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Now Ryan Howard Hates Ryne Sandberg

I blame Ruben Amaro for this. It’s his fault that we have to see first Jimmy Rollins and now Ryan Howard passive aggressively refer to their Hall of Fame manager as a pronoun:

Voila_Capture 2014-07-24_04-27-52_PM Voila_Capture 2014-07-24_04-28-03_PM

This on the heels of Sandberg benching Howard two straight days and a report that Howard could be released after the seasonHey, uh, Mr. Montgomery, if you want to release me with $60 million and a lazy river in Florida, I’d be OK with that.

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The Phillies Won’t See Helen Hunt’s Boobs Again

"Well, you look like a nice sturdy young chap, I shall give you my millions." Photo credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

“Well, you look like a nice sturdy young chap, I shall give you my millions.” Photo credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sport

Sometimes, sometimes David Murphy will write something that doesn’t make me feel like I need to bathe in paint thinner. This is one of those times.

Murphy, making his case for why the Phillies need a more modern president and not David Montgomery:

“But a funny thing happened while the Phillies were maintaining the status quo. The business of baseball changed and, just like most companies with significant legacy components, the Phillies needed a leader who possessed a firm understanding of the sport’s new economic order. In the new order, the science of decision making and resource allocation is just as important as – if not more than – the art of evaluating physical talent. With longtime baseball men like Montgomery and Gillick and Wade and Amaro and Dallas Green and Charlie Manuel all on the payroll, the Phillies are rich in institutional knowledge, an entity that might soon become a market inefficiency itself given the ironically shortsighted disregard with which many children of the new order treat it. But institutional knowledge is often rich with conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is, by definition, static. And if it is not continually checked against the fluid reality of the present, it threatens to mire an organization in the past.”

Completely agree. In fact, I’d argue that it’s not only the baseball ops people who are stuck in the past, but also the team’s marketing, PR and social media folks. The world changed a lot from 2007 to 2011, while the Phils were turning the crank collecting wins and positive press, and it’s almost as if the franchise awoke from a five-year slumber and had no idea what was going on. What happened to Tom Hanks in Castaway is now happening to the Phillies. They’re trying to assimilate back into society, but they’ve missed out on so much. Everything’s different. There’s SABR, Twitter… and Helen Hunt aged extremely awkwardly and somehow met a guy and had a child without taking hardly any time to grieve. What the fuck?! So the Phils are Tom Hanks now, standing in the rain, sopping wet, crossing their fingers for one last look at Helen Hunt’s (still spectacular) boobs.

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No such luck.

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The Eagles Will Run a 50/50 Raffle This Year, Likely Give out More Money Than the Flyers, Phillies, and Sixers Combined

The Eagles will follow the lead of the Phillies and Flyers and Sixers by rolling out a 50/50 raffle at home games this season.

The Eagles’ raffle will benefit the health and educational programs of the Eagles Youth Partnership. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be huge money, too. The Flyers’ 50/50 is the most successful in the city right now (peaking at $72,545 total jackpot in the playoffs, leaving one lucky fan with over $36,000), while the Sixers and Phillies routinely hand out checks well under $5,000. I would not be surprised, however, if the good spirits, alcohol, and general sold-out status of games pushed the Eagles’ total jackpot to double the Flyers’ max.

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Blame Ruben Amaro, For Everything

Photo: St. Pete Beach Photo

Photo: St. Pete Beach Photo

Go away, Ruben Amaro. Go away. You’ve ruined them. You’ve ruined it. You’ve ruined everything. Cole, Ryan, Jimmy, Cliff and Carlos. You’ve ruined them (but you haven’t ruined Chase– no one ruins Chase).

