ‘burb in North Jersey or Long Island for the intimacy of jerking off in a booth where a naked lady sat on the other side of the glass.

They didn’t play pinball like Yankees fans. They didn’t read the mags like us social scientists. They jerked off in the booths. They were Mets fans.

And as the same pud whackers abounded in Philly this week to watch their beloved Mutts lose three of four to Team Shook Up, the silence of the hand jobs was deafening at Citizens Bank Park. There was no reason for them to cheer until the second inning of today’s fourth game – a contest they won but doesn’t really count since Scott Mathieson, still in training wheels, was the starter – and even then, there were less of them here than the preceding night games, all easy wins for the Phils, two of them shutouts.

Their 100-mile road trip a disappointment, every night featured mournful, inbred countenances, their obese torsos bedecked in ill-fitting Mets regalia, their mouths shut in resignation as they watched their heroes lose to a team that trimmed six major leaguers from its roster and has been winning with an emerging rookie ace and a third baseman still hitting under .200.

These fuckers need to feel a little more disappointment before they print their playoff tickets – and believe me, my favorite team in October will be any team they face with their aging, injured pitching staff, easily turned away this week by our re-energized Phils.

What really got me thinking this week about the Mets fan base – and hoping bad things happen to them - was the revelation before this series that one of those bungholes sent Ryan Howard a letter saying he intended to shoot and cripple our feared slugger because he was angry he bested Mets third baseman David Wright in this year’s Home Run Derby.

As if having your team leading its division by 15 games isn’t enough, now you want our first baseman in a wheelchair.

New York: The architecture is beautiful; the people, ugly.

Jerk offs.

“It didn’t bother me,” Howard said of the threat. “If he’s writing letters like that, that dude’s got bigger problems than me.”

I’m wondering if the fan is a member of the kooky fundamentalist faith-healing church Wright was shilling for recently in ads that ran during Mets’ telecasts in New York. Church Pastor Jaerock Lee has some, uh, interesting ideas about healing.

“I heard that the liquid of feces was good for recovering my health,” Wright’s endorsee says on his website. “Although its stench was unbearable, I drank it earnestly.”

The good news for Rock is that he gave up the shit-drinking. The bad news is he replaced it with bible study. If you look at his site, maybe you might want to e-mail him and tell him he’d be more convincing if he didn’t contend he had “evidance” (sic) of his curative powers.

Nah, don’t do that. He’s a Mets fan. He can’t spell.

Anyhow, David Wright, went 1-for 13 this series and the well-adjusted legions of Phillies fans allowed him to walk away from the ballpark in peace. No doubt he was meditating comforting thoughts about Jesus and eating shit.

Here’s hoping his team is served up shit sandwiches the rest of the season. They call them “heroes” up there, and they’re twice as expensive as hoagies.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pat's Hats Froze His Bat


“You know, this sounds crazy...but I love Philly.”

Coming from Pat Burrell, no, I didn’t think it was crazy. But it was surprising. Maybe he’s finally becoming one of us. Shit, maybe he’ll open a bar in Fishtown.

Baby Girl Burrell, Mr. Tightpants, Pat the Bat, Pat the Flat, Pat the Ass - whatever you wanna call him – has taken a heap of abuse “wid” the works practically since Day One, a familiar treatment for sports stars in Hostile City.

It’s our way of showing we love them.

He has been accused of alcoholism and philandering. He has been considered slothful and greedy. But mostly and most vocally, he is considered an underachieving lout who couldn’t give a damn if the team wins.

That’s why I decided to invite Burrell out to tip a few and ogle the fine poontang out and about Tacony Thursday before the critical series with the Cincinnati Reds. The women really do love the guy. Multiple web pages are devoted to honor his shapely man-ass. It does a man good to relax a little before doing battle, and I figured my neighborhood would offer a little anonymity away from the rich hipsters of Olde City. And while Pat might be shocked at the gritty environs, well, we all know he could stand a little dirt and grime in his life. Good for the soul. Good for the work ethic. Right, Patty?

