Thursday, June 30, 2011


I have often been accused of being a negative person. I have been accused of not giving the home town baseballers their credit when they perform well - choosing only to emphasize when they play poorly. I won't waste my time defending myself, but will acknowledge the FACT that despite not hitting the ball with authority all season, they have just taken the series against Boston - something I wasn't sure they would do. Vance Worley, Michael Stutes, and Antonio Bastardo showed guts and talent tonight and the slumbering bats found a way to eke out a 2-1 win against a good Sawx team. Big Papi looked as bad as Superstar who by the way went 0-4 for the game. Great job by the YOUNG GUNS.

Kudo's also have to go out to Raul Ibanez who believe it or not was the offensive star of the game. I still think the guy is finished, but from time to time he gets the job done, and when he does I have no problem giving him the credit deserved.

Good teams win games like tonight. The Phillies are a good team with the potential to go deep in the playoffs. The season is only half over, so I won't open up the Kool-Aid just yet, but I do like the Candystripers chances to win another division title. If they can get healthy and stay that way, and certain players play the way they should I don't see the Mets, Braves, Nats, & Marlins catching them. There are a lot of ifs out there but I like their chances in the division.

I even like their chances tomorrow in sweeping the series given that Halladay is on the mound. The Red Sox bring Lester to the hill who, when on his game, can be tough. I wouldn't think that Howard will do anything against him because Howard sucks. Send him a copy of this post and perhaps he will get angry and find a way to man up and help the Phils win.

The last time a Phillies pitcher threw three consecutive shut outs, I was three years old and most of you hadn't been born yet. In July 1950 Robin Roberts did the hat trick thing - now Cliff Lee has one to his credit.

How sick is it that during the month of June Lee allowed ONE earned run in 42 innings for an ERA of 0.21. That combined with a streak of 32 scoreless innings makes Lee the MLB pitcher of the month and should earn him a spot on the NL All-Star squad. Lee is in some kind of zone, and while it is unlikely he'll be able to do this shit the rest of the year, I plan to enjoy it as long as it lasts.

There was an article in the Boston Globe this morning that reported that the Sox were over matched against Lee, and that they looked feeble. Yes they did, and that was before they met up with the young guns. What will the Globe say if Doc prescribes a complete game win tomorrow?

I have tried to keep this post positive from top to bottom. Sure, I said that Howard sucks, but sometimes the truth hurts. The guy is stealing his check and unless he turns this season around in a hurry, the Phillies will have trouble in the playoffs.

The ladies at my dance class wore me out tonight so I'll sign of and wish everybody a happy 4th.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I have often been accused of being a negative person. I have been accused of not giving the home town baseballers their credit when they perform well - choosing only to emphasize when they play poorly. I won't waste my time defending myself, but will acknowledge the FACT that despite not hitting the ball with authority all season, they have just taken the series against Boston - something I wasn't sure they would do. Vance Worley, Michael Stutes, and Antonio Bastardo showed guts and talent tonight and the slumbering bats found a way to eke out a 2-1 win against a good Sawx team. Big Papi looked as bad as Superstar who by the way went 0-4 for the game. Great job by the YOUNG GUNS.

Kudo's also have to go out to Raul Ibanez who believe it or not was the offensive star of the game. I still think the guy is finished, but from time to time he gets the job done, and when he does I have no problem giving him the credit deserved.

Good teams win games like tonight. The Phillies are a good team with the potential to go deep in the playoffs. The season is only half over, so I won't open up the Kool-Aid just yet, but I do like the Candystripers chances to win another division title. If they can get healthy and stay that way, and certain players play the way they should I don't see the Mets, Braves, Nats, & Marlins catching them. There are a lot of ifs out there but I like their chances in the division.

I even like their chances tomorrow in sweeping the series given that Halladay is on the mound. The Red Sox bring Lester to the hill who, when on his game, can be tough. I wouldn't think that Howard will do anything against him because Howard sucks. Send him a copy of this post and perhaps he will get angry and find a way to man up and help the Phils win.

The last time a Phillies pitcher threw three consecutive shut outs, I was three years old and most of you hadn't been born yet. In July, 1950 Robin Roberts did the hat trick thing - now Cliff Lee has one to his credit.

How sick is it that during the month of June Lee allowed one earned run in 42 innings for an ERA of 0.21? That, combined with a streak of 32 scoreless innings. makes Lee the MLB pitcher of the month and should earn him a spot on the NL All-Star squad. Lee is in some kind of zone and while it is unlikely he'll be able to do this shit the rest of the year, I plan to enjoy it as long as it lasts.

There was an article in the Boston Globe this morning that reported that the Sox were over matched against Lee, and that they looked feeble. Yes they did, and that was before they met up with the young guns. What will the Globe say if Doc prescribes a complete game win tomorrow?

I have tried to keep this post positive from top to bottom. Sure, I said that Howard sucks, but sometimes the truth hurts. The guy is stealing his check and unless he turns this season around in a hurry, the Phillies will have trouble in the playoffs.

The ladies at my dance class wore me out tonight so I'll sign of and wish everybody a happy 4th.

Monday, June 27, 2011


OK. So last night I turned on Sunday night baseball while waiting for my ten PM date with Treme, which has now become one of my favorite shows of all time. The Indians were playing the defending champion Giants in the getaway game of a three game series, and were trying to avoid being swept by the Giants who are hitting nothing. You remember the Indians; they were the team that got out of the gate with baseball's best record at 20-10. They were the darlings of the April media who declared them the comeback story of the year.

Not so fast. The Tribe of late have been losing games with a vengeance and have now been replaced at the top of the AL Central by the Tigers who have of late been on a hitting tear. The game was still on when I switched to Treme, and I really don't know how the game ended. I mean, do you blame me? If given a choice would you watch a baseball game not involving your team or Khandi Alexander?

It doesn't really matter who won the game; what matters is that the Tribe is now doing what pretenders do all the time - they are now showing themselves to be Emperors without clothes. In my opinion the Indians have shot their 2011 load and will end up somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Now, let's talk about the Phillies. Yes, we have to unless we collectively move to a dreadful place where we can root for the Astro's or the D-Backs.

On Friday night I settled in for game one of the A's-Phillies series. The A's are not a good baseball team and I figured that perhaps the Phillies could manage some offense against them. I figured wrong. Watching the first eight innings was worse than watching paint dry. I know something about watching paint dry since I am in the middle of having my place painted. Watching the eggshell color dry in my living room is more exciting than the product described by Wheels and T-Mac. The amazing thing about Friday night's game wasn't that the Phillies managed to win 1-0, but that I watched the whole fucking game. The game was so boring I kept wanting to see the Phanatic hit by a foul ball like he had been in Allentown. The prospect of seeing him carried from the field on a stretcher was one reason I kept watching. Think about it. The Phanatic may be something that amuses five year olds, but I have had "him" doing his thing in front of my face - keeping me from being able to watch a game that I have paid a King's ransom to watch. On a hot summer day this guy's funk is worse than someone who hasn't bathed in a while sitting next to you on the el. It's time for the Phanatic to retire or be shot - his choice.

I didn't see any of Saturday's loss. I was attending a birthday barbeque at the lady friend's cousin's house. From the written accounts of the game and from what my editor tells me, I was more than glad that I hadn't seen Victorino's mental lapse on defense which led to the A's scoring what was to be the winning run, nor did I get to experience the joy of watching Domonic Brown jog to first on a grounder. Charlie spoke to each of his miscreant players after the game, and I sure would have loved to have been the fly on the wall for those conversations. When I think about it, Brown is not the only Phillie I have seen lately not hustling to first base. Howard stops what he calls running about halfway down the line when he hits a ground ball as does Ibanez and others. There is no excuse for that - no matter what.

Yesterday, I settled in to watch Doc and I was not disappointed. The guy is the best in the game, and somehow the Phillies managed to score three runs on ten hits giving Doc his tenth and the Phillies the series. The idiots in the booth made a big deal about Doc recording his 63rd career complete game. Duh. That would be about two seasons of complete games for Lefty or Robbie. I suppose in today's game 63 is a big number, but I am not impressed.

So now the Phillies await Terry Francona and his Boston Red Sox. You may have noticed that the Sox, after a horrible start, have the third best record in baseball and have been hitting the ball all over the place. Yes, they were almost swept by my beloved Pirates, but they won the getaway game and arrive at the Bank Tuesday looking to bitch slap the candystripers.

Sadly, it looks like Phillie fan favorite J.D. Drew will not play. There is something wrong with his eyes. Fuck the eyes - get up there and take the fans' hatred like a man.

On Tuesday Josh Beckett is scheduled to go against the Phillies. My question is - will any of the home town heroes be able to get on base? Will Superstar swing at pitches three feet outside the strike zone? Will the game hang on Wilson Valdez's ability to get a pinch hit in the 9th.? Will Cliff Lee pitch a no hitter and drive in the winning run? Wow, so much to think about. Somehow our guys better find a way to score some runs. If they don't, well then I will have a lot of good shit to write about.

