- First—I`m vindicated!
Over the past few years, I`ve written numerous blogs and columns about the folly of obligatory baseball diversity. My conviction that Americans—and teams made up of Americans—produce the best baseball on the planet can no longer be intelligently debated.
- Second—I can write about the Phillies this week!
Which means I don`t have to do a column about Barack Obama, John McCain, the possibility of an amnesty (the notorious Ruben Navarrette just endorsed my skepticism) or the Wall Street financial disaster. I cannot begin to express what an enormous relief that is!
And for you:
- You can read a column about the national pastime!
… instead of any of the aforementioned, dreary topics.
The champion Phillies are led by a core contingent of American players that includes six of its starting eight: first base, Ryan Howard; second base, Chase Utley; shortstop Jimmy Rollins, left field; Pat Burrell; center field, Shane Victorino; right field, Jayson Werth.
On the mound, the Phillies` American-born pitchers dominated: series Most Valuable Player Cole amels, Brett Meyers, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton. Brad Lidge, a perfect 41 of 41 in save opportunities during the regular season, loomed large in the bullpen.
The Phillies didn`t learn their baseball in the Dominican Republic at a training camp established by one of the major league franchises.
Most of the Phillies are a homegrown group that came up through the Philadelphia system.
A brief review of how the Phillies became champs tells all you need to know.
For the second year in a row, the Phillies beat out the diversity-crazed New York Mets in the final days of the season. So committed to multiculturalism were the Mets that, at various times during the season, the team actually wore jerseys embroidered with Los Mets.
In 2007, the Mets squandered a seven-game cushion with 17 to play, letting Philadelphia charge past them for the NL East title in one of the worst collapses in baseball history.
To guarantee, or so it hoped, a winning team this year the Mets acquired Venezuelan-born superstar pitcher Johan Santana to a six-year, $138 million contract.
Met outfielder Carlos Beltran warned the Phillies that, with the addition of Santana, the Mets were the team to beat. What could go wrong?
As it turned out, plenty!
In a “déjà vu all over again” scenario, the Phillies rallied to win the division title again this year after trailing New York by 3 1/2 games in September.
At the Phillies` World Series celebration in front of thousands of fans, Rollins got the biggest cheer when he said: “It takes more than one player to bring home a championship.”
In fairness to Santana, he pitched well. But I could argue that Phillies` pitcher and Kentuckian Joe Blanton, acquired in mid-season trade from the Oakland Athletics for the proverbial bunch of broken bats, contributed more.
The Mets, ranked third in percentage of diverse players on its roster, were not the only multicultural train-wreck team.
The Chicago Cubs, the second most diverse, collapsed in an even more ugly fashion than the Mets.
Although Chicago won the National League East division, the Los Angeles Dodgers humiliated the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs outscoring them 20-6 and sweeping them, 3-0.
The Cubs proved that, diverse or not, the team could not hit, field or pitch when it counted. The way Chicago played, it would have been lucky to defeat the (completely) all-American NCAA champion Fresno State Bulldogs.
As for the Seattle Mariners, baseball`s most diverse team, the season was a disaster.
With its players from Cuba, Venezuela, Japan, Australia, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Puerto Rico, Canada, and (lest we forget) the United States, the Mariners lost 101 games, the most in the American League.
For more proof of American dominance, I looked at the season-ending statistics and analyzed the pitching (wins, strike outs and earned run average) and hitting (average, home runs and runs batted in) performances in the American and National Leagues.
Taking the top five players in each category for a total of sixty rankings, fifty-fifty of the statistically best players are Americans.
Here`s still more evidence. Within the next few days, the balance of the post-season awards will be announced.
Among those already named, all are American: the Cy Young Awards went to San Francisco`s Tim Lincecum and Cleveland`s Cliff Lee, and the American and National League are the Rays` Evan Longoria and the Cubs` Geovany Soto..
At the risk of redundancy, I`ll repeat that the MainStream Media`s coverage of baseball and its insistence that diversity means a higher quality of play have motivated me all these years to present the opposing—and irrefutable—position:
- No relationship exists between the degree of multiculturalism on a team and its success on the field.
- To the contrary, the reverse is true—the more American players, the greater the likelihood of victory.
What`s particularly unfortunate is that in their quest to force-feed fans on the so-called wonders of baseball diversity, journalists miss the sport`s most compelling stories.
As reported by Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci, here`s a tale about Phillies` manager Charlie Manuel—dare I call it heart-warming?—little known outside Philadelphia.
Back up with me to June, when Jerry Manuel took over the Mets` managerial post, replacing the maligned Willie Randolph. Much was then written about how Manuel would better relate to the Spanish-speaking Mets and would inspire them to greater heights.
Since that analysis included a Hispanic angle, it got a lot of print.
And in truth, Manuel did a better job than Randolph.
But managerial changes that result in a team playing better over the short term are a dime a dozen. Baseball history is full of them.
Compare that mundane success to what Charlie Manuel overcame.
When Charlie (who is neither Hispanic nor related to Jerry) was a 19-year-old growing up in Virginia`s Blue Ridge Mountains, his father committed suicide. He left a note for Manuel telling him to take care of his mother and ten siblings as best he could.
Out of economic necessity, Manuel turned down athletic scholarships at North Carolina (basketball) and Michigan (football) to sign for $20,000 to play for the Minnesota Twins. He gave the money to his mother.
For the next four decades, Manuel knocked around the majors, the minors and Japan. Along the way, he beat cancer and heart disease.
Eventually, Manuel landed the Phillies job. Philadelphia`s notoriously harsh fans greeted Manuel rudely, calling him a rube and a hick. No one knew that his speech pattern was the result of a youthful stuttering problem.
Throughout it all, Manuel persevered. And, in the end, he did a vastly superior job than Jerry Manuel of getting the maximum performance from his players.
In closing I notice that I haven`t said much about the biggest surprise in baseball history—the Tampa Bay Rays. I`ll save that column for the “hot stove league” sometime between now and spring training.
In the meantime, hats off to the all-American Phillies.
Next week I`ll return to business as usual.
Steel yourself—you know what that means.
Joe [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.