Friday, September 28, 2007

This is how you start a weekend

Friday night is about the last time I like to do blog posts, and not because I'm busy re-enacting the Friday nights of my childhood by watching high school football and reruns of Dallas (by the way, yes that is Larry Hagman, and yes, I'm already sorry for your nightmares). Nobody much reads blogs on Saturday morning, mostly because they're either sleeping or having, you know, a life. But I have to chime in about the insanity of the 2007 baseball season and what may have just been the best non-playoff Friday night in sports history.

Entering the night, seven of the 16 National League teams were still eligible for the postseason, but none of them had clinched a spot. At evening's end, two teams had clinched division titles: the supposedly cursed Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. What's more, the Phillies went into sole possession of first place in the NL East for the first time all season, thanks to a brilliant and auspicious performance by Cole Hamels and the continued suicidal performance of the Mets.

This was also the first Friday night to feature a meeting of two ranked college football teams, and No. 18 South Florida served further notice that it the Big Three in Florida is now the Big Four with a win over No. 5 West Virginia in Tampa (which isn't in South Florida, but is nonetheless the location of the University of South Florida. Which should tell you something about the infrastructural common sense in this state.)

But of greatest importance to me is that the Phillies now have a Magic Number of one to clinch at least a tie for the division and two to clinch their first title and playoff berth since 1993. The notion seems straight from theater of the absurd, considering everything that's happened this season. But the Phillies have gained 8 games in the standings in 15 days, a cosmic payback for 1964 (at least in part). Maybe this means the Phlorida Phils, down 15 points can ... no, no they can't. But there's a shot at second place, so we'll hold off on worrying about first place until we've had a fantasy team for an entire season. Did I mention I'm optimistic about the Pit Bulls' chances?

By the way, if there's a Phillies one-game playoff, it'll get live-blogged here, as will a meaningful Sunday game if its televised in my market. The first Phillies playoff game, providing there is such a thing, also gets live-blog treatment. In other words, I'm already doing finger exercises, figuring out optimal placement of my TV and holding tryouts for the best hamsters to run the wheel inside my computer. Anyone with any kind of rodent for a pet is encouraged to get in touch.

In the mean time, Saturday should be interesting. I'm working and taking a night trip (otherwise known as a day trip, but taken at night) up the coast, where I'll be seeing these guys. So no big college football Saturday, but no big deal. The best game of the week, Cal @ Oregon, gets bumped by ABC for Clemson @ Ga. Tech, a matchup of mediocre teams from the lone BCS conference capable of making the Big Ten look decent. When ABC (aka ESPN on ABC) regionalization reminds you of FOX Baseball regionalization, that's not a good sign. Which reminds me, I'll be missing the FOX Game of the Week on Saturday, too, so someone tell me how the Cardinals-Astros game turns out, OK?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wait, what did you just say?

Here are a couple of stories that drew my attention in and of themselves, but were elevated to legendary status by a single paragraph.

This morning I read that the island city of Sanibel, off the Southwest Florida coast, has decided Big Brother knows best. Note this gem of a quote from The News-Press story:

“The good thing about surveillance, all surveillance, is it doesn’t take away freedoms. It protects,” said Virgil Patterson, a retired marketing executive visiting from Naples.

Sir, for whom did you do your marketing, the Bush administration? Or perhaps Mitch McConnell?

How does Sanibel survive as a tourist destination? Siesta Key is just up the road and there's no $6 toll and free and relatively plentiful parking. Memo to Sanibel residents, who seem to think they live on a gilded island: You don't.

Later we found out that Pat Gillick is stepping down as general manager of the Phillies after 2008. He'll be 71 then, so I'm guessing his next move will be retirement and not skydiving lessons gone wrong like his predecessor. But you never know. Unless, of course, you ask Associated Press writer Rob Maaddi, who knows all. To wit, check out the second sentence in graf four of his Gillick story:

Manuel has done an outstanding job keeping an injury- depleted team in the playoff race.

This is news to me, and apparently he must have a pretty good source, because I was almost certain the opposite was true. So for Maaddi to write this as fact, and unsubstantiated fact at that, means he must know more than me and all my friends. Oh all-knowing Maaddi, would you be so gracious in your blessings upon us to rain down a humble scrap of attribution from what must be your bounty of sources? And would that your editors be so merciful as to keep all editorializing out of, at the very least, the top five grafs!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Playing pretend

In observance of the death of Marcel Marceau, I'll be typing the rest of this post on an imaginary keyboard. That just so happens to be in the same place as my actual keyboard. RIP Marcel, and art form you're inevitably taking six feet under with you.

Since I can't really do a "silent post," here's a blog that, instead of conveying meaning without a peep, is full of sound and fury but signifies nothing. In other words, time to check on my fantasy sports teams!

