Rainy days and Mondays

Just sitting here waiting for the Phillies game to be called, though it appears as if they might wait for a long time despite the fact that the radar shows nothing but a huge mass of green covering the Eastern Seaboard.

Frankly folks, I’m against this invasion of our region of our country.

Nevertheless, chances are they will wait before calling the game because the San Diego Padres do not return to Philadelphia after Monday’s game. Finding a date in which to force the Padres back to Philly for one game will take some work.

So that’s why they’ll wait despite that green mass covering the map.

But remember back when they used to show the team’s yearly highlight films during rain delays? Sometimes they were better than the game itself and they definitely made the rain delay much more enjoyable.

These days though, they have shows to serve as filler, or viewers can just get up and go do something else during a delay. Back then we had the game and the highlight tape and that was it. Things might not have been better then, but we didn’t know – we liked anyway.

Speaking of rain delay highlights, how about that shot from Andre Iguodala last night? Crazy huh? At least the response to it on my mobile device was crazy. While walking to 30th Street Station for the ride home, the messages rolled in right on top of each other expressing amazement that Iguodala could make that shot and that the Sixers could rally from 18-points down.

I’m sure Marc Zumoff and Tom McGinness probably sounded a bit excited, though the guy doing the highlight below might have been brought in just for the taping:

*
Elsewhere, there was a pretty stellar Boston Marathon with two Americans finishing on the podium. Firstly, Ryan Hall closed hard, but finished in third place with a 2:09:41 clocking. For a first time run at Boston, that’s not bad.

Hall, 26, has run 2:06:17 in London, which is the fastest marathon time ever by a man born on U.S. soil. He also owns the American record in the half-marathon (59:43 in Houston) and clobbered the field in the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in November of 2007.

It’s not unreasonable to think that Hall could actually win one of the Marathon Majors (Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Berlin) in the very near future.

On the women’s side, 45-year old naturalized American Colleen De Reuck paced the pack through the early part of the race with Kara Goucher, who is off to a pretty good start to her marathon career.

After finishing ninth and 10th at the Beijing Olympics in the 10,000-meters and 5,000-meters, Goucher, 30, made the jump to the marathon where she ran an eye-popping 2:25:53 for third place in last November’s New York City Marathon. For an encore, she damn-near won the Boston Marathon.

Goucher ran with winner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia and Salina Kosgei of Kenya past Kenmore Square and actually had the lead with a half-mile to go. But down Boyleston Street, Merga and Kosgei kicked away with the Ethiopian winning by a stride in the closest finish ever.

Goucher was nine seconds back in 2:32:25.

It will be interesting to see if Hall and Goucher go back to Boston in 2010. If so, I’m going after them… OK, maybe not, but we’re going to go after something.

*
Oh yeah, game called… the Phillies will return to action on Tuesday night – weather permitting.

Just hanging out on a Tuesday night

OK, where do I start first – Phillies or the Olympics?

Phillies, right?

It certainly should be an interesting evening at the ol’ (new) ballpark tonight. Despite taking two of three from the lowly Padres, it seems as if the fans are restless and fed up with the Phillies’ offense. But make no mistake, Charlie Manuel isn’t too happy with it either.

How can he be? A nine-week slump with the bats just might be what the Mets need to capture the NL East. However, the Mets’ bullpen is a mess. Worse, it was that way before closer Billy Wagner went out with left elbow inflammation.

Nevertheless, this is a big stretch for the Phillies. With nine straight games at home, including three against the lowly Nationals starting tonight, the Phillies can cut into the Mets’ 1 ½ games lead in the NL East.

Then there is Jimmy Rollins…

Yeah, that whole situation nearly reached its apex this afternoon when the reigning NL MVP talked to a healthy media throng about the comments he made on the late-night cable TV program, “The Best Damn Sports Show, Period.”

There weren’t too many interesting revelations from that little powwow other than Rollins telling the press that the one thing he has learned this season is how important he is to the team.

