September 28, 2007
"Having seen or listened to nearly every single Phillies game since 1962, this team has just moved into the vaulted spot held by the '93 team as my most exciting Phillies team of my generation. Move over Kruckster, Lenny, Dutch and Hollins the NEW Broadstreet bombers have taken over no matter the outcome of the rest of the year."
That's it, the nectar I was searching for in Phlogdom this late-September morning when the birds are chirping, it's Friday and Indian Summer-warm, and the 2007 Phillies find themselves with a foot on first place with only three games to go.
It's from a commenter at Beerleaguer with the handle '64 survivor.
The swoon we're talking about today isn't from a legendary Phillies team, but from the team one metropolis to the North. The Mets held a 7-game lead with 17 left in the season. If you log onto to ESPN this morning, you'll savor the headline, "Shea It Ain't So."
It's so. The lead squandered. A four-game skid. Something rotten in the Big Apple.
Over at Swing & A Miss, Tom Goodman is fixated on the not-so-amazin' Mets, which is understandable.
But it's an old grudge he's trying to work out of his back molars:
Meanwhile, back at the pennant race, the Mets continue to stumble and bumble their way towards possibly one of baseball's legendary late-season collapses. It couldn't happen to a nicer team. (On occasion I still wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, sit up straight and ask myself, "How in the hell did the Mets beat the Orioles in '69??!!")
The exercise continues in the comments, as readers tease out of him the most agonizing memories of the Mets and 1969, and we get an argument in which the young Ron Swoboda and Tommy Agee are gamboling across the green fields of a more innocent era.
A time when one could write innocent and Mets in the same sentence.
With a fairly important weekend of baseball on the way, Balls Sticks & Stuff is thinking of sacrifice -- the sort of sacrifice the phaithful must make when hope is on the line:
Yes, we all have lives outside of baseball, but at a time like this, you have to go down to the game. I'm going tonight, despite having two jobs, a wife that is is bursting at the seams, and a dog who is very adamant about his daily walks and fetch session.
Enrico at the 700 Level is stealing time from his studies (he's dropped down to D.C. for B school, but mustard still flows through his veins) to weigh in on that special something:
The Phillies are good. Their line up can beat any pitcher in the bigs on any given day. We've kind of known this but tended to brush it aside because the pitching was so bad, so hot, and so cold. The Phillies are not only good but they have shown they have that certain something that can get win them games.
What is that special something? Can't say exactly. But if you look at Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Kyle Kendrick, J.C. Romero, etc., you see it. Heck, even Dobbs, Werth, and company off the bench give you a good feeling. On any given night it's been a different guy. It's hard not to single out Jimmy, though. He's the face of this 2007 squad and what a lovely smile it is.
Pitching. Yeah. Pitching is still a concern, as always. If the Phillies are for real, the pitching is going to have play out of their mind for the next three days. And over the next few weeks, baseball gods permitting.
Three games left in the regular season. The Phillies are tied atop the division and one back from the wildcard. In come the Nationals. This is about as meaningful a set of games this town has seen in September in ages. Get you're rally towels out.
He's a realist. Color him cautiously optimistic.
The Good Phight wastes no words:
159 games later, Phils are once again tied for first place.
What a strange and wonderful feeling.
Hey, we're a page away from October, and we've got a pennant race here.
September 27, 2007
After today's column -- on a City Council bill to ban plastic bags and polystyrene packing materials -- got a call from Joe Donahue, age 75, of Conshohocken, who wanted me to hear his poem entitled "Paper or Plastic."
Joe says that back in "twenty-oh-four" he was driving between Minnesota and New York, coming back from the senior tour, where he works as a caddy.
"I was by myself, and I was amazed, just absolutely amazed, to see the plastic as you come through the farm lands. They all have the wire fences, and the lakes for cattle and fish farming, and the trees were all hanging this crepe of plastic. I settled down and wrote "Paper or Plastic."
This is why I love having my phone number at the end of these pieces.
With permission from Joe D., as he signs his poems, here goes:
The check-out counter is where it starts
Paper or plastic defines your heart.
