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Sunday, January 18, 2009


again to reiterate some of the other comments this was a very good signing. I really think he could have asked for and probablly got 7 million this year in arb and that number would have only increased for the next 2 years. I know its not apples to apples but K-rod asked for $12.5 million last year-he lost and was awarded $10 mill.

But its one less headache going into the next 2 offseasons. Giving Amaro time to address all other arb eligibles.

Jeltz, you;re right. "Racism" is an ad hominem, the refuge of scoundrels who apparently cannot take on logical arguments.

mikey, Ryan Howard got paid 10MM last season. He'll probably make somewhere between $14-17MM in 2009. I'm OK with that, because IMO he's worth it.

I ask you again to please explain how race has anything to do with my opinion that he's not worth what ARod gets paid.

BTW, if I posted that I didn't think ARod is worth $27.5MM per year, would you then call me anti-Hispanic?

Just asking.

BTW, I'm glad to see Hamels signed and happy. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a long and successful tenure in Philadelphia.

This is a great move by Amaro at this point and a good deal for Hamels as well.

What this is, is a player saying "I'll take less money to stay where I really want to be" a la Youkalis in Boston who signed for a below-his-value $40 million deal.

Both Hamels and the Phils know that Hamels stays healthy and pitches like he's capable of, there's a lot more money to be made down the line.

Plus, Hamels and his wife just bought a condo in center city and I wouldn't be surprosed if the Phils had something to do with that as well.

If Howard's father would stay out of things for him, a great lesson could be learned here. One thibg the Phils HAVE shown that I give them credit for, is that they will lock up their own players if the interest is mutual.

Alomg with doing this however, they must realize is that locking uo their own olayers is not the only thing they must do to win. It's a big part but not the only part. I wouldn't be surprised if they will follow suit with Werth, Vic and Blanton and once again with Myers.

Clearly Utley and Hamels are the long-term faces of the franchise and Rollins as well and it wouldn't shock me at all that if they lock up more of their own, maybe Howard would have a change of heart and do the same but as I mentioned his father must stay out. We don't need another Lindros situation here.

If Amaro can pull this off, I'll give him a lot of credit, but it doesn't change what he hasn't done.

Again conrats to Hamels and the Phils on this one.

Ruben, his advisors and consultant just bet $20 million on Hamels "degenerative" back. Let's hope they win. They bet $10 million on Freddy Garcia's "degenerative" shoulder and lost.

"BTW, if I posted that I didn't think ARod is worth $27.5MM per year, would you then call me anti-Hispanic?"

No, I wouldnt. Because I'm not a Yankees fan and I don't care enough about A-Rod or the Yankees to respond.

Look, I knew when I brought up the issue of race(actually clout did) that it would bring up protest. That is really not the point.
The point that nobody addresses: How can you complain that the Phillies won't sign/OVERPAY for outside Free Agents, but at the same time say that they should'nt OVERPAY the HR king. He's on YOUR team. If you don't mind paying Lowe 15mil, then you should'nt care that Howard wants 20mil. You can't have it both ways.

And as I stated before, in the last thread: You won't cry when Howard leaves in free agency. OK. Which of the 'better' players are you going to sign? Puljos, Berkman, AGonzalez. What will they want?

How are you going to replace that production for under 20 million?

Cole Hamels' press conference is on now. First thing he said (paraphrasing, of course)

--I'll make this short and sweet because I know there is a big game coming up soon. Best of luck to the Eagles today.--

Smart man, that Cole Hamels. I don't think he could have said anything better to open.

Glad to see Hamels signed and happy. Now its time to start drinking for the Iggles game!

If Hamels had asked for $7M in arbitration and the Phils had countered with a reasonable figure (like $4.75M or $5M) Hamels likely would have lost. His $4.35M is already a bump over similar players in recent years and a jump from Hamel's salary to $7M from his salary last year would have upset the apple cart for pitchers' arbitration hearings for the next several years.