The best play I saw all weekend was in last night's Giants-Indians game. Bill Hall was on third when Giants manager Bruce Bochy called for a suicide squeeze play. It might have worked except for the fact that Ross Bumgarner didn't attempt to bunt the ball, rather choosing to swing away. Hall was lucky that Bumgarner didn't hit the ball because he could have killed the streaking Hall who when he saw that there was no bunt threw his hands up to protect his face from a possible line drive to the head. Hall was of course tagged out, but the look of panic and terror on his face was priceless. I enjoyed watching that fuck up.

It looks like we are scheduled to have a great weather day here in the greatest city in the world, so get outside if you can. If the boss won't let you out to play, then post stories that the guy has a thing for children. It may not be true, but that would not be different from 99% of what people post on Facebook or other such social sites.

Have a great day.

Friday, June 24, 2011


The Phillies must have used some pretty powerful mouthwash to rid themselves of the bitter taste of defeat they experienced in Seattle. Our guys, who have a losing record against teams with winning records, came into St. Louis already knowing that they wouldn't have to face the best first baseman in the league - Albert Pujols - who in a freak defensive play had suffered a broken bone. Pujols had been on a tear of late, so seeing him out of the line-up must have made Charlie and his no-hitting offense feel better about their chances in the three game set against the Cards. So far so good, but....!

The but is that, despite winning the first two games, their bats have stayed asleep. In game one, the Cardinals defense and pitching imploded and handed the Phillies the game. Yes, they scored 9 runs in one inning, but had no extra base hits and benefited from a wild Cardinal staff. In last night's game, aside from the home runs hit by Rollins and Superstar, the only extra base hit I can recall was Victorino's triple. Cliff Lee pitched a gem for the second consecutive game shutting down the Cardinal offense, including Matt Holliday who before the series began had been hitting over .340. The baseball gods must have a reason for the hitless wonders continued success but let's not get too cocky because they may be setting us up for a big fall. It could be because they dislike Cardinal manager Tony La Russa that they have allowed the Phillies to take this series. After all, La Russa has been an asshole from birth.

Given that the Phillies are in first place with the best record in baseball I suspect that if I declare myself to be panicked by their lack of offensive production I will be the subject of derision - but the LSF has reason to be concerned - and so should you.

There is something going on with the fifth position in the batting order. At the beginning of the season the number five slot was shared by Victorino and Ibanez, and both got off to what I will generously call a slow start. Charlie switched Victorino to the number two slot and moved Polanco down to the five hole. Victorino is now hot and Polanco's average is dropping faster than a Japanese Zero caught in the Marianas Turkey Shoot (google it). Polanco can't get a hit no matter what. So I ask, what is it about the five spot in this year's line-up that has whoever in it play like a complete bum? Some have suggested that because of following Howard in the order, the five spot is not getting good pitches to hit. Even if that is the reason, can a team with the worst production in the majors at the five spot continue to stay on top? Part of the problem may lie in numbers six through nine. Yes, Chooch has once again started to hit, but Brown, Francisco, and whoever are floundering at the plate. Brown is about to cross the Mendoza line and Francisco looks confused at the plate.

The lack of hitting has many speculating at a possible deal to bring in a right handed bat. Ruben claims that he has no money to do anything, but he has lied to us before. Every day there is a list of available guys in some article or another but frankly, none of the names mentioned bring me goose bumps in anticipation. I think the solution isn't making a desperation trade that may or may not work out and could deplete the system of the cream of the prospects. Face it, they will not get a top hitting right handed bat by dangling Zagurski to anyone. The answer could be on the roster right now, but there have been hints at another problem on the big league roster. Charlie has hinted that no matter what hitting coach Greg Gross tries to do, the players just don't want to listen to his tips. The very same guys who are not hitting seem to think that they do not need coaching on how to adjust at the plate so as to be able to contribute. If this is the case, I say that just because you are being paid a gazillion dollars doesn't mean that you are immune from being coached - or that you can't be asked to take a different approach at the plate. Charlie has always made it a policy to not criticize his players in public. Maybe it is time for him to name names. Maybe it is time for him to blast one or two of them in the press. Even if it doesn't motivate anybody, it will make me feel real good. That would be a good thing.

So tonight [Editor's note - I've been fucking busy!] Roy Oswalt will try and help the Phillies sweep La Russa's losers, and it would be a treat to see him deliver a good game for a change. The guy has not pitched anywhere close to what he did last year, and maybe he could be the trade bait for a right handed bat. The guy is near the end of his contract, isn't pitching well and maybe the proverbial change of scenery is what the guy needs. He might look good wearing a Twins or White Sox uniform. Anyhow, let's hope he has a good effort in him tonight. I will be switching back and forth to the NBA draft, hoping that the Sixers trade Iguadola and come out of the night as an improved team.

Looking forward to the weekend, the Phillies will be entertaining the Oakland A's. Most of you were not alive when this team was the lead tenant in Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium until they left the greatest city in the world after the 1954 season for the frontier of Kansas City. I will be posting a nostalgic look at the Philadelphia A's sometime over the weekend, but in the meantime I would love P.A. announcer Dan Baker to announce the A's line-up thusly...

Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to tonight's interleague contest between your Phillies and the Oakland A's led by manager Eddie Joost. At first base, Lou Limmer, playing second, Spook Jacobs, at short - Joe Demaestri, playing third - Jim Finigan. In left field, Gus Zernial, playing center - Bill Wilson, and in right field Bill Renna. Behind the plate, Joe Astroth, and on the mound, Pottstown native Bobby Shantz - the 1952 AL MVP.

In case you are wondering, the above players were the starters for the 1954 A's who finished SIXTY games out of first with a 51-103 record. As a kid, I was an A's fan - I suppose because my father was an A's fan. On my kitchen wall is a replica Philadelphia A's pennant. There are no Phillies pennants in my home.


As promised, I switched back and forth tonight between the Phillies and the NBA draft. I spent more time with the draft considering the stellar play being displayed by the Phillies. I'll speak to the Phillies sucking big time later in the post.

I don't remember the last time I saw so many white guys being taken in the first round of the NBA draft. I suppose the success of the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks had the rest of the league scrambling to do the monkey-see-monkey-do acquisition of a big Euro-Player as the way to win the title, but how am I supposed to get excited when I can't even pronounce their names? Not only that, most of them won't even get to suit up in the NBA for two to three years unless the teams that drafted them buy out their contracts from the teams they are currently signed with.

That won't happen with the Sixers first round pick, a rather large center/power forward from USC. I will not slam the selection of Nikola Vucevic since I have never seen him play, and who knows - he may pan out. He is supposed to be an excellent rebounder, something the team could use more of, and he did average seventeen points a game. He wouldn't have been my first choice, but both of the Philly born Morris twins were already off the board when the Sixers made their pick. I didn't like Ed Stefanski blowing smoke up my ass after the pick stating that this is the guy we really wanted. Stefanski should consider himself lucky to still have a job considering how he has screwed up the team with moves like giving Elton Brand the long term big money deal that has kept the team from being able to play in the free agent market. Stefanski was the guy who offered Iguadola $43 million, then upped the deal to $80 after A.I. Part II couldn't find another team to even match the 43. Duh.

I knew Eddie when he was a mortage broker and I was a stock broker. He is a super nice guy, but as a GM he has to be polite and has sucked big time. Of course the selection of Vucevic may have been the doing of Rod Thorn which would take Eddie off the hook when and if Nikola turns out to be a bust.

In case you're wondering, Vucevic isn't the first Euro giant taken by the Sixers. Most recently, the team selected Thabo Sefolosha (Switzerland) in the 2006 draft. Does anyone know where he is? Other Euro picks include the following: 2003 Paccelis Morlende (France); 1997 Marco Milic (Slovenia).

Back to the white guy thing. The only American white guy taken in the first round was BYU's Jimmer Fredette. Fredette was a lights-out scorer for BYU until he got hurt before the NCAA tourney. Given that I don't stay up late to watch BYU play Idaho State or Montana, I haven't had the pleasure of seeing him play. Given that I always root for BYU to lose I will not be a fan of the new Sacremento King Fredette, hoping that he is a complete and total bust. Personally, I don't trust people who won't drink coffee, have a Pepsi, or believe that pre-marital sex is evil. There is the name thing as well. Somebody needs to tell the guy that he is a grown man and now would be a good time to drop the little kid name Jimmer in favor of plain old Jim. Enough on Jimmer.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the Flyers made a couple of moves yesterday. Not being a big fan, I could care less, but Flyer faithful will be burning up the talk show lines all day on the moves. Moving Richards and the signing of the goalie whose name I will never be able to pronounce may make the team better - please let me know. They gave the goalie a nine year contract. Is that a good move? What if he gets hurt and can't ever play? Does that put the Flyers in deep doo doo? Nine year deals usually only benefit the players getting the deals so we will have to wait and see.

