Giving Birth to a Labor Day Bag.

Pound and a Half of Ice.

I had every intention of having this out by Thursday afternoon, but that didn’t happen.  Other things materialized.  I now fear the mailbag may go mostly unread until next Tuesday.  That happens to be the day before the NFL season starts.  My cuss, I may have to start blogging a bit more often.  For those of you who haven’t shot out to the Cape–any cape at all–feel free to enjoy the bag.

Q:  Does drinking a beer over 16 oz say something about a person?  What I’m saying is, do people without drinking problems order 22 oz drafts or walk out of the local pizza shop with a 24 oz Bud Ice, possibly a 40 oz of High Life?  Kenny Pounder, Augusta, ME.

A:  The short answer to your question is…yes.   But I know what you’re getting at.  When you see someone with a 24 oz can of beer, you think to yourself…I wonder what that gentleman’s DEAL IS?  There’s one spot where I pick up the occasional six-pack and without fail, every time I’m in there perusing the yuppie beer, someone brushes past me and grabs a 40 oz.  There’s no contemplation.  The guy grabbing the 40 does not think, do I want to try the Hop of the Morning To You*?  WILL IT BE HOPPY ENOUGH?  They just want a little buzz to take the edge off their day.  They’re looking for value.  And while they make their quick decision, I sometimes jump to conclusions in my head.  I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.  This question probably deserves it own post.  What does your beer purchase say about you?  But even if it’s not the stereotype you are thinking of, every purchase does say something.  For example I was at a bar with a friend of mine not long ago and we both ordered a draft beer.  We were then asked if we wanted a 22 oz draft, or a pint.  I took the 22 oz.  I knew I wanted at least two beers.  I knew the 22 oz was the economical way to go.  The guy I was with, though–wasn’t so sure.  He was thinking hard about that pint.  Then the bartender (a woman) challenged his masculinity.  She said something like, I’m paraphrasing, ARE YOUR LADY PARTS BOTHERING YOU?   At this point he just went ahead and got the 22 ounces.  Is he an alcoholic?  Does he buy forties and those tiny bottles of cheap liquor?  NO.  He just wasn’t prepared to have his manhood challenged over six ounces of Coors Right.

*Not an actual beer (as far as I know).

Q:  Is it more annoying when people say “flap jacket” instead of flack jacket or “for all intensive purposes,” instead of all intents and purposes?  Mike Vick isn’t actually wearing a “flap jacket,” is he?  Mewt Pointe, Kennett Square, PA.

A:  I can’t say that I’ve heard “flap jacket,” that often, but when I read this question–I couldn’t stop laughing.  Because I can PICTURE someone saying flap jacket.  The people who make this type of error always do it with unblinking confidence and flair.  They not only know they are using the correct term, but they are DAMN PROUD of themselves for using it.  These mistakes come in varying degrees of shame.  Some of the things people say incorrectly like deep-seeded instead of deep-seated almost make sense.  Deep seeded would mean rooted deep in the ground or something?  But, that’s not the phrase.  SORRY.  The real shame of this is, these errors are a sign of not reading.  If you open your eyes and check out some things IN PRINT every once in a while you’ll see “flak jacket,” and then you’ll say OHHHH!  Before I was able to read, this used to happen to me all the time.  When I was three, I thought pitchers threw balls at daneeze, not “at the knees.”  I thought “daneeze,” was a baseball term.  My sister and I used to sing along to the Jefferson’s theme song, but instead of words we just rattled off a bunch of nonsense.  It wasn’t our fault.  We never SAW THE LYRICS.  The point is, you should grow out of things like this, and to speed along the process–dive into that Hunger Games trilogy.  

Q:  I assume you are aware that ice cream is mostly cream and sugar.  I can’t help but think that this is what a lot of people put in their coffee.  My question is, is there some coffee shop out there that is offering up a mini-scoop of ice cream with every massive, addictive cup?  Joe Float, Mesa, AZ.

A:  I’m sure there is some coffee place out there that offers coffee in this way, but if you’re looking for a local recommendation, you’re asking the wrong guy.  The only thing worse than coffee is using it to taint ice cream.  In fact, coffee ice cream was one of the great mysteries of my youth.  Imagine a young, hopeful child on the verge of getting dessert and then someone produces a half-gallon of coffee ice cream.  The smell alone could almost send me into tears.  Such a dreadful combination.  But, getting back to the question, the way you have phrased it here makes it sound like you think this is some tremendous idea.  You want to be the one who starts this?  I have no doubt that people who drink coffee would enjoy this for the most part, but I think the health-factor would be a stumbling block.  So many people are now conscious of how many calories they are dumping in their coffee.   Wait a second…(dumps 6 creamers into mug)…this isn’t good for me?  GET OUT.  So you have people drinking skim-whatevers, and soy-who cares.  There’s a long way to go between that and, “I’ll take a large coffee with a scoop of Turkey Hill.”  

Q:  Any more thoughts on the Jimmy Rollins show?  Obviously Charlie Manuel had seen enough yesterday and yanked him from the game.  Is there more going on here than just Jimmy’s inability to hustle on every play, because I’m totally available to play every day.  Mikey Martt, Philadelphia, PA.  

