From most accounts, Howard did well. He wore a nice suit, seemed personable and held his own against one of the sharpest wits (an oxymoron?) on television.
So I guess it’s fair to say that Ryan Howard is a superstar. Wow. Not bad for a guy who was “blocked” by Jim Thome.
Interestingly, Howard revealed to Dave that he “guesses 90 percent of time” about what pitch he’s going to get.
"Most of the time I'm swinging with my eyes closed anyways," Howard told Dave.
If only that were true. Howard is one of the better hitters at making adjustments on the fly. He might swing with his eyes closed, but that's because he already knows where it's going to land.
If you’re looking for someone to criticize the “traditional” style of newspaper writing, I’m the first in line. Without getting too much into it, I just don’t like doing the same old things the same old ways.
Hey, that’s just me.
But if you’re looking for good, quality newspaper writing, look no further than Paul Hagen’s story about Chris Coste and his “exile” back to the minors.
Coste, as we all remember, was the saccharine sweet feel-good story of 2006. After a decade playing and struggling in all levels of independent and minor-league ball, Coste finally made it to the Majors and played well enough that it seemed as if his days of being a bush-league cliché were over.
Or so it seemed.
Yet despite slugging seven homers, batting .328, and – more importantly – getting plenty of accolades from veteran pitchers about his abilities behind the plate, the Phillies really didn’t seem to believe what they were seeing with Coste. In fact, even when Coste was getting lots of important playing time during a late-season chase for the playoffs, the sense I got was that general manager Pat Gillick looked at Coste as an experiment that somehow went really well.
No, it didn’t seem as if Gillick or the Phillies wanted Coste to fail, but reading between the lines it appeared as if it wouldn’t have bothered them if the fairy tale would have ended with a loud thump. No matter what he did (it seemed to me), Coste never figured into the Phillies plans.
That’s a damn shame.
These days, Coste is grinding it out for Ottawa waiting for a call in his role as the perpetual insurance policy. He seems to be nothing more than a commodity or a number to the guys calling the shots, which is way it is in baseball a lot of the time. As Hagen wrote in his excellent story, “Heck, the Yankees got rid of Babe Ruth when they had no more use for him.”
Hopefully the Phillies will eventually do the right thing for Coste and trade him to a team where he can play. But then again, baseball is all business. Why would they want to do that?
Maybe a good place for Coste would be Kansas City, where former top prospect Brandon Duckworth has resurfaced as the team’s fifth starter after a few years kicking around the minors. In his first start of 2007 for the Royals, Duckworth held the defending American League champion Tigers to four hits and a walk without a run in 6 1/3 innings. Of the 19 outs he recorded, 12 were on ground balls.
Outings like that were kind of what the Phillies were hoping to get from mild-mannered right-hander when he arrived in the midst of a playoff chase in 2001. During that season, manager Larry Bowa yanked veteran 13-game winner Omar Daal from a start in Atlanta during the end of that season in favor of Duckworth.
But in 2002 and 2003, Duckworth didn’t take to Bowa’s managerial methods where it seemed that no matter what the pitcher did, it was never enough for the manager. Shockingly, it seemed to be a matter of someone having a personality clash with Bowa… like that has ever happened before.
Despite this, Duckworth averaged a little more than a strikeout per inning in 2002 though a forearm injury sidetracked much of his 2003 campaign. That winter the Phillies dealt Duckworth to the Astros in the Billy Wagner deal, where he struggled for two more seasons as a reliever and sometime starter. Before the 2006 season, he signed on with the Pirates where he spent most of the season in Triple-A before being sold to the Royals, where he pitched his way into the rotation.
Is this where Duckworth finally puts something together? Perhaps. Unlike Coste, Duckworth will get a chance.
Finally, on to the Imus fiasco…
For a while it was easy to be Don Imus. All he ever did was hate everyone, equally, for an entire career. In fact, Imus and his flunkies have hated everyone with vitriol and anger for as long as I’ve been alive. And I ain’t so young any more.
That’s why the outrage over his comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team is so weird. Imus is the dog that has been pissing on the carpet for decades, but now, after doing something that has defined his career, everyone is trying to whack him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. I ask, “What took so long?” One would be hard pressed to find a group that he hasn’t slurred.
Don Imus didn’t say one thing – he said a million things. Most of them were mean and aimed – without irony – at hurting others. That’s just how he rolls.
In fact, it’s fair to conclude that Imus is the purveyor of the schlocky and unoriginal talk radio tripe that pervades the airwaves. If Imus and his ilk have a legacy it’s creating a medium based on loudness and meanness with disciples all over the dial and ideological spectrum.
So when Imus picked on the young women from Rutgers for no good reason other than they can’t fight back, it seems as if those waiting to pounce finally found an opening. Enough, as they say, is enough.
Still Imus’ reign of hate has already scorched the airwaves. Because of his influence it seems as if the requisite for getting a talk show on the radio is to get some anger, bluster and the ability to pontificate in relative complete sentences. It doesn’t matter what stupidity pours out of one’s mouth as it gets a reaction... or ratings.
In writing about the extremely unoriginal talk-show host Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio, Salon.com sportswriter King Kaufman (hey… I’m warming up to that guy) cites the lack of innovation in the sports-talk radio as one of the reasons for all the misplaced anger by hosts. The target, at least in Cowherd’s case, is the Internet which the ESPN host has stolen from and lambasted equally. Writes Kaufman:
It was the latest battle in an ongoing war between sports-talk radio and sports blogs, one that hardly seems like a fair fight. One side is a medium that's essentially unchanged since the 1970s, an industry whose only idea since the Carter administration has been to keep getting more “in your face.” The other side is, so far in its brief history, constantly adapting, changing, self-correcting, reinventing.
History tends to be on the side of the latter. There's no reason sports-talk radio has to be an enemy of innovation, no reason it can't adapt to the times, meet the challenges of new technologies and changing audience needs. It just hasn't.
Talk radio's response to the World Wide Web, possibly the greatest communications revolution since Gutenberg built his printing press and certainly the greatest since television, was to say, “Hey, you can listen to our radio show on your computer now!”
After writing about Imus and Cowherd I think it’s time to take a shower.