The fictional mail box is full once again…time to respond to more questions I put there…
Q. Big news in your neck of the woods with the signing of Jonathan Papelbon, huh? What are your thoughts about the Phillies signing him to what makes him the second highest-paid closer in baseball to Mariano Rivera?
A. Let me begin my answer with a quote from Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. “Four years is a little uncomfortable. But for a player like this, a person who’s had this type of pedigree, this type of background of success, sometimes you got to go the extra mile to do that.” Um…that’s once expensive extra mile, Ruben. And how nice of you to share your being uncomfortable with the deal after making it. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer calculates if our new closer pitches the total number of innings (268 2/3) from his four prior years in Boston over the length of the contract Ruben just uncomfortably gave him, the Phillies will pay him $62,035 per out. (For reference purposes, Matt offers that Roy Halladay earned $28,530 for each out he recorded last season) Soooo…Matt wonders if we might all wonder if the money spent here might have been better spent on a position or positions that will have a greater effect on the outcome of the next 600+ games they play. Needless to say, the Philadelphia Phillies have now proven they are going to continue to print money in the bowels of Citizens Bank Park and finances are of no concern. The team has regressed one slot each year since winning it all in ’08…losing a World Series, a League Championship Series and a Divisional Series. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but pitching didn’t seem to be the stumbling block. Manager Charlie Manuel has been not-so-quietly howling for some professional hitters for some time now, guys who make contact in the clutch. There are issues with age, health and most especially…light hitting when the games are tight and the pitchers are first-class. With arguably the best rotation in baseball, maybe Ruben would have been more comfortable getting a deal with a capable closer, not necessarily the best one available. And as for Poupon - the name I have given him for purposes of this blog – I find him high-strung, highly embarrassing in his demeanor and therefore highly unwelcome. I’m a Barry Sanders guy…score a touchdown…act like you’ve done it before…toss the ball to the nearest official and jog off the field. Poupon is 180 degrees from that. He acts like a psycho for doing his job. I like people who play with passion, not go over the top with it. I know calm, incumbent closer Ryan Madson was asking for a ton of cash also and barely has proven he is worth such an amount. It would be laughable to compare his resume to Poupon. However, being the fastest to 200 saves in major league history and being 32 on opening day might indicate the Phils have just compensated Poupon for the backend of his career. Madson is essentially the same age but the wear-and-tear on the tires…not so much. Poupon gets $50,000,058 (the 58 on the end is ego for his jersey number…another indication of why he’ll be known as Poupon). Ruben, quite frankly…I’m uncomfortable too. Let’s see what you do with the next dollars coming off your printing press and see if you actually address more critical needs than a closer. Can’t wait to see the Phillies’ clubhouse next season with this time bomb in it…
Q. Sticking with baseball, what do you think about the Washington Nationals’ Catcher Wilson Ramos being kidnapped in his native Venezuela. Great to hear he’s OK, huh?
A. Yes, it is. Until I heard he’s staying there and planning on playing in the Venezuela League. Maybe it’s just me, but when you are taken at gunpoint and held for two days before police and national military can track you down and free you in an all-out, to-the-death gun battle, you might want to consider a second option. Leaving Venezuela. And as for all the expense incurred in tracking down his abductors and freeing Wilson, please bill the Nationals. And when he gets kidnapped again, call the Nats first to see if they’re willing to incur additional charges. Make sure they know they have to pay extra for dead people.
Q. What the heck was going on during that national televised game last week with your hometown Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning? The Flyers wouldn’t advance the puck because the Lightning wouldn’t come after it?
A. Indeed, it appears the neutral zone trap is back in fashion in certain cities and opponents are once more getting fed up with the lack of forechecking that makes it so successful. Some folks on Twitter took to calling it “Occupy Hockey.” I understand at the General Managers meeting next month they are going to discuss the “situation”…primarily because Philadelphia decided to “call out” Tampa Bay for, as Flyers’ Captain Chris Pronger puts it…sending the game “back to the stone ages.” The funny thing was reading all the local coverage of quotes from Flyers who said how much they felt for the fans that had to watch. They were saying how it couldn’t have been much fun to view at home…and certainly was no fun to play. So play. You started this. You have the puck. Outplay, Outskate, Outwit. Figure it out. What are you going to do next, NHL…outlaw defense? Hell, why don’t you just eliminate the goalie position and get on with it. And that goes for the shootouts, too.
Q. Did you see TCU bust Boise State’s BCS bid on Saturday?
A. Oh, I scheduled my day around seeing that game. I knew it would be a thriller and it passed even my wildest expectations. Back and forth, big play after big play. Of course both of these teams would lose a couple of games if they played in the SEC each year…but they’d also get the best of the big boys on occasion just like they have in bowl games when they get the opportunity. Every time I see Horned Frogs’ HC Gary Patterson get interviewed he impresses me more and more. Even in the excitement of the last-second, 36-35 win, he took as much time to praise Boise State’s program, coaches and kids as much as his own. I loved his decision to go for two after scoring a TD with just 1:05 left. It was the right call at the right moment. You don’t play on that mind-numbing blue turf before those rabid, ravenous rooters and not go for the kill shot right then and there. I think the most impressive thing about Patterson at game’s end was he did not look or sound irate about the horrendous phantom pass interference call that gave the Broncos one final FG attempt at the gun. It would have been the most replayed “highlight” from the weekend had Boise State been able to boot the winning points. For TCU, proof their program is still among the best after a rough start in 2011. For Boise State, poof goes the BCS championship dream for another year but like TCU…proof their program is worthy of a top bowl game…as usual.