Sunday, November 2, 2008

Now That's What I Call A Storybook Ending.

Wow. I mean, wow. I know I haven't written anything in almost two months. Forgive me, for I have been busy. Also, about midway through the Phillies' run to the series, I decided not to update the blog for fear of jinxing anything. To be quite honest, it gave me what felt like a worthwhile excuse to be lazy, but whatever. The Phillies won the fucking World Series.

I have also found over the last couple months that it is much harder to consistently update a blog when living on your own in NYC than it is to update one when living with your parents in Philly. There are way more distractions here. Not that I'm complaining. And, to be honest, this will probably be my last post. It's not that I'm opposed to half-assing things - if I thought I could consistently half ass this blog, believe me, I would. But over the last few months this I've been quarter-assing this at best, and that's not something I want to keep doing.

Anyway, onto the Phillies - holy shit. I mean, it STILL hasn't really hit me. I spent Friday in Philadelphia having the time of my life with 2 million equally joyous people and it still hasn't entirely sunk in. And that's okay. I've got all the time in the world for that to happen. My life is forever changed for the better, and I have the Phillies thank for it. The Phillies. The Mother. Fucking. Phillies. The, in the immortal words of Chase Utley, "world fucking champion" Phillies. Good god, I will never get tired of that phrase.

When the Phillies won the World Series, after one of the more bizarre stretches in the history of playoff baseball, I was in New York. I was unfortunately at work when it happened, but shortly thereafter I was in a bar co-owned by a Phillies fan, celebrating with him and a few other equally elated and shocked Philly fans, none of whom I had previously met. It didn't matter. We celebrated deep into the night, and when I awoke Thursday afternoon with a giant smile on my face, it was time to head to Philly. After a subdued Thrusday night spent taking in recorded footage of the local post game coverage, it was time for a day about which I have spent many years dreaming. The day of the Phillies' World Series parade. Oh my.

Friday did not disappoint, even though SEPTA tried its hardest to fail miserably. And, for the most part, they did. I went to catch a 10:30 train downtown - it passed by me and everyone else on the platform. It was already full. This was not an uncommon occurrence throughout the city. Fortunately I randomly ran into a buddy of mine at the station and he was able to give me and my buddy Zach a ride downtown and our march toward the parade had begun. The streets were filled with jubilant people of all ages. We passed one group of kids who couldn't have been more than 15 years old. "Shouldn't you children be in school?" I asked with a big grin on my face. A girl in a Philles jersey turned to me and said, "Fuck school! 600 kids from our high school are absent today!" Schools weren't closed Friday, but a holiday was certainly observed.

On our way to the parade Zach and I stopped in a liquor store on 17th and JFK. The clerk inside was talking to a coworker about how he already had run 125 debit cards. It was 11:45 am. To say that a lot of people were drinking publicly would be a large understatement.

We finally ended up on the corner of Broad and Pine for the parade. Visibility was far from perfect, but it didn't really matter. The parade was still a great time, and there was literally not a cloud in the sky. We spent the next couple hours just wandering the crowded streets, occasionally hitting nearby bars. By the time I finally hopped on a bus back to New York, I was thoroughly exhausted, but that was quite alright. It was one of the better days of my life.

To close this story out, I'll share one last anecdote from this past week. When I got off the train at 30th Street Station Thursday night, I was standing next to another guy in full Phillies gear. He looked at me and this exchange followed:

Him: It's about damn time.
Me: My sentiments exactly.
Him: You know, it's funny, when I woke up today, the sky was a different shade of blue.
Me: And it always will be man. It always will be.

World fucking champions. It's about damn time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tom Brady's Injury Is Proof That God Loves Us And Wants Us To Be Happy

I mean, wow. Wow wow wow. What a weekend. Tom Brady throws three passes and gets his ACL torn. Yes, there is a god. And He is a just god, because boy did Boston deserve this, those arrogant fucking pricks.

In additon to that game, which was glorious, the Eagles beat the shit out of the Rams (who looked terrible), the Phillies took two of three from the Mets (although I was at the loss Sunday night, which was the 2nd time I've seen Santana beat Hamels this season) the Panthers shocked the Chargers, and Brett Favre was, well, Brett Favre.

Now back to Brady. I mean, this is just fantastic. And yes, I am absolutely chugging haterade right now. This team isn't even guaranteed a playoff spot now (though I'm sure they'll get one). To be fair, Matt Cassell looked competent, but he WAS playing the Chiefs. I just really hope a 7-9 season is in the works, even if it means the continual fellation of the first place, Brett Favre led Jets. That's how much I hate the Patriots. Thank you Jebus. This weekend has been divine.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Am I The Only Person That Finds Michael Phelps Boring?