“That 'gritty' bullshit pisses me off,” Burrell told me after we slid into a booth at Harry’s Hotties, one of my favorites a stone’s throw from the hardscrabble hood’s eponymously-named bridge. “The fans fucking sainted Rowand after he crashed into that fence. Fucking ridiculous. Mediocre hitter; mediocre fielder, really. I’d rather see Victorino out there myself.”

Rowand’s game-winning single in Friday’s marathon aside, Burrell’s estimation of Team Shook Up’s starting centerfielder is hard to counter. To take a look at Rowand’s numbers, it makes a fan pine for the return of his old drinking buddy Jason Michaels. As for his own numbers, Burrell’s are inarguably some of the best among outfielders in either league; not the best, but clearly similar or better than many of the more beloved, cherished and worshipped. In fact, using the sabermetrically-adored measurement of OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) our whipping boy ranks ahead of, ahem, Bobby Abreu, Andrew Jones, Jim Edmonds and the reviled J.D. Drew this season.

For some historical perspective, he is ranked by the reputable baseball-reference.com as being on equal footing with Dodger icon Gil Hodges at this stage of his career. Other players on that list include his doppelgangers Jesse Barfield, Nate Colbert and Tony Conigliaro.

This season, Burrell projects to finish with about 34 homers and 118 RBIs – and I know those stats don’t say it all about a player – but they sure seem to be numbers pretty similar to what Mike Schmidt put up every year. Ah, but there’s the rub: Every year. Schmidt did it every year, albeit in a different era, when the power numbers weren’t as outsized. He struck out less and walked more; he did greenies to keep himself interested. Maybe it helped him to ignore all the booing he heard.

So when the Baby Girl has that bat on his shoulders looking at a called third strike – sometimes two or three times a game like he did in today’s 7-5 heartbreaking loss to the Reds – the fans are less likely to remember what he did Friday, which the Phils won in the 14th inning on Crash ‘n’ Gritty Rowand’s single with the defense pulled in and the sacks jammed. Rowand would never have been a hero without Burrell’s homer and game-tying triple late in the game.

Instead, what will be remembered about this series with the Reds are all the opportunities Patty Boy flubbed. And the fans will continue to boo him mercilessly. Pat loves Philly. Philly loves Pat.

At our happy hour Thursday, Burrell anticipated the angry mob's reaction today.

“They’re giving away a gay-looking cap with my number on it Sunday,” he said as he espied a well-endowed dancer named "Star" sliding down a firehouse pole. “Watch – I’ll take the collar. No – a golden sombrero. That’ll be perfect, dude. Four fucking strikeouts.”

Call him a mystic, because Baby Girl damn near pinpointed his rate of failure on his Hat Day, whiffing three of four times he made an out, including one that snuffed a Phils comeback in the ninth and another in the second in which he tried to fudge a walk by jogging to first. Hey, even a psychic can try to change events in real time. But the booing is eternal and unchanging.

“You know, the straight-laced reporters try to make out we believe we can get to the playoffs,” Burrell told me as we got drunker last week. “They’re like little boys wishing their suck-ass team can pull off a miracle so they can fatten up on the post-season buffet at the hotel.”

“How would know about the post-season, Pat?” I queried.

“Don’t be a smart ass,” he said. “I got friends on the Yankees now. They’re asking for their special orders already.”

"And what would you order in the post-season?"

Pat the Bat smiled devilishly and looked at Star shimmering and shaking.

"Two guesses," he guffawed.

Don't Bet The House, Harry


Chris Michalak last took to the mound in a major league game in 2002. There are reasons for that.

He has kicked around in the minors since 19 fucking 93, and you know how long that has been if you’re a Phillies fan, as we have an incessant and annoyingly palpable measuring stick reaching back to that year, when mullets and steroids and booze and guts and blood and balls last got the team to the post-season.

And while that team rapidly collapsed into itself like light in a black hole – as John Kruk lost a nut, as dope made Darren Daulton delusional and steroids shrunk Dave Hollins’ scrotum – Chris Michalak floundered in the minors.

