Friday, July 29, 2011

TICK... TICK.... TICK....

It's here. If you are someone who likes deadlines, then this weekend will have you floating in the clouds. Deadlines abound everywhere - some even matter.

I can remember a time, back in the dark ages when I was in college, when a deadline meant that a term paper was due the next day and it was time to get started on the assignment. The fact that the paper was going to count for a large percentage of my grade, and that it had been assigned months before wasn't important. I, like many of my friends, had more important issues to deal with - such as partying - and knew that we had plenty of time to write the paper. When up against this kind of deadline I would set up a table in the dorm lounge and start writing. The clock was ticking so I would dispense with outlines and just start writing on a legal pad. Fraternity pledges were enlisted to take my pages to the ladies in Centennial Hall who typed as I wrote. With the help of some "Black Beauties" the job always got done. When the writing and typing were finished (usually about ten minutes before the thing was due) I would run it over to the prof without having proofed it and then return to the dorm for days of sleep. The system worked, I was never late on a paper.

Unfortunately, the deadlines we are watching now are a little more important to all of us than the stuff I wrote about in the late '60s. The big deadline of the debt crisis would be very amusing if the consequences of failing to get the deal done in time weren't so dire. This process has been a teaching moment, one that I fear has been lost on most Americans. If you've been paying attention you would have learned that the people we elected are about as stupid as humans can be. You would have learned that our elected darlings care about one thing and one thing only - themselves and getting re-elected. You would have heard them say that they are just giving us what the American people want. Well, I'm an American person and I've never been asked for my opinion, although I do get mail from time to time asking me to give them money. If you have been paying attention you might have come to the opinion that these assholes are acting like spoiled children rather than doing what they need to be doing. Well, the deadline is here and they need to get the paper written now. I say, give Boehner and his gangsters all the Black Beauties they need (contact Limbaugh for the name of a dealer in the District) and have them pass something that has a chance to pass the Senate and save the country from the horrible consequences a default would bring.

I am hoping against hope that the idiots in Washington will pass something, no matter how bad it is for the country, so let me turn to what many believe is a more important deadline.

The non-waiver trading deadline is now two and a half days away. Some deals have been done including the trade of Carlos Beltran to the Giants. Thank god Ruben didn't bring him here in exchange for the future. Amaro has yet to pull any triggers, but the conventional wisdom has him focused on Hunter Pence of the Astros. Some in the press are trying to sell us on the idea that Pence would be a perfect fit here. They want us to believe that his right-handed bat, positioned right behind Howard in the lineup, would be the catalyst for Howard to see more fastballs and to pepper the bleachers with a plethora of home runs. Unless Pence's being in the lineup can somehow magically stop Howard from striking out on pitches at his ankles, I'm not convinced that he or anyone available is worth stripping the farm of guys like Cosart or Singleton.

While Hunter Pence may be first on Ruben's wish list there are some in the baseball world that say not so fast. An article in today's paper has an interview with a long time baseball scout who has less than glowing things to say about the guy. According to this scout, Pence has a slow bat which forces him to cheat with his swing in order to strike the ball so that it will drop safely between defenders. That, according to the scout, causes Pence to strike out a lot. Just what we need - a guy hitting behind Howard who strikes out a lot. We already have a line up riddled with slow bats and strike outs - do we need to give up our best prospects and perhaps a Brown for this kind of player? I don't think so, especially considering the potential needs of the next few seasons when the Phillies will have question marks at SS, 3B, LF, & RF, to mention but a few. I'd rather Amaro go for a lesser name and not mortgage the team's future.

One last baseball tid-bit, and I know this isn't going to be what you want to read. Tough. We were all excited about the return of Cliff Lee. Many got caught up with the 4 Aces bullshit and started drinking the Kool Aid as soon as he put on his jersey at the press conference. Lee had one of the best months of any pitcher this past June, but that is yesterday's news. I read this morning that since Lee was traded to the Rangers last year he has a record of 13-13, which is a lot worse than you would expect from an Ace. I'm starting to think that he may not be the same guy who pitched so well for us in 2009.

The NFL is back in business and the anticipated flurry of trades have been made. The Patriots have traded for both Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco. If Haynesworth has anything left after his year in the Redskin doghouse and, if Ocho can return to the form he showed two years ago, then the Pats could be a top pick for this season.

In the worst-kept secret since the beginning of time, Kevin Kolb will now be wearing the silly Arizona Cardinals uniform and the Eagles will have another D-back who doesn't like to hit people. Kolb is now The Man in the desert so we'll find out just how good or not good this guy is.

