New York Finally Gets Their Man.


It'll Be Just Like the Ewing Era.


I think if Carmelo Anthony tried a little harder and had the cooperation of the teams involved, he could have become more annoying than LeBron James was in the days leading up to the Decision.  It was headed that way for me, and considering Carmelo is no LeBron, that’s saying quite a lot.  This whole process went on long enough for me to have no choice but to form an opinion.  Of course, since Melo’s final destination is with the Knicks, I hope he fails miserably. Everything I would have to offer in way of an opinion about this deal I already said in the post about Anthony’s possible trade to the Nets.  It’s all the same except the Knicks have fans and actually play in New York.  Other than that, Carmelo still isn’t going to win a title any time soon, Denver is still screwed, and go back to your regularly scheduled programs.

I will say it is a relief that the Knicks got their man even if they still might not be better than the 4th best team in the East?  I’d hate for  the upscale NY fans, the Giants/Yankees/Knicks conglomerate to suffer the indignity of losing a player to the Nets.  At least Cliff Lee chose a contender.  At least Andy Pettitte retired.  But, Newark?  That would have hit home, especially after they couldn’t lure LeBron over the summer.  Maybe if they had gotten Carmelo first then LeBron would have felt comfortable being a Knick?  Is LeBron/Melo/Amare better than LeBron/D-Wade/Bosh?  Maybe we can find out in a couple of years if all these guys decide as a group to switch teams again.

You know what might be a real positive to take from all this concentration of talent?  I think contraction might be right around the corner.  If  a couple more star players get sucked onto these mega-teams that are developing in Miami, LA, Chicago, NY, Boston, OKC, etc., then it is going to be harder and harder to run a team in Memphis.  There is still a team in Memphis, right?  Or the Hornets, or Bobcats, or any other of these teams that people don’t care about.  Maybe when Chris Paul goes wherever, during the whole process of him being wooed, while everyone is distracted, David Stern can pull the plug on about four teams.  Hey, it’d be a start.



The Warming Glow of Hypocrisy.


Turn off your Dang Brights!


Don’t you love being a hypocrite sometimes?  It’s refreshing.  I had a great moment of hypocrisy one time when I was driving to a baseball game with my cousin.  During the trip I had been railing against bad drivers, especially those that make turns out of the wrong lane, people who refuse to go an extra hundred yards to turn around, that kind of thing. When I see it happen I become enraged, tout my own textbook driving skills, and usually offer one of my standard incredulous lines like, “is this clown f*cking serious?”  Anyway, after my dissertation on driving we get down to Broad Street and at the last second I decide I want to park in the Spectrum lot so I dart across a couple of lanes of traffic real quick.  Done and done.  The exact situation I had just talked about and I didn’t follow through.

I’d like to think it was an isolated incident, but I’m not sure that it was.  I try to not to be too hazardous on the roads, but sometimes I can’t live up to my own ridiculously high standards.  Take high beams for example, the bright headlights, whatever you call them.  I am very sensitive to these lights.  Not physically, just I don’t like it when people follow too closely with them on, or are slow to flick them off when you pass on a two-lane road.  These days with souped up headlights and all the SUVs, sometimes it feels like you are sucking on the bad end of some brights, but you actually aren’t.  I give people the benefit of the doubt, but when they realize it, and flick their lights off after they pass me or whatever, it makes me a bit angry.

I actually don’t use my high beams all the time, because I don’t like incessantly flipping them on and off, but sometimes you need that extra bit of illumination.  Well, the other day I was driving with them on, totally forgot about it, cruising on the back roads and probably passed about five cars.  I blinded them all.  When I realized what I had done, you know what I thought?  “Ah, screw ’em.  They’ll live.”  Then I realized I was a hypocrite once again.  I’m sure behind the wheel isn’t the only place where this behavior makes itself apparent.  A nice double standard can keep you sane.  But seriously, if you see me on the streets, turn off the brights.  It’s ridiculous.

Quiz of the Day:  U.S. Presidents.  Category: People You Should Know.  My Score: 43/44.

I thought this was appropriate today.  Kind of slow day, most people are rocking the long weekend, I guess.  Ease back into things with a quiz honoring the Presidents.  I admit I’ve probably taken this one before, but it seems like I always forget one guy and today was no different.  We had to memorize the Presidents in 5th grade.  I think we might have had to know them to get into the classroom in the morning.  Was getting into the classroom the prize?  That doesn’t sound right.  Anyway, I knew them all then, but no longer.

Diplomatic Immunity: Phillies Edition.

Lee is Pretty Much Untouchable Right Now.

I bet everyone was expecting a running diary of the NBA All-Star game, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  I think the NBA lost all credibility Saturday night with their Wayne’s World style product placement.  Good times.  No, I was hoping to put a large picture of Fred up tonight, but he shot his usual 8,000 coming down the stretch and I can’t bring myself to discuss it.  It was something about Fred that got me thinking about this post, though.  Couples is one of the most bulletproof athletes I’ve ever seen.  Golf fans love him no matter what.  For a topical example, Fred spit on a green on Saturday.  Don’t expect any outrage.  I’m quite sure he could urinate on a tree in the middle of a round, and people would say, “Did you see how cool he looked while he was taking that leak?”

