I can’t do it alone. Here’s a list of my top ten Phillies resources.
10. Baseball America 2005 Almanac
Not every resource is Web-based. The Baseball America Almanac is one of several books I keep right next to my terminal. This is an essential guide offering a complete recap of the 2004 baseball season, from the World Series to the major, minor, college, high school, independent, and amateur leagues.
Stats, stats and more stats, but the book is most useful for researching players from other organizations. It’s basically a poor man’s "Super Baseball Register," a $70 monster I’m definitely investing in next season. Where the Almanac lists team-sorted stats from the year before, the Register contains career numbers in an alphabetical listing of all athletes playing professional baseball in the United States. The book is 50,000 pages long. Ok, it’s not. Next season, "Super Baseball Register" will crack the top three.
9. The Philling Station
There are several blogs on my daily reading list, but there’s only one - Brian Peoples’ Philling Station on the NJ.com network – I would characterize as a "resource." Brian leaves no stone unturned in the world of Phillies baseball. If it’s in the news, it’s on his blog, and he’s extremely good with his links and sharp with his points. There have been countless occasions I needed to know, for example, when Wags said the team had "no shot" to make the playoffs. The Philling Station archives were the first place I searched, and found the answer and link to the original Inquirer article in seconds.
8 (tie). Phillies.com and ESPN Insider
You’d think the team’s official site would be higher on the list. A busy design and hard-to-sort stat application drop this resource way lower than it should be. I’ve never had much luck getting the comparative stats to work. If I have any success, it’s after ten minutes of experimenting. Plus, with the streaming video and banners, the MLB.com sites are prone to freezing on some machines. That includes my iMac, regrettably purchased four years ago for the sex appeal. Next time, I’m going with a no-frills IBM PowerBook with the little red mouse nipple.
A common criticism with MLB.com is the one-sided editorial content, but I don’t mind Ken Mandel’s game coverage. Aside from a snarky lead from our fair and balanced papers, it’s really the same information you get with Todd Zolecki, the AP or any beat writer for that matter.
The reason I put Phillies.com so high is that it’s the first source to publish news and notes, including call-ups, transactions, injury updates, etc. The site is especially useful in the offseason when the papers are knee-deep in Eagles mania and I’m searching for a nugget.
As for ESPN Insider, this is a new addition because I got fed up with running into the subscription-only wall. Obviously, their columnists – Peter Gammons, Jason Stark, Buster Olney, etc. -- represent some of the best in the business. The big criticism is that my money went toward column after column of trade rumors that never happened. Did anyone notice how the local writers – like Jim Salisbury – got the story straight from the beginning? "Billy Wagner is going nowhere." I could have read that for free.
7. Baseball Prospectus
The premier Sabermetric baseball site I hardly ever use during the season, but read a hell of a lot in winter. They’re great for recapping big chunks of time – seasons, decades – but from a day-to-day basis, I lean on layman’s terms I can find in a common box score.
I signed up for the Primer package and haven’t used it much. That includes a fantasy baseball insider, but because of my heavy blogging habbits, I haven’t been concentrating on the ol’ Pottstown Isotopes (clinched playoff birth after this week).
The Prospectus essays are decent and I’ll read them occasionally. Mostly, I’ll check the PECOTA cards and see where Chase Utley’s career is headed. VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) is a cool stat. Other than that, I get most of my Sabermetric fix from this next site.
6. Hardball Times
Win Shares are the greatest thing to happen to baseball stats since the asterisk, and I find the Hardball Times essayists superior to those at Prospectus. I check Win Shares every day. It’s where I go to compare. Is Bobby Abreu having a better season than Jason Bay? Is Todd Pratt better than Gary Bennett?
Just ask Win Shares, the crack cocaine of Beerleaguer world.
5. Baseball Prospectus 2005 Annual
The second print resource to make my list. At just $19, it’s the most accurate season predictor on the market. I beat the hell from this book in February/March when I was writing my season predictions and filling my fantasy roster. I love it, but it wears out its welcome around the All-Star break. Still, PECOTA is pretty fascinating and often dead-accurate, though it predicted about 40 big-league home runs from Royals slugger Calvin Pickering this season.
A word of caution: It doesn’t include every player in the organization, only established big-leaguers and key prospects. This season, that included Beerleaguer favorite Carlos Ruiz. Bonus points right there. The book is also written with a great sense of humor. I loved Julio Franco’s vital stats. Starting position: old.
The T.O. of Internet resources. It says it’s happy, then it asks for more money.
Traditionally, I use ESPN.com much less than most, but this is certainly a site on the rise in my book – in particular for their unique stat package. I love Park Factors and the Beane Counter, and unlike MLB.com, the sortible numbers actually work.
The only reservation – are the numbers accurate, and will it cause my designer iMac to freeze? And like T.O., there’s nothing low-key about it. If I log on at work, everyone knows I’m on ESPN.com. Why? It says so in big, friggin’ letters.
The pulse of the Philadelphia sports world begins with a morning glance at the Inquirer and Daily News, the second site I check in the morning.
Obviously, if you’re interested enough to have read this far, you’re no stranger to the many talented columnists and writers covering the Phillies. My favorite this season has been Jim Salisbury, described by fellow blogger Tom Goodman as "just as good as Jayson Stark, without trying to be cute about everything." And obviously, I’m a fan of One Chair.
2. Yahoo! Sports
Clean, simple and comprehensive. Box scores, AP coverage, career stats, schedules, photos, and a news aggregate that includes stories from the Philadelphia papers. It’s all there in one, easy-to-use hub.
A daily flush of my browser history might include 100 Yahoo! pages or more – and none of them will make my computer crash.
Here’s what I like most: Yahoo! embraces the lost art of white space. Ironically, that’s hard to find these days in a digital environment that’s literally infinite space. There’s nothing cluttered about it. I hope that never changes.
1. 2005 Phillies Media Guide
I bet you didn’t see this one coming.
Call me a traditionalist, but I have two media guides, one for at work and one at home, and I swear to you, this site wouldn’t be half as good without them.
Where else can you get four pages, 6pt. type, jammed to the limit on Rheal Cormier? How about three pages on Terry Adams?
There’s a reason teams stock press boxes with these 6.5 x 10 dandies. They’re the best – and will remain the best for years to come. It’s like having the entire organization in the palm of your hand.