CURT SCHLLING RETIRES

March 25, 2009

On Monday of this week, Curt Schilling, he of the bloody sock, the hero of the 2004 World Series that finally cured the curse of the Red Sox forever, and the last active playing member of the great 1993 Phillies team that nearly beat a powerhouse Toronto Blue Jays team in an awesome world series matchup, finally retired, joining Lenny “Nails” Dykstra, Darren Arthur Daulton, John “Krukster” Kruk and other legends of the 1993 Phillies in retirement.

Of course, Schilling was an integral member of numerous world series teams, as was Daulton (1997 Marlins) and Dykstra (1986 Mets). Collectively, all of these guys were winners, with a capital W. They lived to win, and winning was all they knew how to do.

Here I have to point out that as I am a Phillies fan, I have always had a very soft spot in my heart for Curt Schilling. From 1992, when he first emerged as a terrific power pitcher, to 2000, when he was erroneously and mistakenly traded from the Phils to Arizona (instead of their locking him up for another multi year deal), he was 1) the ace of the staff 2) the voice of the Phillies, frequently appearing on local sports radio, sometimes daily and 3) the best starting pitcher I’ve ever seen here since Steve Carlton.

But the main thing I loved about Schilling is, he hated to lose, and he loved to win. He pitched complete ballgames, nine innings, and he pitched to strike out the side. He was old school, he had old fashioned ideas, he was in every way a throwback to pitchers and players from like fifty years ago. In that sense, he was completely and totally refreshing.

From 1997-2000 the Phillies organization had a core of Curt Schilling, Bobby Abreu and Steve Rolen. Had they simply and properly built around that core, the Phillies could have built a division winner, or at least a wild card team. Schilling was an ace of the staff, Abreu was in the prime of his career, a .400 OBA man with a .500 slugging percentage, and Rolen was earning 30 win shares a year routinely with his glove and his bat. In those years, Rolen was slugging .500 or more easily, hitting tons of doubles and homers.

Where the team was weak in those days was up the middle—they didn’t stock themselves at short, second, catcher and centerfield properly (except maybe for Mike Lieberthal, but he was no Darren Daulton). And everyone knows a championship club needs to be strong up the middle. Kevin Stocker, who had played well in 1993, began to fade. Mickey Morandini, who was terrific in 1993, also began to fade as the decade wore on. Milt Thompson wasn’t around anymore and Lenny Dykstra was gone by 1997. Darren Daulton was also gone by 1997. If they had Dykstra and Daulton, and a healthry Morandini and Stocker, the 1997 Phillies would have been contenders—but the story was different.

By 97-99, they were playing guys like Marlon Anderson and Alex Arias up the middle. It wasn’t the same. Doug Glanville could field and run, but he never drew a walk.

The Phillies didn’t make immediate efforts to replace Daulton or Dykstra with great talent, nor did they replace Stocker or Morandini with great talent. They did waste a lot of money on bad free agents (see below) but we’ll get to that.

Behind Schilling were non-entities pitching—they did not put together a staff anywhere close to what they had in 1993, with Tommy Greene, Schilling, Danny Jackson, Terry Mulholland et al. and Mitch Williams as the closer. In 1994 Williams’ arm was blown and he was traded, but he never pitched again. Mulholland was traded, a bad trade since he pitched ten more years or more in the bigs. Jackson was never the same again and Tommy Greene’s arm was blown, he never had another year like 1993.

Because the Phillies did not make the effort to replace the great 1993 players with new and great players, eventually both Schilling and Rolen wanted out of Philadelphia. This was not good news for the Phillies GM and Phillies management, because Schilling and Rolen were the kind of players you built a team around.

A starting ace, and a gold glove third baseman who hits 30 homers and 35 doubles a year with 30 win shares a year, those are the two players you want to start a team with. You don’t want to lose those two guys.

The fundamental mistake of the Phils as they turned the corner on the new century was to let Curt Schilling go, even more of a mistake than letting Scott Rolen go, though both were mistakes. Curt Schilling won three world series with Arizona and Boston after he left (2001, 2004, and 2006) while Scott Rolen won one with St. Louis and got to another. Instead of realizing what they had, they wasted money on bad players instead.

You can’t help but wonder, what if the Phils had held on to these guys, and they had been around while the Phils developed Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Chase Utley, signed Jim Thome, etc. You have to think some of those 86 win seasons would have been 92 or 95 win seasons.

After Schilling was gone, the Phillies went on an endless search for the next big ace. They traded Johnny Estrada, a great catching prospect, for Kevin Millwood. In fairness, Millwood had a great 2003 season, throwing a no-hitter, throwing a lot of innings and having a great adjusted ERA. But the next season he sort of blew up, and wasn’t the same again, and the Phils let him go in free agency.

The next big ace was Eric Milton. The phils traded Carlos Silva for him. Eric Milton arrived to much fanfare, and proceeded to lead the NL in homers allowed the next two seasons. To say he was awful understates the situation. He just never adjusted to the new park.

The next big ace was Freddy Garcia. We all know about him. He never even pitched. He was hurt and didn’t pitch at all.

There were so many other horrible pitchers the Phils brought in. I can’t name them all. Jon Lieber, Adam Eaton, etc.

Meanwhile, the Phillies actually got some players for Rolen and Schilling, which were basically, Placido Polanco and Vincente Padilla. Polanco played second until Utley came up, and then Polanco was out of a job. The Phils shipped him to Detroit for Ugueth Urbina, but should have kept him to play third but at the time they had David Bell playing third.

Padilla for a while had a couple of good seasons with the Phils, but eventually they shipped him to Texas. Padilla has been pretty awful for Texas, his innings pitched are still high, but so is his ERA. He’s not really been a great pitcher, just an innings eater.

Polanco has been a starter in Detroit and it seems to me the Phils should have held onto Polanco. He was a good righthanded hitter, could play the corner outfield positions, as well as 3d and 2d, and was a good RH pinch-hitters bat off the bench. I’d have kept him. While he doesn’t walk much, he has a high batting average, had above average speed, and hits a lot of doubles and triples, and occasional homers. And he’s great in the clubhouse.

The lack of an ace in the Phillies starting staff from 2001-2007 is what kept them from winning a world series. During six of those years, Curt Schilling could have been that ace and put them over the top in any given year.

Having an ace in Cole Hamels in 2008 is one of the keys to the Phillies having won a world series and a world championship in 2008. Cole Hamels was finally the guy the Phils had been searching for since 2000, when they let Curt Schilling go for a guy named Vincent Padilla.

Bill James, in the Bill James Gold Mine 2008, at p. 2007, has an illuminating article on this subject, called “If I Had a Hamel.” He basically examines each of the Phils seasons from 1986-2007, and notes who was the Phils most dominating pitcher in each of those years. In 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000, Curt Schilling was the best pitcher on the Phils’ staff, and then he was gone. Then in 2007, Cole Hamels was the best. Writes James in his article: “I have a friend who is a Phillies fan. He is optimistic about the 2008 season because, he says, we finally have an ace. We haven’t had an ace of the staff since we traded Schilling. He is referring of course to Cole Hamels….Cole Hamels Season Score [in 2007] was 233, which was the highest by a Phillies pitcher since 1998. Schilling was at 327 in 1997, 271 in 1998.” Id. at p. 207.

James also points out how silly it was for the Phils to move Brett Myers from starter to closer in 2007, and that bringing him back to starter would be a good move for 2008. Id. at p. 2007.

So there you have it—the two key moves that put the phils over the top—Cole Hamels as a staff ace, and Brett Myers back as a starter. Add to that Brad Lidge as a top shelf closer, and you have two legs of the Phils formula for world champion success in 2008.

I think it would have been nice for Curt Schilling to retire as a Phillie, myself.

Curt Schilling by the numbers: Curt Schilling was an awesome pitcher. He led the National League in strikeouts in 1997 and 1998, striking out more than 300 batters each of those years, 319 Ks in 1997 (in 254.1 innings pitched) and 300 Ks in 1998 (in 268.2 innings pitched). Schilling was a horse—he finished more games and completed more games than any modern pitcher, by far. Of 436 games he started in his career, he completed 83—19% of his games started, he COMPLETED.

Think about that—Curt Schilling, CAREER STAT, completed about 20% of every game he started. No relievers, no help, just nine innings and finish the game.

That’s as old school as you can get. Schilling was a reversion to a pitcher of the first half of the 20th century. He was more like Robin Roberts or Bob Feller, guys who finished what they started. The bloody sock tells it all.

He led the NL in complete games FOUR times—in 1996, with 8 complete games, in 1998, with 15 complete games (of 35 started), in 2000 with 8 complete games, and in 2001 with 6 complete games. He led the NL twice in innings pitched, in 1998 with 268 and 2/3, and in 2001 with 256 2/3, and led the NL those same years in pitches thrown to batters with 1089 in 1998 and 1021 in 2001.

Schilling led the NL in wins with 22 in 2001, and led the AL in wins with 21 in 2004. His adjusted ERC of 1.86 (ERA 2.35) was the lowest in the NL in 1992.

Schilling’s post-season record is insane. In 133.1 innings pitched, he struck out 139, walked only 30, gave up no intentional walks, yielded only 12 homers, 3 hit batsmen, 115 hits, 41 runs and 36 earned runs for an ERA of 2.43 (ERC adjusted of 2.79). In 19 games he started in the post season, he had 4 complete games, a 21% completion ratio. His won loss record of 11-2 in those 19 games he started is legendary.

I attended Schilling’s 2-0 complete game shutout of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993, World Series game Five, at Veterans Stadium Philadelphia. The Phillies had lost a slugfest the night before, blowing a four or five game lead in extra innings when Mitch Williams couldn’t hold the lead, and were down 3-1 in games. The game was do or die. They had to win.

Schilling did nothing less than twirl a masterpiece. He may have given up a hit, or maybe two or four hits, but the whole thing took well under two hours, and it was a masterpiece of pitching efficiency, mastery, control and power. The Blue Jays, who had scored something like 15 runs the night before, could hardly get their bats on the ball against Schilling, the master of the baseball.

I have rarely, if ever, seen a pitching performance like that one, in my life, let alone in post-season play. I had a great seat, my wife’s company at the time had some corporate seats along the 3rd base line, and I had a terrific view of the action. The game was like watching Koufax, Gibson, Carlton, the greats.

At this point I suppose I can point out that Curt Schilling is an obvious Hall of Fame selection. I know that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are both 300 game winners, but their post-season stats are awful. Only John Smoltz has post-season stats like Schillings, and he gave up four seasons to be a closer, or he would be closer to 250 wins than the 215 he had now.

Let’s talk now about wins and losses. Except for the 1993 Phillies, the rest of the Phillies teams that Schilling played for—1992, and 1994-2000—had losing records. Nonetheless, Schilling racked up winning or .500 records for all of those teams;

1992 14-11 Team 70-92
1994 hurt 2-8 Team 54-61
1995 hurt 7-5 Team 69-75
1996 hurt 9-10 Team 67-95
1997 17-11 Team 68-94
1998 15-14 Team 75-87
1999 15-6 Team 77-85
2000 6-6 Team 65-97

Total Schilling 85-71 percentage 85/156 = .549
Total Team 545-676 percentage 545/1221 = .446

Schilling was more than 100 percentage points higher than his teams in all of the losing seasons from 1992-2000 on the Phils—he had a .549 winning percentage, while the Phils had a .446 winning percentage.