The Phlorida Phils, my baseball entry, crept to within five points of second place for the first time in recent memory this weekend, powered by the league's best pitching in terms of WHIP (1.21) and ERA (3.12) and one of two offenses atop the league with a .297 batting average. All of this despite the fact I inherited the team in August after its previous owner had neglected it, scuttling any chances it had in the home run and RBI categories. It helps when you can pick up Moises Alou as a free agent and watch him go on a team-record 27-game hitting streak ... but it would have behooved me not to drop Scott Baker five days before he took a perfect game into the ninth for the Twins. All in all I'm satisfied with the way this team has performed as well as my ability not to let it take over my life and become the subject of multiple blog p ... ah, never mind. At least I can say I'll still be happy if Billy Wagner blows a save in every game this week, enabling the Phillies to qualify for the playoffs but dropping me into a fourth place. I can say that, indeed. Actually feeling that way? Let's just hope I'm not put in that position.

It's much easier in the NFL, where my allegiance to the Eagles isn't nearly as strong and I can root for my Rural Virginia Pit Bulls with impunity. The Pitties were the beneficiaries of a combined 235 receiving yards for Terrell Owens and Jason Witten on Sunday night, not to mention 15 fantasy points from LaDainian Tomlinson, whom I acquired in a highway robbery of a trade with the last-place team in the league. Normally, a league commissioner would block such a move, but since the commish happened to be my trading partner, I was able to dump the Chargers' D (seven fantasy points) and Frank Gore (four points) for one of the all-time great fantasy scorers. Considering I also swapped Marc Bulger, who delivered a devastating -4.5-point performance, for Matt Hasselbeck, who led my team with 20 points this week, teams might be a little reluctant to trade with me for the rest of the season, but that's OK. Unless Mike Shanahan becomes coach of the Chargers at some point this year I should be in good shape.

Now call me a fantasy geek if you will, but mind you, there are several media celebrities in both my fantasy leagues, including this one, whose team gave the Pit Bulls their only loss of the year. No, not famed Britney Spears apologist Chris Crocker, and for that matter not Atlanta Falcons safety Chris Crocker, either. I'm referring to the AP reporter who wrote the story. With clenched teeth and bitten tongue the entire time, I'm certain. (Although I'm told he's more put-together than you'd think.) Perhaps this revelation will help ease the mind of another friend, who's doing a story on the O.J. mess this week. I get the feeling I'll be recognizing a few faces on E! and Court TV before long. Sort of like knowing both Greg Kinnear and Greta Van Susteren in 1994.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

It's not me, it's you

Sometimes, you just have a bad day. Sometimes, you work a 16-hour day, find out an old flame is openly fucking a co-worker, get turned down by a new flame, get harassed for money by your bank, get harassed for money by your insurance company, get harassed by strangers, get harassed by former co-workers who have no brains, and fail to get a job even though you kicked ass in the interview. Actually, that was two days for me, but who's counting? I still feel like shit.

Hey, at least I can comfort myself with the fact I live in a land where competent people are in charge, there is reasoned and passionate debate about issues that matter, and everyone has unfettered access to food, housing and medical care. What's that? None of these things are happening? Well, what is going on?

I have a word for it: insanity. Bill Maher alluded Friday on his HBO show to a study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which found that 20 percent of people age 18 to 25 believe in no god, representing a nearly twofold increase in the past 20 years. Maher said that even though 20 percent is still a minority, it is larger than the number of several politically significant groups, and those who thought the Iraq war was a bad idea were once a minority, too, and history is full of examples of minorities that grew into consensus. Perhaps, as Maher surmises, we atheists aren't the "crazy ones." Everyone else is.

Perhaps it isn't my lack of religion alone that makes me different and apart from the ruling majority. I'm beginning to think we have a zeitgeist of insanity. That is to say, most people are crazy. Psychologically unbalanced. Messed up. A bit gone in the head. However you want to put it. And in order to succeed in a system designed for the insane, it behooves you to be insane.

Only I'm not. I'm a functioning, capable, intelligent human being with education, experience, references, charm and good looks. (If I may say so myself). Only in a skewed world would someone like me repeatedly meet overwhelming resistance to his efforts to achieve basic life goals. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to earth off-kilter.

And in case you're wondering, no, I'm not joining the legions of the wackos just to fit in and get ahead. I really have no interest in this grand asylum bash the majority of this country seems to be planning, and if I you're asking me to act like a fool, there's something I learned about in the fifth grade called dignity. I refuse to degrade myself just for the privilege of riding the short bus with everyone else. If I have to, I'll walk, even in the rain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dickens wasn't referring to these places

The great and long- neglected Philadelphia- Boston sports rivalry has taken yet another turn.

The fortunes of the cities' baseball teams have gone in reverse the last week, as the Phillies have surged to cut the seemingly insurmountable NL East lead of the Mets to 1 1/2 games, while the Red Sox have faltered to drop their seemingly insurmountable AL East lead over the Yankees to 2 1/2 games. Meanwhile, the football teams have had opposite starts, with the Patriots looking great in wins over a pair of 2006 playoff teams, while the Eagles have looked feckless in troubling losses to the mediocre Packers and Redskins.

