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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Observations on Phillies-Cubs Last Night

Took the kids and a friend of the older child to Citizens Bank Park last night, where the Phillies beat the Cubs 5-3.

Here are a few observations:

1. Wow, is this a great place to watch a game (okay, I already knew that).

2. Pat Burrell is playing well in his contract year. Look for him to hit .275, have an on-base percentage of about .385, hit 33 homers, knock in 107 runs and figure mightily into off-season free-agent conversations among many teams. He'll parlay the hitter-friendly confines of CBP into a lucrative four-year deal -- and probably will take his act elsewhere. Then again, potential buyers will watch Aaron Rowand's performance in San Francisco closely to ascertain the "park effect" on Rowand's performance, as Rowand had what might prove to be a career year in CBP last year before signing an inexplicable 5-year, $60 million deal with the woeful Giants.

3. Brett Myers should be permitted to start games in the second inning. He threw only 3 bad pitches all night, and Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano hit homers off them. Otherwise, Myers pitched very well against a good-hitting team, out-pitching Carlos Zambrano.

4. The ushers at CBP in our section were terrific, very warm and welcoming and enjoying their jobs. One of them gave my daughter and her friend small plastic models of the Phillie Phanatic, and he gave my son baseball cards. That was very kind, and the kids appreciated the attention very much.

5. Jamie Moyer is a class act to end all class acts. He comes out of the dugout 30-40 minutes before the game on nights he's not pitching. Not only does he sign autographs, he chats it up with the fans. How many Major Leaguers do that on a nightly basis? My answer: not too many, but the players' union should encourage their members to spread good will in a time of doubt about the integrity of players' ingestion of medicines and have them become at least a little more fan friendly.

6. They sell a lot of beer at CBP. In fact, the only things the vendors were selling were cold drinks (the beer vendors also sell soda and water), peanuts (and those are pretty good) and cotton candy. But beer seemed, by far, to be the biggest seller. So much so that I am surprised that the leading DUI lawyers in the Philadelphia area don't sponsor billboards on the major expressways (yes, that's what we call some of these roads in the Delaware Valley).

7. How bad is Jimmy Rollins ankle? He missed his third game in a row. The Phillies are playing it smart by being patient. There's no need to rush him.

8. How fortunate are the Mets? Do they really think they'll get wins from Nelson Figueroa in the heat of the summer? (I know, that's not a direct observation of what happened last night at CBP, but it came to mind, so I thought I'd mention it).

9. What is going on with some of who we thought were premier pitchers in the majors -- Barry Zito (okay, so he's been down significantly, but could so many teams have been so wrong about him two off-seasons ago to pony up obscene sums to see him throw in three slow gears), Roy Oswalt and C.C. Sabathia?

10. The Phillies tested Cubs' rookie catcher Geovanny Soto in the bottom of the first. They had men on first and third and didn't score. With two strikes on Chase Utley, Greg Dobbs on first and Shane Victorino on third, Zambrano whiffed Utley and Soto threw a perfect bullet to Ryan Theriot to nail Dobbs, whose speed won't be confused with that of Victorino or Utley, but who had a pretty good lead. My guess is that most teams will make Soto throw the ball a bit before he establishes his reputation for throwing out runners.

11. According to the current edition of ESPN the Magazine, Phils' back-up catcher Chris Coste's book about being a 33 year-old rookie is ninth on the ESPN-Borders list of sports books sold within the past week or so. That's a nice back story to a good story.

Go to your local ballpark! It's a great tonic for whatever might be bugging you (including the fact that it's tax time).


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