Sunday, March 30, 2008


It's baseball season, that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team for six months, knowing full well they won't win. Here's a starting nine for the Philadelphia Phillies.
  1. Hold your nose: The Braves have weak pitching and are way too reliant on home runs; the Mets are old; the Phillies more or less just outslug everyone. Love that National League.
  2. Birthplace of democracy, indeed: Everyone in America gets a chance to vote for the President and almost anyone can get a chance to pitch for Philadelphia. The Phillies used 28 of 'em last season.
  3. It gets better: Brittle-but-brilliant lefty Cole Hamels, righty Kyle Kendrick, reclaimed starter Brett Myers and ageless Jamie Moyer (he's hip, he's cool, he's 45) give the Phillies their best rotation in recent memory. That's as much a comment on the Phillies as is it on that foursome.
  4. Wolley Segap: The genius, GM Pat Gillick, has a halo effect for building the championship Jays teams of yore. The superficial hope is that he'll build another pennant winner, but it didn't happen in Baltimore or Seattle and those teams were bad for years after he moved on.
  5. No, he didn't earn it: True, National League MVP Jimmy Rollins was just the third player ever to hit 30 homers and 20 triples in one season. So what? He wasn't even the best player at his own position within the division (that would be the Marlins' Hanley Ramírez, nominally a shortstop) or in his own infield.

    Lefty-hitting second baseman Chase Utley probably means more to Philly than either J-Roll, who bats in front of him, or Ryan Howard, who comes up after him. It just gets wearisome having to explain this to people.
  6. Feliz Freeswinger: Beerleaguer has christened third baseman Pedro Feliz "Señor out." At one point in during fake baseball Feliz had gone 48 at-bats without drawing a walk
  7. All in an unpaid day's work: Writing 30 team previews means wading through untold treacle. The clubhouse leader (no link to protect the innocent) through the first 26 previews is, "As an aside, Rickey Henderson's MVP campaign in 1990 – 28 home runs, 119 runs scored, 65 steals in 75 tries, a .439 OBP – compares very much to J-Roll's '07 campaign."

    Yes, the seasons very much compare. Henderson and Jimmy Rollins both played baseball. Then there's the niggling matter of the 150 points in on-base and slugging percentages that Henderson had on Rollins, whose selection of MVP was so stupid it beggars logic and language to explain where the voters went wrong. Bah, details
  8. Need-to-know: The bullpen is going to be a season-long drama. Since the Philly faithful seem to have that Red Sox/Cubs look-at-us, we're-so-tortured persona, it's going to be fun to watch from a distance.

    The Phillies might pull off a playoff spot, but everything has to fall just so.
  9. More white noise, literally: The Lenny Dykstra HBO interview has been around the block and back (hat tip: The700Level) and The New Yorker did a big take-out on him; he comes off like some latter-day Scott Fitzgerald character.

    Nails is just projecting all over the place -- the hunched posture allegedly peculiar to compulsize gamblers (slouched over a card table) and steroid abusers (weakened back from overdoing it with the weights) . By the way, not that you'd ever hear this in Canada, but Dykstra owns Wayne Gretzky's old house, where the control panel on the home theatre features "a spinning hockey puck with the number 99 — Gretzky's — on its face." You'd never learn that from us Canadian journalists.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

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