Certainly Rollins is correct about that. During the last seven game road trip, the Phillies struggled to a 3-4 record and scored just 22 runs largely in part because Rollins did not get on base. During that stretch Rollins hit .167 and had an on-base percentage of .194.

Then again Rollins isn’t the only player struggling with the bat for the Phillies.

However, when asked if he regretted the comments he made on the TV show, Rollins had a quick reply:

“No, not at all.”

Without naming names, Rollins also pointed out that he took one for the team.

“I was speaking for a lot of guys,” he said.

So there’s that.

***
Meanwhile, in the Far East it was a pretty good day for the American women distance runners. In the qualifying heats of the women’s 5,000-meters at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, Shalane Flanagan followed up her recent bronze medal in the 10,000-meters by turning in a quick, 14:59.69 to advance to the 5,000 finals on Friday.

Villanova’s Jen Rhines also advanced with a 15:15.12 over the 3.1 miles, while Kara Goucher made it through with a 15:00.98. Goucher was disappointed with her 10th place finish in the 10,000 even though she ran a personal best time and says she turned her focus on the 5,000 when she realized that she wasn’t going to medal in the 10,000.

Nevertheless, if Goucher, Rhines or Flanagan are going to finish on the podium on Thursday, it will definitely take a personal-best time. Both Rhines and Goucher have run 14:55 in the distance, while Flanagan has the American record with 14:44. By comparison, there are eight women in the field of 15 who have run times faster than Flanagan’s American record.

Looking past Phelps: The epic Finger Food Olympic track preview

edited Aug. 14 @ 2:34 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time
edited Aug. 16 @ 4:58 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time

The Olympics has been a huge ratings bonanza for NBC and its web site, NBCOlympics.com. Certainly there are a lot of reasons for this such as the common sports fans’ disinterest in regular-season baseball and pre-season football; actual live coverage of big events, and of course all of the drama.

Certainly it doesn’t hurt to have Michael Phelps chasing Olympic history during the first week of the coverage. Nor does it hurt to have a rare interview with the President of the United States in China on a Sunday night in the summertime.

It’s almost as if NBC has a captive audience.

Nevertheless, it seems as if the schedule will break nicely for NBC because after the swimming winds down, the track & field programme will start this Thursday night in the Eastern Time Zone.

Needless to say there will be some huge differences in the competition in the swimming and track events. Aside from the obvious (one has water the other just sweat), the actual elements of Beijing will become a factor. While world-records fall in nearly every heat in the swimming programme because of the turbo-charged pool and technological advances of the sport, the runners on the track will be attempting to beat the heat.

And when the heat and humidity come into play, running becomes a war of attrition.

So when Michael Phelps wraps up his assault on the record books, NBC will have Tyson Gay, Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell in the 100-meter preliminaries beginning at 9:45 p.m. on Thursday.

If it isn’t enough to have the glamour event of track & field front and center on Day 1, the glamour event for distance geeks also gets going with the opening round qualifiers for the mile. Americans Bernard Lagat, a contender for the gold, as well as Lopez Lomong, the flag bearer for Team U.S.A. during the Opening Ceremonies, will be in action.

With the weather expected to turn warm this weekend in Beijing, the heat, humidity and air quality will be fairly significant. According to AccuWeather, the runners can expect temperatures in the 90s on Friday with a high UV index and humidity reaching over 60 percent. Fortunately, when the women toe the line in the 10,000-metre finals at 10:45 p.m. Beijing time, the cover of night should cool things down a bit.

It will be humid on Sunday morning (Saturday night for the U.S.) for the women’s marathon, though. Certainly, the women’s race will be a good chance for everyone to see just how much the pollution, fog, smog or whatever else they call it in Beijing, truly affects the athletes.

Anyway, here’s a little primer for the track events of the Beijing Olympiad, complete with short synopsis and predictions.

Hell, if Sports Illustrated can do it, why can’t I?

Women
(all times and dates are for the U.S. Eastern Time Zone)

100-meters
(Sunday, Aug. 17 – 10:25 a.m.)
With defending World Champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica not in the race, this one is poised to be a U.S. sweep.

