I always looked at events like Hank Aaron’s 715th home run as “where were you” moments. In that regard I can recall where I was when the ball rolled through Buckner’s legs, when Tug threw the final pitch to Willie Wilson and recently when the Red Sox finally won the World Series.
No, sports moments don’t hold the same cache as truly historical events, but it’s fun to remember the mood, time and place of certain significant sporting moments. Why not? If one is going to invest time in this stuff they might as well do it the correctly by chronicling it.
So when Hank Aaron blasted No. 715 off Al Downing in April of 1974 I was younger than my son is now. Chances are that I was fast asleep or crying or whatever it is that 2-year olds do when Babe Ruth is pushed aside for Hammering Hank.
Thirty-three years and four months after Hank beat Babe, Barry Bonds and his Body by Balco, hit home run No. 756. He did it in the one city that appeared to actually give a damn (or at least they force ticketholders to suspend all logic and rational thought before admitting them into whatever corporation holds the naming rights for that stadium now) while the rest of the sporting public yawned.
When Bonds hit the homer off the Nationals’ Mike Bacsik last night to become the all-time home run leader and officially render all baseball statistics totally and utterly worthless, I had totally forgotten that there was even a game going on in San Francisco. In fact, I was driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on the way home and listening to the audio book of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s, All the President’s Men. I hadn’t read the book in at least a decade and figured it was time for a refresher seeing that I fancy myself a bit of a Watergate buff.
What? You thought I’d be listening to local sports talk radio?
Anyway, I suppose there is some irony in listening to the book about the ultimate downfall of Richard Nixon while one of the most beguiled men in America was desecrating the record held by a man who is his polar opposite in nearly every way imaginable.
Other ironies? Bonds passed Hank on the fifth year anniversary of the MLBPA agreeing to (limited) drug testing in the collective bargaining agreement. Meanwhile, commissioner Bud Selig was meeting with former Senator George Mitchell regarding his investigation into baseball’s drug issue.
By the time I finally got home and flipped on the television to see if a Congressional sub-committee had held an emergency hearing to force Major League Baseball to dissolve itself, I couldn’t help but wondering one thing:
Which comes first: Bonds’ 800th home run or his indictment?
Speaking of much ado about nothing, Jimmy Rollins expanded on his quote about the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez, which from the beginning sounded like Dontrelle Willis was having a little fun with his teammate. My guess is that it became a big deal to the scribes following around the Marlins because they have nothing else to write about.
After all, how often can Scott Olsen get arrested?
There was an interesting item out there regarding Citizens Bank Park. Apparently our little ballpark in South Philly rates tops amongst PETA’s survey of top 10 vegetarian-friendly ballparks.
PETA, of course, is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which could mean they have an interest in vegetarianism. Frankly, I have always looked at PETA and its message as more than a little pedantic, but if it works for them, yay!
But what really interests me about this declaration is that as someone who is labeled as a vegetarian, finding something to eat amongst the waddling masses is always difficult. As a result, it was quite interesting to learn that Rick’s Steaks on Ashburn Alley offered something called a “veggie steak.” After all, it seems as if the addition of the so-called veggie steak is what lifted Citizens Bank Park from an also-ran into the top slot on PETA’s poll.
The veggie dog and flame-grilled Gardenburger were enough to earn Citizens Bank Park a place on the roster of last year's survey. But this year's addition of the Philly mock-steak sandwich--and the rave reviews it has received from vegetarians and nonvegetarians alike who pile on the grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers, and hot sauce--put the Phillies over the top. The stadium also offers vegetarian subs and wraps, tomato pizza (no cheese, please), fruit cups, salads, and, for the kids, PB&J."Citizens Bank Park's great vegetarian selection benefits both animals and the health of Phillies fans, who will be less likely to keel over from a meat-induced heart attack as they cheer Ryan Howard's next longball," says PETA Assistant Director Dan Shannon.
Look, I suppose vegetarians have to take their victories where they can find them and the “mainstreaming” of such things as veggie dogs, burgers and steaks, I suppose, is a good thing.
But truth be told, there is nothing appealing to me about “veggiefied” versions of steaks, hot dogs and burgers. In fact, I find it all a little insulting and poorly thought marketing. As someone who has made a conscious choice to be a vegetarian, I do not want to eat meat. Hard to believe, huh? That means the idea of burgers, hot dogs and steaks is not something I miss and a trumped up faux version of those things are equally undesirable.
Come on, do they really think that a veggie burger is going to make a vegetarian feel more assimilated and less of a misfit in the American culture? If so, that’s just dumb. Perhaps what the marketing wizards who came up with those ideas don’t understand is that – lean in closer here – VEGETARIANS DO NOT WANT TO EAT MEAT.
There, I said it. And if you want a list of reasons why this vegetarian chooses to be the way he is, you will have to wait or ask nicely. I’m not going to explain my choices for the same way the dude who chooses to gobble up steroid/cholesterol/fat/chemical/feces/carcass-laden dead animals doesn’t find it necessary to explain himself.
Anyway, I have tried the veggie steak and was not really impressed. Mostly that had to do with the fact that the “steak” was made of textured vegetable protein. Unlike tofu, TVP does not take the flavor of what surrounds it. Instead, it tastes like TVP no matter if it’s supposed to be chicken, steak, or duck.
But just like a cheesesteak, the veggie steak has the onions, cheese, roll and grease, which isn’t exactly a drawing card, either. Frankly, a person would be better off just getting a jumbo grilled cheese… that is if they are not vegan.