On the golf front, Tiger Woods is scheduled to return to the tour at some whites-only country club, and he is sporting a beard. Does anyone out there care?

Finally, I would be remiss in my duties as the LSF if I failed to mention that, after beating up the hapless Padres, the Phillies dropped 2 out of 3 to the defending world champion Giants. Against a good team with good pitching, the Phillies bats went to sleep. Is anyone else starting to see this pattern? Perhaps they will be able to come back against my beloved Pirates and maybe they won't. The Pirates are coming to town after a rough series against the Braves in which one of the games was decided by a bad call. They should be hungry to battle and beat the Phillies. It could be fun. I think they'll pull it off.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


This afternoon I got my daily e-mail from Crossing Broad. Sometimes I read it, sometimes I don't. Today I read the article about the house Superflop is having built in Florida. The house is going to take three years to build and will come in at around $23,000,000. In the spirit of being somewhat fair I need to point out that Howard is not the only athlete to do something like this. Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter have similar abodes as do many of the folks who have a lower tax rate than you do.

What sets Howard's crib apart from the others is that he is having a moat built around his place.

A moat? Does he believe that he is a medieval lord? What the fuck does this asshole need a moat for? Also included is the obligatory pool, bowling alley, and God knows what else. Maybe he ought to include a trophy room where he can display his spit soaked batting gloves or his little boy bats, or his body armor.

That's it! The asshole wears that armor on his right elbow (which has to effect his swing) so maybe he thinks he is King Arthur - thus the moat. Look, the guy makes (steals?) a ton of money and can do with it what he pleases, but the excess seems in bad form when millions of Americans are sitting at home worrying if they will get their Social Security checks. Talk to some of these folks and unless you are a Tea Party flaming asshole you will immediately understand how scared they are. Or talk to someone struggling to keep their child in college who now has to worry whether or not the Pell grant they desperately need to pay the bills is going to come or not.

I suppose that many of the rich folks don't get it - because everything is honky dory for them. Some of them are hedge fund managers who take down in excess of a billion dollars a year and pay the cap gains tax rate of 15% while the schmuck who makes $50,000 a year pays a rate nearly twice that. Duh. Science fiction writers couldn't make this shit up, but it is true.

Now some politicians tell us that we must cut spending dramatically, but cannot increase taxes or close loopholes on the very wealthiest of individuals or corporations as they are the job creators. Uh huh - so where are the fucking jobs for the middle and working classes? Well, a bunch of them are now somewhere other than here. I hope I'm not the only one who gets crazy when calling Comcast and gets to speak with some dude who is in some city in India that I cannot pronounce. Americans should have those jobs.

Both parties have now given up their "deficit reduction plans" and both ask those in the middle and working classes to once again bend over and grab their ankles tightly. Have they all lost their minds and their souls? It looks like they have. We need to throw them all out of office and start over - but we won't - trust me on that. Lastly, I wish that Obama will beg Michelle to allow him to wear his balls the next time he speaks to the nation and when he sits down at the table with Boehner, Cantor, and the rest of the Nazi contingent. I'm at the point that I would love him to address the nation to tell us that he will veto both plans because neither includes new revenue, and if we default - so be it. Then he needs to outline what he will sign, and stick to his guns. After the speech he should call the Chinese and tell them not expect interest payments until the congress does the right thing. He should tell them that with the funds available he is going to pay our troops, our seniors, and continue to fund grants and scholarships for kids.

I figure it will take the Chinese about one minute to be on the phone with our congressional leaders demanding that they end this madness - as in now.

I believe that we must get our fiscal house in order. If we don't then we will drive this country to the ground. For those of you that believe that drastic cuts must be made now while we are in the grips of the worst decline since the depression need to read the history of the Great Depression. The economy was coming back by 1937, and then collapsed again because congress, in its infinite wisdom, decided that all was well and started to cut back on spending for programs that employed millions of Americans. Without the spending, these people lost their jobs, stopped spending and the country nosedived again and stayed down until the Second World War when we had no choice but to spend, employ people, and make things.

After the war, after a small recession, we saw America's greatest decades where middle and working class people had good jobs and were able to become solid members of the middle class. The middle class now is in a death spiral and will not recover unless and until good paying jobs are there for the taking.