Back to the Phillies. The Phillies and Oswalt finally admitted that the pitcher's back has been giving him trouble all season. That, plus the lack of run support goes a long way in explaining why Oswalt has not been the pitcher he has been in the past, and presents huge problems for Charlie. Given that the team isn't hitting, losing Oswalt could bite them in the ass big time. Now we have to hope that Blanton can come back and do the job he is being overpaid to do, and that Kendrick or Worley can pitch at high levels. If Blanton, Kendrick, and Worley can't pull their loads, unless the team starts hitting, you can put away the Kool-Aid for this year. Not having a right handed hitter with power will pale compared to ineffective starting pitching at the back of the rotation.

That's it for now. Have a great weekend, and let's hope that the Phillies can overcome Connie Mack's guys.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The LSF has been fighting off a cold the past couple of days and was going to be smart and hit the sack early. The past two days saw three hour naps each day in an attempt to beat off a dreaded summer cold. I'll tell you how much I hate a summer cold - I would rather go through treatment for prostate cancer again than have a cold this time of year. Do you need more explanation of how much I hate summer colds?

I wasn't going to write tonight, and I wasn't going to have any of the heavenly hash I bought today. No, tonight was going be a night the LSF fan took care of himself. Shit, I've even eaten green veggies the past two nights - which is not something I normally do. I hate vegetables if they are not in a salad. I an a carnivorous animal and apologize to no one for that. Tonight I was going to give my immune system a break and then hit the sack early.

As you can see, I am writing - something I wasn't going to do. Did I do anything else I said I wasn't going to do? Use your fucking imagination or ask yourself what you would do in my situation?

So, let's see, the last time we were together, the Phillies had completed an awesome home stand against the Cubs and the Marlins. Their season long slumbering bats came alive and even Superstar was starting to act like one. It looked easy, and regular Kool-Aid drinkers were calling the Phillies ticket office to order their World Series tickets. The LSF certainly enjoyed the offensive fireworks, but said "not so fast" on sipping the Kool-Aid. I looked ahead at the schedule and saw that the next two opponents were good teams. I refer to the Mariners and the Cardinals. Hmm, I thought, these games will tell us just how much the bats had come alive - I mean even I would have had to give them credit if they were able to win these series. So far I do not have to give my credit away.

Well I'm glad I didn't buy any Kool-Aid because, against the Mariners, the Phillies bats folded like a cheap Jos. A. Banks suit. In yesterday's game, Superstar went two for four, but the Phillies were shut out by a pitcher named Vargas. There used to be cartoonist in Playboy named Vargas, but I don't think he is the same guy. Calm down, I only bought Playboy for the articles. I bought Hustler for the pictures.

The Phillies have had the ability to beat up on the bad teams while not doing so well against the good teams. They caught a "break" with Pujols' injury so they might be able to take the Cardinals. Albert had gotten hot, and I'm sure he was looking forward to showing Howard how a real superstar plays the game. We'll see what happens, but once again I would not bet my net worth on the Phillies winning this series.

Earlier, I got a call from Scott who was watching a rebroadcast of game five of the 1980 World Series. I checked it out and enjoyed it more than I enjoy watching the Phillies lose games they should win. Anyway, heading into game five, the series was tied at two games each. Let me hop into the wayback machine and set the table for game five...

The Phillies, who hadn't won a series game since the 1915 fall classic, won games one & two at Veterans Stadium. The Royals, led by George Brett, Amos Otis, U.L. Washington, Dan Quisenberry, and current Pirate manager Clint Hurdle, won games three & four in K.C. Whoever won game five would head back to Philly needing only one win out of the two games to win the title.

Let's jump to the seventh inning with the Royals ahead 3-2. Manager Dallas Green puts in closer Frank Edwin "Tug" McGraw, Jr. McGraw would finish the game. I guess pitch counts didn't matter back then. The Tugger was in trouble in all three innings and had to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth.

The Phillies managed to score two runs in the top of the eighth, and went into the ninth holding on to a one run lead. McGraw's screwball deserted him in the ninth and there we were, bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases loaded, with the winning run at second base. When McGraw patted his heart after a very long drive that went foul at the very end Joe Garagiola, who was calling the game along with Tom Seaver, said that McGraw's pacemaker had gone bad on that long foul. After a conference on the mound with coach Herman Starette and the Phillies infield, McGraw reached down into his heart and struck out the batter to end the game - sending the team back to the Vet with a 3-2 series lead which ,after the next game, would give the team its first World Championship.

On the wall next to my keyboard is one of my most prized possessions. I took the 1981 baseball cards of the 1980 Phillies starters. I framed it and as I write tonight I am able to see what our guys looked like in game five. At first base was Pete "Charlie Hustle" Rose. It's a good thing cell phones hadn't been invented then or Pete could have spoken with his bookie throughout the game. Pete Rose is one of Johnny Dollar's favorite players. At second was Manny "Indio" Trillo, with Larry "Gnat" Bowa at short and "Iron" Mike Schmidt at third. Schmidt, who normally struck out when the money was on the table, hit .381 for the series, and hit a critical home run in game five. Greg "The Bull" Luzinski nearing the end of his Phillies career was in left, Gary "The Secretary of Defense" Maddox was in center, and Shake n' Bake McBride was in right. Behind the plate was Bob Boone, a slightly better-than-journeyman player was the son of longtime Detroit Tiger Ray Boone, and the father of Brett and Aaron. That's three generations of MLB All Stars. The only pitcher on my wall is Steve "Lefty" Carlton. What can I say? The guy was and is crazy as a loon, but could pitch a baseball.

The best part of watching game five was the theatrics of home plate umpire Dutch Rennert. Rennert was considered one the best umpires in the league. The guy worked in six NL Championship Series and three World Series. This was in the era when umpiring crews were selected by merit, not on the rotating basis we have now. The league was smart in doing it that way. They wanted the best umps in the most important games.

Rennert would begin each pitch positioned almost in a crouch. He got a better look at the pitch that way. He had what might be the greatest strike call I have ever seen. What follows has been taken from Wikepdia. This isn't college - I have no reason to not give credit where credit is due. I mean this isn't a term paper being written while on black beauties the night before the thing is due.

On called strikes to right handers, his style was to turn and face the first base dugout, raise his right arm and call strike. Next came an exaggerated step forward on his left foot, keeping his right planted. Then he would call what number the strike was. With left handed hitters he would step forward, squat to his right knee and call the strike.

When he made the strike call, he sounded like one of those Japanese officers in a WWII movie yelling "BANZAI!" The guy had style, and rarely missed a call.

The other nice part about watching the rebroadcast was all visual. From the uniforms, the concrete astro-turf, the big boy bats that had some of the players choking up, the afros, the stirrup socks, and the watching of guys my age when they were young. I certainly remember those days when nothing hurt when I woke up and I was busy changing a certain editor's shitty diapers. Nobody ever shit more than my editor, and in very strange colors.

Lastly, I couldn't help notice how many African-Americans there were on both teams. The Royals were loaded with black players. The Phillies started three, and had two on the bench. The current Phils roster includes Howard, Rollins, Brown, Francisco, and if someone gets hurt, Mayberry, but in today's major leagues, most of the non-white players are foreign born and from Latin America. For whatever reason, there are less young African-Americans playing baseball today, and the sport is poorer for their absence.

That's it for now. Onward to St. Louis where Superstar will get to play in front of his people.

Friday, June 17, 2011


The Phillies certainly had their fun filleting fish the past few days, and even Superstar joined the fun by hitting two homers to the opposite field. Sure, he continued to strike out, but how novel - he has started to hit left handed pitching. If he can continue this and build on it your Phillies should be just fine. John Kruk, who appeared in the broadcast booth today, believes that the Phils will play the Red Sox in this year's World Series. Kruk sounds like he has been sipping some red Kool-Aid, but it would be great if he turns out to be right.

Kruk was in town today after the Phillies announced that he would be joining his teammate Dutch Daulton on the Phillies Wall Of Fame. The Phillies name one player from the past every year for this honor and it is doubly special since Kruk got the nod over Curt Schilling. Schilling left town saying some unkind things about the team and we the fans, and turned out to be nothing more than a flapping flaming right wing asshole.

I enjoy Kruk on Baseball Tonight in part because he is such a great story teller. T Mac should have asked him to tell some Dykstra stories, but he didn't. Too bad since Kruk could probably tell some stuff that hasn't hit the press. Congratulations Kruk, and fuck you Curt.

When I saw the way the Marlins players looked in their dugout last night after the Phillies turned defeat into victory in the bottom of the ninth last night, I knew that the Phillies would find a way to win today's game, and that the Marlins were finished for the year. Well, Cliff Lee came up with both the game winning RBI and a complete game to boot. I would not advise the Marlins manager or coaching staff to make long term housing plans in Miami since I can't imagine them being there much longer. The Marlins do have a few guys who are decent players, but whatever ails them has become a major epidemic and I do not see them coming back this year. Sure, other teams have come back from huge deficits to win pennants and divisions (think of the Phillies and the 1951 Giants) but no matter what odds the bookie wants to give you - do not bet that the Marlins will come back from their eleven game deficit to storm to the top of the NL East.