Top it all off with the fact that the Celtics are entering the NBA season with a veteran squad with hopes of making the Finals while the Sixers have a serious talent deficiency and will be hard-pressed to win more than 25 games, and you have all the polarization that fuels rivalries. The only thing that's missing is direct competition.

With the exception of the NBA, where the Celtics and Sixers have one of the league's most storied and historically intense rivalries, it's unlikely that Boston and Philadelphia teams will meet during any given season. In baseball, the Red Sox and Phillies are scheduled to meet once every three years, and in football, it's once every four years for the Patriots and Eagles. Of course, there was Super Bowl XXXIX. And before that ... well, again aside from several Celtics-Sixers tilts, you have to go back all the way to 1915, when the Red Sox, led by St. Mary's College of California alumni Duffy Lewis and Harry Hooper, took down the Phillies 4-1 in the World Series. That came on the heels of a Boston Braves-Philadelphia Athletics World Series in 1914, a reminder that regular season meetings were frequent when both cities were two-team towns until the 1950s. The Braves swept the A's in that one, a harbinger of bad Braves karma to come.

So when has Philly beaten Boston for a title? Uh, never. That's something that would be nice to change if/when the Phillies and Red Sox meet in the World Series, so that when these teams do have their rare interleague matchup, Sox fans don't take over Citizens Bank like the did at the Vet back in 2003. This was when my buddy Alan, no Yankees lover, decided he couldn't take the side of the Red Sox, either, in the Most Overhyped Rivalry No One Used To Care About since the Duke-UNC rivalry. I'm not sure where I stand on this ... my hatred for the Yankees has reached levels that almost rival that of my utter disdain for the Chicago Bulls during the heyday of Pistons-Bulls wrestle-mania ... but I think that there's enough time between meetings to bottle up vitriol for the occasion without having to actively root against Boston teams on a daily basis.

Except, of course, the Celtics, who I will always despise because I'm a Pistons fan regardless of my Philly basketball ties (of which there are none, aside from gratefulness that the Sixers started sucking just when they did so Larry Brown would jump ship and come win a championship in Detroit. That was a nice gesture. And also Chris Webber last season. He came in handy, too. It's nice not to have to worry about keeping a D-League affiliate around when Joe Dumars can pretty much just call up whoever he wants. Say ... Andre Iguodala would provide at the very least give the Pistons some pretty good depth, wouldn't he? ...)

It's fascinating though ... imagine if two other cities with such intrinsic geographic and historical ties met as sparingly on the sports fields as much as Philly and Boston do. There would be something missing without regular Detroit-Chicago, Pittsburgh-Cincinnati and Los Angeles-San Francisco games.

So I'm rooting for a Philadelphia- Boston World Series. If there's not one, we won't have to wait too much longer, since the Eagles are scheduled to travel to New England to play Nov. 25. I'd be a lot more excited about this one, but ... I did mention the Patriots are 2-0 and the Eagles are 0-2, right?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coalition of the fictional

So Bush tells us we've got 36 countries fighting alongside with us in Iraq. This is drawing some criticism, but I think we need to step back and look at the facts. Just who are these 36 nations? Here they are in convenient list form:

Asia Major
Mamua New Guinea
Ebony Coast
East Germany
West Korea
The Magic Kingdom
Acoustic Qatar
Red Sox Nation
United Arab Whosafutz
God's Country
Burkina Fatso

Clearly we have the best and brightest on our side, folks. Never doubt the ability of our valiant Decider to rally the support of the world behind us! (Except for Grabassistan. We want to keep it right in front of us, where we can keep an eye on it.)

Ow, my NBA season!

Overheard on the phone today ...

Yes, Trail Blazers' box office? I'd like to cancel my season tickets. That's right ... Whaddya mean non-refundable?!

Well, the Blazers (and their neophyte fans) should have seen this coming. That's what happens when you draft a 45-year-old.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ya s'pose I should ask Larry Craig for some Ben Gay?

I had planned a summary of Week 1 NFL action, but I was out of town yesterday and started to get sick when I got home. The flu isn't as bad as I had first feared, but ... it's the flu. The worst part for me is always the muscle soreness. My right tricep feels like I just pitched a complete game, and last night my back felt like Larry Bird's circa 1992. I don't feel like I can give you a full post here, and thankfully, since Bud Black is not my manager, I won't be forced to perform with nothing in the tank.

Fantasy baseball woes aside, I would be feeling a lot worse if it weren't for an opening week victory for my fantasy football team, the Rural Virginia Pit Bulls. This occured despite the combined contribution of -2 points by Steve McNair and Fred Taylor, both of whom will be returning punts for the Eagles next week, along with Charlie Frye.

