2011 Gameday

Gameday: Phillies (25-12) at Braves (21-19)

Philadelphia Phillies (25-12) at Atlanta Braves (21-19)

Joe Blanton, RHP (1-1, 5.83 ERA) vs. Jair Jurrjens, RHP (4-0, 1.50 ERA)

Time: 1:10, Turner Field
Weather: Scattered thunderstorms, 72
Twitter: Phillies Nation

No respect, I tell you. The Phillies get no respect. Despite having a record (25-12) that puts them on pace for 110 wins, and despite having won last night, the Phillies are, by far, bigger underdogs in this game than they’ve been all season–3:2 underdogs, in fact, as of this morning. That probably has something to do with the fact that Jair Jurrjens takes the ball for Fredi Gonzalez’s squad. Jurrjens absolutely kills the Phillies. Since coming over from Detroit, Jurrjens has held the Phillies to a .204 batting average in 10 starts, and though he’s only 4-3 in those starts, Jurrjens’ career ERA against Philadelphia is 2.45 and his WHIP is 1.061, both lower than any other National League team. Charlie Manuel, as is his custom, did not change his lineup much–Dane Sardinha will start for Carlos Ruiz to prevent his catcher from starting a day game after a night game the weekend after coming off the DL, and Wilson Valdez replaces Pete Orr, for God only knows what reason. One replacement-level utility infielder is as good as another, I suppose.

Today, the Phillies will be wearing these uniforms as a tribute to the Philadelphia Stars, a now-defunct Negro League team, as part of Major League Baseball’s annual Civil Rights Weekend. Though the actual Civil Rights game isn’t until tomorrow, something needs to be said about featuring the Phillies and Braves in a game supposed to promote racial unity. I usually try not to editorialize or use foul language in gameday posts, but there’s no other way to describe the choice of teams than as a goddamn crock of bullshit.

The Phillies had a reputation as one of the worst teams in baseball toward black players for the first several decades of integrated ball. They were they the last NL team to integrate. A week after Jackie Robinson’s debut, the Phillies, including their manager, joined together in hurling horrific abuse at the Dodger first baseman during a game, calling him “nigger” and telling him to get back to picking cotton. It is said that the Phillies’ attitude toward black players as late as 1969 played a role in Curt Flood’s decision to retire and offer himself as a sacrifice upon the altar of free agency rather than accept a trade to Philadelphia. 1969. Atlanta, for its part, is not without racial controversy. Though I personally have no problem with the team name or the tomahawk chop, Native American groups have been calling for a team rebranding for decades, and while we’re celebrating racial unity in a game between two teams that have promoted anything but, let’s do it in a state that in 1935 made it a felony for a white person to marry a non-white person, and in 1958 made it a felony for public money to go to an integrated school. Neither I nor anyone I know is responsible for this part of our history, but I’m ashamed enough of it anyway that awarding this game to these teams seems like we’re glossing over it. I understand that, in Jason Heyward, Jimmy Rollins, and Ryan Howard, this game features three of the only real African-American stars baseball has, but I’d just as soon this game went to the Dodgers, Indians, or Pirates–you know, a team that actually did something to advance race relations in America.

Phillies Lineup: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Polanco 3B, Howard 1B, Francisco RF, Ibanez LF, Valdez 2B, Sardinha C, Blanton P

Your Gameday Beer– Old Chub

Today is actress/director Sofia Coppola’s 40th birthday. You might know her as the actress who ruined The Godfather III, or as the director of such pretentious, slow-moving, self-indulgent crap as Lost in Translation, a movie with no better quality than that it is only 102 minutes long. In her honor, we’re recommending Old Chub, a Scottish-style ale that’s darker than most porters you’ll see, and, as a result, is not the easiest beer to drink. However, at 8% ABV, after a couple cans, you won’t be able to remember much of Lost in Translation, so that’s good.– By Michael

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