Archive: October, 2010
While the image of The Big Piece (no relation) watching strike three and the Phillies 2010 season cross the plate will be the bitter, indelible image most of Phightins Nation carries with them from this star-crossed season, it shouldn't be.
Dave Cameron over at Fan Graphs the best baseball analysis site going these days has an excellent post up today addressing what I've been engaging in way too many Facebook and Twitter arguments about: "The Phillies lost in spite of Ryan Howard's performance, not becauseof it."
âHere's Ryan Howard, who does not yet have an RBI in the series.â
You could count on one hand the number of times the Fox crew said his name and failed to mention his series RBI total. So, when Howard took strike three on a nasty slider from Brian Wilson in the ninth inning, the narrative was confirmed, and Ryan Howard has now become the reason the Phillies lost the series.
There's only one problem â besides Jayson Werth, he was the only guy who did anything offensively against the Giants.
Howard led the team in batting average, on base percentage, and extra base hits in the NLCS. And yet, because he didn't knock in a run, Fox decided that he was struggling at the plate. Usage of the statistic like this is why the sabermetric community has spent so much time working to explain its faults â if it was put in context, it's not the worst proxy for offensive prowess, but too often it is used to tell a story that is simply not true.
Essentially, contrary to popular opinion, Howard although he did have a few high-profile whiffs with runners on (but tell me who on the team didn't) was actually one of just two Phillies (along with Jayson Werth) to show up at the plate. Howard's gaudy .318/.400/.500 line (7 for 22 with 3 walks and 4 doubles) suggest that Howard was far from a zero. That no RsBI thing everyone keeps bringing up is, yes, a function of him not coming through in the clutch, but also a function of his teammates not being on base all that much ahead of him.
It will be popular to pin this season's shortcomings on The Big Man a bull's-eye comes with the big contract but it will also be wrong.
There are a lot of guys in that clubhouse who should be taking a hard look in the mirror:
- Shane Victorino for choking with the bases loaded and ahead in the count against a rookie.
- Ben Francisco for, with a runner on third and one out, swinging from his heels when just putting the ball in play probably plates a run.
- Charlie Manuel for not recognizing the depressed run environment of the series and thus not having his players prepared for the situational hitting that could have eked out an extra run here or there.
- Sam Perlozzo for not sending Rollins home on Ryan Howard's Game 6 double.
- Chase Utley for some of the sloppiest fielding we've seen from him in some time.
- Jimmy Rollins and the entire coaching staff for not recognizing that a lefty pitcher intentionally walking a righty with a runner on third would be as big a gimme steal of home as you could ask for.
- Charlie Manuel for trusting Jose Contreras to pitch the seventh inning only sometimes.
- and so on.
There's a lot of blame to go around and some of it should go to Howard but definitely not all of it, and nowhere near what the growing consensus seems to be heaping on.
|Courtesy of Mother Jones|
The National Women's Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights released a report last week grading each state on its treatment of female prisoners, and it's got lots of interesting (read: depressing) stats: For instance, the number of women in prison some 115,000 as of 2009 has recently increased faster than that of men, largely thanks to new mandatory sentences for drug convictions. Also, most incarcerated females are nonviolent, first-time offenders; two-thirds of them have at least one child less than 18 years old. There's more:
- 43 states do not require medical examinations as a component of prenatal care
- 34 states do not require screening and treatment for women with high-risk pregnancies
- 48 states do not offer pregnant women screening for HIV
- 22 states either have no policy at all addressing when restraints can be used on pregnant women or have a policy which allows for the use of dangerous leg irons or waist chains
- 38 states received failing grades (D/F) for failing to offer prison nurseries to new mothers who are incarcerated
So where does Pennsylvania stand? Mostly thanks to a state bill that passed this year banning the shackling of women in labor, as well as programs like Philly's MOMobile, the Commonwealth got an A-. But does the state deserve it? Ann Schwartzman, the policy director of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, isn't so sure.
"Policies don't always materialize, so rating the states on written policy is limited," she told the Clog. "Many women with families need substance abuse treatment, but slots and funding are limited. More community-based alternatives to incarceration need to be established to provide opportunities for families to develop important bonds but facilities are few and far between. Expanded family visiting is an important measure but requires funds and space within the prison. Health care, including nutrition, exercise and trauma-focused treatment, would impact many of the incarcerated moms in the two state prisons."
You can read the report in its entirety here.
Breaking: Rendell supposedly to sign moratorium on leasing more state forest for gas drilling tomorrow
According to several sources, Governor Rendell is preparing to sign an executive order imposing a moratorium on further leasing of state forest land for Marcellus Shale gas drilling at a rally at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon.
The Governor's press office would not comment but told CP to expect a press advisory about the event within the hour.
