Sometimes, people come up to me and tell me I have the greatest job in the world. You get paid to watch baseball, they say. And most times, I try to explain to them that it ain't all rainbows and butterflies.
Tonight is not one of them.
I can honestly say this is the first game of the year I genuinely can't wait to get to. I've got a lot of stuff to get done this morning. I need to join the gym. I need to pick up my dry cleaning. I should probably eat something and then brush my teeth. But I can't wait to get to the ballpark. The thing I love most about professional athletics is that you have an opportunity to watch individuals who are the best in the world at what they do. That's what I found so fascinating about Michael Jordan. When he had a basketball in his hands, there wasn't a single person on the entire Earth who could do what he was about to do as well as he could.
Not to get all gushy on you guys, but that's why tonight's match-up is so intriguing. You are going to be watching two of the best change-ups in the major leagues, two of the best left-handers -- shoot, two of the best pitchers. The game is sold out, but there will be some standing room only tickets, and whether you are a Phils fan or a Mets fan or just a fan of Human Excellence, it'd be well worth your time to try to get one of them.
Think about it: three years from now, Hamels-Santana could be one of those epic match-ups everyone talks about. And this will be the first one.
Anyway, I'm off my soap box.
1) In today's paper, we take a look at the Hamels-Santana match-up, both from the Hamels end and from the Santana end. Hamels has an interesting way of putting things sometimes, and a few days ago he told some reporters that he wouldn't care about the opposing pitcher if the guy had eight arms. That was his way of brushing off Santana talk. We did learn, however, that Santana was his go-to pitcher when he was playing fantasy baseball in high school. . .
2) Here's our game story, which focused on the exploits of Chris Coste. A lot of fans have emailed me asking why Charlie Manuel doesn't use Coste as his every day catcher, given his .400 batting average and penchant for timely hitting. I talked to Coste about this, and was surprised by what he had to say. He doesn't want to be a starting catcher. He thinks he is a player more suited for a back-up role. He wasn't just saying this to be politically correct. Obviously, he would take the job if someone gave it to him. But he said he really thinks his lot in life is to be a back-up for a guy like Carlos Ruiz. Interesting stuff.
3) Jimmy Rollins is out of the fold today while attending his uncle's funeral in California, so the Phillies will be down a hitter should they need a fill in. Rollins is 1-for-3 in pinch-hit appearances since going down with an ankle injury against these Mets a week and a half ago. Assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday he thinks Rollins has a good chance of playing tomorrow. Rollins did have an MRI to check the progress of his ankle. It didn't show anything out of the ordinary.