Today was a terrific day if you were a Philadelphia sports fan.

First, in order for the Eagles to make the playoffs, the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to lose their one pm EST games. Tampa Bay in particular was favored by 13 at home against the supposedly hapless Oakland Raiders. And Chicago was matched up against the Houston Texans at Houston.

Well, I sat down to watch the Tampa-Oakland game at around 3 pm today, and Tampa was up by ten with less than a quarter to play. It looked pretty bad for the Eagles playoff scenario. Then Oakland got the ball. They ran a play. Then they ran another play, and pass interference moved them about fifty yards downfield. The next play, they were in the end zone for a TD. Bingo, three point game, Tampa Bay 24, Oakland 21.

Tampa gets the ball, and they drive into Oakland territory. On 4th and 3 from around the 35, they go for it and don’t make it.

The very next play, Bush gets the handoff for Oakland and rumbles almost 70 yards for a touchdown to put the Raiders ahead. Just like that, 14 unanswered points for Oakland. Now Oakland is up 28-24.

Oakland stops Tampa again, and for good measure, knocks the clock down to two minutes and adds a field goal to make it 31-24. Now Oakland has scored 17 unanswered points, and Bush has more than 175 yards rushing. Cadillac Williams has been taken off the field hurt, along with two other Tampa key players. Garcia does his best in the two minute drill, but at the Oakland 35, he’s sacked and time runs out as Tampa has no more timeouts.

Oakland pulls out the upset, come from behind win. I’m so happy, I want to send Al Davis a christmas card. I even think the ghost of Kenny Stabler has come back to haunt the Bucs.

Meanwhile the Bears have dropped a close one to Houston, in Houston, 31-24.

Which means that Dallas and Philly are now playing for the last playoff spot. Which is loudly proclaimed by FOX as “WIN AND IN” in large letters.

And do the Eagles respond?

Well, yes they do–they play a perfect first half of football, decimating the Cowboys 27-3. Everything that can go right for the Eagles goes right, and everything that can go wrong for the Cowboys goes wrong.

The Cowboys come out from halftime with a couple of offensive drives, but after a long drive, a fumble is returned for a TD by the Eagles defense, and then a longer drive results in another fumble returned even longer by the Eagles defense for a TD. Now the score is an embarassing 41-3 and the party has started.

Akers tacks on a field goal later to make it 44-3, and the Cowboys later manage a field goal as well, but that’s the ball game, Eagles 44-6 over the Cowboys.

How bad was it? Not since Sunday, October 23, 1961 had the Eagles (with Tommy McDonald at wide receiver and King Hill at QB) beaten the Cowboys so badly, 43-7 in Dallas. Today’s win is the biggest margin of victory by the Eagles over any Cowboys team in a game played in Philadelphia in the entire history of the Dallas-Philadelphia franchise rivalry, going back to 1960 when Dallas entered the league, and interestingly enough, the same year that the Eagles last won the Super Bowl.

This game had a very interesting tone to it–a tone of destiny. Now I don’t know how the playoffs will turn out.

But I know these facts. The Eagles are a veteran club, that have been to the playoffs multiple times and the Super Bowl at least once. All of them know this is probably their last dance in the big dance. They’ve been outstanding at times this year, beating the NY Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers and humiliating the Dallas Cowboys this past week, as well as destroying the Arizona Cardinals, a division winner. The Eagles also defeated Atlanta, the other wildcard.

And to beat the Cowboys as badly as they did since 1961–when they were last defending their NFL title–that’s destiny at work. That’s a magic number–1960 and 1961–that’s almost saying that the Eagles are as good now as they were when they last captured the NFL championship by defeating Vince Lombardi’s Packers at Franklin Field in 1960. Perhaps this will again be the year. Who knows? The way the Eagles have played recently, this could be their year.

They’ve also laid some eggs, but their record is 9-6-1, and they’re going to play Minnesota, a team they can definitely beat.

Speaking of balance, in addition to having rushing and passing balance today, the Eagles also scored as many points by the defense as they did by the offense it seemed–14 by the defense, 9 by akers, and 21 by the offense. That’s amazingly good balance from all three portions of the team–defense, special teams and offense. The Eagles ran for more than 150 yards and passed for more than 150 yards. They controlled the ball for more than 30 minutes of the game. They made all the big plays and they made all the little plays.

The Eagles in yardage are 2d in the NFL in defensive yards allowed, and 6th in the NFL in offensive yards gained. In short, they are one of the best teams in the NFL statistically. When they put it all together, as they did against Dallas and against Arizona, they are a frighteningly good team–and I mean Super Bowl Champion good. Good enough to roll the Giants, the Panthers and whoever comes out of the AFC.

The NFC playoffs, as I had potentially projected a couple of weeks ago, will now be these:

Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Falcons at Arizona Cardinals

If everything plays the way it should, one would expect the Falcons and Eagles to win those games, setting up the Falcons to play at Carolina the following weekend, and the Eagles to play the Giants at NY.

Both would be terrific, excellent playoff games.

the Falcons will probably lose to Carolina, but the Eagles can beat the Giants in a rubber match after splitting the first two games. If Atlanta upset Carolina, the Eagles could get Atlanta in a rematch, which the Eagles could win, having defeated Atlanta already this season. But Carolina will probably win.

That would bring the Eagles to playing the NFC title game in Carolina, and how sweet it would be to get revenge for the NFC title game loss of Jan 2004 when the Eagles enjoyed the home advantage but lost to Carolina 14-3 in embarassing fashion. But Carolina, like the Giants, are a dangerous experienced foe.

It’s hard to know who will come out of the AFC; the Steelers are very good, but so also are the Ravens, the Patriots, the Colts, the Titans and the Dolphins. The Jets would have been very dangerous but Miami has knocked them out and sent Brett Favre home for the holidays.

So the Eagles have earned their ticket to the dance. But there’s nothing to boo about today.

As for Donovan McNabb, I’m ready to vote for him for Governor. Heck, let’s make him the next Senator from Illinois. I understand he keeps a residence from Chicago. It would give him something to do in the offseason and help him transition to his next career after football, which would probably include running for president one day after giving all Philadelphia fans the one christmas present they have always craved;

an utter and total destructive humiliation of the Dallas Cowboys in a game that mattered on national TV, in front of the home fans. 44-6. A game that will live forever.

