Category Archives: Sports

My Thoughts on Today’s Move by the Phils in 6 Words

Ruben Amaro's Legacy

Ruben Amaro’s Legacy

aakn017

Charlie Manuel’s Legacy

My Phillies Nation Parking Lot Trivia Segment


I did my inaugural episode of Parking Lot Trivia on Phillies Nation TV this past week. It was a lot of fun, and the segment came out really well. There will be another one airing next Tuesday. You can check out the trivia segment starting at the 17:35 mark.

The Bandwagon Fan’s Guide to La Salle


If you’re like me, you’re quickly falling in love with this La Salle basketball team. Yeah, sure, the fact that they’re in the Sweet 16 is the impetus for my bandwagonism, as is the fact that I’m a frontrunner, just like Jimmy Rollins said. But the more I watch these guys play, the more I read and hear about the guys on this team, the more I just sorta like them. This is a school that hasn’t been to a Sweet 16 since 1955 (I wrote about that 1955 team here), and there is definitely a cool feeling of the Big 5′s red-headed stepchild getting its moment in the sun.

All through the season, I’ve been made aware of this squad by the nonstop rantings of local comedian Gregg Gethard, a La Salle superfan (and LaSalle grad) who constantly raves about them on his facebook wall. Basically, he was a fan of this team waaaaay before it was cool to do so. He also knows his basketball…he used to run a very amusing basketball podcast called Holding Court. So I thought I’d ask him a bit about this year’s team so you and I could sound like we know what we’re talking about on Thursday night, tricking people into believing that we, like Gregg, hopped on this bandwagon way before it was cool.

JGT: Who is the MVP of this years La Salle team?

Gregg: The team’s leading scorer and heart and soul is Ramon Galloway, who grew up within walking distance of the campus on Bringhurst Street. He used to play at the rec center right behind our dorm complex.

Anyways, he has had the most troubling life. His dad was shot in the head and is blind. He has two brothers in lock-up. His grandfather needs a liver transplant.

Ramon ended up going to Florida for high school to get out of Germantown. He went to South Carolina for two years but then his grandfather’s health issues worsened and he came home to La Salle.

JGT: Do you have any “in” with the team? Do you know what these guys are really like or is this more from a “Superfan” perspective.

Gregg: La Salle is such a small school that you just know people who know people. I also worked on campus for a few years and have a bunch of professor friends. EVERYONE raves about the kids. They’re the most fun-loving bunch of kids. They’re really funny and silly and everything that’s good about college sports. You gotta see their behind-the-scenes videos of the tournament (The Sweet 16 one is above. The first round game is here. Both well worth a watch.).

JGT: The team is very Philly heavy, which is really exciting, I think. It seems almost quaint. How did they come to have so many Philly guys on the team? I know Ramon Galloway and Tyrone Garland are both transfers, but has this coaching staff really heavily invested in scouting locally?

Gregg: Oh yeah man. La Salle’s athletic budget isn’t big at all, even by mid-major standards. They’ve got to focus on Philly kids. And there’s certainly enough talent in the area to land those kids.

There’s Galloway and Garland. Tyreke Duren played at Roman (but is from Yeadon, I believe). Jerrell Wright’s a Philly kid, too.

JGT: So how do you explain their success? This is a team that was on nobody’s radar, with zero height down low, and now they’re in the Sweet 16.

Gregg: Their guards are great. They have a five guard rotation — everyone talks about the four guards but there’s actually five they run who are all good and work perfectly together.

Ramon’s the star — he shoots from anywhere within half court and also has universal athleticism. Tyreke Duren’s the most underrated PG in the country. He’s a smooth and steady floor general who has made less than five mistakes his entire career.

Sam Mills, from Florida, is the defensive ace. He’s also a very good shooter. But his defense is unreal. Ty Garland’s the sparkplug off the bench and unreal getting to the rim. And DJ Peterson’s the unsung hero — he’s 6’5″ and just guards the hell out of everyone.

They also have two bigs. Jerrell Wright’s the one playing now. He was a Philly player of the year and is just a beast down low, particularly going to the left. The other is Steve Zack who is unfortunately hurt. Zack’s a 7 foot white kid from out near York. He can PLAY. They run a lot of offense through him since he’s a really good pick setter and deft passer.

