Chase Utley: He’s Saying What We’re Thinking!

I was outside in the parking lot watching this on the screens the Phillies set up for fans who didn’t have tickets to the rally inside the stadium:

1) As you can tell by the YouTube, this basically summed up the mood of the day.

2) This was one of the ten to fifteen best things I’ve ever witnessed in my life, hands down.

3) Message to Chase: Don’t apologize! It’s all true!

Best speech ever:

Second baseman Chase Utley approached the microphone and proclaimed, “World champions!” Then he repeated the phrase, with a profanity between “world” and “champions,” drawing cheers for minutes. Later Friday, shirts and caps featuring Utley’s phrase were offered for sale on the Internet.

Afterward, Utley said he hadn’t planned to curse, which was aired live on TV and radio. “I was told I had to talk 10 minutes before I talked. Short and to the point,” he said.

Management

For a guy with “zero executive experience,” Obama seems to have this whole President thing pretty dialed:

“The level of detail that the Obama transition team is getting into is extraordinary – they are leaving no stone unturned,” said a senior former Clinton administration official who has been consulted. “I have been getting calls that you’d expect in previous transitions to get maybe in December or never at all.”

But, as someone recently said, Obama will be the first president in quite some time to inherit the job at a time of neither peace nor prosperity. He’s going to have to be better than the rest, if only because the situation is going to be much worse.

It’s Not Just Pat Burrell’s Charles Atlas Physique That Intrigues Me . . .

Philadelphia Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell may seem like an odd player to root for — underperforming, overpaid, universally maligned by Phillies fans — but for a while I’ve felt bad for the guy. He and shortstop Jimmy Rollins have spent their entire careers with the woeful-no-longer Phillies, and Philly fans are nothing if not unforgiving about underperforming, overpaid players.

As the Phillies moved through their awesome postseason run, which culminated in a World Series win last night, reporters would ask Burrell how it felt to be in the position the Phillies found themselves in. You got the sense in these post-game interviews that Burrell could never quite come around and give reporters a canned quote — something along the lines of, “It’s great to be here, we’ve got a great team, blah blah.” Instead, he tended to say something ambiguous, as after the Phillies beat the Dodgers to make it to the World Series:

Throughout the clubhouse pandemonium reigned as players, owners, team officials and every part of the organization celebrated the biggest win this century.

All but two players.

“I’m just not ready yet,” said the longest tenured Phillies player Pat Burrell. “I need to collect my thoughts.”

Burrell has been through both the good and the bad with this organization. The former No. 1 pick was supposed to be the face of this team but in recent years that’s simply not been the case. Burrell, who is in the final year of his contract, had a tough time gathering his thoughts, and coming to an understanding of what all of this meant.

Instead, he stood between a television riser and a row of lockers with bench coach Jimy Williams. With a Bud Light in his right hand, he muttered words to Williams and then looked out over what had once been a dream, then a nightmarish goal he never thought he could achieve. And finally, a moment of reflection.

“I’m just watching this celebration and thinking about all the times, and years in the minor leagues and how it’s all come to this point, and now it’s worth it,” Burrell said. “I really don’t know what else to say.

“Pretty much 100 percent right. This is (an introspective) moment. I’m just taking it in. There is a lot of anticipation, but when it comes it takes you by surprise.”

What’s made this so special for Burrell is that unlike any other point in his time in this organization, Burrell feels a part of a team. A 25-man roster with just one goal and one that has had a different player step up in each of the nine postseason games.

In an almost fitting display of humility, Burrell didn’t want to discuss a series in which he hit .357. He didn’t want to talk about a running catch in the sixth or, about anything he’s done.

Instead, Burrell looked around and saw teammate Jimmy Rollins, allowed a smile to creep to his face knowing that for all but two months, Rollins has been on the same journey, and the concept of team was written in every movement he made.

The other part of this is that Burrell is officially a free agent now, and he actually had a pretty good season this year (players have a way of doing that in contract years — see Ramirez, Manny and Rodriguez, Alex), so more than anyone except for 46-year-old Philadelphia-area native Jamie Moyer and perhaps Jimmy Rollins as well, I really, really wanted Burrell to win this thing. All during the playoffs, I was transfixed by what I perceived as the tense quotes that hinted at Burrell’s love-hate relationship with the Philly fans. But last night that changed, and he explained the Philly pride more than most are able to express (usually people bring up the throwing-snowballs-at-Santa trope). It made me misty-eyed:

“We play in a tough town to play in, and I’m proud of that,” said Pat Burrell, the longest-tenured Phillie, whose leadoff double in the seventh started the winning rally. “I’m proud to say I play here. I don’t think anybody in here understands the way the city and the people think more than I do. To be able to hand this over to them is as good as it gets.”

I don’t know that Burrell will get, or want — or the Phillies fans want him to have — another contract, so it’s nice that he at least went out on a high note:

[Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell] met as teenagers at the Area Code Games, a California-based baseball tournament designated for the top young players to be seen. Rollins and his roommate were playing dice at one of the tournaments when Burrell walked in his room. He wanted to learn how to play and Rollins gave him a quick rundown.

“Five minutes later he was sitting on the bed watching TV with no money,” Rollins said.

