Crazy summer. Did a full time gig with Comcast for five weeks on top of my regular job and then went on vacation for two weeks. Currently I’m trying to play vacation catchup. But I’m gonna have some football up in the next few days. In the meantime, a few Philly Sports History notes.
Above is a concession menu from Shibe in 1954, courtesy of our friends at the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society. No Schmitter but plenty of cigarette options!
Eagles great Steve Van Buren passed away a couple of weeks ago. Here is his obituary in the New York Times. And here’s his obit by Ray Didinger, both in video and writing. RIP to the man Ray Didi refers to as the “Greatest Running Back in Eagles history”.
Sarge came out with a book ranking his top Phillies at each position. I gotta admit, not much fault to find with his rankings.
Interesting photo here of the Philadelphia A’s and prominent citizens of Philly celebrating their 1913 World Series win with an oyster dinner. SEems strange that the banner in the background says 1911, however. The Series was a rematch with the star crossed Giants, who had lost to the A’s in the 1911 World Series and who had lost to the Red Sox in 1912. The A’s would win again in 1913, 4 games to 1. You can see a photo from a recent event at the Bellevue from a similar angle below. Not much has changed in the past 99 years.
We’re down to the finals, and by tonight at midnight we will have a winner. Eskin vs. Cataldi in the finals. Click here to vote!
Howard Eskin vs JD Drew is probably the premiere matchup in the Sweet 16. But Kobe vs. Fred-Ex is no slouch either. And Billy King, fresh off his upset of McNabb, is going toe to toe with “For who? For what?” himself, Ricky Watters. Billy Wagner is finally matched up with a true heavyweight, Norman Braman.
On the other side of the brackets, you can vote in an all-radio matchup, Angelo Cataldi vs. Mike Missanelli. Loudmouth Stephen A. Smith is up against Hip-hop, while Cinderella story Sam Dalembert has probably met his match in Rich Kotite. TO takes on Andy Reid in what should be a classic. To vote, click here. To see the full brackets, click here. Oh, and we’ve got our first reaction from a contestant. On Tuesday night, Howard Eskin wrote me on twitter, asking “What am I doing in this Sweet 16?”
What an opening week! (see the updated brackets here.) We see all of our #1 and #2 seeds advance, but after that it was wide open. Three number #3s (Lindros, Schmidt, and Mitch) go down to #14 seeds, and two #4 seeds (Dick Allen and Bobby Clarke-GM) go down to #13 seeds. We have two #11 vs. #14 matchups in round 2. Billy Wagner will take on Al Harris and Samuel Dalembert, who was obviously underrated, will take on Terry Francona. Some of the best 2nd round matchups (voting will begin this afternoon):
Howard Eskin vs. Von Hayes. Eskin cruised to a first round win over Lance Parrish, while Hayes eeked one out over Ed Snyder. I think Eskin takes this one.
Michael Vick vs. JD Drew. This is an incredible 2nd round matchup. This could come down to the last minute. There is no love lost for either of these men in Philly.
Bobby Abreu vs. First Down Freddie. Two different styles here. Abreu, who people thought was too understated, against Freddie Mitchell, who had a mouth bigger than his game. Going to be interested to see how this one turns out.
Scott Rolen vs. Stephen A. Smith. I think the committee underestimated how much loathing there is for Smith’s big mouth around here. I think this is going to be a close one.
Angelo Cataldi vs. Wheels. Two men behind that mic that drive people crazy. Is it Angelo’s obnoxious blathering or Wheels just being Wheels that infuriates people more?
UPDATE: Round Two voting has begun!
TO. Kobe. Toast. Eskin. Over the years, there have been plenty of players and sports personalities to come through this town that drove the local populace crazy. Well we’ve assembled them all, and they’re going head to head in a tournament that will determine the title of “Philly’s Most Hated”. The voting has already begun on our facebook page. I’ve posted 24 matchups so far, and will post 8 more tomorrow. First round voting will continue until Sunday at 5 p.m., when our first round winners will move on to the 2nd round. Voting for the 2nd round will then commence, and we’ll whittle it down to the Sweet 16 by next weekend. Here’s the full bracket, so you can start discussing future matchups if you so please. Be sure to vote, and tell your friends about it as well. We want to get as many votes as possible, so we can get a true taste of who Philly’s Most Hated are.
