Tag:Bruce Springsteen
Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:30 pm

Prior commited to winning job in Yanks' pen

TAMPA -- The corner locker in a big-league clubhouse is the perfect location for a player who enjoys sitting back and observing.

In the Yankees' clubhouse, Mark Prior occupies one of the corner lockers. But he's done enough observing over the past several years, thank you very much.

Here to win a job in the club's bullpen, Prior knows there is every chance he may open the season in Triple-A. And that's OK by him, as long as his troubled right shoulder stays intact and allows him what probably is this one last chance to finish a career on his terms, and not those of his shoulder.

Adding a touch of nostalgia to the spring is that Prior is reunited with new Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild. The two worked together for five seasons in Chicago, nearly helping to push the Cubs into the World Series in 2003.

"So far, he's been good," Rothschild said. "Arm-wise, he's feeling good. ... We need to go in progression to build him up.

"The bullpen is where he's going to be, I think. It's what his arm can handle."

In two spring innings so far, Prior has allowed neither a hit nor a run. He's struck out three, and walked one.

"If he's right, he's going to win some games for the Yankees this year," one big-league scout who saw Prior pitch last summer said.

From his perch at the corner locker after another morning of work recently, Prior was pleased with the way things are going. His latest comeback started in earnest last summer pitching for an independent league team in Fullerton, Calif., where he showed enough that the Rangers signed him to a minor-league deal. He pitched one minor-league inning in a Triple-A game near season's end, and then one inning in a minor-league playoff game.

"I think it's there," he said. "Like everybody, there are things I need [work on]. I'm trying to find the release point on my breaking ball."

The good?

"I feel like the ball's coming out of my hand free," he said. "I'm not pushing it."

Since cranking it up in Fullerton last summer, Prior said he's throwing the ball "a lot better. I'm more efficient. I'm not on top of the ball."

Prior, still just 30, has not pitched in the majors since 2006. Rothschild believes his shoulder has never been the same since his '03 collision with infielder Marcus Giles. Then, in '05, he suffered a compression fracture in his elbow when he was drilled by a line drive comebacker by Colorado's Brad Hawpe.

"Not to get melodramatic, but after '05, I was just battling to get out there every fifth day in '06," said Prior, who made only nine starts that year. "Then, '07 was a nightmare [exploratory surgery by Dr. James Andrews revealed structural damage to the shoulder]."

He could have packed it in -- he's earned nearly $13 million during his career, according to baseballreference.com -- but, well, a pitcher pitches. Until, at least, he no longer can. And despite his checkered injury history, Prior still wasn't ready for a life of "what could have been?".

His time on the mound last summer confirmed that in his mind.

And where he once pitched in All-Star Games and NL Championship Series' (2003), now he gauges his progress differently.

"I saw that, steadily, things were getting better and better," he said. "When I faced St. Louis' farm system in the playoff game, St. Louis always has great hitters and I held my own. I was thinking, 'Hey, I can do this.'"

This spring, he's still thinking the same thing.

"I think that my starting days are definitely on the back burner," he said. "From what I know of my shoulder, and from what they know of my shoulder, this is my best situation to come back."

Sunblock Day? Surely, you jest. More great weather this spring. Keep the Banana Boat well-stocked.

Likes: Mark Prior as healthy as we've seen him in several years. I don't know if his shoulder is going to last, but it would be a nice chapter in his career if he can stay on the field and pitch out of the Yankees' bullpen. ... Our Ear on Baseball podcast featuring C. Trent Rosecrans with two members of The Baseball Project, Scott McCaughey (most famous for his work with REM) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3). The Baseball Project has just released their second disc and will be touring, including a handful of Cactus League ballpark shows the latter half of March. Good stuff musically and good listening. You can get it here. ... Clarence Clemons, sax man for the E Street Band, playing on a new Lady Gaga song. What a combination they must have been on recording day. ... As far as fast food pizza goes, I'll take Papa John's.

Dislikes: That I left Tampa right before a special theatrical screening of Smokey and the Bandit at which Burt Reynolds was to appear. Now what a hoot that would have been. No word whether the Trans-Am was going to show.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"James Dean in that Mercury '49
"Junior Johnson runnin' through the woods of Caroline
"Even Burt Reynolds in that black Trans-Am
"All gonna meet down at the Cadillac Ranch"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Cadillac Ranch

Posted on: September 4, 2010 4:17 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2010 4:42 pm

Cincy's Phillips still sore

ST. LOUIS -- He's hitting .288 with 16 home runs and 50 RBI, but the Brandon Phillips leading off for the Reds here this weekend is not the All-Star we've seen for much of the season.

