Tuesday, April 24, 2007


So last night, after following the Phillies on the Yahoo! gamecast on the in-tar-net, I wanted to see the highlights of the game on Baseball Tonight. The Yankees-Devil Rays game was still on at that point. When the game was finished, the familiar Baseball Tonight music started and then they proceeded to talk about the Yankees for 20 minutes! Only a 20 second highlight blurb on every other game. I was so pissed off.

ESPN has gone down the sh*thole over the past few years, especially with the advent of their 'Original Entertainment' (EOE) arm. I simply don't think they are qualified to report on the sports news anymore, especially while they are creating the news simultaneously. Too much is made of personalities on the network and their constant sucking off of the NFL is enough to make anyone (even a diehard football fan) nauseous.

Putting poker on television is pure foolishness and then they have the gall to report (and self-righteously, at that) on Sportscenter that there is a rising gambling problem among our youth and something needs to be done. Well, no sh*t, sherlock! Guess what...YOU people at ESPN are significantly responsible - you promote poker and blackjack on TV at choice hours and mention point spreads and over-unders constantly on your football and basketball shows.

Ok...*deep breath*....I am ok. Just hoping that ESPN bites off more than it can chew.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Excellent Cole Hamels

Line - CG, 1 ER, 5 H, 15 K

Oh, by the way, the Phillies won the game, 4-1 on the strength of Chase Utley's 3 RBI and Aaron Rowand's second homer of the season. Hamels just mowed them down, and hit trouble only in a couple of spots. He only had one real mistake pitch, which was the Conine homer to lead off the 2nd inning. Otherwise, he was extremely calm when he needed to be.

It was quite a strange game, with a triple play executed by the Phillies (5-4-3 grounder - in the 5th) and a whole bunch of good defense being played well on both sides (I guess after last night's D, anything would be an improvement). Even stranger than a triple play was the Phillies' lineup, which was as followed:

1. Victorino - RF
2. Rowand - CF
3. Rollins - SS
4. Utley - 2B
5. Burrell - LF
6. Helms - 1B
7. Nunez - 3B
8. Barajas - C
9. Hamels - P

I wonder if this little shakeup will provide a spark for the team. Between that and the return of Ryan Howard tomorrow, hopefully the Phillies can get their first two game winning streak of the season.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Phillies Continual Self-Destruction

I am kinda running out of things to scream in frustration and instead have decided to become catatonic whenever I see the Phillies invent new ways to lose games. Tonight, they blew another one against the Cincinnati Reds, 2-1 in 10 innings. They had a 1-0 lead until Tom Gordon gave up the tying homerun in the bottom of the 9th with two outs. Gordon then loaded the bases and promptly gave up the winning run in the 10th. Now, the Phillies are 4-11 overall (not even the Eagles have had a record that bad since '98) and 0-4 in extra inning games. I tell you, being able to catch about 150 games on the dish just ain't what it used to be, that is for sure.

Observations about the beginning of the season (since we are now approximately 10% of the way through):

- I am not going to blame Charlie Manuel for the horrific performance of the team. While it is true that it is easier to fire one manager than it is to fire 25 players, Cholly is not able to hit with runners in scoring position, get runners on base, and get the big out on the mound. He can only put the players in the position to be able to do those things, and thus far, they have failed miserably.

- That being said, some of Cholly's moves have me scratching my head, looking in horror, or just flat out screaming 'what the f*ck' at the TV. Tonight, he made three pitching changes in the 6th inning alone when Lieber had just gotten things under control. The first two guys, Geary and Smith, each walked a batter, making Alfonseca have to come and bail their asses out. The changes just struck me as a panic move.

- Likewise, I can't figure out why Michael Bourn keeps being inserted by Cholly for Burrell in the late innings. I know it is ostensibly for 'defensive purposes' (like Kim Batiste was used back in the day), but when Bourn comes up to bat in the cleanup or 5th spot, he does not produce and the Phillies are left with yet another offensive liability in a mountain of said liabilities.