Look, I don't mean any disrespect to Phelps. He's obviously an amazing swimmer. The best ever. He's a bona fide freak of nature, and hey, good for him. And I'm certainly not one of those idiots that thinks swimming isn't a sport. (Yes, they do exist.) But the greatest olympian ever? A swimmer? Really? I'm sorry, but Phelps and his 8 gold medals aren't even the most amazing story of these Olympics, let alone any Olympics. That title belongs to Usain Bolt, who fucking jogged his way to gold in the 100 meters and the 200 meters this week. Anyway, that's another story. Back to Phelps.

Was the comeback during the relay amazing? Yes, but that wasn't even Phelps during the anchor leg. Was the 7th gold in the butterfly by .01 seconds pretty cool? Absolutely. But 8 gold medals in one Olympics? Overrated. Look, only a swimmer could do that, because only swimming rewards people for being the best at simming inefficiently. There shouldn't be any strokes other than the crawl (which I believe is the technical name for the stroke everyone uses in freestyle races), because you wouldn't swim any other way if time was truly a factor. I don't care if you're the fastest in the world at the back stroke. There's a reason crab walking isn't an event in track and field. Ditto for hopping on one foot. If a lion was chasing you, you'd fucking RUN. And if a shark was chasing you, you'd being swimming the crawl. Well, you'd probably shit your wetsuit while crying and eventually die, but you get the idea.

And then, on top of everything else, there's the fact that Phelps himself is downright uninteresting. At least Mark Spitz had a porn 'stache. Phelps just has big teeth, bigger ears and an upper body that's 11 feet long. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve his Wheaties box. I'm just saying I'm glad swimming is finally over. Now I have time to enjoy what the Olympics are truly about:

Beach volleyball.
Now there's a sport I can get behind.

Giggedy giggedy, giggedy goo.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Idiot's Guide To Proper Restaurant Etiquette

Yes, I know this is a sports blog. And yes, there has been sort of a lot going on lately in the sports world (go Soul!), but not really. Ken Griffey Jr. is on the White Sox now? Wonderful. Manny was traded to the Dodgers? Nice Job Red Sox. You made out like bandits. Brett Favre is still a donkey raping shiteater? Par for the course. Last year I wrote The Idiot's Guide To Leaving A Tip and it seemed to go over fairly well. So now I'm writing a follow up to let people know how to conduct themselves in a restaurant.

This is not going to encompass the more obvious things, such s not sending things back seven times or insulting your server. If you don't know things like that, you're hopeless. This is meant to address the things that most people wouldn't think of unless they have worked in a restaurant before.

First of all, don't seat yourself unless there is a sign instructing you to do so. Even if you don't see a hostess, wait politely at the door until someone acknowledges you. Trust me, it wont take long. And, when you are seated, look at your menu! You're there to eat! I don't want to come back six times because you "haven't even looked yet". You'll have plenty of time to chat before, during and after your meal. (By the way, this doesn't mean you should rush into ordering. It just means you should start looking at the menu as soon as possible. That way, if you have questions, we can help you. And yes, please feel free to ask questions. Just don't ask stupid ones.)

When ordering, order entire courses together. (And it is ideal that you order everything at once, but if you want to get some appetizers working while you decide on your main courses, that's totally fine.) Don't have me bring out your entrees and then decide you want that side of fries. That annoys the kitchen staff to no end, and they are NOT the people you want to piss off. Oh, and if you're one of those weirdos that wants a side of mayo with his burger, order it when you order the burger. Don't make me go get it when the burger arrives. You know damn well you wanted that side of mayo, you fucking weirdo. You ordering it at the last minute is not going to make me not judge you.

Now that you have ordered, don't complain about food taking too long. I'm just the fucking waiter. I'm not back there cooking it too.

When your food has arrived, there are a couple of mid-meal things you must consider. First of all, if you need something, such as more napkins, or another fork, ask me for them. Do not grab that roll up from another table because "you didn't want to bother me". Who the fuck do you think has to replace that roll up? Don't you think that taking another napkin, putting a fork, knife and spoon in it, rolling it up and putting it back on the table might inconvenience me more than just getting you some more napkins? For fuck's sake people, bringing you shit is my job. If you want to get your own napkins and silverware, go to a fast food joint.

And, if there is a problem with your food, it really is okay to say something. If your steak or burger is undercooked, or if you asked us to hold something (due to an allergy or religious reasons) and we didn't, please feel free to point it out. You're paying for this meal, you deserve to have it prepared properly. Just don't be a dick about it. Don't complain because you asked for no lettuce on your burger and there was still lettuce when it arrived. Just take the lettuce off and eat the damn burger, you fucking prima donna.

Once you're finished with everything, and your server asks you if you need anything else, don't sit there and say, "Oh, I think we're okay for now". What the fuck does that mean? Do you want a few minutes to think about dessert? Fine. Say that. Are you done? Then ask for the check. And when it arrives, hey asshole, pay it! Feel free to sit and talk as long as you like, but pay your check right away (and tip 20%). You never know when my shift is over and your open check is the last thing keeping me from going out and getting hammered.