And it's got nothing to do with the St. Louis fans riding him like a Schwinn in the aftermath of the brawl two weeks ago.

No, having missed six games after being hit in the right hand with a pitch in San Francisco last week, Phillips returned to the lineup here Friday after missing six games and went 0 for 4 with one strikeout. Though his hand is much better than it was, some swelling remains.

"To tell you the truth, it's still bothering me," Phillips says. "But I've played hurt before. I feel like my timing is off. I've just got try to throw the head of the bat at the ball."

Manager Dusty Baker said he didn't see anything wrong with Phillips' swing in the series opener Friday, a 3-2 loss to St. Louis, but acknowledges that the second baseman's timing will be off after sitting for a week.

"I told him today to use his eyes," Baker said.

Use his eyes?
Baker explained that when he was playing and missed several games, he would go through periods upon returning in which "I didn't trust my timing or my hand speed."

Sometimes, Baker said, "you've got to trick yourself. I told him today to use his eyes more."

Baker compared it to breathing, how "sometimes when you find yourself in a tight situation, you find yourself hyperventilating and not getting proper ventilation to your heart. That's how you relax. Breathe."

And maybe with a sore hand, that's how Phillips will maintain. See.

Likes: Beautiful day Saturday in St. Louis. Sunny, 70-something, no humidity, an autumn feel in the air. Could not be nicer for baseball -- or for simply being outside. ... Couple of great runs through the downtown streets of St. Louis and circling through the Jefferson Memorial Park by the Arch. Love the families walking around checking out the Arch and posing for pictures as the kids hold onto the last gasps of summer. ... Charlie Gitto's Italian joint downtown, a must-stop in St. Louis. Toasted ravioli and chicken parmesan, excellent. ... Throwback Mountain Dew and Throwback Pepsi. Hope they keep offering them forever. Not that it's health food, but the pure cane sugar sure beats the corn syrup they use in the modern versions. Cripser, with no filmy aftertaste. ... College football's return. ... Verry cool seeing all the Missouri-clad fans in downtown St. Louis on Saturday morning eating bagels and tailgating before the Missouri-Illinois opener. ... And on the high school fields Friday, Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central administering a 31-0 whipping of rival Monroe Jefferson. Excellent first win of the season over the hated Bears.

Dislikes: Screaming -- and I mean screaming -- kids behind me and in front of me on the flight here Thursday. My ears are still ringing.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"We learned more from a three-minute record, baby
"Than we ever learned in school"

-- Bruce Springsteen, No Surrender

Posted on: June 16, 2010 11:37 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2010 11:58 pm

Reds look to get back on track Thursday

CINCINNATI -- Hoo boy, tough night for the Reds on Wednesday as the Dodgers rolled 6-2 to snatch first place from San Diego in the NL West.

Not only was it their third consecutive loss and their fourth in five games as they battle St. Louis in the NL Central, but. ...

Cincinnati rookie Mike Leake (five earned runs and nine hits in six innings) was tagged with the first loss of his major-league career. He made history by becoming the first Reds rookie pitcher to ever go undefeated through his first 12 starts, then the Dodgers' Andre Ethier made history by blasting a hanging curveball for a three-run homer in the sixth to mortally wound Leake.

Then, in the bottom of the sixth with Los Angeles leading 5-0, two on and none out, Scott Rolen and manager Dusty Baker were both ejected by plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt when Rolen lost it after being called out on strikes.

It was only the third ejection of Rolen's 14-year career and, as he explained, "I thought it was a big at-bat, a game-changing at-bat, possibly."

Rolen joked that, after Tuesday's marathon game that featured a 2 1/2-hour rain delay and didn't wrap up until 1 a.m., he and Wendelstedt were asking each other whether they got enough sleep and then the umpire said, "Why don't you go up and sit in the cold tub and get ready for Thursday's game."

"That was it," Rolen said with a wry smile. "I'm not sure what it looked like."

The ejections were one sure signal that summer is heating up. The surprising Reds are keeping a close eye on the Cardinals, but they've also hit a rough patch that is testing them.

