We’ll burn that bridge when we cross it

It will be interesting to see what the Phillies do with their bench when Jayson Werth is ready to return. Interesting, I guess, in what it means for Chris Coste. Coste, of course, is owner of the best story going on in baseball and has contributed greatly not only to the Phillies’ playoff run last year, but also to this year’s charge as well.

Yet for whatever reason the Phillies’ brass – namely general manager Pat Gillick and his assistant Ruben Amaro – don’t seem to like Coste. Why? Good question. Maybe it’s because he sticks at it when everyone else would have quit a long time ago. Or maybe Amaro prefers players from big-time college programs that make it to the Majors on reputation and bounce around for nearly a decade and post less than mediocre numbers?

Whatever the reason, another trip back to the minors doesn’t seem fair for Coste. In his last four games last week Coste went 3-for-6 with a homer and seven RBIs. In July, Coste is hitting .343 in 13 games.

Conversely, Rod Barajas, the backup catcher who came in as a backstop to handle the bulk of the work for $3 million, hasn’t had a hit in more than two weeks and is 3-for-16 this month.

Sounds like manager Charlie Manuel has more confidence in a minor-league lifer making the league minimum as opposed to a guy making big, free-agent money. Worse, the Phillies have a .332 career hitter and they might not want him.

Either way it seems as if Coste is like ice cream and what weirdo doesn’t like ice cream?

***
With the non-waiver trading deadline set for tomorrow at 4 p.m., perhaps the Phillies will deal Coste for some pitching. At least then he would be going to a team that actually wants him. More importantly, the Phillies really, really need pitching with Ryan Madson headed for the disabled list and big holes in the starting rotation.

So far all we have are rumors – and it looks like I added to it by invoking Coste’s name – and nothing concrete. The rumor mill seems to be a cottage industry in the sports reporting business these days. Everyone loves reading about things that may or might not be happening or even true for some reason and there are a lot of people out there who have made careers about spreading disinformation.

It’s information, but it’s not really information. Like junk food… you know, what Ken Rosenthal does…

Wait, was that my out loud voice again?

Anyway, rumors bore me, especially when it’s so easy to find out facts and truth. But then again I’m a really bad sports fan so there you go.

I’ll give you this, though – call it a secret of the trade: if you read one of those rumors where it’s prefaced with the phrase, “sources say,” it’s a load of crap. The so-called “source” is probably a guy hanging around the press box or something.

Man, do those sources like to talk and boy or boy do they ever come in handy.

***
The Phillies head to Chicago for four days to face the surging Cubs at Wrigley Field tonight. The consensus around the press box is that Chicago is the favorite stop on the circuit and Wrigley, despite its not-so modern amenities, is everyone’s favorite ballpark.

Perhaps Chicago is best described as, “kind of like New York, but clean.”

I think of it like Japan where they take all of the good ideas from everyone else and make it look nicer. In Chicago they did it with pizza, too. New York pizza is far superior to the Chicago style, but they made it just a tad more interesting in The Windy City.

Either way, it will be a fun-filled four days for the scribes before heading off to Milwaukee for the weekend.

***
The Tour de France finally (and mercifully) came to a close yesterday with Alberto Contador called the winner and his Discovery Channel teammate and American Levi Leipheimer 31 seconds behind in third place.

(If anyone remembers — and who wouldn’t? — I predicted a Leipheimer victory in the Tour over Vinokourov and Sastre.)

Certainly it appears as if the real drama in cycling will occur between now and the next Tour de France as the cycling union, anti-doping agencies and Amaury Sports Organization (the company that owns both the Tour de France and the newspaper, L’Equipe) pick at the carcass of the sport to gain total control.

It’s not going to be pretty.

Either way, the telecast of the Tour ended in a rather apropos manner yesterday when Lance Armstrong, with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen in Paris, departed the air and seemingly took the video along with him.

Yeah, that’s right, the last miles of the Tour were coming to a head and no one in the United States could see it.

Meanwhile it’s worth noting that Armstrong is in Paris celebrating with his Discovery Channel team and Floyd Landis is in Vail, Colo. preparing for the big race in the Leadville 100 on Aug. 11.

That race, friends, is going to be the highlight of cycling in 2007.

***
Needless to say, Armstrong’s appearance on the telecast of yesterday’s final day of the Tour was interesting. Perhaps the comment most intriguing (to me) was when Lance was asked what he missed the most about professional cycling. He told Liggett and Sherwen that he missed being “super fit” and the training lifestyle, which he compared to being monastic in that all one did was ride, eat and sleep. But he didn’t miss racing, which makes sense to me… training like hell is a blast, but the pressure of competing can be a drag sometimes. I imagine the pressure for Armstrong was pretty intense.

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