Since ’93, he has been up to the bigs in parts of three seasons and has been shipped back to the bushes like a defective Chinese import by 12 – count ‘em, TWELVE – different organizations. Somebody must be watching out for this guy. Maybe he gives great massages to owners’ daughters or turns turds into beef, because when you’re 35 years old and still getting shots after allowing upward of five or six earned runs every nine innings in AAA like he has for the last four years, something’s gotta be up.

The Cincinnati Reds, so desperate for pitching they traded for Ryan Franklin, called Michalak up from their farm today and handed the ball to him hours later in the second inning against our beloved Team Schizo with his team trailing 5-4, their starter chased quickly, their bullpen overwrought from the previous day’s 14-inning marathon loss.

And Michalak, a lefthanded junkballer, proceeded to channel Tug McGraw, vintage 1980. His one boo-boo, a Ryan Howard bomb in the eighth inning (his 40th homer), tied the game 6-6 and seemed to make irrelevant his near seven-inning mastery of Team Shook Up as he held the Reds’ one-run lead until then. But as it would turn out, this middle-aged mediocrity won the game.

You can turn your heads now, Ryan and Chase, because it might be better if you didn't read the rest.

In this summer of our discontent -- a summer that has seen the team’s haggard-looking general manager’s pronouncement that his charge will not be too competitive next year -- fans have to wonder why they bother following their sadistic exploits this year unless they are, indeed, masochists like yours truly. After watching Flash Gordon (who wears McGraw’s old number) get blown away in the ninth inning of this game after Howard tied it up, and after watching rookie Scott Mathieson get touched for six earned runs in less than four innings at the start of this debacle, you have to question the sanity of investing time or, worse, money watching this sleight-of-hand trick of a team.

Yeah, it was an entertaining game. And yeah, I know Mathieson is a work-in-progress. But c’mon. He’s a lamb to the slaughter against an offense like that. You’re fooling yourself if you think Team Shook Up is not still shaking down and conducting tryouts. The 25-man roster consists of 13 pitchers, and one of them, Fabio Castro, sits in the bullpen mostly unused because Haggard One Pat Gillick wants to save him for next year and can’t send him to the minors unless he’s offered back to his favorite trading partner, the Texas Rangers. That’s all well and good if you had a few real major league utility players on the bench for late-inning rallies, but, alas, this team doesn’t unless you consider Danny Sandoval or Chris Roberson crusty veterans. Hell, they couldn’t hit a career loser like Michalak, let alone Billy Wagner.

So why expect late-inning victories from this team? After all, Howard came up with two outs and two on in the bottom of the ninth against the Reds’ new fireman, Eddie Guardado. He struck out to seal the loss, 9-7, but another dinger would have won the game. Real excitement, no? And that’s just what they’re hoping will keep you buying the overpriced nachos and cheese or bring your kid for a Pat Burrell baseball cap tomorrow.

But make no mistake: The Phils are not going to be the wild card. They may have loads of games left with allegedly weaker opponents like the Marlins or the Nationals, but if you’re a gambling man, I wouldn’t bet the house on them, Harry.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ass-Grabbing Is Not For Kids


I readily admit most of my enjoyment in following the Phillies and baseball in general is the way it reflects the existential absurdity of the human condition.

Here are a bunch of grown men running around in throwback threads barely evolved from the 19th Century, most with a chaw of tobackey or bubble gum in their cheeks, as they engage in a game today’s kids aren’t too interested in playing. Admit it – they’d rather play video games and you know it. But that’s cool. There’s more room in the ballpark for us graying grownups, and we’d rather not pay $7 for a happy meal, especially if that money could be better spent on warm beer.

Naw, fuck the kids. Watching grown men slap each other’s ass isn’t for them. Truth be told, I wonder what the players’ wives make of that demonstration when they know their husbands wouldn’t be caught dead in a gay bar. But I can ignore that kind of shit, because it isn’t the only deliciously ironic thing that happens in baseball, metaphorically speaking.

