Wednesday, July 21, 2004

One Step Forward (For Now)

The very best part of the Phillies' important, come-from-behind win over the Braves last night was that it came only hours after the 76ers had traded Eric Snow, ensuring that Inquirer hack Stephen A. Smith would be writing about basketball, and not baseball, today.

Well, okay, maybe the best part was that the Phillies stole a game that they absolutely had to have. Billy Wagner's atypically wobbly ninth made Phillies Fan's Bill Liming and Phillies Foul Balls' Jeff Hildebrand a little nervous, but I'm more concerned that the Phils again seemed to be aimlessly strolling through this one, as they had the night before. The late-inning heroics were fun to watch, but where was the team before the eighth? And they managed to squander the chance to score even more; think of how damaging that would have been had Wagner unraveled further.

In an interesting change of pace, it was the opponent's manager, not ours, whose behavior warranted second-guessing, as David Pinto questioned Bobby Cox's use of John Smoltz here and here. Still, while Mike Carminati, like Jane Conroy, loathes Atlanta, he points out that Cox's ability to extract above-average results from a less than stellar roster would be much appreciated in Philadelphia.

Back in South Philly, the Phils welcome the Marlins for a two-game set at the Park beginning tonight, leading the Daily News's Sam Donnellon to file an amusing if inconsequential piece on Florida's replacing New York as our hated geographic adversary. The Phillies, dominated over the last two seasons by the Fish, say they're not afraid of the Marlins; Florida, though, has been struggling with the same kind of inconsistency that has plagued Philadelphia. If form holds, of course, the teams will split.


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