Sadly, what has been missed in the novelty of the veggie steak is that Planet Hoagie, also on Ashburn Alley, offers a veggie hoagie, which – get this – consists of vegetables.
Imagine that! Vegetarians might want to eat vegetables!
Without the TVP, the veggie hoagie has eggplant as the base and other sandwich-type vegetables that make it quite hearty. It is a little oily, but at least it’s Omega-3 type oil instead of basic cheese-type grease. Baring that, rumor is there is cheese-less pizza around the park, or better yet, drive up to Tony Luke’s on Oregon and Front and get the Uncle Mike – it’s served vegan or non-vegan style.
I wonder if the folks from PETA have ever been to Tony Luke’s?
Bob Barker's vegan enchilada bake (per Esquire)
• 12 oz frozen vegan burger-style crumbles (Morningstar Farms' work well)
• 1 packet taco seasoning
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
• 2 cans black or pinto beans, rinsed
• 2 cans enchilada sauce
• 1 bag corn or flour tortillas
• 3 cups vegan cheddar cheese, shredded
• One 4-ounce can green chiles
• 1 small bag of Fritos, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with Pam.
2. In a bowl, coat crumbles with seasoning.
3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat; add scallions; cook 3 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute.
4. Add stock; stir 1 minute.
5. Stir in beans; set aside.
6. Cover bottom of pan with enchilada sauce.
7. Place one tortilla layer over sauce; pour bean mixture on top.
8. Follow with a third of the cheese and half the chiles.
9. Add more enchilada sauce and another tortilla layer.
10. Add burger crumbles, more cheese, the remaining chiles, and enchilada sauce.
11. End with the remaining tortillas, enchilada sauce, and cheese.
12. Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes.
13. Remove foil; sprinkle Fritos on top.
14. Pop back in the oven for 15 minutes.
Serve with vegan sour cream. Reheats in the toaster oven really well. My wife made this for me on Monday without the fritos. It was pretty damn good.
After looking at the names above the lockers in the Phillies’ clubhouse on Friday night it’s obvious that the team really needs another reliever or two. Because of the roster moves made on Friday where Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia were placed on the disabled list retroactive to March 23, it seems very likely that Zach Segovia, the second-round draft pick from 2002 who missed all of 2004 recovering from Tommy John surgery, will make the Opening Day roster despite never having pitched above Double-A.
Of course there are a lot of successful big league pitchers who never pitched in Triple-A and Segovia could be one of them based on his solid numbers in 2006. But is Segovia a pitcher on a playoff-bound team in 2007? Maybe he is though it seems evident that the Phillies’ brass would rather have a complimentary arm or two.
As Ruben Amaro Jr. said while standing in the middle of a veritable rugby-esque scrum of baseball scribes, “The fact we're going to have Opening Day on Monday for us doesn't mean we're going to stop working. We're going to continue to try and improve our club. We feel comfortable with what we have right now and actually, the bullpen has thrown very well lately. They get a chance to hold down their jobs.”
Meanwhile, here’s what the authors of the Baseball Prospectus 2007 yearbook say about the Blue Jays’ Francisco Rosario, the reliever reported to be the subject of trade talks:
Once considered a high-upside guy, Francisco Rosario has had his share of arm troubles and has gotten older without the upside coming around, but he could be salvaged as a decent arm out of the bullpen if he maintains the uptick in control he experienced with Syracuse last year.
More observations and notes Cole Hamels gave up four home runs to the Red Sox on Friday night, but he didn’t look all that bad. The telling at-bat was when the lefty had Manny Ramirez in a 0-2 hole, seemingly had him struck out on a 1-2 curve before giving up a 3-2 homer that sailed over the right-field fence like a waffle ball gently clearing a hedge in a suburban yard.
Afterwards, Hamels said he was just working on some stuff.
“I'm just throwing pitches on counts that I normally wouldn't,” Hamels said, noting that he threw 20-plus pitches in each of the first two innings. “I think along the lines of throwing fastballs in fastball hitters’ counts, which is just something that will help me in the long run.”
*** This is the fourth season for Citizens Bank Park, which is one year more than the amount of time I spent covering games at the Vet… how did that happen? Regarding the Bank, I’ve received a number of e-mails from readers suggesting I post reviews of the cheese steaks and other concessions at the park. I assume these suggestions are serious so I’ll just start by noting that I’m one of those annoying vegetarians that leans toward the organic side of dining. That said, I was informed that Rick's Steaks, the cheese steakery located on Ashburn Alley now serves something they call a “veggie” cheese steak, which I assume is not a steak at all. Besides, all vegetarians want to eat food that almost tastes like dead animal carcasses. I assume my sarcasm font works…
Nevertheless, I will walk out to Rick’s and give it a try at some point and tell everyone all about it.
*** I just heard Gary Matthews work with Harry and Wheels for the first time...
*** If more evidence of the Philadelphia print media was needed, it seemed to be proven this week in its relative neglect of Ted Leo’s arrival in town to kick off his much-heralded tour of the U.S. and Europe. I say much-heralded based on the almost ridiculous amount of coverage for a performer of Leo’s ilk and political stance. Outlets like NPR produced long interviews and even presented a web cast of his show in Washington, D.C. on Thursday night, while the The New York Times, Washington Post, New York Observer, and The Onion AV Club (just to name a few) have offered glowing a full reports on the new album and tour.
Meanwhile in Philadelphia – hometown of sumptuously tufted drummer Chris Wilson – there are crickets. Actually, that’s not true or even fair. There were six or seven paragraphs in two of the town’s papers, which includes all the local shoppers and “alternative” weeklies.