This recession might have been caused by the excesses of the financial services industry, but continues because of a lack of demand. People without jobs do not spend money on anything but the bare necessities and those who are still employed cut back their spending as they are afraid of losing their jobs. My solution is to create a federally-funded jobs program that will really put people back to work. There are thousands of infrastructure projects which are not being done because of a lack of funding. How many bridges have to be declared unsafe or fall down before our elected darlings get the picture? Bridges need steel. In my world, the law would require the use of steel made in the U.S.A.. No foreign subsidized shit allowed! Next time you take a ride on our superhighways, count the miles of deteriorating concrete and the number of potholes you drive over. Fuck the deficit for now, let's rebuild our highways and byways, by employing Americans using American concrete.

I could go on all night with this, but let's just say that I am in favor of another Marshall Plan - this time directed internally. It will create jobs, increase demand which will cause American companies to hire Americans and reinvest here.

I was going to stick to baseball today, but it didn't work out that way. Yes, the Phillies could not find a way to beat the Giants last night. FLASH: Carlos Beltran to the Giants - he is expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Phillies! I wish I could give a shit, but there are more important issues on my plate at this time.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Global warming does not exist. The concept is a fraud that has been concocted by the electric utility companies and companies who manufacture and sell air-conditioning, electrolyte replacement drinks, and shore towns that advertise being cooler than the concrete jungles of Philly and New York. They all make tons of money over this fraud. They especially make gobs of cash when the temperature and humidity outside are as oppressive as they have been over the past several days. The LSF's least favorite season of the year is summer. I dread its coming, and count the days until it is over. I'd rather have it in the teens with a ton of snow on the ground than 100 and humid. The LSF perspires a lot and, when the heat is where it has been, I sweat like a bitch.

I have been out of the house three times since I got home from dancing Wednesday night and each time made me more miserable, cantankerous, and nasty. Because I was home a lot I watched a whole lot more TV than I normally do and, as a result, I hate Comcast more than I normally do - which borders on being pathological when I have to call them. I pay what I consider to be a lot of money to have over a hundred channels of mostly nothing to watch. Seriously, the only things I watch on a regular basis are news shows, ball games, and movies. The only time I watch the over-the-air-channels is for the local news and weather. I watch channel six because I can relate to Jim Gardner, and their weekend weather lady Melissa Magee is sizzling hot.

I don't watch the shopping channels and I believe that daytime talk shows that tell me how to deal with menopause or what to wear with my new orange shoes are the type of programming that further dumbs down the population from its rather lowly starting point. We are, generally speaking, a stupid people. We fit Einstein's definition of insanity perfectly. We keep electing the same kind of assholes we always do, and believe them when they tell us how much they care about "The American People." We then get angry at them when they don't do anything except kow tow to the oligarchy and give them whatever they want at the expense of the rest of us.

Fortunately, I caught myself. I was about to get into a political rant that would have offended everybody. I don't care if what I say offends somebody, and I particularly enjoy offending right wing assholes. All you have to do to offend these folks is to tell them the truth. As Jack Nicholson once said "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH." They delight in acting offended so the rest of us might accommodate them whenever we can.

So, being home I watched more baseball than I normally do, and even caught a few innings of an IronPigs game. I actually got to see Mike Zagurski have a 1-2-3 inning. I watched Baseball Tonight and a myriad of shows on MLB. I watched all of the Phillies games as well as a few others like last night's Reds-Braves game.

I am not having as much fun writing this season because, despite long periods of not hitting, tons of missed games by so called key players, the lack of offense for long stretches of the season, the lack of power production from a team that must hit home runs, the team keeps winning. The Gods Of Baseball have allowed the Phillies to win 64 games so far and stay atop the NL East. No matter what, they keep on winning and certain question marks have actually stepped up and contributed.

How about that Michael Martinez? Given a chance to play every day, all of a sudden he is getting on base and has shown that he can play some pretty good defense. His three run homer on Saturday night carried the team to victory, especially when you added the two blasts by Utley, and the pinch hit blast by Superstar who had, until that shot, a 100 at-bat home run drought.

With yesterday's win, the Phils have won another series - no matter what tomorrow's outcome is. I would like them to win, since what comes next for this team will not be as easy for the Candystripers as the Padres have been. Face it, the Padres are the Phillies bitch team and may never win another game against the Phillies. The Giants and the Pirates will not lay down for our home town heroes and winning both of those series will be a major accomplishment. We have seen the Phillies bats come alive earlier this season against shitty teams only to fold like a cheap suit against a good team with good pitching. From what I can tell, we are scheduled to see the Giants' top three pitchers and we always have trouble beating the Bucs who won a big game today to stay tied atop the NL Central.