Donovan, we forgive you, we love you, you’re our guy. There’s nothing to boo about in Philly today.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies and playoff-bound eagles

Christmas 2008

December 24, 2008

One supposes that because the stock market plunged this year, or because a lot of people lost their jobs this year, or because world events continue to be complex and difficult, that perhaps Christmas is not what it should be this year.

St. Nicholas was a hallowed saint, a real person who lived in Myra, Asia Minor in the first half of the 1st millenium AD. His mystical transformation from a swarthy greek to a white faced cherubic northerner living at the north pole named Kris Kringle, Santa Claus etc. I will skip over, except to say that it is a miracle, and proof that God transcends all laws of physics, time and space, and also that saints live forever. I for one believe in Santa Claus unequivocally, since I know he once lived, and also know that his relics exist at certain churches and can be visited and venerated.

Anyhow, to get back to christmas, it’s not a holiday for growups, its for our kids. No matter how much we may have screwed up the economy or tried to blow the world up to bits, we have to remember that our children are innocents and that christmas is a holiday for children.

My wife is busy collecting gifts for the children of a housing authority in a poor town nearby, in coordination with our local church.

My local lions club will be serving food this christmas to those in need, giving out dinners and meals.

Our cousin, who is a pediatrician, is working in her ward, helping little children with cancer, with heart problems, with all sorts of diseases. she brings christmas to her patients’ hearts everyday.

Christmas can be found in so many ways, on so many days.

Charity and giving are part of christmas, along with getting gifts for your kids and relatives and sending out cards.

As always, we pray for a better world and a safer world.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

Replacing Chase Utley

December 24, 2008

The Phillies have made one excellent move to replace Chase Utley for the first half of 2009 by signing Raul Ibanez, a lefthanded slugger who will replace Utley’s bat in the lineup.

However, Eric Bruntlett, if played for a month or longer, as was done last year for Jimmy Rollins when Rollins was hurt, will be not be able to bring the bat to the table. Eric Bruntlett career is about a 52 OPS player, meaning that he hits about 50% on average of what a normal big league player hits. That’s costing you a lot of offense. Tad Iguchi by contrast is approximately 95% OPS or about average OPS.

Should the phillies be shopping for a second baseman? absolutely. I’d start with Tad Iguchi.

Going through the free agent list, here are other options.

Baltimore – Juan Castro ss, Alex Cintron ss.

Boston – Alex Cora ss

Chicago White Sox – Juan Uribe – ss/2b/3b

KC – Mark Grundzielanek, 2b

Seattle – Miguel Cairo – 2b

Arizona – David Eckstein ss, Orlando Hudson 2b

Dodgers – Nomar Garciaparra – 2b/1b, Jeff Kent 2b

Brewers – Craig Counsell – ss/2b/3b

Mets – Damion Easley 2b, Ramon Martinez 2b

Pirates – Luis Rivas ss

Giants – Omar Vizquel ss/2b, Rich Aurilia ss/2b/1b

Looking over this list, there is simply a plethora of riches from which to select a replacement second baseman for the first half of 2009, and after Chase Utley is back, to have a nice righthanded bat to spell Ryan Howard at first base from time to time.

The names I like the most on this list are Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent and Rich Aurilia, for their offense, and Omar Vizquel, for his tremendous defense and speed. Also Juan Uribe and David Eckstein for their good gloves and good heady play, and for being starters on world series winners.

Any of these guys would be terrific to help out the Phillies at second base the first half of 2009, while also backing up Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and maybe even Raul Ibanez the second half of 2009 when a lefty pitcher is on the mound. They could also play third base and help out there as well.

In short, signing one of these guys could do two things;

1) address the chase utley situation; and
2) address the lefthanded situation once utley comes back.

A third factor is resting the regulars down the stretch in the second half of 2009 against tough lefties. It would be great to have a Jeff Kent or a Nomar Garciaparra to stick in there and rest one of your good lefthanded players and have them come off the bench to pinchhit against a righty reliever late in the game. That’s a nice chess move to have later in the game.

Speaking of free agents, there’s two more free agents and former Phillies that Ruben Amaro Jr should be talking too.

One is Curt Schilling, he of the bloody sock and the 1993 world series shutout for the phillies. Schilling may have another good year in him. There is no harm in bringing him back here and seeing if he has a year or two left. After all, the Jamie Moyer experiment worked. Schilling loves the Phillies, and if he gets back to 75% of what he was, he’s a game closing starter who can get you another world series ring, case closed. Plus he’s a nine innning man. The bloody sock. Case closed. And he struck out 300 men in a Phillies uniform for how many seasons???

That’s a no brain signing.

The other is Randy Wolf, who would love to come back to the Phillies. Wolfie was a great Phillie, was always a 10-15 game winner, and would be effective as a starting pitcher in our ballpark since he already pitched here before. If he’s not effective as a starter, he’d be terrific as a long reliever at this stage of his career.

Again, these are two pitchers who are long time ex-phillies, who were phils for long periods of time, who would welcome coming back to a world championship club.

Signing a second baseman, along with Curt Schilling and Randy Wolf, would be three moves that would keep the Phillies well ahead of the Mets in the arms race.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The Phillies have decided not to negotiate with free agent leftfielder and careeer phillie Pat Burrell and instead to sign Raul Ibanez, late of the Seattle Mariners, to a three year deal.

First, in order to make sense of this move, one has to recognize that Chase Utley is seriously hurt, recovering from surgery, and the first thing the phillies need to do is replace Chase Utley for at least the first half of 2009.

RAUL IBANEZ IS NOT REPLACING PAT BURRELL AT THE START, HE’S REPLACING CHASE UTLEY.

Once you recognize this fact, the Raul Ibanez signing makes incredible sense, because what the Phillies need is not a right handed but a lefthanded slugger in the lineup to backup Ryan Howard or go in front of Ryan Howard.

Without Utley in the lineup, and projecting lets’ say Eric Bruntlett at 2b for two months, the Phils may look like this;

lf – Raul Ibanez lh
cf – Shane Victorino sh
rf – Jayson Werth rh
3b – Pedro Feliz rh
ss – Jimmy Rollins sh
2b – Eric Bruntlett rh
1b – Ryan Howard lh
c – Carlos Ruiz rh

now if you examine this lineup, and assume that Chase Utley will not be back from surgery for at least two months of 2009, you will quickly see that the only lefthanded bats in the lineup are Ibanez and Howard, and that everyone else is a righy or a switch hitter.