For the Phillies, it's off to Seattle and interleague play. As you know, or suspect, the LSF does not like interleague play - not even a little bit. It isn't because the Phillies haven't done so well against the AL over the years, it has to do with being different from what I grew up watching and reading about as a kid. I haven't even decided how I feel about the expansion of teams from 16 to the current 30 or 32 that we have now. It also creates advantages for the teams in the NL who get to play the bad AL teams as opposed to our guys who this year have to take on the Red Sox. It also means that teams like the Giants, Dodgers, Pirates, and Cardinals only come to town once or twice, when I would like to see them play more often.

I must admit that, other than Ichiro, I can't tell you anything about the Mariners except that Lou Pinella used to manage there and both Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnston played there. I don't care about the Mariners or the A's and don't want to see them play our Phillies. When I am king of the world interleague play, the DH, and domed stadiums will all be banned, and Bud Selig will have to sell cars again for a living - perhaps for Kerbeck.

So what do you think the reaction in the press would be if the fan rioting in Vancouver took place here instead of up there in America Lite? You know exactly what would be said and written about the greatest fans in the world. We would be called barbarians, assholes and crazies. We would be condemned on ESPN for nine Sports Centers in a row and American Nazi Party Rep. Issa would begin Congressional hearings.

I've never been to Vancouver. I probably will never go to Vancouver. It is supposed to be one of the cleanest most pristine places in North America. It also obviously has fans who don't know anything about the proper protocol of demonstrating in the streets. Here we know that rioting is only permitted when your team win wins - not when they lose. When the Phillies lost to the Yankees a couple of years ago we didn't take to the streets. Many of us got stinking drunk, but we didn't go on a drunken rampage.

The good news, however, is that the NHL season is finally over. It makes no sense to me for anyone to be playing ice hockey when the temperature and humidity is set on melt.

Lastly, does anyone really care that Anthony Weiner resigned today? For the past few weeks those of us who watch the political shows have had to listen to pundit after pundit speak to Weiner's behavior. We've had to listen to his party leaders and the opposition's leaders pompously decry his behavior. Give me a break. Do I really want to hear Nancy Pelosi or Eric Cantor (both scumbags with oak leaf clusters) condemn Weiner? I do not. Weiner showed that even smart people can do stupid things. Weiner was guilty of what millions of others do on Facebook and Twitter. Just because he is a member of the most corrupt branch of government the world has ever seen doesn't mean that he should have to step down. Shit, Barney Frank of Massachusetts was able to keep his seat after being found to have been involved with a male page, and Sen. David Vitter was just re-elected after tearfully admitting that he frequented brothels. Spare me the hypocrisy.

It is interesting that the guy quits the day after his wife gets home from a trip with Hillary Clinton. His old lady must have had some neat things to say and I would have enjoyed being a fly on the wall of the Weiner home.

That's it for now. Enjoy your weekend and please do not riot in the streets if the Phillies lose tomorrow night in Seattle.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I have watched the past few Phillies games, including last night's rout of division rival Florida and have wondered who the guys wearing the home team colors are. For the past few games the guys in the red pinstripes have been doing things that the Phillies haven't been doing all season, and even the LSF has been caught up in the excitement. No, I have not decided to become emotionally involved. If I do I know what will happen - the team will revert to what they were before I made my decision to become an observer rather than a devotee looking to make excuses for every failure on the field. I will not allow yet another Phillie team break my heart.

Someone suggested that the tone of my last posting was optimistic. Please do not confuse my being happy at the team playing the way they are capable of, and the way they are supposed to with optimism. I am no more optimistic about the Phillies than I believe that my beloved Pirates will win their division. I am, however, happy when any team representing the greatest city in the world wins. Despite winning the past few games in fine style, this aging team is fully capable of becoming what they were before the latest offensive outburst. No Kool-Aid for me please.

Seeing the power outburst last night was surely exciting. The LSF loves home runs and loves great pitching. I saw both last night, and couldn't help but thinking at just how scary good they would be if they can maintain their hitting and their pitching. If this team can continue getting production from the middle of the line up, continue to get lights out pitching, and continue to play good defense, they will run away from the rest of the division and will have a great chance of winning the whole thing - something I would love to see. I continue to maintain that this team's window of opportunity is closing due to age, injuries, and complacency - so this year is critical. A change of guard is coming whether or not they win, so I want them to win.

The mark of a great franchise is that they can continue to stay on top while changing the names of their players as needed. The Yankees over the years have shown that they can do this as have teams like the Lakers and the Celtics. Most franchises are capable of putting together a few good years, but hit a wall at some point and fall back to just being average. The jury is still out on the Phillies who seem to have a couple of replacements showing promise. I speak of guys like Brown, Stutes, and the like who seem to be coming into their own. Brown had a helluva game last night and shows so much potential that other teams should be afraid of this guy and what he can do.

So, last night I get a call from my son who wanted to ask me if I knew which team had the best record in baseball. He wanted to hear me say that the Phillies did - which I was happy to acknowledge. The LSF believes in facts and the fact is - the Phillies do have the best record in baseball so far this season. Scott wanted to rub that fact in, when all the rubbing in the world was irrelevant since I am not unhappy at where they are - more amazed that they are there considering that the team batting average going into last night was .221 for the month of June. By all that is holy this team should be in a free fall because of their slumbering bats - that they are not is a testament to stellar pitching and the fact that their competition isn't hitting either.

Part of our conversation had the kid making the points that the game has changed and that I shouldn't judge these players by standards set when the game was different. Balderdash! Part of the beauty of the game is the fixation on statistics and the history of the game. Nobody cares about how many yards Red Grange gained while playing for the Bears or how many rebounds Wilt got, but we do compare baseball players from different eras because of our attention to the numbers. Yes, the game has changed (not all for the good) but I'll maintain that compared to other games - the changes made do not invalidate the achievements of the players from the past.

One of the changes I do not care for is the conferring of superstar status on guys with serious flaws in their game. Of course, I am speaking of Ryan Howard who is nothing more than a player with excellent power who otherwise has too many deficiencies in his game for me to confer superstar status on. The guy has elevated his defense to where he is slightly above adequate. He is nowhere near being the best defensive first baseman in the game, but I do give him credit for the work he has put in to improve. Going into this season the guy had a .279 career batting average, and I DO NOT CONSIDER THAT NUMBER TO BE THE NUMBER OF A SUPERSTAR! I don't even want to hear a word until the number is .300, a long time baseball yardstick for greatness. In his first seven seasons the guy has hit 253 home runs (36 per year) which isn't bad for the post steroid era, but at his current pace he will fall far short of 500, another baseball benchmark for greatness and superstardom. Now we all know that big home run hitters have a tendency to strike out a lot. Howard strikes out 32% of his at bats, by far the largest % of the guys I looked at. Babe Ruth struck out 15.8% of his at bats, and Ted Williams did so at a rate of 9.2%. Need I say more?

I decided to do an analysis of the greatest first baseman of all time so as to see where Howard fit in. I began my search with the Hall Of Fame and identified six or seven HOF first basemen to compare "Superstar" with. Items for consideration include: batting average, home runs, RBI's, OBP, slugging percentage, and strikeouts-to-at-bats ratio. I eliminated guys like Stan Musial and Harmon Killebrew who are enshrined as first baseman but who played more games at other positions than they did at first base. Ernie Banks is listed by the HOF as a first baseman, but played far more games at SS - so he was also dropped from the conversation. Also eliminated were those who played before 1900 or who played in the dead ball era - I had to keep Frank Chance and Cap Anson from the game.

The results are interesting. The names to be looked at are: Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Hank Greenberg, Eddie Murray, and Tony Perez. All spent all or most of their careers at first base and all have been enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. To a man they all used big boy bats rather than the pussy bat used by Superstar. None of them used body armor, nor did they have a pre-pitch ritual of the Babe Ruth pointing coupled with the ass squat used by Howard prior to swinging at a bad pitch. I swear the guy does his little ass squat to get rid of a wedgie. Superstar compares favorably with my list of all time greats in a couple of areas, but overall falls short of their accomplishments in most catagories.

Let's start out with defense. Howard has worked very hard in this area and has become what I will call a decent defensive first baseman. Not great, but decent. I realize that he just made his first error of the year last night, but defense includes throwing and range - both of which are weaknesses for Howard. Lou Gehrig was considered the best defensive first baseman of all time, with McCovey, & Eddie Murray all significantly better than Howard with the glove. He ranks ahead of Hank Greenberg and Tony Perez, and about equal to Cepeda. All in all I believe I am safe in assuming that Howard won't be winning any gold gloves for his trophy room.

Hall Of Famers don't normally get elected to the Hall for their defense - Brooks Robinson might be the exception. Robinson was the best fielding third baseman I have ever seen and that includes Mike Schmidt. Guys get to the Hall because of their offense, and it is in this area that we must compare Howard to the best of the best. Sorry gang, but the guy pales against the statistics the other guys made for their careers. Remember - Superstar isn't even the best first baseman playing today despite what some drinkers of Red Kool-Aid may think, so don't be surprised at what follows.