1.)    Muna Lee, U.S.A.
2.)    Torri Edwards, U.S.A.
3.)    Lauryn Williams, U.S.A.

Results
Gold: Shelly-Ann Fraser, Jamaica
Silver: Sherone Simpson, Jamaica
Bronze: Kerrone Stewart, Jamaica

200-meters
(Thursday, Aug. 21 – 9:10 a.m.)
Undoubtedly this will be hyped as the duel between Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown and American Allyson Felix. In Athens Campbell-Brown won gold and Felix got silver. During the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Felix got gold and Campbell-Brown took silver. Whose turn is it in Beijing?

1.)    Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jamaica
2.)    Allyson Felix, U.S.A.
3.)    Kerron Stewart, Jamaica

Results
Gold: Campbell-Brown, Jamaica
Silver: Felix, U.S.A.
Bronze: Stewart, Jamaica

400-meters
(Tuesday, Aug. 19 – 10:10 a.m.)
Jamaican-born, U.S.-raised Sanya Richards has a lot to prove in this event. She finished fifth in the 2007 World Championships, ninth in the 2006 World Indoor Championships, second in the 2005 World Championships and sixth in the 2004 Olympics. Mixed in, Richards smashed the U.S. record for the event, swept the 2006 Golden League meets and won the 2006 World Cup and World Athletics meets. Meanwhile, her fiancé is New York Giants’ cornerback, Aaron Ross.

1.)    Sanya Richards, U.S.A.
2.)    Novlene Williams-Mills, Jamaica
3.)    Rosemarie Whyte, Jamaica

Results
Gold: Christine Ohuruogo, Great Britain
Silver: Shericka Williams, Jamaica
Bronze: Richards, U.S.A.

800-meters
(Monday, Aug. 18 – 9:35 a.m.)
Veteran Olympian Hazel Clark is the top U.S. runner in this event as well as a member of the legendary Clark family. Her sister is 800m legend Joetta Clark-Diggs, her sister-in-law is American record holder Jearl Clark and her father is Joe Clark, who was played by Morgan Freeman in the movie, Lean on Me. But Kenyan Pamela Jelimo has run five of the top seven times in the world this year.

1.)    Pamela Jelimo, Kenya
2.)    Janeth Jepkosgei, Kenya
3.)    Hasna Benhassi, Morocco

Results
Gold: Jelimo, Kenya
Silver: Jepkosgei, Kenya
Bronze: Benhassi, Morocco

1,500-meters
(Saturday, Aug. 23 – 7:50 a.m.)
Haddonfield, N.J. native Erin Donohue is the local favorite, though she will have a tough time making the finals. Shannon Rowbury of San Francisco is the top American miler, though she has her work cut out for her, too. Three runners stand out in this race, but which one will take gold is up for grabs.

1.)    Maryam Jamal, Bahrain
2.)    Geleta Burka, Ethiopia
3.)    Iryna Lishchynska, Ukraine

Results
Gold: Nancy Langat, Kenya
Silver: Lishchynska, Ukraine
Bronze: Nataliya Tobias, Ukraine

3,000-meters Steeplechase
(Sunday, Aug. 17 – 9:30 a.m.)
Recent U. of Michigan grad Anna Willard dominated the steeple in the Olympic Trials to set an American record. However, in international competition, Willard came in eighth in the heats of the 2007 World Championships. Willard will be easy to spot – she will probably color her hair pink, fuscia or electric blue. She will also be the one with U.S.A. on her jersey chasing the pack.

