See Ya, George

If you haven’t heard it yet, I regret to inform you that one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th and 21st centuries has died. From Yahoo! via Reuters:

[George] Carlin, who had a history of heart and drug-dependency problems, died at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica about 6 p.m. PDT (9 p.m. EDT) after being admitted earlier in the afternoon for chest pains, spokesman Jeff Abraham told Reuters.

I have never been one to idolize people. I didn’t idolize my parents or any relatives or friends, and certainly never any celebrities, even athletes. The one exception, though, was George Carlin. I would be willing to wager that, aside from my mother, Carlin has had the single greatest influence on my life. A lot of my philosophies were sparked by watching Carlin’s stand-up routines, reading his books, and reading/listening to his interviews.

Carlin is a big reason why I became an atheist, and why I don’t vote, and why I will always question authority figures. I regret to think of what my life would be like had I never been introduced to Carlin’s work. I’m sure Carlin reached millions of other people just as he did with me, and there is no question that he has had a remarkable influence on American society from the 1960′s until the late 2000′s.

If you’re not familiar with Carlin, I urge you to familiarize yourself with his work. His last book, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? is a comedic gold mine. He has a ton of CD’s and DVD’s of his stand-up material, none of which is dull and unfunny. I suggest the DVD George’s Best Stuff, a compilation of his well-known bits.

Normally, I wouldn’t blog about the death of a celebrity because, well, that’s life, but I feel the need to share the huge impact he had on my life and urge my readers to experience the refreshing rush of rationality that Carlin brought with his material. Carlin exemplified everything that was right with American society and exposed what was wrong.

It’s a shame because there doesn’t appear to be any performers out there willing to take the torch, so to speak. Bill Maher comes the closest, but he doesn’t come close to Carlin.

To relate this to sports, being that Crashburn Alley is a sports blog, here is a clip of his bit, “Baseball vs. Football.”

Oh, Philly fans…

Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News (don’t worry, I think he’s one of the good guys) has a great column on Pat Burrell, aptly titled, “Stats show Pat Burrell’s been steady since 2000.” As if to prove Bob Costas and Buzz Bissinger right about comments left on articles on the Internet, the commenters on Hoffman’s piece have come out to display some of the most mind-numbing ignorance I’ve read in a while.

While quoting and critiquing comments is a waste of time and doesn’t have anywhere near as much importance as doing the same to a member of the MSM, I think it’s a good look into what the average Phillies fan really thinks of Burrell and how they really think about baseball. Without further ado, I’ll quote some gems in the comments.

let us not forgot the huge slumps and lack of clutch hits we become accumstomed too over the last 8 years.

Burrell’s career OPS, first half: .852

…career OPS, second half: .869

…March/April: .881

…May: .930

…June: .770

…July: .856

…August: .896

…September/October: .826

His overall career OPS is .859, so we can see that only May and September are clearly below, and July is just around it. He had a really bad first half last season, and his entire 2003 season was awful, but the numbers clearly show that Burrell is pretty consistent month-to-month.

What the stats don’t show is the amount of men on base in Burrell’s career

Plate appearances with runners in scoring position: 1,577.

OPS with RISP: .866

Would you say Ryan Howard is having a great year? If just look at this RBI and homers you would say “yes.”

I don’t think anyone will argue that, at this point in the 2008 season, Ryan Howard is having a great season. However, he’s made some vast improvements considering how awfully he started the season.

if Howard were just batting a marginal .260 with only 20 less strikeouts (which would still put him near the league lead in KO’s) he probably have 20-25 more RBI’s and the team a couple more wins.

Yes, you read that right. This person thinks that for every strikeout you don’t have, you get 1 or 1.25 more RBI as a result.

What I want broken down is Burrell stats in clutch positions. RISP, with two strikes, did the majority of home runs and RBI’s come with the Phillies having a substantial lead in the game.

At least he asked, instead of making baseless assumptions as most Phillies fans do when it comes to Burrell. His OPS with RISP is above.

OPS w/ two strikes: .619 (Derek Jeter, Mr. Clutch, has a .652 OPS with two strikes; most players do not have great success with two strikes)

The rest of his clutch statistics can be found here. Notice that they’re all around the same area — very little deviation. His worst OPS is in tie games (.819) and his best OPS is, oddly enough, when there are two outs and RISP (.885).