You choose plastic and the trouble begins
What happens with that bag is almost a sin.
They say it's stronger, and that much is true
Reusable in ways paper won’t do.
It linens the trash can and carries ice
Stores food in your freezer.
Isn’t that nice.
When finally disposed of its life is not through.
There’s a lot of damage for this bag to do.
It floats in the air until snagged by a branch
Tossing and turning in a grotesque death dance.
Spoiling nature’s beauty with a cancerous spot
Turning a green glenn into a trashy vacant lot.
Tossed into water and carried by tide
It could end up in a fish’s inside.
Killing this creature in a horrible way
Taking his life with no one to pay.
Hauled off to landfills and ploughed underground
Living its plastic life longer than anything around.
So your very next time in the check-out line
Ask for paper and stop the plastic bag crime.
Some other calls were less poetic.
"Don't write about plastic again," warned a lady from South Philly, who said Councilman DiCicco should know better to spend his time trying to ban plastic bags.
"Paper bags bring roaches," she said, "and we don't need any more kinds of bugs around here."
Which is sort of poetic, actually.
Another writer, John Monaghan from Glenside put it this way:
"City Council should stop worrying about duck livers, plastic bags and cigarette butts and challenge citizens to become responsible. Do that and people will respond. Then Council can get on with the serious work at hand."
Meanwhile, I'm not the only person addressing the big issues who hears from fancy organizations. Anthony Preziosi, blogging at My Sick Mind, took a stance about soap dispensers in men's rooms, then got a hit from the Soap & Detergent Association. Which sounds to me like a CIA front if there ever was one.
September 25, 2007
Brush With Britney
You look at the wreck on the celebrity highway that is Britney Spears, and you wonder just what happened in her formative years, what she inherited from all that genetic stuff, that caused her to flame out so fabulously.
And you start thinking about how the candy apple doesn't fall that far from the tree.
Daily Sally, who has been sharing her brushes with greatness for years on her blog, posts a beauty in her recollection of the day the 17-year-old Britney visited the AOL.com studios in Los Angeles, where Sally was working as a producer and the teen queen had come to chat. The Louisiana lollypop arrived with her mom, and the two put on quite a floor show.
Surprise -- chatting was not her strong suit.
To be fair, she was very young. Her mother, though older, was, well, not much wiser. There was a lot of dual gum chewing. Doe-eyed confusion. And near pathological unselfconsciousness.
Or hey, maybe just plain unconsciousness.
The take-away from this too-real post is that Mom asked Britney to show Sally her equipment.
We were in the Green Room, a fairly high traffic area. Soon conspiratorial mother-daughter whispers and giggles resulted in an "impromptu" wardrobe change.
Note: I'm still not comfortable imagining us as even vaguely similar parents. Plus, I have a son, no daughters.
However, as her truly lovely and clueless child stood there naked from the waist up, jaws working, eyes staring into the middle teen distance, one foot tapping to an inner beat, her mother asked me ... wait for it ... "Do you think ah was wrong to buy her them thangs?"
Lynn Spears was a grade school teacher. Which doesn't guarantee good parenting. But it should at least require correct grammar.
The problem with wrecks is that it's so easy to slow down and look.
September 24, 2007
Props For Poindexter
The caller, an African American woman in her 80th year, wanted to know just what I meant when I used the word "Poindexter" in today's column. "I'm not familiar with that term," she said on her phone message.
She had a lovely voice. I called Thelma A. back, and did my best to explain that Prof. Elijah Anderson says the label is used in the black community to describe a kid with thick-glasses, pocket protector and heavy bag of books. It is not a term of endearment.
This got me Googling. I forgot exactly who Poindexter was.
Wikipedia refreshed my memory:
Poindexter is a fictional character in the cartoon Felix the Cat. First introduced in 1958, he is the young nephew of the Professor, the arch-nemesis of Felix. ...
