About Jeff Kallman

I've spent the better part of a quarter century as a professional journalist in print, on radio, and in cyberspace. Today, I work freelance. Here, I think and write about baseball.

The Philth and the Furies

Macho RowThe early-to-mid 1970s Athletics and the 1986 Mets were seminarians in comparison. Meet, or re-meet, the 1993 Phillies, the zoo in which the animals held the keys, thanks to William C. Kashatus’s Macho Row: The 1993 Phillies and Baseball’s Unwritten Code. (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press; 343 p.; $27.95.)

They were the Philthy Phillies who won a pennant dramatically enough and lost a World Series even more dramatically. Carrying themselves like old schoolers while, somehow, organised and managed like a sort-of school of tomorrow, the 1993 Phillies were the Hell’s Angels without motorcycles but on actual or alleged performance-enhancing laughing gas.

Now the Giants are truly Bummed out

Despite how it looks, Madison Bumgarner isn't about to try self-flight with his two wings. He has enough trouble balancing on two wheels.

Madison Bumgarner’s wings—well, the shoulder bone of his left one—got clipped when his dirt bike hit the skid in Denver . . .

Boys will be boys, but that sometimes includes getting a little reckless on their off-duty time. Last fall, Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer sliced a thumb with one of his hobby drones and was almost useless to the Indians’ push to break their World Series drought. Now it’s springtime and Madison Bumgarner, on a day off, sprained a bone in his pitching shoulder and bruised a few ribs—breezing along on a dirt bike in Denver until he hit a slippery spot.

Bucknor’s strike four; or, immune umps versus vulnerable players, continued

C.B. Bucknor, Jayson Werth

C.B. Bucknor (far left, next to Nationals manager Dusty Baker) can’t be held accountable for his malfeasance, but Jayson Werth (far right) could have faced a fine or suspension if he’d criticised Bucknor by name after strike four Tuesday night.

Try for a moment to imagine you could be reprimanded or prosecuted for criticising a Supreme Court justice, for whatever reason you saw fit. Of course that’s absurd, because you can’t be reprimanded or prosecuted for criticising a justice. Or a judge, so long as you don’t do it in open court.

So who looks how so far?

Two weeks doesn’t equal a season, and what’s looking top of the line now could end up looking middle of the pack or worse by the time the stretch drive arrives. Still, you can’t help noticing a few things, in no particular order:

WRINGING BULLS—The Mets’ bullpen was under a heavy burden before that sixteen-inning marathon against the Marlins to open a four-game set. Then both teams emptied the pens and benches and the Mets came away with the win. The Mets pen was gassed the rest of the weekend, costing Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Matt Harvey despite their solid enough pitching. That’s why Jeurys Familia will be welcomed back with Roman candles later this week.

The Mets bomb in Philadelphia—the right way

Hitting his third bomb of the night---"I think I was seeing the ball well," he said, in the understatement of the night.

Hitting his third bomb of the night—”I think I was seeing the ball well,” he said, in the understatement of the night.

Perhaps if the Mets knew Yoenis Cespedes would hit three home runs the day after, the might ask someone to take one for the team every day. For results like a 14-4 blowout of the Phillies Tuesday, you might find any number of Mets willing to take a pitch upside the head the night before.

Flag night a banner night for Rizzo and the Cubs

Rizzo led the celebration parade with the World Series trophy aloft after a rain-delayed opening Monday night . . .

Rizzo led the celebration parade with the World Series trophy aloft after a rain-delayed opening Monday night . . .

It figured. Really. Who else but the Cubs could come home from a season-opening road trip, prepared to hoist their World Series championship flag, and have it delayed by rain?

This rain delay lasted a lot longer than the one during which Jason Heyward pulled his mates to the clubhouse for the pep talk that led to the Cubs breaking the Game Seven tie and holding on to win game, set, and Series five months ago.

The Mets, from one head down to all heads high

Cabrera (center) is none to thrilled after Ramos bent him with a first pitch over his head; catcher Rupp (29) prepares to keep peace . . .

Cabrera (center) is none to thrilled after Ramos bent him with a first pitch over his head; catcher Rupp (29) prepares to keep peace . . .

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear Edubray Ramos was auditioning for the Texas Rangers to shore up their bullpen. Based on his work in the eighth inning Monday against the Mets, the Phillies righthander seems a good fit for a team sometimes renowned for waiting till next year  and the last minute to settle a grudge.

The Angels overthrow their own burial

Cliff Pennington, heretofore not known for swinging big to end games that look like blowouts in the making . . .

Cliff Pennington, heretofore not known for swinging big to end games that look like blowouts in the making . . .

It’s not every season, never mind every day, when you open the bottom of the ninth in an apparent blowout, your designated hitter leads off by pulling to within eight of 600 career launches, he returns later in the inning to tie it up with a single, and the next man up hits one to the back of the yard to win it.

Roy Sievers, RIP: Sentimental journeys

Roy Sievers (right) with Mickey Mantle.

Roy Sievers (right) with Mickey Mantle.

Roy Sievers modeled his batting stroke on that of Joe Medwick, his baseball hero growing up in St. Louis. He made a respectable career as a slugging first baseman and a smooth swinger who studied the game and didn’t let the seedier sides of it soil his shyly genial nature.

Sievers, the first to win an American League Rookie of the Year award when it became an each-league prize (in 1949), died 3 April at 90. He’d overcome early career shoulder miseries to convert from the outfield to first base at the impetus of Bill Veeck, who owned the St. Louis Browns with whom Sievers first arose.

Birthday boy subjected to immediate use, misuse, and abuse

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

Guthrie, looking every inch like a pitcher being beaten to within an inch of his life Saturday.

It’s bad enough if and when a young pitcher gets the call to the Show, gets the start under whatever circumstances, and gets slapped around. It’s almost worse if you’re a veteran who hasn’t seen major league action in almost two years and you got a call up to take a spot start.

Jeremy Guthrie would never kid you that he’s been one of the greats of his time. But he might have told you he was serviceable enough to pitch in all or parts of twelve major league seasons prior to Saturday.