1.)    Yekaterina Volkova, Russia
2.)    Eunice Jepkorir, Kenya
3.)    Gulnara Galkina, Russia

Results
Gold: Galkina, Russia
Silver: Jepkorir, Kenya
Bronze: Volkova, Russia

5,000- meters
(Friday, Aug. 22 – 8:40 a.m.)
The U.S. has a solid team in the 5k with Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan and Villanova’s Jen Rhines. Goucher won the event in the Olympic Trials and set the American record in the half marathon in late 2007. Rhines is a three-time Olympian in three different events, and Flanagan might have been the top American distance runner heading into the Trials. Beginning in early 2007, Flanagan set the American record in the 3,000-meters, 5,000-meters and 10,000 meters. However, a bout of food poisoning she picked up Tuesday at the U.S. distance camp in Dalian, China could derail her chances. If food poisoning wasn’t bad enough, the U.S. team will face two of the best 5,000-meter runners in the world.

1.)    Meseret Defar, Ethiopia
2.)    Tirunesh Dibaba, Ethiopia
3.)    Vivian Cheruiyot, Kenya

Results
Gold: Dibaba, Ethiopia
Silver: Cheruiyot, Kenya
Bronze: Defar, Ethiopia

10,000-meters
(Friday, Aug. 15 – 10:15 a.m.)
Goucher and Flanagan double for the U.S. in the 10k with Amy Begley, the Trials’ Cinderella Story. Again, the issue will be how well Flanagan recovers from food poisoning and the strong Ethiopian and Kenyan teams.

1.)    Tirunesh Dibaba, Ethiopia
2.)    Mestawet Tufa, Ethiopia
3.)    Kim Smith, New Zealand

Results
Gold: Dibaba, Ethiopia
Silver: Elvan Abeylegesse, Turkey
Bronze: Flanagan, U.S.A.

Marathon
(Saturday, Aug. 16 – 7:30 p.m.)
Oh man… this one is deep and wide open. That’s especially the case when it was announced that defending Olympic champion Mizuki Noguchi dropped out this week with fatigue issues. Moreover, world-record holder Paula Radcliffe has missed significant training time because of a stress fracture in her left thigh suffered just three months ago. Radcliffe, of course, has won every major marathon she has entered except for the Olympics and seems determined to get after it this weekend. She reports that she feels “fresh” but “undertrained.” American-record holder and 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor is in the race looking to improve on her finish in Athens, while Kenyan star Catherine Ndereba (who used to train exclusively in Valley Forge, Pa.) aims to add another Olympic medal to an epic career.

Oh, there’s more. Ethiopians Gete Wami and Berhane Adere are gold-medal threats. Others to watch include Japan’s Reiko Tosa, and Russians Svetlana Zakharova and Galina Bogomolova.

Most notably, though, is China’s Zhou Chunxiu who has the distinct advantage of training on the course with all of the elements that could prove to be too much for the foreign runners.

Meanwhile, the forecast is calling for somewhat cool temperatures but 80 percent humidity. That means anything goes.

1.)    Paula Radcliffe, Great Britain
2.)    Zhou Chunxiu, China
3.)    Catherine Ndereba, Kenya

Results
Gold: Constintina Tomescu-Dita, Romania
Silver: Ndereba, Kenya
Bronze: Chunxiu, China

Men
(all times and dates are for the U.S. Eastern Time Zone)

100-meters
(Saturday, Aug. 16 – 10:30 a.m.)
Tyson Gay or Usain Bolt? Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay? Gay, Bolt or Asafa Powell? Either way, all three of the top contenders in the 100 have had the world-record for a bit in the past year. We give the advantage to Gay because he won’t run the 200 and can focus on one event.

1.)    Tyson Gay, U.S.A.
2.)    Usain Bolt, Jamaica
3.)    Asafa Powell, Jamaica

Results
Gold: Bolt, Jamaica
Silver: Richard Thompson, Trinidad and Tobago
Bronze: Walter Dix, U.S.A.

200-meters
(Wednesday, Aug. 20 – 10:20 a.m.)
With Gay out after pulling up with a hamstring injury during the Trials, it opens the door for Bolt to stake his claim. Watch out for Americans Shawn Crawford and NCAA Champ, Walter Dix.

1.)    Usain Bolt, Jamaica
2.)    Walter Dix, U.S.A.
3.)    Shawn Crawford, U.S.A.

Results
Gold: Bolt, Jamaica
Silver: Crawford, U.S.A.
Bronze: Dix, U.S.A.

400-meters
(Thursday, Aug. 21 – 8:55 a.m.)
Jeremy Wariner and LaShawn Merritt each have five of the best 10 times in the world this year. More interestingly, Wariner and Merritt have split their last 10 head-to-head meetings, with Merritt taking the past two. Wariner, though, as the defending Olympic Champ, might have the most to prove.

1.)    Jeremy Wariner, U.S.A.
2.)    LaShawn Merritt, U.S.A.
3.)    David Neville, U.S.A.

Results
Gold: Merritt, U.S.A.
Silver: Wariner, U.S.A.
Bronze: Neville, U.S.A.

800-meters
(Saturday, Aug. 23 – 7:30 a.m.)
People are still talking about the 800-meters finals from last month’s Olympic Trials where five men all finished within a second of each other for the three spots to go to Beijing. Christian Smith was the surprise member of the team after his dive at the tape past K.D. Robinson and Lopez Lomong punched his ticket. Needless to say, the mystery over the U.S. team remains. Nick Symmonds could surprise in Beijing because of his ability to start his kick from long range, while no one really knows how good Andrew Wheating is or can be. Wheating just finished his second year at Oregon and has only been running seriously for two years.

Be that as it is, the U.S. runners will have to perform just like they did in Eugene last month to be a factor. Besides, wouldn’t it be cool if a Sudanese runner took gold in China?

1.)    Abubaker Kaki-Khamis, Sudan
2.)    Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, South Africa
3.)    Wilfred Bungei, Kenya

Results
Gold: Bungei, Kenya
Silver: Ismail Ahmed, Sudan
Bronze: Alfred Kirwa Yego, Kenya

1,500-meters
(Tuesday, Aug. 19 – 10:50 a.m.)
The old glamour event on the track always excites. It might have lost some of its luster to the faster races, but the fields have always been deep, talented and the races exciting. This year will be no different, though an American could win gold for the first time since Mel Sheppard in the 1908 London Games.

1.)    Bernard Lagat, U.S.A.
2.)    Augustine Choge, Kenya
3.)    Abdalaati Iguider, Morocco

Results
Gold: Rashid Ramzi , Bahrain
Silver: Asbel Kiprop, Kenya
Bronze: Nicholas Willis, New Zealand

3,000-meter steeplechase
(Monday, Aug. 18 – 9:10 a.m.)
One of the more interesting athletes representing the U.S. this time around is Anthony Famiglietti, a New York-native who until recently trained exclusively in Brooklyn. And no, he didn’t train on the streets of New York City to better prepare him for the pollution of Beijing. Versatile and passionate as a runner, Famiglietti is more philosopher and scholar than quintessential jock. He also has been the producer and subject of two documentaries and is keeping a riveting video journal of his time in China for Runner’s World, including the latest installment where he tapes the Chinese security hiding in the bushes or sitting outside his room.

But Fam will be overmatched in Beijing. Actually, the entire field will be swimming in the wake of the Kenyan team. All that’s left to determine is what color the Kenyan’s medals will be.

1.)    Ezekiel Kemboi, Kenya
2.)    Brimin Kipruto, Kenya
3.)    Richard Matelong, Kenya

Results
Gold: Kipruto, Kenya
Silver: Mahiedine Mekhissi-B., France
Bronze: Matelong, Kenya

5,000-meters
(Saturday, Aug. 23 – 8:10 a.m.)
This was Steve Prefontaine’s signature distance, and the U.S. hasn’t had a contender close to challenging the world in the 5,000 since Pre’s run in Munich in ’72. Sure, Bob Kennedy surged to the lead with 300-meters to go in the 1996 finals in Atlanta, but was quickly swallowed up by the rest of the field to finish sixth. No American has medaled in the 5k since Jim Ryun got silver in 1968, while no American has won gold since Mel Sheppard in 1908.

