Friday, June 27, 2008

Musing on the Phils

Remember when the Phillies made the Bobby Abreu deal at the trade deadline? Our team had gone on a real bad losing streak and Gillick essentially gave up on them, sent Abreu, Cory Lidle, and some other guys to the Yankees. Eventually we replaced David Bell and Mike Lieberthal as well.

The result of those moves was a change from a plodding, one-base-at-a-time, wait-for-the-home-run type of team to a youthful, energetic, put-the-pressure-on-them type of team.

Instead of walks, strikeouts, and home runs, we were stealing bases, bunting, sac flying, scoring from first, and doing all sorts of small-ball-esque type maneuvers.

It was pretty awesome, and it propelled us to one game of the playoffs the year of the trade, and ultimately a division crown last year.

The epitome of that whole movement might very well be Shane Victorino. He is a case of Red Bull, someone who clearly forgets to take his Ritalin. Sugar Shane, or the Flying Hawaiian, injected the team with some scrappy, speedy play, the exact opposite of what we were - 8 middle aged white guys with balky knees and low batting averages who lived or died by the home run ball.

So this year we brought in Pedro Feliz and Geoff Jenkins, Victorino missed a little time due to injury, Chase Utley endured the worst slump of his career, and now we seem to be back in that all-or-nothing funk. We scored 20 runs this year. Woo-hoo! But anybody who watches baseball would rather have a bunch of 5 and 6 runs games than one 20 run game. That's just called pouring it on.

Instead, the Phils ring up 0, 1, and 2 run games like its their job. That's not something you expect out of a "high-powered" offense.

Our team's personality seems like it is close to slipping back into that "wait for someone to get a hit" mentality, instead of the "I'm gonna make something happen" mentality.

Victorino is still doing his thing, and Jayson Werth (trying to steal third the other night...twice...was a gaudy move) is too, but I personally feel like we could use one more hitter, a guy who can hit for contact, pinch run (and be dangerous at it), and have a decent glove.

Everybody knows pitching wins championships, and I completely agree that we need another starting pitcher to take things to the next level. Everyone also seems to agree that Victorino is the trade chip to use to bring in that pitcher.

The Phils have needed a pitcher for years. Seriously, it's probably been a more consistent need than a wide receiver is for the Eagles, but what if this year is the year where we finally make a move, push our chips to the center of the table and trade Victorino for a pitcher?

We've already lost Michael Bourn. Our team has clearly moved into the "any one of these guys could end up DHing on an AL team in 3 years" mode.

What if our offense takes a serious plunge into that brand of baseball that I don't think really has a name, but you know it when you see it, where there is no stealing, lots of striking out, some home runs peppered in there, and not much else?

Maybe the only way to take things to the next level is to trade Victorino for a pitcher, but seriously, Rollins and Victorino are the lifeblood of this line-up, and if you take away Victorino, that would make Werth and Jenkins every day starters. That is not a good thing. Our line up would be full of...yep...middle-aged white guys with balky knees looking to go yard every time, because its their only chance of scoring.

That's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The always interesting mid-day gym crowd

Instead of getting a "real" job this summer, I opted to pal around with semi-professional basketball players and co-ordinate their workouts related both to basketball and strength training. Having just finished my first year of law school, I think I can say with a straight face that this is the first job I have actually been over-qualified for. I make sure the guys eat right, touch the baseline during suicides, and get ankles taped before 5 on 5s. Simply put, a marginally well organized nine year old could do what I do. One conspicuous perk, however, is that I get to spend four days per week at the Bally's Total Fitness in King of Prussia. While there, I get to immerse myself in a crowd that I have found to be nothing short of groin-grabbingly hilarious: the early afternoon workout crowd.

