Tagged: Philadelphia

Where’s The Brotherly Love??

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I fully
understand that I am an idealist and as such I can sometimes be accused of
being a bit naive. I may look at situations and see the issues that most of us
miss, but I assure you, I ignore nothing.

Last week I made the best case I possibly could for Mark McGwire’s Hall-of-Fame
vote. It’s not easy with all of the speculation surrounding him, but instead of
denying that he took steroids (because I have no idea if he did or didn’t) I
tried to analyze what is and is not a legitimate reason for voting someone into
the Hall-of-Fame. I pointed out that we are not criminal investigators and even
though we think we may know everything about a steroid user, I don’t think we’ve
even scratched the surface.

As much as I
love baseball, I am willing to let a one or two time steroid user off the hook;
even if that steroid user is a legend or a potential “Hall-of-Famer.” Most of
us writing about sports will never understand what it’s like to compete at that
level and I don’t think anyone who doesn’t has the right to call any of them
cheaters. Sometimes professional athletes resort to drastic measures and make
mistakes. They’re not perfect just like we aren’t perfect, and I don’t think its
right to hold them to such impossible standards.

That aside, I think I did a pretty good job. I may not have changed anyone’s
minds about the slugger but at least I made my case and I got my point across.

What more could a writer ask for?

This
morning, however, I wake up at a crisp 7:45AM to a SportsCenter report that
Mark McGwire’s brother, Jay, is trying to publish a book about Mark’s alleged
steroid/HGH use. Needless to say, the brothers are not on speaking terms.

It’s times
like this, I am glad I do not have a brother. Sisters are better anyway. (She’s mine!)

tracy.jpg

My family
comes from a town which has been aptly named “The City of Brotherly Love.”
Growing up, I was always taught it was unforgivable to do something negative to
your family. We fight just like every family fights but it has never resulted
in anything beyond a week or two of the cold shoulder.

Jay McGwire
should be absolutely ashamed of himself for so many reasons right now, I don’t
think there is enough room on the MLBlogosphere for me to write it all.

First of
all, he is following in Jose Canseco’s footsteps as a whistle-blower (they’re
not worthy of being called ‘authors’) who just wants some money. So they
publish a collection of pages bound together (they’re not worthy of being
called ‘books’ either) that basically point fingers in every direction until
someone end up getting a phone call from congress.

Second of
all, the fingers are all pointed directly at his brother Mark.

brothers_fighting_LARGE.jpg

I understand, Jay, that you might be a little
bit jealous of your bigger bro. After all, he
had a career and no one even heard of you until this morning. I know I didn’t.
But that’s no reason to play the blame game and basically destroy what was left
of your brother’s image.

I don’t know
the degree of validity Jay McGwire’s accusations have and I don’t care. If they
are proven true, I don’t really have a leg to stand on when I argue for his
Hall-of-Fame vote other than ‘1998 saved baseball,’ but that isn’t much. If
they are proven false then it confirms that people will do absolutely anything
for a quick buck, even if it means tarnishing the reputation of your own
brother,

Either way,
Jay McGwire committed a crime that even some of the worst serial killers wouldn’t
do.

Solutions Oriented

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There’s
nothing I hate more than hearing someone rant and rave about a problem they are
having yet they are unwilling to do anything to fix it. I have a simple life
philosophy: “If you have a problem,
either do something about it or shut up.”
Sounds harsh and cynical but it’s
kept me sane.

Looking back
on my last few entries I realize that I’m beginning to rant. My collective
opinions are warranted but not much more than a big “shame on you” to much of
the baseball world. So by my own principles, I must come up with a solution or
shut up until I have something else to talk about; which brings me to another
good life philosophy: “Judge me not by
your standards, judge me by my own.”

I should
write a book.

So the big
problem I see right now in Major League Baseball is how out of control players
salaries have been. The Yanks spent a quarter-billion on two pitchers, Raul
Ibanez is getting $10mil a year and the Boston Red Sox are calling Scott Boras’
bluff on a phantom $195 million offer.

I have
always defended higher salaries in all of pro sports. On average, a
professional athlete makes $200,000 or so a year (check me on that, I’m almost
definitely wrong). So while it seems every athlete is making millions, that
figure is only reserved for the elite. Besides, an athlete only plays 10, 15
maybe 20 years if he stays healthy. 8-12 years, I think, can be considered a
good career. That’s a lot shorter than the careers you and I will have, and we’ll
be paying far less in medical expenses. Finally, as far as superstars are
concerned, organizations are making millions be marketing their names, so why
shouldn’t they get a good chunk of that revenue?

My solution
however, would avoid a good amount of inflation that has driven up prices. It
would be a system much like that of golf and Hollywood, where you earn your
paycheck more than you do in baseball. It seems that every winter the top free
agent wants more than the top free agent got the year before, even if last year’s
top gun was much better.

Sound
familiar Matt Ryan?