Manuel might need also to spell Pedro Feliz if his back acts up, and may have to put Dobbs at 3d, which would actually add a needed left handed bat in the lineup.

Either way, the lineup is not overly lefthanded at this juncture. Bruntlett would bat 8th, Ruiz 7th, and the rest of the lineup would be probably as usual.

As for Burrell, who is departing, in nine seasons his line has been .257/.367/.485 with an ops+ of 119, hitting in a very favorable home park. Burrell hits poorly for average, but gets about 100 walks a year, doesn’t hit into many double plays, but strikes out a lot. He’s a classic station to station player who hits 30 homers a year, but otherwise either walks, strikes out or doubles. He hits few singles and rarely puts the ball into play otherwise.

Ibanez is a pretty different kind of hitter. A cuban, and therefore a classic latin american ballplayer, Ibanez does put the ball into play. His line after 13 seasons is .286/.346/.472 with an ops+ of 113. Over 162 games, he has averaged 21 homers, 4 triples and 32 doubles, 160 hits, 81 runs scored, 93 RBI, 52 walks and 92 strikeouts, with 11 GIDP. Notice that he gets to the approximately same slugging average as burrell and same ops+ as burrell, but does it by hitting more doubles and more singles, and having a higher batting average, a slightly lower on base average, but not much lower, and does this all in one of the worst hitting parks in baseball, Seattle. We can safely assume Ibanez will improve in Philly’s CBP. Again, Ibanez has averaged 265 total bases per 265 games, while Burrell has averaged 273.

This is so close, that it’s a wash offensively. But defensively, Burrell is a clear liability. While Ibanez is not a terrific outfielder, he’s better than Burrell, and Ibanez while not a motorman on the bases, will not have to be pulled for pinchrunners every time in late game situations.

Pat Burrell was a fantastic, great offensive machine for the phillies while he was here. He was a better player than JD Drew in my opinion. He was the player who was here from the dog days of 1999 to the championship of 2008. He was loyal and he was a company guy.

I for one will miss him

But at this stage of his career, pat burrell is so clearly an american league DH that he needs to switch leagues and become one. He’s ideally suited for Fenway and the green monster, and if the red sox were smart, they’d pick burrell up. He’d hit 40 homers up there easily, 30 at home and 10 on the road. And another 40 doubles off the wall. Never in the history of baseball has there been a player so obviously suited to play dh for the Boston Red Sox.

And he’d be a lot cheaper than Mark Teixeira, who is NOT ideally suited for Boston at all.

The washington nationals could do a lot worse than sign Burrell to play left field. He’d fill a big hole at cleanup hitter and they have so many young fleet outfielders to defensively caddy for him, they could play him 7 innings until they had a lead. Most importantly, Burrell can hit in their new ballpark.

These are just two places burrell could go. I think he’s got a lot in the tank.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

One of the greatest pitchers of the 1970s has been reported dead in the news as of Sunday December 21, 2008, Dock Ellis, of the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees. Ellis was a career 138-119 with a 3.46 ERA from 1968-1979 and pitched for four different Pittsburgh Pirate NL Eastern Division champions, including the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirate World Series Champions with Roberto Clemente.

Dock Ellis was the ace of the 1971 Pirates Staff, going 19-9, appearing in the All-Star Game, and leading the Pirates to a World Championship. He had a whip of 1.19 in 1971 and 1.15 in 1972, when he went 15-7.

After 1975, he was traded to the Yankees along with Willie Randolph and Ken Brett for Doc Medich. This was an awful trade for Pittsburgh and a great trade for the Yankees. Basically, it opened the doors for the Phillies to take over the domination of the NL East Division title races from 1976-83 from Pittsburgh, and it handed the Yankees the core of their 1976 AL Pennant winner.

With Willie Randolph anchoring 2d base, and Dock Ellis going 17-8 and with a WHIP of just 1.28 in spacious Yankee Stadium, the Yankees, who also had Catfish Hunter and Ed Figueroa starting and winning in high double figures, won 97 games and lost just 62, to win their first AL East Division title, and then went on to win their first AL pennant in twelve years since 1964.

That was a very, very significant accomplishment for the New York Yankees, and Dock Ellis was right at the heart of it. Dock Ellis won game 3 of the ALCS against the KC Royals 5-3, and even though he gave up three runs in the first inning, he settled down after that and shut the Royals down. The Yanks came back and scored 2 in the 4th and 3 more in the 6th to win the game.

The Yanks beat the Royals 3-2 in that series, and Game 3 was a turning point in the series, putting the Yanks up 2 games to 1 in a best 3 of 5 situation, setting the Royals up in game 4 only to tie.

This set the Yanks up for magical game 5, where Chris Chambliss–will his name ever be forgotten by the Yankee faithful–hit his amazing series and pennant winning home run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Royals 7-6 and win the AL Pennant for the Yankees for the first time in twelve years.

It was a wonderful team. Billy Martin managed. Thurman Munson was at catcher; Chris Chambliss and Graig Nettles had come over from Cleveland to man the 1st and 3d base bags; Willie Randolph came from the Pirates to anchor 2d base; Fred Stanley was the shortstop; Mickey Rivers, the ex-Angel, patrolled CF and led off, and on either side of him were Roy White and ex-Phillie Oscar Gamble (who sometimes platooned with Lou Piniella). At dh was Carlos May and a host of others.

In the bullpen was Sparky Lyle, Dick Tidrow, ex-phillie Grant Jackson and Tippy Martinez.

It was, in short, a wonderful team that had a wondrous season. And Dock Ellis brought not only magic with him but the swagger of a winner.

Even though the Yanks were swept in the Series by the NL Pennant and World Champion repeating Reds, who had won a staggering 102 games during the regular season, nothing could dull the luster of that amazing Yankees team.

So, to summarize, Dock Ellis was part of two amazing teams in baseball history–the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, world champions who upset the 1971 Baltimore Orioles to win the world series for Roberto Clemente–and the 1976 Yankees, who brought the AL Pennant back to New York after twelve years.