By following these simple guidelines, I can assure that your dining experience will be the best one possible. And it will also make my job a lot easier, so everybody wins.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find as many pieces regarding my first place Phillies as possible. After all, some people who say they write about sports actually do it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Favraro Needs To Be Taken Out Back And Shot

I don't know who first coined the term "Favraro", but good god is it fitting. This story just wont die, even thought the vast majority of the populace doesn't give half of a shit. What the hell is Brett Favre thinking? He's "got the itch"? Hey Brett, you're always going to have "the itch" to play football. You're a professional football player! It's all you know. Guys don't retire because they stop liking football. They retire because they're skills diminish and training camp takes too much of a toll on their older bodies.

Those two qualifiers certainly seem to apply to Favre. Despite a pretty good season last year, his skills are clearly not what they once were, and let's not forget his shitting of the proverbial bed in the NFC championship game. At home. Against a Wild Card team. And yes, I know they won the Super Bowl. But still. And as for the rigors of training camp, that stuff takes its toll on 21 year olds. Favre is 38. 38 for a football player is downright ancient. Why Favre would want to subject himself to that all for the sake of maybe winning a playoff game is beyond me.

What is also beyond me is why any NFL team would convey interest in Favre. I think the Vikings did it just to screw with the Packers. John Clayton says the Redskins and the Panthers wont get involved. At this point I can't imagine what team would. A 38 year old egomaniac hick who just happens to be a slightly better than average (at best!) quarterback at this point in his career? No thanks. Not even Jerry Jones is crazy enough to take on Favre. Someone needs to convince Hank Steinbrenner that Favre can pitch. No that would be a story.

Anyway, the bottom line is that Favre has ruined what was going to be a shiny, surefire hall of fame legacy. Yes, he'll end up in the Hall, but now were going to remember him as that idiot drama queen who didn't know when to call it a day. Even if he never plays another game, the damage has been done. And I haven't gotten into how disrespectful he's being to Packers fans, arguably the most devoted fans in all of American sports. Well done, Brett. You have achieved irreversible douchetard status. You should be proud. Now please, fuck off.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chase Utley Is Awesome, Josh Hamilton Is Good At Hitting Baseballs, Billy Wagner And J.D. Drew Can Rot in the Firiest Pits Of Hell

Hmm, it's a been a little while since I've posted anything. Sorry about that. Anyway, if for whatever reason you haven't seen how Chase Utley really feels about being booed, here it is:

Also, Josh Hamilton's display of 28 home runs in the first round was pretty damn impressive, but then he had to go and lose all anticlimactically. And then he STILL had to go thank his lord and savior. Guhhhh. If he really thinks Jesus is the reason he is where he is today, that's super, but please, spare me the preaching. I don't go telling everyone about that talking cat named Mittens that convinced me to stop strangling hookers.

And of course J.D. Drew had to be the MVP of an All Star game that a Phillie lost. At least Lidge didn't blow a lead like Wagner. Got I hate Billy Wagner. And J.D. Drew. They're both on the short list of people that would make me smile if they got hit by a bus.

Brett Favre has also worked his way onto that list. More on that tomorrow. Now I need to head to work.

Monday, July 7, 2008

All Star Game Thoughts, Part 2

Yesterday I went over who is starting for the American League as well as who should be starting. Today I will do the same for the National League. Let's get right to it.

(All Stats as of July 6th.)

Catcher: Geovany Soto, Cubs. .289/15/52. I think the difference between Soto and Brian McCann (Braves - .293/15/48) is small enough that the fact that Soto's team is in 1st place should give him the nod. Pretty crappy year for catchers across the majors.

1st Base: Lance Berkman, Astros. .349/22/70/74 R/.437 OBP. Berkman is having a phenomenal year and is the clear choice here despite a strong class of NL 1st baseman.

2nd Base: Chase Utley, Phillies. .294/25/68. Utley is having a typically superb year and deserves to start, but it's a lot closer than I would have imagined due to the excellent play of Dan Uggla (Marlins - .289/23/58).

3rd Base: Chipper Jones, Braves. .388/18/50/.485 OBP. As much as I hate Larry, he's a hell of a baseball player having a hell of a year. No argument here.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. .303/21/43/21 SB. Ramirez is also the clear choice in a down year for shortstops. Still no complaints so far with the fans choices, but I may have spoken too soon...

