September 24 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin:
“NO, GENE, CHARLIE is not going to throw Hamels, Halladay and Oswalt on 3 days’ rest so they can wrap this thing up over the weekend. Don’t even think about it.
I know, I know, bleep happens. Guys steal home with Hall of Famers at-bat. Certain players spit the bit. Certain managers, too . . .
Heard from No. 4 on my iPad, but there was nary a post in my mailbox suggesting that Ruben Amaro Jr. must have had somebody attending class for him at Stanford because, how could anybody that stupid become a big-league general manager?
No frothing-at-the-mouth rants by the CliffLeeistas, either. Maybe it dawned on them that the All-Star lefthander’s recurring physical problems are tied to his 4-5, 4.10 ERA record since his trade from the going-nowhere Mariners to the runaway Rangers. But we can all dream about a late October matchup of Lee vs. Roy Halladay. What a morality play that would be.
No anonymous haters demanding that Raul Ibanez be released and delivered to the nearest old folks home, or maintaining that senile old Charlie Manuel has blown more games than any manager in Phillies history.
There is no diuretic more powerful than a 10-game winning streak climaxed by the early interment of the Braves. The flush that refreshes . . .
Oh, they’ll be back. Have no fear. The haters, I mean, not the Braves.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of Oswalt on July 29 for a generous package – J.A. Happ has been splendid for Ed Wade’s team – was the obvious rally-around-the-flag moment for a team beset by injuries, a flaccid offense and a bullpen in disarray. A note here: Starting with the club philosophy-altering signing of Jim Thome, Oswalt became the sixth star-level player acquired by GMs Wade, Pat Gillick and Amaro who actually wanted to play here. That includes Placido Polanco, who couldn’t wait to return to the team that traded him away for a setup reliever now living in confined quarters provided by Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Lee, Halladay and Oswalt all but wept with happiness. And when Lee learned he had been moved to Seattle, he reacted with the stunned look of a man who had just learned of a loved one’s death.
But a major league baseball season is like an artichoke with 162 layers, a surprise waiting under each.
The Phillies were just a couple of weeks removed from the World Series loss to the Yankees when superscout Charley Kerfeld reported from the Dominican Republic that a 32-year-old journeyman named Wilson Valdez would be worth signing as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ shortstop. And possibly as the insurance policy needed if Polanco or Chase Utley went down. The veteran with the split Anglo/Hispanic name (common in the DR – think Juan Samuel, Rico Carty, Robinson Tejeda, Ricardo Joseph) had played every position but pitcher and catcher during a career that has now spanned 1,027 minor league games. He has appeared in major league games for six teams and for 16 more minor league teams. The balletic shortstop who can flick rocket throws like a man throwing darts when necessary could wallpaper a large home with the stickers from his luggage.”
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