- Shane Victorino needs to be benched, period. Who would replace him, you ask? I don't know, but I am tired of him hacking at first pitches and making outs when he shouldn't be. I swear I thought Randall Simon was his batting mentor. The way Victorino swings is very reminiscient of Simon - dropping of the hands at the last minute and using only the front hand to follow through. It looks like an axe chopping, and any pitch above the knees gets popped up, since he is hitting the under side of the ball with the top side of the bat.

- Two things have affected Chase Utley: his wedding and his fat contract, which happened on consecutive days, especially the latter aspect. If that is the case, then he simply becomes another of the Phillies players whose production drops off once given loaded contracts. See also: Burrell, Patrick; Abreu, Bobby; Lieberthal, Mike.

- The bullpen sucks more than a Hoover vacuum cleaner. I just wonder what the hell Gillick and the front office were doing all winter as they were bleating about all the bullpen help they need. I guess Antonio Alfonseca was all they needed (not to take away from what AA has done so far this year). Please don't insult us, management. Not all of us are the brainwashed children of Eskin, Cataldi, et al.

- Moving Brett Myers to the pen was alright. A little surprising, but ok. I think he has the mental toughness to be a set-up man. However, what makes me crazy is that precisely because he is a starter, he should be able to get 2-3 inning saves. He won't, though, because Manuel is about as flexible as a 2 x 4 when it comes to how the bullpen ought to go. It is almost as if he has a little template that he has to fill when it comes to when relievers show up. I'd give Myers the crack at a couple multi-inning saves, especially if he just blows through the lineup in the 8th inning. There is no use in bringing in Tom Gordon to potentially f*ck it up in the name of a template and 'loyalty'.

- Obviously, all of the coaches hired by the Phillies have had little to no impact on the team. There have been moronic baserunning gaffes and poor fielding and mental errors galore. Not convincing for a team that is supposed to be taking the 'next step'.

This is all I have for now. At 4-11, the season isn't over, but the team is on life support and so is Charlie Manuel's job. He received the dreaded 'vote of confidence' recently, which is really more like the kiss of death. I always wonder now if Gillick knew more than he let on when he said to 'look to 2008' when he traded away Bobby Abreu at the deadline last season. Only time will tell.

Back from the Hiatus

I have decided that I am going to start blogging again here at Strange World Sports. It has been a while, but I think things have gotten straightened out and will be able to forge on. It also helps that the Phillies have been sucking so badly lately that they will give me plenty to write about.

So come on down and get the full facts and opinions here at the Strange World Sports Blog. It is good to be back.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Long Term Hiatus

The Strange World Sports Blog will be going on long-term hiatus effect immediately. There are a lot of things that need to be done, and blogging, sadly, falls to the bottom of the list. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to anyone. Have a great day, week, month, etc.

~ The Don

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wednesday Night Bowling (2/21/07)

Average Going In: 166
My Scores: #1 - 171, #2 - 216, #3 -183
Series: 570

We won three of four and I had my best night in a couple of weeks, despite my still-sore foot. I finally was able to get the power back behind the ball that had caused it not to hook so dramatically, as it had the past two weeks without the force behind it. I had no open frames in the second game, and had four in the third that bookended four consecutive strikes. Don't ask, because I don't know either. A guy on one of the other teams came an inch from picking up a 7-10 split, which while I have seen on TV, I have never seen in person. Hopefully, we can build on this momentum into next week and I will be at 100% again.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First Swing For the Spring

It usually takes me a while to warm up for baseball season. It is my absolutely favorite sport, but much like Spring Training itself, I get fired up like a diesel engine: takes a while, but lasts a long time. Baseball is a marathon (pardon the cliche') and my following of it is just the same.

Anyways, I don't usually do the previews of the season until around St. Patrick's Day - it is a tradition; because I am not Irish, I need something else to occupy my time until March 19th, which is the Feast of St. Joseph, the true party feast!