First, let me provide you with Howard's career statistics. In his seven years with the Phillies (I did him a favor and did not include this year) Howard has hit for a career batting average of .279. He has hit 253 home runs which breaks down to an average of 36 per year. He has driven in 748 RBI's which breaks down to 107 per season. He has an OBP of .372, and a slugging average of .572 (quite decent) Unfortunately, he has struck out 33% of his times at bat. In this catagory he leads all of the others by a wide margin.

I'll start my comparison with a guy I don't believe belongs in the HOF, and probably got in because he played for one of the best teams of all time - The Big Red Machine. Tony Perez finished with a .279 average, hit 379 home runs and drove in 1,652 runs. His OBP was .341 and his slugging average a mere .473. He played for twenty-some odd years and Howard has already put up better numbers than Perez in seven. I rate Howard ahead of Perez.

One of my favorite players of all time was the great Eddie Murray. I was fortunate to see him play several times when he was with the Orioles. Murray finished with a .287 average, hit 504 home runs, drove in 1,917 runs and had an OBP of .359. His slugging average was .476. The last two catagories fall below what Howard has accomplished to date, but Murray is one of only four players to finish with both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits - neither of which Howard will achieve. Murray struck out 18.4% of his at bats - far less than Superstar. I rate Murray clearly better than Howard, and he was a switch hitter to boot.

Next on the list is Orlando Cepeda. Cepeda hit for a career average of .297 (Howard can't even dream that high), hit .379 home runs, (a number Howard should surpass) drove in 1365 runs and had an OBP of .350. His slugging percentage came in at .499. Cepeda struck out 14% of his at bats. Cepeda was in my opinion a very good player and when he wasn't hurt he was among the best of his era. His numbers fall short of getting my vote for the Hall and I rate him on a par with Howard based on his overall game.

My next Hall Of Famer played his entire career in the shadow of the best player I ever saw play. Both he and Mays had to overcome playing at Candlestick Park where hitting home runs was difficult at best. Willie McCovey also played hurt for most of his career and he had problems running the bases and fielding his position because of horrible knee injuries. Nonetheless, he managed to finish with a .270 average, hit 521 home runs and drove in 1,555. I do not believe Howard will reach either total. "Stretch" had an OBP of .374 and a slugging percentage of .515. He struck out 19% of his at bats. Howard compares favorably with McCovey with higher batting averages, OBP and slugging percentage, but with his batting average declining on a yearly basis I doubt if Howard will finish with his current .279 and may fall into the .260's. I rate McCovey slightly ahead of Howard.

I can only wish that I had been able to see Hank Greenberg play baseball. Greenberg finished with a career batting average of .313, hit 331 home runs (he missed four seasons due to a broken elbow and three years of military service). He drove in 1,276 runs, had an OBP of .412 and a slugging percentage of .605. Greenberg struck out 16% of his at bats. Yes Virginia, you can hit for average and have power! Greenberg truly was a superstar, not a pretender. He clearly rates above Howard.

Philadelphia did indeed have a superstar at first base in one Jimmie Foxx who starred for the great Philadelphia A's teams. Foxx, who finished his career with the Phillies, put in a career average of .325, hit 534 home runs and drove in 1,922 runs. Shall I stop? His OBP was .428 and he finished with a slugging percentage of .609. Foxx who struck out 16% of his at bats was clearly the best first baseman ever to play in the greatest city in the world - not Superstar Howard.

It wasn't that Lou Gehrig was the luckiest guy in the world - rather he was one of the best baseball players of all time. His career average was .340. His home run total was 493. The guy drove in 1,995 runs and had an OBP of .447 with a slugging percentage of .632. He struck out at a rate of 9.8% of his at bats. He is my pick as the best first baseman to ever have played the position.

As a basis for comparison the guy with the best career totals was not a first baseman, but rather a former pitcher who picked up a telephone pole one day and proceeded to hit for a .342 career batting average. With this lumber he stroked 714 home runs, and when he pointed to the outfield he was able to hit the ball there. While driving in 2,213 runs he managed an OBP of .474 and a slugging percentage of .690. How sick is that? This overweight party guy struck out at a rate of 16% of his at bats, and I guarantee you Mr. Ruth had a lot more fun playing the game than does Ryan Howard.

The LSF understands that few players in history can compare favorably with Ruth and, while I would trade Howard in a NY minute for Pujols or even Votto, I do recognize him as a good player. He isn't a great player in my judgement because of his inability to show discipline at the plate. Perhaps given the way the game is played today, my standards for being considered great are a bit harsh, but they are what they are. That being said, until and unless Howard can stop swinging at stupid pitches and until he can learn to hit to the opposite field, I cannot consider him a great player, and he would never get my vote to join the above mentioned players in the Hall.

I never considered Mike Schmidt a great all-around player either. Schmidt was the second best defensive third baseman I've ever seen play, and was a great power hitter, but his inability to hit for average, and his propensity to strike out, especially in the clutch, keeps me from anointing him with superstar status. I believe that we now confer the title of greatness to too many athletes, statesmen, generals and mediocre performers in all walks of life. As we liberalize the meaning of the word "greatness" it demeans those who have truly attained such status.

Having said all of the above I must be honest and admit that I just don't like Ryan Howard. I don't care for his undeserved smugness, his pre-pitch drama and his lack of discipline at the plate. Despite all of that, he wears the uniform of my home town team I want him to do well and help the Phillies win another World Series. I just can't consider him a great player. You certainly can if you wish. Hell, Frank Sinatra once had a hit called "Everybody Has The Right To Be Wrong," and you so you do.

I'm listening to the Phillies as I write and in the ninth the Phils are one out away from another big win - having scored eight runs. Tonight Halladay can give me a birthday sweep tonight, so enjoy the game while I am dancing with my ladies.

Monday, June 13, 2011


By all that is holy, I should be nowhere near a keyboard. Seriously, Papa's delicate condition could make him eat everything in the place so I thought I would write instead. I may still devour something, but I'll try to be good. Thank god there is no ice cream in the house. If there were I would have no choice but to eat it all.

Anyway, how 'bout those Sillies? Despite a piss poor loss the other night, they managed to find some pep in their bats and beat up on the guys from Chicago three in a row. More importantly, they have started to hit the ball. Utley looks like he is finding his rhythm and he contributed big time this weekend, especially in the field where he made some great catches - like the last out of yesterday's game.

More importantly, Superstar came through in a big way the past two games. He drove in three yesterday, and a couple the day before, and wasn't swinging at stupid pitches. In other words, he showed some discipline at the plate - and got results. Oh sure, he still led the team in K's but Rome wasn't built in a day. Maybe having Utley walked the other day so that the Cubs could pitch to him pissed him off the way it should have. Whatever caused Mr Underachiever to join the fight was a welcome sight. If he can keep up this weekend's performance level this team could coast to the division title again. No, it wasn't Kool-Aid that I had earlier.

Chooch is in a hitting funk, but as long as he can continue to manage the staff, and Superstar and Utley maintain a hot hand, we can live with Ruiz looking like Spanky from the Little Rascals at the plate. Yes, he certainly was a great staff manager against the Cubs. The pitching continues to be excellent. How about Michael Stutes? This kid had himself a helluva weekend in stressful situations. He was asked to put his ass on the line in two of the games and came through big time. Not much I need to say about Doc & Lee - they both did what they are paid to do. Oswalt wasn't overpowering, but after a bad first inning he settled down and kept some decent Cubs hitters at bay. It was nice to see the guy get a win. How cool is it to start the next series with Hamels? You Phillie fans should be feeling good about your chance in the first game against Florida. A word of caution is necessary. If the candystripers have a let-down because the fish have lost 102 games in a row they could get burned. The Marlins always play the Phillies tough and find ways to bat them.

Congratulations are in order to Mark Cuban and his Dallas Mavericks for winning the NBA title last night against the Miami Heat. All the pundits who before the season could see no way that the Heat could lose a game, let alone a title, are now preparing their collective dishes of crow. Pundits are usually wrong about everything, so those of you who wagered the family farm based on what they said deserve your losses.

The LSF had a dilemma when he found out that the Heat would be playing the Mavericks. I like having a rooting interest, and that was my dilemma. Have I told you how much I loathe Texas and everything in it? They have a governor who is trying very hard to execute more people than George W. did, and a month ago was speaking about Texas seceding from the Union. Gov. Perry must have missed the class where they taught the Civil War. He is now considering running for President of the same country he talked about leaving. Only In America!

We've had two Presidents elected from Texas named Bush, and we know how things turned out under them. Okay, so neither was actually FROM Texas, and one of them probably wasn't actually ELECTED President, but I digress. The Dallas Cowboys live in Texas, and that is enough for me to want to help them pack when they secede. One would think that given the above and more that I have not written about my loathing of all things Texas that I couldn't root for the Mavericks. I happen to love their owner, Mark Cuban. Yes, I know he acts like an asshole and says shit he shouldn't, but that is exactly why I love the guy. He drives the NBA commish David Stern crazy, and that is a good thing. I blame Stern for being shown a commercial right after the game asking me to spend $79.99 for four Maverick's Championship Commemorative items. The players hadn't even been interviewed yet and this greedy prick wants me to spend nearly $80.00 for a cheap hat, a cheap towel, and a cheap tee-shirt, and something else. David Stern is what is wrong with pro sports today. Fuck you, David. Stern having to present Cuban with the trophy ranks up there with when Pete Rozelle had to present Al Davis, owner of the Raiders, the Lombardi Trophy after Davis had sued the NFL and won.

