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Inquirer Daily News

Mid-Season Report

After watching Bobby Abreu do his best Joe Hardy impersonation in the Home Run Derby, thought we'd use the all-star break to look at what Phillies-fixated bloggers think about the local nine's season so far.

Mid-Season Report

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Abreu_1 After watching Bobby Abreu do his best Joe Hardy impersonation in the Home Run Derby, thought we'd use the all-star break to look at what Phillies-fixated bloggers think about the local nine's season so far.

There's a wealth to read, from rookie baseball blogs such as The Good Phight, which is Philadelphia's representative to the Sports Blog Nation collective, to the veteran carpings of The 700 Level , Beerleaguer, Balls Sticks & Stuff and A Citizen's Blog etc...

What I like about The Good Phight is its healthy cocktail of hope and nostalgia. Why else launch a feature called "The Phormer Phillies Philes" with a loving look back at the career of Ricky Jordan? It seeks to cover its sentiment with a sabermetric evaluation of Jordan's utility. But mostly its a trip down memory lane with some stats, how Jordan arrived in July, 1988 to replace the injured Von Hayes, and homered in his first official at bat. (He walked in his actual first at bat.) The blogger reconciles having loved Ricky as a pre-teen/teenager and the hitter's statistical ordinariness. He had a career year at age 23. Unfortunately, he kept playing into his 30s.

A Citizen's Blog addresses the hump in the season more directly: It produces the equivalent of a State of the Union summation, complete with Woodrow Wilson references. Yes, the author is a lawyer, named Michael Berquist.

Berquist would like Ed Wade, the Phillies oft-whacked GM, to give a soul-searching speech about the team's fitness. Berquist is helpful enough to write it for him. It begins:

My friends, Phillies fans, I must confess to you that things are not well. Since we won 12 out of thirteen home games last month we have gone 9-16 and dropped from second to fourth place. The team with the fourth largest payroll in baseball is playing .500. This season, like last year and the year before that, has been a major disappointment.

Despite boasting powerful bats we rank just
11th of 16 teams in Slugging Percentage. Despite playing in a park friendly to sluggers we rank just 13th in Isolated Power and eighth in home runs. True, we are fourth in the league in runs scored, but this team could be so much more at the plate.

I'm tempted to just quote this speech for a while, since it touches all the bases. Go read it. Here are some quick highlights. We are discouraged to see our two big free agent acquisitions from 2003, David Bell and Jim Thome struggle so mightly....As for the rest of the team, we rewarded Jimmy Rollins with a new contract while he struggles at the plate so badly we removed him from the leadoff spot because of his poor OBP (.309), a decision many don't agree with, but we feel that Jimmy has talent and couldn't let him escape as a free agent in the offseason. Mike Lieberthal appears to be in a career freefall at the plate, though we feel he is a solid catcher. I am pleased with the development of Chase Utley, whose bright promise let us feel comfortable to deal Placido Polanco to the Tigers. I am also happy to see that Pat Burrell has returned to his 2002 form, justifying our decision to make him the focal point of the team. I also pleased that Bobby Abreu was recognized for having another terrific year. ...

We continue to be frustrated by our struggles on the mound. We are 12th in ERA and 12th in DIPS ERA. We have surrendered 113 home runs this year, second-to-worst in the National League after the the Cincinnati Reds, the team with everyone's favorite pitcher, Eric Milton.

I am as perplexed as anyone by Jon Lieber's struggles (8-8, 5.13 ERA, 1.39 WHIP). ... As for the rest of the pitching staff, I am pleasantly surprised....The rest of the rotation is a mixed bag....

Our sole bright spot appears to be in the field, where we are second in the NL in Defense Efficiency Ratio (DER) behind Milwaukee.

Bottom line?

We have disappointed and have learned valuable lessons. We are also still in the hunt: do you think the Nationals will continue their winning ways? We will be there when they fall. We are also just five games out of the wildcard race! Remember the wildcard? The wildcard team has won the last three World Series. Have faith. Thome will hit, Lieber will keep the ball down and this team will go on a tear. And we won't be passive at the trading deadline either. Trust me.

