Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jurgen Klinsmann's comments, and Yoenis Cepedes' throw-the big picture problems

Jurgen Klinsmann is right, and he is handling it right. The only problem with him and the media is that he isn't American. But, he knows America and the American sports better than Americans do. The coaches that promise the world and come out with loud proclamations set the team, and themselves, up for failure.

Look, if the Americans get out of the group, that will be a heck of an accomplishment. Klinsmann has referenced this as an attainable goal. But let's be serious, a team who's captain consists of a journeyman that couldn't cut it with newly relegated premier league joke Fulham, really doesn't possess the talent to beat the best teams in the world.

The problem here is that Americans fire coaches who speak big and don't accomplish what their words proclaim. Frank Vogel led the Indiana Pacers to the best record in the NBA Eastern Conference and was on the hotseat before the playoffs started. Can anyone explain the rationale in this? Oh, and Lebron James and the heat are in the Eastern Conference.

I remember the days when Joe Torre was on the hotseat with the New York Yankees. He won the division every year from 1996-2007 and forced out the door. He won 4 World Series with the Yankees. Still, he was offered a cut in pay and was more-or-less removed from his duties.

Klinsmann is keeping his job safe, and trying not to let down American fans. I can just see the media frenzy that would ensue after he said he had expectations of winning the World Cup and his team goes 0-3 in the group stage to 3 better teams. His neck would be in a noose.

Americans need to relax and realize that their best athletes play football, baseball and basketball. They don't play soccer. Therefore, their team isn't that good. Ya ya ya, we bleed red, white and blue. How dare you say we won't win the World Cup? Well, Klinsmann isn't American. Neither is half the team. And you can still be patriotic while being realistic- this is something many Americans can benefit from, in many facets of American life, media and politics.

And a quick note on Yoenis Cespedes throw at the plate. This is the problem with American sports and how these athletes are portrayed (Yasiel Puig comes to mind in this situation.) The guy made an error. The routine hop base hit bounced off of his glove. He made a once-in-a-lifetime throw, no doubt about it. The throw was incredible. I can watch it 100 times and be amazed. But it was set up by a fielding mistake that everyone seems to overlook. This is why fundamentals aren't cool. This is why the guy that bats .400 in junior league ball are regarded as awesome players but have two fielding errors a game in right field.

Howie Kendrick would have been on third base and another batter would have come to the plate. But everyone in the media ignores the fact that Cespedes made a terrible fielding play before making a laser throw to the plate. I'll take the consistent fielding on my team over a few highlight reel throws. I know, the A's are in first place, Cespedes is a rising star, and the throw was incredible. But looking at the play as a whole, and the bigger picture-he still messed up big time, before making a great play.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Weighing in on Papelbon

Now that the dust is starting to settle on Jonathan Papelbon's decline to pitch on Sunday, I would like to offer my ever so objective opinion about the guy.

Yes, he has pitched for 9 years without being on the DL. Yes, he is having a pretty good season and we don't want to ruin that. However, these reasons or excuses are underhanded and completely make a joke of the Phillies team and organization. They do just fine making a joke of themselves, now they have Pap helping out.

I don't like Papelbon, never have. You can't argue with the success he had...4 years ago. But he is a prima donna, living off of his success with the Red Sox and thinking he is higher than the team. His contract isn't just $50 million. It's $50,000,058. Come on. Terrific, you wear number 58. Congratulations.

Monday was an off day. General soreness? Stiff neck? You really don't justify $50 million, let alone the extra $58 you demanded. Baseball already has a weak athletes affiliation, Papelbon gets an assist on that.

The biggest thing, I believe, that is missing from the ongoing debates, is the downfall that has ensued since Papelbon made himself unavailable Sunday in a 5-4 loss to the Mets, when leading 4-1 in the ninth inning.

The team has now lost 3 straight. The players are questioning when they can take their next self-declared day off, and the team is pretty much telling their fans that they have given up on the season. If it isn't important enough to you to overcome your 'general stiffness' for a May baseball game, then every game doesn't matter to you. Every win doesn't matter. Your team's success is not important.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Philly loves the blue collar player. It resonates with what this city is and how this city developed. When Aaron Rowand broke his face making that catch in CF, he was a hero. When Cliff Lee said he would pitch game 6 or 7 of the 2009 World Series after winning game 1 and 5 he was a hero. Jonathan Papelbon is the opposite of this. He is the opposite of what this city looks for in its players. No surprise, coming from Boston.

