Wasted words with the first-place Phillies

Charlie Manuel's Phillies are in first place in the National League East. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)
Charlie Manuel's Phillies are in first place in the National League East. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo) (Brian McCardle)
Posted: April 22, 2011

Sunstrokes: Observations, insinuations, ruminations and unvarnished opinions.

THIS IS deja vu all over again - or deja dementia. I should be hitting the send button on this column and walking off into the sunset, adult beverage in hand.

Instead, I am poking through a condition known as The Blank Screen because I thought an iMac buffered your work until you were ready to edit and send. Not if you don't click on the old "Save As" button. So, thanks to a power failure, a morning of work and some fairly tedious research is out there in cyberspace being bombarded by a billion cellphone microwaves, unread and unloved.

Last time it happened to me on such a grand scale, the deadline after a World Series game between the Braves and Twins in Atlanta was 22 minutes away. I was ready to fire it into the office so I typed "World Series Game 3" and hit Enter. Nothing. Again. "File Not Found." Panic. Mind more blank than usual. Couldn't remember a line I had written.

Twenty minutes and 900 words later, I greased under the wire, then had a quiet nervous breakdown. Next day, I went into my cache and, hello . . . There was "World Sreies Game 3." The transposed r and e had done me in . . .

* Gripes of Wrath: It only took a couple of one-game losing streaks for the "I'm Smarter Than Charlie Club" to surface. One deep thinker wrote, "Charlie Manuel is an American League manager from the Steroid Era." He could have added, "And now he's a National League manager with a fistful of titles," but that would have required a little too much thought. When the Phillies were confronted by the horror of a two-game losing streak, fans really started chewing the scenery. "Raul Ibanez is done, cooked, stick a fork in him . . . " "Jimmy Rollins should never hit higher than No. 6, never, ever . . . " "John Mayberry should be playing every day." (Swing and a miss at a changeup, strike three. Gee, they weren't throwing that pitch in Clearwater.)

Occasionally, humanoid intelligence ruled. David Murphy presented High Cheese worthy of a Royal Wedding Reception in a fascinating and stat-driven look at the "swing and a no miss" trio of Kyle Kendrick, David Herndon and Danys Baez. As always with this overleveraged payroll, money counts and the Royal Montys do not make hasty decisions or massive purges. I think Herndon going and Michael Stutes coming is most logical. Vance Worley needs to start in light of the recent Roy Oswalt scare that reminded us that three of the Four Aces are men in their early 30s.

Meanwhile, my question to the Greek Chorus: What is it you don't like about first place?

* Dodger Dog Unbunned: Bud Selig gaveth and Bud Selig tooketh away. Frank McCourt, the big ego, light-wallet, parking-garage impresario from Boston, leveraged the purchase of the Dodgers' storied franchise 7 years ago with money up front from the lucrative Fox TV contract. McCourt has leaked credibility like a BP executive and turned once-stately Dodger Stadium into a cross between a disco and a Nintendo parlor. The guy and his divorce-bent wife make Marge Schott look like Mother Teresa. Under McCourt's sewership, 53 years of Chavez Ravine tradition vanished virtually overnight. So, he's out. Litigation will follow, of course, but MLB has the funds to bury the guy. Former Dodgers GM Fred Claire would be a proper steward to oversee the return of the franchise to a semblance of its former luster and help in the search for an owner with a clue.

* Downhill Dude: I was going through a file of old emails from Lenny Dykstra, when I found one with the last words he wrote to me in February 2009: "It's all good, bro." Some people wonder how a guy just arrested on federal charges of bankruptcy fraud has not run afoul of the IRS. Dudes, you've got to have income to declare before the T-Men come after you. Through years of scamming, LKD was running an elaborate Ponzi scheme on himself - never paying for anything - eventually getting evicted from his offices, losing his Players Club Magazine (a $500,000-an-issue fantasy that left all hands in the lurch), then having $20 million worth of mansions foreclosed, owing principal, interest, property taxes and massive attorney fees, followed by $450,000 autos and $12 million corporate jets - all leased, none owned - seized by Repo Men. My take: Lenny will be mentally institutionalized before he does another day of jail time.

* Trivia Time: No more Mr. Nice Guy this week. Lots of you got Andy Skinner, upstate New York undertaker, as 1950 MVP Jim Konstanty's unofficial pitching coach. This week should be a killer for even Googlemeisters: Name the only player who was on the active roster for the first game ever played by two different franchises in the same major league city.

Bonus Trivia: Who is the only player in major league history to wear his birth date on the back of his uniform jersey?

Send email to bill1chair@aol.com.

For recent columns, go to

www.philly.com/BillConlin.

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