The analogy that came to mind was Diplomatic Immunity.  I don’t even know what that is, but the urban legend understanding is that it means you live a life without consequence.  That can happen with athletes.  Especially when they are going good, things are forgiven without much thought.  Michael Vick is a great example.  It made me think of the Phillies.  The most popular team in town, and a team populated by plenty of stars.  Who among them is the safest with the fans?  And who do the reactionary haters have their crosshairs pointed at?  A small sampling, starting with those most in danger.  The indented names show where those players would fall, but I didn’t give the full explanation.

Brad Lidge (No Immunity):  Part of this is inherent to the position.  A closer blows one game and fans can’t get it out of their mind.  He’s on the high-wire, he’s hit or miss, he’s not “trustworthy.”  Isn’t that a great word for a closer?  Well, Lidge also has a history of blowing games and giving up copious amounts of long balls.  No one cares about ’08 any more.  If Lidge can’t shut the door, he’ll be given no slack from the fans.

  • Ryan Madson

Raul Ibanez :  Ibanez gets very little respect.  Everyone is dying to write this guy off, platoon him, trade him away…I’m not hearing many Rauuuuuul chants these days.  Ibanez missed out on ’08, so there’s no goodwill there, and this age thing is like the engine light going on in your car.  Yeah, you are still moving, but there is a constant reminder the end could be around any corner.  Raul better hope he has a good April or else he’ll be getting killed.

  • Ryan Howard

Joe Blanton:  This is actually Ruben Amaro’s fault.  If he didn’t drown Blanton in a ridiculous contract then no one would particularly care about the 5th starter.  But, when the fifth starter makes 8 million and puts a little stress on the payroll, the expectations rise.  Something about Blanton just isn’t Philly.  It’s not the pudge, we have no problem with that, but something makes Blanton a favorite whipping boy.  With his company in the rotation, I wouldn’t expect that to change this year.

  • Cole Hamels

Jimmy Rollins:  I consider Rollins to be teetering on the perch between the good and the bad here.  He could fall drastically in either direction this season.  A while back everyone loved Rollins.  The team needed his cockiness.  When he uttered the famous line, “team to beat,” it breathed a little life into the fan base.  He was the mouthpiece for the fans who didn’t have much success to stand on.  Now Phillies fans have plenty of their own swagger.  Rollins said the team would win 100 games over the weekend, but most fans now just think that sounds about right.  J-Roll has a little diva, a little showboat in him, he comes across as stubborn at times.  If Jimmy has another year like ’10, he can expect the fans to hurry him out of town after this season.  Of course, if Rollins has a big year, the people will be clamoring for a “three, fo’, fo'” prediction from Jimmy come playoff time.

  • Placido Polanco

Victorino:  Victorino gets a lot of slack.  Why?  He combines two things Philly loves.  He gives the impression that he hustles and he’s a little cocky.  If you listened to Phillies fans talk about Victorino without following baseball at all, you might be a little surprised to see his statistics.  I think he’s in a similar boat to Rollins, but maybe has a bit more leeway, because he’s not coming off such a dubious season.  It also helps Shane that no one expects him to carry the team.  If he hits .270 with 18 homers that’ll be amazing.  If Chase Utley puts up those numbers it would be nightmare.

  • Carlos Ruiz

Chase Utley:  Speaking of Utley, there was a time when he would have ruled this list.  Maybe even up to a point last year it was not cool to criticize Chase Utley. You’d be scorned.  “Utley is the man.”  “Utley is an animal.”  These were acceptable things to say.  Wondering why Utley’s OPS is on a 3-year decline is not a topic worthy of discussion.  Utley’s unquestioned work ethic and intensity make him deserving of the slack he gets from the fans.  He should know, though, that nothing is guaranteed forever.  Scott Rolen could have been Chase Utley in Philadelphia.  He was on his way.  One tumultuous summer and he gets booed for life.  So, things change, and they could change for Chase this year.  The whispers about a decline will only get louder this year if Chase doesn’t bounce back.

  • Roy Halladay

Cliff Lee (Fully Immune):  How do I skip over Halladay for Lee?  There are a couple of reasons.  First, Lee is once again the flavor of the month.  He’s the newest toy.  He’s the one that is supposed to put the Phillies over the top.  Halladay threw a no-hitter in the playoffs, but…we lost to the Giants.  Enter Cliff Lee.  Second, Lee gave the fans all the credit.  He mentioned them in the press conference.  Said he never wanted to leave, and the fans were like, “We never wanted you to leave, either!” Instant bond created there.  Third, Lee is a little ornery.  Every once in a while you get a glimpse of something in Lee and he’s got a bit of an attitude.  The fans like that.  They can identify with that.  No one can really identify with Halladay.  He’s a robot.  So, I think right at this moment, Lee has the most immunity.  I think he could say he practices his location by throwing fastballs at kittens and Phillies fans would be dropping their cats off at his house and wishing him well.  He is, after all, Cliff “Mother Lovin'” Lee.