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Brewers, (.284/21/59). Alfonso Soriano, Cubs, (.283/15/40). Kosuke Fukudome, Cubs, (.287/7/35). Ah, here we go. Now I have some complaints. Braun is fine, he's having a good year when most NL outfielders aren't. Soriano shouldn't be starting, but I don't have a problem with him being on the team. Fukudome is a different matter. His numbers are above average, sure. But starting an All Star game? You've got to be kidding. He shouldn't even be on the team. So who else should be starting? Well, two guys who are eligible for the final spot, Carlos Lee (Astros - .292/20/70) and Pat Burrell (Phillies - .278/22/54/.410 OBP). The fact that one of these guys isn't going to make the team is ridiculous when you've got guys like Fukudome and Ryan Ludwick occupying spots. And yes, I understand that the suggested starting outfield of Carlos Lee, Ryan Braun and Pat Burrell might be the worst defensive outfield of all time, but so what? It's a fucking all star game.

As for the designated hitter, just put Pujols there and let Adrian Gonzalez be the first sub at 1st base.

All right, I've said my peace. As usual, I'm right. But hey, that's why they pay me the big bucks.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Blind Homerism Carries 7 Cubs, Red Sox, To All Star Game

Yes, Cubs and Red Sox fans have voted 7 players in from each of their respective teams. Of those 14 players, 7 were voted in as starters, and at least one of them even deserves to start! Which one? That will be revealed shortly as I go position by position. Let' start with the American League, which I'm sure will find a way to win despite having what seems like a vastly inferior roster. The fans' choices will appear first, and if I disagree, the player I think should be starting will follow.

(All stats are as of July 5th)

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins. .325/4/37.415 OBP. I have no problem with this. He's hitting .325, and no other catcher in the AL is putting up numbers worthy of supplanting him here.

1st Base: Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox. .310/13/53. Youkilis is having a fine season, but Justin Morneau (Twins - .307/12/65) is having a better one. Not exactly a banner year for AL 1st baseman though.

2nd Base: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox. .312/9/39/60 R/9 SB. Pedroia is another fine young player, but the fact that Ian Kinsler (Rangers - .332/14/53/79 R/23 SB) isn't starting here is a damn shame. Kinsler is having what is easily the best season of any AL 2nd baseman and deserves to start.

3rd Base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. .320/17/49/.407 OBP. Despite missing a couple weeks, A-Rod is having a typically swell season and deserves to start. His competition isn't exactly fierce either, as the only other 3B on the AL roster is Joe Crede (Withe Sox - .261/15/47).

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees. .280/4/36. These are probably the worst numbers Jeter has ever had at this point in the season, which says a lot about his career. Michael Young (Rangers - .292/7/46) is having a better year, but whatever. The game is in Yankee Stadium and it's Derek Jeter.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Rangers, (.309/19/84). Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, (.303/3/21/61 R/34 SB). Manny Ramirez, Red Sox (.279/16/53). Hamilton is a no-brainer. Ichiro will be voted in as a starter 3 years after he's dead. And Manny... well, you could argue that Carlos Quentin (White Sox - .273/19/61) is having a better season - and he is - but Manny hit his 500th home run this season, he's having a pretty good year, and whatever, he's Manny. Quentin is only 25. He'll get his chance.

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz, Red Sox (.252/13/43). Ortiz is hurt and wont be able to play. He will be replaced by Milton Bradley (Rangers - .320/17/54) who is having a very good season. Whatever. Look, voting for a DH in all star games is stupid. Yes, there should be a DH regardless of where the game is being played, but fans shouldn't be forced to choose between guys who just DH. The DH should just be whatever position player got the most votes among non starters. Theres no reason for Ortiz, who has missed over 30 games this season, to be voted in as a starter.

Starting Pitcher: Starters have yet to be determined, but I think Cliff Lee, Indians (11-1/2.43 ERA/1.04 WHIP/99 K/19 BB/ 118.2 IP) should start. He's struggled a little as of late, but overall he's been phenomenal this season.

That's it for the American League. National League will be done tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Rays Are NOT A Great Story For Baseball (And thoughts On Euro 2008)

It's nothing personal against the players. The team has drafted well and has done quite a job of stockpiling talent. I respect that, and yes, it is nice to see a relatively small market team compete with the likes of Boston and New York.

But this team is in first place. In the American League East. And they played (and beat) the Red Sox tonight. The attendance? Just over 31,000, or 75% capacity. The team is in first place! They're playing the Red Sox! Who are these people, Braves fans? Go to the fucking games! I'm sorry, but there are no real baseball fans in the south. And there are no real pro sports fans in Florida. But I digress.

On to Euro 2008, which may have been the best soccer tournament I've ever seen. Spain was dominant throughout, and it's always nice to see the Germans lose. Spain was the best team the entire time, going 6-0 in the tournament. And that final was probably the most entertaining 1-0 game I've ever seen. Spain looked great throughout and now has to be among the favorites in 2008.