This announcement marks a huge victory for environmental groups and so-called Green Dog legislators, and an about-face by the governor, who as CP reported in an online series entitled "The Marcellus Memos" and feature story, "Drill Baby Drill," pointedly ignored the advice of former Department of Conservation and Natural Resources secretary Michael DiBerardinis, who warned that further leasing of state forest:
"will damage our State Forest landscape. It would scar the economic, scenic, ecological, and recreational values of the forest â especially the most wild and remote areas of our state in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Your years of work and investments in rural economic revitalization through outdoor experiences in the Pennsylvania Wilds could be erased."
(Rendell did, however, heed the advice of senior aide K. Scott Roy to hold off on imposing a tax on natural gas extraction; Roy promptly quit to work for the gas industry.)
Current DCNR Secretary John Quigley has since voiced similar warnings. Recently, DCNR published a study of the impact of current and further leasing on state forest land, emphasizing that any further leasing would cut into protected and sensitive forest land:
Using an example from Northern Pa., the report shows how this piece of state forest looks after you subtract land already leased, and land which cannot be leased without posting serious threats to the sustainability of the forest:
There was a flurry a excitement on my Twitter this morning over Ruben Amaro's comments that, in the words of the Daily News, âthe Phillies want Jayson Werth to return and have enough money to re-sign him.â Which would be fine by me.
Except, if you read between the lines, Amaro is telling you that this isn't going to happen:
Amaro said the Phillies want Jayson Werth to return and have enough money to re-sign him, but said that will âdepend on what the ask isâ and âhow it will affect other things.â
âJayson had a good year. It wasn't an extraordinary year,â Amaro said. âHe had a tough time with men in scoring position. It wasn't as productive a year as he had in the past. If he is not with us, there are players that we can acquire and or we have in our own organization that can help us be as consistent.â
Allow me to translate: âWerth is good, sure, but he's not that good, and he's going to want waaaaaay too much money. We'll try, you know, a bit, but he's not worth giving away the store. So when this shit goes south and he ends up on the Red Sox, blame him, not me.â
Not saying whether letting Jayson go is a good idea or not, just that that's what's gonna happen.
"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something.â Pancho Villa's last words.
As the San Francisco Giants jumped up and down on the same mound that Brad Lidge collapsed onto after recording the final out the 2008 World Series, the Phillies quietly sulked back a clubhouse without champagne, and complained.
âIf you are going to make the call, make the call,â Ryan Howard said bluntly, just moments after he left a bat on his shoulder and let home plate umpire Tom Hallion decide his season. Hallion had made the call, of course, and the call ended the Phils season.
After making his name on proclamations like âjust get me to the plate, boys,â and the pinch-hit walk-off grand slam, the 30-year-old, $125 million first basemen, took a big step towards soiling it when the third strike of his 30th K in his last 56 postseason at bats passed him looking (and according to both FoxTRAX and PitchFX it was a strike), and finished a series where he didn't produce a single run.
It was a fitting end. Now, for the first time since 2007 the Philadelphia Phillies' season is over before the World Series kicked off, and you can't say the Home Team didn't deserve it. They put up just 3 runs a game, and for an entire NLCS were legitimately worse than a West Coast team led by two waiver wire pickups and the two fattest third basemen since Bobby Bonilla. In a series featuring names like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and future Red Sock Jayson Werth, it was Juan Uribe who had the biggest hits, Cody Ross who won the MVP, and Matt Cain who had, without hyperbole, infinitely more RBIs than Ryan Howard. The Phillies earned their offseason.
The loss was a team effort, at least from the offense. Chase had as many bad defensive plays as base hits, and Raul Ibanez's .226 postseason average was actually the second best among regulars. Shane Victorino summed up the series best: With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning, Shane jumped on Madison Bumgarner's second pitch for a weak ground ball out. This was the type of big situation that a poised, experienced team like the Phils is supposed to come through in. Instead they reached at a bad pitch early in the count against a rookie.
As the last few innings wound down the Phils turned to full-fledged âwait for the long ball mode,â and after the game Brad Lidge told reporters that he was âshockedâ at the outcome, and âfelt like we had the best team in baseball this year, and it just didn't work out.â If their play was any indication, Lidge spoke for the team. They didn't execute when they needed to, and looked like they thought that they'd get to the World Series simply for showing up a birthright, instead of a Red Badge. Problem is, it isn't the team that Brad Lidge believes is the best who gets the Commissioner's Trophy, it's the team who wins the games, and for at least this year, that team wasn't the Phils.
- Now that he's done with the Phillies, I wonder if Cody Ross is going to realize he's Cody Ross
- Freddy Sanchez will forever be the 2006 batting champion. If that isn't enough to tell you we need some new stats, I don't know what to say.
- Peace, Werth. Enjoy Boston.