One site that doesn't have that much trust is called Fire Ed Wade.

It's got a good sense of graphics. First thing you see is a picture of the General Manager himself, relaxing at the ballpack, smiling for the camera. Behind him is some guy in a Phillies hat, holding a sign that says "I'm with stupid."

I'm not sure if it is the blogger, but if it is, the guy deserves an 18-wheeler full of Bull's BBQ turkey legs.

The site's copy begins, Larry Bowa is gone. Jim Leyland was overlooked. Charlie Manuel is now in charge. Ed Wade has been given a fair shot. He has taken the torch, tried to run with it, tripped, and now lies flat on his face near the starting line. Ed Wade has tried to make all the right moves, and we have no doubt that he is a good person and a successful businessman. But as general manager of the Phillies, HE STINKS.

Who says this town has got no heart?

A poll on the site asking if Wade should be fired has attracted more than 11,500 votes. What's surprising is that 733 visitors said No, it's not his fault.

Another nice touch - they keep a list of bad transactions.

Not sure how I missed Shallow Center's summation the first time around, but here it is. Tom Durso  rounds up a range of Cs awarded by bloggers and beat writers, then makes his own conclusion: I'd say "disappointing" is an understatement, while "still dangerous" is putting things too strongly, but, hey, I say, "tomato"

Beerleaguer's Jason Weitzel used the extra innings Sunday to sit back and realize that the Phillies have something going for them. What is said to me was that our bullpen is the strength of the team, just as most Phans thought it would be at this stage of the season. There's absolutely no need to deal for relief pitching.

At Dead Center, Ivan Glick doesn't wrap up the first half of the season, although he did make a curse of a pronouncement on Ryan Howard, currently filling in for Jim Thome. If the Phils don't hang on to this guy they will be forever doomed. This guy will hit more homers in his career than Ruth or Aaron (just a guess) Honestly, this guy is the future of this Phillies club. I would feel a lot more comfortable trading Gavin Floyd than Howard.

Balls Sticks & Stuff is a grab-bag of commentary and off-speed stuff, including this bit of local lore, via Psychiatry News of all places.. Phillies Phanatics probably know that the scene in The Natural when Robert Redford gets shot was inspired by a real stalker, Ruth Ann Steinhagen, who in 1949 shot Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus. Read all about it.

I could go on, but they're showing Abreu's demolition of the home-run-record again. We need a closer. How about...

Breaking news from Wade Blogs at Phreakin' Phils.

Phillies Owner David Montgomery, in an attempt to rejuvenate his near-last place team, has offered them pizza after every victory.

"I wanted to give them an incentive to try a little harder," he said.

The team will be treated to one slice each --– with a topping if they commit no errors or leave less than ten players on base.

When asked if the offer includes soda, Montgomery replied that it would be up to each player's parent or guardian to decide. "We don'’t want to give them anything that they wouldn't normally get at home," said Montgomery.

enrico
Posted 07/12/2005 12:01:34 AM
A very nice synopsis on the happenings of Philly fans in the blog world.  As for Wade Blogs, what he forgot to mention was the Phillies get to go to McDonald's if they lose.  I think that has something to do with Vincente and Lieber's recent troubles.
Tom Durso
Posted 07/12/2005 07:48:18 AM
Nicely done, Dan. I rather wish the Inquirer's sportswriters paid as much attention to us Phillies bloggers as you do. I'll try not to dislocate a shoulder as I pat us all on the back, but we're providing a different (in my opinion, better) kind of commentary than one hears on talk radio and in the letters section of your sports section.
Sally Swift
Posted 07/12/2005 10:52:22 AM
Thanks for bringing these cool blogs out of the cheap seats and onto the 300 level. Philly fans in general get an often deserved bad rep -- nice to see Phillies Bloggers getting a well deserved better one.
J. Weitzel
Posted 07/12/2005 11:14:02 AM
Thanks for the link to Beerleaguer, Daniel. You've sent plenty of new readers my way this morning. I'm a big fan of your work on Blinq.