JGT: Who is your favorite player on the team?

Gregg: My favorite player is Taylor Dunn. He’s a little used guard. But the reason why I love him — he’s the first guy off the bench to give hugs and handshakes and the like. Every team needs that. You can just tell that even though he doesn’t play too much that he’s a team centerpiece.

JGT: What should we know about coach John Giannini?

Gregg: Dr. G is a character. Off the court, he’s a really charismatic and enthusiastic guy. He’s a terrific spokesperson for the school and is incredibly well regarded as a recruiter. I’ve talked with him a few times and he is very genuine and nice. Just a very fun, loose guy.

On the court, he has a history of being a lunatic. He’s legitimately frothed at the mouth. He’s the only guy I’ve ever seen capable of getting a technical foul for yelling at his own players. He’s calmed down a LOT this year though — he attributes it to having kids who finally get what he wants and pay as much attention to detail as he does.

JGT: What should we look for on Thursday night?

Gregg: Wichita State’s a tough team. Greg Marshall’s a great coach. They’ve got size and are really tough. It, once again, is going to come down to our guards versus their size. There’s talk that Steve Zack might return but no one knows for sure. If not, I still think they’ve got a really good chance. But there’s just a feeling I have that this is going to have a Friday Night Lights Season 1 ending.

JGT: Is it all gravy at this point, or do you desperately want a Final 4 appearance?

Gregg: It’s been gravy for me since Selection Sunday. I can’t even begin to tell you how great this past week was for the school. It was La Salle’s 150-year anniversary so all of these things coincided brilliantly.

I legitimately believe they will win this thing. If they don’t, I am nothing but ecstatic and thrilled for the week they gave me. I’ll never love or think about sports in the same way again. There are so many little stories that are going on with the team that are so wonderful.

Fastball Pitcher Bob Gutierrez and Other Sports Stuff

The above video was one Steve K, Fastball Bob, and I put together recently and was featured exclusively on Zoo With Roy yesterday. If you’re a Phillies fan, I think you’ll dig it. And if you dig it, spread the word. If we get enough views, we’ll make it a recurring thing.

Here’s the latest podcast from Lee and I. We make our playoff predictions, and discuss whether or not the Chiefs made a good move by hiring Reid.

Make sure to make your playoff picks on our facebook page.

How is Andy going to do in KC? Well, if previous Eagle coaches that went to coach elsewhere are any indication, not very well. Other than Vermeil, previous Eagles coaches went 78-138 when they went to a new town. Of course, most of them were not as good as Big Red.

1929 World Series Starts Today!

Last year, I had a lot of fun carrying the 1911 World Series as if it were live. This year I’m fast forwarding a few years, to 1929, when the Mighty A’s took on the Chicago Cubs, who were trying to break a 21 game World Series drought. Analysis, interviews, and awesome photos, the goal is to cover the Series as if I had a sports blog at the time and was covering it live. If you’re a baseball fan, I assure you, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Click here to see our “sponsors”, how much tickets cost, and who the unlikely hero of Game 1 was.

And be sure to like Philly Sports History on Facebook and follow us on twitter!

A Few Thoughts on the NFL Ref Lockout

The NFL is a $9 billion dollar industry. They are locking out the refs over $3 million. To put that math in perspective, here’s a hypothetical equivalent: Let’s say you make $50,000 a year. And let’s say you hire a local teen (let’s call him Greg) to cut your grass for $14 a week for 17 weeks. And Greg does a solid job. He has a weedeater, he cares about the work he does, and you’re quite pleased with the result. But the next year he says he wants a raise. A raise to $15 a pop instead of $14. You are outraged. How could he? Who does he think he is? And so you tell him that until he returns his price to $14 a cut (or $17 a year extra out of your $50,000), you’ll find someone new.

And so you do. You hire Timmy, the kid down the street who doesn’t really know anything about grasscutting but has played some car video games and likes grass. So you hire Timmy, because hey, screw Greg. And Timmy comes over, and he almost immediately runs the grasscutter into the side of the house. He doesn’t have a weedeater, and he gets tired and takes a lot of breaks. He gets halfway finished and decides he’ll come back tomorrow. And so you come  home from your job, and you see a grasscutter in the side of the house, and a job half done, and weeds sticking up everywhere, and you think to yourself, “Well at least he didn’t burn the house down.”