Phils have been involved with some very interesting deals the past two seasons that really sent interesting signals to the market:

1. Romero last year early in the offseason at 3 yrs/$12M really set the market for decent set-up men and has established the floor at around $4M/year.

2. Phils take a foolish approach to their arbitration hearing with Howard last year and lose ($10M/year). Not only did this reset the market for premier power hitters, but it also likely cost the Phils at least several million over the next couple of seasons including next year.

3. Phils resign Lidge to a 3 yr/$37.5M last year during the season but likely overpaid in respect to the deals this offseason. Although they risked losing him to another team, it is also possible that Lidge might have not got a 3rd guaranteed year or pretty likely that he wouldn't have made over $12M/year on the contract either.

4. Phils sign Ibanez to a 3 yr/$30M deal even though they got the player they wanted they likely overpaid by a decent amount (say at least $2M/year on the length of the contract) too given the current market for corner OFs.

5. Phils sign Hamels to a deal that sets the market for starting pitchers who have at least 2 years service time. If you are going to buyout their arbitration years, you better come up with at least $4M for a solid starter entering his 3rd season.

I'm a couple hours ahead of you, Kool Earl. I'm drinking for two - I'm a Steeler fan, too. Eagles first, though.

Great post mg

I suppose the planets may unexpectedly align if I agree with Mikes77, but...

I haven't written on the racism topic, yet it is a subject which should be integral with any historical evaluation of the Phillies club. Over the years, African American players in particular have indicated that they feel like ownership has not been very hospitable. To deny that race had a part in, say, Dick Allen's leaving would be naive. Likewise, Curt Flood's refusal to come here was influenced by his feelings about ownership and the reputation of the city. Historically, whether it's earned or not, whether we admit it or not, the Phillies wear a thin veil of perception of racism.

NOW, importantly, the real difficulty here is our own ability as (very often well-educated) posters willing to address racially issues here. We must admit, those of us who have come from white American, that we will always have some base-level instincts regarding those of other races. It's part of our upbringing (and hence more prevalent in, say, my generation and further back) and does not involve any conscious choice on our part.

A white guy, like me, does not perceive issues of race and gender the same way as those of other backgrounds. (Society as a whole may even be less sensitive to such nuances, but that's not what I want to address.)

When I post about Howard, I always wonder to what extent my own feelings are steered by subconscious gook in the back of my brain. Almost certainly something in there could be considered racist. On the other hand, I believe that some stuff can be teased out from the soup of emotionally fueled assertions. Like:

I get annoyed that he seems to make monetary comparisons of himself to Pujols at a point in time that Pujols shows several skill sets which he has not mastered(notably, a much better idea of the strike zone and good defensive instincts). Being annoyed about that is not, I do not believe, racist.

At the same time, I do find it interesting that Utley catches a lot of sympathy. Would he get the same breaks if he were of a different race? I don't know. Maybe not. But we should, I think, be aware of our own stuff, and understand that we're not always purely logical (not even clout), but are often steered by our emotions in what we say.

That's enough. Now I'll take my lumps, I guess.

Get over your guilt Andy. The Phillies of the Dick Allen/Curt Flood era are not the same guys pulling the trigger on personnel moves in 2009. The concept of race-based historical guilt is one which clearly separates thoughtful human beings from morons.

Wonder why Hamels press conference is today? You'd think those guys who work every day all baseball season long might enjoy having a winter Sunday off.

The racism of the '70s (which is the earliest I can speak to) is long gone - residing only in the remnants of the era. I'm pretty sure there isn't more than any negligible detritus at this site. Still, among hte fanbase, there is a tangible affinity for Utley that doesn't exist for Howard or even Rollins. Howard does display some very frustrating shortcomings that account for most of the criticism. I just don't see people pulling for him the way they pull for Utley. It's not racism, in my view. I would describe it more as identification among the dominant portion of the fanbase. That's not meant to take a damn thing away from Utley. He's an exceptional ballplayer. Fortunately, I don't see any element of this at play in management's decisiosn over the last few decades. I have seen it elsewhere - pandering to the fanbase. If you want an example, ask how the Pirates let Barry Bonds walk and held on ot Andy Van Slyke, only to see him become a platoon player swallowing cash that could have been used to retain the best player of the last half century.