Schilling was 14 games OVER .500, whie the Phillies were 131 games BELOW .500—Schilling was 145 games better than his team. That’s a whopping lot better than his team.

So Schilling, even with three seasons where he was hurt, and for a ballteam that was hundreds of games below .500, managed a total record of 85-71, fourteen games ABOVE .500, during the eight years he was with Philly. 145 games better than his team, 100 percentage points better than his team.

As if he was dragging a dead body and a lot of 45 pound plates around, and still managing to win ballgames.

Now let’s add in 1993, when he was 16-7 for a team that went 97-65 total, a .599 percentage. For that team, Schilling went 16-7, which is a .693 percentage. FOR THE 1993 TEAM, A WINNER, A PENNANT WINNER THAT ALMOST WON THE WORLD SERIES, SCHILLING STILL DID A HUNDRED PERCENTAGE POINTS BETTER THAN THE PHILLIES WINNING PERCENTAGE. The team was 32 games over .500, Schilling was nine games over .500.

Now, the final totals:

Schilling: Career with Phils: 101-78. Percentage: 101/179 = .564 winning percentage

Phils: Career with Schilling: 642-741. Percentage: 646/1383 = .464 winning percentage

Schilling is 100 points above philly’s winning percentage, .564 to .464, for a nine year run. Philly was 100 games below .500; Schilling was 23 games above .500.

That’s Schilling’s total for Philly. He won a hundred games in 8 years, for mainly lousy clubs. And led the league in strikeouts twice, in complete games three times, in games started twice, in innings pitched once, etc.

Schilling did all this dragging around a lousy team that was, except for the magnificent 1993 team, mainly a bad team that finished in the second division. Several of these teams lost as many as 94, 95 and 97 games (1996, 1997, 2000). They were dreadful, horrible, awful teams, and yet Schilling went out and led the league in strikeouts in 1997.

Also, that Gregg Jeffries, a free agent bust, was paid $5.5 million in 1997, while Schilling, clearly the most valuable Phillie on any day of the week, earned only $3.5 million in 1997. Schilling was correct to gripe about his salary.

In 1998, Curt Schilling got a raise to $4.7 million, but Gregg Jefferies got $6 million after a horrible year in 1997, and some turkey named Mark Portugal got $2.4 million to pitch, putting up some dreadful numbers for the Phils.

Scott Rolen was paid $150,000 in 1997 and $750,000 in 1998 after posting two outstanding years. Ridiculous.

In 1999, they raised Schilling to $5 ¼ million per year, but handed Ron Gant, who was past his prime, $6 million, and Gant had an average year in left field, while Bobby Abreu had a terrific year as a newbie in right field. Rolen meantime finally got raised to a million dollars, while having another monster year; Rico Brogna, who was awful was getting more than three million dollars a year.

There is no sense to what the phillies were doing with their payroll at this time. They should have committed to their best players, period. They kept wasting money on washed up veterans and on players who were having bad seasons instead of committing their payroll to Schilling, Abreu and Rolen.

Lieberthal, it could be argued, was a decent player, at catcher, but he shouldn’t have been getting $2 ¼ million, more than twice as much as Rolen, because Rolen was more valuable than Lieberthal. It didn’t make sense.

Some guy named Jeff Brantley got paid $2.8 million in 1999. He appeared in 10 games in 1999 and some more games in 2000, but he was entirely ineffective and washed up. A total waste of money. Brantley was out of baseball after 2001.

The Phils paid Chad Ogea about $1.7 million to be a starter in 1999. Ogea posted less than league average numbers in 1999. He was 6-12 with a 5.63 ERA. It’s almost certain that the Phillies could have brought someone up from the farm to be that bad for a rookie salary.

I could keep going on like this, but I think you get the point. The Phillies of the late 1990s were blowing money out the wazoo on bad, awful, over the hill, gassed, done, horrible players.

And then when Schilling & Rolen wanted free-agent money commensurate with their skills in 2000, the Phillies front office became hard asses? After giving Greg Jefferies and Ron Gant $6 million each? $12 millin to Ron Gant and Greg Jefferies and you won’t give $10 million a year to Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling for life?????

Are you kidding me????

No wonder the Phillies have only two world titles in 120 plus years. On the bright side, the Phillies learned from these mistakes and have been doing somewhat better in recent years in terms of front office management, although I don’t agree with all of their moves.

Let’s get back to the legend that is Curt Schilling.

Who can forget Schilling putting a towel over his head when Mitch Williams was pitching during the NLCS and the World Series?

If the Phillies had been able to close Toronto out in games four and six of that world series when they had had leads, Philly would have won the world series in 1993. Schilling did everything he could to win that series.

Curt Schilling went to Arizona, and dragged an expansion team of nobodies to world series glory. He made Randy Johnson, who everyone thought was too wild to be a great pitcher, into a world champion.

Then Schilling went to Boston, and promptly reversed the Curse of the Bambino, and brought a world championship to the Red Sox, something no one, and I mean no one, thought possible.

It was a magical accomplishment.

And just to put a flourish on it, Boston repeated in 2006, Mr. Schilling again assisting.

Finally, we have to point out, Curt Schilling never juiced.

Curt Schilling was a colorful, articulate and intelligent baseball player, and one of the most masterful men of the mound I have ever had the privilege to watch.

I’ve always missed him since he left the Phils. It was always my fervent hope that someday he might return for a final farewell tour year or two with the Phils, but apparently it is not to be. I think Schilling, no matter how he was throwing, would have been a terrific starter for the Phils this season and would have drawn fans.

And again, I say, the Phils should honor him, retire his number, and do him homage. He was one of the greatest of great Phils pitchers.

We will not soon see his like again.

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

Collectively, the Big Five of Temple, LaSalle, Penn, Villanova and St Joes have made more than a dozen final four appearances since the NCAAs began in 1939; Villanova was in the first NCAA tourney back in 1939, and in every decade of the NCAAs, one or more of the big Five has had an impact on the tournament each and every decade the Tournament has been running, whether it was Temple getting to the Final Four twice in the fifties, St. Joe’s to the Final Four in the sixties, Villanova and Penn to the Final Four in the seventies, Villanova winning the NCAA in the 80s, Temple dominating and getting #1 rankings and seedings in the 80s and 90s and getting to the elite 8 three times, and Villanova getting #1 seeds and reaching the elite 8 in recent years, and St. Joes getting to the final four in the last decade and getting a #1 seed.

Folks, we have the best college basketball in the country, bar none. Collectively, the Big Five does better in NCAA than almost any other region or school, excepting possibly Duke, UCLA, Kentucky and a handful of other such bigtime programs–and yet Duke has only won three NCAA titles in 14 Final Four trips, etc. The Big Five is not doing so badly.

I really like the underdogs of the NCAA–Marquette in 1977 with Al McGuire, the late Jimmy Valvano and North Caroline State (who can forget the triple overtime opening round win over Pepperdine?) in 1983, Rollie Massimino and the Villanova Wildcats upending Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in 1986, and so on.

My personal favorite big five upset of all time has to be St. Joe’s beating #1 seed and #1 in the country DePaul and Mark Aguire in 1981 in the first round of the NCAA (maybe it was the 2d round).

This brings us to 2009. Villanova and Temple are in. Villanova had a very good season, but lost to Louisville in the semis of the Big East tournament. Nova’ had a good RPI and a good strength of schedule, but still, they got a #3 seed, which I thought was pretty generous for a team that really hadn’t won anything–they were third or fourth in their conference, and finished third/fourth in the tournament of their conference. Even if it’s the best conference in basketball, does finishing fourth in that conference make you the 12th best team in all of college basketball? I think a #4 seed would have been more appropriate. The NCAA worships the big east a little too much.

Next, Temple. Temple got an #11 seed, which puts them against Arizona State, a #6 seed. Now Temple actually won something–they won the A-10 Tournament. Second year in a row, in fact. Also, best player in the conference, Dionte Christmas, plays for Temple. Also, Temple has by far the toughest non-conference schedule of any A-10 team. But they beat all of those teams too, except maybe Villanova, and they gave them a tough time. Maybe if Nova’ didn’t insist on playing at the Pavilion, but at the Palestra, it would be a fair game.

Temple’s RPI is very good, and their strength of schedule is very good. In fact, if you look at most of the teams seeded from around #7-#10, Temple’s RPI and strength of schedule are BETTER than most of those 7-10 seeds. Take Michigan for example, a team that didn’t win anything, lost 13, won only 20, and was an at-large from the big 10. Michigan has a higher seed than Temple but why? Michigan’s RPI is worse, their strength of schedule much worse, and they have a much worse record than Temple.

I could pick out many more examples (UCLA?) of this, but the point is that Temple plays a big-time schedule, has been in the elite eight in three of the last twenty years, and has been ranked #1 more than once in the last twenty years, including most of 1987-88. They’re a good ballclub, and deserved at least an 8-9 seed matchup in the first round.

Frankly, i would have given Temple about the same seeding as Xavier, and higher than Dayton, a team Temple dominated during the season.

I believe Temple and Villanova will both win. Arizona State is a fine team and that game could go either way, but Temple will win this year. Villanova has a ridiculously easy first round game. Their second round matchup will be much tougher

Also, I really like the fact that the new President offered his own “bracketology” on ESPN. that was pretty cool. I don’t think we’ve had this sports minded a president since Jack Kennedy, an old football player, was going to the harvard-yale and army-navy games. A lot like Teddy Roosevelt, too.

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

A very unusual thing happened the other night–something that hasn’t happened in a long time–the Sixers beat the Lakers, with Kobe Bryant playing, in LA, 94-93 on a three point buzzer beater by Andre Iguodala. I’m pretty sure some of the many celebrities that watch Laker basketball were stunned and sullen as they filed out of the building into their ferraris and maseratis and hybrids. This win capped off a four game win streak for the sixers, who have looked very fine indeed without Elton Brand weighing them down.

Coach Tony DiLeo has finally woken up to the fact that he has a three point shooter on his bench named Donyell Marshall, and has been deploying Marshall in key situations in games lately to, uh, shoot the three ball, something I’ve been lobbying for all year long. Notably, this strategy has been working quite well. When Marshall and Royal Ivey hit the three, Young and Iguodala and Speights can go to work inside without drawing double teams, or else Marshal and Ivey get free looks from the three line.

Even thought the Sixers lost in Phoenix last nite 125-116 and have three more games on the road this western trip, the Sixers are now 34-32, hold the 6th seed in the NBA east, and project to a 98% chance of making the playoffs. They are five games ahead of the Bucks who are 9th in the NBA east with 16 games to play, and 3 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago Bulls who are in the 8th seed, and 1 1/2 games ahead of Detroit, which continues to struggle without Iverson, who is hurt and out.

