SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

This Reminds Me of a Story

Reports are that the Cubs, of all teams, will sign Alfonso Soriano to an 8-year, $136 million dollar deal.

This news has stirred up all sorts of thoughts.

First, I don't have to rush to get my Phillies tickets. Over the course of the past 2 weeks I have tried to line up a few folks to share 4 tix to a 17-game plan to the hometown team, seats in the 100 level that, taken together, would cost about $2300 for those games. I'm not one to attend 17 games or to shell out that kind of dough by myself, so I contacted various friends to ascertain their levels of interest. The result was that I'd end up having to play traffic cop for about 6 games apiece, and, given that I have a day job, it wasn't worth it. The reason for this interest was that I had a "six pack" last year, where I got decent seats, and I hypothesized that if the Phillies were to sign Soriano, there would be a mad rush to buy partial plans and full-season plans. After all, a lineup featuring Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Soriano and Rowand as your first six probably would score between five and six runs a game on average. They would have been the odds-on favorite for the wild card. Now that Soriano is apparently headed to Chicago, that rush won't happen.

Second, the Phillies played at a field called Baker Bowl in the 1930's. It was near Broad and Lehigh in Philadelphia, and it had an aluminum right-field fence painted green. While the team did feature Triple Crown winner (and future Hall of Famer) Chuck Klein, in one season it hit .315 and still managed to finish in last place. On the right field wall was an ad that stated quite simply, "The Phillies Use Lifebuoy" (I'm not sure whether the deodorant soap still survives, but it was around when I was a kid). Fittingly, a local comedian had written, "And they still stink." The Soriano signing conjured up my memory of hearing of that ad -- because it strikes me that regardless of what the Cubs' front office does, the Chicago NL franchise will still be deficient (read: be pretty bad, again). Then again, if the Boston Red Sox overcame their long championship drought, the odds are that someday they'll overcome their even longer one (that is, when they get enough pitching -- signing Wade Miller and looking forward to the return of sore-winged Kerry Wood and Mark Prior doesn't exactly instill confidence).

Third, who, exactly, will bat behind Ryan Howard this season? Will it be Wes Helms? Jeff Conine? Will the team move Ryan Howard to third in the lineup and Chase Utley to fourth? Or will Howard walk 200 times this season, 50 of which will be intentional, 15 of which will be to lead off late innings.

Fourth, what was Soriano thinking? Is it true that in the end all players go for the most money, or are there any who will take a little less to sign with a playoff contender?

Interesting questions, all. The hot stove is heating up once again.

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