Phils are looking at Ben Sheets. Let me see....ah, yes, add him!

I will sheet myself if they sign Sheets.

MG: There's no doubt the Phillies have played no small part in setting the market by their propensity to dip into the market early & overpay to get their guy. Still, as someone who has often accused ownership of being too cheap and not aggressive enough, you won't hear me criticize them when they overpay or act very quickly to sign or lock up a guy they want. The Ibanez/Romero/Lidge signings were all based on the assumption that payrolls will continue to go up. From a historical standpoint, that's a pretty safe assumption. I would much prefer the Phillies to act quickly & decisively (even if it means overpaying by a few dollars) than dither around in the hopes of getting a better deal -- thereby risking losing out on the guy altogether.

Phils are looking at Ben Sheets.

Kinda like they "looked at" Lowe, right? Like they "looked at" Lowell last winter? Like they "look at" anyone who might cost them more money than the trampeled sludge available in the clearance rack of the close out bin in the mark down department of the Dollar Store.

P.S. Thanks for calling me a moron, Hitman; I was kinda missing my second ex-fiance.

Thanks for the well-thought-out response, Andy. You raise some valid points; however, I still contend that it is an intellectually dishonest argument to assume that everyone that questions Ryan Howard's value is a racist (or, rather, that they are doing so from some innate form of racism). And by the way, until we hear what exactly he's asking for in arbitration, I'm going to reserve judgment on whether or not Ryan is "worth" what he is asking for.

Ryan is a great baseball player who happens to be deficient in several important aspects of his game and plays a position that has many good offensive players. Chase Utley, by whatever combination of (offensive and defensive) metrics you decide to use, is a more valuable player strictly by the position he plays (due to the dearth of good second basemen); he is (and I really don't know how anyone could argue otherwise) a more complete player. This is not an issue of race; it is, for me at least, an issue of positional value.

Do I want the Phillies to add Sheets to their rotation? Yes, I do. Do I think the Phillies are serious in their "pursuit" of Ben Sheets? No, I do not. And cheap or not, the Phillies do sort of have an obligation to take care of the arb-eligible players, don't they?

BTW, has anyone ever seen a game played in Arizona on television that is as loud as this one? Jeezus...

Andy: You are one of the best posters here, and we are generally of like mind when it comes to baseball-related stuff (i.e., bashing management, being pessimistic, etc.). But the whole race thing is just silly. It's tiresome how every time anyone says anything even slightly negative about a black athlete, someone turns it into a racial issue (and I realize you weren't the one to raise the subject; you were just chiming in). Even when the criticism is obviously warranted, there will always be someone who brings up race. Latrell Sprwell strangles his coach? You can't ignore the fact that the player is black and the coach is white. Terrell Owens bashes every QB he plays with? It's just white America giving him a bad rap. Milton Bradley playing his way off 9 teams because he's such a nut-job? That's just management being uncomfortable with him because he's a black man with anger control issues.

Philly is tough on their athletes -- black, white, or anything else. And, when it comes to baseball, they're probably not as appeciative as they should be of power-hitting, high OBP players who hit for low batting average and strike out a lot. Philly fans booed the greatest third baseman in baseball history, for crying out loud. Ryan Howard is the same mold of player as Mike Schmidt was early in his career. When people find fault with Howard, it is not because of his race.

It is very compforting for me to find that there is never a racial component involved with Phillies fans, in the attacks on Ryan Howard, Terrell Owens, Milton Bradley, or Latrell Sprewell... Wait. How did Ryan Howard get lumped in with those guys?