A few parameters before we kick this thing off. First of all, these are 15 athletes we think are underrated by fans of Philadelphia. Not nationally. There are a couple who might even be overrated nationally, but locally don’t get the love they deserve. As far as how we scored it…we took each person who is a part of the site: myself, Lalli, and our host, Art from Foobooz, to list their 12 most underrated Philly athletes of all time. We then gave them each a point total (#1 got 12 points, #2 got 11, and so on) and added up the points. In case of a tie, I pulled an executive decision. We begin today, with #15. There were a number of guys who one of had listed, but who didn’t get enough points. The honorable mentions are:
Eddie Collins (5 points)
Jim Eisenreich (5 points)
Todd Pinkston (5 points)
Bernard Hopkins (4 points)
Rick MacLeish (3 points)
Mark Howe (2 points)
Sami Kapanen (1 point)
Manny Trillo (1 point)
Now let’s start with our list. We certainly are looking for feedback on this…through twitter, on facebook and in the comments. Please, please feel free to argue and make a case for guys you think should be on this list. This is a discussion, not something we want to cram down your throats. Let the countdown begin!
We’re gonna be working on a new project over the next couple of weeks, and we’re going to need your help. We want to come up with a list of the 20 most underrated athletes in Philadelphia sports history…athletes who are underrated by Philadelphians. In other words, not players that people slept on nationally, but guys who should be a lot better known right here in Philly, where they played. (We’ve already written about a few guys who will probably make the list, like Del Ennis and Joe Frazier.) They can be Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, Sixers, Warriors, A’s, boxers, college athletes, tennis players, bocce sensations, etc. So please post in the comments or on our facebook page or by sending us a note on twitter. Thanks! We’ll start posting the list on Wednesday after we hear your suggestions and discuss amongst ourselves.
The 1930 Phillies were probably the most fascinating team in MLB history. They hit .315 as a team, the 3rd highest total in MLB history (Interestingly, the Giants hit .319 that same year to set the record). They had 1783 hits that season, still the most in MLB history. The Phils had 5 regulars who batted over .300, including outfielders Chuck Klein and Lefty O’Doul, who both batted over .380. Klein had perhaps the greatest regular season in Phillies history, finishing with a line of .386-40-170, and a slugging percentage of .687 (Miguel Cabrera had a SLG% of .606 last year while winning the Triple Crown). And yet, these Sultans of Swat finished 52-102, 40 games out of first. You read that right. A team that batted .315 collectively finished 50 games UNDER .500. How is that possible?
Because the Phillies had the worst pitching staff in the history of baseball. The only team you could even compare them to was my Little League team that finished 0-15 in 1984 (True story). For some perspective, think about how terrible Adam Eaton was in 2008, when he went 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA. And just think, the 1930 Phils had 11 pitchers with worse ERAs than Adam Eaton.
A few years ago, a guy named Tom Ruane wrote a paper called “Modern Baseball’s Greatest Hitting Team”. The answer? The opponents of the 1930 Phillies. Try these stats on for size: Phillies’ opponents batted .346 that year (27 points higher than those record setting 1930 Giants), with 1994 hits (200 more than the record holders, the 1930 Phillies) and scored 1199 runs (Over 130 more than the record holders, the 1931 Yankees.) The ace of that staff was none other than Phil Collins. And you thought No Jacket Required was his worst work. (Rim Shot).
Actually, Collins wasn’t the problem. He was an almost respectable 16-11 with a 4.78 ERA. Ray Benge came next, with a 5.70 ERA. Then came two record holders. Les Sweetland set a record that year that has never been broken, throwing for a 7.71 ERA, (the worst of all time among pitchers who qualify for ERA title). #2 for worst all time was his teammate Claude Willoughby, with a 7.59 ERA. It must have been like Mantle and Maris chasing the Babe’s home run title that year. And Hal Elliot just fell short of qualifying for an ERA title, throwing 117 innings. Otherwise he would be 2nd, with a 7.67 ERA.
And so when people say they wish they could combine the 2008 Phils’ hitters with the 2011 Phils’ pitchers to make the perfect team, I argue that they’d be even better if you combined the 2011 Phils with the 1930 Phils. Heck, they’d win 130 games. (If you wanna purchase the same cap work by Klein and his teammates, click here. You can take $4 off the purchase price by entering the promo code “1930Phils”.)