Your yard is a joke. You had a nice, well-manicured lawn, and now your house looks like a backdrop on Honey Boo-Boo. Your neighbors are embarrassed and mad because you’re driving down home values. People are screaming at you to stop this madness, just pay Greg the extra $17 a year. You can certainly afford it. But you need to teach Greg a lesson. Being called a disgrace and a fraud and joke doesn’t really bother you. You only listen to one thing. And that’s money. And right now you’re thinking about using that $17 you saved to buy yourself a burger and a beer.

You are Roger Goodell. $50,000 is $9 billion. $17 is $3 million. And everyone in the country thinks that you’re a slimey, money-grubbing, soulless, braindead moron. That burger better be delicious.

Right Now in Sports

  • First off, Chip Chantry and the rest of the Bird Text fam dropped this little jewel (above) yesterday. Thought you might dig it.
  • I will be on WIP 94.1 tonight at 12:20 to discuss my column in the Philly Post.

Right Now in Sports

We’re down to the Finals of Philly’s Most Infuriating, and remarkably, they both come from WIP. It’s Eskin vs. Cataldi to see who is most infuriating. You decide! Vote, and please spread the word!

We’ve been working on a project of Philly’s Most Underrated Athletes, and the new one should cause some controversy. The much maligned Bobby Abreu checks in at #6.

Cliff Lee pitched brilliantly on Wednesday and came away with a ND. The last Phillie to throw 10-shutout innings? Lefty, of course. And the Phils lost that one 1-0 as well.

The latest podcast for Comcast where we talk NFL schedule, the Bobby Valentine disaster in Boston, and Lee takes the Robots quiz.

In case you missed it last week, I wrote a pretty interesting piece on the history of Negro League baseball in Philadelphia for Hidden City Philly.

Here’s my latest for Philly Mag: 10 Things You Don’t Know About the Current Phillies.

Phillies Facts, Baseballs Dipped in Horsecrap, and a Great Trivia Question

A lot going on in sports right now that I think you guys are gonna dig.

  • Great trivia question: Who is the only person to play for both the Phillies and the Eagles? Find out here.
  • I went on WIP on Tuesday night to talk some baseball and ended up telling a quick story about bringing Kobe Bryant into the water with dolphins. Click here and then click on the “1 a.m. hour” part of the podcast to give it a listen.

VOTE: Who is the Most Infuriating Athlete in Philly Sports History?

TO? Von Hayes? Lindros? Eskin? You decide in our first ever Philly Sports History Bracket Challenge. We’ve matched up the 64 most hated athletes, managers, and personalities in Philly history, and now you’re going to determine who advances to the next round. Here are the full brackets. You can vote for 8 first round games today by going to the Philly Sports History Bracket page. Some of our Round One matchups include McNabb vs. Gregg Jefferies, Howard Eskin vs. Lance Parrish, and Billy King vs. Ed Wade.

Right Now in Sports

Things are rocking over at Phillysportshistory.com, where this piece I did on the eerie similarities between the 2011 Eagles and the 2007 Eagles was discussed by Cuz and Glenn on WIP on Friday and then posted on the 700 Level yesterday.

We’re also asking for your suggestions…who are the most underrated athletes in Philly sports history?

In the “In case you missed it” file, here are 5 insanely awesome Dr. J photos.

Join us on facebook and follow us on twitter.

And who predicted a Broncos win over the Steelers? This guy.

Sabermetricians: Ruining Baseball for the Rest of Us

by Bobby Badtimes

On October 14th, 2003, the Chicago Cubs battled the Florida Marlins in Game 6 of the NLCS. It was the 8th inning, and the Cubs held a 3-0 lead. They recorded the first out of the inning, and victory seemed all but assured. Then, on a pop fly into foul territory, a fan named Steve Bartman reached out and knocked the ball away from Cubs outfielder Moises Alou. Alou screamed at the fan, and in an instant a different vibe came over the game. Where there had been a party-like atmosphere, there was now a palpable sense of desperation. It was nothing you could put your finger on. But it existed, and everyone in the bar I watched the game with knew that the tide of the game had shifted.