Ellis wasn’t a hall of famer. He did pitch a no-hitter, he won more than a hundred games, he won more than he lost, and he was a winner. He was a real winner. All he did when you handed him the ball was win the game. That’s what he knew how to do.

A lot of guys in the hall of fame have gaudier numbers, but they didn’t know how to do what Dock Ellis knew how to do, and that’s win. Nolan Ryan never won anything. Rod Carew only flirted with winning. Tony Gwynn played in a couple of World Series, but he didn’t win.

Dock Ellis was a winner, and that’s what he knew how to do. He might let in a run or two or three, but he knew how to shut down the other team and let his own team back into the game so they could win.

It’s a lost art, in many ways, pitching so your team can win. Holding the other team down until your team can come back. So many young pitchers today, they let a run in, they get rattled, and soon they’re down four or five runs. ellis wasn’t like that. He knew that with a good lineup behind him, he was always in the ballgame, could always win.

So here’s to Dock Ellis, a true winner. The Phillies always hated going against him, because he was a winner. It was hard to beat Dock Ellis. Dock Ellis hated to lose.

He was a Pirate and a world series winner. He was a Yankees and an AL Pennant winner.

And even in 1977, he was part of a key trade for the Yankees, because in the summer of 1977, the Yanks flipped him to Oakland for Mike Torrez. Ellis had not been having a good season in 1977.

Mike Torrez, for whom Ellis was traded, went 14-12 for the Yankees the rest of the season, and was a substantial contributor to the Yankees world championship season of 1977.

So Ellis also contributed to the Yanks world championship season, albeit indirectly.

A toast to Dock Ellis.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion philadelphia phillies

“The Dream is Over” sang John Lennon once, mysteriously, at the end of one of his solo album songs, giving rise to a host of speculation as to what he meant. The dream of the beatles reuniting? the dream of sixties utopianism? the dream of peace? the dream of civil rights? No one knew quite what he meant, and after he filed that one away, he went on a five year alcoholic bender with Harry Nilsson and May Pang in LA, followed by five years of living at home under the watchful eye of Yoko Ono, followed by releasing Double Fantasy to overwhelming accolades in the fall of 1980, after which Lennon was famously martyred in front of his apartment building in New York City in December of 1980, the Dakota.

That was a long time ago. How long? Well, the Phillies were reigning World Champions, the Eagles were about to play in their first Super Bowl, having vanquished the Dallas Cowboys, led by Dick Vermeil, Ron Jaworski, Harold Carmichael and Wilbert Montgomery and an incredible defense led by Bill Bergey, the Sixers still were great with Dr. J and company, and the Flyers were still the class of the league.

This weekend played out perfectly for the Eagles playoff scenario. Dallas lost. Tampa Bay lost. Each of them went to six losses. All the Eagles had to do to make the playoffs was to beat Washington in Washington, and then beat Dallas next week, and they were in.

But the Eagles failed. They failed mainly due to Brian Westbrook being injured and ineffectual, somewhat due to DeJean Jackson dropping two key catches in the fourth quarter, one in the end zone that would have tied the game, but mainly because they just didn’t bring their “A” game this past week to Washington. An offense that scored so many points the past three weeks mustered just a field goal in sixty minutes against Washington, looking even worse than it did against Cincinnati.

Since the Bears pulled out their game against the Packers last nite, in order for the Eagles to make the playoffs now,

1) the Eagles must beat the Cowboys at home next week and finish 9-6-1
2) Tampa Bay must lose their last game and go to 7 losses
3) The Chicago Bears must lose their last game and go to 7 losses.

Last night, the Bears were losing all night, then tied the game in the 4th quarter and won in overtime. It would have made a large difference to the eagles flickering playoff hopes if the Bears had lost.

Instead, it is now Dallas that can make the playoffs simply by winning at Philadelphia, so Dallas has all the momentum and rationale on its side. If Dallas wins, Dallas is in.

If the Eagles win against Dallas, and they finish 9-6-1, playoffs or not, they would finish 2d in the NFC East, and you’d have to say they had a successful season in certain respects.

But if the Eagles lose against Dallas, and they finish 8-7-1, then they would finish 3d in the NFC east, and would have been swept by Dallas and Washington, and only beaten the Giants once.

The real key to the Eagles not making the playoffs this year has been their inability to beat NFC east opponents, particularly the Redskins, who have beaten the Eagles twice, and the Cowboys, who beat the Eagles in an offensive shootout earlier this year.

In the past, when the Eagles were NFC East Division champs four straight years, they beat their division rivals. When Buddy Ryan was coach, he made sure they beat division rivals and had his team stoked for those matchups.

NFC East games count for more than just a game. They are the heart and soul of what makes for winning football in the NFL.

The Eagles cannot be seriously considered as contenders so long as they can’t beat Dallas, Washington or NY on a regular basis. After all, it is Dallas and NY they will see again in the playoffs, or have to beat to get to the playoffs.

And teams like Carolina and Tampa Bay are the same teams that the Eagles have had problems beating in the past in the NFC playoffs, losing to those two teams at home in successive NFC title games in years past.

So there’s nothing new here. The Eagles know what teams they have to beat.

Andy Reid and management perhaps need to take a step back and decide how they are going to beat Coughlin in NY, Fox in Carolina, Gruden in Tampa Bay, and so on. Because right now, it looks like those coaches are doing a better job.

Maybe the answer would be to bring in Holmgren from Seattle as the GM for the Eagles and relieve Reid of his GM duties. the two work well together and are friends.

But the Eagles whiffed on Tony Gonzalez earlier this year, and their drafts have not been great.

The Dallas game should be a good one.

We’ll see which team comes out to play.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The greatest quarterback you never saw play is finally passed into football heaven, and here I speak of none other than Slinging Sammy Baugh, who played for the Washington Redskins in the 1930s and 1940s in the day.

Sammy Baugh was the first NFL QB to really throw the ball often and downfield, and he was truly a legend when he played and for many years afterwards.

From everything I have read, Baugh was by far the greatest QB in the history of the Redskins’ franchise, and that includes Billy Kilmer and Sonny Jurgenson.

And let’s not forget, back in 1937-1952, when Sammy Baugh played, there was no platooning. A football player PLAYED SIXTY MINUTES AND PLAYED BOTH WAYS, DEFENSE AND OFFENSE.

In addition to leading the NFL in passing, Sammy Baugh also played defensive back, and usually would lead the NFL in interceptions.