Speaking of the Bulls, ex-Sixer John Salmons dropped 38 points on the Celtics the other night in beating the Celtics. Even though he only scored 14 as the Sixers beat the Bulls in Philly, Salmons has become quite a much better player, and the Sean Webber trade is beginning to look worse and worse in hindsight. Salmons has become a great player and Webber was just a bust. Salmons could have been the two guard the sixers are now needing, and all we had to do was do nothing but hold onto him and let him develop. The Sixers have let a lot guys like Larry Hughes and John Salmons get away from them over the years, and after a while, you have to wonder, who is evaluating the talent around here? Would you keep Willie Green and Lou Williams and trade away John Salmons and Larry Hughes and Kyle Korver????

i don’t think so….but yet that’s the way this franchise has gone the past few years. They’ve let some explosive scorers leave for very little in return.

In addition, Eddie Stefanski, the GM, does not seem anxious to re-sign andre miller the point guard, who right now based on win shares and everything else, is the most valuable sixer on the team other than Iguodala.

If you take miller away from the sixers, the team cannot run the floor as well or as effectively, and they will need an entire season to adjust to a new point guard. It would be wiser to just re-sign Miller and let him play here until he can’t play anymore, and then work a new guy into the mix. Miller deserves it.

Also, Miller is durable. He has played something like 530 consecutive NBA games, the longest such streak in the NBA. Right now, he is more durable than Allen Iverson, or at least as durable as AI was when AI was in his prime. Miller is the youngest 32 year old I’ve ever seen play, he’s fast, he’s durable, he doesn’t get hurt, and he plays about five years younger than his age, and his game is beautiful to watch.

This signing is a no brainer. Dump elton brand, re-sign andre miller. please. please please.

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

Most of you probably know this already, but one of the main theorists of semiotics and deconstruction, the French theorist Baudrillard, and his famous 1985 (published in the 1990s in english) work SIMULACRA AND SIMULATION is a key reference point for both the movie and the shooting script of both the film THE MATRIX, and many of the underlying ideas of THE MATRIX.

I’ll just reprint what the wikipedia has to say, but just note that many of Baudrillard’s ideas are not too different from Susan Sontag’s ideas–Sontag thinks that the proliferation of images and signs in modern culture obscure reality, while Baudrillard feels that they obliterate it. THE MATRIX of course presents a science fiction allegory in which reality is a computer generated fiction present only in our minds, which is somewhat different than what Baudrillard is saying, leading to paths of noumenalism and idealism and radical Rorty-ism, but it is worth noting that in the very first scene of the MATRIX, when Neo is holding a book that is hollowed out, and pulling out some disks to give to the folks knocking on his door in the middle of the night, that book is in fact, a copy of Baudrillard’s SIMULACRA AND SIMULATION. One small step for neo, one giant step for semiotics.

I note here specifically that I am anti-marxist and anti-communist, and pro-capitalist, and dissassociate myself from those aspects of the deconstructionist critique which are plainly recycled and rehashed marxism. The failures of that system and that philosophy are too numerous to mention here, except to say that the Gulag Archipelago documented hundreds of millions of deaths in the Soviet system, including 500,000 priests who died in 1937-39 for the crime of being priests. Nonetheless, this is an interesting way of looking at the world, so here goes.

so here’s the wiki entry;

Simulacra and Simulation
Cover of English translation
Author Jean Baudrillard
Original title Simulacres et Simulation
Translator Sheila Glaser
Country France
Language French
Subject(s) Philosophy
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher
Galilée (Editions) (French) & University of Michigan Press (English)
Publication date 2 April 1985
Published in
English February, 1996
Media type print (paperback)
Pages 164 pp
ISBN
ISBN 2718602104 (French) & ISBN 0472065211 (English)

Simulacra and Simulation (Simulacres et Simulation in French) is a philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard that discusses the interaction between reality, symbols and society.

Contents

• 1 Overview
• 2 Criticism
• 3 The Matrix
• 4 Footnotes

[edit] Overview
“ The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.[1]

Simulacra and Simulation is most known for its discussion of images, signs, and how they relate to the present day. Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are signs of culture and media that create the perceived reality; Baudrillard believed that society has become so reliant on simulacra that it has lost contact with the real world on which the simulacra are based.

Simulacra and Simulation identifies three types of simulacra and identifies each with a historical period:

1. First order, associated with the pre-modern period, where the image is clearly an artificial placemarker for the real item.

2. Second order, associated with the industrial Revolution, where distinctions between image and reality breaks down due to the proliferation of mass-produced copies. The items’ ability to imitate reality threaten to replace the original version.

3. Third order, associated with the postmodern age, where the simulacrum precedes the original and the distinction between reality and representation break down. There is only the simulacrum.[2]
Baudrillard theorizes the lack of distinctions between reality and simulacra originates in several phenomenon:

1. Contemporary media including television, film, print and the Internet, which are responsible for blurring the line between goods that are needed and goods for which a need is created by commercial images.

2. Exchange value, in which the value of goods is based on money rather than usefulness.

3. Multinational capitalism, which separates produced goods from the plants, minerals and other original materials and the process used to create them.

4. Urbanization, which separates humans from the natural world.

5. Language and ideology, in which language is used to obscure rather than reveal reality when used by dominant, politically powerful groups.

A specific analogy that Baudrillard uses is a fable derived from On Exactitude in Science by Jorge Luis Borges. In it, a great Empire created a map that was so detailed it was as large as the Empire itself. The actual map grew and decayed as the Empire itself conquered or lost territory. When the Empire crumbled, all that was left was the map. In Baudrillard’s rendition, it is the map that people live in, the simulation of reality, and it is reality that is crumbling away from disuse.

The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize his own, nor any last judgement to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance. [3]

Thus, Baudrillard further distinguishes three orders of simulacra associated with three historical periods: first order simulacra belong to the pre-modern era in which images were clearly copies or representations of some original; second order simulacra arise with the industrial revolution, photography and mass reproduction technologies in the nineteenth century – the image obscures (dissimulates) and threatens to displace the real; third order simulacra are part of our postmodern era; the image is said to completely precede and determine the real, such that it is no longer possible to peel away layers of representation to arrive at some original.

It is important to note that when Baudrillard refers to the “precession of simulacra” in Simulacra and Simulations, he is referring to the way simulacra have come to precede the real in the sense mentioned above, rather than to any succession of historical phases of the image. Referring to “On Exactitude in Science”, a fable written by Borges, he argued that just as for contemporary society the simulated copy had superseded the original object, so, too, the map had come to precede the geographic territory (c.f. Map–territory relation), e.g. the first Gulf War (see below): the image of war preceded real war.

Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra – it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. [4]

[edit] Criticism

With such reasoning, he characterised the present age — following Ludwig Feuerbach and Guy Debord — as one of “hyperreality” where the real object has been effaced or superseded, by the signs of its existence.

Such an assertion — the one for which he is most criticised — is typical of his “fatal strategy” of attempting to push his theories of society beyond themselves. Rather than saying, that our hysteria surrounding pedophilia is such that we no longer really understand what childhood is anymore, Baudrillard argued that “the Child no longer exists”.[5]

Similarly, rather than arguing — as did Susan Sontag in her book On Photography — that the notion of reality has been complicated by the profusion of images of it, Baudrillard asserted: “the real no longer exists”. In so saying, he characterised his philosophical challenge as no longer being the Heidiggerian/Leibnizian question of: “Why is there something, rather than nothing?”, but, instead: “Why is there nothing, rather than something?”[6]

[edit] The Matrix
The Matrix makes many connections to Simulacra and Simulation. In an early scene, the original French Simulacres et Simulation is the book in which Neo hides his illicit software. In the film, the chapter ‘On Nihilism’ is in the middle, rather than the end of the book.

Morpheus also refers to the real world outside of the Matrix as the “desert of the real”, which was directly referenced in the Slavoj Žižek work, Welcome to the Desert of the Real. In the original script, Morpheus referenced Baudrillard’s book specifically.

Keanu Reeves was asked by the directors to read the book, as well as Out of Control and Evolution Psychology, before being cast as Neo.[7]

In an interview, Baudrillard claimed that The Matrix misunderstands and distorts his work.[8]

[edit] Footnotes
1. ^ Poster, Mark; Baudrillard, Jean (1988). Selected writings. Cambridge, UK: Polity. ISBN 0-7456-0586-9.
2. ^ Hegarty, Paul (2004). Jean Baudrillard: live theory. London: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-6283-9.
3. ^ Ibid.
4. ^ Ibid.
5. ^ In the essay “The Dark Continent of Childhood” in the essay collection Screened Out, 2002.
6. ^ In The Perfect Crime.
7. ^ Oreck J (director). (2001). The Matrix Revisited [DVD]. Warner Home Video.
8. ^ “Le Nouvel Observateur with Baudrillard”. Le Nouvel Observateur. 2004-10-15.

http://www.empyree.org/divers/Matrix-Baudrillard_english.html. Retrieved on 2007-12-07.

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulacra_and_Simulation”

Categories: Postmodernism | Publications about hyperreality | Philosophy books | Metaphysics literature

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

1) The Bill James Handbook for 2009 is out and now I can make some predictions based on statistical facts.

The Bill James Handbook 2009. ACTA Sports, Publisher, Baseball Info Solutions & Bill James (Skokie, IL, November 2008). This is an essential reference guide for anyone seriously interested in the sport of baseball. As the back cover states, quoting the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. [Bill] James, the statistical oracle.” My good friend (and Mather House Harvard buddy) David Pinto is thanked and accredited by the writers of the book, and I highly recommend Dave Pinto’s excellent blog/website http://www.baseballmusings.com, which is a GREAT baseball website with link outs to virtually all things baseball. Dave used to do all the stat work for ESPN for like 15 years and he is about the smartest guy I know when it comes to baseball statistics, and he used to write the Bill James Handbook for many years. The Bill James Handbook is @$24.00 and is all the money you’ll need to spend on a baseball statbook. If you’re in a fantasy league, first, I suggest you go to rehab and quit this huge waste of time and get back into your marriage and kids, but second, if you’re devoted to the hobby, you will not do better than this book as far as predicting who will do what in 2009 statistically. Finally, this is a fan’s dream of a book. It really settles almost all arguments the right way—with the facts, ma’m, just the facts, to quote Sergeant Joe Friday from Dragnet.

2) The Phillies will repeat in 2009.

The Phillies are a dynasty, with an offensive core of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, with Shane Victorino providing speed, power and glovework in centerfield; Cole Hamels is the best lefthanded starter in the National League, and Brad Lidge is the best closer in the National League. It’s all in the numbers.

3) The Phillies have great pitching and great offense.

The Phillies were second in runs scored last year in the NL with 799 (the Cubs scored 855) and third in the NL in runs and earned runs allowed with 680 runs allowed and 625 earned runs allowed (only the Dodgers and Cubs were better).

4) The Phillies have great defense.

Jimmy Rollins is the best shortstop in the National League, and under the Plus/Minus system, Rollins is the second best defensive shortstop in all of baseball from 2006-2008. Chase Utley is among the top three second basement in the National League. Under the Plus/Minus system, Utley is the top defensive second basement in all of baseball 2006-2008. Pedro Feliz is in the top ten defensively in all of baseball at third base, Shane Victorino is in the top ten in all of baseball at centerfield. Under the Plus/Minus system, Victorino was the 7th best centerfielder in all of baseball in 2008. Under the Plus/Minus system, Feliz is the second best defensive third basemen in all of baseball from 2006-2008. Jayson Werth is a good defensive right fielder, and Raul Ibanez, the new leftfielder, is an upgrade from Pat Burrell; Burrell, according to the Plus/Minus system, was the worst left fielder defensively in baseball from 2006-2008. Carlos Ruiz at catcher has a great throwing arm. By the way, Bobby Abreu scores poorly defensively under the Plus/Minus system, 2d worst defensive right fielder in all of baseball for 2008. That was addition by subtraction, that trade.