If Spain was the best team in the tourney, Turkey was definitely the most entertaining. I thought the games were going to need an NC-17 rating with the way they kept pulling goals out of their asses. It's too bad they couldn't pull it off against Germany.

Anyway, if you watched any of this tournament and still find soccer boring, I don't know what to tell you. I guess you're just a moron. Personally, I'm pretty psyched for the World Cup. I like Argentina and Spain in the final, which would be one hell of an entertaining game. Lets hope it happens so I look smart.

Happy Fourth of July everyone. You wont be hearing from me again before then. Enjoy the holiday.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Official Flyers Post

I understand it's baseball season, but bear with me. Hockey season is, after all, never more than three months away.

Growing up in Philadelphia, I was always into sports, both in terms of playing and following. Until I was about 8 years old (1992), none of the Philly teams were any good. The Eagles had a tremendous defense led by Reggie White and Jerome Brown and an always interesting offense with Randle Cunningham at the helm, but the Redskins, Giants, and Cowboys were always better. And then Jerome died and Reggie said it wasn't about the money and left for more money, and Rich Kotite came to town, and well, I'd really rather not get into it.

In 1993 the Phillies made a magical run and lost in tragic fashion, and the Sixers thought trading Charles Barkley for a white guy was a good idea. (It wasn't.) And then, out of nowhere, the Flyers, a team that had lost at least 37 games in each of its last 5 seasons, started making some noise in 1994. They had this new guy, Eric Lindros. And they had this old guy, Bobby Clarke. And then all of a sudden, a team that had been a doormat for 5 years was, in a season that didn't start until January 21st, the Atlantic Division champs. And they went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, sweeping the defending champion Rangers on their way there. And I was hooked.

In the 95-96 season, they took a slight step backward, losing to the Florida Panthers in the semifinals. But still, it was clear that this team was going to be a force to be reckoned with. And in 1996-97, they were. They won 45 games for the second consecutive season, and cruised to a 12-3 record in the playoffs, earning a date with the Detroit Red Wings. And then the wheels came off.

The Red Wings didn't just beat the Flyers - they destroyed them. even at age 12, this was painfully obvious to me. They were faster, they were fancier, and shit, they were just better. In retrospect, that series marked the dawn of a new era in hockey. The game was no longer about big guys like Eric Lindros and John LeClair. Sure, you could win a lot of games with guys like that, but you can't win the most important games. You need to kill penalties, you need to score on power plays, and you need to not get hurt.

And yet, the Flyers kept on keepin' on. They kept making the playoffs and we as Philadelphians kept drinking the orange Kool Aid. And then in 2000, it looked like they might finally do it. After dropping the first two games at home to the Penguins in the conference semis, they won game 3 in overtime. And then they won game 4 in the fifth overtime. And well, you don't recover from a loss like that. At home. They won the next two against an already defeated Penguins team and had a date with the Devils, a team that I hate more than every other team in the world not from Dallas. And the Flyers went up 3 games to 1. And they were doing all of this without their melon-skulled captain, Eric Lindros.

And then they lost game 5 at home. And game 6 on the road. And then Lindros made his heroic early return from his 247th concussion for game 7. And Then Scott Stevens knocked him the fuck out. And they lost. And by then, I was done. I was no longer some 12 year old who actually thought his team still had a future. At age 16, I knew that this current group of players - and that current type of big, bruising player - wasn't going to cut it. And I also knew that if you wanted to win a Stanley Cup, you need a top of the line goalie. You know who didn't know that? Bobby Clarke. He brought in guys like Keith Primeau and Jeremy Roenick, guys who were undeniably good players, and at the same, undeniably not good enough to build a cup winning team around. If a 16 year old that had never played hockey understood what needed to be done, one would think a Hall of Famer would have been able to figure it out. One would be wrong.

In 2004 The Flyers started to suck me back in when they forced the Lightning to a game 7 in the Eastern conference finals. But even then, I knew they weren't going to win. They were the Flyers, and this was a game 7. And sure enough, they lost to a team that scored on half of their power plays in the series, which is usually a good way to go about winning hockey games. And then the lockout happened and hockey was officially dead to me.

And then, this season, something strange happened. Last season (06-07) the Flyers had the worst record in the NHL, which made them super easy to not care about. And then, in the offseason, they made some changes. Bobby Clarke was no longer in charge of personnel decisions, and the free agents they signed, headlined by Danny Briere, were the type of hockey player that this team has needed for countless seasons. And the team came roaring out of the gate. And yes, they had a few hiccups, at one point losing 10 games in a row. But they held on, made the playoffs, beat two division winners, including the top seed in the conference, Montreal, and eventually lost to a team that was healthier, and, well, better.