Oh, and he was also the team’s punter, and was usually the NFL’s leading punter. As was noted by many news organizations, Sammy Baugh’s 1941 or 1942 record 51.4 yards per punt is STILL the NFL record for average yards per punt.

It’s really hard to have sympathy for a Terrell Owens or a Donovan McNabb when you realize that the greats like Sammy Baugh and Jim Thorpe (who my grandfather saw play for the Canton Ohio Bulldogs in 1926, and grandpa told me Thorpe was the best he ever saw) played every down of every game, both ways, sixty minutes, and never rested, and for all of that, probably made a few hundred dollars a year.

One of the great appeals of Arena Football and other variations on the NFL is the elimination of specialization. You force everyone to play both ways, you get real athletes, instead of fat lineman who can benchpress, speedsters who do nothing but catch, and running backs who specialize in deking and faking their way for short gains and occasional bursts.

Sammy Baugh, like Jim Thorpe before him and Chuck Bednarik after him (I’ve met Mr. Bednarik through Maxwell Football Club, and believe me, you don’t want to mess with him even now), was a sixty minute man, a true real life football player, not a part time platoon man. He really belongs in the higher tier of hall of famers.

So here’s to one of the greats.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The Hall of Fame veterans committee announced that it has elected former New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians Second Baseman Joe “Flash” Gordon to the Hall of Fame.

This election is long, long overdue and corrects a twenty-two year old manifest injustice that occurred back in 1986 when the Hall of Fame selected Bobby Doerr, Gordon’s exact contemporary of the Boston Red Sox, a clearly inferior player, for inclusion to the Hall of Fame.

This matter is dwelt on at length by legendary baseball writer Bill James in his book on the Hall of Fame, “The Politics of Glory” (MacMillan Publishing Co, New York, NY, 1994) in Chapter 12 of the book, “Gordon and Doerr” at pp. 137-142.

Essentially, James’ arguments comes down to three main points. First, Gordon was the finest defensive second basemen of his generation, whether playing with Frankie Crosetti in 1939 or with Phil Rizzuto in 1941 and thereafter, or with Lou Boudreau of the Indians in 1948. According to a contemporary observer cited by James, Gordon was the “most spectacular second baseman in the game” and had “amazing defensive skill.” [id. at p. 139, citations omitted]. According to another source cited by James, Gordon was “the most acrobatic second baseman of his or any other day…” [id. at p. 139, citations omitted].

A measure of how great Gordon was is given elsewhere by James when he relates the story of Jerry Priddy, a gifted defensive and offensive second base prospect who came up with Phil Rizzuto in the Yankees farm system and broke in with the Yankees in 1941. The Yankees famously shifted Joe Gordon to 1st base and started Priddy at second and Rizzuto at short, but gave up on Priddy after only six weeks, and then shifted Gordon back to second base. Priddy was traded the next year, and went on to have a tremendous career, especially compiling incredible defensive statistics, statistics comparable to Bill Mazeroski. See James, id., Chapter 17, “Priddy and Rizzuto, at pp. 217-239. It is a measure of Joe Gordon’s greatness that the Yankees were able to dispose of a talent as great as Jerry Priddy’s at second base, because they had a greater talent—that of Joe Gordon—able to play second base superior in both defense and offense even to Priddy’s excellent play.

The second line of argument against Doerr made by James is that Fenway Park inflated Doerr’s hitting statistics, while Yankee Stadium (and later Cleveland’s Memorial Stadium) depressed Gordon’s hitting statistics. This one is actually pretty easy to make, because James simply compares Doerr’s road statistics to Gordon’s road statistics, and quite frankly, it isn’t even close. Per 154 games on the road, Gordon is batting .279/.367/.482 BA/OBA/SA with 161 hits, 29 doubles, 5 triples and 26 home runs, with 104 RBIs driven in, and 77 walks drawn a year, while Doerr is only batting .261/.327/.389 with 156 hits, 25 doubles, 7 triples and only 13 home runs, with merely 85 RBIs driven in, and only 58 walks drawn a year. The road offensive stats clearly demonstrate that Gordon is not only offensively superior to Doerr, but CLEARLY offensively superior to Doerr. See James, id. at pp. 140-141.

James then takes one year in particular, 1939, and shows that Joe Gordon, in 1939, on the road hit .308/.400/.545, with 92 hits, 16 doubles, 2 triples, 17 homers, 56 runs scored, 72 RBI, 45 walks drawn. At home in Yankee Stadium, Gordon hit .257/.334/.463 with 69 hits, 16 doubles, 3 triples, 11 homers, 30 walks, 36 runs scored and 30 RBIs. Big difference, eh? See James, id. at p. 141.

James then concludes “if Gordon had done just as well at home as he had done on the road, he would have hit .308 with 34 homers, 144 RBI.” [id. at p. 141]. Meanwhile, Doerr in 1950 on the road and home; at home in Fenway, Doerr hit .344/.424/.630 with 105 hits, 19 doubles, 7 triples and 18 homers, 68 runs scored, 86 RBIs, 41 walks drawn. But on the road, Doerr hit .238/.303/.399 with 67 hits, 35 runs scored, 10 doubles, 4 triples, 9 homers and 34 RBI. Obviously if Doerr had done what he did on the road for both halves of a season without the benefit of Fenway Park, he would have hit .238 with 18 homers and 68 RBI. [Id. at p. 141].

Consequently, James demonstrates that Doerr’s numbers were padded by Fenway, while Gordon’s numbers were dampened by Yankee Stadium. In neutral parks, in road games, Gordon was far superior to Doerr offensively. James concludes, “it is obvious to me, that [Joe] Gordon was a far better hitter than [Bobby] Doerr was. Had they both played in Fenway Park, Gordon would have hit 30-45 homers a year, driven in far more than a hundred runs a year, and with his defense, would have been a star of the first magnitude. Had they both played in Yankee Stadium, Doerr would probably have hit few than ten homers a year on the average. He would still have been a good player, because of his defense, but his stats would not have suggested “Hall of Fame” to anyone. Had they both played in any park, the same park, Gordon would have posted far better hitting stats than Doerr.” James, id. at p. 141.

