Asher Chancey and I are both Featured Columnists covering the Philadelphia Phillies for Bleacher Report.
As we quickly learned upon meeting one another and becoming acquainted with each other's perspectives on the Phillies and sports in general, there is very little we agree on.
From Ryan Howard to the Phillie Phanatic, to Mike Schmidt to Richie Ashburn, ask these two guys a question, and chances are we'll disagree.
In honor of our bipolar views on the world of sports, we present the second installment of The Philadelphia Feud, a weekly feature in which we face off to debate hot topics from the Phillies, the NL East, Major League Baseball, and the world of sports.
Away we go.
Question: Should the Phillies bring up Dominic Brown now?
No, absolutely not. The Phillies, unlike their NL East counterparts, have a lineup filled with veteran, high-quality hitters. Even if Brown were to come up and play well, his mere presence wouldn’t help guys like Howard, Utley, and Werth snap out of their prolonged slumps.
Besides, it would be totally unfair to give Brown the burden of leading the Phillies back to the postseason. He doesn’t need that kind of pressure. Expect him to play a big part in the Phils plans for 2011, but right now we should just be hoping that Brown can sustain his minor league success through the remainder of 2010.
Domonic Brown is killing it in Double-A this season, and he has a very exciting future with Philadelphia Phillies. With Jayson Werth in a contract year and Raul Ibanez playing like the end is near, it is nice to know that the Phillies will have options.
On the other hand, why don’t we see if Domonic can hack it at Triple-A before jumping him to the majors. There is no hurry—the Phils won’t likely need him this season—and jumping him a level could screw up his development. I say, move him to Triple-A and look for him in spring training in 2011.
Question: How much blame should Charlie Manuel (and Milt Thompson) get for Phillies’ hitting slump?
You don’t blame managers or hitting coaches when batters go into slumps, but the longer a slump lasts, the more they deserve to be blamed for failing to break the team out of a slump. That said, the Phillies have weathered a massive slump, and frankly there are only so many places to point the finger. Thompson and Manuel are two of those places.
Very, very little. A coach is only as good as his players. When the Phillies win, I don’t give much credit to the coaching. When the Phillies lose, I think the players deserve almost all of the blame.
These 2010 Phillies would be underachieving if Bobby Cox were their manager. Similarly, this group of players would have won a world series if Terry Francona we’re its manager. Plus, I’ve been too disgusted with Utley and Howard’s pathetic at-bats over the last five weeks to even think about blaming Charlie or Milt.
Question: When will you start worrying about these Phillies, if you haven’t already?
I don’t know when it will be time to worry, but right now is absolutely not that time.
Losing two out of three to Minnesota this weekend was a totally colossal disappointment. But the fact that the Phillies are currently in third in the NL East is completely irrelevant.
The Phils still have 21 games left against the Mets and Braves. 21!!! Ultimately, the Phillies fate will be determined by how they do against those teams, so just sit tight. Let’s not forget that this time last year the Phillies had just been swept AT HOME by the Blue Jays and Orioles. It’s still only June.
I should have written an article that I had an idea for going into the New York Yankees series. Basically, I decided that the Yankees series would foretell the remainder of the season: if the Phillies managed to sweep the series, then we’re still the best team in the NL. If the they took two of three from the Yanks, then they were out of our slump and ready to get back on track.
If they won only one game, then it was time to worry, and if they got swept, the season was over.
So, I was ready to get worried this week but, fortunately, it didn’t happen.
Question: Why do the Phillies always stink in interleague play?
You know, for a team that has “an American League lineup,” it’s funny how badly the Phillies do against AL teams. It is probably rather straight-foward: the NL does not do well against the AL generally speaking, and frankly the Phils always seem to draw the class of the AL.
What’s it take to get a series against the Orioles?
The Phillies have always been really lousy in interleague play, as specifically well-documented in the past few seasons, mainly because they have had the misfortune of playing predominantly the AL East since interleague began in 1997.
For example, the Phillies are 4-14 against Boston since 2004.
Isn’t it annoying how the 2010 Phillies have to play four interleague series against the AL East, while the rest of their divisional foes get treated to a ton of games against the largely weak AL Central?
Phillies-Red Sox simply creates more of a “buzz” than Phillies-Royals. For MLB, it’s all about the ratings, but that’s nothing new.
Question: Who has a better chance of winning their division: Reds or Padres?
Padres. Cardinals will beat out the Reds for the NL Central since St. Louis has much better starting pitching and Matt Holliday has finally shown signs of breaking out of his season-long slump. St. Louis will win the division easily.
The Padres have a much better chance of winning the NL West because of their pitching, particularly at home. The Giants, Rockies, and Dodgers all questionable offensively. Also, San Diego’s opposition is being stupid enough to actually pitch to Adrian Gonzalez, who should be getting the Barry Bonds Treatment.
Mathematically, the Padres, because they only have to beat four other teams (see previous Asher rantings on this issue).
Kidding aside, it is the Reds. The Padres are having a fine season, but there are three teams in the NL West that could turn it on in the second half and the Padres would finish the season 20 games out of first place.