Jimmy Rollins had fired the opening salvo about a month ago when he said that the Phillies were the 'team to beat' in the National League East. Jayson Stark has chronicled the reaction around the team in Clearwater as Spring Training has opened and surprisingly, a lot of players on the team agree, including Tom Gordon. To wit:

"I never read the article where he said that or heard anything about it until now. But why not? Why not us? Everybody pencils in the Mets. Everybody pencils in the Braves because they've done it every year. But why can't the Phillies win this year and next year and the following year, and be one of those teams? This team has had an opportunity to see every year what the Braves have done. So now why can't we do just what they've done, if not better? I mean, why not?"

For the record, I am somewhat of a pessimist (I am also a perfectionist - a rotten combination), and will not, AT THE MOMENT, take the Phillies to win the division. I have been through too many high-hoped seasons and have had too many letdowns to do so. However, if I see something in Spring Training that would have me change my mind, I will be the first to change my stance. But alas...

Hope Springs Eternal

Irvin Out at ESPN

Praise Jesus!! I had been waiting for this day since he found the bong sculpture in the car that belonged to him his friend brother. The only thing that upsets me is that I won't be able to read Jason Whitlock's weekly trashing of Irvin's (whom Whitlock called the 'Pipemaker' - an obvious play on 'playmaker', that ridiculous nickname) 'bojangling' on the former's AOL Sports column anymore. And that is a shame, because it was fun.

H/T to Bleeding Green Nation

*Update* Czaban had some scathing comments about Irvin's 'tenure', if it can be called that:

I was starting to wonder, if Irvin actually had pictures of ESPN’s corner office brass in compromising positions with the farm residents of Bristol Connecticut.....I will miss the loud suits. I will miss the incomprehensible non-sequitors. I will even miss the uncomfortable tension of a class act like Steve Young sitting next to him for 2 hours every Sunday – laughing at throaty growls as if they were actually funny.

So long, Michael...we hardly knew ye.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Weekend Round-Up

Congratulations to Kevin Harvick for winning the Dayton 500. There, I got it out of the way. That being said, my views on NASCAR can be summed up as follows:

1) It is a sport, and the drivers are athletes

2) I don't care for watching cars make left turns constantly

3) I only watch the first 5 laps and the last 10 laps of any given race

4) I know a lot more about NASCAR than I care to admit...thank the Reporter for that.

Moving on...

The West won the NBA All-Star Game...yawn!

The Chargers are going to hire Norv Turner to be their head coach. What a way to stick it in the eye of Marty! Apparently, the Spanos family and AJ Smith have decided that even a monkey could coach the Chargers to a division title. That's a huge gamble, considering that while Norv is a fine coordinator, his experience as a head coach has been, shall we say, lackluster?

Also consider this: It is Len Pasquarelli who is reporting this, so it could just be a big bogus tissue of lies.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Monopolistic Practices in Television Viewing

Anyone who has DirecTV as his television provider knows that he has access to extra 'packages' such as the MLB Extra Innings or the NFL Sunday Ticket for a flat fee during the respective seasons. Being a DirecTV subscriber myself, I have taken advantage of both of these opportunities; considering that I live in the DC metro area, it isn't as if I can just flip on the Phillies or Eagles when I want to watch them, so the investment makes sense.

There have been a lot of complaints about the availability of the Sunday Ticket package; it is only available through DirecTV and not on digital cable, as some of the other extras, like the MLB package, are. However, that will not be the case anymore as it appears Major League Baseball is licensing its Extra Innings only to DirecTV. For me, this isn't a problem, except in pricing. I paid about $150 for the 2006 baseball season, which is a great deal, considering that I am a teacher and don't work during summers. As a result, I have time to watch games that start at 10 pm Pacific time.

With an exclusive deal however, the price is almost a guarantee to rise. MLB is now only limiting itself to DirecTV customers, which kills off about 65-70% of the television viewing market. They have to make up the cost somewhere, and raising the prices is the only way to go. From a business standpoint, it somewhat makes sense to do the exclusive deal. Most of the local feeds for baseball teams are some variety of Fox Sports Net (a couple are Comcast Sports - which, sadly, does NOT include the Phillies), which are owned by the News Corp., the owner of, you guessed it, DirecTV!