Mikes: Apparently the concept of an illustration by analogy goes beyond your comprehension. I was not "lumping" Ryan Howard in with those other guys. I was giving examples of how, even in the most clear-cut of instances, it's impossible to criticize any black player for anything without someone bringing up the issue of racism. It is predictable and tiresome, and all it does is stymie intelligent discussion.

I have to say I'm very happy with this deal and although I am somewhat disappointed that they weren't able to lock up some of his FA years, this will work fine for me.

This gives the FO a very important cost certainly and it pats our prima donna Ace starter on the head so everyone is happy. Good work Ruben...for once.

Now go sign Ben Sheets and make my winter complete.

Mikes: My problem with you, and I suspect vice versa, can be summed up by this statement of yours regarding Howard: "He's on YOUR team."

To which my response is, "Yeah? So?" Why should that color (no pun intended) my perception of him as a player? He is what he is; pretending he's better than that because he's on "my" team seems foolish to me.

The first comments I ever read from you were about Howard's qualifications for the 2008 MVP award. It's one thing to hope he gets it. It's quite another to pretend he deserved it. You still can't seem to grasp the concept that he had what, for him, wasn't a very good season. Or that he has declined for three straight years. Or that, depending on what metric you use beyond HR and RBI, he was somewhere between the 30th and 40th best offensive player in MLB last year.

Add to the homerism you show towards Howard your applause of every move made this off-season and I -- and many others -- view you as a yes-man with very little to bring to intelligent discussion of the team.

I say all this without knowing what race you are.

"It is predictable and tiresome, and all it does is stymie intelligent discussion."

So what are your saying? There is absolutely NO chance that because Chase Utley is white and Ryan Howard is black, that the fanbase would'nt tend to identify with Chase Utley a little more. And because of this, he would tend to get less criticism.
I am not saying that everybody that criticizes Ryan Howard is a racist. That's stupid. Any athlete can be picked apart. I just think that on this blog, the criticism of a hometown player goes overboard to the point that it looks like full out contempt. Ryan Howard takes more criticism than any Met or Braves player on this board. For most fans, I suppose, race would'nt even cross there mind when judging a player.
I don't think what I implied is overt behavior. It goes to who you identify with more. The difference in treatment between the 2 players is not proportionate to the differece in level of play. Chase Utley is not so much better than Howard that he should never get criticized. Howard is not so bad that his hometown fans should count down the days until he is traded('because he is not worth superstar money').

There is some middle ground somewhere.

Stop with the race discussion. It's silly, unfounded, and intellectually dishonest.

How I long for the topics debating the wroth of Pedro Feliz.

Alby said, "The first comments I ever read from you were about Howard's qualifications for the 2008 MVP award".

Alby, that is totally untrue. I never wrote on this board that Ryan Howard should be the 2008 MVP. I NEVER thought he deserved it, so I KNOW I did not post that. I felt either Puljos or Manny deserved the MVP.

If anything, the first thing you ever heard from me, was attacking the sentiment that Pat Burrell was equal to Ryan Howard, and could replace his production. I grew tired of Jody Mac and baseball George implying that on the radio. I also started to see posters on this blog buying into that.

I have never said that Howard was better or equal to Puljos. Nobody is Alberts equal.

"Add to the homerism you show towards Howard your applause of every move made this off-season and I -- and many others -- view you as a yes-man"

Alby, again you choose make up nonsense to prove your arguments.

I have not applauded every move of the offseason. I only applauded the Phillies for NOT offering Pat Burrell arbitration. He would have accepted and the team wouldn'nt have received any picks for him.

1. I did not applaud the re-signing of Jaime Moyer. I posted that he should have gotten no more than one year.

2. I did not appluad signing Ibanez to 3 years, because I believe he will not be useful in year 3. Plus Michael Taylor will be ready by then.

3. I did not applaud the signing of Chan Ho Park. He has been nothing but a waste of money for most of his career.

4. I did not applaud the re-signing of Bruntlett to 1 million and Condrey to 650 thousand. Either one of those guys could be replaced by a minimum salary player.

