Third inning: Shhhhh! Don’t jinx it

I often wonder what went on in big-league press boxes before there was a such a thing as the Internet. From what I’m told the press box was a lot more animated and adversarial.

As if that’s not the case now.

Perhaps without the Internet, the public relations staff would be busier looking up stats and trends and that kind of stuff, but these days it’s all a mouse click away. So with a second weekend of day-night action, the scribes are about to visit their Facebook pages while simultaneously keeping an eye on their Fantasy Football matchups.

It should be noted that my team is beating all that is holy out of the team owned by Marcus Hayes. However, Marcus has DeSean Jackson and Wes Parker remaining in order to make up the 40-point deficit. I’m fresh out of players after benefitting from a stellar outing by a guy named E. Graham of Tampa Bay.

Nope, I don’t pretend to be an expert.

Meanwhile, bulldog scribe Mike Radano of the Courier Post just handed out the cards for the no-hitter pool. What happens is whenever a pitcher carries a no-no past the third inning, Mike hands out specific cards to 10 people for $5 apiece. If a card matches with the corresponding spot in the lineup of the player who busts up the no-hitter, the card holder takes home the loot.

If a pitcher goes on to toss the no-hitter, the person holding the King is the big winner.

For the record, Ken Mandel of Phillies.com won when Kevin Millwood threw his no-hitter.

OK… here comes the jinx – Brett Myers has a no-hitter through three innings. In the third he walked Craig Counsell to start the inning, but quickly erased him by coaxing a 6-4-3 double play. Jeff Suppan grounded out to end the inning.

Myers has thrown 30 pitches without a strikeout to get his goose eggs.

Soeaking of goose eggs, the Phillies just posted their first one of the game in the third. However, Ryan Howard kept the grounded-into-double-play streak alive for a third inning in a row.

Phillies 4, Brewers 0

Nothing to see here except for everything

By the time the Olympics end, chances are the story of the American murdered at the Drum Tower on will be lost beneath an avalanche of stories about Michael Phelps, Dara Torres, Tyson Gay and the rest of the probable heroes of the Beijing Games.

But that’s a shame. Todd and Barbara Bachman, both 62, parents of the wife of volleyball head coach Hugh McCutcheon, were stabbed by a Chinese national on Saturday. Todd Bachman died and his wife sustained what were described as life-threatening injuries. Their daughter, Elizabeth Bachman McCutcheon, an Olympian volleyball player in the 2004 Games in Athens, witnessed the entire tragedy, which included the alleged murderer’s leap to his death from 130-feet from the tower.

Reports are that the man was wearing a red shirt and laid on the ground, face down, for two hours before he was removed from the scene.

More strangely, American writers were on the scene covering the murder in great detail before sending the stories back to their papers and onto the World Wide Web. But reports are that the Chinese government made no mention that anything happened on the state-run news broadcasts.

As far as the Chinese government was concerned, nothing happened.

For us, Phil Sheridan and Marcus Hayes delivered riveting accounts of the scene and circumstance of the tragedy. In a time of anguish and despair, Marcus and Phil stepped up.

Read the accounts:

Phil Sheridan: Fatal China stabbing raises questions

Marcus Hayes: Thunderous Silence

***
Meanwhile, back to the relative tranquility of the United States…

Back in 1984 in the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C., I stepped onto an elevator with Robin Roberts. We chatted about the Olympics, which was topical since the L.A. Games were approaching and since he was working for USA Baseball as a consultant. The next time I had a chance to talk to Roberts was tonight just as the Phillies were starting the game against the Pirates.

Twenty-four years between chats is too long.

Anyway, aside from the talk about the 1950 baseball season and his ability to pitch nine innings seemingly every time he took the mound, I asked Roberts about that 1984 Olympic team.

“Man, we had some good players,” he said.

They sure did. Mark McGwire, Will Clark, Barry Larkin, B.J. Surhoff and a catcher from Philadelphia named John Marzano took the silver in the first year baseball was re-introduced to the Olympics.

Strangely, the next time I talked to Roberts about Olympic baseball was before the last time the sport will be a part of the Olympic program.