And what's different this time around is that this team really does have nowhere to go but up. This team, with young, talented players like Briere and Mike Richards, is going to keep getting better. Do I think they'll win a Stanley Cup? Hell no, they're the Flyers. They've broken my heart far too many times for me to just take them back. But watching some of their games this past season, I actually found myself caring about the result of their games, which is something I hadn't done since 2000. Am I ready to trust the Flyers again? No. (You burn in hell, Bobby Clarke.) But is hockey still dead to me? You know, I don't think it is. And honestly, that's kinda nice. After all, hockey does kick ass.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Time For Some Changes

Dearest Reader(s?),

I've been writing this blog for almost 18 months now, which seems like both a very long time and no time at all. Throughout those 18 months the type of post has varied considerably. There are long, well written posts about various sports subjects (infrequent, not at all gay) and there are small blurbs about the Phillies and how sexy I think Cole Hamels and Chase Utley are (very frequent, pretty darn gay). About a year ago I decided to go from a general sports blog to a Philly Sports blog, because I thought it would be important to write what I know.

This is partially true. You should write what you know, and I do know Philly sports.

The problem is, if you're going to blog about the sports scene in a big city, you can't take days off, because something is always happening. Especially in Philadelphia, a city that needs to scrutinize the actions of every member of every professional sports team at all times. I like days off. I don't have the determination to be a multiple-posts-a-day-blog like The 700 Level. Those guys get their shit done on a daily basis, and they do it well. That ain't entirely my style.

And so, yet again, I'm shifting gears. From here on in, I'll be posting at most twice a week, but probably closer to once. The posts will be longer. The posts will be better. And, unless Cole or Chase does something particularly sexy and I feel the need to gush, the mancrush references will be kept to a minimum. Will the blog still be Philly-centric? Probably. It is, after all, what I know. But I'll have plenty to say about other stuff too, so bear with me. The next post is going to be one I've been working on in my head for months now, if not years, and I think it'll be pretty decent when I get done. It should be ready by this weekend.

For those of you that have been reading this from the start, even if it's only three of you, thanks. I mean that genuinely, and I promise to make continuing to read this worth your while going forward.


Lionel McClure

Monday, June 9, 2008

An Interview With Everyone's Favorite 24 year-Old Curmudgeon

Well, okay, maybe he isn't everyone's favorite. Hell, he might not be anyone's favorite. But he is a 24 year-old curmudgeon, which is worth something I guess. Anyway, Zwill has decided that he's too lazy to be writing blog posts - a view I both understand and respect - but he will answer questions should I provide them. Fair enough. Less work for me. So now, without further ado, the first ever edition of Zwill Speaks (sort of):

Q: Should Willie Randolph be fired? If so, who should replace him?

A: I've defended Willie up to this point, mainly because I don't see him as the problem. Old hitters, an atrocious farm system and a paper-thin roster that is far too reliant on Wright, Beltran and Reyes - those are the reasons why the Mets are a mediocre squad. Omar Minaya is the party most responsible for the ongoing shitshow in Queens, not Willie. In the three years prior to the Randolph era, the Mets won 75, 66 and 71 games, respectively. In Willie's three full seasons, the Mets have won 83, 97 and 88 games, respectively. He deserves some credit for that improvement. That said, it is becoming quite clear that Randolph is a major part of the problem with the team. He may not be the main problem but he is clearly not equipped to get the most out of the squad's underachievers. With last month's half-hearted vote of confidence from the ownerships, it's looking less and less likely that he will make it to the end of the season, nevermind 2009.

If the Mets had anyone - and I mean ANYONE - in their organization with managerial prospects, the move would have been made in May. They don't. My guess is that Minaya starts by shaking up the coaching staff in the next few weeks - perhaps Jerry Manuel, Willie's right-hand man - and then fires Randolph after the squad makes a too-little, too-late push for the division and finishes five or six games back.

Q: Why is Luis Castillo hitting 2nd?

A: Luis Castillo is the #2 hitter because he has one of the best OBPs on the squad. This is actually one of Randolph's more defensible moves. Strategically, he is passable: His bullpen management leaves something to desire and his odd fascination with certain scrubs can be irritating. On the whole, however, he doesn't harm the team games with his in-game management. He harms the team by walking around with a giant black cloud over his head, right next to the axe.

Q: 4 games to the Padres? Really?

A: Yes, four losses to the Pads. Four horrible losses to one of the worst teams in the league, a team with only two hitters who can even be considered above replacement level at the moment (Giles and Gonzalez) and several hitters with sub-300 OBPs (Greene, Bard, Hairston, Huber). They are very lucky that the universe conspired to distract anyone from watching the series: Three games at 10PM EST, the NBA Finals, the Belmont Stakes, the French Open, the opening games of the Euro Championships, several dramatic Yankee wins. Seriously, why would anyone watch the Mets this month?

Q: What's going to happen to Jeremy Shockey?