All I've said is that Ibanez is an upgrade over Burrell. Therefore the lineup in my view, is better. Thats not being a cheerleader of the front office.


"1. Romero last year early in the offseason at 3 yrs/$12M really set the market for decent set-up men and has established the floor at around $4M/year."

But to be fair, the $4M/year salary was a readjustment from the rates that guys like Tom Gordon were getting when they were high-end set up guys.

"2. Phils take a foolish approach to their arbitration hearing with Howard last year and lose ($10M/year). Not only did this reset the market for premier power hitters, but it also likely cost the Phils at least several million over the next couple of seasons including next year."

In retrospect, they should have offered Howard $8M last year and probably would've won. This would have saved them a few million over the years, but still wouldn't get around the fact that due to the length of time that it took for Howard to get to the show he and his family, it seems, are looking to get the most they can for his services.

"3. Phils resign Lidge to a 3 yr/$37.5M last year during the season but likely overpaid in respect to the deals this offseason. Although they risked losing him to another team, it is also possible that Lidge might have not got a 3rd guaranteed year or pretty likely that he wouldn't have made over $12M/year on the contract either."

But if the Phillies hadn't resigned him that would have probably caused a bidding war between the Phillies and Mets for either him or K-Rod and their prices, as well as Kerry Woods, may have actually gone up. K-Rod was able to set up his deal the way he did because Lidge's deal was a a guidepost and he was the top of the line guy on the market.

"4. Phils sign Ibanez to a 3 yr/$30M deal even though they got the player they wanted they likely overpaid by a decent amount (say at least $2M/year on the length of the contract) too given the current market for corner OFs."

They may have overpaid, time will tell, but obviously they wanted him badly and Ibanez's name was popping up on either team's lists -- like the Angels, etc.

"5. Phils sign Hamels to a deal that sets the market for starting pitchers who have at least 2 years service time. If you are going to buyout their arbitration years, you better come up with at least $4M for a solid starter entering his 3rd season."

Hamels may have been a Super Two guy, but as he came up fairly early in 2006, he was a Super Two by much. I'm perfectly comfortable for what he signed for over the length of the deal. This year's contract, based on the Wang of the Yankees' first arbitration deal of $4M, actually seems like a bargain to me.

We'll see what else they do this offseason, but I wouldn't be surprised if they can scrape together some money to make a 1 year deal for a bat or arm that surprises some here.

The Howard arbitration approach last season was not ridiculous. Howard's demands are ridiculous...just like they will be this season. He'll probably win again and it will be BS. 3 straight years of declining stats equals another pay increase? Someone will have to explain the logic of that to me at some point.

The Ibanez deal was likely overpaying but the Lidge deal almost certainly wasn't. Lidge was the best closer in baseball last year and his dominance was a key reason we won the WS. Trying to say KRod took around the same is to denigrate Brad Lidge's season. He was the best closer in the game last season and he was PERFECT. No one else can say that last year. He also was key in winning a World Series. His deal was and is fair.

NEPP: It's not denigrating Lidge if he got $.5M less over the length of the contract when he was indisputably the #1 closer on the market. He benefited from Lidge's contract, and had they both been on the market each one's deals likely would've been a little bit more considering the seasons they had and that the Phillies and Mets would've been looking for closers and there would've been a race for each team to lock up a guy first.

I was referring to the original comment about the Lidge signing, not your above rebuttal. I agree with your comments on the deal. I don't agree on the poster that stated that Lidge might not have gotten $12 million per or even a guaranteed 3rd year if they had waited till the off-season. He would have been the #1 closer available and he would have probably even made more than he took in August. It was a great signing and it showed that hte Phillies are serious about spending money on guys they want to keep around (Utley, Rollins, Hamels, Lidge, Romero). They will spend if they think the player is worth it. I'll bet that Vic and Werth are locked up at some point in the next 12 months as well...Vic being more likely to get a long-term deal though. Werth they MIGHT let walk if a guy like Michael Taylor is crushing the ball at AA.

