Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Phils not doing the little things

Jimmy Rollins misses first base on what should have been at least a double.

Todd Pratt double clutches on two consecutive ninth-inning throws and allows a pinch runner to steal second and third before scoring the game-winning run.

What is going on? The Astros have won 11 straight against the Phillies and because of that, the Phils are now 1 1/2 games behind in the wild-card standings.

The fans at Citizens Bank Park are showing their displeasure with boos. That is nothing news, except that this is a pennant race and the Phillies are in it. Years and years of frustration are showing up for the smallest things.

Beer Leaguer sums it up in his daily blog entry:

The Astros out-small ball the Phillies to take command of the series and their destiny in a 2-1 win last night. The Phils fall to 1.5 games back in the Wild Card.

Isn’t it amazing how these games in September have changed? How attention to detail is the vital factor? How outmatched the Phillies have been trying to compete under the magnifying glass?

Pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett's two stolen bases in the ninth inning off Billy Wagner and Todd Pratt allowed Jason Lane to drive in the go-ahead run from third, lifting the Astros to a 2-1 win.

Basically, the game was decided when the Astros said so.

Meanwhile, our guys picked the wrong time to play poor fundamental baseball and have yet to dictate anything in their home park.

With no outs and the game tied 1-1 in the eighth, Jimmy Rollins stumbled around first on what was sure to be a double, possibly a triple. Rollins never crossed home, as the Phillies worked the bases full but couldn’t score him.

It’s one of many blunders in a growing list of on-the-field and on-the-fly mistakes the Phils have made when they can least afford it. The opposition has better pitching, and apparently, better hitting, so they must be creative in other ways. That means dropping down bunts, hitting the bag in stride, etc.

Ryan Howard is the team’s lone contributor these days, connecting on yet another opposite field shot in the fifth off Roy Oswalt. In the past week, Howard has tagged some of the best in baseball - Pedro Martinez, Bradon Looper, Chad Cordero and now Oswalt. Meanwhile, the veteran core – Abreu, Burrell, Rollins, Bell - have yet to make a mark, and Chase Utley, the star of mid-season, is fading fast.

If a team can’t pitch and can’t hit, they must be creative the way the Astros were in the ninth. Details count. Details win games, win championships. Last night was a lesson in base running and how to defend against it, and the Phils are taking this class at the remedial level.

Brotherly love...T.O. and Donovan

Not that you needed another reason to watch Monday Night Football and the Eagles vs. Falcons, but you have to be curious how Terrell Owens is going to patch up the feud with Donovan McNabb.

Owens, in an interview with ESPN's Michael Irvin that will air in its entirety on Sunday's NFL Countdown, said that he will speak to McNabb and we will see it on our screens.

Here are a few scenarios that would make interesting television:

1) In the opening of the ABC broadcast, have a flirtatious T.O. come out in nothing but a towel and a smile and make nice with No. 5.

2) When the offense is introduced on the field, have and Owens and McNabb come out together, holding hands as they run through their teammates.

3) We've seen this before, but have Donovan hit T.O. with a 60-yard bomb for a touchdown on the first offensive play and then celebrate with a nice Tango in the end zone.

4) Walking the sidelines, have the two come together, and within earshot of the microphones, tell each other, "I love you, man."

Send me your scenario.

Below is the story from Inquirer Eagles beat reporter Bob Brookover:

Terrell Owens broke his silence yesterday and presented an olive branch to teammate Donovan McNabb in the process.

During an interview with ESPN's Michael Irvin, the Eagles wide receiver said he had been talking to his teammates and he planned to mend fences with his quarterback soon. Owens and McNabb have not spoken since the start of training camp on Aug. 1.

"It's not that I hate Donovan," Owens told ESPN. "I love Donovan. I don't hate him at all. I was disappointed in a few things. I have the right to do that. Everyone speaks out of emotion. Everybody speaks out of frustration. Everybody's done it. That means I'm human. If you want me to go in and say I was wrong, maybe I was. Maybe I wasn't."

The dispute between Owens and McNabb was born when the wide receiver hired agent Drew Rosenhaus in an attempt to get the Eagles to rework the seven-year contract he signed before the start of last season. Owens wanted more support from his quarterback in his contract dispute.

Owens said he planned to speak with McNabb before Monday night's season opener against the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.

"I will," he said. "You guys will see. It's not going to be a yearlong thing. Leading up to this Monday night game, things will get worked out."

Owens said the ABC cameras should pick up the wide receiver chatting with his quarterback in the season opener.

"The camera is going to be on me," Owens told ESPN. "Believe that.

"I didn't turn a deaf ear to any of my teammates. If they wanted to talk to me, I talked to them. There wasn't any situation where a player came to me and I didn't talk to them. That's not true."

The receiver admitted he wasn't talking to McNabb or defensive end Hugh Douglas. The three reportedly got into a dispute early in training camp at Lehigh University. Douglas was among the Eagles' final cuts last week, so he is no longer around.

Though Owens planned to talk to McNabb again, he said both he and the Eagles could succeed without communication between the two offensive stars, citing his performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in his only preseason game. Owens had five catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.

"Did you see the first preseason game?" Owens said. "Then there you have it. But I will say, because God is in me, I will talk to Donovan. At some particular point, the spirit will move me to talk to him, because that's just how I am."

Owens has not spoken to the Philadelphia media since his appearances outside his Moorestown home after he was sent away from training camp following a dispute with coach Andy Reid last month.