James’ final argument for the superiority of Gordon to Doerr is the MVP voting of the time. Throughout the time both played, Gordon polled far more MVP votes than Doerr did—525 MVP votes to just 316 for Doerr. [id. at pp. 141-142.]. Moreover, Gordon was a Sporting News All-Star six times, Doerr just twice, and of those two times, once was the year Gordon was in the Army, and the other was a year Gordon was having an off-year. [id. at p. 142]. And, of course, we all know that Joe Gordon was the American League MVP in 1942. All told, Joe Gordon made nine all-star teams.

An additional argument I would make for Joe Gordon being a Hall of Famer, over Bobby Doerr or any one else that every played second base, is that Joe Gordon was a winner. He won the World Series with the Yankees in 1938, 1939, 1941 and 1943, and then went to Cleveland, and famously combined with Lou Boudreau to form a tremendous keystone combination that helped vault Cleveland to the World Series title in 1948. This remains Cleveland’s last world series title, sixty years ago, and they did it largely on the back on Joe Gordon.

Commented Bob Feller, ninety years old today, upon learning that Joe Gordon was inducted into the Hall of Fame; “To me, he was a major Hall of Famer…He was an acrobat around the bag. He was all over the place in the field.” Well, Bob Feller would know, wouldn’t he? He played against Joe Gordon for ten years, and then he had him as his teammate, and finally got to the world series because of Joe Gordon.

In 1939, the New York Yankees with Gordon and Crosetti went 106-45, one of the all-time great Yankee teams—and yet when Phil Rizzuto, a rookie, joined the team in 1941, Joe Gordon took him under his wing and led him and the rest of the Yankees to yet another world series title over what is arguable one of the greatest teams of all time, the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers.

In his MVP year, Gordon led the Yankees to the World Series, where the Yankees lost to the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals, arguably one of the finest teams ever assembled, featuring Stan Musial, Enos Country Slaughter, Walker Cooper, Marty Marion, Whitey Kurowski, Mort Cooper, Johnny Beazley and even old Lon Warneke. That Cardinals team would win four NL pennants and three World Series during the 1940s.

And what did Bobby Doerr ever win? The 1946 American League pennant, and a World Series loss to that same great Cardinals team. Well, yes the Red Sox battled them to seven games, but Country Slaughter famously scored from first on a single to beat the Red Sox—and we know the story, it used to be part of the legend of the curse. So the Red Sox lost that year. And what else did the 1940s Red Sox win? Nothing, just a tie for the pennant leading to a one game playoff loss one other year.

In a word, the 1940s Red Sox won practically nothing, despite having Ted Williams, Vern Stephens, Bobby Doerr and a lot of other supposedly pretty good players. And what little Bobby Doerr won, you can pretty much credit to his playing alongside Ted Williams.

Nor does anyone ever list either the 1946 Red Sox or any of the 1940s Red Sox teams as among the greatest in baseball history, or even in the top fifty in baseball history, for the same reason—they didn’t win anything.

We should talk for a moment about the greatness of the 1939 Yankees. First of all, the 1939 Yankees were presaged by one of the greatest minor league teams of all time—the 1937 Newark Bears, which featured Joe Gordon, Charlie Keller, Tommy Henrich, Atley Donald among others. That minor league mega-team has been written about often, it is not necessary to repeat the accolades here, except to say that many times it has been said that the 1937 Newark Bears were among the finest minor league teams ever put in the field.

Getting back to the New York Yankees, in 1939, the New York Yankees suffered a calamity that would have ended the season for most teams—their MVP, Hall of Fame first baseman, the man who defined iron man play, the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, took himself out of the lineup in May of 1939.

This was a tragic blow from which most teams would not have recovered—and yet, the Yankees went on to win 106 games in 1939. How did the Yankees do this? Primarily, it was on the strength of Joe DiMaggio , the pitching staff, and the new additions from the 1937 Newark Bears. Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Keller, Red Rolfe, Joe Gordon, George Selkirk, Bill Dickey, Tommy Henrich, Babe Dahlgren and Frankie Crosetti led the offense, while the pitching was led by Red Ruffing and Lefty Gomez, with able assists by Atley Donald, Johnny Murphy and others from the Newark Bears farm team.

All told, for the Yankees to have won 106 games in 1939 despite the loss of Lou Gehrig in May of 1939 is one of the greatest achievements in modern baseball history, and speaks to the Hall of Fame greatness of Joe Gordon. I recognize that many people think the 1927 Yankees are the greatest team of all time, but in my view, many should take a second look at the 1939 Yankees with Joe Gordon; they may well be the greatest baseball team of all time.

Moreover, the 1939 Yankees had the power, pitching, fielding and overall balance at every position to have defeated the 1927 Yankees in a head to head series, if such a series could have been arranged. The 1927 team, after their talented outfield of Ruth, Combs and Meusel, and first baseman Lou Gehrig, was a lot thinner on talent, and their pitching staff was not as deep, relying as it did on Waite Hoyt, Urban Shocker and Herb Pennock, along with Wilcy Moore, who happened to be having a good season.

Consequently, I would vote the 1939 Yankees over the 1927 Yankees as the greatest team ever. Because of that, Joe Gordon belongs in the Hall of Fame since he along with Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey et al. was a key member of that championship squad, and went on to win three more championships with the Yankees and another with the Indians.

When Bill James wrote his book on the Hall of Fame in 1994, there were two players who belonged in the Hall of Fame who were then conspicuously absent—Phil Rizzuto, the AL’s 1950 MVP, and Joe Gordon, the AL’s 1942 MVP, and a keystone combination for several outstanding winning years on the Yankees. They were representatives of three decades of Yankee greatness—the thirties, the forties and the fifties—and each of them were truly great in the field and at the bat.

Now, with the election of Joe Gordon to the Hall of Fame, and Rizzuto already having been elected to the Hall, the keystone combination is complete and Rizzuto can relay the ball to Gordon in the Hall of Fame, where champions go to rest and claim their laurels.

When the game is done and the players creep
One by one to the League of sheep
The way of the fight, the fate of the foe
The cheer that passed, and applauding hands
Are stilled at last—but the record stands..
So take my lad, what the Great Game gives
For all men die, but the Record Lives.