"We knew we'd go through periods like this," Baker said afterward. "We've got to keep fighting. It's a long season, and it's not going to be up all the time. There's a long way to go, and there are going to be good times, and there are going to be great times."

There also will be rough times and, as Baker said, "That's why you want to be as many games over .500 as you can, so when you hit one of these streaks ... you want a cushion."

The Reds have one more game against the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon before heading west to play Seattle and Oakland.

And it is not lost on them that these same Dodgers swept the Cardinals just one week ago in Los Angeles.

Likes: Love that Great American Ballpark sits right on the Ohio River. Very cool to look out beyond the right-field bleachers and see the river flowing. ... Nice billboard featuring Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy and his "The Real McCoy" blog for his old newspaper, the Dayton Daily News, while driving into town the other day. Even better to see my old friend in person these last two nights. ... Had a chance to catch the Bruce Springsteen exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before leaving Cleveland earlier this week. Great display, including a phenomenal amount of hand-written lyrics and some iconic clothes, including the threads that Bruce wore on the cover of both Born in the USA and The River. The red cap from his back pocket on Born in the USA is almost comically plain, and worn. ... Johnny Cash's tour bus, also on display at the Rock Hall.

Dislikes: Nobody's thrilled with rain delays, and Tuesday night's was a doozy. The Reds and Dodgers waited two-and-a-half hours before resuming play midway through the game after 11 p.m. The game didn't end until 1 a.m. But you know what? The thunderstorm was worth it. Man did it pour. And the lightening show was spectacular.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Got kind of tired packing and unpacking
"Town to town, and up and down the dial
"Maybe you and me were never meant to be
"But baby think of me once in awhile
"I'm at WKRP in Cincinnati"

-- Hugh Wilson, Theme to 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Posted on: June 1, 2010 10:50 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2010 12:23 am

Boras: Gwynn job with Strasburg "remarkable"

As Stephen Strasburg speeds toward his big-league debut next Tuesday against Pittsburgh, agent Scott Boras says that "no college coach has ever prepared a player better than Tony Gwynn."

Gwynn, the Hall of Famer and San Diego State University baseball coach, oversaw the growth and development of the right-hander (along with pitching coach Rusty Filter) while all the while resisting the temptation to overuse him even as Gwynn's Aztecs team was fighting to qualify for its first NCAA tournament berth in more than a decade.

He also helped school Strasburg on the media attention, and stepped in with rules to limit his availability when the kid was on the verge of being overwhelmed.

"Tony recognized that he was a unique talent, and he did a remarkable job," Boras says. "And that player also got that program into the Regionals, too.

"It says a lot about how right the system can work in getting high school players to go to college around people who understand both the collegiate and pro marketplace so they can really develop players."

In Gwynn's case, of course, he not only understood the college game -- he played at San Diego State in the 1970s -- but also, of course, knows the major leagues. As his eight batting titles attest.

Mostly, Strasburg pitched once a week, on Friday nights.

"Tony was extraordinary," Boras says. "The interest of the player came first throughout. And oh, by the way, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Tony Gwynn's son is a major-league player. I mean that, because he did the same thing with him. They talk about Tony Gwynn being a great player, let's talk about Tony Gwynn as a great coach, father, mentor and everything else he did. Because this man is a Hall of Famer, but you've got to remember that Tony has crossed lines here where most Hall of Famers don't go. They're teachers, mentors, they're all those things. I think a great deal of credit needs to go to him because of what he's doing currently and the fact that he's taking the time to be a college coach.

"He could be a broadcaster. He could probably make triple the income he's making and live a very different life, and a lot easier life than what he's doing now. And I think we're all privileged that he's doing that for young men, for college baseball and for baseball in general. Tony Gwynn is doing something that impacted both college and professional baseball."

Likes: The Cardinals and Reds this week in St. Louis battling for first place in the NL Central. ... Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Tim Lincecum on Memorial Day. Jimenez is unbelievable. Lincecum will find his control. Pitchers slump, too, you know. ... Michael Cuddyer playing second base for Minnesota on Monday in Seattle for the first time since July, 2005. Leave it to the Twins. ... Memorial Day Weekend. Summer's here. ... Case in point: A large group of men playing Ultimate Frisbee on Tuesady in one of the parks I cruise through during my daily runs. Usually, with the kids still in school, the place is quiet on a workday. ... The shrimp that emerged perfectly from my grill the other day. ... New concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen, London Calling -- Live in Hyde Park, in about three weeks. ... Finished Hellhound on His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin. Really, really terrific. A gripping read by Hampton Sides.