For instance, I watch baseball for the schadenfreude of savoring a king jackass like Ryan Franklin getting instrumentally raped in his first “relief” appearance for the Phils’ wild card rival, the equally mediocre Cincinnati Reds – and that was just a “highlight” clip. Short on relievers, the Reds made the mistake of trading for him today after Team Schizo wised up and designated him for assignment a week ago. This was after he openly admitted he would continue to serve up gopher balls at the team’s expense as he perfected his repertoire as a starting pitcher for an unknown new team next season. What a whore! Amazingly, the Phils used him one more time after he pissed all over GM Pat Gillick’s good will and trust in bringing in a known steroid freak as a free agent.

Franklin’s not-so-subtle intimation wasn’t so much absurd as it was arrogant, and if Gillick’s sanity was doubted after the Bobby Abreu trade, he made a pre-emptive strike to assuage those fears the same day by giving Franklin his walking papers before announcing The Big One with the Yankees.

And now, he serves up dingers for the Reds, and I am gleeful. Hey Franklin: Here’s to your continued collapse, cunthead.

And speaking of large things, two more items come to mind. For one, the Braves hold on division titles. How sweet it is to see Team Shook Up shake all the young unripened fruit from Atlanta’s tree tonight, notching a 9-6 win as it took advantage of incompetence, Braves style. Talk about gloating over another’s misfortune – Bobby Coxsucker sure has had it coming. For as much as it’s sheer misery watching the Mets dominate all comers, it’s concurrently joyous seeing the Tomahawkers' thin pitching get assaulted by every team in the second division.

Assault is an apt description of what Ryan “Howitzer” Howard is performing on Phillies power records this season. Like I said, baseball is mostly for adults nowadays, and let’s face it, adults love to watch violence – and watching Howitzer launch bombs into a stadium’s nether reaches is a gratifying part of our (former) national pastime.

The Old Lady genuinely looks forward to the brother’s at-bats, and not because of any kind of youthful good looks. (Shane Victorino is her favorite “cutie.”) Howard has elicited her interest as – get this – a baseball fan! What a chick! After Howard’s 39th homer tonight, a two-run shot that gave him 101 RBIs with 51 games to go, my darling wife chippered up for the inevitable adult and erotic display of affection players in every sport lavish upon successful teammates.

“Are they gonna pat each other’s asses?” she asked, leaning closer to the television. “They love to feel each other up after he does that, don’t they?”

Like I’ve been telling her, this is no game for kids.

Monday, August 07, 2006

At Least They Didn't Lose To The Cowboys


So here I am, watching the final two innings of tonight’s nationally televised slaughter of Team Shook Up, steadfastly hoping that more shake will be shook.

No, it wasn’t because our Curt-Schilling-in-training Scott Mathieson got banged for seven runs in the fourth inning after he did his best imitation of fat pig Jon Lieber and tossed one five feet wide of Ryan Howard.

And it wasn’t because Pat Burrell looked like an ass during all his at-bats, or Jelly Roll is still swingin’ for the fences, or Aaron Rowand is starting to look like a great big mistake with limited talent, what with numbers reminiscent of Ding Dong David Bell.

It’s because my neighbors are screaming like motherfuckers while they’re watching an Iggles pre-season game.

For a lot of Philly sports fanatics, the first Iggles pre-season game – nay, the first day of training camp - is the beacon of light amidst the darkness of another hopeless baseball season. Do not believe otherwise, because this is truth. Today at the local supermarket, the midnight green, black, silver and white was evidenced in abundance. The customers wore the colors and the clerks stocked the merchandise, the aisles filled with Iggles regalia. As if to punctuate this tribal expression, a young buck wearing a Brian Westbrook jersey barked at a diminutive lady in an SUV who had dared to begin reversing her monstrosity ever so slowly as he was walking behind it.