I just want a player who is consistent even if they produce less runs.

Wow. This borders on a Joe Morgan level of ignorance. At least he spelled “consistent” correctly; Morgan doesn’t even do that part well.

As Mark Twain once said, “There are three kind of lies; lies, damn lies and statistics.”

Facepalm.

He rarely bats with the bases empty and he plays in Citizens Bank Park.

Plate appearances with the bases empty: 2,534. He’s had 5,036 career PA, so more than half of his PA have come with the bases empty. When the bases are empty, he’s put up an .834 OPS.

As for Citizens Bank Park playing a factor…

OPS at home: .864

OPS away: .855

There’s a slight difference, but it’s so small it can be attributed to randomness, essentially.

You can get numbers to prove anything you want, but in this case, they don’t make a case for him being any kind of star player.

You cannot get numbers “to prove anything you want.” You can manipulate them, but that would be intellectually dishonest and a slight against the user, not on statistics.

“Star player” is a subjective term. If we could all agree on what really constitutes being a “star player,” then we wouldn’t even need to argue about it. His career 120 OPS+ isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before. However, as I wrote for Baseball Digest Daily at the beginning of May, Burrell has had four All-Star-caliber seasons and is definitely deserving this year. So, five of his nine seasons have been worthy of an All-Star spot, even though he’s never been. While All-Star nominations are not a great way of determining a player’s value, I think it lends credence to Burrell’s being a “star player.”

How many runs does his defense cost the Phils when pop flys turn into doubles.

According to Baseball Prospectus, Burrell has been 7 fielding runs above average (FRAA) this season. Over his entire career, he’s -21 FRAA over 8.5 seasons which comes out to about -2.5 runs per season, or about a quarter of a win per season. So, evey four seasons, Burrell costs his team one win defensively. Not much at all.

Get ready for this one. This is “facepalm” times ten.

But he is disrespectful, not indifferent, to the media and fans. Since last season he has used the opening bars of Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” as his “coming to bat” music. Its lyrics (written while Henley was seeing tabloid headlines about his messy divorce) are clearly contemptuous of the media. For a ballpalyer to use it in that manner is also insulting to the home fans. He should change to something else.

Fail.

But wait, there’s more!

And it is a fact that a 3-run HR when you’re already up by 5, or a 2-run HR when you’re down by 7 usually turn out to be meaningless events (anyone remember Abreu The Great?) But, since you believe these “facts” have some form of meaning due to the players numbers being padded, it only proves my point that you can have numbers support whatever argument you choose. The problem with baseball statistics are that no unique numbers exist or are maintained that calculate the events that were “difference makers” in the outcome of games. In other words, the HRs or RBIs that made a difference, not just grand totals that include the not so meaningful ones.

He’s right that no specific data is kept for every event. Burrell doesn’t get marked down for that walk-off two-run home run he hit against the Giants on May 2. He doesn’t get discredited for grounding out to shortstop in the seventh inning with runners on second and third and one out.

However, as Eric Seidman of FanGraphs points out, “Based on his win probability statistics, Burrell has a higher WPA (4.48) than anyone in the sport. Additionally, his WPA/LI of 2.94 ranks second and his clutch score of 1.29 deems him the third clutchiest player in the major leagues.”

If you’re unfamiliar with WPA and LI, you can find definitions here.

Well, those were all of the ignorant comments there. Surprisingly, there were some well-reasoned comments there as well, which disproves Costas and Bissinger’s assumptions that all comments are mean-spirited and ignorant. However, I think it’s safe to say that the comments section there represents a decent cross-section of typical Phillies fans, and it’s a shame that people are so wrong about one of the best players to put on a Phillies uniform.

Adam Dunn and Milton Bradley are really the only interesting free agents that may be available after the season. If the Phillies don’t have either of the two in their future plans, it behooves them to try very hard to get Burrell to sign a three-year extension.

BDD: Willie Freed

Willie Randolph was finally fired, though he certainly didn’t deserve it. That’s not the interesting part of the story, though. They fired him at 3 AM EST after making him travel coast-to-coast. I discuss Omar Minaya’s cowardice at Baseball Digest Daily.