–Grantland Rice, Washington Evening Star, July 13, 1903

–Art Kyriazis, philly/south jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Eagles defied all reasonable expectations and defeated the New York Giants decisively 20-14 this past Sunday, December 7, 2008, the 67th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. The final score was not indicative of how decisively the Eagles controlled this game, especially in the second half; Brian Westbrook rushed for 133 yards on the ground, went for approximately 75 more passing/receiving yards, and essentially destroyed the Giants by means of a ball possession offense that denied Eli Manning and the potent Giants offense the ball for much of the second half.

When the Giants did get the ball, the Eagles defense was up to the task, shutting the Giants offense down until less than a minute to go in the game when the Giants’ offense scored their only touchdown.

The only breakdown in the game for the Eagles came on a short field goal attempt at the end of the first half, which would have put the Eagles up 13-0 going into halftime; the kick was blocked by the Giants’ powerful defense, and returned the other way for a Giants defensive TD, making the halftime score 10-7 Eagles. This made the game much closer than it should have been.

Had that special teams breakdown not occurred, the Eagles might have been winning the game 20-0 until the final Giants TD, and won the game 20-7 in the end. The Eagles also had another short field goal attempt blocked by the Giants, or they might have scored three more points; in all, the two blocks and the returned defensive TD costs the Eagles a swing of 13 points or they would have defeated the Giants 23-7 in this game.

There is no question that the Eagles benefited from the long layoff after their Thanksgiving match against Arizona. There is also no question that the New York Giants were hurt by the legal brouhaha over the gun possession charges and the self-inflicted gunshot wound incident surrounding Plaxico Burriss and their middle linebacker, and the grand jury, etc.

What is really interesting about all this is the involvement of Mayor Bloomberg, calling for imposition of the mandatory minimum sentence of 2 ½ years on Burriss. This is not exactly a Republican stance, is it? I don’t foresee the NRA supporting Mayor Bloomberg anytime soon for election to any higher offices.

Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to recall the U.S. Supreme Court recently holding that the District of Columbia’s regulation of handguns was unconstitutional in light of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, and that this was a landmark ruling. That applied to Northeastern large cities, or maybe Mayor Bloomberg didn’t read that decision. Perhaps Mr. Burriss’ attorneys would be smart to certify their case for constitutional appeal to the New York Court of Appeals and thereafter for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court on the grounds that Mr. Burriss’ Second Amendment right to bear arms in self-defence have been infringed. The individualist reading of the Second Amendment has finally made its way into Constitutional law, and the Plaxico Burriss case may well be the second significant ruling on the subject.

Turning to the playoff race, with Carolina having defeated Tampa Bay last night in Monday Night Football, that now makes Carolina the division leader at 10-3 and Tampa Bay the leading wild-card at 9-4. The next two wild cards in the standings are the Dallas Cowboys at 8-5 and the Atlanta Falcons at 8-5. Dallas, who lost to Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh by giving up 17 points in a dreadful fourth quarter collapse after initially leading by ten points with fifteen minutes to go, now faces the New York Giants at home.

The Cowboys have beaten the Giants, so the Cowboys still only have five losses; Meanwhile, Tampa Bay lost in overtime to Atlanta at Atlanta this week, so Tampa Bay is now two games behind Carolina for the division lead and had now dropped to five losses along with Atlanta and Dallas, tied for the wild card.

The Eagles at 7-5-1 will have a chance tonight and the next two weeks to work their way into the playoffs. They host the Cleveland Browns at home tonite; if they beat Cleveland and go to 8-5-1, they will be a half game off the wild card pace. At that point, the Eagles would then control their destiny for the rest of the season; they play the Washington Redskins on the road and host Dallas the last two games of the season, and if they can defeat these two division rivals, both of whom have been in recent decline, the Eagles will make the NFC playoffs if Tampa Bay or Atlanta simply lose one more game and go to six losses.

Assuming the Eagles make the playoffs as the sixth seed, assuming the standings hold approximately as they currently are, the Giants and either Tampa Bay or Carolina would get the first week byes, and the Eagles would get a road game against either Arizona or Minnesota, whichever division winner ends up being the third seed division winner. Meanwhile Carolina/Tampa Bay would get a road game against either Arizona or Minnesota. In this scenario, it is likely that the Eagles might actually advanced in the playoffs, having defeated Arizona decisively during the year, and being a better team than Minnesota as well.

The same could well be said of Carolina/Tampa Bay.
This could well bring about in the second round of the NFC playoffs a rematch of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles in New York (1 and 6 seeds) and a rematch of the Carolina/Tampa Bay teams (2 and 5 seeds), two grudge matches of division rivals that would make for compelling playoff football. All four of these teams have been to the NFC championships and the Super Bowl in the last few years and all are playoff experienced. I very much expect that the Giants, Eagles, Carolina and Tampa Bay will end up in the second round of the playoffs for the NFC eventually.

The only other team I give a chance to upset this parade is the Dallas Cowboys, who by defeating the Giants and Eagles can make the sixth and last seed, get the road game against Arizona/Minnesota, win on the road and get their rematch with the Giants in the second round of the playoffs.

So in my view, this will all come down to the Eagles and the Cowboys vying for the last playoff spot, which in light of the weak first round opponent, is a very valuable wild card seeding this year.

As for who will prevail in those second round games, I would tend to favor the Giants in a third game between the Eagles or Cowboys against the Giants; and whoever has the home field in a Tampa Bay-Carolina rematch, though I give a slight edge to Tampa Bay due to Jon Gruden’s coaching abilities.

Finally, if we see a Giants-Tampa Bay or Giants-Carolina NFC final, in New York, the Giants should be favored to return to the Super Bowl.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

1) Timeline – The Movie, which is based on a book by Michael Crichton, posits that a group of scientists return to France in the mid-1300s, where they help the French lead an attack of an English fortified castle and garrison to win a great victory for the French and in the process win the hand of a great French princess for one of the scientists.

The Problem: During the Hundred Years War, as is well known, the French won no battles other than isolated skirmishes, and certainly took no castles from the English during the 1300s. Instead, the English, with their dominant longbowmen, won the battles of Crecy and Poitiers during the 1300s, and therefore the French were literally afraid to do battle with the English during all of the 1300s. At Crecy and Poitier, the charge of the French mounted cavalry was met with a barrage of arrows from English and Welsh longbowmen from the woods and flanks, which just piled up French corpses. It was the French, not the English, who were holed up in garrisons and forts during the 1300s. The French did not take a garrison or fort from the English until 1430 (see below).

