Why I won’t be tweeting much until July

A couple of months ago, I realized I was going to send my 10,000th post to Twitter at some point this year. At the time, I thought the milestone would come no sooner than mid-July, but I just happened to check the other day and noticed I was only 25 tweets away. That’s probably due to an unexpectedly high number of tweets related to the craptacularness of the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies.

After tonight’s huge Sixers 79-78, playoff series-clinching win over the Bulls in Game 6, my tweet count stands at 9,983. Once this post is published, it will also go to Twitter and put me at 9,984.

I estimate that 98 percent of these 9,984 tweets were inconsequential and unimportant. So I have decided that I want my 10,000th tweet to mean something. I would hate to think I may casually use that milestone to tell the world for about the 1,000th time that Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick sucks or use it to retweet a funny quip by a fellow fan or beat writer.

Since my wife and I are expecting our first child in early July, I would like to use that 10,000th tweet to announce the birth of my son or daughter (it’s a surprise). Therefore, I’m going to refrain from doing a lot of tweeting until that day comes.

I’ll still be reading my timeline and chiming in every now and then…hopefully, after another Sixers playoff round win…or two…or three?! But once I hit 9,995 tweets, I’m going to stop tweeting entirely until my wife goes into labor. Fortunately, the Phillies being so bad is actually helping at this point, as I’ve entered that phase where I now feel they’re just not worth tweeting about.

So if you don’t see me on Twitter much over the next eight weeks or so, this post explains my absence.

And, if you missed it when I posted this here in late December 2011, here is the horror/sci-fi teaser trailer I made to tell my family and friends about our new addition…because I’m a huge geek…

Baby Kelley Teaser Trailer

If reports are true, Phillies are making huge mistake

OK…most baseball fans are aware of the reportedly impending trade of Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies and the reported companion trade (right now, this does not appear to be a 3-team deal) of Phillies ace Cliff Lee to Seattle.

While I love Lee and appreciate what he did for the Phillies in his short time with them, I understood that the Phillies needed to a) create payroll space to fit Halladay’s contract, and b) acquire prospects from another team to fulfill Toronto’s trade demands.

Also, it sounds like the Phillies were not confident Lee would sign a contract extension. Lee is good friends with CC Sabathia, who signed a 7-year, $161 million contract with the New York Yankees last offseason, and he was quoted by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in August that he was looking to enter free agent market after the 2010 season.

So I was OK with the “Trade Lee” scenario if it meant getting Halladay and signing him to an extension while leaving the Phillies’ top prospects (P Kyle Drabek, OF Michael Taylor, C Travis D’Arnaud) safely down on the farm.

Keep in mind, back in July 2009, when the Phillies pursued Halladay the first time, Phils general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. kept saying Drabek and Taylor were “untouchable.” So instead of giving in to Toronto’s demands, Amaro turned around and traded for Lee by sending second-tier prospects (P Jason Knapp, P Carlos Carrasco, C Lou Marson and SS Jason Donald) to the Cleveland Indians.

Lee went on to be a stud for the Phillies in the playoffs and World Series while Halladay remained untraded in Toronto.

Everyone knew the Phillies would stay in the hunt for Halladay during the offseason, so it doesn’t surprise me that a deal is apparently in the works. But when FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal mused a few days ago that he had a hunch the Phillies might trade Lee in order to create the payroll space to add Halladay, I was among many who didn’t think it made any sense. In the World Series against the Yankees, what hurt the Phillies was not having a clear No. 2 pitcher behind Lee. I assumed the objective was to have Halladay AND Lee in 2010.

But the more I thought about it, the more I was OK with trading Lee…ONLY if it meant the Phillies would be sending the prospects acquired in a Lee trade to Toronto as part of a package for Halladay. I could even support sending Taylor or D’Arnaud as part of such a package.

However, as more and more sportswriters started reporting what they were hearing about the Halladay deal, which started coming to light Monday afternoon, it became apparent that this blockbuster is not shaping up to be a three-team trade. It was starting to become much more evident that the Phillies had worked out a separate deal with Seattle that would send Lee to the Mariners for second-tier prospects in order to cut payroll.

The latest reports indicate the Phillies are still going to be trading either Drabek or J.A. Happ, Taylor, and D’Arnaud to the Blue Jays in exchange for Halladay, who appears likely to sign an extension with the Phillies reported to be in the 3-year, $60 million range.

Now, I’m ecstatic about the Phils getting Halladay and that kind of contract for one of the best pitchers in baseball is awesome.

But if the Phillies were going to wind up trading Drabek et al for Halladay now when they were “untouchable” in July, my question is…why didn’t the Phillies get both Lee and Halladay last July? If the Phillies had made both moves, I’m pretty sure there would be a good chance the Phillies would be two-time defending World Series champions right now.

And they would probably be in the position they are in right now…signing one of the aces to a long-term deal while trading away the other one. But the Phillies would have had a few months with both Lee and Halladay, and likely would have had another ring to show for it. It would have made losing the prospects more palatable.

But now? What’s the point? The Phillies appear to still be selling the farm for Halladay and sending Lee to Seattle in what is a thinly disguised salary dump. Sure, Amaro may say something like, “The Blue Jays were adamant in their demands so I made the best deal possible with Lee to replenish the farm system and make the deal with Toronto.”

But here’s the thing…the Lee trade — as it appears right now — does not replenish the farm system. The Phillies will be getting second-tier prospects back for their ace while trading their top-shelf prospects for Halladay. I mean, if the Seattle prospects were close to the value of Drabek, Taylor and D’Arnaud, why aren’t any of them going to the Blue Jays? The answer is Toronto doesn’t want them.

The quality of prospects mentioned coming over to Philly from Seattle — reportedly pitcher Phillipe Aumont, outfielder Tyson Gillies (“Gillies the Phillies” must have appealed to Amaro?), and possibly pitcher Juan Ramirez — is not even close to what the Phils’ farm would be losing.

Essentially, if this all goes down the way it is being reported right now, it means the Phils will have given up Drabek (or Happ), Taylor, D’Arnaud, Knapp, Carrasco, Marson, Donald — and CLIFF LEE — for Roy Halladay (through 2013) and two or three second-tier prospects (and cash and payroll flexibility).

That is an awful, awful deal. And the timing makes it even worse.

Again, I would have been OK with trading Lee in a true three-team deal that would have lightened the Phillies’ cost in terms of prospects going to Toronto. But if Halladay is going to cost the Phillies their top prospects anyway, I say just keep Cliff Lee, bite the bullet on payroll in 2010 and beat the freakin’ Yankees in October.

UPDATE: It’s becoming obvious that Amaro is misreading the value of these two deals because he’s not factoring Lee into what is becoming a staggering price to pay for Halladay in terms of prospects. While trading away the farm is never a good idea, keeping Lee while obtaining Halladay is the most beneficial scenario for the Phillies — except from a payroll standpoint. So if that’s the case, why didn’t Amaro simply non-tender Joe Blanton — whose 2010 salary is basically equal to Lee’s — or trade him for a bag of baseballs to create the payroll space needed to keep Halladay and Lee in the Phillies’ rotation in 2010? Maybe the problem is that Amaro is caught between trying to do what Phillies ownership want (keep payroll in line with the budget) and what’s best for the organization (keep the farm system stocked). He’s trying to do both and that might not be the best thing to do. He should be looking at these deals as what would be the best value for the Phillies…and, at this point, acquiring Halladay and keeping Lee for 2010 provides the best value.

Also, Jayson Stark said on ESPN Radio this morning that the Phillies are getting the Mariners’ top two pitching prospects (Aumont, Ramirez) and an outfielder similar to Taylor (Gillies). Well, I saw video of Aumont last night and his mechanics have all the hallmarks of Tommy John surgery in a year or two. Ramirez is supposedly the better of the two pitchers, and Gillies comparable to Taylor? I have seen Michael Taylor play and the kid is a stud so that’s a lot to live up to for Gillies.

The Philadelphia Eagles are dead to me

It has been a few days since the Philadelphia Eagles — defying all sanity and logic — signed disgraced NFL quarterback, illegal drug user, alleged STD transmitter and, oh yes, dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick (aka Ron Mexico).

Upon learning of the signing during the Eagles’ preseason opener against New England, I immediately flipped the TV to another channel and proclaimed my full support to my usual “B team,” the New York Jets, by chanting “J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!”

All of this talk about giving Michael Vick a second chance is ridiculous. This is like his 10th chance. Just take a look at Vick’s Wikipedia entry under early incidents. Sure, there weren’t any convictions or arrests, but you know the saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”? Well, Vick seemed to be quite a hotspot.

And then the allegations and evidence began to mount that Vick ran a dogfighting ring out of one of his homes in Virginia, and that he personally took part in torturing and killing dogs in a variety of vicious ways, including hanging, drowning and electrocution.

Vick didn’t just make a mistake that he paid for by serving a prison sentence. He engaged in violent, sociopathic behavior and only stopped because he was caught, convicted and stripped of his livelihood and money. And just because he is now a free man does not mean he has proven himself to be rehabilitated.

Now, all of that being said…in no way would I deny any person redemption. I think the NFL could have reinstated Vick, but told him he had to sit out as a player for one more year. However, during that year, the league could have hired him to speak to NFL players about the horrors of animal cruelty and also work with the Humane Society, the SPCA and other animal rescue organizations. If Vick stayed out of trouble while also being a true asset to supporters of animal rights, it would have gone a long way in shedding the monster image he has bestowed upon himself.

But, no…the Eagles’ organization decided that Vick is a changed person already — despite not having done a damn thing for animal rights except for some minimal work he has done for the Humane Society of which I have yet to see proof.

And here is where my anger gets to the breaking point with the Eagles. Knowing that this signing was going to meet with controversy, the team should have been ready to communicate with local animal rights/rescue organizations (especially Utley All-Star Animals, the charity run by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and his wife, Jennifer) and develop the framework of a strategy for using Vick as a force for good.

Basically, there were things the Eagles could have done right away to make the signing of Michael Vick a bit more palatable to animal lovers and fans like me who can’t stomach rooting for a team employing such a vile individual.

At the press conference announcing Vick’s signing, the Eagles should have done at least these three things:

  1. Announced the creation of a program that would raise funds for area animal shelters and rescue operations.
  2. Designated a number of these shelters and rescue operations and make a generous donation that would be split among these groups.
  3. Proposed the creation of an advisory panel that would include Vick, team officials, city and state officials, and leaders of area animal rights organizations with the purpose of communicating the evils of animal abuse to the general public and working with law enforcement in identifying and shutting down dogfighting rings.

In addition to announcing these plans, the Eagles would have needed to set a timeline for implementing these programs and ensure Vick’s full participation and cooperation. In addition, there should have been a clause in Vick’s contract stating that, upon the first instance of his non-compliance to these terms, he would be suspended without pay and released (yeah, I know…the NFL Players Association would get in a tizzy over that, but put it in anyway and let the arbiter figure it out later).

All of this, in my mind, would at least told me that the Eagles and Vick were serious about addressing the controversy the signing would bring.

But, no. The Eagles didn’t have any of that prepared.  In fact, the Eagles’ lack of interest in the animal cruelty issue was made very apparent when Jennifer Utley attempted to attend the press conference to start a dialogue with the Eagles and Vick. She was turned away at the entrance to the Eagles’ NovaCare practice facility. Instead, the press conference was all about this mythical “second” chance for Vick.

Well, what about the dogs that Vick brutally tortured and killed? They didn’t get a second chance.

The signing of Michael Vick represents a big F.U. to a good portion of Eagles fans — myself included. And until I see evidence that Vick and the Eagles are going to work with the community on the issue of animal rights, they will continue to be dead to me.

And if you are interested, you can sign an online petition to boycott the Philadelphia Eagles for signing Michael Vick.

Vote for Victorino…TODAY!

Vote for Shane Victorino!
Vote for Shane Victorino!

Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino is in a tight race for the National League team’s final roster spot in MLB’s Final Vote competition. Voting ends today at 4 p.m. ET, so CLICK HERE NOW and vote as many times as you can (there is no limit) before 4 p.m. to send Shane to the All-Star Game.