- Cliff Lee will start Game 1 of the World Series
- I had plenty of notes to on the âfightâ that was started when Jonathan Sanchez summed up his night in the word he shouted at Utley, but I think I'll scrap them all for now. Not in the mood for jokes, and the fact that the benches cleared over that was certainly a joke. I will say this tough, I'm disappointed HLHIII and Pat Burrell didn't find each other in the midst.
- This one was more about the Phils than it was the Giants, but credit where it is due: the Giants pen pitched a hell of a series, Tim Lincecum showed a lot going to the pen on one-day rest, and Buster Posey isn't even a little bit of a fluke.
- Finally, the upshot: It would be hard to argue that the Giants didn't find some holes while the Phils found gloves. The baseball playoffs can be a crapshoot, and the best team doesn't always win. That can work against your favorite team (2010) or for them (2008). Heading into next year, your Home Team could be doing a lot worse. They will be the oldest team in the majors (again), but they'll have frontline pitching and in a league where frontline pitching matters, and a lineup that should still be seen as competent, if no longer dominant. They should be good enough to get back to the playoffs, and, as both the Phils and the Giants proved this year, anything can happen when they get there.
- Phils in 2011
Ackerman named "top urban school leader," one day after students testify, again, to growing patterns of school violence
Schools Superintendent Dr. Arlene Ackerman was presented last night with the Richard R. Green award by the the Council of Great City Schools, a nonprofit of which â as Philebrity points out today â she formerly served as Chair of the board.
Executive Director Michael Casserly called Ackerman "one of the best big-city school superintendents in the country, and ... most worthy of the nation's highest individual award in urban education."
The news comes the day after students from West Philadelphia High School testified before the School Reform Commission that they've seen violence increase in their school over the past three years - since, they say, Ackerman reassigned a popular principal. The school has had three new principals this year.
This isn't, by a long shot, the first time the District's response to school violence has come under fire. There was, of course, the District's response to attacks on Asian students at South Philadelphia High School â and its subsequent attempts to pin some blame on one of the victims; there were the recent attacks on Asian students at Bok High School â in which the District was quick to dismiss racial motivations; and there was the issuing of a vague report by the District's Racial and Cultural Harmony Task force â a task force convened under Ackerman's leadership â which included such suggestions as having students wear "dresses/costumes native to their cultures."
On Wednesday, the Notebook's Benjamin Herold reported that some students and teachers now fear reprisals for speaking out about violence and leadership at West Philly High. He cites one anonymous teacher saying:
âI would characterize [District officials'] tone regarding speaking to the press as threatening and their follow-up actions as vindictive,â said one veteran teacher, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
The Clog got a little backed up this week, and wasn't able to post our final Q&A with David Adams, the 72-year-old Southwest Philly block captain, until now. (If you're new to Ask a Man-About-Town, get the lowdown here.) We'll be returning next week with a brand new Philadelphian to answer your questions.
Without further adieu:
Q: How can I get involved in my block? What kind of help do you need/want from the block members? posted by elisvo
A: If by getting "involved" you mean becoming the block captain, you need to get the petition from Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee and go door-to-door to get it signed. That way, you introduce yourself to your neighbors and you get to meet them and find out if they can be of assistance when you talk about block cleanups, recycling cooperation and city services. Find out what the city has to offer to residents of your block so that you will be able to answer their questions and inform them of their responsibilities. The kind of help you need/want from "block members" is first to realize that they are your neighbors and that by being block captain you want to help them.
The cooperation you need from them is whatever help they can give during block cleaning days (moving their cars, cleaning in front of their houses) and following Streets Department guidelines for trash and recycling. Their participation in block meetings is also necessary [for them to] become better informed about block news and city programs. If, due to job commitments or family responsibilities, they cannot participate in block cleaning days or attend the meetings, just being a good neighbor will suffice.
Q: Are block captains officially recognized by the City of Philadelphia? Do they play a role in the political body of the City or is their role solely restricted to the community? posted by Beb
A: Block captains are officially recognized by the City of Philadelphia; they give you a card with your name, address and police district number on it. The card is issued by the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee through the [Streets Department]. They come to your house on block cleaning days and give you a push broom and tall brown paper bags for the trash you and your neighbors sweep up on that morning. After you place all the filled bags on the corner of your street, the trash trucks come and pick them up. The city must approve of your block party and allow you to close off your street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the day of the party. The city does realize the community value of block organizations for cohesion and the dissemination of information.
Block organizations are not political by nature because their focus is on the neighbors but we are the "political body" of the city. We are issued a "Citizen's Guide" by the Committee of Seventy that lists all of our representatives from committeeman to Congress and how to contact them. The sole job of the politicians is to represent us. We are not "restricted" to the community we choose to become block captains because we care about our blocks and our neighbors.
