Can the Phillies Rebound Again? Really?

Plus, a few thoughts on Bernard Hopkins, Donovan McNabb, and Arnold's taste in women

The Phillies this year have provided us a very fine line between belief and panic.

We have seen enough of this Phillies era of baseball to know that this particular group has resolve and character, and in the past, whenever they have been down, they have managed to resurge into a World Series contender. And yet, deep inside, we know resurgence has a shelf life, especially when players get older and their bats gets slower.

The Phils offense this year has been anemic. In 25 of their first 42 games this season, the Phillies have scored two runs or less. In the middle of this current block of 20 games against teams with winning records, the Phils were hitting close to .200 as a team, and they were 22nd in the league in slugging percentage, which means they weren’t getting very many extra base hits to drive in runs. Yes, they were doing this with a skeleton crew in the field at times, having to play the likes of Michael Martinez and Dane Sardinha and Pete Orr and Wilson Valdez. But if your head is not in the sand, you can see a much bigger problem.

The Phillies need offensive help. They are getting nothing from their corner outfield positions. Unless John Mayberry can emerge into an everyday player as he’s being given the chance right now, there isn’t much room for improvement. Raul Ibanez’s bat looks slower and slower. Ben Francisco is just not a starting player in this league. When Valdez has to play every day, you see what he is, a backup infielder. And Placido Polanco has been a stalwart, but he’s now 36 years old and gets worn down quickly.

There are two ways we can look at this situation. One is to believe. Believe that the Phillies will come back since they always do. Believe that Chase Utley, when he comes back soon, will come back as the old Chase Utley, be put right back in that three hole and produce. I know a guy named Chase Utley is coming back. I’m not sure it’s THAT Chase Utley who’s coming back. I think they need more.

The Phillies have to find another offensive force. If Utley comes back, fine. But they also need to add a lefthanded-hitting corner outfielder who can serve at the very least as a platoon player. They will have to platoon Francisco and Ibanez in leftfield, and John Mayberry and a lefty in right field. That other guy might be Domonic Brown, who’s currently getting at bats at triple-A and is still a prospect. The problem with that is that when the Phils bring up Brown, they are bringing him up with the pressure to produce instead of just as another player on the team who can eventually help them. When they put that kind of pressure on Domonic Brown before, like this past spring training, he was a miserable failure. And if Brown can’t help, the Phils will have no choice but to made a trade — and give up a prospect like Vance Worley or Jonathan Singleton in single-A — to add an outfielder with “pop.”

It’s become plainly evident: as good as this pitching staff is, the Phils will have to score more than three runs every game to win a pennant.

Random Thoughts

1. Bernard Hopkins is in danger of losing any support in his criticism of Donovan McNabb by constantly belittling the former Eagles quarterback. Hopkins needs psychological counseling. It’s simple to see that Hopkins is bitter for not having the growing up advantages of McNabb, who went to good schools and was raised by a normal, two-parent household in kind of a suburban existence. But damn, Bernard, your upbringing, in the hard-scrabble streets made you the man you are today. Why resent McNabb for something he had no control over? I’m not a McNabb fan, but Hopkins’ constant berating of the man is making me look at Donovan as a martyr.

2. But just when I start feeling some sympathy for McNabb, he opens his mouth and says something stupid. Asked for his comments on the Washington Redskins quarterback situation, as the head coach Mike Shanahan endorsed someone else (John Beck) as starter, McNabb offered his usual goofy, un-funny quip: “Maybe I’ll play for the Nationals.” Yuk, yuk. Ugh. And then, he adds the classic Donovan McNabb, passive-aggressive, woe is me stuff. “For someone who’s so quiet and really just tries to be the best at what I do — and to be part of a firestorm every offseason — it’s amazing,” he said. I’m sorry, I just can’t stand the guy.

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child situation with a former housekeeper proves one thing: most guys will take any kind of pussy when it’s offered to them freely. Jesus, Arnold, the woman looks like a big burrito. La Gorda! You couldn’t do better than that? Maria Shriver should cut out your heart with her chin.

4. Here are a couple of things I just don’t understand. One, what goes through the mind of someone who just discards their cigarette butt or their chewing gum in a urinal? Who raised you, a pack of wolves? Use the friggin ash tray or the trash can, ya lowlife. And stop flicking your cigarette outside the driver’s side window of your car. What do you think, that cigarette filter is just going to evaporate? That’s littering, you scumbag. And let me say this to the people who drive on a road adjacent to a golf course and insist on blasting their horn to disrupt the person standing over a ball and ready to hit a shot. People who do that are jerkoffs. It’s not a cool thing to do. It makes you a juvenile jerkoff.

Have a nice day everybody.