But what else is going on? Reagan's first wife Jane Wyman and the career of Britney Spears both died, but we could see that coming. And speaking of things we could have predicted, Bush has taken his McCarthyism to a new level with the addition of Charlie McCarthyism, featuring David Petraeus sitting right on the president's knee. I love the part where Bush drinks a glass of water and the general keeps singing the song. It's a hoot! Now if we could just get Bush to incorporate some Gene McCarthyism into his act, we'd be onto something.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Jezebel boys

So I must say that I still haven't recovered from Wednesday's disgrace by the Phillies. But I'd feel a lot better about things if the Philly fans do what they do best and boo their team tonight, because they deserve it.

At least we don't have juicers like Rick Ankiel on the team. I think it's interesting that we're now getting a bunch of stories about a substance known simply as "Human Growth Hormone." I think this term has a lot better chance of resonating than "androstendione" or "testosterone" or even "the cream and the clear." It's a lot harder to simply slough off Human Growth Hormone as some kind of flaxseed oil, and I think the long-term perception of its users will collectively be as some of the most pernicious cheaters and drug abusers in the history of competition. We'll see.

Speaking of the pernicious, can anyone believe this shit about Larry Craig? It is, as KO called it the other night, the gift that keeps on giving for the Democrats, or for that matter, anyone who thinks the political leadership in this country is dangerously full of shit. To get everyone up to speed here, Craig is a gay-bashing homosexual Republican senator from Idaho who got caught soliciting sex from a male police officer in a Minneapolis airport, pleaded guilty to the charges, resigned from the Senate, then changed his mind, rescinded his resignation, is attempting to withdraw the plea and has consistently denied that he's gay despite the evidence here that he's probably been a homosexual, or perhaps a bisexual, for about 50 years or so, or however long it's been since he hit puberty.

(And now he says he wants to resign again, but ... well, Craig has the same level of credibility as the John Mark Karr about right now, so stay tuned.)

I've been looking for an appropriate reaction to this for a while now, since the whole seems straight out of an episode of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "That's My Bush!" Then it hit me, as I was doing a Google News search for "Larry Craig" this morning. The second hit is for Craig's official Senate Web site, and there are four sublinks below, the first of which is his "How to Contact Me" page. This can be no coincidence. Clearly, folks, we have a man here who is realizing life is short and the time for a loving relationship is now. I know there are plenty out there who share that feeling, and well, if there are any homosexual male readers out there, here's your chance! eHarmony isn't willing to help you find a soulmate, but Senator Craig is there to fill the void! Send Craig a note today to let him know you're interested. The long journey of love begins with one simple step. Don't you deserve to find the man of your dreams? Despite what he says sometimes, Sen. Craig sure thinks you do, and he's waiting to hear from you today!

And remember, unlike Craig, you're not doing anything illegal here. You're not soliticiting him for sex -- all you're looking for is a nice dinner and a walk outside on the first date. What happens from there is up to you and the Senator.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Phillies-Braves live blog!

All right guys, check back here all afternoon for live updates from today's Phillies-
Braves game from Turner Field in Atlanta, as broadcast on TBS by Chip Caray (this should be fun) and Joe Simpson (aka the most anonymous of the 15 announcers employed by the Braves). Kyle Kendrick vs. Tim Hudson on the hill.

5:06 p.m., Time for reflection, Braves 9, Choking-dog Phillies 8
OK, postmortem time. Phillies blow their second 5-0 lead in four days. Their bullpen is atrocious, but the lineup can't be let off the hook; they left 14 men on base. Third-base coach Steve Smith should be fired for his mistake in the second inning. OK, maybe not, but boy does that mistake look huge now. All the mistakes do. This is absolutely crushing. The Phillies stay five back of the Mets with 23 games left for both teams. The third-place Braves are 7 1/2 back with 22 to play. All self-respecting Phillies fans attending Friday's home game with Florida will boo the team when it takes the field.

OK, I'm going to head to dinner and order 10 large Diet Cokes mixed with Jameson's. I hope you all enjoyed the blog as much as I did until the bottom of the ninth. Thanks for reading and Fire Manuel!

4:54 p.m., It's Over, Braves 9, Phillies 8
Diaz rips the ball into right, it ticks off Mr. Shitty Defensive Replacement Chris Roberson's glove, and with everybody running, Escobar gets the green light to come home with the winning run, and the throw is late. He scores. I hope Brett Myers' wife turns things around and beats him tonight. Charlie Manuel's wife, too. This sucks.

4:52 p.m., Bottom 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Yunel Escobar walks, and the bases are loaded for Diaz.

4:51 p.m., Bottom 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
High chopper off the plate fielded by Myers, who fires wide of first base. Prado safe, Francoeur to third. Dubee out to the mound. Pete Laforest just turned to the guy sitting next to him in the dugout and said, "Pardon my French, but this is fucking ridiculous."

4:48 p.m., Bottom 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
The 13 fans still left at Turner Field sit and watch attentively as Martin Prado comes to the plate representing the tying run after a Francoeur infield single.

4:47 p.m., Bottom 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Pena grounds out on an 0-2 pitch, and Francoeur is the Braves' last hope. Win probability tilted back to 70-30 in the Phils' favor.

4:45 p.m., Bottom 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Myers starts the inning on the hill. Teixiera is the first batter. Struck him out! Here comes somebody named Brayan Pena! Isn't he just Russell Branyan without the N?

4:42 p.m., Mid 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Diaz chases down a long fly ball hit by Howard into the left field corner. So here we go. Remember that little win probability graphic ESPN had during the College World Series? I actually think the Braves would be about a 60-40 favorite right now.

4:40 p.m., Top 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Hey, Soriano hit Utley in the thigh! Utley's OK, but he glares at Soriano, as does every Phillies fan watching on TV. The glare, actually, was a little like Lou Dobbs' face in the pic above. Ruiz now hitting (here's where defensive replacements suck). Two out. But wait, Ruiz gets a single, Utley to third, and Howard is up.

4:36 p.m., Top 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
The good news: There's a man warming up in the Phillies bullpen, indicating that Myers may not pitch the ninth. The bad news: That man in Jose Mesa. Two out as Rollins flies to Francoeur.

4:34 p.m., Top 9th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
I still haven't recovered from that last half-inning. I have no idea how the Phillies expect to make it through the bottom of the ninth, unless they score 10 runs in the top of the ninth. Corky Miller to catch, Martin Prado at third, Rafael Soriano pitching for the Braves.

4:32 p.m., End 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Popped him up! Werth's under it and grabs it to end the inning. Chipper Jones is a very Burrell-like 0-for his last 12 with the bases loaded and two outs.

4:30 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Full count to Chipper. Tension mounts.

4:28 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Kelly Johnson pops out on a 2-0 count, bringing Chipper to the plate with two outs.

4:26 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 6
Bases loaded walk. Myers' wife should head to the shelter immediately. Dubee out to the mound.

4:25 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 5
It's bad enough when a team beats you with solid hits. The Phillies can't afford this: another bloop, broken-bat single, this time of the infield variety, and another run scores. By the way, Abraham Nunez has replaced Greg Dobbs at third for defense.

4:20 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 4
Results of the production meeting are already showing. Chip says, "Will Turner Field be a House of Payne for the Philadelphia Phillies?" Brett Myers on to pitch, Carlos Ruiz on to catch. Myers spikes his first pitch into the dirt, and the wild pitch lets a run score. Hoo boy. Four pitch walk. Bases loaded. Diaz up.

4:18 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 3
Another blooper, bases now loaded, and Gordon out of the game. No lead is safe when the Phillies are playing.

4:13 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 3
Roberson and Utley go Keystone Kops on a pair of bloopers and Gordon's E.R.A. rises. Are you sure we can't put Burrell back in the game? Brian McCann looks like he pulled something in his leg (I'm not a doctor, clearly) and Chris Woodward pinch runs. Scot Thorman pinch hitting, too.

4:10 p.m., Bottom 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 2
Elsewhere in baseball, the Indians are up 3-2 in the ninth on Minnesota, closing in on their fourth (!) sweep of the Twins this year. Wait, just saw an ad for 1-800-PETMEDS. Betty White is the pitchwoman. Shouldn't Michael Vick be forced to do these ads to fulfill some sort of community service component of his impending sentence? Tom Gordon on to pitch. His native Avon Park, Fla. rejoices. Chipper doubles. Disappointed Avon Park residents comfort themselves with knowledge that the spicy french fries from Checkers are only a few blocks away. Yes, I'll have a medium fries and a BIG DAMN GIANT DIET COKE!!! (... ok ... calm down ...)

4:01 p.m., Top 8th, Phillies 8, Braves 2
Saw during the commercial that Dave Matthews Band is giving a free concert to the "college who wants it most." This is a good development, because now we'll know which college campus has the most unbearable female student body. This isn't because I dislike DMB. It's because everyone I knew in college had at least one crazy girlfriend whose favorite band was DMB. It's some inexplicable sociological syndrome. Oh yeah, the ballgame: Roberson just atoned himself with a one-out single off Ascanio.

3:56 p.m., Bottom 7th, Phillies 8, Braves 2
Craig Sager in the booth, showing off his madras shorts. He's going to be doing sideline reporting during the Division Series, and he's working this Sunday as a warm-up. Tony Gwynn's doing the same. Sager now giving us some of the finer points on the laborious research sideline reporters do. He just told us he spent eight hours this weekend studying the Mets. I think Erin Andrews has spent eight hours total studying anything her entire life.