My spirits were lifted today watching baseball games. Let me explain. I had to do laundry today and our laundry room temperature made the fires of hell seem temperate. I didn't have a choice since I was out of clean clothes. Women do not understand that laundry time for a guy only comes when there is nothing clean and the "dirty" stuff is too funky to wear. It's a guy thing. Regardless, I would put a load in the washer and by the time I got back to my apartment I would be soaking hot, making me miserable. The Reds-Braves game was on and Dontrelle Willis was keeping the Braves down - until he self destructed allowing the Braves pull even. That sucked since a Reds win would push the Braves back another game against the Phillies. Imagine my joy and elation when Drew Stubbs hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth giving the Reds a 4-3 win. After that I went down to retrieve my laundry only to come back miserably hot and grouchy as shit. I remained this way until I turned on MLB just in time to see super free agent Jayson Werth strike out in the bottom of the ninth to end the game with another loss for the Nats. Werth has not exactly made their GM look good for the $126MM signing and any day I expect to read that he has been found floating in the Potomac. Werth fanning was a treat and a fine way to end my weekend of watching ball games.

That's it for now. Stay cool and be patient since, as the debt limit deadline draws nearer and our elected darlings keep posturing, I may do a political rant suitable for no one's ears.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Some say that there is no global warming crisis. Some would tell you that, even if there is a global warming crisis, human activity has nothing to do with it. Some of these folks are the same people who tell us that we have nothing to fear if the debt limit isn't raised. They would have us believe that, even though the failure of increasing the debt limit would reduce the governments "income" to 60% of its expenditure obligations, Grandma will still get her check and that the country would still be able to pay its bills, despite the warnings of economists of all stripes. America is such a great country because it allows idiots to pontificate and lead without any apparent consequence to themselves - most will get reelected.

When I was in school, I never paid much attention in science class and can't speak to the validity of the arguments on either side of the global warming debate, but dealing with a day of heat indexes above 100 makes me think that something might be amiss. The world is upside down, much like the sports we love to watch, talk about, and care greatly about.

Despite a 3-1 loss last night to the Reds, my beloved Pirates are still atop the NL Central. How could I have known when picking them to be my 2011 "beloved" team that they would actually be in first place on July 21. Normally by this time the Pirates are conducting their annual fire sale of any and all players making above the ML minimum. In our upside down world, the Pirates management has stated that they would be looking to add players. Who'd a thunk it? Not only that, but fans are actually attending their games - and I refer to local Pittsburghers, not the Phillies faithful who helped sell out PNC Park when the Phils were last out there losing a series to the Bucs. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Despite Roy Halladay melting like the Wicked Witch in Chicago, the Phillies found a way to take the series against the Cubs with Worley pitching an eight inning gem on a day when the temperature measured 112 on the field in the fifth inning. The LSF loves day baseball, but having players take the field wearing heavy polyester uniforms in 100 degree weather seems like it ought to be a violation of the players' agreement with MLB. If it isn't, it probably ought to be.

For the most part, the Phillies are still suffering from decreased offensive production as are most other teams, but they keep on finding ways to win games. Every game another marginal player steps up and carries the team across the finish line. Can you say Michael Martinez? This diminutive rule five player was hitting .188 when Polanco went on the DL, and has taken advantage of his opportunity to raise the average to above .240, and has driven in the winning runs on more than one occasion. While some of the "regulars" have indeed picked up their games, this team continues to win with smoke and mirrors and brilliant pitching. It may be the formula that takes the Phillie to yet another NL East title.

The trade deadline is almost here, expiring two days before the debt increase deadline. With the debt limit thing we can turn on TV and see our elected darlings say stupid things and generally make asses of themselves. If this issue weren't so important, it would be comical. We can get no such entertainment from the trade deadline since our GM has become mute. Amaro ain't talking, although I have to think that he is hard at work in an effort to add the final piece of the puzzle. Pundits like Buster Olney have the Phillies in serious discussions with the Mets regarding Carlos Beltran. I am concerned that Amaro will have to give up too much to obtain the rental of Beltran. I see no way that the Phils will pony up the money Beltran will demand to sign with the club, especially with the free agency of Rollins and the need to lock up Hamels for the long term. Beltran could certainly help the team, but his acquisition is no guarantee that the Phils will win the whole thing.