It is part of the fun of watching baseball. Even in a society that is driven by science and which laughs at anyone who believes in voodoo, Gods, or miracles, baseball holds a certain hallowed ground. When pitchers are in the midst of a no-hitter, any fan of that team who dares utter, “He’s got a no-hitter going” is liable to get smacked across the head for jinxing it. When the home team falls behind, fans turn their hats backwards. You learn not to predict good things for your teams, because you don’t want to offend the Baseball Gods. When the team is on a hot streak in the post-season, fans stop shaving or even changing clothes. And there is a certain energy to games. You can get a feeling in your spine, and just know that the next guy is going to get on. It’s inexplicable, it’s mathematicial hocus-pocus, but it’s part of what makes baseball so awesome.

The players themselves are just as crazy. Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game. Mark Fidrych talked to the ball. Numerous MLB players, making millions of dollars, refuse to ever touch the foul lines when running on or off the field, under the impression that their luck will run out if they step on a white line.

It is insanity, all of it, but it is part of what makes the game so much fun to be a fan of. It gives these games soul. And sabermetricians hate it. To them, baseball is a game that is determined exclusively by obscure mathematical formulas. If you want to scream “He’s got a no-hitter going!” while the home pitcher is on the mound, go right ahead. After all, he’s got a higher BABIP than average this season, so he’s due to get the next few guys out. If you want to shave your playoff beard, feel free. That beard, according to their calculators, has nothing to do with tonight’s game. There is no energy. E doesn’t equal MC squared. It doesn’t exist. Baseball, you see, happens in a vacuum, and the odds of that no-hitter being broken up have nothing to with what you’re screaming at the pitcher, but with what the current batter does when there are less than two outs and runners in scoring position during a day game.

Baseball, you see, isn’t a magical sport with billie goats or Bambinos cursing teams. The Cubs haven’t won since 1908 because they’ve had a low Pythagorean expectation. That goat thing? Absurd. How can a goat affect thousands of baseball games? According to my equations, goats equal zero!

These are the same people who sit their children down at age 4 and explain that Santa can’t exist because he couldn’t possibly deliver presents to every house on Earth in a single night. They go to cocktail parties and remind everyone that, mathematically, someone in the room is going to die in a horrific accident. They are, quite simply, the kind of obnoxious, know it all clowns that no-one wants to hang out with.

Oh sure, they make some good points. RBIs and wins are overvalued. (Though I learned that the win stat was useless after watching the miserable luck of Mets pitcher Anthony Young in the early 90s, who lost 27 straight games despite having a career ERA similar to Cy Young winner Zach Greinke’s). Yes, WHIP can be a valuable tool for understanding the value of pitchers, and OPS tells us more about a hitter than RBIs. Many of the sabermetrics are really cool, and help show the game in a whole new light. My problem isn’t with the math itself. My problem  is with the tools who use it as gospel, and feel the need to prosthelytize it to at every opportunity. Yeah, we get it. It’s great. Now go back to your basement.

I read Moneyball. I thought it was awesome. Taught me to look at the game a whole new way. But it didn’t kill the magic, because more than every algebraic equation ever formulated, the magic is what makes baseball the greatest sport on earth. That is why, in 2008, I wore the same shirt for every game of the World Series. Well, except one.  Game 2, which the Phillies lost. Now, according to sabermatricians, my wardrobe choices that week had nothing to do with the ballgame. But if you had tried to steal that particular shirt from me that week we would have fought to the death.

And that’s the problem. The problem is that not only do sabermetricians not think that the shirt had anything to do with the outcome of the game, they are the types of people who have to tell you that the shirt had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. They are the types of people who like to rub it in your face if you think a shirt, or a curse, or an inside out hat has an impact on a game. You see, they’re right. They’ve got the formulas to prove it, and all you’ve got is voodoo. And just when you thought they couldn’t be more obnoxious about it, they got played by Brad Pitt in a movie.