"The Howard arbitration approach last season was not ridiculous."

With this, I disagree. The Phillies were absolutely stupid in last year's arbitration proceedings, and I said so at the time. The Phillies figured they could low-ball Howard and still win, since: (1) the owners usually win; and (2) they knew Howard's offer would be unreasonably high. They were right about the second part, but they still lost because their own offer was even more unreasonable.

This year, I think the Phillies will be smarter. Howard is talking like he's going to seek $15 to $17M. In other words, he wants a 50 to 70% raise after a year that wasn't nearly as good as the previous one (let alone the one before that). I think the Phillies will offer $13M, which would be a winning offer. There is no way in the world that a guy with 3 straight years of declining numbers, who is annually near the league lead in errors for a first baseman, deserves a 50 to 70% raise.

I'm all in favor of Ryan Howard trying to get what's coming to him. But he isn't doing himself any favors when he starts off with unrealistic beliefs about his own worth. This is a textbook example of why parents make bad agents. An agent must possess the ability to be objective, and tell his client things he may not want to hear. I read somewhere that Howard's father is some type of Wall Street hotshot. He is clearly no dummy but what's just as clear is that he lacks the ability to be objective when it comes to his son's worth.

NEPP: Roger. Sorry about that.

I agree with you on the long=term signings. Vic is the priority, and I think they'll work something out. He's a good ballplayer, a fan favorite, and he does the little things that ownership likes, like going out on phan winter cruises. Michael Taylor's season, will be key, as will Donald's and Marson's. Every team needs a couple of those minimum wage contracts to balance out their budget every season.

Howard winning after a decline year was ridiculous. The Phillies offer was the same as Pujols (a FAR superior player in all aspects of the game) got. How is that not fair.

And Howard's father is making me have horrible flashbacks to Carl Lindros.

$13 million is more than fair...much more than fair. What happens if he has another declining season? Do we have to give him $15-16 million in 2010.

Hamels signed for 3 years 20.5 million in his 1ST year of arbitration. Brett Myers signed for 3 years 25 million in his 2ND year of arbitration. Hard to believe one year of service time makes that much difference in contract negotiations.
Suprised Hamels settled for this contract. He would have received 4.5 mil in arbitration this year anyway. He might as well have waited till next year and signed for 30 million over 3 years.

Maybe he smartly realized that all it takes is one pitch that blows out his elbow or kills his back and there goes all that money. Some guys appreciate having their retirement taken care of by age 25...obviously Cole is one of them. Considering his injury history, it was probably the best signing possible for both the team and player. Considering he just bought a condo in CenterCity with his new wife, perhaps he's like Burrell and really wants to stay in Philly. Stranger things have happened. The guy is a local hero will never have to buy a drink for the rest of his life in Philly...there are alot worse ways to go through life.

NEPP: You're wrong in your facts and wrong in your analysis. Pujols got $9M at the same point in his career, and that was 4 years before Howard's arbitration hearing. Despite a 5% annual rate of salary inflation in those intervening 4 years, the Phillies offered Howard $7M.

Howard's first 3 years were not on a par with Pujols' first 3 years, but he sure didn't deserve to be paid 22% less than Pujols was paid 4 years ago. Howard's $10M asking price was on the high end, but the Phillies' $7M offer was absurd and they richly deserved to lose the arbitration hearing.

For some reason I thought Pujols only got $7 million...I stand corrected.

Still, Howard should not even be mentioned in the same breath as Pujols. Pujols is the best player in baseball, Howard is most definitely matter how many HRs he hit.

NEPP: No one's claiming that Howard is, or ever was, as good as Pujols. But when you're one of the top players in baseball, it's certainly reasonable to look at what the top player made at a similar point in time, and track from there. And, in doing so, it's also reasonable to adjust for inflation. Like I said before, Howard's $10M asking price was on the high end of reasonable at best, and probably unreasonably high. But the Phillies' $7M offer wasn't even in the ball park. Had they offered, $8M, they would very likely have won. Had they offered $8.5M, it would have been a slam dunk.

