Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Phillies Meander Apace

Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu won the Homerun Derby last night. Before you laugh, and while I personally could have done without the whole draping himself in the Venezuelan flag bit, that is one more baseball championship than the rest of the Phillies will win this year. The Century 21 promotion- hitting a homerun on a “gold ball” was worth $21,000 to various charities- was all right. It did allow a series of heartening moments- the kids shagging balls in the outfield would jump at the wall attempting “to bring back in” a few long “$21K Golden Balls” destined for the seats. “Yes, I could perhaps prevent some worthy group from getting a nice payday,” those kids were no doubt thinking. “But I could also get a souvenoir ball hit by Hee-Seop Choi.”

The Phils continue their meandering ways. Taking two of three from Washington this weeked is semi-good. However, I must admit after watching the Nats this weekend, some bloom is off that two-of-three rose too. This Nats team is not exactly impressive. Now that Atlanta appears to have its stuff in one sock- just where do all their quality outfielders come from?- I imagine the Nats will be six out by Labor Day.

As I wrote last week, the Nats, to their credit, really understand their ballpark. They built a team absolutely designed to take advantage of it: pitching and defense. I can’t think of any team right now in baseball that has a better marriage between park, talent and style.

RFK has turned these career “innings-eaters” into “supposedly” good MLB pitchers. By the same token, they are absolutely not too good away from home- they just cannot score consistently. Okay, yes, the Phils aren’t bad. But they aren’t good either. And the Nats scored four runs over their last 22 or so innings, in a hitters park, against shaky pitching. To get to that rarified Cardinals’ level 95-wins, Washington probably needs to consistently get one of those last two in Philadelphia.