“Open up yer fuckin’ eyes, bitch,” he screamed, running interference as his young son was walking abreast, all ears for his lesson in Philadelphia courtesy. “Can’t ya see I’m fuckin’ behind ya, cunt!”

Behind something is what the Fightless are when it comes to the despised New York Mets – now 13 games behind -- a team already going through rehearsals for its coronation by network vagina ESPN, its labial cameras resplendently splayed tonight for the Big Dick of Queens.

The Phils, accommodating the Mets so perfectly in their righteous 8-1 reaming, showed the rest of the National League wild card candidates just how easy it will be to roll them the final two months, because that perky attitude the team brought to St. Louis after the bloodletting last week has lost its spunk.

While even I thought Team Schizo might have had a chance for redemption after the first game in this series Friday night, a close victory that could have been construed as a statement to a Mutts team unapologetically full of themselves, the Mets handily disposed of the Phils in the final two games after taking advantage of the two boners by Lieber and Mathieson.

No apologies were needed. Both games exposed the Phillies’ glaring weaknesses: Failure to hit when the chips are down (Game Two) and failure to hit, period (Game Three).

I would say the team has defensive weaknesses, but that wouldn’t be fair. The team has defensive PSYCHOSES.

And it goes a long way in explaining why the Phils are clearly a team that does not believe in itself, which wouldn’t be so bad if the non-believers were rookies like Mathieson who needs to sow his oats before he can ride the horsie with confidence. What I’m talking about are the veteran non-believers like Lieber (who doesn’t believe in diets) and Nunez (who doesn’t believe he can hit anymore) and Burrell (who doesn’t believe someone will actually pay him $12.5 million next year) and Rowand (who still can’t believe he ran into that fence for these guys) and Rollins (who can’t believe he’s supposed to swing only at strikes) and Lieberthal (who can’t believe people might think the pitchers suck because of the careless way he calls a game).

And as the rest of the city gears up for football season – even watching pre-season losses like tonight’s 16-10 bore against the Oakland Raiders – the Phils will struggle with their young pitchers (something they need to do) and with their n’er-do-well-when-it-counts roster of chumps, something we’re all used to by now…and something Pat Gillick warns will be the hallmark of the 2007 team.

At that rate, soccer should make some easy inroads next baseball season.

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Dog In Philly, A God In New York


So I decided to catch a little Yankees action on the tube today, and that’s easy enough, as the only ballgames ESPN chooses to show are those in which either New York or Boston are involved.

The national deification of Bobby Abreu is well underway now that he is no longer a Phillie. And in much the same way his critics understated his abilities, today’s broadcast team overstated his strengths.

Former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips, the “color man” for the game, said when Abreu failed to drive in runners for the Phils, nobody else did, implying that’s why the team has sucked this year. Let that thought wash over you for a second or two. Then take a look at his network’s web page with all the stats under “Ryan Howard” and tell me who picked up the slack for our old three-hole hitter who’d rather take a walk than hit a baseball. It’s remarkable how he could ignore the National League’s second-leading RBI guy. But hey, I know people in Manhattan who think working two jobs just to survive is called “portfolio diversification.”

I don’t expect much from Phillips, a failed turd with a thin portfolio who last year had about the strangest “fantasy” show on television that featured Phillips as Phillips making believe he had his baseball job again. He was a blustery windbag who couldn’t pull that gig off as a fake, either, and he’s worse behind a mike calling a game. But I’m sure his broker has invested his paychecks wisely in index funds.

The Yankees won, 8-1, behind the Greatest Pitcher in the History of the World, Cory Lidle, who probably is too paranoid to be in the clubhouse alone anymore during games after Arthur Rhodes exposed him as an Internet porno and gambling junkie who doesn’t give a fuck what his teammates do between his starts. This revelation came to us miserable fans after Lidle had the gall to complain about the Phillies millionaire club’s legendary apathy after his trade. Funny how he retracted the comment after the larger and angrier Rhodes outed him as a jerk off. Now I’m sorry I ever lauded the asshole after he spoke up about his distaste for Barry Bonds – but as they say, it takes one to know one. And I will say this for Bonds: He never crossed a picket line as a scab to play under a pseudonym like Lidle. So here’s to you, “Fuller Star” or whatever the fuck your name is: There are still lots of Teamsters in the Big Apple who are expert in sabotage.

