Another weekend, another big series for the Phillies. Actually, make that two big series in a row. The reason why the three games against the Brewers and Nationals are so important -- aside from the obvious for a 24-22 club standing four games off the pace in the NL East at Memorial Day weekend -- is that after this set of games ends, the Phillies hit the road for 11 games in a row.
Either way, I'm going to miss the series vs. the Brewers, but more on that later. For now, lets chat about Bobby Abreu's defense during the series against the Mets. Or perhaps more appropriately, how about his lack of defense?
For years now, fans, commentators, and the press have been quite critical of Abreu's defense. Actually, critical would be nice. But it's not wrong.
Abreu mishandled two balls hit near the rightfield fence this week that proved to be costly to the Phillies. One play, a drive off Jon Lieber on Tuesday night, resulted in ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk to say on Daily News Live that someone on the team should confront Abreu.
Maybe that's what "Gold Glover" Abreu needs when his defense appears as disinterested as it was this week. But to suggest that Abreu should "run into the wall" is just silly. It just isn't going to happen (and who wants the best hitter on the team injured), just like Abreu hitting leadoff is not going to happen.
ed. note: Looks like it could happen based on the reports from Shea. Looks like I'm wrong and Bobby is ready to slide up the batting order.
Nevertheless, there was a time when Abreu played inspired defense. He ran down fly balls with reckless abandon and displayed a strong right arm that kept runners in check. But in July of 2000, Abreu went into the wall for a flyball at Yankee Stadium and came out of the play a little banged up. He didn't miss any games from that crash landing, but he has shied away from all contact since.
But he can still hit.
As far as the leadoff stuff goes, there was a stretch of 19 games during the 2000 season (Aug. 20 to Sept. 9) when Terry Francona put Abreu at the top of the order and just let him go. The numbers from those 19 games?
AB - 71
RBI - 11
2B - 4
3B - 1
HR - 5
SB - 4
BB - 18
K - 13
AVG - .310
OBP - .449
Those numbers look like someone who can handle the leadoff spot. Who knows, maybe Abreu was Rickey Henderson all along?
Yeah, but can it tie my shoes?
Nike and iPod announced that it has joined forces to create a new wireless system that allows your spefically desgned Nike running shoe to communicate with your iPod to give pertinent feedback such as distance travelled, pace and calories burned. Not only will it record the information on your iPod, but also it will speak to you and tell you exactly what you are doing.
More than that, later you can hook your iPod up to Nike's web site to keep track of your workouts.
So much for the old running log or getting in the car to drive off your mileage.
The shoes ($100 to $129) and the wireless unit ($29) hit the market in July with the Nike Zoom Moire with more models to follow. There will also be other Nike+iPod accessories, too, such as spefically designed outer wear that will hold your devices and cords to keep your hands free.
Interestingly, according to business writer Darren Rovell, Nike's stock jumped up two percent after the announcement of the new products.
Needless to say, I know people who will buy this, and it's hard to deny the coolness factor of this gadget. In fact, I would hop on board if I didn't have to wear the Nikes.
Now I have nothing against Nike (aside from the reported sweatshops, of course) and as a one-time competitive runner just out of retirement (or a five-year hiatus... that sounds better) I wear Nike clothes for workouts and dare anyone to find a finer marathon racer than the steady and austere Mariah. But as long as adidas continues to make the Ozweego trainer, Phil Knight and Steve Jobs won't be able to send me any subliminal messages.
In July of 1996 I got my first pair of Ozweegos and haven't worn anything else since. This weekend I'll wear a pair of Ozweegos in the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, Vermont as I travel with friends John May and Luke Smith as they take their maiden voyage over 26.2 miles.
It will be No. 12 for me, but the first one since the 2001 Boston Marathon. So instead of Phillies vs. Brewers over a holiday weekend, we're going for self-imposed discomfort.
Perhaps we'll be able to check in at some point this weekend or at least provide all sorts of updates, if not, enjoy the weekend, the baseball, and the holiday.