Friday, July 20, 2007

Philly State of Mind

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.


Brett said...

Hey Pepe. - I was thinking the same thing about those 1997 Rockies when I read your post about 20 HR teams. It got me thinking how much credit people gave, what was it, those two dodger teams the one with ron cey and garver and then the other with piazza and mondesi, etc. who had four 30-homerun guys. What's more impressive to you ? Four with 30 or 6 with 20? I say the latter... I was remembering another team that did this, the 1996 Orioles (who knew the O's made the ALCS only a decade ago???) which had seven with 20 or more (I think raffy and brady helped give each other shots en route to like 39 and 50, respectively)... i remember that team entered the playoffs with all nine starters (including DH) with 20 or more dingers... Technically it doesn't count, because I think they traded for Todd Zeile and Eddie Murray mid season or something, so they got most of their jacks with other teams... and if I'm not mistaken, they had four other players with 10... anyway, point wasn't to get sidetracked, but to agree that six 20-HR guys is a really impressive and underrated achievement...

Pepe B. Secessionist said...

Brett --

What's up? Good to see you around these parts.

I actually forgot all about those Dodgers teams when I was writing the post, but I remember them now that you bring them up: what was it, five straight NL ROY awards?

As far as which is more impressive, I'd say it depends on the team and ballpark. To be unhomerish for once, there's no doubt in my mind that Shane Victorino wouldn't hit more than 10 homers if he played in Petco or Chavez. Same with a few of those Rockies hitters (though not all) at Coors.

And of course, doing it on a team that actually won something would probably mean more. Those '97 Rocks finished above .500, but in third place, and the Phillies are probably destined for a similar fate.

I don't remember -- are you a Dodgers guy?

Brett said...

I grew up going to Dodger games, my dad had season tickets for a while, but i'm not so much a dodger fan. Not sure why. I jumped on the Angels bandwagon in high school, and that rode into a title on '02, so i'm not complaining by any means. It's a weird, kind of sad phenomenon, which teams i like I mean. I ususally go on a trip somewhere, go to a stadium, and end up liking that team for four or five years. Right now, for some uncomprehendible reason I'm a Mets fan and Shea is my favorite stadium.

I do like the Phils though. And I'm sure once I get to Citizen's Bank Ballpark they'll start to top my list of favorite teams.

Back to the point at hand, I found it impressive when those Doddger teams all had four with 30, but i still say 6 with 20 is more impressive. I think it was Mondesi, Piazza, Karros and Zeile (todd zeile makes appearances here in back-to-back days, haha).... That's why i was saying that Orioles team was so unreal. Not to beat a dead horse, but that team should have NO excuse for not winning it all... (Courtesy Baseball Reference) Palmeiro had 39, Brady had 50, Ripken had 26, Bobby Bo had 28, Chris (Frickin') Hoiles had 25, Robby Alomar had 22 (pre hirschbeck spitting incident, i believe)B.J. Surhoff had 21, Zeile had 28 (with two teams), Eddie Murray had 22 (with two teams), Pete Incaviglia had 10, Mike Deveraux had 8, Jeffrey Hammonds had 9... just nuts... and their pitching wasn't bad either...They had Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, David Wells and servicable 5th starter Kent Mercker in their starting rotation, a 30 save guy in Randy Myers, Armando Benitez pre-meltdowns, Roger McDowell, Arthur Rhodes, and the omnipresent Esteban Yan in the bullpen... but pitching does, i guess with titles... Mussina was the only of those starters with an ERA under 5, and he was at 4.81... So i don't know...

OK. I'm done talking about the Orioles. Sorry for that rant. I just can't fathom another team with that much pop was NOBODY remembers...