Meanwhile, the only competition the Reds will face in the NL Central is the St. Louis Cardinals, and despite Albert Pujols the Reds matchup very well against the Cards.
Question: True or false. The NY Mets will finish in second place in the NL East. If false, where will they finish?
False. The Mets will be lucky to finish third. The first place finisher in the NL East will be either the Braves or the Phillies, with the other team finishing in second place and winning the wild card. The Washington Nationals are going to have a brilliant second half and finish in third place, while the Marlins and Mets will battle for fourth place.
Even with Carlos Beltran returning in the second half, the Mets will finish third while the Braves and Phillies will battle for first place. New York has really overachieved to this point. R.A. Dickey 5-0?
The Mets 24-10 home record is an aberration, and their still not a good road team at just 15-20 (after going 6-0 against MLB bottom-feeders Baltimore and Cleveland). Over the years the Mets have had a knack for coming up small late in the season, and it’s only a matter of time before it happens again in 2010.
Question: Most underrated first basemen in baseball? Joey Votto or Billy Butler?
Billy Butler. He might be the best hitter in baseball that no one knows about. While the 24-year-old Butler has been totally buried in Kansas City, people are starting to take notice of Votto (as a rookie, Votto also had a three-HR game in 2008 which got him a little of attention).
Votto is currently No. 5 in first baseman all-star voting, while Butler isn’t even in the top five in his league in that category (not like that’s surprising). Votto is the better player right now, but Butler is more underrated
Well, the better player is definitely Votto, but I also think people are learning about Votto more and more each day. Meanwhile, Butler is stuck in Kansas City hitting in near anonymity. He has a .338 batting average, an OPS near .900, and 22 doubles playing for a team that is right at the league average for runs scored per game.
Question: What pitcher's record is more surprising? Kevin Millwood 1-8 or Carlos Silva 8-2?
It is definitely Carlos Silva. This is a guy who has been positively awful for the last four years, giving up tons of hits, tons of home runs, and striking out no one. This season, his hits per nine innings are a career low, his home runs are down, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is the second best of his career, while pitching in a pitcher’s park no less.
Meanwhile, Kevin Millwood has never been consistent and has the bad fortune of pitching for the Orioles; his 5.16 ERA is the same as his full season ERA from 2007.
Kevin Millwood. Milwood (last pitched for the Phils in ’04) was supposed to be the veteran ace of an Orioles team that I expected to finish fourth in the AL East instead of with the worst record in baseball.
Carlos Silva on the other hand, who last pitched for the Phillies in 2003, had been a respectable starter for the Twins from ‘04-’07 before tanking the last two years in Seattle. Silva’s success once again proves how much easier it is pitching in the NL as opposed to the AL.
Millwood has won at least nine games in nine straight years, but now he’ll be lucky to finish with four wins in 2010.
Question: Is soccer poised to replace ice hockey as the fourth-most popular sport in the U.S., if it hasn’t already?
I’m not a fan of either sport, but soccer will surpass hockey in popularity in the U.S by the end of the decade.
This year’s World Cup ratings have exploded. During the first weekend, the audience numbers for the first five games for the 2010 World Cup on ESPN were twice as high as those from four years ago during the 2006 World Cup
NHL ratings have steadily improved after the ’04-’05 strike season, but that won’t be enough to prevent soccer from surpassing hockey in the U.S. by 2020.
Soccer had its chance to forge a place in the American sports pantheon in 1994, when for one month World Cup soccer took center-stage in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, the World Cup final featured Brazil and Italy to a scoreless tie, and the match was decided by penalty kicks. Soccer in the United States never recovered from the let-down of 90 straight minutes of scoreless soccer followed by the anachronistic penalty-kick tie-breaker.
NHL Hockey is not taking the country by storm, but it has nothing to fear in regard to soccer.
Question: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” replaced Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” at the Belmont Stakes a few weeks ago. Now Jay-Z allegedly wants the Yankees to follow suit? Should “Empire State of Mind” replace “New York, New York,” as the pinstripes “themesong?”
As tacky as it is for Jay-Z to lobby for the honor, I think it could be time. Sinatra’s tune is a classic, and frankly the thought of replacing a classic like “New York, New York” with something from the contemporary hip-hop scene makes me ill.
At the same time, “Empire State of Mind” is probably one of the top ten radio-airplay hip-hop tracks of the last ten years, and is actually an incredibly wonderful song that is simply moving and inspiring. Alicia Keyes and Jay-Z are both from New York, and their ode to the city is an appropriate theme-song for the city’s greatest team.
NO. History and tradition are huge parts of sports. Love them or hate them, for better or worse, the Yankees have been a big part of American history as professional sports' most recognizable, successful (and most hateful) franchise.
“New York, New York” is a part of the Yankees.
I’m all for “Empire State…” being played in the stadium prior to a Yankee game, but in no way should it replace Sinatra as the soundtrack of the Yanks.
Sorry Jay-Z, you can go pound sand. Plus, the title isn’t even original, clearly ripped off of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”