A:  And Jimmy had been doing so well.  He’d been getting on base at a much higher clip, had hit a couple of big home runs and then Thursday happened.  As the series started against the Mets there was a sense–as indicated by my live blog–that the Phillies may have still had a shot.  If they swept the Mets (a reeling team), things might finally get interesting.  But, they lost the 1st two games of the series in what has become typical fashion and now I can’t see any optimists left standing for hundreds of miles.  So, it was once again, very poor timing for one of Jimmy’s episodes.  It’s pretty obvious that Rollins cannot hustle on every play.  Instead of just running, Rollins has a reaction to every ball he puts in play.  There is a moment of judgement.  How hard should I run?  Ninety-nine percent of the time it works out.  When it doesn’t, Rollins looks like and ass and now it’s happened twice in a month.  The big concern for the Phillies is they don’t want Jimmy’s approach spreading to other members of the team, especially those who lack his natural talent.  His influence on Dom Brown seems to be a particular concern.  The benching yesterday and the repeated incidents do seem to indicate that something will come to a head this off-season.  Is Rollins coasting his way out of town?  Is that his intention?  Does he see the writing on the wall and want to join the parade to Los Angeles?  Will management take the incidents as a sign that Charlie Manuel is no longer effective?  My gut-feeling is that Jimmy is simply not reacting well to the team’s struggles.  He’s frustrated, he knows the season is over, so when he pops up…AGAIN, he doesn’t run hard.  That’s Jimmy.  If it ends up growing into something larger remains to be seen.  

Q:  What are your thoughts on sandwiches not fitting in their bread devices?  Big portions can be a nice selling point, but can’t you go too far?  O. Penwhide, Boulder, CO.  

A:  I think you can go too far.  What is it, the Carnegie Deli, that stacks a few pounds of corned beef between a couple of slices of bread?  I don’t see the point in that.  Do you take the excess home and use it to pack your kid’s lunch the rest of the week?  I DON’T KNOW.  I think the answer is, what kind of run-off are you getting?  For example, I don’t understand the overloaded hot dog.  These people who take a normal sized bun, throw a dog in there, cover it with cheese and chili and everything else…why?  A hot dog is not meant to be eaten with a fork.   A similar thing can happen when people try to put everything on their hoagie.  It’s your basic case of OVER STIMULATION at the Wawa touch screen.  Their wrapped shortie comes out looking like a 5lb bag of flour.  Then you open it up, take one bite and it’s vegetable jetsam.  IT’S EVERYWHERE.  I’d say there are very few exceptions.  Pulled pork would be one.  If you have a pulled pork sandwich that is spilling out over the edges, that’s not a big deal, because when you are done you just have a couple of bites of pulled pork.  That’s keeping it a lot more social that shoveling together the tattered remains of some atomic chili dog.  

Q:  Do you think there are any bars out there that fill up their premium liquor bottles with the cheap stuff and sell it to unsuspecting patrons?  Vic Popov, Camden, NJ.  

A:  I’m pretty sure people do this in their private homes.  ON OCCASION.  I think I wrote a post a while back about how idiot college kids display their liquor bottles, but in truth, a real show-off bar is a similar behavior.  Can I get you something to drink (sweeping hand gesture toward a bar with premium bottles)?   Here’s what I know, 9 out of 10 drinkers would tell you they’d be able to recognize the difference between top-shelf and well liquor.  But, with the chips down, what would that number be?  For example, I know for a fact in a blind test I couldn’t decipher Bud Light from Coors Light from Miller Lite.  But if I ordered a Sierra Nevada and you gave me something else, I think I’d sense it wasn’t right.  Your vodka drinker might not be able to tell the difference between premium brands, but perhaps they notice if you try to slip in something that costs 13 bucks a handle?  If you were going to attempt to pull this off, I think you’d have to stick to mixed drinks and even then you’re likely to get called out on occasion.  Why I think this probably happens less often than you might think?  Reputation.  The last you thing you want is to be the bar who serves the fake Grey Goose.  With the markup on liquor, I think you just want your customers to be as satisfied as possible.  No need to be tricking anyone out there. 

Q:  Do you think dog racing would be more popular if a breed like a yellow lab was the fastest dog and not greyhounds?  Kay Nine, Salem, OR.

A:  Interesting question, and I’m going to throw you a bit of a curve ball here–I think it might be even less popular.  As much as I am in debt to dog racing for introducing the term, “dog track” into my lexicon, it appears to be a sport that is on life-support.  About four years back I spent several colorful nights at a dog track in Sarasota, FL.  The actual betting on the races was quite entertaining.  I must admit.  The races are quick.  The downtime is nothing like what you experience at a horse track, and you can get a lot closer to the action.  The scene, though?  The scene was a bit troubling.  The dog races draw an interesting crowd.  Your question is stemming from the fact that a race horse is a magnificent animal.  There’s something regal about them.  The physicality is impressive and that draws people in.  But, if you asked people what their favorite breed of dog was, or what dog was the best-looking, or most athletic–very few would say the greyhound.  A lab would be a far more popular answer, but I don’t think that would help dog racing.  If you ever come across someone who has adopted a greyhound, or is against dog racing they’ll tell you how great the greyhound is as a pet.  What a good companion they are, their nice disposition, how good they are with kids and other pets, etc.  The thought is, if people realized this dog was good for so much more than racing–maybe they’d stop racing them.  Well, these are things everyone already thinks about a yellow lab.  So, as harsh as it sounds to the greyhound, if they were a breed that had a more aesthetic appeal to the general population, I think dog racing could be in even more trouble than it is already.  

Remember The Phillies? An Early Inning Live Blog.

Your 2013 Phillies.