A: No clue. If there was one cloud to go along with the Giant silver lining that was Super Bowl 42 (shitty pun, eh?), it was the marginalization of Jeremy Shockey. Don't forget what Shockey has meant to Giant fans since he came into the league. He's been on the team for six years. That's a long time in football. Giant fans grew attached to him. Yeah, he's an asshole. He grunts and shouts and throws off his helmet and takes 15-yard taunting penalties and calls opposing coaches "faggot" and fires up the opposition for every single game. I get it, he's a douchebag. But he's OUR douchebag. Giant fans (most football fans, I think) love that type of guy - the guy who runs headfirst into a gang tackle and pops right back up and sprints back to the huddle. He is basically the ultimate white football player for the Aughts. He behaves in a manner nearly-always associated with angry black men who are treated like louts for their actions. But Jeremy Shockey has a tattoo of an eagle blending into an American flag on his bicep. He's one of us.

So watching the Giants come together without him (and perhaps in spite of him?) last season was kind of awkward for longtime supporters. (We did have the soothing Super Bowl victory to help ease our pain.) And listening to Giants fans turn their back on him after Kevin Boss made a few catches in the playoffs was downright traitorous in my opinion. Shockey has unsurprisingly handled this entire situation poorly. Rather than take strides to show his support for his teammates, he has gone the other way: Avoiding the stadium entirely during the Super Bowl, skipping team celebrations after the win, making negative statements in the press for the last few months, skipping team minicamps. The man clearly needs a better press agent. I don't see the team trading him at this point, nor do I expect an outright release. A holdout wouldn't surprise me but the most likely scenario is that Shockey returns to the squad and mopes around the field for another season before departing after the 2008 season.

Q: How many regular season games are the Giants going to win?

A: I don't know and I don't care. We won the Super Bowl!!!

There you have it folks, the first ever Zwill Speaks (sort of). It wont be the last, because I'm pretty lazy. If any of you loyal readers (HA!) have any questions you'd like to have answered (double HA!) by a surly yet somewhat placated (due to the Super Bowl) New York sports fan, please feel free to email them to me.

And yes, I'm aware the Phillies have been kicking some serious ass. It's awesome. Keep it up fellas.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cole Hamels Continues To Be Sextacular

What is "sextacular" exactly? I'm not sure, but Cole Hamels fully embodies it. After pitching his second complete game shutout in 3 weeks, the Phillies were back to 10 games over .500 and tied for the 5th best record in the majors. Hamels is only 6-4, but he's had really crappy run support. He's sporting a 3.36 ERA with a sparkling 1.07 WHIP and 73 Ks in 91 innings.

Anyway, the Phils have won 10 of their last 12 and are playing well, but they'll need to keep it up because they have a very tough 15 game stretch coming up, including 9 straight on the road against Atlanta (starting tonight), Florida, and St. Louis, though they do have a day off between Atlanta and Florida. After that it's back home to play the AL's two best teams, Boston and The Los Angeles Angels of Whatever The Hell That Team's Name Is. This stretch should show us what kind of team the Phillies really are. Hopefully it's the good kind.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jay Williams: Hell Of A Nice Guy, Lousy Tipper

And yes, I do mean the Duke educated, motorcycle-riding Jay Williams. I work in a restaurant in the West Village. It's a high end Mexican place that just opened a few weeks ago. Yesterday evening a guy walks in with a couple of friends and asks for a table. We don't have a hostess on Sundays, so I sat him, although it wasn't in my section. Beyond that I didn't think much of it, until I actually took a good look at the guy. Unfortunately none of my coworkers are really sports fans, at least not on the scale that they would recognize a guy who played one year in the NBA before an accident permanently derailed his career.

Anyway, I eventually just went up to him and said "Hey, this might seem out of the blue, but if the answer is 'Yes' you're probably pretty used to it: Are you Jay Williams?" He laughed and said that he indeed was, then asked me my name and shook my hand. I asked him if he was ever going to play again and he said that he wasn't, but he was going to start as an analyst for ESPN the next day (i.e. today). If everything goes well it'll turn into a permanent gig. I wished him luck and let him enjoy the rest of his meal. On the rare occasions I do encounter a celebrity, I understand the concept of essentially treating them like anyone else, which is what I imagine most of them want. (To be fair, if I ever met Chase Utley or Cole Hamels, I'd probably gush and giggle like a schoolgirl.)

I told the girl that was waiting on him that if he paid, I wanted to see what kind of a tip he left. His bill was $71, and he left a $10 tip, which is a little less than 15%, which is pretty crappy. I'm certainly not accusing him of being cheap - if he were truly cheap he probably would have left even less - I just don't think he knows any better. Granted, there's no real excuse for not knowing any better, but whatever. I'm not gonna hold it against him. But I will call him a lousy tipper.