Turning to the Heat, I am not a LeBron hater. The guy is one of the best hoopsters I have ever seen play, and he did what any of us would have done in a NY minute. He was never going to win anything in Cleveland, and there was a shitpot of money involved. Dwayne Wade is a joy to watch, and Bosh is a classy guy, so I have no problem with the team. My problem is with with team President Pat Riley. First of all, he played for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky, and later coached the Lakers to three or four titles. I have never cared for the man and his slick look. His hair always annoyed me, and I often thought how cool it would be to see it ablaze. The shit he uses to keep his hair slick and immovable would probably burn real well and the smoke alone might force the authorities to order large scale evacuations from S. Florida due to the toxins in the smoke.

In the end, all I wanted was to see a great series, and I did. In the end, I was glad that the misfits from Dallas were able to beat the best team money could buy. The hoopla surrounding the Heat was in poor taste, and they deserved to lose for that alone. It was nice to see Kidd finally get a ring, and I have to take my hat off to Nowitski - the guy was not going to lose, and he carried his team on his back throughout the playoffs.

The Heat will be in the thick of it again - they are too talented not to be.

On the political front, Rep. Anthony Weiner wants to take a leave of absence from Congress so he can get help for his problem. Sorry Anthony, there isn't much they can do for a small dick. Really Congressman, deal with it - they will not be asking you to try out for a part in a porn film, unless of course they use a zoom lens. I actually don't care about what he did. I don't, since I think all Congressmen and women are scum bags. Nothing any of them says or does surprises me, and we deserve them since we are always re-electing them.

Enough politics. I wouldn't want to offend anybody, unless you are a Republican.

I have to sign off so that I can get my beauty rest and so I can have the energy to deal with the kids. Tomorrow is the last day for me to travel to S. Philly and teach the grade school kids line dancing. Funding for next year is in doubt, so this may be the last class I do with these kids. Have a great day and week.

P.S. While writing tonight I have been listening to Louis Prima. Gang, if you are depressed Louis will pull you right out of it. My advice - listen to the guy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Wow. For the past several years one of the main reasons the Phillies have been so good was that they were one of the best defensive teams. The infield combo of Rollins and Utley were the best in the business and Shane Victorino gave a nightly clinic in how to play center field. The need for playing great defense was never more evident when the Phillies blew a game to the Cubs because of sloppy play in the field. When you are not hitting, defense and pitching can help you win close games. Last night the lack of both hitting after the first inning and sloppy defense cost them a game they should have been able to win.

Offensive production is down across the majors and pitching is better than it has been in years. All of a sudden we see the emergence of young stud hurlers - as if there has started a changing of the guard on the mound. What a perfect time to have the kind of starters that we have here in the greatest city in the world. Sure Lee has been somewhat of a disappointment and Oswalt has had his troubles, but Halladay and Hamels have been everything as advertised. This staff has gotten great support from guys like Kendrick, and the rest of the pen, and I dare say that if the pitching hadn't been so good we would not have the Phillies atop the NL East. For this team, to have but one home run so far in June is both a disgrace and mindboggling. Sure, the team has had its share of injuries, but part of the problem has been a lack of discipline up and down the lineup with the exception of Polanco. Polanco, however cannot carry this team on his back, and the guy who can, well he isn't. Superstar (or should I say Superflop) is on a pace to hit 34 home runs, a far cry from his totals in previous years. Utley hasn't got his game back to respectability yet, and, well you know what these guys are doing as well as I do. Let's hope that they find a way to get it together before the window closes for good and they have to rebuild.

One of the reasons I love baseball is the continuity. We can look back at players from different eras and have our arguements over stats, who would be a star today, and whatever else we care to look at. Standards such as Babe Ruth's 60 home run season can be chased and overcome, and we can compare the stats put up by the Willie Mays's and others to what the stars are doing now, and argue all night what a team would have to pay him considering what guys like Howard, and Jayson Werth are being paid. Shit, Ted Williams would have to be paid an amount equal to the national debt of Peru given his level of performance.

We can also look at baseball's records and wonder which ones can and will be broken. Tonight we are going to get in the Wayback Machine and watch a record that I believe will stand forever. We are about to travel to Crosley Field in Cincinnati to watch Johnny Vander Meer pitch a no hitter against the Boston Bees (today's Atlanta Braves). But first, a little about Vandermeer.

Johnny Vandeer Meer broke in with the Reds in 1937. His career lasted until 1951 and he made his last appearance as a member of the Cleveland Indians. His career was quite pedestrian - finishing with a record of 119-121, an ERA of 3.44, with 131 complete games. He struck out 1292 batters while walking 1132, and tossed 29 shut outs. The southpaw led the NL in strikeouts for three consective years joining Tim Lincecum, Warren Spahn, and Randy Jouhnson as the only NLers to do that since 1940. Dizzy Dean accomplished this in the thirties with the Gashouse Gang Cardinals.

On June 11, 1938, Vander Meer gave up one walk in pitching a no hitter against the hapless team from Boston - the Bees. While a no hitter is always a big deal, this game wasn't considered a major feat because it came against the Bees who were terrible, and for the fact that it was the 84th no-no pitched in the majors since records were kept. After the team completed it's series with the Bees a train ride to Brooklyn followed with Vander Meer taking the mound against the Dodgers on June 15th. At the microphone calling the play by play for the first night game ever played at Ebbets Field was the legendary Red Barber. Barber was the best in the business back then and he had the pleasure of calling Vander Meer's second no hitter. That's right Johnny Vander Meer pitched a second no hitter and became the only pitcher to ever pitch no hitters in consecutive starts. While he wasn't as sharp as he had been against Boston ( he walked 8) he was able to get Leo Durocher to pop out with the bases loaded to end the game and secure his place in history.

The only way this record can be broken is for someone to pitch three no hitters in a row, something I don't see happening - ever.

As I said earlier, Vander Meer pitched until 1951, making stops at Chicago and Cleveland before 'retiring' at the end of the '51 season. Not wanting to stop playing, he spent several seasons playing for Tulsa in the Texas League where in 1952 he no-hit Beaumont.

The LSF was not around for Vander Meer's consecutive no-no's, but I'll always remember the dates. I had my Bar Mitzvah on June 11, 1960, and my birthday on June 15th - every year.

While it was fun to travel back to the Queen City, and to Brooklyn, the Wayback Machine needs to leave now for the present. When we get back we can hopefully watch Doc get the Sillies back on a winning track against the ever entertaining Carlos Zambrano and the Cubbies. Enjoy the game, and maybe just maybe Doc can gain some inspiration and toss a no-no against the guys from the southside of Chicago.

Friday, June 10, 2011


The year was 1954. The LSF was seven years old and, for the last year, Philadelphia had two major league baseball teams. It was also the year that the movie that scared me the most as a kid was released. The movie was, of course, shot in black & white and starred James Arness (best known for his later role as Gunsmoke's Marshal Matt Dillon), James Whitmore, Edmond Gwinn, and all the fifties character actors who fed their families in films just like Them!. The movie also starred some fine examples of Ford Motor Co. cars of the first five years of the fifties.

I imagine that most of you are at least aware of this cult classic story of giant ants that begins in the New Mexico desert not far from the site of the first a-bomb test. I won't tell the story of the movie but urge you to see the film at least once. You need to see this movie so that you can experience the high pitch noise that the nine foot ants make communicating with each other. Yes the film is corny, poorly written and acted, with horrible special effects. However, given the genre and the time it was made, the effects were on a par with its contemporaries.

So, I started out my evening on the sofa watching the Phillies game. My game plan was to watch the Phillies until the NBA final came on, when I would switch back and forth until the 4th quarter of the hoops game. The rain delay had me scrambling so I turned on TCM and ended up watching Them! in it's entirety. When it was over I returned to the Phils in time to see Rollins hit the three run homer.

I don't remember at what theater I first saw Them!. It could have been at the City Line Center Theater or at the 56th St. Theater across the street from my grandfathers hardware store at 56th & Delancey. Wherever I saw it, it scared the shit out of me to the point that I remember having nightmares about those giant ants for several years.

I was happy to see the game Hamels pitched last night. Since that opener against the Madoffs the guy has been the co-ace of the Phillies. Some Aces are more powerful than others and Hamel and Halladay have been the best the Phillies have had so far this year. I still wish the guy would get a more masculine haircut, but he has acted like a superman on the mound this year despite not getting much support from the offense. The LSF has been harsh with Hamels, but my harshness has been replaced with respect and admiration.