I haven’t posted in a while.  I happened to be in negotiations with the Dodgers.  They were going to buy my blog, but in the end, I would have felt bad taking their offer of 347 million dollars.  I have a conscience.  The truth is, with my curtailed blogging schedule, sometimes I debate over what is, and what is not, post-worthy.  With Labor Day coming up, I know I’m going to be coming back next week pretty heavy into the NFL.  With that in mind, it felt like the time to revisit our beloved Phils.  I’m sure at this time last year we were talking about setting up the rotation for the playoffs, but now when I look at the team, I see people with two main questions:

1.  Do the Phillies actually have a shot with 34 games left?

2.  Is there any chance the Phillies could pull of a salary cleanse over the winter like the Red Sox pulled off last week?

My answers?  To question one, the Phillies still just have that outside chance.  If they can go 27-7.  Is there any indication they’ll hit that number?  No, but until the Phils lose those 6-8 more games, you can allow yourself that tiny bit of hope.  The more likely scenario is the Phillies continue to pick up some wins down the stretch, but finish around .500.  As far as off-season moves the Phillies will certainly be active.  I don’t think they’ll be able to dump salary like the Red Sox, though, because the contracts of guys like Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard aren’t that attractive.  I could see them moving one veteran–maybe Rollins, but it’s also easy to see them keeping their pitching staff together.  The easiest way for the Phils to contend in 2013 will be to get back to pitching better.  That’s been the story since the All-Star Break.

With that out of the way…let’s blog a few innings, see what happens.

***

Vance Worley is starting for the Phillies tonight and he’s been a guy who hasn’t performed as expected.  The question is, has pitching through his elbow injury been the sole reason for his regression?  There was always a concern about the league catching up to Vance, and it makes it harder to trade an “ace” when you have two spots in the rotation (Worley and Kendrick) that come with such varied production.  Some days these guys look great and others they can barely get out of the third or fourth inning.
***
For those wondering, the Mets have been terrible for the past six weeks.  They aren’t hitting much at all, and it’s the amount of games the Phils have left against some bad teams that gives people hope.  When you sweep the Nats, you expect to beat the Mets, but New York has owned the Phils this year and their first three men single to give them a quick 1-0 lead.
***
Worley gets a double play to end the inning.  That was 3 hits, 1 run, and double-play on 10 pitches.  Weird.   The Mets are countering with Chris Young, who once paired with Jake Peavy to give the Padres a deadly 1-2 combo. Of course, that was ages ago and I can’t think of any reason the Phillies shouldn’t clip the Ivy Leaguer for a few runs.
***
Here’s Kevin Frandsen, who has become a bit of a darling thanks to his multiple defensive gems and .30o+ average.  Fans have a way of getting obsessed about guys like this, and also guys in the Minors.  They want to promote everyone who ever hits a home run at Reading.  The harsh reality is: most of those guys can’t play.  Frandsen looks to be a decent utility man option, but there’s no way you can go into 2013 with him as the starting 3B.  But tonight, Frandsen is a better option than Polanco and gets plunked to give the Phils two early base runners.
***
Chase Utley hitting with two men on, clobbers three HRs foul before walking to load the bases.   Utley seems to be hitting the ball harder more often than last September and by my observation is hitting into a lot of bad luck.  Saberheads would quote his batting average on balls in play and line drive rates right now, so let me go peruse for a second….Utley has a career low .250 BA on balls in play, but is hitting line drives at his highest rate since 2008.  Me and my old scout’s eyes feel VINDICATED.
***
Grand Slam for Ryan Howard who was just cut in my fantasy baseball league.  Whoops.  Phils up 4-1, and here’s a classic situation where Worley needs to keep the Mets down for a while.  The Phillies have given up too many leads this year, sometimes more than one a game.  The pitching has sucked the life out of the building and dugout too much this year.
***
Worley gets out of the 2nd without any damage.  Exactly what the Phillies needed.  Eric Kratz is leading off the inning for the Phillies and he’s another guy who the fans adore.  Kratz has hit some big HRs and has obvious power.  It’s also pretty evident he can be pitched to, especially by right-handers.  That said, the Brian Schneider experience, which has gone on for too long already is certainly over.  Kratz singles to left–he loves hitting at home–according to Wheels and T-Mac.
***
Around the league the Cardinals and Nationals are both losing early.  Stephen Strasburg on the wrong end of a 5-0 score against Miami.  I’m not sure how the Nats can shut down Strasburg and not totally lose the clubhouse.  Not every player in there is going to be around for this “era”–if it happens.  Hard to not put your best team on the field every night.  The fact that it’s partially the brainchild of Scott Boras is no surprise.  Boras gets paid when Strasburg cuts a new deal–he doesn’t get a ring or a World Series share.
***
Dom Brown has been lauded for his approach at the plate since his return from AAA, but he’s always gotten his share of walks and had a decent OBP.  The biggest change I see is that Brown looks more comfortable.  He’s yet to show much power, but when he hits them–they go.  It’s difficult to project what Brown could be at this point.  You could maybe see Shane Victorino type offensive production (.275/18 HRs/40 2Bs) without the defense.  Brown brings a tremendous arm to the OF, but may never play either corner like a natural.   Dom flies out to end the 3rd, and with that I’m going to end the live blog while we’re ahead, 4-1.  Hopefully the Phils can hang on and run the winning streak to five.
***
Probably going to squeeze in a Labor Day Mailbag on Thursday, but if you’re making it a six day weekend, I’ll see you next week to tackle the NFL and these Phils if they keep tacking on wins.

Mid-Week Mailbag.

20-Inch Thighs Make 20-Inch Eyes.