5) The Mets Are Not Serious Challengers in the NL East.

The Mets will choke again. Specifically, Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado are a year older, and may start to show signs of age related decline. Johan Santana already shows signs that he is injured, while Pedro Martinez was never quite right. Billy Wagner was hurt for substantial portions of last year. They’ve brought in a couple of new guys for the bullpen, but Rodriguez et al. aren’t just filling holes, they’re the life raft for a sinking ship—the Mets’ bullpen last year was awful and coughed up many leads. It’s true that Pelfrey, Maine et al. are some good starters, but without Santana being as good as Hamels, the truth is the Phillies have the better starting staff, starting with Meyers, then Moyer, then Blanton, and whoever they throw as the fifth starter, probably J.A. Happ. What you need to recognize is that Meyers and Blanton are strikeout pitchers, and even Happ and Park can strike out betters. Moyer is just fiendish on the mound when he’s got it going on, as we saw in the postseason. Even though Jose Reyes and David Wright are brilliant young stars, and Beltran and Delgado are aging superstars, the rest of the lineup has holes while the Phillies’ lineup is solid top to bottom. Also, the Phillies have a much better bench than the Mets.

6) No Else is a Serious Rival Except for the Dodgers

The only team I see possibly challenging for the NL Pennant are the LA Dodgers under Joe Torre. They have Manny for an entire year, they have terrific pitching, excellent young talent like Loney, combined with experienced players on the bench and in the field, and Torre manages the clubhouse the way he managed the Yankees, with a winning attitude. I see the Cubs slipping back this year and may the Cards or Rockies or Astros (hi to L. Gray here) coming back up. In the AL, the Yankees will make some noise as will the Red Sox; the Rays are in the toughest division in baseball, while the Angels, As, Twins, Indians (hello to Chris M), etc. all will have tough sledding, along with teams just below like the Tigers. Even if the Phils repeat as NL East Division winners, they will have to beat the Dodgers again, and even if they win the NL Pennant, to become champs, they will have a tough world series against the AL. So nothing is going to be easy.

7) Adam Eaton and Kyle Kendrick were Dreadful Fifth Starters Last Year Yet the Phillies Won Anyway

The Phillies will improve this year substantially in the pitching department. In 2008, Adam Eaton threw 107 innings with an adjusted ERA of 6.07. Kyle Kendrick threw 156 innings with an adjusted ERA of 6.05. That’s together, 263 innings pitched with an adjusted ERA of @6.06. The Phillies team adjusted ERA was 3.88, so you can see that Eaton and Kendrick were almost double the team ERA. There’s a vast canyon for improving team ERA by bringing in a better fifth starter there. The Phillies as a whole only three 1450 innings last year; that means 18%, or nearly one-fifth of the Phillies innings last year were thrown by Eaton and Kendrick, the horrible fifth starters. Simple math suggests that replacing these guys will lower the team ERA substantially—in fact, the Phillies will probably lead the NL in ERA this year.

8) Chan Ho Park or JA Happ Will be Substantial Upgrades at Fifth Starting Pitcher over Adam Eaton & Kyle Kendrick

The fifth starter this year will either be Chan Ho Park or J.A. Happ. Park in 2008 threw 95 innings, allowing 97 hits, 12 homers, 36 walks and striking out 79, with an adjusted ERA of 4.34; if he throws 190 innings, that would adjust to 194 hits allowed, 24 homers, 72 walks and 158 batters struckout. Happ threw much less, only 33 innings pitched, but striking out 26, only 28 hits given up, 14 walks, 3 homers and an adjusted ERA of 3.55. Moreover, Happ’s minor league stats (he’s a six-foot six lefty) suggest that’s he’s a power pitcher who can strike out hitters; in Las Vegas AAA in 2008 he struck out 151 batters in 135 innings innings pitched. In Ottawa AAA in 2007 he whiffed 117 batters in 118 innings pitched. Happ started 24 games in Ottawa and 23 games in Las Vegas, and he’s not going to turn 27 until October 2009, so he can definitely throw starter innings. Bottom line: between Happ and Park, the fifth starter ERA for at least the back end of 250 innings of Phillies pitching should be much, much better than last year.

9) Kyle Kendrick is a Nice Guy, but He’s Strictly AAA Material

The only way this can get derailed is if the Phillies give Kyle Kendrick another shot as fifth starter. This would be a mistake. Even though Kendrick won a lot of games, he was one of the least effective starters in the National League according to the Bill James Handbook 2009 number crunchers. The basic problems with Kendrick are that 1) he’s just not a strikeout pitcher and 2) he gives up too many hits and homers. Here’s his line for 2008; 156 innings pitched, 194 hits given up (I’m not making that number up), 23 homers, 14 hit batters (very wild), 57 walks (again, wild), only 68 batters struck out, an official 5.49 ERA and an adjusted ERA of 6.05. When you look at Kendrick’s line, it’s obvious that he’s very wild—57 walks in 156 innings pitched, plus 194 hits given up, plus 14 hit batsmen. Now, you can walk a lot of batters and be successful—Nolan Ryan and Bob Feller both did it—but you’d better not be giving up many hits and you’d better be striking out the side, as Ryan and Feller used to do. But if you’re giving up walks, AND giving up lots of hits AND hitting batters and you can’t get strikeouts, well, you probably just can’t pitch in the major leagues. Kendrick is a nice guy, and maybe he can retool and become a middle innings relief guy, if he develops a change-up or a sinker as an out pitch. But from here, based on those numbers, Kendrick needs a season in triple A to refine his approach and then come back to the big team later on. Meanwhile, J.A. Happ is the guy I’d be looking at if I were the Phillies.

10) Who in the World is Carlos Carrasco?

The Phillies should not be auditioning Carlos Carrasco seriously as a fifth starter for 2009. They’re a world champion about to repeat. They don’t need a rookie starting. Carrasco should start out in Triple A and later come onboard and help in the bullpen, maybe, or spot start later in the year if someone gets hurt.

11) Phils – Best in Baseball at Stealing and Taking the Extra Base The Phillies are the best in baseball at baserunning. The Bill James Handbook for 2009 built up a chart of which teams did the best job in moving first to third, second to home, first to home, and guess which team was the best in baseball in seizing those opportunities? If you said the Philadelphia Phillies, you would be correct. The Phils move first to third 55 of 195 chances, second to home 98 of 163 chances, and first to home 29 of 55 chances, taking 142 total bases, while being doubled off only 18 times, and making only 36 base-running outs, one of the lowest out totals in baseball, and grounding into only 108 doubleplays, again, one of the lowest GIDP totals in baseball. The net gains for the Phils from baserunning and from stolen bases (Rollins, Victorino, Werth and Utley all stole 20 or more bases, Rollins and Victorino 30 or more), was a net gain of 114 bases, the largest such advantage in baseball. Those were extra bases the Phillies took on the basepaths without the benefit of a hit just by good baserunning. The fact is that the Phillies have one of the fastest and best running lineups in baseball, with Rollins, Victorino, Werth and Utley in the lineup. All four of these guys can steal, take the extra base, and go first to home on any extra base hit. These guys more than make up for Howard, Feliz or Ruiz being slower. In addition, guys like Rollins, Victorino, Werth and Utley make the opposing pitchers nervous and cause them to make extra throws to first base. Finally, because the Phillies were so successful stealing, taking the extra base, etc., they had very few situations where they could ground into the double play. About the only time they wouldn’t run was when Ryan Howard was up with a man or men on first, and even then sometimes Charlie Manuel would run, just to confuse opposing managers. This chart is at page 320 of the BJH for 2009.

12) Phils – the Best Bullpen in Baseball

The Phillies have by far the best bullpen in baseball. The only guys who weren’t any good last year were Tom Gordon, who is gone, Adam Eaton and Kyle Kendrick and it’s doubtful we’ll see Eaton or Kendrick in the bullpen. Lidge and Madsen were money, and it remains to be seen if the Met’s new additions will be as good as Lidge or Madsen. Losing Clay Condrey is not good, but J.C. Romero will be back after his suspension, and he pitched very well last year. Chad Durbin was outstanding for the Phils last year.

13) Charlie Manuel – the Best Manager in Baseball

Charlie Manuel has now established that he is one of the best managers in baseball. He’s now logged seven seasons as a manager with the Indians and Phillies, and the results don’t lie. He won 90 and 91 games in two of his three seasons with the Indians, made the playoffs, and had only one bad season with them, in 2002. With the Phillies, he has won 88, 85, 89 and 92 games, and made the playoffs last year and won the World Series this year. Compare this to so-called brilliant Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who from 1997-2000 inclusive, with Curt Schilling, Bobby Abreu and Scott Rolen in the lineup, managed to win 68, 75, 77 and 65 games for the Phillies. Manuel as Phillies Manager last year beat Joe Torre and the Dodgers in the NLCS to win the pennant, and Torre is arguably, along with Bobby Cox, the greatest manager of our day. Then Manuel encountered not the Boston Red Sox but the Tampa Bay Rays and Joe Maddon in the World Series, which in many ways was a challenge. Then the Commissioner of Baseball and the Networks conspired to create the famous rain-shortened delayed Game Five, which effectively neutralized the Cole Hamels pitching advantage the Phillies had in that Game. Two days later, Manuel came up with managing brilliancy after managing brilliancy, handling his pinch-hitters and bullpen brilliantly and completely out-managing his opponents Tampa Bay and Maddon to win the world championship in a suspended game five that will live forever in Philadelphia sports history. Charlie Manuel’s average record after seven years of managing is 88-74, not including playoff wins, a .543 winning percentage, and that’s better than lifetime managing winning percentage of such so-called brilliant managers as: Lou Piniella, Jimmy Leyland, Manager Jack McKeon, Tony LaRussa, Felipe Alou, Buddy Bell, Dusty Baker, Terry Francona, Bruce Bochy, Joe Maddon, Jerry Manuel, Phil Garner, Joe Girardi, Ozzie Guillen, Mike Hargrove, Clint Hurdle, Bob Melvin, Willie Randolph, Buck Schowalter and Jim Tracy. In fact the only managers with a HIGHER lifetime winning percentage than Charlie Manuel currently are Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Ken Macha, Grady Little and Mike Scioscia. As we know, Torre, Manuel, Cox and Scioscia have all won World Series championships, but only Torre has one more than one World Championship in that grouping. If Charlie Manuel repeats this year with the Phillies, he not only stands a chance to gain in career winning percentage on these all-time great managers, but also he will join Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Terry Francona as the only multi-World Series winning managers. Of this grouping, only Manuel will have been a consistent winner in his entire managerial career, since we know that Torre had some bad years earlier in his career managing in the National League. Consequently, if Manuel were to repeat this year, he would have a legitimate claim at the Hall of Fame as a Manager inductee; in fact, his credentials for the Hall of Fame even if he just wins the division or makes it as a wild card a couple of more times seem guaranteed. There is little question that Charlie Manuel has been the greatest manager in the entire history of the Phillies’ organization, and I mean going back to 1883 when the club was a minor league outfit which had just arrived in Philadelphia struggling to survive a move from Worcester, Massachusetts.

