Phillies Should Hold Miami-Style Pep Rally Introducing ‘The Big 4’


Just replace the fat guy and the nobody.

We received another shocker in what could be the most surprising off-season in recent baseball memory last night when highly sought-after lefty ace Cliff Lee unexpectedly decided to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. Lee, who pitched for the Phillies in the 2009 World Series (and lost) also pitched for the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series (and lost). Clearly he prefers the bridesmaid status, and by signing with the Phillies he’s pretty much guaranteed another World Series loss this season.

Lee joins NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Hallday, three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt, and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels to form the most intimidating foursome since Tombstone. Now the question becomes…how is Philly going to introduce their “Big Four”?

This is 2010, remember. A press conference no longer gets the job done. What’s exciting about a guy trying on a jersey and addressing the media with the same, cliche, “I’ll do anything to help the club” responses? Just watch the first three minutes of Carl Crawford‘s introduction to Boston…I think I just drooled on my keyboard. Even my man-crush Theo couldn’t spice that one up.

What we need is action — something that tells the fans “we are the greatest collection of talent ever assembled in any single place in the history of mankind.” Luckily for us, the Miami Heat already set the template for us.

Why can’t us, Philadelphia?

Just think, a capacity crowd of 43,647 pack into Citizens Bank Park. The entire stadium goes dark as the cheers begin to crescendo. Suddenly the video starts on the JumboTron:

  • Cliff Lee strikes out Nick Swisher looking on an 2-2 breaking ball.
  • Roy Oswalt pounces off the mound to field a bunt and throw a strike to second base to nail the lead runner.
  • Cole Hamels nearly picks off Matt Kemp at first base with a deceptive move.
  • Roy Halladay makes an extraordinary catch in right field while shagging fly balls during batting practice.

After that, the Philly crowd is in a complete frenzy as they try to decide whether to throw batteries or iceballs onto the field. Suddenly, the spotlight goes onto the left field bullpen entrance and you hear the familiar guitar riff and clapping intro to John Fogerty’s Centerfield. From the back of the bullpen, the Big Four emerge in full uniform and slowly start walking to the mound, each with his jacket draped over his pitching arm. They refuse to wave to the crowd as they walk toward the mound, quiet and focused on what they have to accomplish.

When they finally arrive at the mound, they each take their place on one of four rubbers located side-by-side in front of the mound. They each get into the stretch to throw a pitch. Behind the plate are four of Philadelphia’s sports heroes: Michael Vick, Rocky Balboa, Allen Iverson, and Eric Lindros. The Big Four simultaneously throw two-seam fastballs to their celebrity catchers as fireworks go off in center field.

After that they sit in chairs in a circle around the mound, where they field questions from this guy. He asks questions such as, “So, how many homeruns ah yous gonna hit dis yeah?” and reminds the Big Four to say hello to their mothers for him when they get home.

After about an hour of fielding questions, manager Charlie Manuel heads out to the mound to talk to his aces. After a few head nods and glove-covered utterances, Manuel finally pats each of them on the butt and they make the slow walk to the dugout– being sure to tip their caps ever-so-slightly to the roaring crowd.

If that doesn’t get you pumped up for this season, Philadelphia, check your pulse.


Man Crush of the Week: Theo Epstein


I wouldn't go this far, but Theo did some work this offseason.

The Boston Red Sox were able to trade for Adrian Gonzalez and sign Carl Crawford in the matter of a week, pretty much securing their position as a serious World Series contender in 2011. As a result, former “wonder boy” GM Theo Epstein is already being called “unstoppable” by certain Boston media outlets.

I’m not going to go that far but Theo has, for at least a few days, made me like the Red Sox…and for that he certainly deserves the MCOW this week. Since the whole 2004 thing, the Red Sox have really supplanted the New York Yankess as my least favorite team in baseball. They took on that air of pretension after winning the World Series and Red Sox fans immediately became more annoying than Yankees fans.

But you have to applaud Theo for what he’s done, getting two of the best players at their position in the game…who also happen to be two like-able guys. Now you’re looking at a team core of Crawford, Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis. As much as I can’t stand Youkilis, that’s a team that I can not only watch, but also root for (just a little…quietly).

What’s even more awesome about the Crawford signing is that, by all accounts, Theo just swooped in out of nowhere to make this deal. Apparently he was blowing smoke by throwing money at Mariano Rivera and Cliff Lee, all the while secretly wooing Crawford. In a world where we always get unverified stories by “sources close to the situation”, it’s amazing that Theo was able to pull this off with such stealth.