This photo was submitted for the bag, but I’m not really sure what the focus was.  It’s a menagerie of embarrassing golf tournament behavior.  Note the overreacting “marshal” in the red shirt.  Tough work containing a crowd of seven.  Somewhere in this picture, I’m positive a spectator is wearing golf shoes.  But I think our focus is supposed to be on this gentleman(?) front and center.  The ponytail is one thing, but there’s no way those shorts are regulation.  No sir.  I’m very excited for the mailbag today, but I’m pretty easily amused.  You can judge for yourself.  

Q:  The “word” F-bomb is now in the dictionary.  I take this as a sign that the dictionary is no longer a valid source for what constitutes a word.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re getting closer to the day when the book will contain only one entry: dipsh*t.  Noah Webstir, Albany, NY.  

A:  The dictionary has, without a doubt, lost all credibility.  Someone over there is misguided.  The dictionary shouldn’t have to keep up with the times.   Somewhere along the line, the dictionary got caught up with, WHAT ARE THE YOUNG FOLK SAYING?  But, that’s not why you should be using a dictionary–to stay hip.  A dictionary is for people who play Scrabble, the last citizens of Earth who don’t use spell check, and people who tend to make up words.  Not words like F-Bomb, though.  Words like irregardless, or naiveness–great dictionary material.  If you want to walk around saying irregardless and say that it’s in the dictionary–GO RIGHT AHEAD.  The only reason it’s in the dictionary is that people have been messing it up for decades.  So instead of being a reference book, the dictionary has come to include any old bit of idiotic slang that penetrates the culture.  There should be a real dictionary and a section called, “dumb things people say.”  I’d be satisfied with this distinction.  I imagine the only thing worse than a dictionary at this point would be dictionary.com.  If you want to see people get riled up, go to a word-nerd website and get in arguments citing dictionary.com as your source.  It’ll cause a small riot.  

Q:  If you were interviewing someone for a job, what kind of questions would you ask them?  Ronald Trump, Buffalo, NY.  

A:  I think you have to ask one question just to make sure that the person is not crazy.  A lot of big corporation type places will sit you down in front of a personality test.  Part of this test is to check to see if you are crazy, but I think the other part is to see if you are smart enough to tell people what they want to hear.  That’s SO KEY for many jobs.  I’d skip the test and just ask:  “Say you happen to come across an on-foot police chase.  Is there ever scenario where it’s OK to trip up the cop?”  If the person is like, “Well, maybe the guy didn’t do it, man.”  Or, “I usually side with the criminal,” then you just say THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.  Good luck with your search.  Once you get that quick sanity check out of the way, I think I’d be pretty efficient.  My second question might be, “How much of your resume is complete horse bleep?”  My biggest concern would be knowing what I was getting.  If I’m hiring a moron with no experience, I’d like to  know that EARLY IN THE PROCESS.  Then I won’t be disappointed.  If you portray yourself as a real dynamo, but when the chips are down can’t count to ten–that’s GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL.  The truth is, I’m a real quality judge of character, so I’d probably just eyeball the candidate for a while and then make my decision.  Trust your instincts.  

Q:  If you could fly, but the contingency was you had to wear a cape at all times, would you accept?  Clark Parker, Helena, MT.  

A:  Flying is not the first superpower I would pick.  I’d probably take being indestructible, or superhuman speed.  You see, I’m very slow.  And there are actually people who are fast.  No one can fly.  I’m not really missing out on much.  As an aside, you should never trust someone who says they’d pick invisibility.  These people are generally creepers, snoops, or pervs.  Unless you ask a teenage boy, in which case they’d all say invisibility.  Then I could just totally walk into the girls locker room and they’d be NONE THE WISER.  That’s just hormones.  They can’t help themselves.  But, back to flying, I’m not sure I see the appeal.  You’re up there AWFUL HIGH, and does this include interaction with birds?  Because if that is the case, no thank you.  I can picture myself just sailing along and then all of a sudden I get swallowed up by a flock of geese.  I’d sh*t myself.  So, for that reward, there’s no way I’m wearing a cape.  I maintain a pretty conservative style of dress 364 days a year.  If I had to go through life with a cape–too much for me to handle.  I’m not Frank Costanza’s lawyer.  

Q:  What’s the dumbest thing you heard in the last week?  I heard someone claiming that 2% milk actually contained 2% milk.  What the rest would be?  I don’t know.  I. N. Accurate, Newport, RI

A:  That’s a pretty good one.  I guess that would make skim milk NO MILK AT ALL.  That’s why it’s so healthy. And delicious.  Sometimes I hear a conversation and you think the person has just misspoke, but then you realize, NO–that’s what they actually believe.  I should probably start writing down the things I’d hear, and then I would be more prepared for this type of question.  I’ll go with the following:  I was in a public setting writing a blog post not long ago when a group of wholesome American teens started talking about the state abbreviation, WA.  I soon found out they were talking about it, because they did not know what state it stood for.  This, in itself, was a bit troubling.  I wouldn’t consider WA one of the more difficult state abbreviations.  Now, those A’s and the M’s can get a BIT TRICKY, but the W’s?  I guess it wasn’t so much the one thing that was said, as much as the whole conversation.  It played out like this:

Guy: Uh..Wisconsin?

Chick: There’s no “a” in Wisconsin.

Guy: I don’t know…

Chick:  There’s only 3 states that begin with “W.”  Wisconsin, Wyoming and West Virginia.  

Guy: I’ll Google It.

(11 seconds later)

Guy: Washington. 

(fireworks go off)

Q:  Say football is eventually banned from the American sporting scene.  What do you think would be more popular?  Some version of flag-football that is far safer to play, or some complex virtual reality/video game ball that you’d watch on TV or in stadiums on the jumbo screens?  Paul Tagliaboo, Hartford, CT. 