Where does the team go from here? Where they should have gone two years ago. They should clean out Papelbon's locker, trade him, and save the little dignity that they can over their $50 million loss. Let's be honest, Brad Lidge pitched a perfect season, no questions asked, went out every game, and earned a $37 million contract extension. He won them a World Series. Papelbon has ruined many opportunities in 1+ season on a $50 million contract and we will never sniff the playoffs with him. There's no need for him, and there's no need for this team to hang out to players that haven't had success for 4 seasons.

As subjective as Philly fans may be, they have long-term memory. This debacle will not soon be forgotten. Although the misery of the rest of the season could certainly drown out the misery of May 11th. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

I'm Bored-Time to kind of start blogging again. Ben Revere and Civil Liberties

No, the two topics presented above are not related. They just both presented themselves as topics of conversation over wings, Lagers, and DirecTV not showing the Phillies game last night at American Legion post 34.

Anyway, I'll open with the political conversation and leave it open to discussion. One party believes that there shouldn't be any random DUI checkpoints, as it violates civil liberties. The main point is that this party believes that you should only get in trouble if you are caught doing something wrong. The random searching of cars, breathalizers etc is a violation of civil liberties. The other party believes that if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing wrong with being subject to random checkpoints. Random checkpoints, although annoying, have the possibility of finding people with warrants and ultimately keeps the place safer, which is the point of law enforcement. Party A believes that we are not a police state, and therefore, should not be policed unless caught. Party B believes there is no harm in random searches, and that it benefits society progressively. I will leave this one for debate. (I was called a communist during this conversation. I guess this is what happens when you spend 2 years in a socialist country.)

Ok, now the real stuff. Ben Revere and his role with the Phillies. Since Ben Revere was signed before the 2013 season, his defense was heralded as top notch. We put up with his mendoza line batting average for a good part of last year, hoping that his defense would counter balance his struggles at the plate.

As it turns out, Ben Revere turned his offense around, kind of. His defense- started as a disaster, continues to be a disaster and will be a disaster. I don't remember the exact quote he gave a few weeks ago, but he made an ill-advised diving catch attempt in centerfield, resulting in an extra base hit, that should have been a single. Jimmy Rollins confronted him in the dugout. And after the game Revere said that's just the way he plays. He'll dive every time. He plays hard. Blah Blah Blah. That's great Ben. Keep diving and making stupid plays and call it 'playing hard.' Aaron Rowand will always be a hero in Philly for busting his face up against the centerfield wall. It's not because he busted his face. It's because he caught the ball and busted his face. Ben- no one cares that you stupidly dove and sacrificed your body. We care that you didn't catch the ball and hurt your team.

Giving up on that fly ball to center field Wednesday night buried the Phillies. Down 1-0 to the AL East Powerhouse Toronto Blue Jays, Revere looks back to the wall and gave up on a fly ball to center field. The ball, which was easily catchable, hits the bottom of the wall and becomes a triple. No error, so his error stats don't look bad (even though statistically he already has 2 errors and the worst fielding percentage of his career.) But he kills his pitchers and teammates by just being dumb. He's a dumb player. His mishap on Wednesday night led to a 9-run inning, taking the Phillies out of the game. Cliff Lee didn't have the ability to let the mistake go and he caved. I'm not justifying that. I'm just saying that the leadoff hitter gets a triple because Ben Revere is dumb, and the Phillies lose again. He's a leadoff hitter that doesn't walk. He can't hit a sacrifice fly. He can't throw anyone out with his lady arm. He can't read a fly ball. He can't make decisions. He hasn't homered in his career. And he won't.

All things considered, the Phillies did the right thing in trading for Revere. Worley didn't work out as a pitcher. Revere still has an upside. I think he's a great bench player. But the way he thinks about the game, the way he thinks that diving for a ball should be heroic, the way he ruins quality starts for his pitchers. Tony Gwynn Jr. is getting the nod over him. The Phillies organization put so much faith in Revere that they have no depth in the outfield now. The Phillies are bad. Ruben Amaro has ruined them and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. So what's the harm in playing out this Revere thing? There is no harm. I just don't want to watch them anymore.

I found this clip of Ben Revere showing off his arm.