Jerry Manuel is the interim manager of the Mets. It’s a humorous coincidence that he has the same last name as the Phillies’ manager. Maybe Minaya thought there was something to the name that would bring success. Too bad their Manuel has had exactly two seasons over .500 as a manager (out of six seasons) while the Phillies’ Manuel has had six out of seven (including this season).

As a Phillies fan, it’s nice to watch another organization implode upon itself, but I can’t help but feel sorry for Randolph along with Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto, who were also fired. I’d be angry if I was forced to take a long flight from the East coast to the West coast with the idea that I’d at least be there for a few days (they’re on a six-game road trip), only to meaninglessly manage one game, succeed (the Mets beat the Angels 9-6), and get canned.

What the Phillies Really Buried

From the “Stuff You Don’t Hear Every Day” Department, the Phillies re-buried a time capsule they had created in 1983. They planned to dig it up again in 2083 assuming they’d stay in Veterans Stadium forever. Obviously, the Phillies didn’t stay at the Vet forever and moved into Citizens Bank Park for the 2004 season. As a result, they had to dig up the capsule, but now they’re ready to send it back down.

What’s in it? From the article on Phillies.com:

At the time, the capsule was filled with a 1983 team media guide, yearbook, calendar, a baseball autographed by the entire ’83 squad, Mike Schmidt’s uniform from that season, a bat autographed by Pete Rose, copies of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, among many other items.

Before the new capsule was placed in the ground Tuesday, the team added several items, including: a piece of artificial turf from Veterans Stadium, a 2008 team yearbook and media guide and tickets to the final game at the Vet in 2003 and first game at Citizens Bank in ’04, along with many other items.

I think they’re holding back some information, though. There’s some stuff in there they didn’t want us to know about. In no particular order…

  • Curt Schilling’s towel: Yes, the one he buried his face in when Mitch Williams was pitching.
  • Chase Utley’s hair gel: L.A. Looks.
  • The boot: The one that was used to kick Ed Wade out of town.
  • Rocket shoes: Pat Burrell was wearing them when he ran out to the mound when Brett Myers closed out the final game of the 2007 season when the Phillies clinched the NL East division. As catcher Chris Coste put it,

[...] Pat Burrell, the slowest man in major-league baseball, beat me, the second-slowest man in major-league baseball, to the mound. As excited as I was, every time I see that highlight from here on out, I’m going to be embarrassed by the fact that, No. 1, I didn’t keep the ball – go figure – and that Pat Burrell beat me to the mound.

  • Spittle: Collected from the many Larry Bowa tirades. Also included is drool, collected from the fans that fell asleep watching Phillies games in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s.
  • A folding chair: A metaphor for the 2007 New York Mets.
  • Bull’s BBQ Sauce: Evidence that Citizens Bank Park was home to the best food at any baseball stadium.
  • Harry Kalas’ vocal cords: Just for the extremely small chance that we can clone him, or at least his voice in the future. That DNA is valuable.
  • Mike Schmidt’s golf clubs: He used them to beat the hell out of his wife. Really.
  • The papers: They verified the trade of Kyle Kendrick to the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, used in the hilarious prank before the start of the 2008 regular season.
  • Shaving cream pie, Tomas Perez: At least when the Phillies were bad, there were some good moments, most of which were provided by Perez shoving shaving cream pies in his teammates’ faces.
  • Radar Gun at Citizens Bank Park: Billy Wagner hated it because fans would boo him for not throwing 100 MPH. Or for sinking a season by giving up a ninth-inning, three-run home run to Craig Biggio.
  • Triple-U’s machete: Ugueth Urbina, whose middle name is Urtain and thus the only Major Leaguer ever to have the initials U.U.U., attempted to kill farm workers working on his property in Venezuela.
  • Darren Daulton’s testimony: No, not a court testimony. He claims the world is going to end on December 21st, 2012, at 11:11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time. When the capsule is opened up in 2083, Daulton will be remembered fondly.
  • A Philadelphia police badge: A reminder of Jason Michaels’ escapades.

If you think I missed something that the Phillies put in the capsule, let me know. This is serious stuff.

Countdown to the Braves’ Whining…

If there’s one thing we can count on the Braves for nowadays — it certainly isn’t playoff appearances — it’s whining when things don’t go their way. There aren’t any quotes in the Associated Press recap that is used on most of the major sports websites like Yahoo! so we’ll probably have to wait until tomorrow to hear their bawling.