However, all Bernard Lagat is missing for his medal collection in the 5,000 is the gold. In Beijing he is not only looking for gold in the 5,000, but also he’s attempting to pull off an incredible double in the 1,500 and 5,000.

Tall order.

Look out for Australian Craig Mottram… he’s tough as hell.

1.)    Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya
2.)    Bernard Lagat, U.S.A.
3.)    Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia

Results
Gold: Bekele, Ethiopia
Silver: Kipchoge, Kenya
Bronze: Edwin Soi, Kenya

10,000-meters
(Sunday, Aug. 17 – 10:45 a.m.)
edit: Haile Gebreselassie is on the official entry list from the IAAF for the 10,000-meters, an event in which he won gold in 1996 and 2000. However, though Gebreselassie says he’s fit and set for one more crack at the 10k gold, nagging injuries and the fact that he is racing in the Berlin Marathon in September doesn’t change my predictions submitted earlier.

But yes, Geb will be a factor.

It would seem as if the 10k would be wide open with all-time great Haile Gebreselassie out of the Olympics in order to lower his record in the marathon in Berlin. But even with the great Geb going after the money, the Ethiopian grip on the event is still strong. After all, the defending champ will return as the prohibitive favorite.

Kenenisa Bekele will be running for two in a row as well as for his fiancé, who died while out for a run with him. Bekele’s countryman, Sileshi Sihine, is also a contender. The American hope is Abdi Abdirahman, who will head to a third straight Olympics. But, “The Black Cactus” has not broken 27-minutes (no American has), which seems to be a prerequisite for winning an Olympic medal.

1.)    Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia
2.)    Sileshi Sihine, Ethiopia
3.)    Moses Masai, Kenya

Results
Gold: Bekele, Ethiopia
Silver: Sihine, Ethiopia
Bronze: Micah Kogo, Kenya

Marathon
(Saturday, Aug. 23 – 7:30 p.m.)
Edit: Robert Cheruyiot withdrew from the marathon with an undisclosed injury on Aug. 16. The Kenyan team replaced him with runner Luke Kibet. As a result, I changed my predictions to what is displayed. Originally I had chosen Cheruyiot for the silver.

The traditional last event of the Olympics could be the most thrilling. No, Gebreselassie is out and Paul Tergat of Kenya deferred to the younger, up-and-coming runners. But the race will feature some of the champions from the major marathons. Martin Lel of Kenya, who has won three out of the last four London marathons and the last New York City Marathon, is the favorite. Countryman Robert Cheruyiot, the winner of four of the last five Boston marathons and the 2006 Chicago Marathon can run in all sorts of conditions as evidenced by his win in Boston in ’06.

Deribe Merga (2:06:38) and Tsegaye Kebebe (2:06:40) of Ethiopia will be threats, as well as Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru (2:05:24), who lost to Lel in London last April and holds the world record in the half-marathon.

Meanwhile, defending Olympic champ Stefano Baldini of Italy will toe the line along with two-time New York champ Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa and Abderrahim Goumri (2:05:30) of Morocco.

But all eyes will be on the baby-faced, blonde-haired kid from California.

Ryan Hall has been called everything from the “future of American running,” to a serious contender for gold in Beijing. Both seem true. Based on the story in the most recent issue of The New Yorker, Hall will is headed to Beijing prepared to be in the mix the entire race. His 2:06 in London last April was groundbreaking, but is it enough to put him with the elite of the elite?

Meanwhile, Americans Dathan Ritzenhein and Pennsylvanian Brian Sell have legitimate shots to finish in the top 10. For a runner like Sell, who is quasi-local, a top 10 finish in the Olympic marathon is mind-boggling.

1.)    Martin Lel, Kenya
2.)    Sammy Wanjiru, Kenya
3.)    Ryan Hall, U.S.A.

Results
Gold: Wanjiru, Kenya
Silver: Jaouad Gharib, Morocco
Bronze: Tsegay Kebede, Ethiopia

Sounds like a broken record

Needless to say, there will be a lot of attention given to Kris Benson’s outing for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on Sunday afternoon. Though it’s unlikely that the outcome of the start will be much more than a warm up for Benson’s long rehabilitation, count on a bunch of the Phillies’ brass taking meticulous notes on every pitch.

