Well, well, well…
You may have noticed a gaping hole in your life, unrelated to the downward spiral of everything falling apart around you. It’s true; we’ve been sorely lacking in content these past few weeks. Lacking so sorely, in fact, that it was down next to nothing. Right next to nothing. So close to nothing it might as well have been nothing. Because it was.
But as the summer months have rolled from July to August with swift, terrible oppression, the weather has finally broken; the veil has been lifted. Yes, it is indeed true, folks: Brett Myers is back in Philadelphia.
And so are we. Maybe not physically, or at least permanently, in a 24/7/365 sense, but our consciousness is back on the vibrant Philly scene, just in time for the baseball stretch run, Kevin Kolb’s first season as starter and Flyers training camp. And Doug Collins. And Red Bull Flugtag.
Maybe all that was needed was a hair-pulling incident or a black eye from having a catch with a kid. Maybe none of that matters at all. The fact is, as Brett Myers takes the mound tonight at Citizens Bank Park, you can rest easy knowing Philly Fan Complex is back on the scene, Philadelphia business privilege taxes be damned. And that Sam Carchidi will not be there to pick a fight with Jacksonville’s second most famous native son (behind Fred Durst, of course):
“How do you spell ‘retard’?”
Fortunately, Carchidi has a foil on his current beat with the Flyers, one captain Mike Richards.
(PFC legal team note: Philly Fan Complex resides outside the limits of The City of Philadelphia, and therefore will not be ensnared in this vicious revenue scheme. You’ll just have to settle for the parking tickets.)
As you all know, our beloved Philadelphia Phillies are on the comeback trail, surging to a 12-2 record in the past 14 games. There are 22 games left in the month of August, 16 of them at home. Need I remind you, they are currently on an 11 game win streak when playing in front of the rowdy Philly faithful. So, things are promising.
All of this is occurring during a barrage of injuries to the entire Phillies lineup. The list is seemingly endless: Howard, Utley, Polanco, Victorino, Rollins (twice), Ruiz, Schneider, Happ, Moyer, and Madson just to name one or two off the top of my head. Jayson Werth might as well have been on the DL, since for a stretch of the season he was swinging his twig so ghastly. Still though, they persevered and have finally begun stringing consecutive wins together.
Last night, August 5, the Phillies found themselves in a bizarre but tense struggle against the Florida Marlins. Again, they did battle without some of their most well known swingers (batters, people…were talking baseball). Yet again though, we chalked up another tally in the “W” column, regardless of how controversial.
This win streak is due to two things: solid defense/pitching and the unknown players, the ones that are not on Sports Center daily, the ones that do not have pockets exploding with Benjamins, the ones that drive Toyota Camry’s to the park…ok maybe not Camry’s but you get the picture. Our bench/position players have become an integral part of the Phillies’ success. For years now, there has been one man consistently playing that role and consistently laying in the shadows, quietly doing his job and consistently doing it without the recognition he deserves. That man is #51, Carlos Ruiz.
Last night’s display has inspired to me finally give him some of the credit he is due. Have you ever heard a complaint come from Ruiz? How about a statement in general? No! Whether this is because he always talks with a catcher’s mitt in front of his mouth, combined with a thick Hispanic accent that sounds like Antonio Banderas with a bad mumbling problem… or the fact that he just loves playing baseball. This guy is “captain clutch”, a fantastic catcher, and an ice cream eatin’ extraordinaire. Thus, I proudly present to you, the top ten reasons Carlos Ruiz is the best player on the Philadelphia Phillies (right now).
10. The dude’s nickname is Chooch. How many people do you know nicknamed Chooch? Yeah, you don’t. “Sounds like a big Choo-Choo Train” (thank you Adam Sandler).
9. In 2007 he had one of the highest fielding percentages among catchers with a .997, with only 2 errors in 744 chances. Yeah it was 3 years ago but if you held those kinds of numbers you’d probably walk around with it tattooed on your forehead. I would at least.
8. He’s #51 in the books, and #7 in the batting lineup, but #1 in our hearts.
7. If you say his name backwards it is Solrac Ziur, which is without a doubt badass.
6. When receiving a pie in the face, it brings him back to his childhood days filled with carnivals and piñatas…hence the heavy home run swing we see today.
5. On May 29th, Halladay threw a perfect game, which he attributes to the pitch calls of his catcher. Why do you think Halladay pitched a perfect game? Maybe because the sphere-like rocket that was propelling out of his hand was coming to a resting spot in a little place I like to call “The Glove”. And who does “The Glove” belong to? That’s right. Solrac Ziur himself. (See #7)
4. He has given myself and my compadres something to do for several hours during the work day, a la this article.
3. Wait..didn’t Ruiz steal home that one time? OH YEAH. He did. Against the Reds back in ’07. Some of you may ask “How is this possible for a man of his stature?” Well, ladies and germs, if you’re name is Carlos and you have a set of legs attached to an ass bigger than J-Lo’s, you best be able to steal a lot more than home-No homo.
2. Chooch is Spanish for Clutch. How else can one get dubbed Señor Octubre after the Phils second straight run to the World Series? He draws walks, hits doubles, and really shines in the post season with a .409 OBP. ¿Reggie Jackson quién?
1. Let’s talk about a place I like to call Panama. Carlos Ruiz not only built the Panama Canal with nothing more than a Rawlings 34” Maple bat and a few pieces of Big League Chew, but he happens to hold the honorary title of being the only player of Panamanian descent to catch a perfect game. Yeah I said it. Panamanian. It’s that serious.
