I was looking for an insulting picture to depict Baltimore. The point being, not only does Ryan Howard have to leave Clearwater to get his Achilles looked at, but he also has to go to Baltimore to get it done. Good old B-hole. A great city to visit if you have no sense of smell. My image searching skills must be a little off this morning, though, because I didn’t see many good candidates. The sheer randomness of this shot of Eddie Murray in full curl and facial hair regalia was too much to pass up. Hopefully Howard has more luck in Baltimore than the ’83 Phillies.
Howard’s mysterious “wound” at the site of his Achilles surgery incision is probably a cause for concern for many Phillies fans. There’s a lingering doubt about when Howard will return and anything but the best possible news is just going to fuel the belief that the targeted May return is nothing but a pipe dream. There are people out there who think Howard is going to miss the whole season and this “scheduled check-up,” is another in what’s becoming a long line of instances where the Phillies massively downplay injuries. At this point last year, Chase Utley was still just “generally sore.” The good sign is that Howard was still doing his baseball activities up to the point when he left, so it’s not like he was totally shut down. We’ve got nothing to do but wait on Howard, but this is surely going to be a process.
Health could be the biggest issue the Phillies face this year. Yes, the offense has had declining numbers in recent years, but they’ve also had several guys miss large chunks of time. When you’re never putting your best lineup out there, you’re going to score fewer runs. So, I’m actually less concerned about “is the Phillies offense good enough,” and more concerned about, “are they going to be on the field?”
Other Phillies Notes:
1. Gary Sheffield thinks Dom Brown is going to be great. If Ryan Howard really is out for a long period of time I think the rose-colored glasses scenario is Mayberry plays 1st and a rejuvenated and new-look Dom Brown forces his way into left field. Chances of this happening? About 11 percent.
2. Cliff Lee missed a bullpen with abdominal soreness, but has since thrown and reports himself good to go. Lee has had abdominal issues in the past, but so far, this one sounds less serious. I hate to keep coming back to health, but I think the first thing we ask after every game this year after we found out if the Phils won or lost is if they came out unscathed.
3. First game Wednesday, but the real action starts Saturday against the Yankees. Both games this weekend on MLB Network.
4. Mike Schmidt is Clearwater for his yearly…well, I don’t know what to call it, an opportunity to hear himself talk? That seems a little harsh, but once you get Mike rolling he doesn’t often come up for air. He’s already expressed some doubts about Ryan Braun’s innocence. Schmidt loves to talk about steroids and how he would have been tempted to use them if given the opportunity. The Phillies are hoping Schmidt can do some talking in more productive areas, like discussing approach with some Philly hitters. Schmidt was a rare veteran who switched things up and probably became a better “hitter” late in his career.
6. The Nats locked up Ryan Zimmerman for 6yrs/100 million. When I saw the number, I said, if that’s for 5-years I’m going to vomit. I like Zimmerman, but this seems like a bit of an overpay, especially for a guy who missed some time last year. And, though he’s the face of the franchise, that’s probably a position with an expiration date. Good news is, that’s 100 million the Nats don’t have to sign someone else.
I think hating on LeBron might be the 3rd most popular sport in the country. This time of year it could be number one. I’m generally amused by LeBron hate, but I can’t believe the uproar over him passing up a shot at the end of the All-Star Game. I didn’t see this, of course (unwatchable) but I was in the car this morning and call after call to sports talk was about LeBron. Summary: LeBron is the A-Rod of basketball. And/Or, LeBron will go down as the greatest player ever who had no heart. This feels like an extreme reaction to an All-Star Game. I know it’s cumulative, but the hair-trigger on LeBron hate is uncanny. Only Tiger can approach it right now.
Bobby Valentine banned alcohol in the Red Sox clubhouse and on their flights over the weekend. I’m wondering if this whole Valentine thing isn’t self-sabotage by the Red Sox. Are they bringing Bobby in to drive everyone crazy so they can go running back to another “player’s manager” in a couple of years? Strange things going on in Boston. I don’t know why you need to drink in the clubhouse, but I know that baseball players won’t like the perception that they’re being scolded or their behavior is being regulated. If this had come up for a different reason it wouldn’t be a big deal, but this way it looks like Bobby V is saying you lost because you’re a bunch of booze bags. Not a terribly endearing stance for Bobby V to take, not that he cares in the least. For the record, I think alcohol will eventually be removed from every clubhouse (and probably far fewer players drink after games than you might think), but how it goes over in Boston this year? We’ll see.
NHL trade deadline today. I guess the Flyers are on moderate Rick Nash watch. It’s always a struggle not to call him Steve Nash. But, it looks like Columbus is tearing it down (already traded “Cartsy”) and the Flyers are always a possible landing spot for anyone. Of course, Nash doesn’t play goal. Or defense. But, maybe the new thought is, we’re never going to get a goalie, so maybe we’ll just try for 6 goals a game.