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Friday, August 18, 2006

Phils Stayin’ Alive

After losing a tough series to the Cincinnati Reds, the Phils seemed in jeopardy of falling out of contention for the National League Wild Card. Instead, they took 3 out of 4 from the division-leading Mets, and remain in the hunt.

They’re in the hunt, that is, unless you listen to the major Philadelphia sports media outlets. In that case, Phillies fans are just a bunch of idiots waiting to get their hearts broken, again.

The logic of this argument, professed most loudly by Angelo Cataldi from what I heard this week though many others use it, amounts to “it’s what they’ve done before.” In other words, there is no logic behind it.

Did these pundits miss the trade deadline purging of this team? Do they not realize the Phils are now led in a very real sense by young players?

Of course not. It’s merely an easy thing to say. If the Phils don’t capture the Wild Card, they push out their chest and say, “I told you so.” If the Phils break their playoff drought, they just ignore that they were wrong, berate those who bring it up, and/or continue to say “they won’t win” and claim their brilliance as long as the Phils don’t win the World Series.

Cataldi and Howard Eskin led the charge in ripping Charlie Manuel’s apparent tongue lashing of Dallas Green, who criticized the team on Eskin’s show. They love ripping Manuel, yet when he finally displays a backbone — a lack of one being one of the bigger criticisms of the manager — they fall all over themselves defending the interview-friendly Green.

I’m no big fan of Manuel, but I have no problem with him laying into Green. I could not care less if the interview was two months ago; it was the first time they’d seen each other. I’d have a problem if Manuel sought Green out. He has better things to do.

The fact is it’s late August, the Phils are playing meaningful baseball despite the fact that general manager Pat Gillick took the overdue step of gutting the team of some huge salaries, and the players actually seem to like the manager.

This team has a shot at the playoffs. Fans should be able to enjoy it without a constant drone from a media looking to prove it was right.

Week in Review:

· The NFL preseason is anxiously anticipated every year by fans starved for football. Then we remember why it sucks (it doesn’t count, and we’re watching scrubs), and that it lasts too long. Regardless, here’s a few observations for those of you with enough sense not to have watched the Eagles last night:
     * Correll Buckhalter looked good on a 40+ yard run after catching a screen pass. Before getting excited, you should know it was reported that he now walks with a limp. I’m no expert, but I have a hard time getting excited about a running back with a permanent limp.
     * Against the Baltimore Ravens, who have a very good defense, the Birds’ receiving corps went completely silent. Donovan McNabb completed one pass to a receiver in a half.
     * Jabar Gaffney was playing in the fourth quarter. I admit, I thought he was a good acquisition, but I’m not my job to make those decisions. This guy was a fairly big signing in a very quiet off-season for the Birds. This is a terrible sign, especially considering that Todd Pinkston sat out. The Eagles should be on the phone with Denver trying to get Ashley Lelie until the deal is done.
     * On a positive note, McNabb looked healthy and mobile.

· Randy Brown, a football analyst on Daily News Live exposed some faulty reporting on WIP this morning. The discussion included statements that Andy Reid was making a mistake by planning to list Koy Detmer as the second string QB just so he could hold on kicks. They argued that this potentially sentenced the Eagles to 3 quarters of Detmer, instead of Jeff Garcia, if McNabb was hurt early in a game.


Garcia could play immediately. I think the rest of it was just that McNabb couldn’t reenter the game if Garcia, technically the emergency QB in this scenario, came in, until the 4th quarter. Admittedly, I thought WIP had a point. But, I’m not paid to know these things.

· Terrell Owens’ antics have been the second story on Comcast SportsNet’s SportsNite for most of the last two weeks. The psycho wide receiver is in Dallas, not playing, and he’s on before Phillies highlights (unless you count the post-game show, which is advertised as a separate show). It’s one more example of doing away with journalistic principles. There’s no way in the world Owens should be covered like that. The defense, as always, is that it’s what people watch. It’s a bogus argument. People watch it because it’s on in front of stories they actually care about. If it wasn’t there, no one would miss it.

· Ron Artest should be in jail. This isn’t as obvious a statement as it usually is. Sentenced to community service for igniting one of the worst brawls in NBA history at the Palace of Auburn Hills in November, 2004, he told a group of young kids that he essentially did the right thing. “I never say it was mistake,” Artest was quoted by numerous papers as saying. “Somebody started trouble, and I always say I ended it. He started it and I ended it. But I never say it was a mistake. Like I told the kids, if somebody starts trouble with you, if they're talking or if somebody hits you, you always have to protect yourself. And if you can avoid it, I will always tell somebody to avoid it.”

If that didn’t violate the terms of his performing community service to keep him out of jail, it should have. By the way, the idiots who thought letting a guy like Artest talk to kids as part of his community service probably deserve some jail time, too.

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