A special thanks to the aforementioned “compadres”, D-Roc and Justin, who greatly assisted me in the development of this list.
Dare I say it? I shouldn’t, I couldn’t, I mustn’t, I wouldn’t… actually, I think I will.
Overall, it is a great time to be a Philadelphia Sports Phanatic (Canada changed the spelling of center, so we definitely have the right to make changes as we see phit).
I don’t know about everyone else, but despite the baggage and poor reputation we receive (on what seems like a daily basis) from all across America, I’m honored to call myself a Philadelphia sports fan. Could it get any better than this? It’s a very exciting time for our beautiful historic city, since things seem to be on the up and up on all fronts. Please, take a moment to digest and let me explain.
Prior to 2008, we had the longest championship drought for a city with teams in all four major sports. Consistently, year after year, the season would begin with the highest of expectations, proceed through the season with various levels of hope, just to be battered, beaten, bruised, kicked, punched, mollywhopped, and embarrassed come the post-season.
However, the optimist in me implores you to once again bestow your faith in the athletes we have come to love and hate simultaneously. Let me break it down for you…
FYI: The NFL season begins in T minus seven weeks for our beloved Philadelphia Eagles. I don’t know about other Eagles fans, but I have never been more excited for the season to begin.
When you look at the Eagles’ roster, there are two players with 10-plus years of experience–David Akers and Juqua Parker. This team is young, energized and ready to prove themselves.
“It’ll be exciting, everybody, including ourselves, will get geared up for what’s to come,” Kolb said in an interview with the media.
Are you geared up for what’s to come? I know I am. But, I also know there are a lot of questions to be answered and concerns to be had.
First let us begin with the transition from McNabb to Kolb at QB. Eagles fans have enjoyed an inordinate amount of success since 1999. It is only logical to feel unsure about the future of our beloved Philadelphia Eagles after the departure of McNabb. However, logical doesn’t always mean right. For Reid to trade his pride and joy—McNabb—Kolb had to be ready to step in and lead the team. There is no better time than now to move things in a different direction—Kolb under center, the young, speedy WRs DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the dynamic running back LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek at TE to move the chains, can now all grow together and begin a new decade of winning.
Although there is a change at QB, the offense will stay the same—West Coast style. Reid played to McNabb’s ability, which was the long ball. McNabb, rhythm and short, accurate passes were never in the same sentence unless you were complaining. That will change with Kolb under center. Although Kolb has a strong arm, he is known as a rhythm passer, who relies on short, quick, accurate passing. Kolb’s quarterbacking style plays into the receiving corps’ abilities to create and produce yards after the catch.
In non-LeBron-related news (as if there was such a thing!), RDS (in French) and CSNPhilly’s Sarah Baicker (in English) are reporting that Simon Gagne has not waived his no-trade clause.
Gagne, speaking with French reporters, said what we all knew: That he had a no-trade clause. What we thought we know, though, was that he had indeed waived it late last week, when in fact it seems to be news to him.
The question is why it has taken this long for Gagne to issue a denial. One would think an apparent move of that magnitude would have reached Gagne’s ears sooner than this. The denial is issued in an RDS video, in French, so we’re taking the word of those who know French that Gagne is still a Flyer with a no-trade clause. The video is here.
Perhaps the more important question is: Where did these reports come from? The most reputable hockey people in this city all had this story, so it’s not an Eklund-type or message-board-variety rumor. How did they all get it wrong?
Coming off the Stanley Cup run, this is another twist in what has been a strange offseason for the Flyers. With talks of a contract with Nikolai Zherdev reportedly close, and all those stories mentioning Gagne’s contracts soon coming off the books, it could get even weirder.
We all know Charlie Manuel as a fun-loving, easy-going baseball guy with a slight kink in his delivery of the English language. It’s just who he is, and he’s never tried to hide it. Wouldn’t do any good, in his view.
Manuel will be managing the NL All-Stars for the second straight year for next week’s game in Anaheim, and he will have three of his players with him: Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard. Utley was voted in and obviously will not be playing, but Halladay and Howard were picked by Cholly. Halladay will probably be used early in the game and Howard should play a few important innings toward the end as the National League attempts to win their first exhibition game that determines home field advantage since 1996.
The story is not that they are there, however; it is how they got there. The perks that come with being the National League manager for the second straight year, courtesy of two straight World Series appearances, go beyond assuring continuity in the NL dugout. Beyond the starters (voted in by YOU, THE FAN!), Manuel was allowed to assemble the team as he sees fit—remembering, of course, that he must represent each team. Yes, even you, Pittsburgh.
So it comes as no surprise that Cholly named Ryan Howard to the team. It’s even less of a surprise that Manuel, when asked why he chose Ryan Howard over Cincinnati’s Joey Votto for the NL All-Star team, said he picked Howard because he’s “my guy”.
If Cholly is nothing else, he is loyal. He believes in his guys, and rewards them whenever he can. We saw Manuel bring Jayson Werth with him to the All-Star game last season, and wouldn’t be surprised if he does it again this year, what with the injury to Jason Heyward.
As for next season, it’s not looking good at the moment for Charlie to be in any sort of position to bring his guys with him. It will all depend on whether those same guys start to play for him like he says they can.