My current East Coast swing has made this joint into Diesel Agreeing With Himself, so I figured I'd offer some scattered observations from the 215. (In all seriousness, props to VORPy for holding it down.) I just got back from the horse track/casino and am now sitting in my grandfather's living room, smoking cigarettes I bummed from him earlier, drinking a Budweiser 40 he had in the fridge, and watching Phils/Pads.
Phistory -- Since the Phils are beating the Pads at the moment, thanks in large part to your 2007 NL MVP Chase Utley's two-run job, I'll begin with them. Utley's blast to the deepest part of Petco has reminded me that this Phillies team could really be historic.
10,000 was one thing -- although, as A Citizen's Blog points out, it really wasn't such a significant loss, considering the ineptitude of many younger teams. What's more interesting, to me, is that as of right now, the Phillies are on place to possibly have six players with 20 homers. Six! The candidates:
Howard -- 25
Rollins -- 18
Utley -- 17
Rowand -- 13
Burrell -- 12
Victorino -- 11
Those last three need a little luck to do it. Rowand needs to continue an atypically hot-hitting first half. Burrell needs to stay in the lineup enough to get the ABs. And Victorino might need another big month like this past one, in which he's hit six homers. But there's a real chance they'll all get there, and the Phils will almost undoubtedly have five 20-HR guys on a non-playoff team.
The last team to do that, as far as I can tell, was the 1997 Rockies -- Burks, Bichette, Cash-steala, Galarraga, Walker -- a bunch of sluggers who played in pre-humidor Coors Field, by far the most favorable offensive park in modern baseball history. (They were also 3 Jeff Reed homers shy of having six guys do it.) Those Rocks finished third in the West, four games over .500.
Citizen's Bank is admittedly a bandbox, but nothing like the Coors Field of old. According to Park Factor, it's not even as bad as Cincy's Great American in terms of HR/game. (The fact that the Reds, a worse team, actually have a better shot at getting six 20-HR guys, providing they keep Griffey, makes me wonder whether I'm wrongly awed by this idea.)
At the very least, it gives me a reason to keep watching the Phils play. At least until the NFL season starts.
The Beast Coast -- Whenever I'm back East I'm reminded how much different the sporting environment is out here. For instance, I'm watching baseball right now, live, at 1:40 in the morning. Phillies and Eagles gear is ubiquitous in a way you'd never see in SoCal or AZ, as is at least a casual fandom: I was visiting my grandmother and great-aunt at a retirement community the other day and got into a discussion about Donovan McNabb. (One old bat said Garcia was better, so I stole her cane and whacked her in the hip. Stupid old c-words.)
But maybe my favorite difference is the AM sports talk. I hate sports radio in Arizona: with the exception of certain illustrious guests of Vinny's, all you get is local hacks agreeing with homer callers and syndicated feeds of Romy or Dan Patrick. Here you get essentially the same thing, except both the callers and the hosts are overwhelmingly negative. And it's awesome.
On the way here, I turned on Mike and the Mad Dog somewhere in Connecticut. I left them on until I was halfway into Jersey -- I forget what exit, but it was roughly at the point where it stops being a suburb of NYC and turns into a suburb of Philly -- and then switched to The King.
You've got to love four hours of talk radio (a dump truck flipped on the turnpike and I was stuck in traffic) that included:
Mike and assorted callers railing for an hour straight about how bad the Mets are, despite the fact that they're in first place and will probably win the East.
Mike claiming that Reyes has not been great this year, and going on to insinuate that he's actually somehow been disappointing.
Mike going on an epic rant about "Who's More Now" being the single stupidest piece of television programming he's ever seen. (Amen!)
Mike making fun of a bunch of callers who collected sports memorabilia in response to the unconscionable auction of Joe D's diaries.
Eskin debating for an hour whether D-Mac is worthy of having his number retired by the Eagles.
Another Eskin caller talking about how much he hates Barry Bonds for cheating by taking steroids, then saying that he loved Lenny Dykstra.
And that's not even mentioning the Philly sports print media, which today did the impossible, defending Barry Bonds and Michael Vick in the same section.
The Rolls Make All the Difference -- I had a turkey hoagie from Lee's Hoagie House this afternoon. It made me feel all redeemed and good, like Communion with less guilt and more hot peppers. I really ought to send all you poor taco-eating bastards out West one of their send-a-hoagies. They make East Coast Super Subs seem like Blimpie.
Time to go. El Pulpo's batting, and I've got to see this.