Burrell didn’t have to worry about money soon enough. He signed a six-year $50 million contract before the 2003 season. However, now he had to deal with Philadelphia’s fans, who didn’t give him much room for error.

He went through enormous slumps, including going .209 with 64 RBIs in just the first year of his contract.

“I know what (a championship) is going to bring,” Burrell said. “I know because I had to sit through the ’80 stuff and the ’93 stuff. Winning erases a lot of stuff.”

Burrell has said that he wants to remain with the Phillies. He stood in the clubhouse after the win, soaked in champagne. Chase Utley, one of his closest friends on the team, opened a bottle just for him.

He slowly poured it onto Burrell’s head, and the left fielder never flinched.

“You see these kids when they walk through the door. You go through their trials and tribulations with them as they go through the learning process to get here,” assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said. “When you get here, there is another learning curve and to see them succeed is a tremendous feeling.”

The left-field boo birds have been Burrell’s harshest critics and yet cheered him harder than anyone else when he delivered his only hit of the World Series off J.P. Howell. Eric Bruntlett, who pinch-ran for Burrell, eventually scored the go-ahead run in the seventh.

His numbers don’t reflect his work ethic. Burrell was usually the first one at the ballpark and the last one to leave.

Burrell even took naps under manager Charlie Manuel’s desk.

“And he ate all the food in the kitchen,” the euphoric manager said. “I can say anything I want to him. I can tell him how good he is. I can tell him how bad he is, and he will work on it.”

There will come a day when the fans won’t be able to boo Burrell in a Philadelphia uniform.

That day could come sooner rather than later.

However, in his game at Citizens Bank Park this season, he was loved and admired.

“You can never take this away,” Burrell said.

I think what I’m impressed about is that through all the “trials and tribulations” — read: unrelenting verbal abuse by tens of thousands of insane Philly fans — the guy stuck it out and in the end manned the fuck up and helped that team win a championship. Now maybe I’m not close enough, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention through all the thin years, but Philly challenges players like no other place it seems, and I’m happy for Burrell. Burrell means something in a David Brooks kind of milieu — something about hanging in there or something, I’m not sure what.

Now Burrell is apparently pretty soft spoken — unlike Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, who lost the 1993 World Series for the Phillies when he threw a meatball to Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter — but I can see him returning one day to maybe do color for the team (as Wild Thing does; the Texas native lives in Jersey now). Philly has a way of doing that to one, maybe — the passion is fierce and the loyalty fiercer.

Obama Drinks

Want to help me plan the perfect election party?

I’m looking for some signature Obama drinks.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • The Obama Hope: vodka, Kahlua, and a hint of tequila with cream
  • The 538 Sweep: vodka, tequila, rum, gin, triple sec, and blue curacao with Coke for color
  • The Bush Impeachment: grapefruit juice, vodka, and peach liqueur

What you got?

Uninvited guests, or, beware the nanny state?

Well, jeez, so I guess this is what happens when you invite some guests over and they decide to have a domestic dispute in the middle of your dinner party.

Not to feed the trolls …

Gotta say that I’m fascinated that this debate (on this blog at least) has immediately gotten down to the brass tacks of the legal and economic issues involved.

Bruno did a great job laying out the Utilitarian / Liberal / Libertarian arguments in favor of I-1000 (or death with dignity initiatives generally).  It does not infringe upon my personal liberty if someone else chooses to take his or her life.

Personally, I have a hard time reducing this one to a strict Utilitarian analysis.  There’s a more emotional connection to this issue for me, and one that precludes me from making a strict economic analysis of the issue.  To me, it comes down to the definition of “life”.  It seems reasonable to me that conditions that prevent an individual from enjoying certain basic human freedoms — let’s say “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — don’t really constitute much of a life after all.

Admittedly, there’s a slippery slope in here.  But why not take that to its conclusion?  We’d do just as well to criticize the unjustness of a regime that subsidizes all kinds of self-abuse (smoking, poor fitness, bad diet), but then seeks to regulate the final act.

I’m still undecided as to whether or not I-1000 is a good bill.  But I’m convinced that the the general principle is correct.

Obama and Petraeus

Great anecdote from Joe Klein:

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security.”

It takes stones to goe toe-to-toe with Petraeus like that. But that’s what Obama’s going to have to do. The military is proposing an incredible $450 billion increase in defense spending over the next five years, intended to test the mettle of the next president. I suspect that the military, which publicly deferred to Bush for a long, long time, will suddenly start battling with President Obama in public. They’ll think, “no way this liberal with no military experience will dare question us in a time of war.” But if Obama wants to actually get anything done over the next four years, he’ll have to take up this challenge.

(via Sullivan)

Death With Dignity

The Prof, some friends and I had a lively debate the other night about I-1000, the “Death With Dignity” (a.k.a. physician-assisted suicide, or PAS) initiative being considered in Washington State this fall.

I was torn about it: my libertarian and progressive instincts both told me to support it (individual rights), but I’m conservative enough to be cautious about a potential radical social change like this. The radical changes I tend to support, like, say, universal health care and high-speed rail, are commonplace in nearly every other industrialized nation — which makes them a no-brainer in my mind. But PAS has a much shorter track record, and is legal in only a handful of places.

I realized that I didn’t know much about the law, or how it had been administered next door in Oregon, so I decided to do some research.

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