There’s a time when all great things must come to an end. For instance, Man vs. Food episodes end. Scott Hartnell’s supposed romance with Sheena Parveen ended. Such is life. Good things end, and usually the best things end quickly, abruptly, and often in spectacular fashion. But there’s a certain expectation that those in charge, those with the ability to pull the levers of our heartstrings, will take much care to unravel what was once great, or prolong it as best as they can, without leaving everything burning in their wake. In sports, this is done by carefully disassembling a great team, by keeping the best parts, in order to prolong the excitement, and selectively removing unnecessary pieces, not unlike the way you unwrap a Christmas present wrapped by one of those superhuman mall volunteers, or remove an unnecessarily complex piece of lingerie from a significant other (WHY DO THEY PUT THOSE BUTTONS THERE IF THEY’RE JUST FOR SHOW?). You do these things, at the very least, to show respect for something great. You dismantle tactfully. Without that basic code, we’d all be savages. Things would conclude with unneeded briskness. Breaking Bad would’ve ended mid-season without us knowing what happened to Walt and Jesse. We never would’ve found out if the plane crashed in Seinfeld. We’d just throw children into their beds, sans story. Buzz Bissinger would conclude Philly Mag profiles without a fully-realized thought. Bungee cords would be made of steel. Our world would be a place filled with unsettling abruptness.

Ruben Amaro never got this memo.

Instead of identifying the useful heroes from the 2008 World Fucking Championship team and subsequent division winners, and retooling, selectively, around them, he tried to hold on to to virtually every one, forcing them into the catastrophe that is the last three seasons and this unceremonious image death of people we kind of liked at one time. In no particular order: Continue reading

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Please Add Nats Beat Writer Mark Zuckerman to Your Shit Lists

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We’re lucky here in Philadelphia. Our baseball team may be disappointing, depressing, and rage-inducing, but the game is still nice to look at due to — in my biased opinion — one of the best ballparks in the league. That is not the case, however, according to Nationals beat writer Mark Zuckerman, who placed CBP at #15 on his list of the best ballparks in the majors:

15. CITIZENS BANK PARK, Philadelphia
Opened: 2004
Capacity: 43,651
Comment: We’re now entering the indistinguishable middle of the pack. All of these ballparks have some similarities, none of them especially exciting. Call them the modern-day cookie cutters. Philadelphia has probably the best of this group, notable for the dark red brick and two-tiered bullpen behind the center-field fence. But there’s not a whole lot else that defines Citizens Bank Park. Aside from the Phanatic (who is great) and the local fan base (which is not).

Oh, yeah, Phils fans have nothing on those legendary, loyal Nationals fans. Zuckerman’s top 10 was pretty standard, with the top three spots going to the universally loved PNC Park, AT&T Park, and Camden Yards. The top ten are rounded out by the home fields of the Cubs, Padres, Mariners, Twins, Dodgers, Royals, and Red Sox.

Zuckerman doesn’t exactly love where his home team pays either, putting Nationals Park one spot behind CBP. Here’s what he says:

16. NATIONALS PARK, Washington
Opened: 2008
Capacity: 41,418
Comment: Look, you may not like or agree with this. Nationals Park, to its credit, is a very fan-friendly ballpark, with wide concourses and good field views from just about any seat. But it simply has no defining characteristic, no distinct charm. Think about it this way: What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Nationals Park? It’s tough to come up with something. The big video board? The Red Porch area? The cherry blossoms that bloom for only a week or so in early-April? The distant view of the Capitol dome from a handful of sections in the upper deck? I just wish there was something that stood about this place. A quirk in the outfield fence. A view of the Anacostia River. A view of more of the city. A unique bullpen. Something. Anything. Instead, we’re left with a very nice — but wholly indistinguishable — ballpark in the nation’s capital.

You can check out the rest of his list here, but it’s nice to know even a rival can admit CBP is at least the best park in the NL East. Additionally, only the O.co Coliseum (truly one of the worst buildings of any kind in all of America) ranks worst than that hellhole down in Tampa. And I don’t even know if I’d go that far.

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Katie Nolan Lists the Reasons Why Rihanna Should Date Joel Embiid

Katie Nolan and her heart-shaped mouth recorded their spot for FOX Sports 1 yesterday. It’s been posted on Nolan’s YouTube account, because undoubtedly more people will see it there than on FOX Sports 1, which means this whole Embiid Twitter thing has gone national and there’s an actual chance that Joel Embiid will sit the bench this year while side-piecing RIHANNA and presumably tweeting about it the whole damn time, which, let’s be honest, will be, like, a minute (literal and figurative).