I agree on the $8 million or $8.5 million marks.

Howard's first 3 seasons weren't close to Pujols in any way other than HRs and every other aspect of the game and in hitting, Pujols absolutely blows him out of the water. For Howard to get more than him...even a couple years later is ridiculous.

First 3 seasons by OPS+





FWIW, Pujols career OPS+ of 170 is better than Howard's MVP season. I would say that Pujols is easily worth 22% more than Howard...

Arguing Howardd versus Pujols with regard to arbitration is incorrect. The more comparable player is Miguel Cabrerra.

The Phillies should have offered Howard 100,000 more than Cabrerra and they would have won the arbitration. Instead they offered 400,000 less than Cabrerra and lost 2 million dollars that they didnt have to lose.

This year they should learn a lesson and offer more than what Cabrerra got in his 2nd year. If the Phillies offer 13.5 million, they will win. If they offer 12 million, they will lose.

I definitely buy that race plays some role in Phils fans' appreciation or lack thereof of Howard; it'd be surprising if it didn't. But I also don't think it's a fair debate tactic to accuse someone here who's sour on Howard of racism.

Anybody see this ESPN story about the Moyer family? ht tp://

Regardless of what you think about the religion side of it, the Moyers certainly are caring people.

Gotta give kudos to both Hamels and the Phils for this one. To me it seems like the essence of a fair deal for both sides.

Cole could have rolled the dice and gotten more $ if he stayed healthy, but there would be some acrimony on both sides from year to year. He's giving up a bit of potential cash, but he is very aware of his health issues; and basically, has set himself and his family up for life. And he knows if he does stay healthy, the payday down the road will be beyond huge.

The Phils locked in their ace for a few more years and put some cash on the table to do so. I believe it will help their credibility with the fans and other players they are trying to resign.

Usually when both sides have to give up something - and I think both sides made intelligent decisions to do so here - you have the elements of a fair deal. One sided deals usually come back to snap someone in the rear, one way or another.

On the thorny issue of racism, who knows? There could be some element lurking around. When you look at the stands you see mostly white faces. We can't pretend to know what goes on in their minds.

But Utley has that sort of Charlie Hustle, hard nose attitude that the Philly fans love. They love his focus and grind it out, dirt dog work ethic. I do too. Add to that he's now made a committment to the City and team, taking the long term, less cash position, and bought a home in the City.

By contrast, fairly or unfairly, Howard's position is perceived as more grasping, me first, maximize the cash. His father's involvement is not helpful in that regard, understandable as it may be.

We've also read how Chase worked extremely hard to bring himself from what I recall as an average second basemen at best to the guy who made the highlight reel play on a wet field in Game 5. Howard - we don't know. Maybe he works hard all year long taking extra fielding practice. For all I know he's hanging out for the winter with Albert or Keith Hernandez working on his fielding skills. But if so, I haven't heard of it or anything like it. The home run/strikeout scenario also lends itself to more of a love hate type relationship a bit.

I love Ryan and Chase. Nothing would make me happier as a fan to see the numbers of Ryan, Chase, King Cole, and Jimmy retired and hanging over the park forever, and for there to be a bronze statue of the four of them at the entrance to the park for all of us to enjoy for the rest of our fandom.

But I do think there are logical reasons why Chase has that more idolizing fan base than does Ryan that go well beyond race. And I think b_a_p's comment about Mike Schmidt sort of says it all about how Philly views its players.

It's a tough town. All you've gotta do is be a star player (all the time), be a Phiily guy with a scrappy work ethic, say the right things to the press (who will skewer you in a nanosecond), be part of a championship team, and be loyal to the City forever. But let Utley have a bad year and he'll hear it from the naysayers, as well.

Yo, new "Glad the Phils aren't the Eagles" thread...

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