14) A Brief History of the Phillies

This is the finest era of Phillies baseball in the history of the franchise. There have only been a few great eras of Phillies baseball. One was the 1890s, when the outfield was led by Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty, and the club consistently finished 2d, 3d or in the upper half of the league. While they didn’t win pennants, they were winners for about ten years, and since they were the only baseball club in Philadelphia, attendance was very good. The next good period for the Phillies was the 1910s, when the club was led by Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander (the only pitcher named for one president, Grover Cleveland, and played by another in a movie, Ronald Reagan) (by the way, a great flick), the best pitcher in all of baseball, Dave “Beauty” Bancroft at short and other great players. That 1910s team won only one NL pennant in 1915, but was upper division for several years, and had there been a Cy Young Award, Alexander would have won about five in a row. But the A’s were the Philadelphia team that the city loved from 1901-1953, pretty much, as they won multiple pennants and world series, especially from 1905-1914, and again from 1929-1931, and did very well other years. The Phillies did not have a good squad again until the “whiz kids” of 1950 led by Hall of Famers Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn et al. While they won only one pennant, and the team has been disparaged for not breaking the color line, they were a good team that played fine seasons, and they finally broke the dominance of the As and attracted the hearts of Philly fans. The next good team was the 1964 Phils team led by Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, and could have been Hall of Famer Dick Allen, who had one of the greatest rookie years in baseball history in 1964. The September collapse of the 1964 Phils we will skip over, except to say, they were a great team, and deserved to win one or more pennants. Dick Allen returned in 1976 to play first base for the beginning of a Phils dynasty led by Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, and outstanding players like Bob Boone at catcher, Larry Bowa at shortstop, later joined by Pete Rose and Joe Morgan along the way, a dynasty that won multiple division titles, pennants, playoff games, a World Series, and threatened to repeat only to lose the 1983 world series, a dynasty that would last from 1976-1983. The dynasty might have gone further had the Phillies not made a couple of bad trades in the winter of 1983. They had three second basemen in their farm system—Juan Samuel, Ryne Sandberg and Julio Franco. The Phillies made an error and decided to trade two of these players, instead of keeping all three and converting them to other positions, like shortstop or first base. All of them could have hit enough for any infield position. Sandberg was traded with Larry Bowa for a shortstop whose name I can’t even remember, and the Cubs won the NL East Division in 1984 as a result. Franco and four other Phillies were traded for Von Hayes, a five tool lefthanded outfielder who put up some good numbers for about five years, but then went into a premature age-related decline. Franco, as we all know, retired just last year, I think, at age 50. I’m pretty sure he’s still playing somewhere in Mexico, and still hitting .300 and slugging homers. I really liked Julio Franco because for a long time, as long as he was a pro, there was someone older than me playing in the big leagues. Ryne Sandberg has retired and is already in the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame to think how good the phillies might have been with Sandberg and Schmidt for a few years there—Schmidt won the MVP in 1986 or 1987—batting third and fourth—but that goes in the category of what-if. The next great phils team was the Dykstra-Kruk-Schilling bad boys team of 1993, which was really a great team, but a one-year wonder, last to first, and back to last again the next year. A lot of pitchers on that team had their greatest seasons ever that one year, guys like Tommy Greene and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, and then never were able to throw effectively again. You’d have to say they gave it all. After than, the core dissipated, and started winning in other cities—Hollins went to Minnesota and won, Dalton went to Florida and won, Schilling went to the Red Sox and won, Rolen went to St. Louis and won—it seemed there was a lot of magic to the 93’ phillies that was infectious, the team knew how to win, but couldn’t put it back together again in Philadelphia. Now we have another juggernaut here in Philly, and these Phillies are a lot like the 1976-83 Phillies team, a dynasty, except only better. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard together are equal to Mike Schmidt—and Cole Hamels is just as good right now as Steve Carlton was back in the day, though it remains to be seen if Hamels can pitch twenty five years like Carlton did. Lidge is better than Tug McGraw was in his best seasons, and you’d have to say the rest of the club and starters and bullpen are actually better than the Phillies of 1976-83.

15) Bring Back Pete Rose and Ban the Steroid Guys Instead.

One thing we don’t have is a player like Pete Rose, he was a true Hall of Famer, even if baseball wants to bar the doors, there isn’t a player in the Hall of Fame as good as Pete Rose, and I include Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, because no one wanted to win as badly or was willing to do so many things to win a ballgame, as Pete “Charlie Hustle” Rose was willing to do each and every day on the ballfield. He lived to win, and he won because that’s what he lived for. I’ll always think of him fondly because he brought us the 1980 World Series Championship, and because he lit a fire under Mike Schmidt, and because he looked right with a Phillies cap on, and because he was the third Hall of Famer on that 1980 team (I’d probably add Bob Boone, by the way), and I don’t really care if he bet on baseball. I’d sentence him to time served and welcome him back if I was the Commissioner. Heck, with all the disgraced steroid users in the game, Pete Rose would be a shot in the arm for baseball right now. HE PLAYED THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY, HE DIDN’T CHEAT. So what if he bet on the ponies? I’m sure half of all the accountants, lawyers, investment bankers and other important people on Wall Street have bookies and keep them plenty busy, even in this horrible economy. No one is banning them from their livelihoods. There’s no commissioner to supervise CEOs from going to the Kentucky Derby, in fact, if you go to the Kentucky Derby or Saratoga Racetrack in August, you’ll see nothing but CEOs with young girls, gambling their money away or worse, wasting it on their own horses. How is this any different from what Pete Rose did? And no one is banning Alex Rodriguez from baseball, even though what he did using steroids is more disrespectful to the integrity of the game than betting on baseball. Pete Rose is about 1/1000ths as guilty of corrupting baseball as Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Conseco and the whole lot of those steroid users. Bring back Pete Rose! We need guys like Pete Rose, guys who would go to Geno’s, eat a cheesesteak, sign about a thousand autographs, maybe pick up the local waitress, and then go out the ballpark and PLAY BASEBALL THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE PLAYED. Pete Rose used to RUN to first on walks. He’d slide on every play. If the play was close at home, he’d try and destroy the catcher. He always went all out on ever fly ball, every grounder, every single foul ball. He backed up other fielders just in case, which is how he caught that foul ball that fell out of bob Boone’s glove in the World Series for out two in the ninth. He ALWAYS was running hard to get the extra base. If he hit a single that wasn’t right at the left or right fielder, Rose was gone to second, stretching it to a double. No matter where the ball was hit, if he was on second, he was taking a big lead and was going to try and score, and test your arm doing it. He always knew the situation; how many outs, what the score was, who was playing where. If you needed a ball to the right side of the infield, he gave you one. If you needed a bunt, he gave you one. If you needed a home run, he’d jack one out of the park, because he could do that when he needed to also. He did whatever was required to win. At age 40, Pete Rose was ten times the player that most guys would ever be at age 25. He was the best I ever saw, bar none, and I include many great players in that list, guys like Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, Ken Griffey Jr., and so forth. Pete did more with less natural ability than anyone who ever played the game. He could switch hit, he could run, he could field almost every position (he played second base, third base, first base, left field in his career) and he played major league baseball long enough to collect more than 4,000 hits. I say if Pete Rose played in Joe Jackson’s era, he’d of been better than Joe Jackson, and if Joe Jackson had played in Pete Rose’s era, Joe Jackson couldn’t have touched Pete Rose. If Pete Rose had played against Babe Ruth in the 1920s, and Pete Rose had decided to hit homers for a year, Pete Rose could have hit 70 of them I believe. I think Pete Rose could have been better than any ballplayer in any era at any time. That’s how good I think he was, how good I think he is, and Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball, is wrong to bar Pete Rose from the game, while allowing known perjurers liars and convicts to populate the clubhouses in the form of these steroid users. It’s a double and triple standard of justice that I can’t get on board with, and neither should you. I support the players union but I don’t support what’s going on. Let’s ban all the cheaters and let’s rehabilitate a man who stood for decency and fair play on the field, and let him apologize, and let’s forgive him his trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Let’s forgive Pete Rose.

–Art Kyriazis Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies
March 10, 2009

The Sixers stood pat at the trade deadline and promptly came out of the all-star break looking awful, dropping five of six. Meanwhile, Miami, which is in a position to catch Atlanta for the #4 see in the NBA east playoffs (the Sixers are 6th, Miami is 5th, and Atlanta is 4th), made a major move, obtaining Jermaine O’Neal from Toronto, though they had to give up some talent to get him. O’Neal always give the Sixers problems because he’s a good big man who’s mobile and can outplay Dalembert one on one. He will likely give Atlanta problems as well in the playoffs, incidentally.

In the meantime, looking from a distance, the Sixers have not really capitalized on the big event of the season, which is the decline and fall of the Detroit Pistons. While Orlando has risen up to join Cleveland and Boston as division leaders, the Pistons now have a worse record than the Sixers, and this was a Detroit team that last year was the #2 seed playing the Sixers and defeating them at the #7 seed. Right now
Detroit is the #7 seed BEHIND philly and fading out of the playoffs.

When a major team like this is out of the playoff picture, your GM should be approaching them about obtaining one of their players at the trade deadline, like a Rasheed Wallace, who can hit the three and rebound, and doesn’t have that much time left on his contract. He could have helped the Sixers. Or even Allen Iverson, who while obviously in the decline phase of his career, could have helped the Sixers coming off the bench, or playing the two guard, a position that has been a problem for the Sixers this year. Iverson could have helped the Sixers playing alongside Andre Miller, with Iguodala up front and Dalembert and either Young or Speights playing the power forward.

Even if AI only played 20 minutes a game, he’d help.

But the Sixers have done nothing. They instead committed everything to a gigantic blunder by signing Elton Brand, who is hurt, injured and will never be better, I predict. Even if he comes back, this is starting to look like the Jeff Ruland situation all over again. A hurt player who will never play like he did pre-injury. Or Glenn Robinson. Or Chris Webber. Or any of ten other guys that have come to this ballclub hurt and making a bundle. The guys who can play and never get hurt, like Barkeley and AI, we seem to give away for nothing.

Or Brad Doughery or Moses Malone.

How about this team?

Brad Dougherty, Moses Malone, AI, Charles Barkeley, Wilt Chamberlain.

You think you could win a few championships with that team?

That’s the five greatest sixers in history traded for virtually nothing.

For those five NBA hall of famers, the Sixers received; Roy Hinson, Jeff Ruland, Andre Miller, Jeff Hornacek, Darrell Imhoff and some other throw in players.

Those are five ok players, but not hall of famers.

Malone, Barkley and Chamberlain are 3 of the top 10 all time NBA rebounders of all time, incidentally, while if you add AI, you’ve got four of the top 25 scorers in NBA history as well. Dougherty, though he was finished early by his back, was a stud every year he was in the league, 20 ppg and 10 rebounds or more. The Sixers could have had Dougherty AND Barkeley for ten years straight. They would have won five championships in all likelihood with that combination. Even against Michael Jordan that combo wins.