In case you’re wondering, here’s the story: the Phillies are down 2-1 with two outs and runners on first and second in the ninth inning when Chris Coste comes to the plate. The Braves’ bullpen, as we all know, isn’t reliable but they should have been able to get the last out. Coste swung at the first pitch — great at-bat! — and pops it up down the right field line. Kelly Johnson botches the catch and Eric Bruntlett (who pinch-ran for Geoff Jenkins, who walked) came around to score. Pedro Feliz, not the fasted runner around, was easily thrown out trying to score as well.

The Braves had been whining about pitches all game, as they usually do. Closer Brad Lidge came in for the tenth inning to try to nail down the ill-deserved win for the Phillies, but was in a jam. After Brian McCann struck out, Josh Anderson slapped a single past shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Gregor Blanco laid down a nifty bunt that he just barely eked out (remember that one, Bravos) and Anderson raced to third base. Lidge wasn’t paying attention to the runners and, as a result, Blanco took second base to remove the double play.

Lidge got the second out by striking out Greg Norton, leaving the Braves’ hopes of a comeback to Yunel Escobar. Lidge’s first pitch was a high slider over the plate that was called a strike; Escobar made a frowny face and yapped at the umpire before stroking the next pitch into center field. Anderson scored easily; Blanco was safe and the game would continue without a perfect throw from Shane Victorino. Unfortunately for the Braves, Victorino’s throw was perfect: a laser right to Chris Coste who expertly caught the ball and applied the tag in about the same motion. It was very, very close but Blanco was called out, correctly, as replays will show. Escobar and manager Bobby Cox argued it (justified) to no avail.

Now is the time to sit back, let the results of the game sink in, and drift off to sleep. Tomorrow, some of the Braves will make some snide comments about how lucky the Phillies are (or how unlucky they are) and whine about the umpiring, par for the course with the Braves when they play the Phillies.

For their sake, I hope they prove me wrong.

A Simple Rebuttal of Anti-Bonds Arguments

Fire Joe Morgan has an interesting back-and-forth dialogue vis-à-visopen letters” between Ken Tremendous and Dak. KT takes the position that the Red Sox should not sign Barry Bonds to replace the injured David Ortiz and Dak argues that they should. This isn’t a response to them per se, but I am going to cite KT’s arguments against Bonds as the basis of this article, since most of them are common arguments. I’ll respond to them in the order in which he lists them.

1. KT cites Bonds’ 50% PECOTA projections which are “.233/.387/.462, EqA of .293.” We really don’t know how having half the season off will affect him, so we can’t cite that for either side of the coin. However, last season in 340 AB at the age of 42, Bonds had an OPS+ of 170 (.276/.480/.565, EqA of .345) and, aside from his injury-plagued 2005 season, has played in at least 126 games every year of this decade. As a DH, his balky knees won’t really come into play, and his being a liability as a defender is moot. Why would Bonds have a huuuuuuge decline in production simply from being a year older already in his 40’s? Do we expect Jamie Moyer to put up a 35 ERA+ next season simply because he’s turning 46, despite having an ERA+ of 87 or better since turning 40?

KT goes on to write,

there isn’t a good reason to think that the guy will hold up that well, especially since it turns out that the zinc and flaxseed oil he was using was actually [...] Winstrol/Stanozolol, Deca-Durabolin, HGH, The Cream, and The Clear, among other things. Without that kind of zinc and flaxseed oil, this could be one broken-down 43 year-old pituitary case.

What is the consensus year that Bonds stopped using PED’s (allegedly)? They started testing in 2003 and essentially got progressively tougher each year. Allegations have him using them in 1999 due to jealousy of the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run chase. Well, here are his OPS+ numbers since 1999…

1999: 155

2000: 188

2001: 259

2002: 268

2003: 231

2004: 263

2005: 174 (42 at-bats)

2006: 156

2007: 170

So, say what you will about the PED’s he took (allegedly), he’s still one of the most productive players in baseball with or without them, even at the ripe age of 43.

Also, KT lists a bunch of substances Bonds allegedly used, and superfluously tacks on “the cream” and “the clear” at the end. “The cream” masks the substances and “the clear” refers to tetrahydrogestrinone (THG).