A:  You’re basically asking me the boxing robot question.  Did I watch Real Steel?  Maybe I did.  WHAT OF IT?  Anyway, in that movie, human controlled robot boxing is the greatest sport of all-time.  People loved it.  Of course, this was a necessarily plot point–so I don’t know that we can trust its validity in regard to this discussion.  What would replace football is a pretty common discussion.  Would baseball get a boost?  Would people finally flock toward soccer?  I don’t think soccer is going to cut it.  What draws people to football–is the violence a part of it?  Because if it is, flag football isn’t going to work.  And, really, that would have no chance.  Flag football is a novelty.  It’s like watching a skills competition, or an All-Star Game.  Would you occasionally see great catches?  Sure, but it wouldn’t be the same.  I think you’d have to go the virtual reality route.  Get everyone a set of goggles and have two nerds FIGHT IT OUT, Madden 2040 style.  So, the superstar goes from being the QB to that guy who’s like crazy good with the controller and sh*t.  Would this guy operate alone?  Would he need coaches and coordinators?  Is one man too easily corruptible?  How would it impact the betting?  My head just exploded.  Let’s save the NFL.  

Q:  You know how people rally around small businesses that are about to go under?  Why don’t the owners of these businesses fake people out?  Instead of letting it get to the point of no return, why not after your 1st bad month be like, “Well, we’re screwed!  Going out of Business!  Thanks for your patronage–Through the Years.”  Then after a month or so, once revenue picked up, it’d be all “WE THANK OUR CUSTOMERS FOR SAVING OUR STORE.”  

A:  This is a pretty strong idea.  Think about how satisfied the customers would be with themselves when they thought they saved the business.  You’d be hard pressed to find a prouder group of Americans.  The trouble is, once you pulled back from the ledge, your customers would probably head back to the superstores or the internet.  How many times could pull off this ruse?  Or how long could you keep it going before someone said, wait–I thought you were going out of business.  You know what people like less than an opportunity to feel superior?  BEING DECEIVED.  I still think it’s a worth a shot, though.  What’s the alternative?  I also hate how people rally around these closing stores.  The Chester County Book & Music Company is closing and now everyone is acting like it’s their favorite store EVER.  Meanwhile they’ve been wearing out Amazon for years.  People like the IDEA of these stores, but deep down they also like SAVING MONEY.  Regardless, you can always count on an outpouring of support in these cases.  Someone will be overwhelmed by that outpouring.  This is the boilerplate language.  The outpouring will be replaced by a mob trying to take advantage of the suddenly discounted prices, and then everyone will forget.  If only the CCB&MC would have feigned its demise years ago.  

 

No Tom Brady–An Eagles Live Blog.

Tommy Was Needed in South Beach.

I have barely acknowledged the Eagles this pre-season.  After what happened with Andy Reid and his son, there was some reluctance on my part to dive into my analysis.  Deep down I still feel the same way in terms of football.  The Eagles have a lot to prove.  So far, they haven’t shown much.  Tonight against New England was supposed to be the big test, but New England has chosen to sit many of their starters.  Still, everyone will be looking for the Eagles 1st string offense to show some life.

*Ryan Mallett, he of the big arm and 0 regular season snaps is leading the Pats.  Gruden talks about his “cannon.”  If there’s any chance Mike Kafka is going to ever get some love, it’ll be from Gruden tonight.

*Vick goes 3 and out.  Issues from the 1st drive:  Vick can’t slide.  And, the Eagles failed to pick up a 3rd and short.  There’s a portion of Eagles fans who are terrified this season is going to play out exactly like last season.  What would ever make them think that?

*Gruden compares LeSean McCoy to Barry Sanders.  In about a half hour Mychal Kendricks could be Patrick Willis.

*No Gronk.  No Aaron Hernandez.  Where is everyone taking Gronkowski in their fantasy drafts this year?  For me, he’s a little like Chris Johnson coming off that 2,000 yard season.  There’s just no way he can duplicate it, so someone is going to reach.  I don’t think you can take him in the 1st round.

*My TV is so budget that a 7-step drop takes the QB right out of my screen.

*Patriots try a fake screen left/screen right, which was the signature play of the 1998 F&M Diplomats.  It helps stall a drive that ends in a 50-yd field goal.  Not bad for 2nd stringers.

*Phillies aside:  How many times have the Phillies surrendered a lead immediately this season?  Phils fight back to go up 3-2 in the bottom of the 4th, and BOOM Halladay immediately gives it right back up.  4-3 Reds.  Vintage Halladay!

*Vick gets creamed.  Looks like ribs.  KAFKA!  FOLES!  There’s no way Vick plays 16 games this year.  Will he play 10?

*Vick is leaving the field.  I can’t imagine that he’ll be back, even if he’s all right.  Foles is in, and is moving the chains.  Ladies and Gentlemen, YOUR 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.  In related news, we are probably also going to get to see Trent Edwards tonight.

*Gruden, “You can’t coach toughness.”  Other things you can’t coach: height, speed, heart, grit, pretty much anything relating to football.  You’re going to need to be tough to watch much more of this.  It’s a total horror show.

*More from the Phillies game.  Sarge:  Really need the Braves to win that game (against the Nats).  Nope, that’s not it.  Need about 4 teams in the NL to disband.  Phillies tie it up 5-5.  You know what to do now, Roy.

*Roughing the passer on top-pick Fletcher Cox wipes away a pick by DRC.  Hey, at least he got some penetration.