It was good that Superstar hit the team's first home run in the month of June, but some of the swings he took last night are very disturbing. I think the guy is frustrated and is pushing without a whole lot of positive results. If Howard could learn to hit the ball the opposite way, that would help his performance. If he could learn to hit the ball to left field, teams would have to play a straight defense instead of the shift and more balls would drop in for hits. We've seen the guy hit plenty of opposite field home runs and a few opposite field singles would help him and the team.

I saw D. Brown make a throw to the plate tonight that caught my attention in a big way. If you remember, last year the guy showed no ability to play defense. He never knew what base to throw to, and his fielding was an adventure. So far this year his defense has been good, and tonight he threw a ball on one hop to the plate and should have gotten an assist except for Sardinha's inability to catch the ball. Brown is showing me that he is a superior athlete, who is dripping with the potential to be a very very good player.

Shit, Madson just gave up a home run to Soto and blew his first save of the year. Double shit! Madson just gave up another home run - this time to Colvin, who had been in a 0-34 slump. Play under review... The replay of Colvin's home run showed fan interference and was ruled a double. The game is still tied.

The meltdown in Miami continues as the Marlins lost their eighth or ninth in a row today. With the fish losing their way out of the NL East Race, attendance will likely be limited to the players' families, and team brass. Since there are no real Marlins fans, Phillie fans who travel with team should be able to get better seats than they can get here. Oh well, bring on the Braves!

I would write more, but I want to see the end of the basketball game, so I'll remind everyone that the Bucs are now at .500, and say farewell for now. If you see any large ants...

Monday, June 6, 2011


The way the Sillies have been playing of late, the team and it's fans could care less how a win is achieved - they will take a win any way they can get it. Well gang, today was Christmas in June as the Phils were able to take advantage of McDonald's implosion to take a lead in an inning where they got no hits. With Halladay on the mound they were able to hold on and salvage one game from my beloved Pirates, who took the series 2-1.

I, of course, was excited when the Bucs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, and was hoping to be able to bring out the broom, but winning the series was enough. The Phillies are still in first place, through no fault of their own given that the teams chasing them are not hitting either. Yes, the Phils have gotten very good pitching this season, but it's almost like if one of your guys gives up more than a couple of runs you have to figure a loss is in the cards.

Now it is time for another homestand starting with a set against the Dodgers, who aren't setting the hills on fire this year out in L.A. Your Phillies have the Marlins after that and they better not look ahead to that series or the Dodgers might just find a way to get healthy against the anemic hitting Phillies. While I have pulled my emotions away from your overpaid bums, it is almost embarrassing to watch how low this once potent offense has sunk. Yes, I am aware the offensive production is down across major league baseball this year, but the Phillies were supposed to be able to score runs in bunches and, as we all know, they haven't done so.

As a former catcher, one of my bigger disappointments has been Ruiz. Over the past couple of seasons Chooch has given the bottom of the Phillies lineup a potency that most teams can only dream of. This year, while still one of the top receivers in the league (with a great arm), his hitting is very pedestrian and he is not hitting in the clutch the way the Phillies were counting on him to do. Ruiz will never be a .300 plus hitter, but the guy needs to hit at least .280 for the team to win. A few home runs are needed from the guy as well.

If I were a Phillies fan I would be starting to show concern about Utley's struggles at the plate. I expected him to be rusty for the first few games back from the DL, but he should be hitting by now and, aside from a couple of home runs, he hasn't done jackshit. Without production from him, the Sillies will be in deep ka ka. There is no offensive replacement for him. I mean, does anybody believe that Wilson Valdez is the answer? If he hits, the Superstar sees better pitches and may be able to start hitting the long ball again - something he has not done in a while. I thought he would strike out at least six times against the mighty Pirate pitching, but he only managed five K's over the weekend. He did hit into a double play on Saturday in a critical situation so I'll give him a pass on missing my strikeout prediction. The only thing about him at the plate that looks good is that Babe Ruth pointing thing he does before every pitch, and what's with the spitting on his batting glove?

Willie, Mickey, Teddy ballgame, Hammering Hank, and The Duke never wore gloves or armor at the plate, so why does Howard? I say, take the shit off and play like a man. While he is at it, he ought to order some grown-up bats like the old guys used to use. What's with the light, hollowed out bat tops that this so called slugger uses? Mays used a 45 oz. bat and still had better bat speed than does Superstar. With his big bat he managed to hit 660 home runs playing in a park that was not a home run friendly place. Teddy ballgame must be spinning in his cryogenic tank watching Howard show such little discipline at the plate. Williams only swung at strikes, not balls about to hit the dirt. If Willie or any of the other guys I mentioned played half of their games at the Bank, they would be hitting home runs in bunches - without steroids or whatever else these assholes use today.

Speaking of Superstars, I have learned that a federal grand jury is about to hand down an indictment against Howard for Grand Theft Paycheck, a crime I have invented. This guy is hitting below .250, has but twelve home runs to date and, while near or at the top of the league in RBI's, is stealing his fucking paycheck. He is being paid $20,000,000 this year. That's right $20,000,000! That works out to be $123,456.79 for each game. I wonder how many of my readers make that in a year. The money in today's game is stupid. The LSF dreams of reverting to one year contracts, where next year's money was determined by what you did this year. Or, set up a pay scale based on performance. For instance, a .280 hitter who hits 25 home runs might get $5,000,000 for the next year. If he improves on those numbers, he gets a raise the following year. If not, he takes an automatic paycut to whatever the chart says he should be paid. Elias could come up with a fair system that would include defense and certain intangibles like clutch hitting. That way, the teams and the fans can be protected from overpaid players going in the tank - like Howard, Pujols, Jeter, and many others are doing this year. Of course, the Player's Union would never go along with it and the player agents would pass out complaining how unfair the new system is, but I like the idea - what do you think?

All is not horrific with your Phillies, however. Dom Brown seems to be improving with every plate appearance and isn't doing so bad in the outfield either. He sometimes looks like he is going to fall down when he swings, but he is making good contact with the ball and is starting to hit in clutch situations.

The road between Philly and Allentown and back continues to have lots of traffic. Michelin Man Zagurski got called up and sent down after one lousy performance, with Herndon being called up to take his place. I wonder how long it will be until Herndon gets to drive back to exit 33 on the NE Extension? Trust me, he will wear an Iron Pigs uniform again this season.

The good news is that the Candystripers are still in first place, remarkably with the best record in baseball going into today's game. How long they maintain their position on top remains to be seen, but despite their current position, I wouldn't break out the Kool-Aid just yet. Let's see where they are at the all-star break. Speaking of the all -star thing, for the first time I voted my selections on MLB.Com. The only Phillie I voted for was Polanco, since nobody else on the team deserves a spot on the NL squad. For all of my other votes I voted for all of the Pirates on the ballot. All-Star slots ought to be taken out of the hands of the fans and be decided by Elias. The way it is done now makes it a popularity contest not based on the merits. Now, I know that the Phillies will be urging me and everybody else to vote early and often for the guys in Candystripes, but the LSF will resist their pleadings. Shit it's bad enough that I have to watch Ryan Howard disgrace himself every day, I don't want to see him win the starting first base position because of ballot stuffing when there are other first basemen more deserving of that honor than he.

That's enough ranting for now, so I wish you all a pleasant evening and a great week ahead.

P.S. I may vote again so that I can select Martinez.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


If you are in the Phillies locker room after last nights 2-1 extra inning loss what do you the position player say to Cole Hamels? Is a plain "sorry" enough - does it make up for the fact that Hamels gave up one hit and one run in eight innings - and didn't get a win? If you are Superstar who struck out three times against pitchers that most fans have never heard of what can you say to the guy who not only pitched brilliantly but also went 2-3 at the plate?

The answer of course is that there is nothing any of the position players can say except that "we sucked." Does sorry make up for the fact that the heart of the line-up went a collective 0-13, with only Superstar getting on base because he got hit by a pitch?

And what should Charlie say after yet another heartbreaking loss to a team that hasn't finished above .500 in nearly twenty years. Perhaps the Phillies ought to hire Fat Andrew to handle the post game press conferences. The large one would of course tell us that he has to take responsibility for the loss, and that we have to do better. Frankly, there isn't much Charlie can say about his team of underachievers and over-the-hill infield. Their lack of hitting says it all.

Last year, when the team was struggling, the big move was to fire hitting coach Milt Thompson and replace him with Greg Gross. If it was Thompson's fault last year, should Gross be reading the help wanted ads this year? Firing Gross might be a meaningless gesture since there may not be a hitting coach anywhere who could help Superstar stop swinging at and striking out on pitches low and outside. I do not believe it is the hitting coach that is the problem.

What Phillies fans are watching may be the same thing that Phillies fans were seeing in the mid '90's. You might remember that after the Phillies won the 1993 NL pennant the team rewarded guys like Daulton, Dykstra, and others new contracts with lots of zero's. We loved those miscreants, but were also saddled with aging overpaid players who could no longer get the job done. The team went into a downward spiral after the loss to the Blue Jays in the '93 series and didn't start to recover until the current crop of aging underachieving players came of age during the beginning of the Charlie Manuel era. You might remember that after signing his new deal, Dykstra basically spent the rest of his time here on the DL making more headlines with his off the field antics than he did on the field. I'm not suggesting that your Phillies have a slug like Dykstra on the roster, but at what point does Utley have to start hitting now that he is back in the line-up? And what about Utley's defense? Last night the game winning hit had Utley sprawled on the field like he was a crab on a play that once upon a time ago he would have made. I doubt that I am the only observer who saw the same Utley pull Howard nearly off the bag with a shitty throw in the eleventh inning.