2. KT talks about the defensive liabilities of Manny Ramirez and Bonds, and talks about using Ramirez as a DH and Crisp/Ellsbury in left field with the conclusion that getting Ramirez out of left field and either of the other two in there will more than make up for the additional offense Bonds creates. He uses runs above average (RAA) for fielding (FRAA) which are flawed, but just to make everything equal…

Bonds, 2007: 44 Batting RAA (BRAA), -12 FRAA; Net: 32 RAA or approx. 3.2 wins.

Ramirez, 2008 prorated (550 PA): 26 BRAA, -2 FRAA; Net: 24 RAA or approx 2.4 wins.

Ellsbury, 2008 prorated (550 PA): 22 BRAA, 24 FRAA; Net: 46 RAA or approx 4.6 wins.

Crisp, 2008 prorated (550 PA): -2.5 BRAA, 11 FRAA; Net: 8.5 RAA or approx 0.85 wins.

. . .

Bonds DH, Ramirez LF, Crisp/Ellsbury CF (average of the two): 95 RAA or approx. 9.5 wins.

Ramirez DH, Crisp LF, Ellsbury CF: 80.5 RAA or approx. 8 wins.

Bonds is worth about a win and a half more.

3. KT writes, “Barry Bonds hasn’t played baseball yet this year.”

As mentioned, this can’t be cited as a good or a bad thing since there’s no way to prove how it affects a player.

4. KT writes, “Barry Bonds has never played in the American League.”

I don’t think the difference in leagues matters, especially given inter-league play and the fact that Bonds would be a DH in the AL. If anything, moving to the AL would benefit Bonds. There’s the obvious disadvantage of having to face a bunch of pitchers he’s never seen before, but we’re not talking about a scrub that is being called up from AAA; we are talking about one of the three best hitters ever to play the game of baseball, and arguably the best eye in baseball history.

5. KT cites Bonds making comments in June 2004 about the city of Boston being “racist.” Bonds used that as a reason he would never play for the Red Sox. I don’t see how this is a reason not to sign Bonds. Was it an ill-advised, politically-incorrect statement? Absolutely, but baseball isn’t about public relations first and foremost, is it?

6. This will be a long one. KT lists six reasons for Bonds being “world’s biggest douchebag.” It’s a very detailed ad hominem, but I’ll humor it anyway.

Consider that he (a) has been cheating at baseball for like 10 years

So have hundreds of other players, a lot of whom didn’t have any trouble finding jobs anyway. As Dak pointed out, the Red Sox had the steroid-using Eric Gagne.

(b) lied about it the whole time

I don’t blame him. Until 2003, there was no way to get caught other than red-handed. If players shouldn’t be signed for being “douchebags,” and lying is douchebaggery, then most baseball players are douchebags and therefore should not be signed to baseball teams.

(c) cheated on his wife and used non-IRS-reported cash to buy his mistress a house in Arizona

His relationship with his wife and others is not germane both to the “douchebag” argument and to the “he shouldn’t be signed” argument.

His “non-IRS-reported cash” is germane only if it is still an ongoing legal issue. As far as I can tell, it isn’t. They’ve been trying to nail Bonds for the last four years or so and they’ve come up empty each time. In fact, Bonds has been so hard to nail that the federal prosecutors had to revise their original indictment and break it down into pieces to reflect each falsehood Bonds is alleged to have made. Why would they do this? They know that they’re not going to win in some – and more likely, most – of them.

As Golden Gate University law professor Peter Keane told the Associated Press, “It is two ways of saying it is lying. There is really no substantial difference between what he was charged with then and what he is charged with now.”

(d) claimed racism everywhere he went for whatever reason if it suited his purposes

Is it really that outrageous for one of the most prominent African American athletes to be aware of racism that still obviously exists in this country? I think some people would prefer if people would just simply keep quiet about racism simply because they don’t want to hear about it.

Even if he’s excessively vocal about it, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” applies here.

(e) once dragged his fucking kids into a press conference and used them as literal human shields to try to protect himself from questions about whether he was using steroids (which, again, he totally was)

Did Bonds say that was the reason he brought his kids to the press conference? It’s a strawman argument otherwise.

And no one has proven that he ever used steroids. Regardless of how obvious you feel it is that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs, he still allegedly took them.

and to try to make the reporters who were asking the questions feel guilty for asking them

Strawman.

