New Day Dawning

Those Philly boo birds: Oh where, oh where have they gone? — Ron Costello


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The Dismantling and Destruction of the Philadelphia Phillies

If your mission was to run the team into the ground, you couldn’t have done it better than Junior.

But was it entirely his fault? Maybe not all? But most of it was. His personae says that he’s cooler than Dr. Suess and knows what’s up. But the results suggest otherwise.

The 2008 championship seems like a fantasy in an old man’s dream. From a star-studded parade  down Broad Street, to the near miss vs the Yankees in ’09  — to the ugly, painful, last at bat injury in the 2011 post season loss to the Cardinals.

After that, the club went to hell in a handbasket!

From the four aces, to a rotation that is so up and down it would make Belmont Hills look like a central Illinois soybean farm. They take turns getting hammered while appearing disgruntled, like the millions they are raking in isn’t enough.

From 2007 to 2011, the Phillies won the National League East Division — three of those under Junior, but let’s be fair, most of the players came from the Gillick Empire.

In my view, a few additions this season could have kept them in the hunt, but with a bulging payroll topping off at $180 million, they can hardly add a janitor to sweep out the dugout. Besides, Junior seems slow to move — except when he’s dealing out million dollar, long term contracts that boggles the mind.

After the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Hall of Fame GM Pat Gillick retired. The Phillies then selected a blue-blue prodigy as GM: A born and raised Philadelphian — William Penn Charter High School student council leader and star athlete; bat boy for the 1980 Phillies’ World Championship team; former player; a biology major who led his Stanford University baseball team to the College World Series and  whose dad is a fixture in Phillies history. His grandfather, Santos Amaro, was the “Babe Ruth of the Mexican League.” Both Junior’s father and grandfather are in the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

A Phillies blue-blood native son. His semblance so intriguing it would silence the drunkenness’ boo bird in the deluxe box seats at Connie Mack Stadium.

But it’s been a fall from grace!

First, two outfielders — Pat Burrell and Jason Werth — walked.  What could poor Junior do? He didn’t have the money to keep them. It seemed the Phillies never replaced the power Burrell and Werth pumped into those winning teams — power that left the middle of the lineup as shallow and weak as an old head who won’t take his Viagra.

Then came the devastating injuries to Utley and Howard — both never got near their ’08 and ’09 numbers again. Their home run and RBI production dropped faster than a  North Korean missile over the Sea of Japan.  J-Roll and Chooch on and off the DL as the years  and the 162 game-annual-marathon-body-killer seasons took its toll. Add to that list Brad Lidge and Roy Halladay cashing out.

Saddled with a team budget surpassing the GNP of a dozen nations, two solid, fan favorite outfielders had to go: Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Plain as the nose on your face:  Junior just couldn’t afford them.

But he could afford players like Delmon Young, Michael Martinez, Laynce Nix, Michael Young, Mike Adams, John McDonald, Casper Wells, Ben Revere, John LannanI could go on and on.

Add to that an overpaid closer with a Vladimir Putin  attitude so bad Junior can’t give him away.

Meanwhile, flabbergasted and frustrated die-hard Phillies fans, loyal as the day is long — 257 straight-game-sellouts — watched the team go down the toilet.

Now Amaro — who can’t find a warm body to trade at the deadline — offered up the only significant piece left from the glory days, World Series MVP Cole Hamels. The problem was Junior wanted half a team’s Triple A can’t miss all-stars, lock, stock and barrel.

Ten minutes after the deadline, the team is left with an ace and a corral of aging has-beens that might not win again until Hillary is in her second term.

Doesn’t make sense.

Go ahead, look through Phillies history of the last five years. Then see if you could do a better job running the team into the ground.

I bet you can’t!

Everybody I talk to says it, so I might as well, too: The prodigy must go!

See Mr. Terry’s Playmates of the Year — Special Peek-a-Boo Edition

Vote for Caroline Again — She’s currently in second place!

South Philly Texas Style


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An Open Letter to Al and All Phillies Fans

First of all, I hate Toronto!

First of all, I hate Toronto! It’s not even in America.

Here’s a note I received from a loyal reader and friend, Al, in the Peach State:

“Ron, are you warmed up? I just reserved a flight to Toronto for you. It shouldn’t be more than 100-0 by the time you get there,” Al.

Dear Al:

This could be my last stand!

I’m working on a great Cab,  which I know you love, too. The Misses is getting a doo and I’m here alone with the Cab and keyboard. It doesn’t get any better than that.

How did Dylan do that? Sing, play the guitar, and harmonica?

How did Dylan do that? Sing, play the guitar, and harmonica.

Al, if you were here, I’d clink glasses with you  and say what my friend Pete in Villanova says when we start drinking wine: .”Sa’lute, cent’ anni.”

He’s a good wine drinker.

Here’s the thing.

I went out on a limb and said the Phillies would win the East. I guess I’m looking pretty stupid, now, but what’s that line say in Bob Dylan’s song? ‘For the loser now will be later to win, for the times, they are a-changin.‘ I was a big Dylan fan. The music of Dylan and Baez flowed through the barracks at Ft. Bragg, NC, in 1969.

Okay, the Ace got hammered in the seventh last night when three Blue Jays went yard. It was pretty nasty. But Al, look at it this way, after everything that’s gone wrong, they are what. Two-and-a-half out?

Lee got hammered in the seventh.

Lee got hammered in the seventh.