*Pretty smooth 80-yd drive for the future Patriots practice squad.  Things are going to super sunny in Philly tomorrow the way this one is going.

*Oh, excellent, Cullen Jenkins and Andy Reid in a screaming match on the sideline ala Lou Pinella and an umpire.  That’s what you like to see, Folks.  Togetherness.  Accountability.  I assume Reid was upset the Patriots punched it in from the 1 when the entire world knew they were going to hand it off.

*Patriots fumble a punt, it’s the Eagles best offensive play of the game.   McCoy gains nine.  He looks fine.  Can we go ahead and get him out of there?

*Nick Foles could certainly look worse, but the Eagles needed reps with their 1st team offense.  They look like it’s the 1st day of practice out there, and now Vick may be out for some time, or at least for the rest of this game.  The team, at best, needs time to come together a bit, but I’m not sure when they’re going to get that time.

*Could Nick Foles start week 1?  Can you imagine Foles vs. Weeden?  Would the NFL even televise that?  Big time Eagles lead, 14-11.  As a coincidence, Andy Reid’s mustache currently scores a 14 on the 10-scale.

*Michael Vick’s ribs aren’t broken!   I think I have to stop.  This game is like watching the NBA.  We’re going to reserve judgement on the Eagles for another week.  Start talking yourself into Foles.

Grantland Contest Entry.

Hello, Old Friend.

I was asked today whether Derek Anderson was still in the league.  As embarrassing as it is to admit, I didn’t know the answer.  As it turns out Anderson is safely entrenched as Carolina’s backup quarterback.  In other words, he’s right where he needs to be.  Speaking of fantasy football, I’m not sure how many Grantland readers we have here, but they are running a contest for a fantasy football writer.  Since some of you feel strongly that they stole our idea for their Bad QB League, I thought I would enter the contest–see what I could do.  They owe me some reparations, no?  I was intending to publish my submission here, but after further reading, it appears that is against contest rules.  So, once Friday passes and I’m not picked, I’ll post my effort here as a proper introduction to D.A. Fantasy Football 2012.  To make up for the lack of a post today, I’ll be back this evening with some live commentary during the Eagles/Patriots pre-season game.  Until then…

A Bag of Mail.

Bet Max. Bet Max. Bet Max.

No photo submissions this week.  Hang your heads in shame.  You’re going to have to read something.  I imagine it’ll be exhausting.  Maybe digest it in installments.  Five small meals a day.  Of course, I’m barely getting the mailbag in this week, so maybe we all have something to work on for next week.  For amusement purposes only…

Q:  Out of the following, who is the bigger degenerate gambler?  Someone who gets 50 dollars in nickels and sits at a slot machine until they are numb below the waist, or someone who walks into a casino and puts $500 on a single blackjack hand and then leaves?  Beau Nuspin, Atlantic City, NJ.

A:  Definitely the slot player.  The person betting big on one hand is either desperate, an idiot, or has a lot of disposable income.  I judge your commitment to gaming by how long you can spend in a casino without going insane.  You see, you can lose money VERY FAST.  You could walk in with $200 and be done in 11 minutes.  Then it’s like 9:41 pm, but you already paid for parking so….now what?  My only marathon sessions in the casino were playing low-stakes poker.  As I’m sure you can guess, there is very little that is more boring than that type of poker.  It’s like a coin-flip that takes 4 hours.  I never had a great time playing poker.  I had fun with the idea of playing, but once I got there it was a slog.  Even if I won some money, it felt like an effort.  My greatest moment ever in a casino, when I walked in and hit THE WHEEL slot for a quick grand was also a bit anti-climatic.  I was still standing around with a ton of time to kill.  I just had a pocket full of hundos.  If you don’t go to a casino and think to yourself, “How many meals can I squeeze into the next 8 hours,” then you MAY have a problem.  It’s the people who lose track of time at a casino that you have to worry about.  People with their gambling in check don’t look at you bleary eyed and say, “It’s morning?”  So, the slot player isn’t necessarily a degenerate, but they clearly have the gene.  

Q:  Do you think it is awkward when you have a kid and you name it say, “Chris,” and then you have to tell a friend of yours (also named Chris) what the kid’s name is?  Pete Frank, Humble, TX.  

A:  I’m sure it’s a little awkward.  You know how I know?  Because I feel like one of the parties is going to say something stupid.  Either friend Chris will be like, “Great name.”  Or you’ll blurt out, “Durr…It’s spelled differently than your Chris.”  Naming a kid has to be an incredibly exhaustive process.  You figure you have to get over that initial desire to be the one who came up with the name.  You might shoot down your spouse’s first 20 picks just because you didn’t think of them.  It’s like that Seinfeld episode when Elaine was dating a guy who had the same name as a serial killer.  They tried to think up a new name–DISASTER.  One of Elaine’s choices was “O.J.”  So, I think when you finally land on a name, you can’t be like, “Oh, I went to college with a kid named that, what if we see him at the reunion?”  This is why people give their kids unique names, though.  Along with vanity.  Common names can sometimes cause confusion.  I once walked into my house and there was a present sitting on the counter with MY NAME on it.  It was not my birthday.  It was not Christmas.  It was not any holiday.  I was like, “Oh, Hell Yes!  Random Present Time!”  I almost opened that sumbitch up, no lie.  And, thank god I didn’t, because as it turned out, the present was for some baby that had just been born who shared my name.  I’m reasonably sure he wasn’t named after me.  

Q:  How much longer until Facebook doesn’t really exist?  I really want to delete my account, but I’m kind of just hoping the fad dies and I can save myself the trouble of explaining to people why I’m pulling the eject handle.  Trey Putterritory, Media, PA.  