A Hollywood
actor’s salary is mostly determined by how long he has been in the biz and how
well his movies have done. Newcomers like Shia LeBouf and that kid from Juno are
making a few hundred thousand to maybe a couple million which Brad Pitt and
Johnny Depp are making 25 to 30 million per movie. Sounds semi-elitist but no
one has complained so far. (except maybe Tom Cruise, but he only has himself to
blame)

So let’s say
that the free agent signing period looks a little different from now on.
Players will still only be allowed to negotiate with their current team first
before testing the market, but their worth will be determined a little
differently.

I call it the “Free
Agent Value System.”

Hit 30 homeruns in a season? That’s $250,000!

Have an ERA under 3.00? Nice! $500,000!

Been with one franchise for 10 years! Kudos! $1,000,000!

MVP? WOW! $5,000,000!

The league
will have a set of accomplishments that determines a player’s “value.”
Essentially, the market will be turned into a giant EBAY website: the value
system determines its worth (not what the agent says it is) and negotiations begin there.

Of course,
the highest bidder won’t be guaranteed a victory, but it would allow more teams
to be in the running. Look at it this way: Have you heard the names Tampa Bay
Rays, Cincinnati Reds or Kansas City Royals very much this off-season? Didn’t
think so.

Is the
system perfect? No, but it’s interesting to think about. It spreads opportunity
around without spreading money around, and it levels the playing field without
simply instituting a salary-cap. It also works both sides of the plate,
so-to-speak. It will bring down salaries for some but raise salaries for
others, so it may be easier to get the players union on board. It does,
however, change the playing field for agents (awwww, poor babies) who now have
to get a little more creative.

What do you
think?

Everything Baseball Should Be: And Everything Baseball is Not

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Michael Wilbon, co-host of ‘Pardon the
Interruption’ (ESPN – 5:30PM EST) is my favorite sports writer in the world. He
tells it like it is, doesn’t shy away from his north-side Chi-town allegiance
and he isn’t afraid to get to the heart of the issue. His opinions are justified
and he always seems to look at the big picture.

Most of the time, I agree with him.

This time, however, I do not.

Last week, when the Yankees signed CC
Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, a topic was brought up by the president of the
Florida Marlins, David Samson. He is quoted as saying that the Yankees’
offseason strategies are ridiculous and giving CC Sabathia a $161 million
contract is a bad move for the franchise. Both Michael Wilbon and his co-host,
Tony Kornheiser, bashed Samson for this statement and said that the Yankees’
duty (hehehe… duty) is to the fans, and as such, thir responsibility is to put
the best team on the field.

HOLD ON A MINUTE!

I may be a young man, but I have been around
baseball my whole life. Yes, the Yankees loyalty should be to the fans and to
some extent, it is; on the surface, at least. Yankess fans love it when they
sign a brand new all-star free agent who is romanticized as being the savior of
the franchise and will bring them back to their winning ways. From this
perspective, yes, the loyalty is to the fans.

But lets look at this from a different
perspective:

So far this off-season, the Yankees have
spent, let’s see: $161 million + $82.5 million รท 5, carry the…………….. = about
$242.5 million over the next 5 – 6 years. Couple that with the new stadium they
just build (which there was no real reason for except to bring more attention
to them) and you have something along the lines of $1.8 BILLION. That’s… a lotta
meatballs, some may say.

meatball.jpg

Where, pray tell, do you think this money is
coming from? The Steinbrenners? HA! They may tell you that, but where does it
really come from?

YANKEES FANS RAINOUT.jpg

You guessed it. YOU GUYS!

How, Michael, is this activity in loyalty to
the fans who filled the OLD Yankee Stadium for the last 80 years? While ticket
prices, hot dog prices, beer prices, foam finger prices, cotton candy prices,
and souvenir prices will certainly rise, where does this put your everyday fan
who just so happens to be in the middle of a recession right now?

In Philly, we’re sweating over ticket price increases of $10-$15. I would hate to see what’s going to happen in the Bronx.

Nice work, Hal… You too, Hank!

Give me a break. The Yankees care nothing
about the fans, only that they spend their money to come watch the team. What
the Steinbrenners care about is ego; nothing else.

If they really cared about the fans, they
wouldn’t have four players making an excess of $20 million a season. If they
really cared about the fans, they would hire someone who knows how to build a
TEAM. Any idiot can write big checks and offer the world to whoever happens to
be the best on the market that winter, but it takes a true baseball mind to
build a championship team. The Yankees front office collectively doesn’t have
half the baseball knowledge of this man.

VP2dkrei.jpg

Since 2000 (The last Yankee championship):
Arizona, Anaheim, Florida, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia
have all won championships as a TEAM. A concept lost in New York City.

This is not a new concept, though. The Yankees just don’t want to learn. Just look at USA Basketball from 1999 – 2007. If you read down the roster, there was more talent on the Team USA Baseketball team than the rest of the world teams combined. They were all-stars, all of them. But they weren’t a team and thereby failed. They couldn’t play as a team until they were forced to at least practice together for three years, and even then, had to rally late against Spain to win the gold.

2008824132047397.jpg

I want to root for the Yankees. I really do.
For everything they were in the past and everything they meant to baseball.
They were America’s team back then, and made baseball fans out of a lot of
people.