How bad would it be if the Phils get Beltran - only to lose in the playoffs, and watch a Dom Brown in a Met uniform become the next Strawberry who helps beat the Phillies for years to come? Or, what if the price is Worley who becomes a Gooden-like stud who feasts on Phillies batters for years to come? Neither situation would make me happy, but it would provide a lot of fodder for my rants. The Mets would surely ask for one or two of the Phillies Baby Aces in a Beltran deal and, although these kids down on our farm teams COULD come back to haunt us in the future, they also might never cut it in the majors. We were all upset with the trade of Drabek, since he had been sold to us as the next coming of the Uberpitcher. No guarantees were issued and Drabek is now in AAA after a poor start in the show.

I suppose Amaro will get something done before the deadline - more sure of this than the assholes in Washington getting a deal done before August 2. I only hope that Amaro doesn't deal the team into mediocrity by giving up the wrong players for what will surely be a short term rental.

No Phillies tonight, but they will get the joy of coming home Friday to 100 degree temperatures and fans crazy enough to brave the elements at the Bank. I'll watch from the comfort of my living room with plenty of my favorite beverage on hand. By the time of the first pitch I will have surely consumed at least a six pack - of Poland Spring. That will mean more beer for those crazy enough to sip on their suds. Stay cool and dream of Ryan Howard becoming the "Big Piece" again in time for the last part of the season.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I wasn't going to tell anyone that I watched about a half hour of the Women's World Cup Final yesterday. I suppose there are those who appreciate the fact that the women played for what seemed like hours without anyone scoring, but I am not one who appreciates it. I spoke with a guy I know from Kenya today about the game and he thought it was one of the better matches he had ever seen. This same guy told me that he thought American football was boring since they stopped play so often. If I had the power, I would have him deported because American football is not boring and no one should be allowed to live here who thinks it is. His point about why the soccer game was so exciting (despite the lack of scoring) was the skill level of the women playing, and the outstanding passing, etc, etc. To the LSF, the game sucks and I was thrilled when Scott decided to give the game up since that let me off the hook from going to his games.

I happened to be watching as the U.S. women took a 1-0 lead when someone named Morgan kicked the ball into the net. But alas, the girls couldn't hold on and ended up losing on a penalty kick after the overtime period. What the hell is that all about? I say, let them continue to play until someone scores. If the ladies pass out from exhaustion - so be it - let the game be determined on the playing field not by some contrived tie-breaking system. Anyhow, congratulations to the Japanese team, who hadn't had a victory like this over an American team since Dec. 7th, 1941.

Okay, enough talking about soccer or futbol, or whatever you want to call it, let's move on to a real American game and the trading deadline that is fast approaching. Your Phillies continued their winning ways over the weekend by taking two out of three from the Madoffs and managed to add a game to their lead over the Braves. They even managed to score a bunch of runs and got good performances out of the staff - with the exception of Madson, Perez, and Hamels. Hamels just can't seem to work his magic against the team from beyond the Molly Pitcher rest stop.

Fortunately for the Phillies, all of the teams they are competing with for the NL East title have as many holes as they do and, in fact, I have yet to see any team in baseball not have needs of any kind - and that includes the guys in the Bronx who, when healthy, are my pick as the best team in baseball. Sorry gang, but that is how I see it. The Bombers can beat you with both power and hitting, while the Phillies are still suffering from a major power outage this year and haven't been hitting for average despite the past few games. Most pundits and fans alike believe that the Phillies could use a right handed hitter who has some power. Most believe that this hitter might help Howard see better pitches if this unnamed hitter bats fifth. They may be right, but that assumes that the Superflop can get out of his .257 funk with better discipline at the plate. I do not see that happening but, for the sake of the conversation, I'll say that he will.

Looking at the current roster we see that Mayberry has shown moments of being able to get the job done but we need more evidence that he can and I don't know if he will have the time between now and July 31 to provide the evidence. Francisco is fast becoming the forgotten man on the roster and it is safe to say that no team will give you anything of value for him. Despite his recent awakening at the plate, Ibanez is all but untradeable because of his bloated contract and age. The problem then becomes simple to understand but hard to solve. The Phillies obviously need another bat but may not have what is needed to give in return for that bat, and that relates to the pitching staff. Yes, the Big Three have performed brilliantly as have the Young Guys, but with Oswalt and Blanton on the DL it means that guys like Kendrick and Worley cannot be traded, and who in their right mind would want staff members not named Stutes and Bastardo, even if they are showing some promising signs? Baez is worthless, as is Carpenter, and even Herndon isn't exactly pitching well of late.