A:  Well, seeing as how Facebook stock is at an all-time low, the end could very well be in sight.  Facebook is also VERY BOSSY.  The other day it told me that it was switching me over to that timeline format.  What is the timeline format?  I DON’T KNOW.  But, people who navigate the nuances of Facebook like pros seem to have strong opinions on such changes, but Facebook says, “GO POUND SAND.”  Their stance is, you’re addicted.  You need Facebook.  They could make you learn Mandarin just to log in, and you probably would, because you want to keep playing Bejeweled Blitz and checking in on what all your friends think about The Newsroom.  For Facebook to completely fall out of favor, there has to be something to replace it.  Facebook made MySpace about as cool as your dad’s jeans, but what will bump Facebook to the curb?  Does Twitter have that type of pull?  Are our attention spans short enough yet?  Twitter/Instagram in combination?  What about a Mark Zuckerberg scandal?  I have no doubt that Facebook will eventually go DOWN, but my advice to you, is GET OUT NOW.  If you feel strongly about it, get ahead of that curve.  Then, in five years, when people are jumping ship you can be like, “Facebook?  I haven’t been on Facebook in years.”  A little smugness can go a long way.  

Q:  Have you ever successfully applied sun block?  What I mean is, everyone misses a spot, right?  Red Streake, Honolulu, HI.

A:  I’m sure some people are very conscientious about their SPF application process.  It’s a high-pressure situation.  Applying someone else’s sun block is very dicey.  I’m not talking about getting all pervy and “doing someone’s back,” I mean if you have a kid and you have to lather the little chief up.  If you miss some spots, the tyke is going to be whining about being burnt.  Nightmare.  When I got burnt as a kid, it was quite the production.  I can’t sleep!  My legs are ON FIRE!  The usual.  As far as applying to myself, AS AN ADULT, I’m not that great at it.  The last time I went on a warm-weather vacation I missed at least one crucial spot every day.  First day?  Ankles.  Second day?  That spot on your thigh where your shorts ride up when you sit in a golf cart.  Third day?  MY LEFT CHEEK.  I was really a mess.  I have no idea what my problem was.  I’ve always been a spot-misser.  Sometimes in my youth I’d get conned into washing our car.  My parents would lure you in with buzzords like “HOSE,” and “SUDS.”  It could be fun to fool around with that stuff, but it was hard to learn that “WET=CLEAN” is not an accurate equation.  The car would dry and there would be dirty spots all over that cusser.  Then my parents would palm their foreheads and tell me to sort it out.  

Q:  Why is Pez the only candy that comes in a dispenser?  Gordo Faht, Kitty Hawk, NC.  

A:  Probably because Pez isn’t really good?  It’s a novelty.  Hey, look at this little f*cking contraption.  It’s filled with below average candy.  It’s like those candy necklaces they used to make.  That candy was horsebleep.  It had to be.  Otherwise, you’d eat the entire thing in about 40 seconds.  Can you imagine if you had to get M&Ms through something like a pez dispenser?  It’d cause rioting in the streets.  People would be taking any blunt object to the thing just to get at those precious M&Ms.  Pez is tiny, and yet you don’t necessarily want to eat a lot of it.  That’s a real rarity in the candy world.  This isn’t to say that candy distribution couldn’t be improved.  Have you been to a golf course lately and seen those bottles full of “Divot Mix?”  The carts now have these holders for these bottles so you can fill your divots instead of replacing them.  No one replaces divots correctly and the grass DIES.  Anyway, I think it’d be nice to incorporate this into the back seat of your car.  A little bottle full of candy that snaps into place instead of the center arm rest?  Who uses that thing anyway?  

Q:  Is there a more annoying habit than people saying things like “Barnes and Noble’s?”  Trent Edward, Bufffalo, NY.

A:  Wait, is that not what it’s called?  I think this is a habit of an older generation.  They came from a MORE HONEST TIME when the book store belonged to SOMEONE and not to some corporation.  Every place they went was Joe’s Service Station, or Hank’s Deli.  This is probably why Sam’s Club is so popular.  Just a guy named Sam with a really SPECIAL CLUB.  It does bother me a little bit, though.  I can’t help myself.  Sometimes I don’t understand how people get it wrong.  There’s a sign right out front, is there not?  The same thing happens with people getting names wrong.  For a certain percentage of the population, Asante Samuel was forever “Samuels.”  I’m sure all these people had seen his name in print, on jerseys, written in 30 ft lettering on the jumbo screen, but they can’t get it.  When I open up my bar/chicken finger place/driving range I’ll just go ahead and call it 3-Putt Territory’s.  Save people the trouble of getting it wrong.  

Q:  What do you think the conversations are like in the Cardinals’ offices when they are discussing the choice between Kolb and Skelton.  They have to know they’re totally screwed, correct?  Does it just get to the point where it’s comical?  Does someone say, “We’re going 6-10 either way and then they all burst into laughter?”  Denny Greene, Tempe, AZ.