Consequently, the battle as described by either Crichton or the directors of the film would never have happened. It was not until after the death of Henry V, the revolt of the French, and the coming of Joan of Arc in approximately 1430 that the French even won one battle from the English in the Hundred Years, and then by 1453 they had cleared modern day France of the English who by then were feuding into the houses of Lancaster and York and descending into the Wars of the Roses. See Henry VI parts I, II and III by Shakespeare; and Sir Douglas Omans Art of Ancient & Medieval Warfare, Part II.; and any competent history of England.

2) Braveheart – This Academy Award winning film portrays the battle of Falkirk and the hero William Wallace as played by Mel Gibson as having been lost due to the treachery of the Scottish nobles, particularly Earl the Bruce, leaving the battlefield, and shows Wallace and the Scottish rebels fighting the English nobly to the end.

The Problem: The Battle of Falkirk, like the battles won by the English in Wales, was not won due to the treachery of the Scottish nobles, but due to the incredible abilities of the English and Welsh longbowmen, whose arrows penetrated the armor of enemy infantry and cavalry of the time. There was no good answer to the longbowmen, who could shoot from farther away than the infantry or cavalry could respond. When the Scottish infantry and cavalry charged, they were met with a hail of arrows from the longbowmen who were deployed on the flanks. The Scots were largely massacred and the bodies piled up in the middle of the battlefield with few or little English casualties. The longbowmen simply cleaned up and prepared for the next battle. Falkirk preceded Poitiers and Crecy on the French continent, but the English would use the lessons of Falkirk to ample good use in killing French by the hundreds using the longbow.

Thus, the portrayal of the battle of Falkirk by Director Mel Gibson in Braveheart is 100% inaccurate, although Sir Douglas Omans Art of Ancient & Medieval Warfare, Vol. II does note that it is a common enough myth amongst the Scots that the battle was lost due to the treachery of Sir Earl the Bruce, but such is hardly supported by the facts. Even if Earl the Bruce and a thousand more knights and infantry had been available for battle at Falkirk to Wallace, they could not have overcome the English/Welsh longbow and would have lost this decisive battle. See the same sources as above.

Note that Gibson was attacked ferociously for his failures to depict things historically in The Passion of the Christ. I would argue that he actually should be taken to task more for his historical failures in Braveheart, although there is no doubt that his failures historically in Passion have been taken up by others more competent than myself.

3) The Last Samurai – In this excellent film, Tom Cruise plays a disillusioned Army officer of the United States assigned in the 1870s to Japan, where he is to train a Japanese army to put down an anticipated revolt of the Last of the Samurai. Instead, he is captured and becomes one of the Samurai, who go through with their revolt. Cruise fights with them, watches them slaughtered to the last man (actually, the last man commits seppuku), but goes to the Emperor and brings the sword of the noblest Samurai and asks that the old ways be honored, with success. Cruise during the film learns the way of bushido or the way of the samurai and finds the peace that has eluded him in America.

The Problem: The film is complete historically accurate in certain respects. There was in fact a final revolt of the Samurai in the 1870s, 1873 or 74, in opposition to the Meiji Restoration, which was put down by a modernly armed Japanese army. It is true this revolt was prompted by the ban on the wearing of the two swords, short and long, of the samurai, and the banning of the samurai class, from society, as part of the Meiji Restoration. Also, Zwick and Herskowitz have produced a Kurosawa like epic film (there is no other way to describe it) and Cruise actually turns in a fine performance as a man who puts his life back together in the principles of Zen Buddhism and bushido.

The problem is that no American officer was ever sent to train Japanese army officers to fight the rebellion. It was Germany, not America, that Japan turned to when they needed to train, arm and equip their army to face and fight the Samurai. Thus, the Tom Cruise character and the idea that an American was sent to Japan is completely fictional. It was Germans, not Americans, who went to train the Japanese army to fight the samurai. See Edwin Reischauers history of Japan; and any other competent source covering the Meiji Restoration on this point.

However, if one can imagine the central character as a german army officer, the story could be historically true, though imagining a german or prussian drilling officer as a samurai is difficult to envision. Perhaps we could see it better after Mr. Cruise’s latest film role as a Nazi with an eye patch, albeit one bent on secretly plotting to kill Hitler. Personally, I still think the only good Nazi is a dead one whatever his intentions.

4) Gladiator – In this outstanding film, we begin at the end of an arduous military campaign against the Germanii led by heroic and noble general Maximus. He wins the battle, of course, and reports to his beloved Emperor, the famous Marcus Aurelius (author of the Stoic-influenced Meditations). Marcus Aurelius advises him he will disinherit his son Commodus, and make Maximus Lord Protector of Rome, that it may become a Republic again, according to the Emperors most ethical wishes and the good of Rome.

Unknown to Maximus, Commodus has arrived in camp, has a secret audience with his father, is advised he will be disinherited, and in disgust, kills Marcus Aurelius and proclaims himself Emperor. He then orders Maximus relieved of command, orders Maximus and his family executed, and assumes command of the triumph into Rome celebrating the triumph of the conquest of Germania. Maximus escapes, only to find his family dead, and vows revenge.

The rest of the movie is Maximus slow path to revenge himself as he is sold into slavery, finds himself a gladiator in the provinces, and finally, a gladiator in Rome. Finally, he gets his day and slays Commodus in the Coliseum dying in the process. An elegiac speech on how noble he was follows his death.

The Problem: Commodus was not slain by anyone for at least 15 years after taking office. The historical truth is the bad guys won. A near-madman, Commodus did revive the gladiatorial games and often fought himself in the arena as the movie suggests, but there was no Maximus to oppose him. Commodus was never slain and he got away with killing his father, though he himself did finally meet with a violent end, albeit some many years later. Commodus is ranked as a A bad emperor by most historians.

So who is Maximus? The answer lies in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. The character of Maximus is the ideal man of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, a perfectly stoic, ethical, noble Roman. Maximus is a philosophical fiction, much like Platos philosopher-king.

Director Ridley Scott and his writer(s) have crafted Shakespearian fiction here, but it is on a grand philosophical level. They have given flesh and blood to an epic philosophical character, the Maximus of the Meditations, and shown what he might have done if given the chance to avenge the death of Marcus Aurelius.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies