Mark McGwire owes us an apology

Nearly 5 years ago I wrote a post titled “Apologies are owed to Mark McGwire”.  It was the first post that I had written to gain any sort of attention. The point of the story was that even though Mark McGwire hadn’t told Congress that he had taken steroids, he didn’t lie on the stand, and he should be respected for that, especially in light of Raphael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa. I defended him for that. Watching Palmeiro and Sosa up there, lying under oath, I respected that he didn’t lie. That’s all undone tonight.

I watched Mark McGwire go on the MLB Network and lie to the fans and that is unforgivable. McGwire stated that he didn’t take steroids for performance enhancing benefits, just to get back out on the field sooner. He also stated that was able to hit because he had God given talent. Maybe he believes this, but Mark, you benefited from taken steroids, whether you wanted to, or not.  It’s not as if you can tell the steroids to only make you feel better and not make home runs go 25 feet further.

Either McGwire lies or he’s stupid, and I don’t think he’s stupid. What I don’t understand is why come this far just to screw it up at this point. What’s worse is that when McGwire stated that he wishes that he didn’t play in that “era”, he basically threw every player that played in the 90′s under the bus. It’s one thing for writers and fans to do that, it’s another thing entirely for McGwire to do so.

Good for Mark McGwire coming clean after all these years, I wish him the best of luck as a hitting coach. Let’s hope he teaches his players how to play on the field, and that those same players learn from his example of how not to behave off the field.

70′s era Phillies take another hit: Danny Ozark RIP

Danny OzarkThis has been a tough year for Phillies fans that grew up in the 70′s as I did.  First Harry Kalas and now Danny Ozark.  Ozark was not as beloved as Kalas – he managed the Phils for 7 years and never made the World Series, but without him, the Phillies don’t win the series in 1980. Those teams he had in the 70′s were fun to watch – Cash, Bowa, Maddox, Schmidt, Luzinski, Carlton, Johnstone, McGraw, among others.

No he didn’t win the series, but he set the stage and was part of the most successful stretch in history for the Phillies – from 1976-1983.

Ozark is survived by his wife, Ginny, two children and three grandchildren.

A little of my childhood died today with Harry Kalas

kalas_275x235Today the Philadelphia Phillies lost one of the true icons of not just this city, but from within the game of baseball. Harry Kalas was the voice of baseball in my youth – he and Richie Ashburn brought both radio and TV to games to millions of fans for decades. It never seemed the same when Ashburn died in 1997, and now that last tie between my childhood and today is gone.

I played a lot of baseball as a kid, and I dreamed of one day playing for my beloved Phillies. I pretended to hit home runs in the backyard and would mimic Kalas’ “Outta Here” home run call as I did it. For me, I couldn’t watch every game – I often listened on my little Radio Shack AM radio. The game is so different these days. With so many mediums for tracking sports, as well as so many distractions, the day of the old school broadcaster that became the image of a team, is a thing of the past. I feel lucky that I was able to enjoy the game through Harry for so many years.

Last week I went to go see the Phillies get their World Series rings on a crisp cool Wednesday day game. Harry the K through out the first pitch and then Kristen and I got a bite to eat at the restaurant in left field that bears Harry’s name. The Phillies eventually fell behind 10-2 by the seventh inning, at which point we left the game. The Phillies eventually came back and won that game. Harry Kalas had to watch a lot of bad games in his years, and he couldn’t leave.

I am so happy that Harry had a chance to call a World Series victory and see his Phillies win. Within hours of the victory, I received a number of links to Harry’s call of the last pitch of that game because everyone knew, it’s not a big game in Philadelphia without hearing Harry’s call. My heart is heavy today and I honestly shed a tear for Harry.

Rest in Peace Harry – Philadelphia will miss you.

Other tributes from around the web:

Reversal of fortunes for the Phillies and Eagles

For most of my life I have been a Phillies fan first and Eagles fan second. Some of my earliest memories are of watching the Phillies at my father’s feet. The switch began in the late 80′s as I learned about football, the Eagles got better, and the Phils became atrocious. I had always felt that the Phillies had surrendered this city to the Eagles because this city was first and foremost a baseball town. The Eagles owned this town as recent as two years ago. What a difference two years makes.