Let's assume, however, that the Phillies are not willing to part with any of their top minor league pitching prospects, that everyone becomes healthy between now and July 31, and Amaro feels it in his bones the need to do something. Let's look at some of the names that may be available.

I won't insult anyone by suggesting that Willingham is the stuff that Series rings are made of. The guy is a serviceable bum - meaning that he can find a job on a bad team, but just can't cut it with a team looking to compete for the series title. Ludwick is another one who I would hate to give up anything of value for, and I believe him to be one of the better journeymen out there. I would love to see Carlos Beltran in a Phillies uniform, but I don't see Amaro giving up the kind of talent it would take to rent the free agent's services for the next few months. Beltran has proven that he is still a good player, but age has started to take it's toll on his skills and I don't see the Phillies coming up with the kind of gelt it would take to keep him here beyond the end of this season.

Let me throw out a couple of names at you that might be a fit for the Candystripers.

Vlad Guerrero, now with the O's, has been having a decent year for the birds although nothing like what we saw when he was with the Expos or in his first years with the Angels. He is a bit long in the tooth, but he hits right handed and, in a park like the Phils play in, he might be able to provide some much needed power. He is a defensive liability, and would have to be replaced in the late innings, but he will be a free agent at the end of the year and I doubt if the O's will attempt to resign him. They might be willing to take a Francisco or someone like him on the farm, so if I were Ruben I would at least make the call.

My first choice would be to call the Royals and see if they would be interested in trading Melky Cabrera. Cabrera is young, has playoff experience, and is putting up decent numbers for a team clearly not going anywhere near the playoffs. So far this year Cabrera is hitting .295, has 11 home runs, 52 RBI's, with a .333 OBP and a slugging average of .453. He can play all of the outfield positions and is a switch hitter. He won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season so the Phillies could get at least a second year out of him. He would be more than capable of providing cover behind Howard in the lineup.

For a guy with Cabrera's credentials the Royals are going to need something decent in return, and more than likely more than one player. They need pitching and will surely ask for Worley. We could offer Kendrick and one other staff member, and maybe Zagurski, but it might take a Worley to get the deal done. Would you do that trade? Well, you wouldn't if Oswalt, Blanton, and Lidge are not quite ready for prime time - but I, for one, would be tempted. Cabrera can get the job done this year and could more than fill the shoes of Ibanez who will most surely not be here next year. There is the matter of sign-ability after his free agent year, but I am about winning now and Cabrera might just be the missing piece to the puzzle.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I watched a few innings of last night's All Star game but grew very tired of listening to Joe and Tim. Both have outlived their usefulness and have never been entertaining. Joe's father was one of the best play-by-play guys in the business and probably turns over in his grave every time he listens to his son broadcast without emotion or conviction. Considering that these guys work for Rupert Murdoch, perhaps they can get pointers on obtaining information that fans really want to hear instead of the pablum puke they currently dispense.

Given that a great many of the "real" all stars didn't play, perhaps they should have called the game "The Almost All Star Game." When I first started watching these games, the stars were all there unless they were really hurt. As an example I'll turn to "The Captain," who was certainly well enough last week when he was attempting to reach the 3,000 hit milestone, but chose to not attend the game in Arizona because he had just come off the DL. The least the guy could have done was to show up like Shane and Placido - after all the fans did vote him the starting SS for the AL squad. The same can be said for Mariano. What is his problem? If selected either by the flawed fan voting or by being chosen by the manager - baseball ought to require that the player at least attend the game. While I don't like to, I'll give A-Roid a pass since he did have surgery. Actually, the guy should have been there in a fucking wheel chair. To be fair, the same can be said about Chipper.

The Home Run Derby was fun, especially watching the Dominican team representing the AL. I've thought that Robinson Cano was the best second baseman for a while now, and he certainly put on a power display in Phoenix - and yes his dad did manage a little smile. The NL squad sucked, and it will probably be quite a while before we see Kemp participating in these events again. My friend Bob asked me if I thought Ryan Howard should have been included in the event. Bob, like many Phillies fans believes that Superstar is the MAN, and is a definite mortal lock to eventually be enshrined in the HOF. This morning he practically threw his copy of the Daily News in my face as he implored me to read Bill Conlin's column about Howard.