A:  Here’s the thing, coaches know when players stink.  It’s not like you are sitting there at home watching the game and seeing something that a coach isn’t picking up on.  I’d say that on occasion, they allow themselves some optimism.  Say Skelton has one good game.  In their hearts they’ll know it was a total fluke, but they might think, what if he can string together 15 more flukes IN A ROW?  Or maybe they see a guy who has one tool, like a huge arm, and they think perhaps they can make him serviceable.  I’m pretty sure that a conversation about Kolb and Skelton isn’t discussing things like, “Which one of these guys is our franchise QB?”  It’s probably more like, “Which one of these guys isn’t going to get me fired in week eight.”  Or, “Which one of these guys is less hated in the locker room?”  I imagine there isn’t anyone less popular in an NFL locker room than an awful QB.   Here’s a guy that touches the ball every play and doesn’t do a damn thing.  Kevin Kolb, with his production and salary?  It’s PURE BALLS for him to even walk into the Arizona locker room.  If I were him, I’d get dressed in the parking lot and disappear immediately after games.  

 

Requiem For the Old-School Baseball Clubhouse.

J-Roll Waits to See if a Ball Gets Through the Infield Before Leaving the Box.

I knew the Phillies lost 9-2 today long before I left work.  The nature of things makes people want to find me and report to me the Phillies score.  Keep in mind I usually already know this information, but people like to be helpful.  So, armed with the knowledge that the Phillies had missed out on a chance to sweep Florida, I got ready for my usual punishment–listening to sports talk on the ride home.  Instead of the usual laments like: how can the Phillies start 4 guys who have more AAA at-bats this year than MLB at-bats (an actual stat), the hosts and callers were lighting up Jimmy Rollins.  I still don’t know exactly what happened, but the bottom line is, Jimmy didn’t run out a ground ball.  This happens all the time.

Unless there is a chance of an extra base hit, unless he knows he may have to beat out a double play in a clutch spot, unless he hits a swinging bunt down the 3rd base line, you’ll almost never get 100% from Jimmy Rollins to first.  If Jimmy hits a ground ball directly at an infielder, he makes no attempt to hide his jogging.  On occasion he doesn’t even bother running through the bag.  It is, without a doubt, the thing about Rollins that drives people crazy.  The popups, the lack of patience, these are things attributable to Jimmy’s style of hitting.  The running is just plain lack of effort, or some deep-seated feeling inside J-Roll that hustling ain’t cool.  When Cliff Lee runs out every ball 100%, when Roy Halladay busts it (baby giraffe style) down to first–you’d like to think your leadoff hitter would run balls out.  But, Rollins never has.

The practice has gotten him benched, and it’s something that drives Charlie Manuel crazy too.  When you heard Manuel talk about Bryce Harper earlier in the year, you could tell it was his maniacal obsession with hustling that Manuel liked the most.  Charlie said Harper embarrassed veterans with how hard he played.  You can direct that comment right at Rollins.  But, Jimmy isn’t changing.  The Phillies have won too much.  He’s gotten away with it for too long.  Rollins will never run every ball out.  And, that should give you an idea about how hard it would be to change Jimmy’s approach at the plate.

The truth is there are a lot of people who feel like Jimmy.  Hustling has always been something that’s been looked down on to a certain extent.  The nickname “Charlie Hustle,” was not given lovingly to Pete Rose.  But, there’s room between someone like Rose, or Bryce Harper and the effort Jimmy Rollins gives.  Does Rollins need to run full-out through the bag on a two-hopper to 1st?  Not really, but the problem with thinking you know when you need to turn it on is that there will always be a handful of times each year where you end up looking like an ass.  Today was one of those days for Rollins.  Given how the season’s gone, he’s probably looking at unprecedented backlash.

The criticism was coming from all sides.  The in-game announcers immediately highlighted the lack of effort.  Talk show hosts, callers, and even Darren Daulton during his radio show were disappointed in Rollins.  You could tell that Daulton and even Sarge aren’t necessarily comfortable criticizing players, but the move was so egregious that they would have looked foolish to back Jimmy.  The question is, where is the accountability?  What are the consequences?  Daulton alluded to a self-policing environment that would usually deal with this type of incident.  The team’s leaders are the ones who have to get the message across to Jimmy.  Does this team have anyone to step up?  Is there any chance an Utley, Halladay or Lee had a word with Jimmy after the game?

Even if they did, you have to think it’s not going to work, because like I said, this has happened before.  The question that arises for me is, do these guys really care about playing for one another?  Is there any sense of team?  We know that after a game-winning hit, or on a team that wins a World Series, everyone is buddy-buddy.  But, back in the day, camaraderie wasn’t something that was saved for a walk-off hit.  A caller mentioned the Kangaroo Court to Darren Daulton on the radio tonight, and it made me think of the 1987 Phillies Season Highlights video.  I watched this video countless times in my youth.  I don’t know why.  We didn’t have cable.  That’s my only defense.

In this video, you get a glimpse of the Phillies’ camaraderie.  There’s one scene where the bus breaks down during Spring Training, that is especially amusing thanks to Jeff Stone and Mike Schmidt’s “walk around money.”  You also get to see a bit of Kangaroo Court, though.  Players were generally fined for, “embarrassing the ball club,” or “impersonating a baseball player.”  One coach was fined for being heard saying, “Von either swings at the first pitch, or takes it.”  In a season where the Phillies disappointed and started what would become an epic losing trend, it was easy to watch this hour-long video and see why anyone would want to be a big-leaguer.  Even on a 2nd division team with hideous polyester  uniforms.  They still were a team.  The modern baseball team seems to be populated by a lot of islands.

Teams now seem to come together when everything is easy (oh, we won 100 games) or when it serves some purpose–see Boston unifying in their hatred of Bobby Valentine for the sake of explaining away their disappointing season.  Rollins would fit right in with that Boston clubhouse.  The bottom line is, a clubhouse that gets along has started to become the exception.  The rule is now, cover your own ass, get yours, get paid and clock out at the end of the night.  I could vomit.