Back when I was living in Philly one of the local stories had to do with Hostility. It seems some professor had established a sliding scale of hostility metrics, and used them to evaluate cities from the most hostile to the least hostile. To nearly nobody's surprise, The City of Brotherly Love topped the list.
But what was interesting was the various reactions of people. Most were in the vein of The Voice of Reason, who was pleased to hear that they had beat New York at something (NYC finished #2, btw). I consider the most brilliant reaction to be from some random city council member, who immediately said something like "Yeah? Well I'd like that pencil-necked geek to come here and say that to my face!"
But the reaction that made it all come back to me this weekend was from the mayor, Ed Rendell, who suggested that maybe this guy just happened to study the city in the midst of a Phillies losing streak. Rendell knew that Philly's mood swings with the results of her teams. I've noticed a similar reaction in Minnesota, but only on Mondays in the fall.
Not any more. It's possible I'm projecting, but scoring five runs in three games changed the mood of this city a little. There was a little more crabbiness than usual, and on Monday, I expect to hear more than my usual share of gloom and doom. Hell, I've been snippy all weekend.
Except now. Ironically, this hostility realization may be what is lifting my spirits. Turning into a baseball town is a slow and painful process, made moreso by the habits we've developed in the past. But this is another sign that it's coming. And if this weekend happens to be the one in which a pencil-necked hostility analyzer visits, I'll accept his verdict proudly.
I suppose the big news this weekend was that Kevin Slowey pitched well in his debut on Friday night. Slowey is half-jokingly being referred to as "this year's Liriano", which, of course, he isn't. Nobody is. Though I'm hoping that once Matt Garza gets his head on straight, he might be close.
But whether Slowey is a savior or not, he could be a big part of this season, not to mention several other seasons, and his pitching on Friday is likely going to draw some rave reviews. I was hoping to give some myself, and I'll admit I had some hopes.
My review will be more measured. Slowey looked good, not great. Now, there are a couple of factors, that and optimist might point out that he overcame. First, he faced a lot of left-handed hitters with the Athletics. Second, the Athletics traditionally emphasize plate discipline, and a guy who works the edges of the zone may be more susceptible to being hit than a fireballer against that team.
On the other hand, the Athletics aren't a great offensive team. Though the have recently added some healthier left-handed bats, they're also dead-last in the American League in OPS versus right-handed pitchers. Slowey definitely had trouble putting batters away, which lead to a high pitch count and an exit after the sixth (and one might argue that he probaby should have left after the fifth). Slowey, in short, was less dominant than his box score might suggest.
Does one expect a 23-year-old who was being drafted two years ago this week to be dominant? Probably not. But, of course, that point should probably have been raised over the last two months as we pined for him to toe the rubber in the majors. Slowey looked good, and hopefully has a solid major league career ahead of him. But he didn't look like a magic bullet. Anyone suggesting that the Twins have several of those if only they would play them may want to reevaluate that expectation.
One Bat Short
Of course, after a miserable weekend devoid of runs, it isn't clear that the pitching is what needs the magic bullet anyways. When Jeff Cirillo is batting #2 versus a right-handed pitcher, it's become pretty clear that this lineup is at least one bat short. With Jason Kubel (home run not withstanding) still scuffling, and no legitimate designated hitter, the return of Chairman Mauer (supposedly next weekend) will probably still leave them a bat short. And the news yesterday from Terry Ryan that Rondell White's situation hasn't changed may well mean that shortage is going to continue for the immediate future.
So what to do? Well, sleep on it, I suppose, because it's late, and it's not like I have all the answers. But I'm sure I will tomorrow (and the topic will likely stay valid, he says hostilely) so stop by and we'll see what we can come up with.