3:52 p.m., Bottom 7th, Phillies 8, Braves 2
Roberson on in right as Werth moves to left, replacing Burrell. Yunel Escobar promptly singles to right, and Roberson boots it, allowing Escobar to second. God, this is so weird ... Burrell keeps looking more and more valuable by the inning. I don't know how to deal with this, especially with my therapist out of town on vacation. Wait, wasn't this the premise to "What About Bob?"

3:48 p.m., Mid 7th, Phillies 8, Braves 2
Burrell walks. Say, Bobby Cox has some nice shades on. Not as good as the ones being sported by Mr. Fedora Tank Top, but not bad nonetheless. Bases loaded for Ryan Howard. As Caray's grandfather would say, C'mon Ryno! He promptly grounds out, which would have led Harry Caray to curse, spit and quickly transition to a shout-out to Billy and Doris Burton watching from Skokie.

3:44 p.m., Top 7th, Phillies 8, Braves 2
Utley singles, raises his RBI total to 90, and advances to second on a throw home. Bobby Cox pulls off a double switch, taking out Villarreal and Andruw Jones, and replacing them with Ascanio and Matt Diaz. By the way, that's pronounced Matt "Die-azz," thanks to his grandfather, who changed it when he came to mine coal in West Virginia. I'm honestly not sure how Lou Dobbs feels about this.

3:40 p.m., Top 7th, Phillies 7, Braves 2
Wild pitch! Werth scores and Laforest moves up to second. Villarreal still pitching with Utley at bat now. Bobby Cox taking Lou Dobbs' advice on raising the E.R.A. of foreign-born pitchers.

3:38 p.m., Top 7th, Phillies 6, Braves 2
Base hit Laforest! Run scores. Skip and Joe dipping into the French-English dictionary they used to keep around for Expos games. Rollins batting now, and oddly enough Villarreal still pitching.

3:36 p.m., Top 7th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Pete Laforest taking his first at-bat in the pitcher's spot for the Phils. He's a Quebec native and former Expos farmhand. Greg Dobbs' dad feeling even more dispeptic.

3:33 p.m., Bottom 7th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Runners first and second and Roger McDowell out to talk to Villarreal. Jose Ascanio warming up in the bullpen. Greg Dobbs' dad getting heartburn.

3:29 p.m., Bottom 7th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Oscar Villarreal now pitching for Atlanta. Greg Dobbs greets him with a base hit. Chip Caray, former Mariners announcer, can't figure out why the Mariners didn't hang on to him. Blame it on the Moose!

3:26 p.m., Mid 7th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Struck him out! Inning over. Mr. Fedora Tank Top not amused.

3:23 p.m., Top 7th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Oh what a catch by Rowand! And he almost doubles off Johnson at second. Shit, now the Phils can't afford him again. Andruw Jones at bat.

3:22 p.m., Top 7th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Kane's stats from two appearances this year: 0-1, 6.00, .353 opponent's batting average. Last time out against Florida: IP, 3H, 2R, two home runs allowed. Oy.

3:19 p.m., Top 7th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Here's the good news: Reds 7, Mets 0, Final. Mets' five-game win-streak is over, and the Phillies have a chance to move within four ... if new pitcher Kane Davis doesn't give up the lead with one out and two on. Francoeur to bat once Davis gets warmed up. Let's hope he warms up faster than Hudson.

3:17 p.m., Bottom 6th, Phillies 5, Braves 2 Walked him. Here comes the tying run with no one out. Brian McCann is up. Kane Davis warming up in the bullpen for the Phillies. I did not know the Phillies had Kane Davis on their roster. This is not good.

3:14 p.m., Bottom 6th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
It's J.C. Romero. Otherwise known as my fantasy nemesis. Uh oh. His first pitch brushes back Teixiera.

3:13 p.m., Bottom 6th, Phillies 5, Braves 2
Chipper Jones smacks an RBI double to the wall. GODDAMMIT WHERE'S MY DUBEE?! Actually, here comes Charlie Manuel. Kendrick's done. Chip Caray: "Will they blow another 5-run lead on this road trip? Fuck you, Chip. TBS shows clip of Gene Garber striking out Pete Rose to end his 44-game hitting streak in 1978. But they still haven't mentioned who's coming on to pitch. Nice job.

3:07 p.m., Bottom 6th, Phillies 5, Braves 1
Home run Willie Harris. Damn. Last home run for Willie: May 29 at Milwaukee vs. Ben Sheets. Kelly Johnson singles. Tomahawk music starts. GODDAMMIT WHERE'S MY DIET COKE?! Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee out to the mound.

3:06 p.m., Mid 6th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Was that the Oklahoma fight song playing on the bumper? The only thing I can figure is that the producer is an OU grad and his fantasy team is called the Galloping Goombahs.

3:03 p.m., Top 6th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Joe Simpson just asked this question to Chip Caray: "What are you, the galloping goombah?" It was somehow a transition into a discussion of Oklahoma Sooners football. A camera operator found someone wearing an OU hat in the stands. This has sent me scurrying to see if TBS is broadcasting the OU-Miami game this Saturday ... no, it's on ABC. So this is officially without explanation.