(f) didn’t even show up to the fucking HR-hitting contest held at his own [freaking] ballpark

What KT fails to mention is that Bonds had legitimate reasons for sitting out. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “Bonds said Thursday he will not participate because of the strain it would place on his body, ‘especially when you’re 42.’”

Now, I know a lot of guys in professional sports can proudly claim one or more of (a)-(f). But only one has all of them. And you want to put that guy — that 43 year-old mini-scrotumed douchebag — on your team?

If that “43-year-old, mini-scrotumed douchebag” gives my team a better chance of winning – and, as proven, he does – then absolutely I want him on my team.

7. KT rehashes #2 and is still wrong, as shown.

8. KT says that, because the Red Sox have won two World Series in 2004 and ’07, the front office shouldn’t feel pressure to win another one this season. The goal of every team every season is to win a World Series. The concern of not selling the farm to win now is legitimate, but Bonds would only cost cash, something the Red Sox have plenty of with the second-highest payroll in Major League Baseball.

To say that the Red Sox should just shrug their shoulders and hope for the best with the loss of their most important hitter is to ignore the goal that every team has going into each season.

9. KT has a funny scenario in which Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy introduces himself to Bonds. It doesn’t further the argument, but it’s good levity.

10. KT says that the “real problem” is pitching, as if signing Bonds would prevent the Red Sox from improving their pitching. This is what’s known as a false dilemma. As mentioned, Bonds would likely cost the Red Sox under $1 million (all of the rumors that Bonds wants $10+ million are unfounded; no one has even called Bonds or his Agent Jeff Boriss in speculation). The Red Sox have money to spare.

11. KT responds to Dak’s willingness to ignore most off-the-field issues as long as his team is successful. KT disagrees. They both humor lots of egregious scenarios which would never happen with Bonds, such as “Barry Bonds tested positive for steroids and HGH and let’s say, for the fun of it, black tar heroin,” “SpyGate II for the next 25 years,” “Barry Bonds had fixed the games,” and “[Bonds] had personally taken some of the not-reported-to-the-IRS cash.”

As we can see, a lot of the common anti-Bonds arguments are very error-prone and based largely on emotion rather than objectivity. Things would be a lot easier if people would just own up and say that they don’t like Bonds and don’t want him wearing the home team’s uniform instead of pretending to throw salvos of facts around. The verdict is in and it’s unanimous: Bonds’ value as an offensive player is far too great to simply pass up for essential pennies on the dollar. Almost every team in Major League Baseball would benefit from adding Bonds, even in the National League where his defensive shortcomings come into play.

Manuel Sends the MVP a Message

The Phillies took 3 of 4 from the Reds thanks to a Cole Hamels complete game shutout, improving their home stand record to 8-2. With a nine-game road trip through Georgia, Florida, and Missouri looming, there was a bit too much tension in the air, especially for a team that’s as hot as the Phillies are.

Scott Lauber writes,

Manuel did, in fact, bench Jimmy Rollins in the fifth inning today, two innings after he didn’t run out a pop fly that wound up being dropped in shallow left field by Reds shortstop Paul Janish.

[...]

This could’ve been an explosive situation at the end of an otherwise wildly successful 8-2 homestand. But Manuel didn’t embarrass Rollins, and Rollins took full blame for what happened.

It takes some gusto — to put it kindly — to bench the reigning NL MVP. Manuel is way down on the list of managers most likely to be a disciplinarian with one of the team’s most vital players, but as Philadelphia radio personality Howard Eskin learned last year, Manuel can “get angry.”

As Manuel said, there’s not too much to talk about. Rollins owned up to his mistake of not running out a routine fly ball and isn’t going to hold any grudges, and Manuel didn’t roast his player in front of the media. For a situation that could have been explosive at one of the worst possible times — in the middle of a hot streak — both handled it like true professionals and now the focus is on tomorrow night’s Moyer-Hudson match-up in Atlanta.

Say what you will about Manuel’s in-game tactics, but he deals with the personalities on his roster as expertly as anyone in the game.

. . .

Conversely, Phillies Assistant GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. took questions on 610 WIP on Tuesday and handled that poorly, as I talk about at Baseball Digest Daily. He was asked about signing Cole Hamels to a long-term contract and his answer was a swift kick in his own mouth.

Also at Baseball Digest Daily, I talked about some issues I have with the All-Star Game and offer up some solutions.