Dislikes: Nice job of working the plate the other day, Bill Hohn. In ejecting Astros ace Roy Oswalt, he gave a textbook example of how not to ump. Following in the immediate aftermath of Joe West and Bob Davidson. ... Bad caps worn by all on Memorial Day. Bad, bad caps. Can we just wear the uniforms that the clubs are supposed to wear and stop with all the alternate jerseys/caps stuff? I know there's money to be made, but do we have to squeeze every last penny out of everybody? There are other ways to honor the Veterans -- as they deserve to be honored -- on Memorial Day. ... It's Complicated, with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, is not even worth renting. Brutal. We shut it off after an hour or so the other night. I mean, Meryl Streep is usually fantastic, but she over-acted something fierce in this dog. Every scene, she giggled, laughed or cried. Totally distracting. Ugh.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I’m gonna write a truthful song over an eighties groove
"I’d like to let you know I’ll always be straight with you
"I stole my personality from an anonymous source
"And I’m gonna pay for it too, I don’t feel bad about that
"Give me my chance back"

-- Hockey, (Tomorrow's Just) A Song Away

Posted on: April 29, 2010 12:17 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2010 1:37 pm

U2, the DH and the baseball schedule

Don't know whether or not Bono favors the designated hitter rule, but based on U2's summer concert tour, they're definitely American Leaguers.

The band is playing Angels Stadium (June 6-7), the Oakland Coliseum (June 16) and Toronto's Rogers Center (July 3) before, finally, landing in NL Florida's Landshark Stadium (or whatever they're calling it now, on July 9).

And it wreaked havoc with the 2010 schedule.

"They've become my least-favorite band -- which has nothing to do with their songs, talent or anything else," jokes Katy Feeney, the longtime National League media specialist who now helps handles major league baseball's club relations and scheduling issues.

Putting together the major-league schedule is always a chore because it has an incredible number of moving parts, and this year's was even more difficult based on the band from Ireland.

Because of the magnitude of the tour and sheer size of the stage, Feeney says, "they require 10 days to set up the concert and then break it down. That's an unusually long period of time [compared to other concerts].

"And that means a team has to be on the road for three series' over a week-and-a-half."

The problems, for example, didn't necessarily occur with sending the Angels on the road for a 14-game trip from May 31-June 14 to make room for U2, or with sending the A's on a nine-game trip from June 11-21 to accommodate Bono and the boys.

"Unfortunately, everything has a ripple effect," Feeney says. "And the number of actual teams hosting the concert, other than those 10 days, may not feel as many consequences as some other clubs."

It could have gotten more dicey. St. Louis initially asked to hold dates for U2, but for whatever reason, the band didn't fit Busch Stadium into its itinerary. And while the band is playing major-league cities Denver (June 12), Seattle (June 20), Minneapolis (June 27) and Chicago (July 6), those concerts are all in football stadiums.

"It wasn't as bad as the year the Republican National Convention was in Houston," Feeney says of the 1992 gathering. "The Astros had to be on the road for a month that year.

"Every year has something. Hopefully, everybody enjoys the U2 concerts in baseball stadiums. And hopefully, the stadiums will be full."

Maybe Bono will write about it in one of his New York Times Op-Ed columns.

Likes: Colleague Mike Freeman's column lobbying baseball to consider moving 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona if the state does not change its new immigration law. ... Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo, the game's next superstar. ... Baltimore wins two in a row this week! ... Former Indians pitching coach Carl Willis as the roving pitching coordinator for the Mariners' minor-league system. He'll be back in the bigs soon. ... First three episodes of HBO's Treme have been solid. Very promising New Orleans-based show right there. From David Simon, who did Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire. ... New release from The Hold Steady next week. ... New DVD coming in June from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, London Calling. ... Finally started reading Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked. Not too far in yet, but anytime I'm reading a Hornby book, it's good with me.

