National League independence

It seems like a long time since we were at ol’ Citizens Bank Park, but here we are on an easygoing Independence Day Friday. Depending on how quickly we get out of here tonight, I might roll by the Graff House as a little tribute to Thomas Jefferson (as well as John Adams and Benji Franklin) for the fantastic document they wrote here in Philadelphia back in the summer of 1776.

But more on the task at hand here at the Bank where the Phillies can seek their independence from the rest of the NL East with a good weekend against the Mets. In fact, there’s some talk in these parts that the Phillies can properly bury the Mets with a four-game sweep…

Perhaps, but there remains a ton of baseball left to be played. However, a sweep by the Phillies puts the Mets 8½ games back and increases the intensity of the bickering and fighting amongst members of the league’s most dysfunctional club.

Regardless, the Mets will trot out their top pitchers this weekend with Johan Santana working tonight, John Maine slated to go Saturday night, the delicate Oliver Perez set for Sunday, and Pedro Martinez in Monday night’s finale.

The Phillies counter with J.A. Happ in his second big-league start, followed by Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton.

Yes, with that lineup a sweep will be difficult.

But this ain’t APBA or Strat-O-Matic… let’s see what happens.

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Between the top and bottom of the first inning, the Phanavision showed Chris Wilson in the crowd. Chris Wilson, of course, is the excellent drummer for Ted Leo & the Pharmacists.

I’m sure I was the only person who picked up on the deserved celebrity of Chris Wilson…

That’s a damn shame.

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Finally, it’s a big night in Eugene for the Olympic Track Trials. In addition to the semifinals of the men’s 1,500-meters, Hayward Field will be blazed up for the finals of the women’s 5,000 meters and the men’s 10,000 meters.

Villanova’s Jen Rhines is a favorite to make her third straight Olympic team in the 5,000, while Millersville University’s James Carney is a legit darkhorse in the 10,000.

Maureen McCandless from Nazareth Academy had one of the fastest qualifying times in the 5,000 and should be a threat, too.

Apropos of that, the 2008 track Trials have been some of most entertaining ever. If you aren’t watching you are missing out.

When pelicans attack

PelicanThere is a story out there about how all sorts of crazy, goofy accidents have beset certain beat writers covering the Boston Red Sox. For instance, Seitaro Shimomura, who covers the Red Sox for the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, turned up late for a game against the Mets because a pelican flew into the windshield of his rental car.

I wonder if he bought the insurance.

Having just returned from Florida a week ago and seen some things up close, those pelicans look like they can do some damage. Pelicans are big, sturdy and have those tremendous beaks. The look mean, too, and if approached they spread their wings and stand on one foot like Daniel-san in The Karate Kid. My guess is if a pelican makes it through the windshield alive, look out – chances are it will peck your eyes out. Those things are like flying wolverines… pretty, elegant, wolverines.

While Shimomura nearly had his eyes gauged out and missed part of the Sox-Mets Grapefruit League game, the Providence Journal’s Joe McDonald had his laptop smashed to bits when a foul ball blasted into it. No big deal there, though. Foul balls fly into the press box and sometimes they hit computers. Sometimes those computers break. It happens every day, which is why baseball fans are lucky to even read one sentence about the local nine. It’s also why baseball writers are qualified to operate teletype machines at the regional Western Union office.

Also, if you ever need something notarized like a deed, a will or a marriage license, a baseball writer can handle that, too.

Anyway, a busted laptop – You know, no big whoop… we live in a land where laptops are easily replaced. Besides, it’s not like Joe was the victim of a pelican attack. Foul balls are hardly an “exclusive” in baseball, but a pelican attack is no laughing matter.

MandelbaumStill, these stories are only getting out there because it’s the Red Sox. Really, in Boston they cover the writers nearly as much as they cover the baseball team. They are really into navel gazing up there. After all, here in Philadelphia we have had a beat writer attacked by the Baltimore Oriole mascot [ed. note: it was the writer’s “special lady”]. Another guy (maybe the same dude) took a header between innings of a game at RFK when he dashed onto the field in some sort of Thomas Jefferson outfit. That was a crazy thing, yet no one talked about that. It happened and there were all sorts of witnesses, but it didn’t make the national Internets.

Nope, no one ever talked about those things.

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Wisconsin-ite Bon Iver plays tonight in Austin’s SXSW fest.

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There are about six weeks to go until the Pennsylvania Primary and I’m already tired of hearing the so-called pundits referring to the Commonwealth as “Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other and the rest is Alabama.” Come on… that’s just like those tired, old “booing Santa Claus” bits that folks like to trot out for Philadelphia. It’s so boring.

Please, from now on try referring to Pennsylvania as “Pennsyltucky.” It flows better.

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Hey! Do pushups. Also: If you are a distance man, don’t worry so much about stretching… unless it’s a quasi-regular yoga regime.