And, speaking of Chase Utley, he hit his league leading 20th home run last night, as those 1st place Phillies came back to take 2 out of 3 from the Marlins. This team is playing well, have scored more runs than any team other than the Cubs, and are now a season-best 8 games over .500.

Also, Mike Lieberthal signed a one day contract with the Phillies and officially retired a Phillie, which is nice. He played 13 season for the Phillies and made a couple of all-star teams, and he was a stand up guy through and through. Good to have you back Mike, even if it was only for a day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Take That Colorado!

WE won three games this time! Not you! Suck it!

No, this doesn't make me feel any better in the long run. But the Phillies are 31-24. Which is cool. They have been scoring a lot of runs lately (48 runs in 4 games? Hell yeah).

Chase Utley hit his major league leading 17th dinger, Adam Eaton finally won a game, and all is groovy. For now. The Marlins are in town starting Friday. We need to take at least 2 of 3. Fingers crossed baby. I sure do love baseball season.

Go Phils.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Can't Believe I'm Rooting For The Celtics AND The Lakers

But alas, I am. I can't deal with a Spurs - Pistons finals. That would be almost as bad as 2003 when we were about 6 outs from a Cubs - Red Sox World Series and we ended up with Marlins - Yankees. Jesus that was awful. Anyway, my apologies for not posting anything in almost a week. I never thought I'd wax nostalgic for Comcast, but man, Time Warner blows some serious cock. We haven't even been in this apartment a month and already the modem is fucking around.

But whatever, I'll live. Cole Hamels is still muy sexy, so it's cool that that was the headline here for a week. And Ryan Howard is starting to come around, which is nice. Let's hope this is the start of a four month stretch of awesomeness.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cole Hamels Tambien Es Muy Sexy

Muy, muy, sexy. Perhaps even as sexy as Chase Utley. Just look at that line last night: 9IP, 2 BB, 4 hits, 6 Ks, 32 batters faced, no runs. That my friends, is an ace. The Phils are one game out of first behind... the Marlins. This has to end at some point, right? It damn well better.

Oh, and the Flyers won. Which is nice. But something tells me they won't win 3 more in a row. Oh well. That doesn't affect Cole Hamels' sexiness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

At Least The Phillies Won This Time

Which is nice. Although Brad Lidge's ERA is now above 0.00. But, to be fair, Werth did misplay a ball in center with two outs that allowed said run to score. And, to continue being fair, we can forgive him because he drove in 80% of the Phillies' 5 runs. Still, someone needs to explain to me why Victorino isn't back in center. He catches everything.

One more thing about this game - Chipper Jones went 3 for 4 to raise his average to .415. Which is impressive, even for him. I've never liked Chipper, but the man can rake. It's a little scary to think about how good his already impressive career numbers would be if he hadn't missed so many games over the last four years.

Anyway, onto the Flyers, who find themselves down 3 games to none after losing 4-1 Tuesday night. What did you think would happen to a team playing without its top two defensemen? And against a team like the Penguins? That's just too much to overcome. It happens. Hockey is a rough sport. They played hard.

Cheer up Flyers fans. This team is going to keep getting better.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Phils Lose, Flyers Lose, Everbody Loses

Well, except the Penguins and the Giants. They didn't lose. At least Jimmy Rollins is back. If nothing else, he should help Howard. The man is hitting .171 for fuck's sake. And slugging a just as miserable .357. I don't know what his problem is, but it has to improve if this team is going to get back to the playoffs.

And as for the Flyers, well, everything this season has been a free roll anyway. This team finished last in the NHL last year, and now they're in the Eastern Conference finals, which was something I used to take for granted. Of course it was also assumed that they would lose in heartbreaking fashion, because Bobby Clarke is a shithead. At least this team will (hopefully) keep getting better.

And, to be fair, this series isn't over. But they've got a long road ahead of them. Good luck fellas.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Phils Win, Utley Continues To Struggle

1-3? Only one RBI? I don't care if it was the game winner in the top of the 8th Chase, you're down to .350. That's unacceptable. No less than .440. We had a deal.

Anyway, the Phils came back multiple times to beat the Diamondbacks 5-4. Kendrick pitched decently, Feliz hit a homer to raise his average to a robust .228 (hey, he does have 5 homers, and they seem to come at opportune times), Lidge was lights out for the save, and the Phils improved to 20-15, which ties them for first with... Florida? Florida? I don't get it either. Whatever. I'll take it.

Also, that Celtics-Cavs game was the worst game of basketball I've seen since the Masterman Girls JV basketball team lost to the Hallahan Girls JV basketball team 14-13 in 32 minutes in 1999. Lebron was missing shots that Eric Snow would have made. Okay, maybe not Eric. But you get the idea. Terrible. Just fucking terrible. I guess the series has nowhere to go but up.

Anything but Spurs-Pistons. That's all I ask.