The late Timmy Ling, my dear prep school classmate and friend, used to make fun of the Sixers’ drafts when we were in high school. During those years, the Sixers took some #1 draft picks as follows;

1969 – Bud Ogden
1970 – Al Henry
1971 – Dana Lewis
1972 – Freddie Boyd

Ling was relentless making fun of Ogden, Henry, Lewis and Boyd, and justifiably so. While other teams were drafting some of the greatest players in history in these years (Kareem Abdul Jabbar, for example) the Sixers basically decided, we aren’t going to get into a bidding war with the ABA, so we’ll just draft nobodies and pay nothing to no one. It was horrible, and got worse when Billy Cunningham walked to the ABA in 1973. The franchise hit bottom when they won only 9 games in the 73 season, still an NBA record for futility. Shortly thereafter, came George McGuiness and Dr. J and the big turnaround, but it was a bad stretch.

They got it right in 1973 with Doug Collins, but in 1974 the Sixers drafted Marvin Barnes, who I think is dead or in rehab now, but anyway, Barnes was about 7 foot, but had a drug and rap sheet as long as could be, and he ended up in the ABA and in jail much more than on the court. In 1975 the sixers drafted Darryl Dawkins #1 right out of high school.

Dawkins in today’s NBA would have been a star. In the condensed NBA of the 70s, he was only ok. He wasn’t as good as the best centers, and consequently was underrated at the time. Today, he’d be a star in the expanded NBA.

In 76 and 77 the Sixers drafted #1 Terry Furlow and Glenn Moseley, non-entities, but in 1978 they picked Mo Cheeks, a legend. 1979 was a miss, but 1980 got them Andrew Toney with the #1, and Andrew Toney became the Boston Strangler. Though his career was shortened by injury, Toney would have become a Hall of Famer with longevity.

And, of course, 1984, #1 pick was Charles Barkeley, who was the quintessential hall of famer and probably the Sixers’ best player since Wilt and before AI.

Even though Sir Charles is a DWI man, and spit on girls while he was here, and is overly fond of guns, we still like him because he’s a bit of a buffoon, and a bit of a thinking man’s man. Also, he lived to rebound and score, and he rebounded and scored because that’s what he lived for. 20 ppg and 10 rebounds pg were his calling card, and he punched those in every season like clockwork.

and no one his size (as short as he was) ever led the league in rebounding once, let alone several times.

When he played alongside moses malone, who was basically the same kind of player as Sir Charles, the two were an unstoppable force.

But the Sixers broke them up with trades, and also traded away Dougherty; Dougherty, Malone and Barkeley would have been the core of an unstoppable basketball team. You’re talking three guys who clocked 10-15 win shares every year routinely.

And we wonder why the Sixers never win championships or make the playoffs like they used to. For a while they wanted to trade Dr. J too.

Getting back to the now, Eddie Stefanski has watched and done nothing while Atlanta, a horrible team, passed the Sixers by this past year. He made noise about signing Josh Smith of Atlanta, but never got serious. Instead, Atlanta got him back, signed Bibby from Sacramento and added both a point guard and three point threat and made the playoffs last year; this year they are the fourth seed and playing much like the sixers, a young, running team, except that Atlanta are better at it than the Sixers because they can shoot the three. If I’m sitting down comparing Atlanta to the Sixers, I’m saying Atlanta has the better squad right now, up and down the lineup. It’s not close.

And because it’s not close, and because you want the 4th seed if you can’t have a LeBron, a Howard, a Garnett like Cleveland, Orlando or Boston, you have to compare what you do have to what the competition has, and try and get better at the trade deadline. Miami did this but Philly did not. I see this as weakness from the GM and a refusal to invest in the team. Furthermore, weakness caused by commitment to Elton Brand.

I had a lot of comments in the AI post, below, about what’s wrong with Elton Brand and why the salary cap dump of the AI trade was botched by the Brand sigining. In a word, the Sixers moved too quickly to lock up their salary cap room with the wrong guy. they should have waited for someone better and waited another year if necessary.

It wasn’t necessary to fire mo cheeks. Cheeks’ record was mainly due to Brand playing a poor brand of basketball; once he was pulled from the lineup, the team played better automatically. While Tony DiLeo gets some credit, the fact is the team played better because subtracting Brand was addition by subtraction.

Cheeks is the guy who got them to the playoffs last year. It remains to be seen if DiLeo has the necessary skills to get the Sixers to the playoffs and actually win two games if he gets there. I doubt that he does.

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies

It probably isn’t news to anyone currently breathing that every newspaper owning corporation in the United States is currently in bankruptcy Chapter 11 proceedings. Here in Philadelphia, after sinking more that 500 million bucks to take the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philly Daily News off the hands of the guys who bought them from Knight Ridder, the purchasing group headed by Brian Tierney et al. ended more than eleven months of negotiations with creditors by filing for Chapter 11 protection with the United States Bankruptcy Court, meaning reorganization and possible liquidation. There are serious rumors that only one of the two newspapers will survive, probably the Inquirer.

In a way, this is strange, because there was a time in Philadelphia, and I don’t mean going back to Ben Franklin, when it was obvious that the Inquirer was the worst and most pitiful newspaper in town. The Philadelphia Public Ledger was the newspaper of record (its building still stands at 6th & Chestnut) for many decades, while the Philadelphia Bulletin was clearly the better of the two papers while the Bulletin and Inquirer were the two main papers in the second half of the 20th century.

Of course, the Public Ledger went under in the Great Depression; it died in a court-ordered liquidation in 1941 or 1942. This may just be history repeating itself. The Public Ledger was owned jointly by the owners of the NY Times, incidentally.

For a complete list of ALL newspapers ever printed in Philadelphia, go to this website pdf of newspapers held by the free library of philadelphia;

http://libwww.freelibrary.org/faq/guides/FLP-NEWSPAPER-HOLDINGS-BY-DECADE.pdf

you’ll be shocked and amazed how many newspapers there have been and how many small ones there still are other than the inquirer and daily news even now.

But then again, the Philadelphia Athletics won five world series and too many pennants to count between 1901 and 1953, and were the main baseball team in Philadelphia for more than fifty years. No one gave a fig about the Phillies. It was only after Connie Mack died and the A’s moved away that the Phillies finally developed a fan base, and even then not really until the 1964 pennant run with Dick Allen and Jim Bunning did they really draw any fans. But who remembers the A’s today in Philly? Where are they today? No one in Philadelphia remembers them at all.

There’s a small museum in one of the counties, and a small bronze plaque at the new ballpark. That’s about it for the team that in the first half of the 20th century was the second best ballclub in the American League, and by far the best professional sports team in Philadelphia.

Getting back to newspapers, the point is that you can’t understand history by looking at it now. If you looked around now and saw humans, you’d never know that dinosaurs once ruled the earth. Likewise, looking around and seeing the Inquirer being the main newspaper, you’d never know that once there was a Public Ledger, a Bulletin, and probably a dozen other papers. Even the Saturday Evening Post, the nation’s number one women’s magazine, was published right here in Philadelphia, but it died too. That building is still around also. We have seen the end of magazines like Life, the Saturday Evening Post, and most recently, U.S. News & World Report, in the past forty years. Now newspapers are dying as well.

There were a lot of great movies about newspapers. The best movie of all time is about newspapers. Here I refer to Citizen Kane (1941), which is a thinly veiled biopic of William Randolph Hearst and his media empire.

There’s also Meet John Doe (1936) and let’s not forget All the President’s Men (1974).

I’d throw in Broadcast News (1980s) as well, even though it’s really a TV movie, just because it’s flat out hysterically funny and not at all dated, and because Brooks is one of my favorite comics in the world other than Mike Reiss. Just looking at Brooks makes you laugh.

But history does repeat itself. The Hearst media empire was bankrupted by the Great Depression—so much so that Hearst himself, so rich that he could build the Heart mansion—the famous “Xanadu” in the Kane movie—in San Simeon, California—now a famous museum—actually lost all his money to his creditors in bankruptcy proceedings and lost control of his newspaper holdings. No one today has heard of the New York newspapers that Hearst made his fortune from.

Now, we are going through another serious economic dislocation which is again severely affecting media badly. As badly as Hearst was affected by the Depression and War years, that’s how badly newspapers and old media will be affected this time around. Add to that the free news which is available on the internet, and on every persons’ telephone, and one would be silly to expend money for a newspaper.

It’s quite obvious that within another twenty years, there will be no more magazines or newspapers in print at all, that everything will be delivered right to your computer, tv or phone via internet. Maybe (and I often futurize about this) the convergence of nanotechnology and biotechnology will eventuate in a chip being implanted in your brain or neural net, so that you can visualize the images yourself without a machine mediating at all. Perhaps we’ll all be connected to the internet and to each other one day in such a fashion. It’s difficult to make radical predictions, but then again, in 1910, no one could have predicted that baseball, then a deadball sport based on bunting, stealing and pitching, would in the 1920s and thereafter become a sport of sitting around waiting for someone to hit a three run home run.

I will miss the Philadelphia Daily News. For the last forty years, it’s been the best sports paper in the country, and I’ve read all the other papers around, including the Boston Globe, the Chicago, the LA, the NY and SF papers. NY has tabloids basically and no good writing at all; the Boston Globe for a long time had great writers, but they’ve all gone to ESPN or national outlets where the money really is; and no other city really had good sports writing. Philly might be the last town in which there’s been good beat writing and sports writing for a long time now.

If the Daily News goes, that will probably be the end of it, though it may survive on line since there’s an online edition of the daily news that’s pretty good, and even better, available nationally to all former philly residents who follow their teams. So when they throw the last daily news into the fire and you see the sled burning with the name “rosebud,” remember you read it here—this was all a story about Charley Foster Kane, who wanted to be the world’s greatest newspaperman, and succeeded all too well.

By the way, I mentioned in a prior post that GE was way off about Jimmy Fallon? GE stock is now trading at five dollars a share. That’s right, five dollars a share. they made a big deal about this on one of the network news shows while i was working out on the elliptical at the gym. whoa nellie! The stock apparently has completely crashed.

Jack and Suzy Welch, would you buy this company’s stock? It was trading at $40 just last year. And now it’s down to $5 a share and dropping like a rock. Pretty soon it will be worth, say, 1923 German deutsche marks, which is to say, nothing.

Oh yes I would says the Wizard of OZ. You can get a thousand shares in this company now for the price of a song. Heck, the only place the stock can go is a little down, or a lot up.

I said they should have bumped Leno three years ago. While I recognize most of their problems are with GE Capital, entertainment is the division that’s always recession proof.

If you’re not sure about that, check out the fact that 1930s and 1970s are the greatest eras of film history.

Jimmy Fallon had another great show–Jon Bon Jovi did a duet with one of his fans, while Tina Fey sat and rooted the two of them on. I think it was the girls’ dream moment of her life, all caught on camera. You can bet that will be on youtube.

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies
You can

IS THIS THE END FOR AI?

March 4, 2009

John Smallwood in yesterday’s Philly Daily News (tuesday march 3 2009) p. 62 writes in his column “Firing on Fewer Pistons: Aging Iverson Becoming Shell of His Former Dynamic Self”, basically, that Allen Iverson, the Answer, AI, is done and should retire and get on with his life.

In support of this thesis Smallwood cites three basic arguments:

1) Detroit has been 22-28 with Iverson, 3-1 when Iverson doesn’t start and 6-0 when AI doesn’t play.