Dislikes: The Giants' ninth inning Wednesday following Tim Lincecum. ... The Brewers' ninth inning Wednesday with Trevor Hoffman. ... The Royals' eighth and ninth innings Tuesday following Zack Greinke. ... Regarding the above on David Simon, I still haven't caught up with The Wire, which I hear is superb. It's on my list.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The more you see the less you know
"The less you find out as you go
"I knew much more then, than I do now
"Neon heart, day-glow eyes
"A city lit by fireflies
"They're advertising in the skies
"For people like us"

-- U2, City of Blinding Lights

Posted on: March 30, 2010 2:41 am

Giants' Panda not on bamboo diet

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's a rich history in baseball of players who have eaten themselves out of the game and, together, Pablo Sandoval and the Giants are working to make sure that doesn't happen to one of the most exciting young hitters around.

Sandoval is blessed with inordinate strength, incredible hand-eye coordination and a body that looks like it came straight from a cartoon. As he focuses on maintaining his strength but not adding weight, he's working with a nutrition company that sends meals straight to the stadium for him.

"Fish, chicken, fruit, salads," Sandoval says.

More and more clubs are working toward being smart about nutrition. St. Louis this year is re-constituting its clubhouse food all the way down through its farm system. The Giants did it a year or two ago. Other clubs are doing the same. And the days of the post-game food spread consisting of ribs and burgers in big league clubhouses are becoming a thing of the past.

Where Sandoval is concerned, the Giants list his weight as 252 but reports are that he was up over 260 last season. Given that he's just 23, that's a concern -- not just for his baseball career, but for his off-the-field future.

When I asked him what his weight was up to last season, he grinned bashfully and said, "I can't tell."

When I asked him where he's at now, I got the same bashful grin and the same answer.

But Sandoval and the Giants were smart, scheduling the Kung Fu Panda to meet with a nutritionist each Friday during the winter starting early last November. There, he learned about things like calories, portions and protein. Right now, he says he's supposed to get about 1,700 calories a day.

"Something like that," Sandoval says.

"I'm working hard," he adds. "I feel great. I'm moving well in the field, I've been running hard and I don't lose my power."

What people forget is that language isn't the only barrier for players who come over from the Latin American countries (Sandoval is from Venezuela).

"The food is different," he says. "I'm learning about how you have to eat in the off-season, too. I'm trying to eat the right portions."

The most difficult thing?

"The fast food," he says. "Especially in the minor leagues. Late in the night, after a game, you're eating McDonald's. The fast food tastes good, but it is bad for you.

"Everything is different here. You don't have your mom's cooking."

What is his favorite thing that his mother makes?

"Lasagna," he says, beaming.


"Rice and chicken."

As long as he bypasses the drive-thru windows, Panda should be on his way.

Sunblock Day? Ah, 80s in the desert.

Likes: Kay, the woman "guarding" the door to the San Francisco Giants clubhouse. A retiree, Kay is so fierce that she keeps a bowl of candy on her table for reporters to dip into on their way inside. But what caught my eye was her knitting -- she was finishing up a wash cloth when I came upon her the other day. It struck me because it was a similar style to those that my grandmother once knitted. And those are the world's best dish rags -- I've hoarded them for years. Sadly, my grandmother no longer is with us, but I smile each time I pull out one of her wash cloths to do the dishes at home after a meal. "I've read four books this spring and knitted 12 of these wash cloths," Kay said. And this is part of what makes spring training so great, meeting retirees and snowbirds who get these seasonal jobs at the local ballparks simply because they love the game and want to be close to it. Some of these folks could not be more pleasant. We've all got our places in this world, and life is a whole lot richer if you keep your eyes open to your surroundings. What a sweetheart Kay is.

Dislikes: Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico burned down last summer so, sadly, that's off the dinner circuit this spring in Phoenix. But the good news is, the same folks own Rokerij here in Phoenix (it means "smokehouse" in Dutch) and they're offering dual menus. The Rokerij menu (pronounced "Roke-a-ree") and the Richardson's menu. Thanks to Paul Jensen, a jack-of-all-trades media guru who is working as a consultant to the Camelback Ranch facility housing the Dodgers and White Sox, for pointing this out. Because of this bit of intelligence, I had as good a dinner as I've had this spring the other night: Sensational blackened mahi-mahi, green chili mashed potatoes and roasted beets. And yes, Richardson's famous Prickly Pear margarita. The Rokerij rocks.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Out here the nights are long, the days are lonely
"I think of you and I'm working on a dream
"I'm working on a dream
"Now the cards I've drawn, it's a rough hand, darlin'
"I straighten my back and I'm working on a dream
"I'm working on a dream

-- Bruce Springsteen, Working on a Dream

Posted on: November 1, 2009 5:32 pm

Philadelphia: Sports Central, USA

PHILADELPHIA -- If you're a Philadelphia sports fan, this weekend is heaven. If you're a sports fan in Philadelphia, ditto.