As it turns out, it seems as if the team is looking for a starter.

At least that sounds like the case based on the quotes coming from Arlington, Texas after Opening Day starter Brett Myers tossed up another clunker on Friday night. Actually, the latest stinker might be the one that officially put the portly righty on notice. In just two innings Myers threw 66 pitches, gave up five hits, five runs, four walks and blew a four-run lead.

But wait, it gets worse…

In Myers’ last 12 starts the Phillies are 1-11, including losses in the last five straight. With a 3-9 record and 5.84 ERA, Myers has allowed fewer than four runs in just seven starts. He’s allowed less than three runs in just three starts, which isn’t bad when one considers that Myers is averaging just a little more than five innings per start.

Yet it was the two-inning clunker – one in which he walked three straight despite working with a four-run lead in the third inning – that finally made manager Charlie Manuel post an opening for Myers’ spot in the rotation.

“Can I say his job is secure?” Manuel told the scribes in Texas. “I don’t know what to say, if you want to know the truth. We’d have to find somebody to do his job first, I guess.”

In other words, if the Phillies had someone better Myers wouldn’t be going out there anymore. Really, how tough is it for a guy when he knows that the only reason the team continues to give him the ball is because they don’t have anyone else?

Myers must know what time it is based on how he reportedly busted it out of the ballpark without talking to the writers after the game. Typically a stand-up and an accountable guy when it comes to talking to the press about his job, Myers must figure that he doesn’t have anything new to say.

What else can he say?

What else can he do?

And what happens to Myers if the Phillies find someone better?

Here is the most telling quote from the manager as it appeared in The Inquirer:

“We’re trying to get him right,” Manuel said. “Myers’ best year is 14-9 as a starter [in 2003]. You stop and think about it, that’s not lighting it up. I mean, look, that’s not what you call a huge season. He’s had some bumps. He’s had moments on the mound where he’s had some struggles.

“Our expectation of Myers was always an 18-, 20-game winner. I said before the season started that in order for us to win, we needed 16 to 20 wins out of [Cole Hamels and Myers]. That’s kind of how we always evaluated him. His talent has always been there. Right now, things aren’t going too well for him. He’s having trouble.”

As a starter Myers had been very consistent in being inconsistent. In his four full seasons as a starter, Myers topped 200 innings once and never won more than 14 games.

Maybe he’s proving that he really belongs back in the bullpen.

***
If you missed the women’s 10,000 meters in the Olympic Trials last night, I bet you’re kicking yourself now. Described as a race that was at least four competitions in one, the Olympic qualifier had a virtuoso performance from Shalane Flanagan, a solid effort from Kara Goucher and drama galore when Amy Begley edged Katie McGregor for the last spot on the team.

But just barely.

Flanagan, the American record holder in the event, and Goucher ran away from the pack to finish in the first two spots, while Begley and McGregor dueled it out for the last spot for a trip to Beijing.

Only Begley and McGregor weren’t racing against each other – well, kind of, but not exactly. You see, to run in the Olympics an athlete needs to meet a qualifying standard of 31:45 for the 10K. If the top three runners don’t have the required time by the end of the trials race, the next best finisher with the standard makes the team.

So with Flanagan, Goucher and McGregor three of the four runners in the race with the qualifying standard met in a previous race, Begley spent most of the race one place ahead of McGregor watching the clock and running for her life. After the race she said she spent the last two laps doing math and running as fast as should could while holding out hope that she could squeeze in ahead of McGregor and under 31:45.

With a crazy sprint to the finish line and a last lap of 67.3, Begley made it under the standard by 1.4 seconds.

Then she collapsed on the track.

McGregor, conversely, finished in the worst spot possible for a trials race by coming in fourth. Worse, it was the second straight Olympic Trials in which she finished fourth in the 10,000 meters.