2:57 p.m., Top 6th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Royce Ring on the mound now for the Braves. TBS just played a montage over the Patty Smyth synth-pop song "Goodbye to You" to open the inning as a reminder this is the final month of Braves telecasts on TBS. Somewhere, Bob Horner is crying.

2:52 p.m., End 5th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Reds lead 7-0 now. Here comes Pete Orr to pinch hit for Hudson. 5 IP, 11 H, 5R, 5ER the line for the Braves' starter. Ed Wade just phoned in to say he thinks Hudson would be worth $55 million on the market right now.

2:46 p.m., Mid 5th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Chip has announced his surprise that no one has taken a flyer on Bob Wickman. Chris Coste fans and it's the first one-two-three inning for Hudson. If it winds up that Phillies 3B coach Steve Smith's blunder costs them the game, I'm going to conclude hiring wide receivers to coach third base is as bad an idea as letting veteran NBA shooting guards do it. Oooh, it's the Clyde Frazier-Keith Hernandez Just For Men Facial Hair commercial! Yes! Say it with me now ... BRUISED AND REFUSED!

2:41 p.m., Top 5th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
TBS just showed a shot of two rotund older women, one of whom was wearing turquoise shorts and a floral top, just entering the park. This production meeting has seriously gone off the tracks. Incidentally an ad for the Braves all-you-can-eat ticket package, which ties in limitless concessions with the price of admissions, is currently displayed on the scrolling marquee behind home plate. Right below Mr. Fedora Tank Top.

2:38 p.m., End 4th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Chip just gave us the "Glavine's not walking through that door, Maddux isn't walking through that door" speech about the Braves. Which reminds me he used to do Orlando Magic games in the early portion of their franchise history. Terry Catledge on the court, Chip Caray at the mike! Ratings gold!

2:35 p.m., Bottom 4th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
You know what's a cool look? A fedora and a tank top. That's what the guy sitting in the front row just to the right of home plate is wearing. Braves fans, always stylish!

2:33 p.m., Mid 4th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
If anyone in the Fort Myers area is reading this, I'll pay you $20 if you deliver a six-pack of Diet Coke before the end of this game. Just e-mail me and I'll give you the address. Rowand at bat with one out and two on. Double play! Hey, he might be affordable now. Another scoreless inning for Hudson. OK, this is officially as worried as I get when my team has a 5-0 lead.

2:27 p.m., Top 4th, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Hmmm, the Reds and Mets are already in the sixth ... how did this happen? Chase Utley is 3-for-3 and your NL leading hitter, folks ... every Mets fan can send thank-you notes to John Lannan care of the Washington Nationals. Do the Mets face Lannan down the stretch here? Do you think it would be a nice gesture if they've already clinched by the time they face him to let Lannan no-hit them?

2:20 p.m., Bottom 3rd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Suggested questions for those who want to e-mail Chip and Joe at

1. Since this is an official production meeting now, have we decided whether we're working a "House of Payne" reference into the Division Series broadcasts every inning or every half-inning?

2. So how much was the FCC fine from that Bobby Cox tirade?

3. Whatever became of Chief Nokahoma? Did Lou Dobbs get him deported?

2:15 p.m., Bottom 3rd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Tim Hudson actually makes it through a scoreless inning! Time to add him to your fantasy teams, people! The Reds now lead 6-0, by the way. My buddy Alan has e-mailed to confirm that yes indeed, that is Lou Dobbs in the picture. And he wonders if Lou is Greg Dobbs' father. I'm not sure. I have to check Tom Tancredo's donor list.

2:10 p.m., Top 3rd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Kyle Kendrick just skirted a little single past Braves 2B Kelly Johnson on an 0-2 pitch. Any camera shots of Atlanta's bullpen? Any verbal mention thereof? Some production meeting you're having, TBS! Runners first and second, two out. Oh, finally ... Chip Caray says, "... you hear that bullpen phone ringing in the background, Roger's going to get somebody up."

2:06 p.m., Top 3rd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
By the way, I hope my use of two fonts in this post doesn't make Blogger's running hamsters go on strike. Blogger's great for notoriety, and really, really bad for user-friendliness. The old green-screen Macs we used in middle school ran better software. Oregon Trail rocked like no other educational video game! By the way, Chip and Joe have begun talking about Division Series format ideas, so this has officially ceased to be a game and become a production meeting, as far as TBS is concerned.

2:01 p.m., Bottom 2nd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Excerpted from the notes I took during a TBS broadcast of an extra-inning broadcast of a Braves-Astros game a couple of months ago (I've been waiting for a good time to use this):

In the 11th ...
Willie Harris takes strike one from Brad Lidge
Cox: "Let's go! Damn! ... Fuckin' get one god-damn ..."
Simpson: "It's gettin' late."
Caray: "Yeah. And yeah, Bobby knows this game means a lot."
And then the camera pans to Bobby with one arm leaning on the railing at the side of the Braves dugout.

