Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter, Carlos Ruiz caught it, and Ryan Howard won the game with a three-run homer. For one Saturday afternoon at Wrigley, we returned to 2008. It felt great, if just for the moment, returning to those times when we hung on every pitch.
If Hamels is traded by Friday, he’ll have provided the greatest wave goodbye in Philadelphia history. He’ll also depart as one of the most unappreciated great athletes to pass through town.
You know the resume: MVP of the LCS and World Series in ’08, three all-star appearances, the best pitcher the Phillies developed in-house since Robin Roberts.
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Yet, I’ve taken calls for years that Hamels is soft, metrosexual, a California diva. Many fans were outraged at his request years back for a chiropractor on the road (something more than a few teams provide now). His voice – fodder for parody – became an argument that he was effeminate. It’s all slander that should never be pasted to someone who made at least 30 starts each of the past seven years and won more post-season games than Steve Carlton.
If he’s traded this week (I’ve still got the odds below 50 percent), raise a toast to Cole Hamels. You won’t see a as good a pitcher in red pinstripes for a long time.
No Utley, no problem
The Phils’ 8-1 post-All-Star Game record involves some luck and poor opposition. But I’ll add two more reasons: First, without Chase Utley’s .532 OPS killing the middle of the lineup, the offense has perked up. The Phils this season averaged 3.2 runs per game before Utley’s DL stint, 4.4 runs per game since.
Second, the improvement showcases what a horrible leader Ryne Sandberg was. It’s a looser, happier clubhouse since the departure of The Fundamentals Manager.
Privacy proving problematic?
There’s been debate whether Chip Kelly’s seven-year marriage is of interest to Eagles fans, who learned about it through a Washington Post article last weekend. I say it is – not because Chip was actually wed and divorced, but because he succeeded in keeping it a secret for all these years.
Kelly is the most compelling figure in the NFL right now. Certainly, he’s the most-talked about public personality – sports or otherwise – in Philadelphia. And yet we know less about him than we ever have anyone in his position.
Andy Reid loved his burgers and valued his religion. Ray Rhodes had a thing for off-track betting. Buddy Ryan raised race horses and tossed hay at his Kentucky farm.
But Kelly? Asked the other day why he keeps his private life so private, he said, “I think most people do, don’t they? Unless you’re a Kardashian.”
That’s his right, certainly. But Philadelphians care more about the Eagles than any single institution in our city. Kelly, now, is in complete control of that franchise. It’s not wrong for fans to want to know something of the id, ego and super-ego of the man in charge.