Talk about the circle of life…

Regardless, seeing Roberts wasvery fun. I even wrote about it.

Baseball fans should treasure guys like Roberts for as long as they can.

***
Coming tomorrow in full, blow-by-blow detail:

Charlie vs. Myers.

Don’t mess with Charlie.

Plus, Kobe, LaBron and Darfur.

All Brett, all the time

I have a theory. No, it’s not the one where I offered that everyone, at one point or another, has dined on a loogie at a restaurant. This new theory is totally different and much less solid than my other theory.

This one has to do with Brett Favre and ESPN, which based on the recent wall-to-wall coverage of all things Favre and the Packers, is almost like eating a loogie in a TV viewing sense.

Anyway, my theory is since the Olympics are set to begin and NBC has decided to devote 23 ½ hours of its programming per day to Olympics coverage, the so-called World Wide Leader is going to the dance without a date… so to speak. ESPN/ABC cannot show the Olympics – they can only attend and cover it like everyone else. So to turn away heads from the biggest sporting event in the world this year, ESPN has barraged the sports-viewing public with “All Brett, All the Time.”

No, I don’t think it’s anything as sinister as choosing to report a less important story. After all, the Olympics haven’t even started yet. However, a lot of newspapers have sent teams of writers to China to cover one of the more mystifying and intriguing set of Games in a long time. From what I recall, there was no such intrigue regarding the Olympics in Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney or Athens.

China, to those of us in the West, is still mysterious. That’s especially the case when one takes in account the political, social, environmental and human rights concerns. For Americans it’s kind of odd that we actually have someone to look down upon in those regards, but there China is, anchoring an entire continent with its sprawling landscape that is becoming more and more developed by the day.

Think oil prices are high now? Wait until the Chinese citizens in the outer provinces put down the bikes and get cars.

So with the writers heading for the Far East, the MLB season entering the so-called dog days and the football season still a month away, why wouldn’t ESPN try a little misdirection? It’s as if they are screaming, “Hey, don’t look at the biggest sporting event in the world – you know, the one where we are not the rights’ holders. Look over here – to Wisconsin, U.S.A. That’s where the real story is. Come watch.”

And like the Chinese government, ESPN adds, “If you choose not to, we will make you.”

OK, it’s just a theory. There are more holes in this argument than Swiss cheese, but it’s out there nonetheless.

Speaking of out there, my friend and all-around swell guy (and ex-Phillies writer), Marcus Hayes, is in China for the Olympics. He arrived Tuesday at 2 p.m., which was 2 a.m. Tuesday morning here on the East Coast… or 2 a.m. tomorrow — time zones always mess me up. Chances are he’s pretty jet lagged.

Nevertheless, Marcus will be updating a blog (do people even use that word anymore… seems outdated to me) for the Daily News and I suggest everyone read it.

OR ELSE!

Seriously, it might be the second or third place I go when I make my rounds through the Internets every morning. Meanwhile, I had hoped to do one of those Slate.com-esque e-mail exchange columns with Marcus and the Inquirer’s Phil Sheridan, but it seems as if they are going to be too busy.

Instead I’ll just tune in to the 23 ½ hours of daily coverage and write about it here.

In the meantime, Marcus reported that he made it to Beijing after a 14-hour flight. In response to an e-mail where I told him I was envious that he got to go to the Olympics and I get to go to Citizens Bank Park, our hero wrote, “You wouldn’t be so envious if you just spent 4 hours sitting across from a smelly Latvian with 4 spiked hairs.”

See, Beijing isn’t all that different than Philadelphia.

He also reported that he cannot read his own site because it has been blocked by the Chinese government.

Anyway, I told Marcus that it would not surprise me if he went to China and an international incident occurred. Marcus Hayes in China just screams “international incident.”

Better yet, remember Christopher Walken’s character in The Deer Hunter? You know, he went to Vietnam and never made it back because he went AWOL from a hospital in Saigon in order to play Russian roulette for money… for some reason I foresee a similar fate for Marcus.

OK, back to the Brett Barrage, which is kind of like Russian Roulette but only brain cells are in danger.

Read: Marcus Hayes’ Olympic Proportions site