Last night, Victorino was the hero for the Phillies as he delivered a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Phils a 3-2 walk-off win. And, as the official campaign video below shows, Shane has come through time and time again for the reigning World Series champions.

Vote Victorino…TODAY!

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Beating the Mets sounds great in any language

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Comcast SportsNet-Philly featured a chat with the lead announcer for the Phillies’ Spanish-language affiliate during last night’s Phillies-Mets game, which the Phillies won 6-3 after Raul Ibanez hit a 3-run home run in the top of the 10th inning.

After Ibanez hit the home run, CSN played the Spanish version of the call, which The Fightins has posted online (thanks!).

Goodbye, Harry…and thank you, Phillies

This fan-made artwork was one of many tributes to Harry Kalas left outside Citizens Bank Park
This fan-made artwork was one of many tributes to Harry Kalas left outside Citizens Bank Park

I, along with many Phillies fans, paid their final respects and said goodbye to longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas at a memorial service held this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia.

My fiancee and I got on line at 8:30 a.m. and entered the third-base gate about 40 minutes later. Once through the turnstiles, I saw a table with free coffee set up on it. As a huge fan of coffee, especially a little after 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I was excited. However, I caught a glimpse of two people standing a bit beyond the coffee station…and I was floored.

I whispered to my fiancee, “Oh, wow! Bill Giles and David Montgomery are up there greeting everybody.”

Now, Bill Giles is one of the Phillies’ owners and is the team’s chairman. David Montgomery is president and chief executive officer of the Phillies. And they were personally shaking hands with every single person walking into the ballpark and thanking them for being there.

During the late 1990s and the early part of this decade when the Phils were pretty much dreadful, both of these men took a lot of heat from some of the very fans they were now shaking hands with on a very emotional day.

Seconds after I noticed them, a few other people on line in front of us did too…and had pretty much the same reaction as I did (“Oh, wow!”). I said to a guy in front of us, “That is real class. They did not have to do that.” He agreed.

It was the first of many first-class touches the Phillies displayed during the day. And that’s one thing I want to bring up in this post…for all-non Phillies fans out there, say what you want about Philly fans and the teams, but anytime the Phillies hold a ceremony, they always do a top-notch job with it. Some of the so-called “upper crust” teams in baseball might want to take a lesson from the Phillies on how to stage a special event.

OK…so, anyway…I was going to write a lot more, but it really comes down to this: The Phillies did a great job this week with honoring the legacy and memory of Harry Kalas. And they capped it off with an outstanding memorial service and final goodbye to an icon whose voice will echo around my mind for the rest of my life.

Sound of Summer Silenced (for Harry the K)
6:24/8.8 MB

This is a song I wrote over the days following Harry Kalas’ death. I used some radio calls, which are likely not covered by fair use, but I felt they added to the song and were an appropriate tribute. I’ll remove them if asked.

Phinally…Phillies are World Series champions!

Brad Lidge closes out the 2008 World Series
Brad Lidge closes out the 2008 World Series. (Source: Philly.com)

For the first time since 1980 and for only the second time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Phillies are the world champions of baseball after beating the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, at Citizens Bank Park on October 29, 2008. The Phils won the best-of-seven series in five games.

The victory also gives Philadelphia its first major professional sports title since 1983, when the Sixers won the NBA championship.

Savor this, Philly fans…you deserve this.

And congratulations to Charlie Manuel and the 2008 Fightin’ Phils! Thank you very much for this.

Video: Victorino hits grand slam off Sabathia, NLDS Game 2, 10/2/08

Here is video of Shane Victorino’s second-inning, two-out grand slam off C.C. Sabathia that gave the Phillies a 5-1 lead over the Brewers in Game 2 of their NL Division Series on Oct. 2, 2008. The Phils went on to win 5-2 and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

The video is from the TBS broadcast, while the audio is from Phillies radio flagship station, WPHT 1210 AM (featuring Scott Franzke and former Phillies reliever Larry Andersen, who is going nuts in the background).

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