Poindexter is depicted as a stereotypical scientist; he is very intelligent and always wears thick glasses, a lab coat, and a mortarboard. A button on the chest of his lab coat acts as a control for whatever device the plot calls for. He helps his bumbling uncle concoct elaborate schemes to get Felix and capture his Magic Bag, though at times both are depicted as Felix's friends. Poindexter always refers to the protagonist as "Mr. Felix".
Apparently, it's been working its way into the language since the early 1980s.
With the Philadelphia Parking Authority now working longer hours for the good of the people, here's one of those shiny geegaws to show just where the cheapest and handiest places are to stow your wheels.
Best Parking.com looks pretty bare bones, but it's got its charms.
You tell it the general vicinity where you want to park your car -- by the hour or by the month -- and then it shows you the closest lots and garages, and let's you compare prices.
One of the niftier aspects is that it lets you click various attractions, like the University of Pennsylvania, where I've got to drive today, and then up comes a map that asks me to tell it what times I'll be parking. It then shows my best bet to be a $15 garage at Market and 38th.
Ok, that is a bad demonstration. It doesn't show the closer lot by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and why wouldn't I just load $3 into meters for three hours?
It does better when searching monthly parking.
Let's say I work at Broad and Callowhill (what a stretch) and want to stash the mini van in a lot while I type away.
Here it really shines. I could pay $180 at that lot across the street, but why not walk another block to 12th & Callowhill and save $80 a month?
In addition to showing the Center City lots and garages on an interactive map, it lists the nearest garages by cost. Which shows I could be parting with $325-a-month if I wanted to put it at 18th & Cherry.
The site started in New York, and had spread to Philly and Boston. A Wall Street Journal article from this summer reports that those with mobile phones and PDAs can visit the site for daily specials, real time.
September 21, 2007
Hire Ed Wade
Richard Justice, writing in the Houston Chronicle today, gives this view of the former Phillies GM, just hired to do the same job for the Astros:
He's a detail man in every good sense of the word and has been around enough successful organizations to know what's needed.
Want proof? Check out the 2007 Philadelphia Phillies. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell and Brett Myers were drafted or developed during Wade's tenure as general manager.
Want more proof? He hired Ruben Amaro Jr. and promoted Mike Arbuckle. He sought the counsel of Paul Owens and Dallas Green. He knows the ingredients of a good organization. He also knows what he doesn't know.
Yo! Did we run him out of town, a friend asks, because we always need someone to hate?
A commenter named Greg at Phillies Nation is a little more critical:
I’m not sure you can hand Wade all the credit for products of our farm system. Don’t forget Turk Wendell, Mike Williams and all the other rent-a-wreck relievers he wasted talent on. Gillick’s centerpiece deal has to be getting Rowand and don’t underestimate that. J.C. Romero? Alfonseca? Werth? If the Phils make it to the playoffs, I think Gillick and Manuel deserve the Nobel Prize for their patchwork on a team decimated by injury throughout the season.
Wonder what this writer would say to that.
Yale To The Rescue
O.J.'s got himself a Philadelphia lawyer *
(does Cherry Hill count?)
September 11, 2007
An odd post, really, on A.J. Daulerio's Philadelphia Magazine blog today.
A.J., whose hipster view of sports buffoonery in Deadspin has been a regular read for me, describes an unannounced visit from a NFL security man, who was sniffing out whether A.J. actually knew anything that could tie Eagles players to dogfighting.
Only, as A.J. writes, he didn't know anything. He was pursuing a rumor that got shot down by all he contacted, so he wrote nothing. "Story over."
Until this morning's visit from the football man, which gave A.J. an opportunity to spill what he knew, or didn't know. In the process, A.J. dropped the name of a beloved former Eagle who's allegedly been the subject of such rumors on another blog.
I would not like to be that beloved ex-Eagle right now. If there's no truth to the rumor, them's fightin' words.
The post will get read, given that it caught the attention of Jim Romenesko at the Poynter Institute, a regular watering hole for journos avoiding work. (That's how I found it.)
A.J.'s post attracted some good comments, but none better than the first responder, who wrote:
My only question is, can the dogs catch a punt?