And if you love rock and roll -- specifically for now, Pearl Jam -- then you're beside yourself with glee.

The only issue is traffic during what surely is a historic weekend at the city's Sports Complex -- a cluster of stadiums and arenas at the intersection of Broad St. and Pattison Ave., between downtown and the airport off of I-95. Over the four-day period between Friday and Monday, the area is bringing in a few hundred thousand fans.

The Phillies are hosting World Series games Saturday, Sunday and Monday evenings in Citizens Bank Park.

The NFL's Eagles hosted the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, located across Pattison Ave. from the baseball park.

The NHL's Flyers host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday at 5 p.m. at the Wachovia Center, located next to Lincoln Financial Field.

Meantime, Pearl Jam is closing the old Spectrum, which was the home to all of those great Dr. J, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones 76ers' teams, with four concerts. The last two were Friday and Saturday nights.

"This is a heck of a place to be right now," Phillies closer Brad Lidge says.

All three World Series games are sold out, of course, as were the Eagles game on Sunday and the Pearl Jam concerts.

The Phillies' Raul Ibanez was among those in attendance at Friday's show. A friend of the Seattle-based band from his days playing for the Mariners, Ibanez received a shout out from the stage as Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder led the crowd in a "Raul!" cheer. (Pearl Jam owns Seattle Mariners season tickets in Safeco Field).

Lidge skipped the Friday night concert (the off night between Game 2 in New York and Game 3 in Philadelphia) but sure hated to.

"I wasn't able to go because I've got family in town," he said. "I wish I was there. They're one of my favorite bands.

"This is a great spot to be right now. Where else would you rather be?"

As for the sporting events, so far the results have been mixed. The Phillies were beaten by the Yankees in Game 3 on Saturday 8-5, blowing a 3-0 lead in the process.

The Eagles, though, crushed the Giants 40-17 on Sunday as a lead-in to Game 4 of the World Series.

Likes: The Daily Beast checking in with baseball's all-time all-star team of wives and girlfriends, playing off of the current Yankees' pairings of Alex Rodriguez and actress Kate Hudson and Derek Jeter and actress Minka Kelly. Check the Beast out here, it's a highly entertaining list. ... A couple of soul-cleansing runs through the streets of Philadelphia the past couple of days, down Ben Franklin Parkway, past the Philadelphia Art Museum and along the river down Kelly Dr. Great fall colors on the trees right now. ... The Philly Cheesesteak (with Whiz) sandwich for lunch today at the Reading Terminal marketplace. Great stuff. ... The Glee cast did a fine national anthem before Game 3. I'm still not much for the television show, but they were good. And they got one of the better receptions from the crowd that you'll see for a national anthem singer. ... Nice work by my Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons in winning their opening high school football playoff game Friday night, a 42-22 romp over Harper Woods. Well, eventually it was a romp, after SMCC allowed a 28-0 lead to become a 28-22 nailbiter by early in the fourth quarter. Next up: A victory Friday over Blissfield. ... Loved the extra hour's sleep Saturday night, hate the early darkness all winter.

Starbucks should have an express line. Those of us who want a simple cup of coffee are stuck behind 12 people ordering overly dramatic drinks and wait far too long.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now we went walking in the rain
"Talking about the pain from the world we hid
"Now there ain't nobody nowhere nohow
"Gonna ever understand me the way you did
"Maybe you'll be out there on that road somewhere
"In some bus or train, traveling along
"In some motel room, there'll be a radio playing
"And you'll hear me sing this song
"Well if you do you'll know I'm thinking of you
"And all the miles in between
"And I'm just calling one last time
"Not to change your mind
"But just to say I miss you baby
"Good luck, goodbye"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Bobby Jean

Posted on: October 1, 2009 6:11 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2009 6:12 pm

Short Hops: The Sequel

 If Detroit hangs on and wins the AL Central, the Tigers' key in their first-round series against the Yankees will come long before that series begins: They need to make sure their race with Minnesota doesn't go down to the last day on Sunday so they don't have to burn ace Justin Verlander. If the Tigers are to upset the Yankees in the first round, it's going to be because Verlander, Rick Porcello and Edwin Jackson pitch the games of their lives.