Last night, I dared to remark on twitter that Albert Pujols was clutch (Of course, I may have egged it on a bit with “Sorry SABR Nerds, but Albert Pujols is clutch”). I might as well have stated that that the sun revolves around the earth. One guy wrote, “I love when you can pick and choose when things are and are not clutch.” Another guy wrote, in disbelief, “Wha…what?” A final guy just said, “What a moron.” I am serious about these responses, by the way. These people were outraged by the very thought of something in baseball being clutch, and they were waiting to pounce as soon as someone insinuates that it exists. I see them do this all the time on Twitter. They are some of Twitter’s biggest bullies.

Whenever someone dares bring up the word “Clutch”, they throw their 20-sided die across their mom’s basement and go apoplectic. “Blasphemy! Outrage! Heathen! How could you dare utter something so preponderous? Don’t you understand that Albert Pujols 9th inning hit was the result of 10,000 deductions regarding ballpark size, time of day, his lifetime average against right handers with red hair, etc. etc. all of which I’m going to explain to you right now?”

And so, on October 14th, 2003, they saw a different game than the rest of us did. When Luis Castillo stepped back into the box, his chances to get out were just the same as they were a pitch ago. After all, it was just a foul ball. And when he got walked, Cubs fans started to look at each other uncomfortably, aware that something awful was happening. Sabermatricians had no such inkling. After all, the Cubs still had a 3-0 lead.

Then the wheels fell off. A wild pitch, a single by Pudge Rodriguez and the score was 3-1. A gloom as dark as the night hung over the ballpark. (Though a sabermetrician would have me explain here that “Gloom” is subjective and doesn’t technically exist, and that according to their weather analysis of that night there was a waxing gibbous moon, meaning that it really wasn’t all that dark out in Chicago). Then one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball booted a routine ground ball, and the game was over. Fans at Wrigley knew it, people watching on TV knew it, anyone who knew the Cubs’ history knew it. There were black cats and goats and balls though Leon Durham’s wickets. They were not going to overcome this. Anyone with a soul could see clearly what was going to happen next. The Marlins were not only going to win this game. They were going to win the series.

But not the sabermetrics guys. After all, according to their calculations, the Cubs still had a 68% chance to win after that foul ball, wild pitch, and that error. To them, there was no momentum shift. Which only proves one thing; the sabemetricians know a lot more about math than they do about baseball.

Previously by Bobby Badtimes: Girls basketball team that lost 100-0 is a bunch of losers.

Barry Bonds is good for baseball. (written in 2006)

 

Your Cliff Notes to the 1911 World Series

I’ve  been reporting on the 1911 World Series (played between the Philadelphia A’s and New York Giants) as if it were happening live, and covering the games 100 years to the day that they occur. So far we’ve gotten through the first three games and are in the midst of a rain delay. If you want to quickly catch up and follow me once they start playing again, here are all the important links so far.

Infield Matchups for 1911 World Series.

Outfield matchups for 1911 World Series.

Pitching matchups for 1911 World Series.

Mathewson outduels Bender to take Game 1 (some very cool pics that match up with the writing in this one).

Baker’s big hit leads A’s to win in Game 2.

Baker establishes himself as “Home Run” Baker with a huge 9th inning homer in Game 3.

There’s not only some good info on the Series but some incredible photos as well. If you’re just looking for the Cliff Notes, here they are: The Giants came into the Series with a great base stealing team, while the A’s came in with a “$100,000 Infield”. The Giants also have a superstar pitcher in Christy Mathewson, and he was excellent in Game 1, leading the Giants to a win. In Game 2, A’s pitcher Eddie Plank was unhittable, and Frank Baker had a big homer to give the A’s a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. In Game 3, the Giants, looked to have the game locked up when Baker hit a 9th inning homer to tie it, and the A’s won in extra innings. After 3 games, the rain started pouring in Philly, and shows no sign of letting up. Not a problem, as there are plenty of cool things to talk about while we’ve got a few days off.

 

Relive the 1911 World Series in Real Time (plus 100 years)

Working on a very cool project over at phillysportshistory.com. I am currently recreating the 1911 World Series exactly as it unfolded, 100 years to the day, as if I were a writer at the time. I am featuring the pitchers of each game, plus  using a cool online tool that allows you to “watch” each game live, exactly 100 years to the hour after it happened. Tons of cool info and some really incredible old photos I have dug up. If you are a baseball fan, or even just a history buff, I think you are really going to get a kick out of this.