This is actually the M.O. (modus operandi) of News Corp. They have done the same thing when syndicating television shows made by the 2oth Century Fox studios; they sold the syndication rights only to local Fox affiliates and the FX Network. It took a massive lawsuit on the part of actors in these shows (M*A*S*H was the one that came to mind) to stop this practice. It is simply a way to keep all of the cash in the same house. Whether or not it succeeds is yet to be seen.

On the part of MLB, this is essentially a risk free venture, because they are guaranteed a certain amount of money, especially the teams and their local television networks. With MLB, however, they really need to rescind their archaic blackout rules. It is absolutely ridiculous for people in Las Vegas not to get games in San Diego, Phoenix, or Denver due to some stupid 'local area' viewing. The only thing that should cause a blackout is if the local station is already on your programming menu (i.e. if you have Fox Sports Rocky Mountain on your DirecTV local package, then you shouldn't get it on Extra Innings). The whole point is to let as many people as you can watch your sport. You won't be doing that if you have those restrictions in place.

Basketball Hall of Fame Finalists

The list has come out, and there may be only a couple of inductees for the next class of Hall of Famers. Some are worthy, and others, I can't even figure out how they made it this far.

Adrian Dantley (DM class of 1973), Phil Jackson (grudgingly), and Chris Mullin all deserve enshrinement.

Dick Vitale is on the list as well, and for the life of me, I wouldn't put him in. He simply isn't worth it. What has he actually contributed to the game of basketball besides his ranting and raving? Or maybe his considerable pro-Duke bias? I can sit at home and watch Texas play Oklahoma State on ESPN, and he will find a way to mention Duke in his analysis.

It is simply not an accident that he is on my sh*t list of announcers. He deserves every bit of our 'praise'.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tim Hardaway: I hate gays

It was only a matter of time before the reaction to John Amaechi's 'coming out' produced someone who didn't know how to keep his mouth shut. To wit (from Dan LeBetard's radio show):

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

Amaechi's response was something to the effect that he appreciated Hardaway's honesty. I think the bigger surprise ultimately was that someone would simply say outright what Hardaway said. In response to Hardaway's remarks, the NBA has banned him from any kind of league PR and community service events, due to, as David Stern said:

''It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours.''

Who is the 'our'? It may be the league office, but it is almost a certainty that a good chunk of players; if not a majority, a significant minority were spoken for by Tim Hardaway. It was certainly not an accident that John Amaechi waited until he had been out of the league before declaring his sexuality to the world. Whether that is a shame or not is something to be debated, but the fact of the matter is, in the world of sports, machismo certainly has a role and anything related to homosexuality is looked down upon and shunned.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wednesday Night Bowling (2/14/07)

Average Going In: 167
My Scores: #1 - 151, #2 - 137, #3 - 144
Series: 432

YUCK!!! By far the worst of the season, which will drop my average another pin. I don't want to make excuses, but I am going to anyway. This was the first day my foot has felt good in about 12 days, but the flip side of that is that it was weak and it is hard to put weight on it. Considering that I am a lefty and it was my right foot, I had to rely on my arm for power, instead of sliding on the leg and foot. We lost three of four on this icy night. Only three of us bowled against three of them.

Silver Lining: School was called off for tomorrow, so I don't have to go...yippie!!

Spring Training!!!

Thank the Lord...baseball is near.

Coming soon are the various predictions for the coming season and a overview of the Phillies for the year.

Up tonight: Wednesday Night Bowling.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Schottenheimer Out...feud with Smith blamed

Should anyone be surprised? Actually, yeah, considering he got an extension.

*UPDATE* It has been coming out that Marty had been fighting with AJ Smith over the hiring of his son as a defensive coach. I just think it was a bad personality conflict. If you have ever not gotten along with a boss before, then you can sort of understand.

It just strikes me as Smith and the Chargers were stringing Marty along and were going to fire him all along, but I do wish if that they had the guts to just do it right after they blew the game to New England. Although, I am sure that if they had done that, Marty would have been coaching the Cowboys by now.