What's great about this crowd is that I see the same knuckleheads each day. There is one gentleman who appears to be old enough to be Charles Lindburgh's brother or uncle. Hair comes out of his ears with equal speed, determination, and intensity as from his head. He only uses the rowing machine. My theory is that he is gearing up for an octogenarian tri-athalon, but he is wholly uniterested in biking, swimming, and running. Something tells me he's not only not going to win, he's going to be very confused when he shows up and there are no rowing machines in sight. There is also a look-alike to the father on that Orange County Choppers motorcycle TV show. While I have learned that I am allergic to amoxycillan and penicillin, this gentleman is apparently allergic to sleeves and sleeve accouterments, as evidenced by his extensive tank-top collection. As I see this man do reps of 25 at 225 lbs. at age 60, I can only wonder: has he ever owned a sleeved shirt? I wonder what he attends the opera in? These questions may go forever unanswered, though, because he doesn't make eye contact with me because of my adherence to a sleeved lifestyle.
Another thing that's great about this gym is the MILFs. We all aspire to have a non-working spouse who does nothing than prep herself for "the business" after we return home from work. Let me tell you, the husbands of no less than thirty women who go to this place between 1-3 everyday are living that very dream. Aside from high school seniors, these women are the cream of the crop. It gets absurdly hard for me to jog, or be in mesh shorts at all, frankly, when a gaggle of 30-something year old hardbodies are all stretching each other out before an intense yoga session. As they prance away to their Beemer 3-series while I wait for the lazy players to lolligag to the car 30 mins after we finish, I can only do what any rational man does: memorize their license plate numbers, have Bucky run them later, and eat dinner and breakfast in the bushes by their house for a few weeks and wait.

Everyday, we also get the sports anchor of the NBC 10 team, made famous of late by Bucky on this very blog. I'm not sure what his name is but I have included a photo. The thing that confuses me about his is that he never talks about sports while he's there. Does anyone else find this a little queer? When I hang out with you guys, I ask Buck about busting crime, Tall Man about going green, and Rob about fun games he invents at his desk while a bespecaled Reekie manages my Wellington account. And this guy is a sportscaster for christ sake! What could be more fun than talking Birds with meatheads at the gym? My guess is that he's only in it for the chicks (or, in this case, MILFs) and would probably get lost if any sort of real sports convo was initiated.
In short, my days are pretty boring. There is some good people watching and Q-102 listening, but, on the whole, I just fantasize about MILFs doing their cardio work on my face. If that makes me wrong, that makes you a Commie.

I propose we all go to this Cornhole event on the 28th in Conshohocken. We all love boozing, eating, and playing cornhole, and for $25 we can do all 3 for 3 hours that day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things I Take For Granted (No. 805)

No. 805, Things I Take For Granted: The Philly Phanatic

The Philly Phanatic. That motherfucker is always up to something. He is a giant bird, very very green, hails from the Galapagos, loves smashing other teams equipment, and once burned Tommy Lasorda in effigy.

What a fucking crazy asshole.

Whenever I'm at Phillies games, I see him running around, dancing on the dugout, driving drunk through the infield on a quad, just doing totally crazy shit. One time he had a whole bag full of free t-shirts and hats and stuff...he gave the entire thing to some hard body sitting in the front row.

Plus he does this really great thrusting dance.

I'm spoiled. I get to see this guy hamming it up with the fans and hurling insults at the opposing team all the fucking time.

If you were a baseball fan from Wichita or Seattle or Pismo Beach you would only ever see this guy on SportsCenter every once in a while, when he does something truly outlandish. Not me. I get him 24 fucking 7.

Me and the Philly Phanatic.

Going Places.

Fuck Yeah.

Economy PLUS

Short vacations are always the hardest. Just as you begin to settle into a nice groove of boozing from the time you get up till the early morning hours, your are rudely thrust back into the sweaty-balled work week we all love to hate. This sobering transition is not made any easier by the fact that the return trip from your vacation location usually involves a plane ride, which implies any number of head crushing, leg cramping, and/or vomit inducing side effects. Crying babies, zero legroom, smelly people (ex. Jimmy), middle seats, 5$ booze drinks, overzealous TSA officers, etc. Let me tell you, these are not easy things to take when your Sunday morning starts with Screwdrivers, beers, and Colorado KB.

It was just this situation that I found myself in yesterday, sitting in the Denver airport, waiting to board and trudge back to row 20, when I had the idea to ask if an exit row seat was available so that I could stretch out my limbs and possibly sleep for a hot minute. The guy behind the counter seemed turned off by my request at first but after I told him about my height he understood. He told me that a Economy Plus seat was available, in the 7th row, but I would have to sit middle (I already had a window). I asked him how much and he said 50$ but that he was offering it to me for free and I better take it. Before saying yes he printed the new boarding pass and tore up the old one. Just what does Economy plus get you? About 5 inches of extra leg room, a big plus, but worth giving up a window for a middle? Now just slow down there one second. But the decision had been made, "fair is fair," I guess.