1:56 p.m., Bottom 2nd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Brian McCann singles and Joe Simpson reminds us the Phillies gacked up a five-run lead just three days ago here in Florida. Hey, and look who else has a 5-0 lead? The Reds, who are pounding the Mets! And it's our first audio evidence that Bobby Cox is managing ... a loud "C'mon kid!" issued in a shortened Southern drawl directed at Jeff Francoeur. Good job, Bobby ... your motivation helped Francoeur strike out! Way to go! Now go have that mean old Rick Reed kick you out of this game so you can join the legions of Atlanta residents who are ignoring it.

1:51 p.m., Mid 2nd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
How to give up runs ... put a late hold sign on for Ryan Howard as he lumbers around third, and give no sign to Aaron Rowand, whose third-base coach (Steve Smith) cheated him out of a triple.

1:48 p.m., Top 2nd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
By the end of this game, Hudson's ERA will exceed the attendance. Hey TBS, anyone warming up in the bullpen yet? Anyone? TBS? Hello? The six people watching this game this afternoon would love to know.

1:45 p.m., Top 2nd, Phillies 5, Braves 0
Broken-bat RBI for Chase Utley, who drives home Rollins on a sac fly. Speaking of bats, PAT THE BAT GOES DEEP! I CANNOT BELIEVE I"M THIS EXCITED ABOUT SOMETHING PAT BURRELL IS DOING!

1:43 p.m., Top 2nd, Phillies 3, Braves 0
Rollins hits his 17th triple with one out in the second. Two to go to catch the post-1900 record of Juan Samuel, set in 1984. You know, I'm really glad the pitching has come through this season so Rollins' career season has no chance of going to waste.

1:38 p.m., End 1st, Phillies 3, Braves 0
Harris slides hard into Utley to help break up a potential double play on Chipper's grounder. What, no bench-clearing brawl? Teixiera's up, and promptly fouls one down the right field line, giving us yet another look at the paucity of Turner Field fans. Something tells me the Time Warner chairman isn't as interested in dragging CNN employees to the game as Ted was. Ooo, and Chip Caray makes a regional college football reference! Kyle Kendrick's alma mater (South Carolina) takes on Caray's (Georgia) this weekend. Methinks this whole TBS-doing-national-games thing is going to be tough to get used to. I'll be keeping a Georgia high school football preview by my side during the Division Series next month just in case I need a translation.

1:32 p.m., Bottom 1st, Phillies 3, Braves 0
Aaaah, where's my Diet Coke?!! Addiction is a very sad thing, boys and girls. The grass at Turner Field must have been watered down a bit too much, because Chase Utley looked like he was on a slip-n-slide trying to field Willie Harris' grounder. Utley throws late and the ball goes careening around the infield and somehow winds up behind home plate. Harris, however, never took notice, and is still at first base. Love ya Braves!

1:27 p.m., Bottom 1st, Phillies 3, Braves 0
OK, Coste grounds out and the inning is over. Say, I've been looking at the Ted Turner-Jane Fonda pic up there, and ... is that Lou Dobbs looking over Ted's shoulder there?

1:24 p.m., Top 1st, Phillies 3, Braves 0
Call him Jayson Werth-it. A two-run single and this is starting to look like it could be the Phillies' day. As long as the Phillies keep scoring runs in the top of the first and never have to send someone out to pitch, that is. The suddenly appreciated Chris Coste at the plate now.

1:21 p.m., Top 1st, Phillies 1, Braves 0
Bases loaded, two outs and Jayson Werth up, so here comes Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell for a visit. Which reminds me, how's that Orioles job working out, Leo Mazzone?

1:18 p.m., Top 1st, Phillies 1, Braves 0
OK, Howard flew out to center, and it gave us a chance to notice that there are about a dozen total people sitting in the outfield seats. I still don't understand why it is that Atlanta is inexplicably the worst pro sports city in the world. I mean, it's not like their football team has sucked for most of its existence and had its best run of teams while being quarterbacked by a guy who liked to torture and kill dogs or anything in his spare time. Rowand singles home the first run. Nice. He's a free agent at the end of the year. Not so nice. Maybe he can get his money's worth on the free market by hitting up David Bell for cash this offseason.

1:10 p.m., Top 1st, Phillies 0, Braves 0

OK, I will warn you, I am sans Diet Coke in the apartment, so this could get ugly. When fellow Diet Cokehead and former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy tried to go three hours without a hit, you may recall he wound up twirling around on Alonzo Mourning's leg like it was a maypole. A nice subplot this afternoon will be Chipper Jones vs. the umpires, specifically Rick Reed, who just so happens to be working third base this afternoon, just like Larry. Burrell and Utley string together back-to-back singles in front of Howard. Here we go.