Plus I had to give out some Yale love, and Theo had a much better week than the Whiffenpoofs.


Weekly SportsPod – Colin Talks to Sow and Rass About the Red Sox and the Sports Movie Character Hall of Fame


The Red Sox surprised everyone by swooping Carl Crawford.

With the Boston Red Sox making some serious power plays in the last couple weeks, I had to bring on Northeast baseball expert Eric Rasmussen to get some insight. We’re also joined by Josh Sowers, and all three of us discuss which sports movie characters would have a shot at the Hall of Fame in their respective sports.

Finally we conclude with a little college hoops talk, where Rass gives us his Final Four picks and Cinderella Upset Alert. You don’t want to miss it, believe me. Enjoy.

Weekly SportsPod – Colin Talks To Rass and Sow 120910


Oriole Luke Scott Says Barack Obama Wasn’t Born in America

"If only this were pointed at the foreigner..."

Don’t know how I missed this one, but apparently Baltimore Oriole Luke Scott is not a fan of President Barack Obama. The Orioles’ leading homerun hitter last year, Scott went off on a diatribe in an interview with Yahoo! Sports about how Obama “does not represent America” and called into question Obama’s American citizenship. Among other comments, this is one of Scott’s gems:

Obama does not represent America. Nor does he represent anything what our forefathers stood for…He was not born here. That’s my belief. I was born here. If someone accuses me of not being born here, I can go — within 10 minutes — to my filing cabinet and I can pick up my real birth certificate and I can go, “See? Look! Here it is. Here it is.” The man has dodged everything. He dodges questions, he doesn’t answer anything. And why? Because he’s hiding something.

Apparently Scott isn’t alone. There is a whole group of Americans called “birthers” that believe that Obama has no right to the presidency because he was actually born in Kenya. The Orioles expectedly have distanced themselves from Scott’s comments.

Why, oh why would Scott make such controversial comments? The answer is simple. He wants out of Baltimore. After the Orioles acquired slugger Mark Reynolds earlier this week, Scott’s position in the middle of the O’s lineup is in jeopardy. He must want out. Why else would he make such critical comments about the President when he plays in a city less than 50 miles from the White House?

We’ll see if it develops into anything, but Scott could find a new home with a team deeply secured in a Red State pretty soon.


Which Fictional Sports Characters Belong In the Hall of Fame?


Sly Stallone's election created a slippery slope.

When the International Boxing Hall of Fame elected Sylvester Stallone to the Hall of Fame, they were essentially putting his fictional character, Rocky, alongside greats like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson. I’m sure many other sports writers in the country had the same reaction, but I immediately thought that this created quite a slippery slope when it comes to the idea of a “Hall of Fame.”

So when I heard the news yesterday I decided to come up with a list of fictional characters that belong in their sports’ respective Hall of Fames. Sure enough, when I checked out my buddy Larry Brown’s site,, this morning, I saw that he already came up with a few: Happy Gilmore in golf, Bobby Boucher in football, Jake Taylor in baseball, Butch McRae in basketball, and Forrest Gump in table tennis.

While that’s a good start, I think we should take the list a little further and make it a bit more realistic. We have to take the caveat that we only get a glimpse of a career in most films, so we’ll have to project what we think could happen over the course of a full career given talent, work ethic, family situation, etc. I’ve come up with three nominees for each of the major sports, and Sow and I will come up with the winners in this week’s podcast. Enjoy.

National Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown, NY):

  • Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Major League, Major League II. After a troubled past, Vaughn took the league by storm with his electric fastball and intimidating eyewear. In his second season, Vaughn experimented with various offspeed pitches when he realized he wouldn’t have his 95+ fastball forever. While the changes led to a significant sophomore slump, Vaughn picked it up in the playoffs when he led the Cleveland Indians to the World Series. It’s reasonable to think that Vaughn would have figured out how to combine his velocity with offspeed like many before him (Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Josh Beckett) and had a long and illustrious career. Hall of Fame Moment: Striking out Clue Haywood of the Yankees to give the Indians their first playoff berth in 35 years.
  • Billy Heywood, Little Big League. Heywood made baseball history in 1994 when he, as a 12-year old boy, took the reigns as manager of the lowly Minnesota Twins. Heywood was able to turn the team around through various Little League gimmick plays and his mantra “remember, this game is fun.” Though he retired due to emotional immaturity (including benching future Hall of Famer and step-father Lou Collins for personal reasons) after narrowly missing the playoffs in the ’94 campaign, it is hard to imagine that would be Heywood’s last shot at managing in the Big Leagues. If nothing else, he would still be owner of the Twins for the duration of his life, and being the youngest manager in the history of the game would definitely get him some votes. Hall of Fame Moment: Tipping his cap to a capacity crowd chanting “Billy! Billy!” after nearly leading the Twins to the playoffs.
  • Steve Nebraska, The Scout. No doubt that Nebraska has the talent to be a Hall of Famer. His unthinkable 112 mph fastball led him to pitch a “true” perfect game in 1994 against Ozzie Smith and the Cardinals: 27 up, 27 down, 81 pitches, all of ’em strikes. The only question is, would the unreachable mark that he set in his first Major League game create impossible expectations for the young right-hander? We already know that he was working through significant psychological issues, and it’s hard for me to imagine that he could overcome them to have a full career. But still, given his talent level I couldn’t leave him off the nomination list. Hall of Fame Moment: Beating his chest like King Kong on the mound at Yankee Stadium after his immortal performance.

Honorable Mention: Dottie Hinson (A League of Their Own), Kelly Leak (The Bad News Bears), Roy Hobbs (The Natural)

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield, Mass.):

  • Neon Bodeaux, Blue Chips. The virtually unrecruited Bodeaux made a huge splash on the college basketball scene when the “7-foot-4” center began his career at Western University in 1994 under the tutelage of the polarizing Pete Bell. Although Bodeaux went pro after his freshman year amid allegations that he received illegal benefits, Bodeaux was as close to a sure thing as they come. A strong, mobile, 7-footer can have a long and illustrious career in the NBA, so I’m going to have to give him the nod. Hall of Fame Moment: Slamming home the game winning basket against Bobby KnightCalbert Chaney, and #1 Indiana University in is freshman year.
  • Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game. Despite a trying recruiting process, there is no doubt that Jesus would have had a tremendous college career. Often those spurned by their loved ones early in their lives go on to do great things just to spite them. A pure shooter always has a place in the NBA, and Jesus’s flawless form and picture-perfect NBA body surely would have taken him a long way. Hall of Fame Moment: Beating his father in a game of one-on-one for much higher stakes than just basketball.
  • Saleh, The Air Up There. After being discovered in his native Africa by down-on-his-luck assistant coach and former college hoops great Jimmy Dolan, Saleh elects to suit up for St. Joseph’s. A 6-8 raw athlete with incredible jumping ability and ball-handling skills, it is presumable that Saleh would spend at least three years in college honing his game, where he would probably put up big numbers. A prince in his native land, Saleh would show tremendous leadership skills on and off the court and not be lured out of college early by the temptation of a large contract. Having already won a game for his tribe’s land, Saleh would have no problem handling the pressure of big games in the NBA. The whole “one-name” thing would also be an incredible marketing tool for whatever franchise ended up drafting him. Hall of Fame Moment: Saving his tribe from ruin by executing the famous “Jimmy Dolan Shake and Bake” to perfection to win the game.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy Chitwood (Hoosiers), Monica Wright (Love and Basketball), Billy Hoyle (White Men Can’t Jump)

Pro Football Hall of Fame (Canton, OH):

  • Wendell BrownVarsity Blues. Overlooked on a team full of high-profile talent like Lance Harbor, Johnny Moxon, and Charlie Tweeder, Wendell was the self-proclaimed “black work horse” that led the West Canaan Coyotes to back-to-back-to-back district championships. Wendell had his mom do his recruiting and earned himself a scholarship to Grambling, where he no doubt would have been a big fish in a small pond. Probably a late pick in the draft, Brown seems like the type whose grit and work ethic would prove all the naysayers wrong and lead him to a prolific career in the NFL. Hall of Fame Moment: Exposing the inherent racism of the West Canaan football program to his friend Johnny Moxon. (It may expose the inherent racism of YouTube users that I can’t find a clip for this…).
  • Rod TidwellJerry Maguire. The former ASU Sun Devil had a breakout 1996 season for the Arizona Cardinals and earned himself a lucrative long-term deal. Many may say that the flashy Tidwell was just playing for “the quan” and would have regressed into his “me-first” attitude in the coming years, but all signs indicate thatTidwell turned an emotional corner and was ready to take his place as one of the NFL’s elite receivers. Hall of Fame Moment: Endearing himself to fans after a scary hit, Tidwell put on a performance that will go down in football television history.
  • Joe Kane, The Program. “Kane is Able” had a tough junior season in 1993, marred by an embarrassing DUI-induced stint in rehab and a sub-par performance from his ESU Timberwolves. Before the setbacks, Kane came into the season as a Heisman favorite so clearly the talent is there. He cleaned up his act and went into his senior season clean and sober, which surely would have propelled him to be a top selection in the draft. He may not have the size of a prototypical NFL QB, but his struggles early in life could give him the strength to persevere against the odds. Hall of Fame Moment: Putting the women and children to bed and going looking for dinner, then finding Darnell Jefferson in the end zone to defeat Georgia Tech in his final game of the regular season.

Honorable Mention: Billy Bob (Varsity Blues), Shane Falco (The Replacements), Lucy Draper (Necessary Roughness)

Well that’s a good start, but I’m sure there are a number that I have forgotten. Who knew 1994 was such a great year for sports movies? Feel free to make additions in the comments field and maybe your suggestions will make it into the podcast.


Orioles trade for 767 Career Strikeouts

Orioles fans better get used to this.

The Baltimore Orioles gave up young pitcher David Hernandez Monday in exchange for a guaranteed 200+ strikeouts from the third base position. The Orioles acquired Mark Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks, apparently lured in by the other number that stands out on Reynolds’ resume: 121 homeruns. Reynolds’ strikeout totals for the past three seasons also happen to be the three highest totals in the history of Major League Baseball. I think the fourth-highest belongs to Pedro Cerrano.

As a Baltimore native, I utilized my right to jump on the Orioles bandwagon last season when they suddenly turned into one of baseball’s best teams after Buck Showalter took over. The move makes sense for the young Orioles, who seriously lacked pop last year (133 hrs, 5th worst in the AL). And it’s not like Hernandez is going to start pitching like his namesake Felix any time soon.

After hearing about how the Los Angeles Dodgers made a great move by picking up “power hitter” Juan Uribe, it’s nice to see a team go out and actually get a legitimate longball hitter.

Even if Reynolds does strike out more than Steve Urkel.


Toronto Blue Jays Banking on the Great Canadian Hope

Will he be the next Joey Votto?

On paper it doesn’t make much sense. The Toronto Blue Jays recently traded starting pitcher Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers for 20-year-old infield prospect Brett Lawrie. Last year Marcum, 28, anchored one of the best young pitching staffs in the league (top 10 in virtually every major category and third in strikeouts). The best news for the Blue Jays is that the average age of their main starters at the end of the 2010 season (Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, Mark Rzepczynski, and Kyle Drabek) was 25 years old.

The fact that the staff was so young and so successful would lead one to believe that the Blue Jays would want to keep around a consistent, veteran presence. And that’s exactly what Marcum was. He was their Opening Day starter last season and went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA. For his career, he is 37-25 with a 3.85 ERA in 120 career appearances, all with Toronto. Doesn’t get much more solid than that. Seems like the kind of guy you would want to keep around on a staff that is sure to go through many ups and downs in the next couple of years.

So why did the Blue Jays get rid of him?

Maybe the hope is that the oft-injured flamethrower Dustin McGowan, also 28, can come back healthy and take the reigns as the leader of the staff. Given his mechanics and the fact that he throws every pitch 98+ mph, however, I can’t say that scenario is too likely. The other is that Romero, 26, can blossom into the ace everyone hopes he will become. But he was wildly inconsistent last year and may be too young to be a rock in that #1 spot.

So that leaves just one answer: the Jays thought that Lawrie was too good to pass up. By all indications Lawrie was the top prospect in the Brewers organization, but there’s one fact about him that may have persuaded the Jays to make the deal. Lawrie was born and raised in Langley, British Columbia.

Stuck in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, the Blue Jays may have made more of a PR move here than anything else. After watching Joey Votto take home NL MVP honors this year and Justin Morneau win the AL MVP a few years ago, the Jays may not want to see another Canadian pass them by.

But it’s possible that this is more than just a way to get Canadian butts in the seats. Is it possible that players flourish when playing in familiar surroundings? Now, I know that BC is a long ways from Toronto, but the Canadians love any form of Canuck when it comes to baseball. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some recent successful teams and see just how many players came from the area.

Turns out…not much can be proven. We’ll certainly keep an eye on Lawrie in the coming years and see whether he flourishes in the Canadian summer. If he turns out to be a stud, I’m guessing nobody will be lamenting the departure of solid 2-3 starter Shaun Marcum.


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