2) Denver and Philly got the better of the last two Iverson trades.

3) AI is posting the worst numbers of his career this year, below 20 ppg and only 5.1 assists per game.

As you know, here at the Sophist, we think there are two sides to every question, and so we’re going to examine the other side of this argument. Is AI really done? Should we put a fork in him? Is he old? Should we start mailing the NBA pension checks to his mansion?

Well, we don’t think so, and here’s why.

Let me start by addressing the last argument first. It’s true that Allen Iverson is posting the worst numbers of Allen Iverson’s career. Allen Iverson, career, is a 27.1 ppg scorer, and career has averaged 6.2 assists, 2.2 steals and 3.6 turnovers. This year with Detroit, he has averaged 18.0 points, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.5 turnovers.

This is where we point out something that Bill James and all the other statheads in the world have been saying for years. THE DECLINE PHASE OF A GREAT PLAYERS CAREER WILL BE GREATER THAN THE DECLINE PHASE OF AN AVERAGE PLAYER’S CAREER. Allen Iverson, even in decline, is still a great NBA player.

Let’s look at the 76ers. Andre Iguodala, who is in his prime as a player, is averaging only 18.0 ppg. Iguodala is 25 years old. Iverson is 34 years old, and averaging also 18 ppg. What is a terrible season for Iverson, is the very best that Iguodala can do.

Think about that for a second. Why did Wilt Chamberlain play until he was 40? Why did Elgin Baylor play until he was 40? Why did Jerry West play until he was 40? Why did Hal Greer play so many years?

It’s because great scorers like Allen Iverson, like Hal Greer, like Elgin Baylor, like Dr. J, even in their decline phase of their careers, are still more effective than the very best players in the NBA who are very gifted.

Looking at win shares, Iverson has 2.7 win shares this year for Detroit, but last year he had 12.6 win shares for Denver. The top two guys for the Sixers, Iguodala and Miller, have 6.5 and 7.1 win shares each, and that’s about as good as they get. Neither of them will get 12 win shares in a good year. On the Pistons, no one has more than 4.3 win shares, and that’s Tayshoun Prince. the win shares on Detroit are very evenly distributed because Prince, Wallace, Hamilton, McDyess, AI, Stuckey, Maxiell and Johnson all have 2 or more win shares, and they all score, rebound, hand out assists or play a lot of defense. They have a team concept in Detroit.

AI’s numbers in Detroit, therefore, reflect an ADAPTATION to the game as played in Detroit, which is a defensive game, low offensive production, a much slower pace and team play.

Next, AI has played by far the most minutes of any of the Pistons, except for Tayshoun Prince; Prince has played 2214 minutes, while Iverson has played 1913 minutes; Wallace has played 1831 minutes, while Stuckey has played 1785 minutes, and Hamilton 1702 minutes.

It’s obvious that the coach in Detroit has not played his players evenly. He’s taken two hundred minutes away from Stuckey and Hamilton and given them to Iverson, even though Stuckey is younger and Hamilton is taller and can play better defense.

Part of the problem here is that Iverson, Stuckey and Hamilton all play the 2 guard; Stuckey can play the point, and should play the point, but even then Hamilton and Iverson both play the 2 guard.

If I was coaching the team, I’d start Hamilton and bring Iverson in with the second unit, because Iverson against the second unit of the other team would cause chaos and destruction, and also the three guard set up with Stuckey, Hamilton and Iverson can run with some opposing lineups and wear them down.

But clearly, the detroit coach has run Iverson into the ground by playing him too many minutes.

The result has been injuries to Iverson, and at 34, he is no longer indestructible, which is why he is being evaluated for back injuries this late in the season.

If I had an Iverson, I’d have played him less in the regular season and saved him for the playoffs, where we know he excels.

Furthermore, if Iverson has been hurt, and we know he plays hurt quite often, that would explain some of the decline in his numbers. He’s had some dreadful nites this year–and perhaps he’s been tired, hurt and not able to be AI. When he’s been rested, ready and healthy, he’s had some great nights this year for Detroit. He’s dropped 25 or more points on the Lakers and on many other qualify opponents in key wins during this year. And frankly, he’s looked at times much like the AI of old.

I’d say, rest him, keep his minutes down, and you’ll have AI of old always.

Per 36 minutes, Iverson is scoring 17.2 points, which is very productive. But Hamilton is scoring 18.9 points per 36 minutes, which suggest that Hamilton is the more efficient two guard.

Detroit needs to move one of them, and since Iverson’s contract is up, AI probably should go.

The Sixers should pick up AI (and Rasheed Wallace if possible) and make their run at the Eastern Division Crown, and dump Elton Brand. AI is the short term Answer to the Sixers 3 point and scoring issues in close games.

Also, in close games, AI can be the go-to guy with under a minute left. Finally, if AI teamed up with Andre Miller, they’d be fantastic. Andre Miller would be the best point guard AI ever played with, and Andre would get AI the ball where he could work with it, especially out on the break. I think Iguodala and AI would both be scorers in this system, while Dalembert, Young and Speights would all play defense and work the boards.

If Wallace could be added, he could play defence, work the board, and shoot the three. Then I think the Sixers could even keep Elton Brand and see if they had a monster team.

Turning to whether Denver got the better of the Billups-Iverson deal, at the time the deal was made, it looked even steven.

In 2007-08, Iverson earned 12.6 win shares for Denver, and had a monster season for them. Billups led the Pistons in 2007-08 with 12.8 win shares, while Hamilton Wallace and Prince each had 7.3, 7.2 and 7.1 win shares each. But there’s one other issue here, and that’s Billups salary–he was earning like 60 million over several years, while AI was only getting about 15-20 million for one more season.

So basically, the trade was even in terms of talent and win shares, but Detroit unloaded a boatload of cap room.

Let’s say hypothetically that Detroit wants to sign a big free agent in 2009-2010 or thereabouts–they would want AI and/or Wallace got–older players, along with Billups, who is also an older player–and want the cap room gone.

In that event, they could sign a LeBron James, a Kobe Bryant, or whoever is a big free agent to turn the franchise into a premier franchise for the long haul.

While it looks as if currently denver is getting the long end of the stick, Detroit will eventually get the better of this trade.

Some side points on Denver: Carmelo Anthony isn’t what he’s cracked up to be. Billups is leading the team with 7.7 win shares. Nene is second with 7.3 win shares. Then comes Chris Anderson with 3.6 WS, and Kenyon Martin with 3.5 WS, and guess who’s 5th most valuable player with only 3.1 win shares?

That’s right, Carmelo Anthony. By the way, AI got .2 win shares for Denver while he was there, so adding that to the 2.7 he has for Detroit, AI has 2.9 win shares for the season.

So AI has 2.9 win shares, while Carmelo has 3.1. Carmelo is 25 years old averaging about 21 ppg (last year it was 25 ppg) and yet he’s having about the same season, statistically, as Allen Iverson, 34 years old, who Smallwood of the Daily News says is washed up.

But last year, playing with AI, Carmelo had 8.9 win shares, and the Denver Nuggets played a beautiful uptempo offense, where AI and Carmelo played really well together–and Carmelo had a great season, averaging nearly 26 ppg and more than 7 rebounds a game, and more than 3 assists a game.

the fact is that Carmelo doesn’t fit with Chauncey Billups at all, whereas Iverson and Carmelo were a match made in heaven. Together, Carmelo and Iverson had 12.6 and 8.9, or 21.5 win shares together.

this year, Billups and Carmelo have 7.7 and 3.1 win shares together, or 10.4. The real reason Denver is winning is 1) Billups is scoring a lot 19 ppg and 2) Nene is scoring 14 ppg and 3) nene is playing defense and rebounding inside. Also, Smith, Martin and Kleiza are all scoring because Billups is getting them the ball.

Now let’s look at the last issue, did the Sixers get better by getting Andre Miller?

The Sixers had Allen Iverson ten years, from 1996-2006. During that time, AI was the #1 road draw in the NBA, had the world’s most popular sneaker, led the NBA in scoring four times, and the Sixers made the playoffs six of the ten years that he was here. Moreover, the Sixers advanced past the first round of the playoffs three of those years, and got to the NBA finals one of those years.

You’d have to say, that was pretty darn good for a guy that was 5 foot 9 dripping wet.

Oh, and he scored about 20,000 points or so while he was here.

AI was MVP of the league, All Star MVP twice, led the league in minutes played twice, and kept the stands filled in Philly.

He led the league in free throw attempts twice, and is on the career list there. He’s on the career list for a lot of things, including minutes played, free throws attempted, and points scored, and he’s third alltime in ppg during the playoffs.

we sat and watched him drop 50 ppg more than once during the playoffs. Spike Lee would have given anything to see this guy play for the Knicks, right?

I know that the other day was the 100th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points at Hershey, PA in March of 1962 against the New York Knicks. The Big Dipper averaged 50 points, 25 rebounds and more than 48 points a game that year for the Philadelphia Warriors and Eddie Gotlieb.

I met Wilt in LA at the Bar Marmont in LA with some friends in the VIP section. There were a lot of important types there like Rick Rubin and some SNL actors, but I only wanted to meet Wilt. My mom had been a teacher of his back in the 50s at Overbrook HS as a trainee when she first started in the school system, and always told me how tall he was, and how nice he was.

Well, Wilt was extremely nice. He was much taller than 7 foot 1, more like 7 foot 5, and he had two girls with him and a couple of lawyer types. I’m sure he really did sleep with 20,000 women, and that circular house of his is famous, it was in a brian dipalma film once. Wilt lived the life of riley, he hung out at the playboy mansion, slept with any girl he wanted, and was noted for being a conservative and careful stock investor. He was very wealthy when he died, a bachelor to the end. He was frugal, intelligent and careful with his money.

I mention Wilt because we never thought we’d see a scorer like Wilt again, and then there was AI, who dazzled this town for ten years with his exploits. On any given night, AI could put up 50, 60 points. He wasn’t Wilt, but he had Wilt’s attitude that no one could stop him, and he ATTACKED the basket like Wilt used to do. AI was a lot like Wit–he existed to score, and scoring was his reason for existence.

I thought for a while that AI might score a hundred points in a game. On February 12, 2005, he lit up Orlando for 60 points. I mention this because that was barely four years ago. And he only made two three pointers in that game. 17 field goals and 24 free throws–Wilt made 28 free throws and 36 field goals in the 100 point game. It’s hard to believe that the Sixers could have traded AI just a year and a half after this incredible performance–the greatest single game performance by a 30+ athlete in the NBA in my humble opinion, and I remember watching the game on cable–but there you go.

So Smallwood thinks the Sixers did better getting Andre Miller? Well, let’s see. Since the trade, the Sixers have made the playoffs once in three years. they missed the year they traded Iverson, 06-07, they made it the next year, 07-08, and they may make it this year.

Iverson, on the other hand, made the playoffs immediately with Denver his first year there, 2006-07, made it the next year 2007-8, while having a spectacular comeback season (as did Carmelo Anthony, see above), and this year, even having an offyear with Detroit, will probably make the playoffs with the Pistons as the #7 or #8 seed. The way the Sixers are going the second half, the Pistons will probably pass them and reach the #6 or #5 seed, actually, so the Sixers are not even a lock for the playoffs.