Flash to Winter of 2008, the Phillies are World Champs and the Eagles have become a team that has underperformed just as the Phillies had done for most of this decade. I had often said that the Phils need to look at how the Eagles are run and learn a lesson. I don’t see lessons for the Eagles to learn from these Phillies, but they should be disappointed that they haven’t been able to turn all that savviness into a title. And now they’ve lost this town; at least for now.

These things are fleeting. If the Eagles turn this around next year, they could be the toast of the town. That will require Jeffery Lurie to instigate the changes that Andy Reid is unable to. Otherwise this team will suffer the fate of the Phillies of the 90′s: they will become a ridiculed and forgotten team in a city they owned.

(Sorry for any typos. This post was written on an iPhone.)

Phinally!

The cork on a 25 year-old bottle of champagne was just popped.

I remember the last time the Phillies won. I was 12 years old, watching the game on the edge of my parents bed. My dad, a nurse, had to work 11 pm to 7 am – and waited as long as he could, but missed the end. I’m sure he heard the commotion on the way to work. Tonight he was the first person I called. Just as it was 28 years ago, he was on his way to work, and waited as long as he could. This time he was able to see that last pitch.

With one pitch, the ghosts of over 100 seasons were exised. The weight that the Eagles, Sixers, and Flyers has just been lifted and now they can just play. And I feel so happy for these guys.

Bob Boone, Pete Rose, Manny Trillo, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, Garry Maddox, Bake McBride, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Lonnie Smith, Keith Moreland, Marty Bystrom, Bob Walk, Dick Ruthven, Del Unser, Greg Gross…

Those were the guys I remember from the 1980 Phillies. I’ll remember them forever. They come around to Philadelphia, they don’t buy a drink, we all remember them as they were 28 years ago. These guys now have that. Remembered forever.

Thank you every much for making a not old, but not young man so happy. And tomorrow I get to remember how this will make the Mets fans feel.

Break up the Phillies

Everyone wants to talk about Rollins’ being benched yesterday and while I’ll get to that, I think everyone is ignoring the other more concerning issues with this team.   Here’s what I’d discuss:

  • Charlie Manuel should be benched – In the 8th inning yesterday, the Phils had the bases loaded and two outs with Jason Werth facing Oliver Perez.   The Mets bring in Aaron Heilman a side-winding righty;   Manuel had 3 left-handed bats on the bench – Rollins (reigning MVP), Greg Dobbs (leading pinch-hitter in the majors), and Geoff Jenkins.   All three remained on the bench and watched Werth fly out.   I don’t care what the reasoning, that roles is for Dobbs, he’s supposed to be in in that situation no matter what.
  • Chase Utley and Ryan Howard go a combined 2 for 24.   Take away the 9th inning in the first game of the Mets series and the Phillies have scored 10 runs in the past 5 games.   I am so tired of seeing easy runs die at 3rd base.       I don’t care what the talent is, this team can’t hit anything other than a home run – no way to get to the playoffs like that.
  • Lost in this is how well Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels, and Kyle Kendrick are pitching.   I’m afraid that when the hitters finally come around, the pitching will be in a rut.

Now the Rollins’ situation.   Totally mishandled by the Phillies.   Alright, yes he was late and deserved to be punished. You don’t do it in that situation in that game.   Bench him today.   Fine him.   That does two things – it keeps the issue in the clubhouse and not in the press and it keeps him in the game.   Everyone wants to say you treat MVPs like everyone else – BULLSHIT.   Yes Jimmy let the team down yesterday, but all Uncle Charlie did yesterday was cut off his nose to spite his face.   If this is the playoffs, you think Charlie benches him?   If he does, I’ll rub my face in Howard Eskin’s greasy mane.

I don’t know what you can do to fix this.   Rollins, Utley, and Howard hitting would fix a lot of things, but there’s nothing you can do to get that done.   Maybe they need to start playing for one run all the time – bunting, squeezes, hit and run (when have you seen Charlie do that)?   It’s time to put the players in situations where they don’t have to think – they just do.