J
Dan Alban
Posted 07/12/2005 02:45:05 PM
I have been selling Fire Ed Wade T-shirts and stickers for almost a year now. The business has been pretty good! http://www.cafepress.com/fireedwade 
I am hoping to see if WIP will team up with me for an official Fire Ed Wade day on trade deadline day.
Lance
Posted 07/12/2005 02:59:02 PM
Ryan Howard is the future, don't mess with his already nicely forming development.  Thome is visibly uncomfortable and unless he has a miracle recovery would need to bat .400 to make this season respectable, have to take a wait and see attitude but my guess is that he will not make a recovery this year.  Bell is just average, Lieberthal seems as disinterested as a person can be, he really does not appear to even want to be at the ballpark, Rollins should not be hitting leadoff, put Lofton there and keep him there as long as he remains healthy.  Face it, the Phils need a quality starting pitcher, go for it Ed, but don't even think about offering Ryan Howard.  Urbina could be fine, but if we keep Wagner, I truly believe he is the best bet as trade bait and we are not worse off.
The team, starting with the manager, needs to stop whining about balls and strikes, just swing the bat and hit the damn ball, I will take a scorched out over a strike out any day, because a lot of those scorchers will find their way to the hit column.  
This starting pitching corp needs to understand and be told in a forceful way that their job is to at least try to complete some games.  We just simply cannot have a rotation of five inning wonders.  
I truly believe that if the team steps up, they can compete in their division and they are capable of outplaying Atlanta, Florida, and Washington.  So, snap out of it, play a little reckless and take some risks.  What in the world ever happened to the art of moving runners over, one run at a time is a time honored recipe for success, you do not have to hit home runs to be successful.  Play smart, fundamental baseball and the Phils will be all right.  But Manuel needs to chart a course for them to follow.  I get the feelng some times that he is really just along for the ride to retirement.  Wake up and maximize your talent, that is your job Charlie.  If this year ends as the past couple have, basically a mediocre .500 team, Ed Wade ought to peddle his wares elsewhere and Charlie Manuel ought to retire, but lets hope that is not the case.
That Dude from Philly
Posted 07/12/2005 05:04:26 PM
I have found Uncle Charlie's doppleganger.  Check out my place.
Tom G
Posted 07/12/2005 07:59:16 PM
Thanks for the kind words everyone.  I agree with Tom Durso, I think us Phloggers do a pretty good job if I do say so myself.
TrekMedic251
Posted 07/12/2005 09:06:22 PM
The Phuture of the Phillies?
1B - Ryan Howard
2B - Chase Utley
SS - Jimmy Rollins

Hot Now:
RF - Bobby Abreu - we may never this good of a season out of him again

Past their Prime:
C - Mike Lieberthal - looks like he doesn't want to be here, so accomodate him
C - Todd Pratt - There's a reason he's called "Tank Head."
3B - David Bell - great when his back isn't hurting
1B - Jim Thome - See David Bell

As for Ed Wade doing "soul-searching," what he ought to be doing is BALLS searching.

Ditch the dead wood now!  Get some prospects (anybody is RDG or SWB that can catch now?  No!)  Look at a championship, not the f***ing bottom line the no-name owners look at for a change!

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About this blog
Daniel Rubin is a columnist and The Inquirer's director of social media. Since joining newspaper as a staff writer in 1988, Daniel Rubin has reported from Mayfair to Macedonia, 27 countries in all. He has been the European Correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and for two years he sat at home and wrote Blinq, the paper's first daily blog. Dan began newspaper work in Norfolk and Louisville, Ky., after getting his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northwestern University. He has lived in all four commonwealths, most recently in Pennsylvania. He teaches urban journalism at the University of Pennsylvania

Email Blinq here. My day job - Inquirer metro columnist - is here.

Reach Daniel at drubin@phillynews.com.

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