I've been reading Conlin for many years and have enjoyed his insights and sarcasm. Many think Bill is too old, too much in love with the way it used to be, and that he should have his laptop taken away from him. Most of the time he is right on, but after reading his effusive praise of the Big Piece I can only wish him a boil on his fat ass. Conlin rages at those of us who believe that Howard steals his paycheck and that he is like the Emperor with no clothes. He also manages to take a shot at those of us who were critical of Michael Jack(off) Schmidt when he was under-performing while strutting around like the best there ever was. Fuck you Conlin - both of these guys did have talent, but neither were or are a complete ballplayer. Sure, Howard is on pace to drive in 140 runs, but until he learns some discipline at the plate he will continue to fail his team when the games are on the line more often than when he comes through in the clutch. Conlin stated that many of us believe that Howard frequently dogs it down the first base line - well we think that because he does dog it down the line, as in whenever he hits a ground ball. Just once I would love to see the first baseman flub the throw, but have enough time to recover and make the put out because Superstar isn't hustling. The guy is in the beginning of a $125,000,000 contract and when you get overpaid that kind of gelt to play a game, YOU OUGHT TO HUSTLE ALL THE FUCKING TIME!!!!

Of course, in the spirit of full disclosure. I don't like Howard even a little - those of you who read this shit on a regular basis already know that. Part of my dislike of the guy is purely visual. He makes me wild with his mannerisms and drama before every pitch. Contrast Howard's act with that of Utley, who steps into the box, takes a couple of swings and is ready to offer at the pitch. Howard has to step out of the box, spit into his batting gloves, step back in, point his bat like Babe Ruth, and do his little squat before he offers at a pitch way out of the strike zone. The guy may be a fan favorite to most Phillies fans, but until he starts to live up to his hype and mannerisms, I will continue to urge the Attorney General to indict him for grand theft paycheck. By the way, on Friday, Superstar will get another of his twice-a-month checks that will be for more than most Americans make in a year, and most Americans who are fortunate enough to still be employed would surely lose their jobs if they under-performed at their jobs like Howard does at his.

Enough on Howard. The second half is about to start and one can only hope that my beloved Pirates can continue to play the kind of ball they played before the break. Who would have thought that the Bucs would have been within striking distance of first place in the NL Central this late in the season - but they are. They are actually making me look bad because when I select a Beloved Team for the season I do so by figuring out which team will be pathetic and I go with them. Shit happens sometimes, and it has happened so far this season in the Steel City.

Friday, July 8, 2011


The Phillies have won four NL East titles in a row. During this run they have been able to bitch slap the Braves when the games between these teams mattered. Can we forget last year when the Candystripers found themselves down by seven games near the end of August to the Braves and then managed to push the tomahawkers aside to capture a fourth division title?

The Braves, the pundits said, were a young inexperienced team who didn't have the emotional maturity to keep from folding against the experienced Phillies who had won the whole thing just two seasons past. That may have been true last year, but it may not be the case this year. Both teams have been winning of late with the Phillies holding the best record in baseball as the teams prepare for a weekend series with a whole bunch of implications. The Braves actually have the better w-l record since the end of April - 40-21 vs 37-25 and come into tonights game on a roll, and are now just two and a half games behind the Phillies. Do the math and you will see that a Braves sweep of the hometown guys will give them the division lead going into the All-Star break.

Neither team is hitting the covers off of the balls. The Phillies have a team batting average of .247, ranked tenth in the NL with the Braves coming in at .240 in fourteenth place. The Phils are seventh in runs scored with the Braves right behind them at eighth. Over the past couple of weeks we have seen Rollins start to hit as have Utley and Victorino. Even Superstar has managed to raise his average to the .260 level, but Victorino is hurt and Polanco seems to be heading towards the Mendoza line at the speed of sound. Ibanez has settled in around the .230 level and I wonder if Charlie will sit him down for much of this series as the Braves pitching is skilled at making left handed hitters look terrible.

This series will more than likely be decided by pitching. In this department you have to like the Phillies starters. Charlie will send Halladay, Lee, and Hamels against the Braves, and that seems to give the edge to the home town heroes. Not so fast, the Braves have the better bullpen which features Jonny Venters and his 1.52 ERA. Left handed batters are hitting .152 against him. Eric O'Flaherty is also tough against lefties, and closer Craig Kimmel may be the best closer in the game at this point in the season. He now has 27 saves and has struck out seventy batters in 45 innings. The Phillies left handed line up could have their problems against this crew.