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I’ve rooted for many things as a blogger, but this one may be at the top of the list. Bored Sixers draft pick with active Twitter fingers has an illicit steam-fest with the her-own-crotch-obsessed Rihanna, who’s actually using the rookie to get to Mychal Kendricks across the street, all with the specter of Chris Brown lurking in the background to beat the shit out of all three of them????? OH MY GOD YES AND PLEASE, SIRS. I am on Team Joel here. And so is Nolan. In fact, Nolan and I are co-captains. Friends, even. We’re in this together. Me and Katie, and Joel and Ri-Ri… and Chris and Mychal. Hashtag Johanna.

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Jim Breuer Feels Something in his Pants for Chase Utley

On Tuesday’s edition of the (now) Opie & Jim Norton Show, comedian Jim Breuer had some things to say about Chase Utley (starting at the jump spot above), using the tone of voice usually employed by pre-teen boys just figuring out what all of these dirty thoughts mean:

“I was taking a look at these guys, and Utley is … he’s … I love Utley. He’s like this skinny … he’s got little chicken legs [Ed. Note: He's not wrong], but his upper back … his shoulders … chiseled top, back, shoulders.

Seriously, because the Phillies, that’s a team I wish my team was. I love the Phillies.”

So, let’s look at that last bit one more time, where Jim Breuer said, and I will quote again, “Seriously, because the Phillies, that’s a team I wish my team was. I love the Phillies.” Shall we take a look at who Jim Breuer’s team actually is? From his bio on his own website: “Breuer currently resides in New Jersey where he enjoys spending time with his family, playing pick-up games of baseball, softball and wiffle ball and watching the NY Mets.”

That is just what we needed today. Chase Utley’s chiseled back converted a Mets fan. Probably not the first time.

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Ryan Howard Sits for Second Straight Day, as Changes Actually Begin

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies have this habit during spring training of rolling out individual stars on given days, effectively giving each player a 24-hour news cycle of mostly positive publicity. But now, with the trade deadline approaching, the same concept inadvertently applies to whomever the media picks as their target for the day. The soup du jour today? Ryan Howard. He’s the soup of the day.

In today’s day game against the San Francisco Giants, Howard will ride the pine for the second straight day. Tim Hudson will take the mound for the Giants, and that is the weird part. He’s right-handed.

Darin Ruf gets his second-consecutive start at first base, and that points towards — for better or worse — actually giving Ruf a chance to get comfortable in the majors so we can really see what he’s got. Matt Gelb at the Inquirer thinks this also points towards Howard’s days being numbered:

“This, of course, is just another piece of evidence to support the notion Howard’s time with the Phillies is nearing a conclusion. The Phillies, Sandberg said, plan to audition other players with eyes toward the future. One of them is Darin Ruf. He will start at first base again Thursday and bat sixth.

Howard has not sat for consecutive games this season until now.”

In those spring training days, when even the team with the least potential can inspire excitement and confidence in the unknown, media and fans alike fawn over the stars they’ve come to know and love. But with over half of the season over on the schedule (and all of it over in terms of “hope”), the tide has fully turned. There is no positive outlook, no positive press remaining, because the potential of this team maxed out years ago. So every time Papelbon gives up runs, or Lee doesn’t have control over his pitches, or Jimmy Rollins goes down swinging, or Howard rides the pine, it’s pile on time. All of the eyes on the Phillies are viewing the games through a tarnished lens of “no future.” Even with the rare win, the highs are brought back down to middle-of-the-road level when you look at the team’s performance over time. Whether this is the end of the road for Howard is still yet to be seen, but it is, without a doubt, the end of this iteration of the Philadelphia Phillies. Even if the team stays mostly intact, this is not the team anyone (other than RAJ) wants, and that just breeds disappointment.

So sitting Howard makes sense. He’s not the first baseman of the future. Darin Ruf may not be either, but you have to at least try.

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