I didn’t watch the entire Yankees game against the Blue Jays – yes, there are other teams in baseball – because they built up a big lead midway through the game (Comedulce went 3-for-5) and I still had a Phillies game to watch. Or, as it’s starting to look like, a new Phillies team to watch.

Since Les Invisibles gave the go-ahead to Pat Gillick to exorcise the Abreu albatross, the team is 4-1, scoring runs easily, and, for the most part, getting good efforts from the young starters. Last night, Team Shook-Up completed a sweep of the vaunted St. Louis Cardinals. Cole Hamels was masterful, allowing but one run on two hits, striking out 12 in seven innings. The Phils won, 8-1, and their whole vibe just seems…perky.

Maybe getting rid of Abreu is like dumping a chick who’s a great fuck but is wrecking your life – you miss the pussy at first, but in the long run, you’re better off.

Consider:

The offense has hummed since Abreu’s discarding. David Dellucci, seeing the lion’s share of the playing time in right field, entered the game last night with an identical slugging percentage as Ryan Howard, who has been splendid as usual and is on a pace for 144 RBIs. And let’s not jinx Chase Utley’s 35-game hitting streak by talking about it, so let’s contemplate Chris Coste’s seven-gamer. He went 4-for-5 last night, is hitting a robost .375, and with runners in scoring position, has delivered at an otherwordly rate, getting hits more than half the time ducks are on the pond. With his stick batting seventh, he has taken up most of the slack for Baby Girl Burrell or the inconsistent Aaron Rowand. He’s done a steady job calling games behind the plate and has nailed five of 11 runners who have dared to consider stealing on a catcher with healthy knees who gives a damn, as opposed to Mike Lieberthal, who will limp away from us soon and has apparently never given a shit about winning, seeing how he’s unusually perturbed by Lidle’s accusations.

And lo and behold, even bottom-feeders like Jelly Roll have been hitting. But let’s not get into the leadoff thing while the going’s good, because except for fat pig Jon Lieber’s 15-2 thrashing on Monday, things have been so hunky-dory and productive since Abreu, Lidle, David Bell and Rheal Cormier have been traded (not to mention Ryan Franklin’s demotion) that I can’t wait for Lieberthal to disappear or Burrell to be traded for a toothless hooker. I think the Team Succubus left with these guys for different climes, and a hooker is a lot better for morale than watching Burrell do his thing.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why Murray Chasshole Pays $9 For A Beer


The Phillies owners have demonstrated by their actions over the years they are closer to the imbecile side of the Bell Curve than the slope indicating the gifted elite. For sure, they have lots of capital -- so does the Ford family -- but that doesn’t mean either group of inbred bluebloods knows how to spend it to secure their future generations’ life of luxury. History has shown repeatedly that fortunes can be lost as quickly as they are accrued, and if you keep on building SUVs after the “liberation” of Iraq, well, you might wind up a little less rich a lot quicker.

In the case of Les Invisibles, they are facing some hefty income problems at the gate of the new playpen after the Bobby Abreu “trade,” which everyone but Pat Gillick has termed a “salary dump.” Petitions have begun to be circulated and boycotts are being organized. Not that the trades of David Bell, Cory Lidle and Rheal Cormier has anything to do with it – this is all about the departure of Comedulce and his total remaining payroll obligation of $21 million. His worshippers are righteously pissed.

All that clattering about is not likely to make them sell the team; other income instruments such as revenue sharing, television rights and merchandising should keep them afloat for a few years, and the thinking is already done for them in that regard. Besides, how many parents are going to tell kids they can’t watch Ryan Howard at the ballpark because the owners suck?