I sent an email to my brother Fred asking him what he would do with the team. He said, “Fire Amaro.”

A good point, I admit, but not much help.

I’m in this alone, Al, and I’ve got to fight my way out. It looks like Dear Leader isn’t buying my advice on Chase Headley. Whew, not after Cody Ashe just went four for four.

Hey, Cody, thanks a lot.

But let’s take a look at things, Al. I know, when you were VP for operations at Merck, you would sometimes kick back and evaluate staff. You know, do a once over and see what comes up.

Dom, you want the big money or not?

Dom, you want the big money or not?

So here we go, the players that need a kick in the butt:

First, Dom Brown, a big one. Dom, I’ve been singing your praises for three years, so my friend, you owe me. See the ball. Hit the ball. Go sit down. Don’t worry about hurting your pinky. You’re hitting .223 with one home run.

What, are you insane?

You’re on a one year, $550,000 contract. That’s chump-change to LeBron James. He spends that much a year on tips. You will never see the big money unless you…

H-I-T   T-H-E    B-A-L-L!!! Got it?

Cole Hamels. I’m not going to use the word overrated, but my neighbors in South Philly are talking. It seems you’ve never pitched in the cold rain in California.

Okay, I can understand that. But Cole, we’re in the era of climate change. Next month you might be pitching in a tsunami, so get with it.

In South Philly, they're using a few expletives before and after overrated.

In South Philly, they’re using a few expletives before and after overrated.

Lookit, Cole. When they give you the big contract, you’re suppose to set an example for the younger players, like Roberto Hernandez, and do good.

That way, they’ll shell out millions more for the next Cole Hamels. You’ve got a responsibility. You good with that?

Kyle Kendrick. Kyle, you’re in a contract year, am I correct? When you’re in a contract year, you’re supposed to step it up so you can get a blockbuster deal — similar money to what the School District of Philadelphia CAN’T get — for the next 3 years.

B-U-T   Y-O-U   A-R-E  0-3,  W-I-T-H    A    3.58    E-R-A!!!

Kyle, it’s fun to sit in the dugout with Lee and Burnett and spit sunflower seeds and be like Bowa.

But you’ve got to do some serious thinking about whether  you want a $450,000 home, or a $4 million dollar home. See what I’m sayin‘?

Oh yea, there are others: Nix, .158; Mayberry, .143 and Galvis, .051.

Boys, let’s try to get it up above the Mendoza line, or next season you’ll be watching the games on Xfinity with the Misses and me.

And finally, what’s with Toronto? Can’t they do anything besides hit home runs?

Al, see why you shouldn’t drink and write?

Your friend, Ron.

 


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Cole: Take a Page From Robin Roberts — Chill Out, Man

Cole 1. He looked a lot like this last season.

Cole 1. He looked like this too often last season.

Here’s the thing: Cole isn’t having any fun.

Cole 2. Too uptight.

Cole 2. Too uptight.

Last season on the mound, Hamels, 30,  looked tighter than Matt Stairs at a Wing Bowl championship.

Especially when he got into trouble; or got little offense, which happened sometimes. Okay, which happened a lot. Remember through last season the miserable look on Hamels face? Hell, the wife and I saw that from our Xfinity seats.

You know that look — Cole 1, on the left, and Cole 2, on the right. Maybe what bothers Cole Hamels  is not in his arm but in his head.

Roberts, one of the best in baseball.

Roberts, one of the best in baseball.

Which got me to thinking that real-men-pitchers — men like Gibson, Roberts, Sphan, and Ryan — never complained of arm fatigue.  They’d take the ball, grit their teeth, drop a few hitters in the dirt, and pitch a complete game. Yes, sir, they were real men.

If that’s what you think, think again.

There's Robin Roberts in later years in the dugout telling J-Dub not to go to Washington.

There’s Robin Roberts in later years in the dugout telling J-Dub not to go to Washington.

In 1958, at age 31, that’s exactly what Robin Roberts had, arm fatigue, or so they thought. Roberts, a Michigan State alumnus, recognized as one of baseball’s best pitchers, claimed he never had a “sore arm.”

That’s what we called it back in the day, a sore arm. But something was cutting his effectiveness — in other words he was getting hammered.

It seemed Roberts was right. There was nothing wrong with his arm. The Phillies’ trainers taught him how to relax before games and it made a huge difference in his delivery. From then on he was more  relaxed than Tim Tebow taking a knee — and he got hammered less.

It’s  questionable how Hamels  could have arm fatigue when he hasn’t pitched in five months.

There could be something else bothering Cole Hamels: $144 million over six years — the contract he signed before the start of last season. Unfortunately for Roberts, he never had that problem.

It could be that Cole is the kind of guy who wants to prove to belligerent Phillies’ fans that he’s worth it. Every penny of it. And each time he takes the mound, he takes it personal.

If Cole takes the mound like this, he'll win 20 this season.

If Cole gets acupuncture and takes the mound like this, he’ll win 20 this season.

You can see it in his face.

He’s got to stop looking like he’s leading the Bataan Death March.

If the Phillies can’t help Hamel’s relax, I know someone who can — Dr. Yong Xu at the Arch Acupuncture Center in Chinatown, Philadelphia.

Dr. Xu, born in China, comes from six generations of Chinese acupuncturists.

By inserting needles in marked lines in the body, called meridians, Dr. Xu can treat the immune system, injured muscles, and treat anxiety, which is what could be bothering Cole Hamels.

Not a sore arm.