The LSF knows that it is a long season, and that things could get better for your Phillies. Even a three game losing streak to two teams that should be in the International League may not be cause for panic but, as someone who played ball, and has watched ball games for nearly sixty years, I know that losing breeds more losing and winning breeds more winning. If your Phillies get swept by my beloved Pirates then limp home to play the Dodgers and lose that series, the downward spiral might look like an ME-109 falling from the sky after an encounter with a P-51. It could get very ugly here in the greatest city in the world.

Yes, Virginia, the Phillies are still in first place but, unless somebody starts hitting, the team won't be in first place much longer. The odds of them being in first place on my birth day are getting longer with each passing day. Given that my day is June 15th, the reckoning is rushing at this team and its loyal fan base who continue to fill the Bank. Hell, if the Marlins and Braves get hot, your Phillies might even drop to third place by Fathers Day which this year falls on June 19th. I know that this team came from seven games back last year to win the division, but I don't see this team being able to pull that miracle off again. Do you?

All is not lost yet as there are still two games left against the Pirates, and one would expect the candystripers to still pull out the series. But what if they don't? What if the Bucs find a way to win today, a possibility given that Kendrick is scheduled to pitch for the Sillies. And what if Halliday pitches a Hamels like gem on Sunday and doesn't win? Will that be enough to satisfy the gods of baseball or do they have some more mischief to play on the candystripers? We'll find out soon enough.


As you know - I have been a LSF of the Philadelphia Phillies for more years than most of you have been alive. I have watched the horrible teams of the 50's, and loved them. I watched the '64 team tease us with what looked like a pennant only to have Chico Ruiz steal home and start what was a ten game losing streak and a second place finish to the Cardinals, and still loved them. I watched the absolutely horriffic teams of the late 60's and early 70's, and still loved them. They were the my hometown team - I felt obligated to love them. My love affair is over.

Those of you who have been following my rantings know that there was a point last year when I pulled my emotions away from them. I am doing so again, and will root for any team they play until Ruben Amaro is either fired for incompetence or shot by an irate fan. The LSF does not own a gun, so it won't be me if it happens. I completely and totally loathe Amaro who has no clue what he is doing.

But what about his bringing Cliff Lee back LSF? He never should have sent him away after the acquisition of Roy Halladay. And for all you Amaro lovers out there, can you even remember the names of the bums we got for Lee from Seattle? If you can, then you are either fibbing big time or you should try and get a life. We got two minor leaguers who may never even deserve a cup of coffee in the majors. And what about Lee? How has that worked out? The guy is having a non-ace kind of a season, and I believe he may be damaged goods. I know that the Phillies haven't given him much run support, but please, how do you give up two HR's to Espinosa, who isn't worth a shit and never will be?

The reason I am walking away from having my emotions involved with this team is the move made today by Amaro sending Mayberry to the Iron Pigs to make room for Shane Victorino's activation from the DL. I am outraged at this move and trust me, it will come back to bite your Phillies in the ass. The brain trust decided to keep both rule five non-player Michael Martinez, and Francisco on the roster over Mayberry. And of course there is the Ross Gload situation - Gload can't run. If a baseball player player can't run, he should be DL'ed until he can. Then there is Martinez. Martinez can't hit, can't run, and is suspect with a glove on. I understand the deal with a rule five player. If the Phillies want to send him down, he has to clear waivers and then be offered back to the Nats if he clears waivers. So? I read that Charlie likes the look of him. What the fuck does that mean?

And then there is Francisco. He has not shown me or most anyone else that he deserves to be a starter in the big leagues. I'm guessing, but isn't he hitting around a buck ten? Does he have a rifle for an arm? Does he have the potential to provide awesome power to the line-up? The answer is no to all of the above questions. He has had his shot and has been found wanting. Despite being a bum, the brain trust is keeping him instead of John Mayberry.

Mayberry isn't exactly setting the league on fire, but he is hitting close to .250, and in my opinion has tremendous upside potential with the bat. To realize this potential he has to play, here not in Allentown. Next to Victorino he is the best outfielder on the team, and that includes Francisco and Brown. John Mayberry should be in Pittsburgh tonight instead of in Allentown or wherever the Pigs are playing.

Francisco is being paid in the low seven figures this year and that might be the reason he stays and Mayberry goes. Perhaps the brain trust can't fathom paying a guy that kind of money to be a minor leaguer. Who gave him the money - Ruben did. Shit, whats the difference, they have to pay him his major league contract wherever he plays. Mayberry could develop into a solid big leaguer while we have already seen the best of Francisco.

I write this evening while waiting for the Pirates game to start. I am wearing a gold t-shirt, and black shorts - the colors of my beloved team. I want them to sweep this series against Philadelphia, and I want Superstar to strike out at least twice in each game. I will cheer loudly when he swings at pitches below his ankles. If only I had a Pirate hat, I would wear the thing everywhere.

I suspect that most of you will continue to bleed Phillies red, and that I understand. I've had enough for this season.

I don't do stupid very well, and this one is near he top of Ruben's all time stupid list. Amaro was a shitty player after his first week on the Phillies, and he has done nothing since becoming GM that doesn't make me want Pat Gillick to unretire and show Amaro the door.

Have a great weekend, and GO PIRATES!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I trust you are all recovered from the last two games against the Nats. There is no reason that the Nats should ever beat the hometown girls two games in a row, but they did. Lee wasn't supposed to get pounded the way he was against the team that gave Jayson Werth 126 million, but he was. I don't expect the Sillies to win every game, but they will need to do better. That means feasting on teams that might not even win the International League pennant. We need to move on because, starting tomorrow, three games will be played in the ballpark just voted as the best in the majors.

PNC Park truly is a wonderful ball park. The layout is great, especially the view of downtown. I love the traditionallhy styled uniforms that the hometown Bucs wear which evoke memories of when the Pirates were the class of the NL. I'll never forget the Clemente/Mazeroski led 1960 team that beat a much better Yankee squad in the World Series. The Yankees scored more runs in the series than the Pirates did and by all that is holy should have won - but they didn't after Maz punched his ticket to Cooperstown with his dramatic walk off home run in game seven.

I'll never forget the banana clad "We Are Family" Pirates led by Pops Stargell who beat the Orioles in the 1979 series. This was the same Pirate team that fielded the first all-black starting nine in the majors and had been the home of Dock Ellis when he threw a no hitter while tripping on acid.

I'll never forget the rush I felt when I put on my Little League uniform when I played for the Pirates. Our team was sponsored by Barson's Luncheonette and our uniforms were a copy of those worn by the then-current Pirates. We had black hats with a gold P, cream colored jerseys and pants, stirrup socks and, of course, we played on grass. I was the team's catcher, and actually loved the position. We didn't win many games, but we had a lot of fun and, after the games, we were treated to a water ice by our coach, Sid Pastner. We could have won more games, but Sid believed that every kid on the team should play in every game - including kids who were afraid of a 40 MPH fastball.

So, as you know, the Phillies begin a series tomorrow against my beloved Pirates. This is a series the Phillies should be able to win, especially since they will be fielding all of their starters for one of the few times this year. Victorino's return will help, especially if he picks up where he left off before vacationing on the DL. I have done some homework, and find that we shouldn't take my beloved Pirates too lightly. They actually statistically match up fairly well against the candystripers.

Leading the offense for the Bucs is Neal Walker who to date is hitting .273 with 37 RBI's. Andrew McCutchen has hit nine HR's so far, but has struggled with his average - much like some of our guys. They have actually scored more runs to date than have the Phillies, and are presently sitting in fourth place in the NL Central with a 26-29 record. This is respectable for a team that currently has seven guys on the DL, including two of their starters and their best reliever. Manager Clint Hurdle has the team playing hard and, while the Phils should win the series... Well, who knows? Especially after the pathetic showing in Washington.

The sad thing is that there will be plenty of empty seats at PNC Park, because this team gets virtually no support from their fans. Even now, you can pick up great seats if you want to make the six hour drive to Pittsburgh. This time of year, our great state is beautiful and you won't run into any snow or sleet when you go through the mountains around Somerset. Pittsburgh is a nice place to visit - it really is. I mean there are things to do there other than going to a Pirates game, and you can even breathe the air since they haven't made steel there in many years. I'm not trying to promote Western PA tourism, but most Philadelphians have no clue how nice PA's second city is these days.

In case you are wondering, I always got a large cherry/chocolate water ice after our games. A large back then cost less than fifty cents, and was a whole lot better than the stuff sold at Rita's today. [Editor's note - The LSF fan seems to believe that everything was cheaper and better "back then."]