I've been invited to watch the game with my friend Bob. Bob, as you may remember, is a card carrying member of the Kool-Aid club and is planning to wear his Halladay jersey tonight, his Lee jersey tomorrow, and his Hamels jersey on Sunday. He tells me that his bobbleheads will be out in force, and that he is calling for a Phillies sweep. He thinks Ryan Howard is the best first baseman in the league and that Raul Ibanez is just a few at bats from regaining his past form. I have advised Bob to seek help, but to no avail. Bob will go down with the ship in order to stay loyal to his heroes, no matter how bad they play or how many times Superstar strikes out while looking stupid in the process.

As a fan, I would love the Phillies to take two out of three against the Braves and will in my capacity as the LSF give them their due, if they manage to do so and gain a game on the Braves. However, if the Bravos manage to take the series I'll be able to be cynical, critical, and snarky in my comments lambasting the guys in red. It is more fun to be that way when writing. Coming up with new ways to say that Howard sucks is a treat. How cool would it be for me if the Phillies take the series and Howard goes one for twelve with seven strike outs in the three games?

I haven't mentioned the All-Star game because I don't care about the All-Star game. When the leagues come up with a process that fields the best players instead of guys like Derek Jeter and other "popular" players who are either past their primes or who are having shitty seasons I'll get on board. Until then, the game will continue to be an annoying interlude that interrupts the flow of the season.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


In case you are wondering why I haven't posting anything for the past several days, please let me explain why.

This past Thursday my former son-in-law died. Given this, baseball, the Phillies and other such matters just don't seem important to me as my thoughts have been as far away from sports and whether Ryan Howard sucks as they can be. When they do I'll resume my rantings.

I met Neil many years ago when he began dating Scott's sister when they both attended Marple-Newtown High School. They must have been struck by the same thunderbolt that got Michael Corleone in The Godfather when he laid eyes on the young Sicilian girl. I think they call it love at first sight, and from the time they started dating it became apparent that they would stay together and eventually they were married.

Neil was always a gentleman when it came to his relationship to Scott's mother and me, and the guy had a wonderful sense of humor. He also had a strong desire to be a success and had the guts to start his college education at night where he worked his butt off and was finally admitted to the day program at St. Joe's where he graduated a few years later. Those who go right into college upon their high school graduations have no idea at how hard a guy like Neil had to work. While no dummy, Neil wasn't the sort of genius student who was handed a free ride either. He also didn't have rich parents to pave the way for him. He worked hard, saved his money for tuition, and I was always quite proud of Neil for his accomplishment.

I hadn't seen or spoken with Neil in many years when Scott informed me of his death. I have spent the past several days thinking of him and must say that the world is a lesser place without him. My memories of Neil stop in the late 80's and early 90's but I wanted to acknowledge how wonderful he was to my son when I wasn't around due to my separation from Scott's Mom. He stepped right in and played the role of big brother. I was always grateful to Neal for that, and regret that I never got the opportunity to thank him.

To show the man's sense of humor, let me get on the Wayback Machine and travel to Galveston, Indiana sometime in the 1980's. Every year on December 26th we would pile into the car and begin what seemed like hundred hour drive to Grandma Callie's house where we would have a family Christmas event. On this particular occasion, Neil made the trip so that he could meet the Indiana part of Marci's family.

In case you have never been to Indiana in December, let me tell you that it is really cold out there that time of year. Chances are the ground would be covered with snow and ice. We are normally spoiled with early winter here in the greatest city in the world, but not out there. Winter comes early and stays late in Galveston, but never touches the inside of Grandma Callie's house. Grandma Callie sets her thermostat at tropical. In her house it could be zero degrees outside, but in her living room it felt like August. The only relief one could find was to go into the enclosed Florida room where there was no heat. I would spend a lot of time sitting in the cold of that space. Sure it was cold, but at least I wasn't sweating. On this trip, Neil would hang out with me as he seemed to dislike the temperature in the house as much as I did. I remember what he said while we sat in that cold room. Neil looked at the doorway to the room, got up and stood with one leg in the house and one in the Florida room, turned to me and said..."Mr. Alberts, when a warm front meets a cold front it usually rains...if we leave the door open it should start raining in a couple of minutes in the doorway." After his comment he sat back down and watched the doorway - he had intentionally left the door open, as if was fully expecting it to rain. We never got to see if he was right because someone felt the cold air and closed the door admonishing us for letting the cold come into the house. We had a good laugh. I remember the moment as if it were yesterday.

Neil left this world much too soon, but whenever I think of him I will smile. The Neil I knew twenty some years ago was a warm, caring, mensch.

Be at peace Neil.