Sorry, Phillies fans, Floyd wasn't the answer earlier, or necessarily now

September 05, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

PHILADELPHIA - It took hot pitching prospect Gavin Floyd only seven innings Friday night to give Philadelphia Phillies fans and the local media one more thing to complain about in the late stages of a disappointing season.

Where was this kid a month ago when there was still a reasonable chance to make the playoffs?

The answer, of course, is back in the minor leagues where he belonged.

The Phillies organization may not look too smart right now, with a high-expectation team 7 1/2 games out of the National League wild-card race, but Floyd has the potential to be one of the top pitchers in the game for a long time. By my reckoning, he's actually here several months too soon.

Give the Mount St. Joseph phenom - who gave up just four hits in a terrific debut performance - extra credit for deftly handling a thorny post-game question about the timing of his call-up.

Somebody pushed a microphone in his face and asked if he thought he was ready to pitch in the major leagues earlier. No sense waiting for the kid to enjoy his first major league victory before trying to stir up some more discontent.

"You always believe you can pitch up here," Floyd replied, "but you never really know until you get here."

Here's a bone for all those Eagles fans who think I never say anything nice about Philadelphia. I think the concession food at Citizens Bank Park is the best anywhere, and I've been to about 50 major league stadiums in my lifetime.

Forced to choose between a Geno's Cheesesteak on the center-field concourse and a Schmitter (a round sandwich with steak, salami, melted cheese, tomato and Thousand Island dressing) behind left field, I looked down at my "What Would John Kerry Do?" bracelet ... and chose both.

Needless to say, the diet isn't going very well, but at least I didn't have to rush out for a snack in the middle of The Great Gavin's major league debut.

Got a chuckle on Friday when the public address announcer at the Phillies-Mets game went through the normal routine about proper fan behavior, especially when he said that "abusive language will not be tolerated."

C'mon, if you couldn't use abusive language, it wouldn't be Philadelphia.

I believe everyone may be rushing to judgment on struggling Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, but the team deserves some credit for having the foresight to include a vesting option in his contract and shouldn't be criticized for redistributing some of the playing time at first base because of his lack of production.

The purpose of a vesting option is to protect the club against just the kind of dramatic downturn in performance that has placed Palmeiro's future with the team in doubt. It's smart business, which Palmeiro should understand since he employed the it's-just-business rationale to leave the Orioles in 1998 after owner Peter Angelos helped him get his brother out of Cuba.

Ravens senior director of finance Jeff Goering was shocked to open the paper on Thursday and find himself right smack in the middle of the "Who's the Man" controversy.

"But after successfully dodging the media frenzy, I arrived at the conclusion that I should remain as just `The Man who pays the bills,' " Goering wrote in an e-mail Friday. "Basically, no one seemed interested in my autograph unless it came on the lower right-hand corner of a check."

Comedian Jay Leno on the Olympics: "The gold medal went to Cuba for baseball. I'm not surprised Cuba won the baseball. I am surprised Cuba didn't also win the rowing."

The final thought for today comes from Don of Norrisville, who wondered if it's time to give Deion Sanders a new nickname.

"Since Deion is now just a nickel back," Don wrote, "shouldn't he be called `Part-time?' "

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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