He's strong, confident, handsome some say well-endowed. But who is ActiVman? What does he stand for? These questions have long begged answers until today.
Background: I first encountered ActiVman myself when purchasing a $7 pair of "ActiVman" brand long underwear from a dollar store on Market St. I was struck instantly by the figure cut by ActiVman on the product's packaging. He looked so serious, so intense wearing his long underwear with such purpose that he seemed wrapped instead in some inscrutable riddle. Captivated, I brought the image to CP's crack Design team. Using sophisticated analytics, Design came to a groundbreaking theory: ActiVman's face, they suggested, may inf act be that of Mel Gibson "pasted" (again, using sophisticated computer technologies) onto someone else's body.
Clearly, we had to go to the source. CP presents an exclusive interview with the enigma himself: ActiVman.
CP: ActiVman, you've been called everything from a model to a superhero to an imposter. Who is ActiVman?
ActiVman: I am.
CP: I guess what I meant by that question is how you came to be
ActiVman: What is the Clog?
CP: Fair enough, but
ActiVman: What is the sky? What is the solar system?
CP: ActiVman, it's been suggested that you are, in fact Mel Gibson or that you have effectively stolen Mel Gibson's face. Can you clear up the record for us?
ActiVman: Maybe Mel Gibson stole ActiVman's face. Did you think of that?
CP: But are you suggesting Mel Gibson, the famous actor, somehow "pasted" your face onto his?
ActiVman: Thou hast said it.
CP: ActiVman, why long underwear?
ActiVman: Why the Clog? Why the sky? Why
CP: Right. Are you following the midterms at all, and do you have a horse in this race?
ActiVman: ActiVman has no horse, period.
CP: It seems you'll be leaving this interview as mysterious as when you arrived. Would you just
ActiVman: The fact that Harrisburg failed to pass a tax on natural gas production calls into question the basic validity of Pennsylvania's government. The public interest has been so clearly trumped by industry dollars that Commonwealth citizens should be crying foul from the highest peaks of the Appalachians to the rocky Allegheny Mountains. Foul I say!
CP: I had no idea you followed Pennsylvania politics so passionately.
ActiVman: I am ActiVman.
*Can't see the map all that well? Click here.
It's other people's problem. Specifically, Asia's problem. And then east Africa's problem. And then Central America's. I can't help but think if it was the U.S. and Western Europe lit up in purple, maybe we'd be a bit more serious about curbing our greenhouse gas emissions.
CP's breaking news and analysis of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. Click here to join the âFrack Trackâ Google group and receive email updates.
Governor Rendell announced yesterday that the proposed (and agreed upon in the last budget session) tax on natural gas extraction is officially "dead" for this session, after Senate Republicans refused to make a counter-proposal the governor would accept.
And while the gas industry and the politicians it bankrolls light cigars and roll naked in piles of money â or whatever they do after such victories â the rest of us ought to take a good hard look at how exactly one of the largest and most lucrative industries to arrive in this state in recent history has, in the middle of a recession, managed to avoid paying taxes on the extraction of the most valuable natural resource we have left.
With money, that's how: in just a few years, the gas industry has poured millions of dollars into lobbying and campaign contributions to our elected officials â Republicans especially.
According to the website MarcellusMoney.org, a project of Common Cause Pennsylvania, the industry has spent more than $5 million lobbying Harrisburg since 2007 alone in installments of ever-increasing value (see the graph above).
Topping the list is none other than Republican Gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett ($372,270), followed by Senate President Pro Tem Joseph Scarnati ($117,575), followed by Governor Ed Rendell ($84,100), followed by Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato ($74,300), all followed by a sizeable chunk of the Republican wing of the State Senate â the same that just couldn't seem to propose a tax on the enormous profits the gas industry expects to make here.
|MarcellusMoney.org, a project of Common Cause PA|
|Gas industry lobbying since 2007|
The industry, of course, argues that taxation will hamper its growth, cost jobs, drive the industry out, etc. But there are few issues in state politics that are more cut and dry: the argument is utter nonsense.
Marcellus Shale gas, it so happens, is confined to the Marcellus Shale. The gas is here, and if there exists a tax that would actually discourage the fossil fuel industry from coming here to get it, nothing close to it has ever been proposed. Even if the tax did slow down the pace of development, it would be slowed from what is now a dangerous free-for-all that, in just a few years, has destroyed the water supply of an entire town (state regulators have ordered Cabot Oil & Gas to supply Dimock, PA's water), involved dozens of spills of toxic waste, ruined the infrastructure of municipalities hosting the industry, and begun already to deplete fresh water supplies across the state â activity which has, and continues to go, untaxed.
Tom Corbett gets the biggest cut of the proceeds of that activity while the public gets zilch â and, if elected, he's promised to keep it that way.
It's looking like a good night for Ting Wong.
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