Now, the Yankees represent everything wrong
with baseball and everything baseball shouldn’t be. As much of a fan of a
Yankees I want to be, I can’t. I can’t because I’m too much of a fan of the
sport of baseball, and everything baseball SHOULD be.

The Best Idea I’ve Ever Had… Maybe

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Good
Evening, boys and girls!

I,
for one, am incredibly bored right now. I’m sure there is a lot going on behind
the scenes across every MLB front office but so far, not much has gone
publicly. This is for a number of reasons, the primary reason being the
arbitration deadline that will take place Monday night at midnight. Most teams
are waiting for that deadline to pass before making any decisions on free agents.

Any
player that would sign before the deadline is technically eligible for
arbitration as well as draft compensation. According to league rules, “A” tier
players that sign during arbitration will technically allow for a transfer of
two draft picks from the player’s new team to the player’s old team. (1 pick
for a “B” tier player).

By
my calendar, I really don’t think there will be any moves worth writing about
until after the deadline and the December 8-11 winter GM meetings. This is
going to be an important year for a lot of ball clubs and it is showing in the
mass-hesitation we’ve seen thus far.

The
Yankees have missed the playoffs for the first time in what seems like forever,
and the division was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays. Is this a fluke? Or have the
Rays really arrived? Can the Yankees turn it around immediately? Or are they in
a – gasp – rebuilding period?

Every
winter there seems to be one or two big-time free agents on the market and
everyone watches the MLB.com front page to see where they end up. This year,
though, it would appear that almost every team – no matter what their 2008
outcome was – could go from pretender to contender and vice versa. It will be
one great winter to watch, and with every move my anticipation for April 5th
will rise and rise.

To
pass the time, here’s a suggestion I have for my beloved Phillies.

Sign
Donovan McNabb!

You
heard me right.

Yes,
I am a Philadelphia Phillies fan but I can’t stand the Eagles. If you look at
the numbers, Donovan McNabb is the best quarterback in Eagles history despite
having no one worth mentioning to throw to except for T.O. in 2004. He has a
cannon for an arm, and while he sometimes has an off-night, he’s still a great
talent.

p1_mcnabb_si.jpg

So
here’s my suggestion: Switch careers and move across South Street to Citizens
Bank Park and we’ll put him in the bullpen. I would assume he could throw in
the mid to high 90’s judging by the bullets he throws at the Link, so if someone
could teach him a good changeup, I think we could have a decent relief pitcher.

Think
about it. This is a great career move for him. The Eagles are the worst run
team in football coupled with psychotic fans. He’s blamed for everything that
goes wrong with the team. Who would want to play like that?

In
red pin-stripes, the combination of Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste would be the
best receivers he’s ever worked with. He wouldn’t face all the blame in a loss,
either. He would come in for an inning or two every so often and throw hard,
that’s it. No plays to memorize, no miscommunications, and the best part? THERE ARE NO TIES IN BASEBALL!

It
sounds like a great move to me. But what do I know? I’m just a baseball writer.

Moms Do It Great Too!

Someone commented on my last blog and made a valid point that I had every intention of writing about.

Moms do it great too!

My dad and I could erase everything by stepping into the ballpark but my mom and the Phillies were so very different. When they divorced my mom made sure that my sister and I got everything we would have gotten had they not split. She did here absolute best to play both the mom and the dad role when he wasn’t around.

She’s been a Phillies fan all her life, born and raised in the city of Philadelphia and she’ll never let me forget it. She went to the first and last games at the Vet as well as the one fateful game when they Phils wore their awful all-maroon unis. She lives and dies by the Phillies.

While I’ve been a Phillies fan ever since (and in spite of) the 1993 season. I did, however, become a big fan of Chipper Jones who plays for the rival Atlanta Braves. So while Philly fans will throw snowballs at Santa Claus, my mom would always take me down to watch them play the Braves and make sure we sat on the third baseline so we were closer to Chipper. And while I foolishly wore a braves cap to the one game, she was there to hide it for me so the Phanatic didn’t make fun of me, or to defend me from the drunken fans; one of which sported an eagles-logo tattoo covering his exposed and spent the game screaming at Ryan Klesko in left field.

I hate to tell a sad story again but I’m afraid that my life as it relates to the Phillies is not so different from a sappy Nicholas Sparks novel.

My mom was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer my freshman year of college and underwent chemo treatment. She lost all of her hair and was forced to wear a wig wherever she went. But when she came home and the wig became too itchy she took it off and covered her head with, you guessed it, a pink Phillies cap.

The cancer has been gone and come back again a few times, most recently in August of this year when she went back into surgery to remove a tumor where the cancer originated. I drove home to be with her and with more tubes in her than I care to describe, she asked me how the Phillies were doing.

Somehow, no matter how sick she becomes, she has the heart of a champion, the heart of a lion, the heat of a true Philadelphian.

Shortly after Brad Lidge struck out Eric Hinske to close out the series, I got a call from my mom as expected. On the other line was not the woman who had been through 5 years of chemo and 2 surguries; it was the woman screaming at the top of her lungs in pure celebration. HER Phillies had won, at long last.