On December 5, 2007, playing for Denver, Iverson dropped 51 on the Lakers. Iverson was now 32 years old. What a performance. It was on national TV, of course.

On December 23, 2005, Iverson dropped 53 on Atlanta in Atlanta, surely pleasing all the rappers in attendance down there. He was 30 years old.

None of this, of course, sounds like a guy who was, is or will be washed up at age 34, 35 or whatever.

Let’s look at AI this year.

On December 19, 2008, AI dropped 38 on Utah at home in Detroit for the Pistons.

On February 19, 2009, not a week ago, AI dropped 31 on the San Antonio Spurs, his second best game of the year.

On November 11, 2008, AI dropped 30 on the Sacramento Kings.

AI has had 17 games of 20 or more points for the Pistons this year. In only five games did he fail to score in double figures. He is now 33 years of age.

Getting back to Andre Miller, Miller’s win shares for Denver had declined from 9.1 to 7.2 to 6.4 in the three seasons leading up to the Miller for Iverson trade. In short, Miller looked to be declining in an age-related fashion.

AI had gone 9.4, 10.9, 6.5 Win Shares the same three seasons. It was not clear that he was in age-related decline at all. What we do know about Iverson is that his win shares and seasons follow no predictable pattern, that he has off years followed by great ones;

1996-97 4.3 WS
1997-98 9.0 WS
1998-99 7.2 WS
2000-01 6.9 WS
2001-02 11.7 WS (MVP)
2002-03 6.8 WS
2003-04 9.2 WS
2004-05 2.7 WS (injured, played 48 G)
2005-06 10.6 WS
2006-07 6.5 WS (Phila, Denver)
2007-08 12.6 WS
2008-09 2.9 WS (Denver, Detroit)
Total 100.1 WS

What you see here is a great player, because seasons over ten win shares are MVP seasons. Iverson has had several of these, and the MVP voting has reflected this.

Also, you can see he needs a season to adjust to a new team before he can come back. His second season in Denver, he was brilliant. If he has a second season in Detroit, he should be better. When he was injured in Philly, he came back and had a monster year.

Also, we see that the Sixers must be idiots, because they traded him the year after he had a monster year, 2005-06, 10.6 win shares. So there was no logic in trading him, he was not only a good player, but a great one.

Basically, the sixers were looking to clear salary cap room, and that’s all.

The next season, after the trade, 2007-08, AI had 12.6 win shares, as we know from above.

Miller has had 8.1 and 7.1 win shares with the Sixers the last two season, so he’ll probably end up with around 8 win shares this year. He’s by far the most valuable Sixer. And yet the Sixers have not signed a contract with Miller and seem to want to let him leave.

As for the salary cap room, the Sixers wasted it on Elton Brand.

Elton Brand is 30 years old. He had 10.3, 15 and 11.4 win shares for the Clippers in 2004-05, 05-06 and 06-07, but the last two years, he’s played 8 games and 29 games due to injury, last year with an ACL and this year with a torn labrum and bad shoulder.

The last time Elton Brand scored 30 or more more points in a game was April 12, 2007 for the Clippers.

The last time Elton Brand scored 40 or more points in a game was February 10, 2006 for the Clippers.

The guy who’s become a “shell of his former dynamic self” is not Allen Iverson, but Elton Brand.

After earning 11.4 win shares in 2006-2007, Brand earned .4 win shares in 2007-2008, and then the Sixers paid him all of the cap room they had (a gazillion dollars) even though he was hurt and damaged goods, and old and shot, and no evidence he could come back from injury (i’d have given him a one year deal), and he promptly came out, played badly, got hurt and is back on the shelf.

Brand earned 1.1 win share this year.

AI is 300% better than that this year, and AI is having a bad year for AI. Last year, we know that AI had 12.6 win shares, while Brand had hardly any.

So did the Sixers make out better with the Miller for AI trade? I think not. While Miller fits the team better because they needed a point guard, the Sixers could have found a point guard other than Miller.

First, they should never have traded Eric Snow so early.

Second, they could have worked out a deal for Delonte West, who is making money feeding the ball to LeBron James.

Third, Bibby was on the market and Atlanta got him.

Fourth, Jason Kidd was on the market, and is now at Dallas. He’s still on the market.

Fifth, there’s always point guards of quality available. The key is, AI is not a point guard, he’s a two guard.

So this is not the end for AI.

I know one team that would covet AI, and that’s the Knicks. They need an exciting presence there.

If they signed Andre Miller and AI, they’d have a team right away with the young players they’ve developed this past year.

The sixers have to be careful. The people they don’t sign will go to their competition in the NBA East, and they will regret their non-moves.

AI should retire in a Sixers Jersey. It’s appropriate to bring him home.

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

Indifference to death is the supreme claim of a successful moral theory. Mortality, the biblical threescore and ten years we are given on this earth, is and was the human condition for the ancients and the moderns. Transcendence of mortality therefore becomes a categorical imperative for any moral theory to attain success.

At a recent alumni dinner where there were a number of attorneys, i asked some of my colleagues around the table if they had given any thought to the afterlife. Most of the people at the table looked at me as if I had landed from another planet. I pressed the point, and asked, you get ready for trials, but what about the ultimate trial, the final trial, the final judgment in the life to come? Don’t you want to be ready for that? Again, blank faces and almost no thought given to the concept in the slightest. I found this interesting, and wanted to give it some thought. This essay was the result.

Maybe this is what is wrong with the legal profession today. Lots of ethics courses, but no courses as to the essence of ethical thought–the soul and its salvation. And yet Plato and Aristotle, especially Plato, write about the soul, about lawyers and the salvation of the soul in the life to come, and about ethics, almost to the exclusion of all else. And of course, Christianity absorbs Plato through neo-Platonism, and a lot of Aristotle too. So have we forgotten everything we learned back at the dawn of Western thought? Have we forgotten that you can’t take it with you, to paraphrase a famous play we used to read in prep school? That a rich man will find it harder to get into heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle? That Lazarus will be by God’s side while the rich man will be burning from thirst in hell? Have we forgotten all of this in our search for worldly rewards?

I assume we all agree here that Bernie Madoff is definitely going to hell, but we’re not sure what level of Dante’s Inferno he’s being assigned at present.

So here are a few comments on four ethical systems that have given plenty of thought on this matter, and incidentally, most every lawyer in the greco-roman world was at the very least, a stoic or a christian.

Characteristically convergent in the three moral systems of Stoicism, Spartanism and Samurai/Bushido is the conquest of death through roughly parallel means. Christianity in its neo-platonic formulation through the Hellenistic church fathers, starting with Clement of Alexandria and running through the Greek Church Fathers, St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nazianzen, St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. John Chrystostomos, and finding its eventual final expression in St. Augustine, a much later Latin church father, also conquers death as well.

As St. John Chrystostomos so memorably puts it, “Death, Where is Thy Sting?” However, Christian eschatology and cosmology sharply distinguish it from the Stoic, Spartan and Samurai traditions. There will be a second coming, and a second judgment, a final judgment, but so long as the Christian adheres to the seven sacraments and worships through the Church, his salvation is ordained, and he or she will be saved in the life to come. Here, we are speaking of the early Eastern Christian church, 100 AD – 1000 AD, as opposed to the later Western church, 1000 AD – present, which was split by the east-west schism, the Albigensian Crusade, the 4th Crusade, the Crusades in general, the Protestant movements, and so on. The early Church, by contrast, was relatively unified (setting aside the Arian, Manichean and Nestorian and other heresies, which are not material here) and was constituted by its seven ecumenical councils as a unified and generic whole. Even as to the schismatic churches of the Near East, the churches of Nestorianism and so forth, which had millions of adherents up through around 1400 AD in Syria, Iran, China and many other areas where the majority religion was either Muslim or other, the message was the same, that death could be overcome by salvation through the Church.

By Stoicism we refer to the ancient Greek philosophy which emerged in Athens at the stoa, which is best known by the work of greek philosophers such as Epictetus, and follow it to its most perfect expression in the Roman philosophies of such writers as Cicero and Marcus Aurelius. The Roman/Latin followers of stoicism, of whom there were many, were comfortable with stoicism, since it was perfectly suited to a milititaristic society ruled by capricious and arbitrary imperial factions which could change suddenly and without warning, often with drastic policy implications. Because conditions were constantly volatile at the micro level, even though there was an overall “pax Romana,” stoicism was an ideal philophy.

We note in this introduction the essentially dual character of stoicism, as both a military and an ethical philosophy, one ideally suited to the greek or roman warrior or pacific citizen alike. The warrior at peace in stoic tranquility could perform his military assignments with a minimum of moral concern either for his enemy’s or his own death; likewise the citizen going about his tasks was also able to work hard, indifferent to illness, suffering or the exigencies of mortality, and to the machinations of politics and the state.

Turning to the Spartan way of life, which was essentially a philosophy and ethical system, again we see a military and ethical system in place. First, we define the Spartan system as that system in place in Ancient Sparta from roughly 700 BC to approximately 350 BC, when the Spartan State began to lose its military supremacy to Thebes, and lost its martial character and started to blend shortly thereafter into the larger Hellenistic World created by Alexander the Great and his Successors.

During their time of glory, the Spartan method of training and educating their men and women was legendary throughout the ancient world, and it has come down to us even in the present day. The very word “spartan” connotes sparse, spare, lean and other similar adjectival synonyms. That a spartan soldier would fight to the death was a given; that he was happier to die gloriously in battle than to die and old man in his village was well-known. Thus even Pericles was known to quote the Spartans in saying that a good death in battle could wipe out a lifetime of evil deeds. But the Spartans virtue was a sort of corporate virtue, not the individual Achaean virtue or heroism of Achilles or Ajax; Spartans fought as a team. Their methods were legendary; their morality their code.

Finally we have the samurai, who lived by the code of bushido. In this moral code, elaborated on many occasions by learned samurai, the samurai warrior, who was always a learned man fluent in poetry, calligraphy and the arts, as well as the martial arts and the sword, was to consider himself at all times as if he was already dead. This core, bedrock principle of bushido, along with the zen Buddhist principles of “no mind” or “empty mind”, encapsulate bushido’s essential qualities—the clear-minded warrior, ready to strike, unafraid of death because in his mind, he has already died, and thus is already prepared for death. Such an adversary must have been dangerous indeed.

That there are parallels between these three systems with regards to their attitudes towards death and mortality is self-evident from our brief discussion. A longer exegesis would examine all of these systems in greater detail, but this brief review suffices to carry across the general motive and ethical points.

Art Kyriazis philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

Looked outside my window
Fog came up today
That grey outside is round my head
Looks like it’s there to stay
Looks like it’s there to stay
Looks like it’s there to stay

Can’t you see I love you
I want you more and more
I see you here most every day
But I don’t know where you are
But I don’t know where you are now
But I don’t know where you are

(break)

Time goes on and I get older
What am I going to do
My mirror’d face keeps getting colder
My eyes still look for you
My eyes still look for you
My eyes still look for you

(break)

Sun came out this morning
Highway showed my way
Tracks in the sand pulled me into the sea
Washed my cares away
Washed my cares away
Washed my cares away

You know I want to touch you
My vacuum gives me pain
Your smile releases all my life
Like flowers under rain
Like flowers under rain
We start to live again