As I sat down in 7E I noticed a few of the bad signs, baby across the isle, guy next to me who didn't want to put the armrest down, overhead bins that didn't want to close; it was an ominous situation at best. Except for one thing, a total hard-body sitting next to me. As it turns out, she is Tanith Belbin, a Canadian-born ice dancer who has won several international competitions and will be competing in her second winter Olympics in 2010 (she won silver in 2006, for the USA). [On a side note, this gorgeous 23 year old informed me that she will be retiring shortly after the '10 games.] Unfortunately she is dating some fellow skater named Evan, so the mile-high club was a little out of the question, but that didn't stop me from casting more than a few glances her way.

Tanith and I really hit it off, once I spoke to her for the first time, which was about 15 minutes before we got off the plane. I would give you the details of our captivating, sexually charged conversation but I don't want to blog down the blog with personal details. Lets just say that Evan better watch his girl, because, I've always had a thing for hard-bodies who enjoy being thrown into the air while traveling at high speeds on a hard surface. Doesn't everybody? I'll leave you with something Tanith recently wrote on her MySpace blog, (yes, the stalking has begun):
"Have a great summer, take a vacation, and don't forget that change can absolutely be a good thing."
Rarely has better advice been offered Tanith, just be ready to make some changes of your own...

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Lack of Foresight

Dollar beer night. That was my idea for a Phillies game promotion. Charge a buck a beer, only let in people 21 and older, see what happens. It worked with hot dogs, right?

Obviously, this was something I just blurted out after paying $6.75 for a beer that I spilled half of on the way back to my seat, so I did not fully understand the implications of a dollar beer night at Citizens Bank Park.

Needless to say, it would probably be absoulute mayhem.

On Dollar Dog Night, you have people competing against each other to see how many they can eat, people rushing hot dog vendors and yelling obscene things at them, and people littering the field with their dogs. Hey, it's only a buck, right?

And that's just with a hot dog, imagine something even higher in alcohol content.

Luckily, we do not have to imagine. Thanks to the 1974 Cleveland Indians, we know exactly what would happen, as they hosted a 10 cent beer night (10 cents!) that July against the Rangers.

Very brief background: The Indians sucked. Cleveland sucked. Their fans sucked. And people love booze. Here are some quotes from an article I read about the evening.

"Even though the Indians offered copious amounts of beer at cut-rate prices, a great many attendees opted to play with a handicap, arriving at their seats drunk, stoned or both."

I love the term "playing with a handicap." Can we start using that to let people know we have been pre-gaming since last Thursday?

"Through deliberate coordination or spontaneous groupthink, hundreds of fans showed up with pockets full of firecrackers."

This is absolutely hilarious, and one of the perils I never even considered with a discount beer night. Imagine if the Phillies had this promotion, and you knew about it months in advance. I'm pretty sure fireworks would be the least dangerous thing people were bringing in.

"Anonymous explosions peppered the stands from the first pitch."

Way to not waste any time.

"...lending the game a war-zone ambiance...along with clouds of exploded gunpowder and marijuana smoke."


"A few pitches later, a heavyset woman sitting near first base jumped the wall, ran to the Indians' on-deck circle, and bared her enormous, unhindered breasts."

You know, maybe this wouldn't be such a bad idea after all...

"The rain of beer became a hail of rocks, batteries, golf balls and anything not bolted down"

Ahh, batteries. If there is ever a hall of fame for projectiles, batteries have to be a first ballot, right? So simple, so small, so very painful. If I ever find myself routinely bringing batteries to sporting events, in the off-chance that J.D. Drew or John Rocker show up, I know I will have led a successful life.

In the ninth inning, things started to heat up. A fan jumped onto the field from the outfield seats and knocked the cap off one of the Rangers outfielders, who ended up tripping while trying to confront the fan.

The Rangers manager, Billy Martin, was understandably upset about one of his players being accosted.

""Let's go get 'em boys," he said, arming himself with a fungo bat and sprinting toward right-center field. The Rangers followed him."

Soon after, the 25 Rangers players quickly found themselves surrounded by 200 angry drunks.

From that point, things got out of control and I wish YouTube had been around. Basically, the Indians players all grabbed bats to go help the Rangers. There was literally a fight between the ballplayers and the fans. Athletes were hitting fans with bats, and vice versa. The ballplayers were eventually able to run away, and the fans then just started a giant riot, stealing everything on the field.

"Perhaps attempting to soothe the riotous beast, the organist then played 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame.'"

All in all, it seemed like a pretty successful promotion. The Phils don't need to do dollar beer night, they could bump it up to two or three dollars...even five would be nice.

Bottom line, I just want cheaper beer....and the chance to steal home plate, flash the umpires, and hit a few ballplayers with some batteries.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Air Madness: The Larry Mendte Story

There is nothing better than a scandal involving public figures. We’ve had a couple of good ones recently, including the whole Elliot Spitzer/prostitution thing, and the Larry Craig bathroom stall incident. Hillary Clinton claimed she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire, then someone got a hold of a tape recording of the landing, and shes calmly striding across the runway shaking hands with a bunch of army guys, with a smile on her face and Chelsea in tow. Of course, maybe the only thing better than an awesome scandal is one that involves some hometown players.

I’m talking about this whole Larry Mendte-Alycia Lane situation that’s been playing itself out recently. Quick re-cap: back in ’03, Mendte switched from anchoring the NBC 10 news to working for CBS 3 (sideline: remember when it was NBC 3 and CBS 10? Hurricane Schwartz is the only survivor from those days), and CBS 3 at that time also brought in Lane from an affiliate in Miami as essentially a hired gun to boost ratings. Prior to 2003, CBS 3 had devolved into showing nothing but The Price is Right, Letterman, Kilborn, King of Queens, and dead air. The Lane and Mendte one-two punch was lights out for the other networks, and the pair were seemingly unstoppable.

Things began to unravel when Mendte became overshadowed by Lane, someone who he saw as just another pretty face, not a serious journalist (Mendte’s job before NBC 10? He was an ‘anchor’ on Access Hollywood- so he’s a real Edward R. Murrow type). Then it came out that she sent photos of herself in a swimsuit to Rich Eisen via email, emails which were accessed by Eisen’s wife, who totally Hextalled him by revealing the whole thing to the public. Then, over the winter, Lane and her current boyfriend and then Q102 DJ, Booker, were partying in Manhattan, when Lane decided to get into drunken fisticuffs with NYPD cops. She was arrested on the spot and promptly fired. In those long-ago and carefree days of the winter of ’07-’08, this was all a source of great entertainment to me and millions of others in the Philadelphia area.

Interestingly, Booker was also fired recently. A Q102 spokesperson told the Associated Press that Booker was fired from his position as host of ‘Booker In The Morning’ because the music station was, quote, ‘trying to reduce the number of complete douchebags on the station by exactly one.’

Degrees of separation between myself and Alycia Lane: Four. My coworker’s girlfriend had a brief but hilarious affair with Booker while said coworker and his girlfriend were ‘on a break,’ and Booker of course still dates Lane.

The latest chapter in the Lane-Mendte saga cannot top Lane slugging a cop and screaming ‘I’m a reporter, Bitch!’ Yet it is still awesome. The FBI served a search warrant on Mendte’s home in Chestnut Hill, 19118, and seized computers and related evidence. The charges? That he accessed her private email account, which is illegal, like opening someone else’s mail. Mendte’s wife is Dawn Stensland, anchor for the cheap yet effective Fox News. This came about because Mensa-society member Larry Mendte left the window open on the computer at work he was using to snoop in her account, and a Lane loyalist who continues to work at CBS 3 alerted the authorities.

Mendte is now himself on the sidelines, benched while this whole thing plays out. Here is my question…how can I get into someone else’s email accounts and read their emails? Thus far, the stalking of my ex-girlfriend can only go as far as constantly monitoring the comments on her Facebook page and driving by her house twenty times a day. Having the ability to read her emails would be a huge win for me. Furthermore, I would like to talk with Mr. Mendte about somehow accessing the text message inbox and outbox on her cell-phone. That would also be a big help.