Give up yet?
Let’s see, there’s Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, Avery and…
You betchya! Move over, Petey, ‘cuz Joe Blanton is about to take his seat on the ultimate bench of irrelevancy!!!
Indeed, as the shock from Ruben Amaro’s impressively aggressive move to recapture the services of Cliff Lee finally wears off, we are all bound to feel the wrath of that stellar Phillies rotation — a rotation that will make National League stomachs churn as violently as a half digested Taco Bell 7-layer burrito after an all-night college kegger where you went home with a chick named Mo.
And then there’s Joe Blanton.
Of course, this is assuming Blanton will even be a Philly once the 2011 season starts. If I were Ruben, I would do everything in my power to unload that salary, then it’d just be a matter of putting a body out on the mound every five days. If said body is able to pitch, that’s a plus. But really, four days out of five, the Phils are gonna be the hardest friggin’ team ON THE PLANET to beat.
Are you paying attention to all this Mr. Mozeliak?
Hate me. I don’t care. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
The symbols of relevance, the things that transform a simple it into that proverbial “it” are generally born all in the timing, and since the Birds on the Bat are stuck in a Philadelphia this week, so too am I.
And I don’t like it.
No, this has nothing to do with Philadelphia being a backwards place (it is). It doesn’t have anything to do with the type of fans who cheer when the other teams’ star gets hurt (they do). And of course, this does not have anything to do with that ^sswipe Jim Bunning (he really is an ^sswipe, folks).
Indeed, my suddenly emphatic aggravation with Philadelphia is rooted in one fella and one fella only. His name is Ruben. Ruben Effing Amaro (that middle name is still surreptitiously unofficial).
Why? Why such distaste for one man?
Because he gave a mighty slugger who is notoriously awful against left-handed pitching the contract extension of all contract extensions — a mesmerizing $25 million a year… for 2012 to 2016 — causing massive migraine headaches for we Cardinals fans already obsessively worrying about Albert Pujols’ future with the team.
Yeah. Ryan Howard is good. But $25 million a year? He ain’t that good.
And anyone who has ever seen the game of baseball can tell you that Albert Pujols is LIGHT YEARS better than Ryan Howard, in all aspects of the game. All… of… them.
So if Howard is worth $25 million a year, then Albert is worth $30-$32 million a year, which means that if I want A.P. to remain a Cardinal for life, I and the rest of Cardinals Nation better be ready to pay $100 for a bleacher ticket, or imagine a world where Albert isn’t our savior.
(That would kill me by the way)
So thanks a lot, Ruben. Just a week ago, deep down inside, I would have admitted to having a strange yet pleasurable affinity for the Phillies. Dick Allen. Mike Schmidt. Steve Carlton. Pete Rose. Lenny Dykstra. Darren Daulton. Just the thought of those guys grindin’ it out with the “P” on their caps kinda got me excited… and I have no idea why.
They’re dead to me.
And so are you.*
Hate me ‘cuz I give it to ya straight, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
*You’re not really dead. This is what fancy writers like Al and I call “figure of speech”. It can be AWEsome. Like it is here.
I had the good fortune of spending this past weekend in South Jersey with some of the hardest of hard core Phillies fans one will ever meet; and I have a barrage of UDIs* to prove it. My host, Bill, CEO of MyTeamRivals.com and co-author of the Phightin’ Phils Phorum has one of the coolest baseball man-caves I have ever seen, touting a full bar alongside every Phillie autograph you could imagine plus stunning memorabilia including a Mickey Mantle signed bat hanging proudly on the wall.
Like Chico Escuela, “Beisol been a bery, bery good to me.”
Without the interwebs and blogging baseball for the last two years, I would have never met Bill. In fact, through writing about my obsession, I have become good friends with so many cool, interesting, like-minded baseball fans that sometimes I just have to pinch myself at how neat it all is — that I could become good friends with people I have never met who live all over the world, from Tokyo to London to New York to L.A. to Denver to Houston to Boston to Philadelphia and everywhere in between.
And on Saturday night, while the Phillie faction was deep into a heated discussion about Ruben Amaro’s sanity, I was drawn to the poor Mr. Met effigy hanging upside down at the end of the bar, and more importantly to the fella sitting in front of it. His name was (still is) Mike. Mike, the lone Mets fan. We got to talking about baseball (what else?) and before long it was revealed that Mike was at Game 6 of the 1986 World Series — perhaps the greatest World Series game ever played.
I explained to Mike how that game (and that World Series) was the key component to my baseball fanaticism going from casual to die-hard at the speed of a first base-side groundball through the wickets. And the St. Louis Cardinals weren’t even involved.
Of course, I was only 7 years old, but I remember the hype, the hoopla, the buzz about the Red Sox finally one game away from a title and the unruly and wildly charming bad boyz from Queens standing in their way. I sat alongside my father and my grandmother, watching every pitch. And as the game approached the bottom of the 9th, I clearly remember thinking that this was finally going to be the Red Sox’ moment, that they would finally reach the top after years of disappointment.
In those days, if the Cardinals weren’t in the World Series, I took my dad’s side in rooting for the National League team, no matter who it was, for according to him, the National League’s was the better game — the way it was supposed to be played.
And I remember, as the Mets’ magic unfolded and Ray Knight crossed home plate to the tune of Vin Scully’s “And the Mets wiiiiiiin it!”, that I, too, went nuts with excitement. I jumped up and down and ran around the house with the type of joy that is best defined by youth — a little boy’s bliss brought on by the simple idea that you can do anything if you work hard and never give up.
At that exact moment I decided that that was what baseball was all about — and that life was a game of baseball: full of drama, full of hope, full of solace, full of emotion.
Mike was there.
He knew what I was talkin’ about.
Anyone who has ever called him or herself a baseball fan knows exactly what we’re talkin’ about.
And that, to me, is power.
So, y’know, don’t hate me. ‘Cuz I’m right.
*UDI = Unidentified Drunken Injury