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Friday, May 15, 2009

Not Panic, But Concern for the Phils; Week-in-Review

In what has been a season of ceremonies commemorating last year’s World Series and the death of Harry Kalas, the Phillies have finally come to the last one. Today he Phillies met President Barack Obama in the traditional trip to the White House for the Series champs, a ceremony that was postponed when Kalas passed.

I’m not really one of those fans in a hurry to put the Series in the rearview mirror. It took 25 years to get a parade in this town, and we should enjoy it as long as possible.

I think Cole Hamels is fine. He had two freak injuries that helped him get off to a slow start, and he’s had two straight starts that were very good.

It’s only reasonable to assume the hitters will come around.

That said, I am sick of seeing the Series patch on their home uniforms, and there’s no guarantee this is going to turn around. The Phillies are close enough to first place to tame anyone thinking of getting too crazy with criticism, but they enter May 15 at 16-16 without a series win at home and there doesn’t seem to be any great mystery about what’s going wrong with this team.

The starting pitching just isn’t getting it done. Whether he likes it or not, Jamie Moyer’s age is an issue until he proves it isn’t. Brett Myers was in the minors for a stint last year for a reason. Joe Blanton came to Philadelphia with a high ERA last year, and he’s showing why this year. Chen Ho Park is a fifth starter, and proving it.

Tonight begins a 4-game series in Washington and a lengthy road trip, where they actually win a series now and then. Hopefully, it’s just what they need.

NBA Playoffs. I’ll admit it. My picks are in serious trouble with the Lakers – my pick to win it all – getting pushed to a Game 7 by Houston. Kobe Bryant was sick in Game 1, and the Lakers just seemed disinterested in Game 4. But after they destroyed the Rockets in Game 5, I figured everything was fine.

I still think the Lakers take care of the Rockets on Sunday, and Boston survives one last time against the Orlando Magic in their own Game 7.

Cleveland, however, may be my biggest concern. I’ll stick to my prediction that the Cavaliers fall to the Lakers in the Finals, but they may not lose a game before that.

Week-in-Review:

• I don’t mean to focus on dumb people or negativity in my Week-in-Review, but it’s absolutely unavoidable this week. One idiot after another put their stupidity on public display. ESPN reported that the father of the 12-year-old boy bumped by Glen “Big Baby” Davis at the end of Game 4 in their playoff series against Orlando demanded an apology. “Ernest Provetti told the Orlando Sentinel that he wrote the NBA office demanding an apology from Davis for acting like a ‘raging animal with no regard for fans' personal safety.’” Great lesson to teach your kid. Complain over absolutely nothing if it will bring you even the worst form of notoriety, if not some form of financial gain which no doubt was in the back of the guy’s mind, and, oh by the way, feel free to be a racist in the process. The guy did e-mail an apology to ESPN’s PTI show, but as always it’s the initial remark that gets the headlines. In this case, that’s probably how it should have worked.

• ESPN made a big deal of Dwight “Superman” Howard saying he needed to get the ball more at the end of Game 5, which was Orlando’s second straight choke in the series against Boston. I didn’t think he was overly critical of Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, but he still sounded ridiculous. The guy doesn’t shoot foul shots well at all, so any coach is going to hesitate to give him the ball at the end of a tight game. Besides, the NBA isn’t the NFL. Howard is supposed to be his team’s best player, yet he needs his coach to call a play for him to get the ball? Go get the ball, and learn how to shoot a 15-foot set shot with no one defending you, Superman.

• This may be the least surprising item, but Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was in the midst of the stupidity. After Dallas lost to Denver when the Nuggets “. . . benefited from an NBA-acknowledged officiating mistake and beat Dallas 106-105 for a 3-0 series lead . . . Cuban stalked across the court, blew off steam at the scorer's table, then headed down a hall leading away from the court. Lydia Moore [mother of Denver player Kenyan Martin], wearing a Nuggets jersey, was standing near the base of the section he walked past, clearly in his view. . . . According to Cuban, a fan called the Nuggets ‘thugs’ and he looked at Moore and said, ‘That includes your son.’” Class act, Mark.


• Jason Werth stole second, third, and home in the same inning on Tuesday night in a 5-3 Phillies victory over the Dodgers. There is nothing more exciting than “small ball” in baseball. A few years back there was plenty of talk about speeding up baseball. If the game was played with this type of aggression, no one would ever complain about the length of a game. (See, it wasn’t all negative.)

• I forgot these last two items when I originally posted. The Sixers, or officially it may be Comcast, gave TV analyst Bob Salmi the boot today by not renewing his contract. I wasn’t any big fan of Salmi, but for a while now I’ve tried to find a comment on why Steve Mix, Salmi’s predecessor, was let go in the same manner. At the time there were a few comments on radio and some real small newspaper stories implying a) no one would talk about it, and b) he got axed . . . or not renewed . . . because he was “too critical.” I certainly hope Ed Snider isn’t looking to duplicate the homer broadcasters that the Flyers.

• The Sixers also reportedly interviewed Eddie Jordan today for their head coaching vacancy. According to Wikipedia he has a .444 winning percentage. He did get the Wizards to the playoffs pretty regularly, but his main qualification seems to be knowing Ed Stefansky.

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