 Here's one small glimpse into why it's working so well in Colorado: Just before closer Huston Street was shelved earlier this month with biceps tendinitis, he was warming up to enter a game with the New York Mets when the phone rang in the Rockies' dugout. It was a call from bullpen coach Jim Wright, who had watched Street and seen enough. While Street was hoping to pitch through his soreness, Wright told Tracy that the closer didn't look right. So Tracy opted to go elsewhere in the pen for a reliever and the Rockies shut Street down. Though Street has blown two save opportunities since coming back, he still should help the Rockies in the playoffs. And if he does, credit an observant bullpen coach with a save.

 So Minnesota will take its slim chances into the final weekend of baseball in the Metrodome's history, heading home and straight into Kansas City ace Zack Greinke on Friday night. It will be the second time in five days the Twins will face him. Good luck with that.

 Attention, Phillies and Yankees: Angels manager Mike Scioscia the other day said Bobby Abreu is his team's MVP. Why? "For one simple reason: The balance he's provided on the offensive side," Scioscia says. Abreu's .394 on-base percentage leads the Angels, and almost as important, he's really helped the maturation of fellow Latin players Kendry Morales, Maicer Izturis and Erick Aybar. Scioscia also qualified his pick, saying he would have gone with Torii Hunter as team MVP had Hunter not been injured (adductor muscle) an missed three weeks at midseason.

 You do the math ... on second thought, forget it, it's too tiring: Giants coach Tim Flannery figures coaches hit 44,000 fungoes a year. And he's been coaching 14 years. So he figures he's hit some 616,000 fungoes in his life ... and counting.

 No word yet from Giants owner Bill Neukom on whether general manager Brian Sabean and field manager Bruce Bochy will be offered contract extensions. Sabean and Bochy each is in the last season of his deal. Bochy has grown to love San Francisco and hopes to return.

 Ugh: Kansas City went 33-48 in Kauffman Stadium, it's second-worst home record ever. The worst: 29-51 in 1998.

 Now Jose Reyes has a torn right hamstring and will require surgery, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. And the clock is underway regarding whether he's going to go down as one of the great, unfulfilled talents in Mets history.

 I see Philadelphia lefty Jamie Moyer headed for season-ending surgery at 46 (groin), and I think: Now I know exactly why he dug up the pitching rubber and lugged it home from the clinching World Series game -- his first -- last fall. As a dying Warren Zevon told David Letterman, "Enjoy every sandwich." In the twilight of his career, Moyer is a guy who always has done just that.

 Did you see that when Oakland's Matt Carson hit his first career homer the other day, the fan who caught the ball wouldn't return it without a large ransom? The A's wouldn't do it, and Carson didn't get the ball (though he does have the bat). If I'm the A's, I find out who that greedy pig fan is and make sure he's never allowed to purchase another ticket to an Oakland game. What a jerk.

Likes: Bruce Springsteen opening a five-night stand at Giants Stadium with a new song, Wrecking Ball video here from the Newark Star-Ledger). The guy is unbelievable. It's just the latest example that you never, ever know what you're going to see when you see Bruce and the E St. Band. They are Willie Mays in his prime, Magic Johnson at his peak. Sure hope to catch another couple of shows before the tour ends in November. You owe it to yourself to do so, too, if you can. ... Those old black and yellow Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms were so ugly, but I'll tell you what, they look beautiful every time I see Willie Stargell leaping up and down in clips from the 1979 World Series. ... Greatest newspaper headline I've seen this year, and it ran a couple of months ago but I forgot to pass it along: From the Trentonian newspaper, Hide Your Beagle, Vick's an Eagle.

Dislikes: Cougar Town. I happened to be home last week and, against my better judgment, watched the season premiere. I'm sorry I did. It was embarrassingly bad. Suffice to say, I didn't make it to the second episode this week. ... Didn't much care for I Love You, Man on the Netflix video program, either. Funny coarse and vulgar is one thing. But this was that, without the funny.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now"

-- Bob Dylan, My Back Pages

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