But Bill Giles, Dave Montgomery, Claire Betz and her dog, the Buck Brothers and John Middleton – the ever-intact Les Invisibles roster -- must want to strangle Murray Chass after reading his indictment of their business acumen in yesterday’s New York Times. In case you missed it, the veteran columnist wrote that while the Yankees’ $200 million payroll is an “obscene” disgrace, the playoffs are George Steinbrenner’s “birthright” and the Phillies’ ostensible cheapness in dumping Bobby Abreu’s salary was “more disgraceful than the Yankees” fiscal insanity, as “they play in one of the largest markets in the country, and they act like a small-market team.” Chass pointed out last year’s $95 million payroll last year was whittled down to $88 million this year, and that it demonstrated this mindset.

I will do something now that will surprise and shock. I will defend Les Invisibles’ moves this season and bitch slap this Chasshole, as his reference to Steinbrenner’s inalienable right to win because he is filthy rich is, by inference and extension, an elitist mockery of all things Philadelphian; we know we’re comfortable and corrupt, and we don’t need anybody with a superiority complex telling us that.

Besides, some of us love the misery of it all.

Anyhow, Chasshole, a good hunk of the whittled 2006 payroll can be accounted for by what the Phils pay Jim Thome not to play here anymore -- $5.5 million. Throw in Aaron Rowand $3.25 million they’re on the hook for and all of a sudden, the Phils started the season with a higher payroll – and this was after off-loading Kenny Lofton and Jason Michaels’ combined $5.5 million this season. The Rowand-Shane Victorino tandem makes a million and a half less.

And then there’s the injured and unproductive.

Randy Wolf is “earning” $9.125 million this year. He has started one game, spending the entire season up to now in rehab. I am not here to bury Wolf, but I’m not praising Ed Wade either – this guy would not be worth that money even if he replicated his career-high 16-victory season. But that was in 2003. Since then, he is 11-12 and has cost the team more than $20 million in that span, earning $11 million in 2004 and 2005. Now that’s fucking delivering!

No, I’m not praising Ed Wade – I’m damning him. I’m shredding him a new one. I’m wishing evil thoughts about him. I’m wishing he never lavished those millions and more on the other losers: Mike Lieberthal, Pat Burrell, and yes, even Jelly Roll, a shortstop with a good glove but absolutely no clue at the plate.

Do you think that would put somebody in the mood to risk $8 million on mediocre pitching? Ever hear of Jeff Weaver? As Gillick said after the trades, he’d rather go with the young pitching that’s shown promise. I’m with him on that one. Just take a look at the sweating, obese Jon Lieber. He’s collecting $7.5 million this year. A kid with a future runs you $327,000 and gets better every start if he’s named Cole Hamels. Any questions?

At the very least, the Phils ex-GM’s generosity with Les Invisibles’ cash wasn’t wasted on Billy Wagner, who turned down a few hefty offers and settled for $10.5 this season with the Mets – fully six million more simoleans than what it takes to have Flash Gordon do a better job.

So what does that leave? Our remaining two best position players, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, both of whom, by the way, are having far better seasons than Abreu – historic ones, as a matter of fact -- and both of whom earning a combined $855,000. THAT’S UNDER A MILLION BUCKS TOTAL FOR BOTH.

So, Murray Chasshole, when a team can successfully develop a few minor leaguers, you can save a few dollars. But in a city where a tenement apartment rents for an average of $2,000 a month, that’s probably a little hard to understand. Yankee fans and their owner are like the whores on “Sex and the City.” They need a dick every night, any dick, and at any cost. Then they bitch when the guy can’t hit a homerun. So they go out and buy another one. Philly may be one of the largest markets in the nation, but even a bunch of idiots like Les Invisibles know when they’ve overpaid for mediocrity, and even if they need a dick every night, maybe they know when to step back, take a break, and evaluate their failings.

Here’s hoping Pat Gillick puts whatever money they want to risk to better use than Wade while keeping beer to $6.50 at the ballpark. The Yuengling’s cheaper to drink at home, and the rent is reasonable.