Friday, August 29, 2003


That's either the sound that preceded Larry Bowa's blow-up yesterday...or the sound counting the time until he gets escorted out the managerial door. You decide.

The aforementioned Bowa explosion came after yesterday's listless loss -- the first four-game sweep of the Phillies by the Expos in team history. A six-game losing streak. A 1-9 start to a pivotal road trip. I think the outburst was called for, don't you?

Actually, from the sound of it, outburst might not be a strong enough word. Todd Zolecki of the Inquirer writes that

Larry Bowa's emotions finally boiled over into a tirade behind clubhouse doors that one veteran player described as an all-timer, one of the worst explosions he has ever seen from the manager.

Amaury Telemaco asked if the reporters could hear Bowa through the closed doors. Jim Thome said that he had never seen his skipper so upset. And who can blame him? This team left home on a five-game winning streak. They went into Milwaukee and got swept. They left enough runners on in St. Louis to sell out Busch Stadium for the rest of the year. And Montreal was a trip in itself...

  • A 12-1 pasting.

  • A 14-10 loss that included blowing an eight-run lead.

  • A 9-6 game that the bullpen coughed up after the offense woke up and fought back for the first time in two weeks.

  • And then a 4-0 stinker where the Phillies appeared to be anywhere but on the field at Olympic Stadium.

  • Don't know about you, but this doesn't look like a playoff-worthy team to me. Yet, they still sit in a Wild Card tie. Amazing...

    The Bowa blasting isn't surprising; with the skipper's temper, I was shocked it had not happened sooner. What might be more disturbing is the screaming match that followed between pitching coach Joe Kerrigan and ace-of-the-future Brett Myers. Kerrigan is rather ticked off that certain pitchers seem to be ignoring his game plans. And the pitchers seem to think that Kerrigan isn't giving them enough room at this point in the season.

    Kerrigan decided this week he had seen enough from his pitchers, who he said had strayed away from his game plans. Kerrigan and Bowa met with Vicente Padilla after Tuesday's 14-10 loss because Padilla had refused to mix up his pitches. Kerrigan held a meeting of pitchers and catchers Wednesday to speak his mind, and Kerrigan will now play a greater role in what pitches are thrown in certain situations.

    One veteran pitcher later said that some of them have pitched long enough that they know what to do.

    So the pitchers want more freedom, and the pitching coach said he'll start calling pitches. Is it me, or do we not seem to be on the same page here?

    So what happens now? Does the tirade and venting of emotions wake this team up? Do they go into Shea Stadium and sweep a Mets team that swept the Phillies at the Vet last month? Or do they go in and lay another egg?

    Better yet, does it even matter anymore?

    What does matter is whether or not there is a rift between the manager and his players, or even the manager and his GM. There is no denying that Larry Bowa rubs some of his players the wrong way. They do not see eye-to-eye with his emotional enthusiasm, and the fact that he wears his heart on his sleeve. After gathering the opinions of the players, GM Ed Wade asked Bowa to be a bit more positive in the clubhouse. Will yesterday's riot act burn some bridges? Does Bowa have any control in that clubhouse anymore?

    Will Kerrigan regain the trust of the pitching staff that he turned around this season? Or are the players not giving the coach the respect he deserves for leading them to so many positives this season?

    As for Bowa and Wade...Paul Hagen of the Daily News offers his two cents on their opposite positions:

    the manager has pretty much been saying that things have to go right for the Phillies to win the wild card.

    Meanwhile, Wade's bottom line has been that something would have to go wrong for the team he put together in the offseason not to.

    And while there have been no outward signs of tension between the two - in fact, Wade has been staunchly supportive of the skipper - those are significantly different ways of sizing up the situation.

    If the Phillies' monumental skid - which reached nine losses in 10 games yesterday afternoon at Montreal - ends up costing them their first trip to the postseason in 10 years, that basic division of opinion could come into even sharper focus.

    Some will blame Bowa. It will be said that he lost the team, that he overworked the bullpen, that he didn't get the most out of the talent he was given.

    Some will blame Wade. It will be said that he was too conservative, that he failed to recognize the shortcomings of the club, that he should have helped himself to any number of the players who were available in waiver deals.

    All that really matters, though, is this: Will Wade blame Bowa if a team the general manager has said all along is good enough to make the playoffs, doesn't?

    Questions, anyone?

    Yeah, there are plenty of them floating about right now. The two at the top of my head are these:

    1) How will the team react for three games in New York?
    2) How the hell are they still in a tie for the Wild Card? Unreal...