All posts by Matt Veasey

Retired following a three decade career with the Philadelphia Police Department. Lifelong Philadelphia resident. Graduate of Saint Joseph's University. Married with three children, two grandchildren. Conservative-leaning Republican politically and socially. Practicing Roman Catholic. Philly 4x4 sports fan. Huge baseball fan.

Phillies have something real in Adam Haseley

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Haseley has enjoyed a fine rookie season with the Phillies

 

For the Philadelphia Phillies, an injury-marred season is now winding down to a disappointing finish. It appears more likely with each passing day that there will be no postseason baseball at Citizens Bank Park.

For an eighth straight year there will be no cool October nights filled with playoff drama for fans to enjoy as the calendar and the weather turns to fall.

However, there will always be some positive developments to be taken away from even the most disheartening campaigns. For fans of the Phillies, the play of rookie outfielder Adam Haseley should be one such positive.

Had it not been for the devastating torn left ACL to Andrew McCutchen‘s left knee that prematurely ended the veteran outfielder’s season at the start of June, we probably would not be talking about Haseley in this manner.

In the immediate aftermath of the McCutchen injury, the Phillies promoted Haseley for the first time to help provide some outfield depth in the short term. It was only an emergency measure, and Haseley would play in just two games before being returned to the minor leagues.

The club had traded for veteran Jay Bruce to bolster their bench. Now, Bruce was going to be forced into an everyday role. Unfortunately, after more than a month of solid play, Bruce was also lost to injury.

Haseley had been enjoying a strong season in the minor leagues, one that saw the 23-year-old receive his first promotion to the Triple-A level. He was slashing .275/.360/.481 with 10 home runs, 26 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs, and 38 runs scored.

That production, combined with his display of maturity as a person, resulted in the Phillies bringing Haseley back to the majors. Within days of his return, Bruce suffered a strained right oblique. Returning three weeks later, an arm injury would immediately put Bruce back on the Injured List until early September.

It has been the combination of injuries to McCutchen and Bruce that has opened the door for Haseley to receive far more playing time in Major League Baseball than the Phillies could even have imagined when the season opened.

The youngster struggled for awhile to find his footing while adjusting to pitching talent at the highest level of professional baseball. On August 25, he was hitting just .233 over his first 129 plate appearances.

It was two days later that things began to turn for Haseley. A two-hit night at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates started a streak of three straight multi-hit games, and it all began to click.

Over the last 17 games, Haseley has slashed .327/.431/.531 with a half-dozen extra-base hits and eight runs scored in 58 plate appearances.

In addition to a more consistent level of offensive production, Haseley has begun to put together an impressive highlight reel of fantastic defensive plays.

Haseley has mostly appeared in center field, making 25 starts there with another four appearances in the middle of the Phillies outfield. However, manager Gabe Kapler has not hesitated to use him on the corners either. Haseley has appeared in 18 games out in left field (14 starts) and nine games in right field, including seven starts.

Even with the emergence of veteran Corey Dickerson as an impact player following his acquisition at the July 31 trade deadline and the return of Bruce, Haseley has remained an almost daily fixture in the Phillies lineup.

This is exactly the level of play that a team expects from their top draft picks. Haseley, an Orlando, Florida native, was the Phillies selection at eighth overall in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of the University of Virginia.

One area in which Kapler has been somewhat babying the lefty-hitting Haseley has been in facing southpaw pitching. Scott Lauber at The Philadelphia Inquirer recently quoted the Phillies manager on his thinking in limiting his rookie outfielder’s exposure to left-handers:

He has historically hit left-handed pitching, but we are trying to kind of ease him into this role with some sensitivity and try to set up Hase for success. One of the ways to do that is to try to look for the matchups that might be especially difficult and give him a break in those matchups.

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In looking forward to next season and beyond the question will be, how do the Phillies envision Haseley’s role? Bryce Harper will be manning right field for the foreseeable future. McCutchen will be ready to return in spring training and is signed for at least two more years through the 2021 season. Bruce is signed through next season and should also be back.

Have the Phillies seen enough to hand Haseley the everyday starting center field role for the 2020 season? Will they try to re-sign Dickerson and use Haseley as a backup across all three outfield positions for the next couple of years?

Whatever their ultimate long-term plans, the Phillies seem to have found something in Haseley. Whether he can become a star, even an everyday player for a truly contending team, remains debatable. But he has demonstrated the talent to be counted on as a valuable contributor for years to come.

 

MLB 2019 Power Ranking: Mid-September

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The Oakland Athletics ascend to the top of the MLB Power Rankings as we head down the stretch

 

For the fourth straight period, my hometown Philadelphia Phillies find themselves at 14th overall in the 2019 MLB Power Rankings as we reach the stretch run in the middle of September.

The club also remains ranked in the 7th position among teams from the National League. Sitting at four games behind the 9th-ranked Chicago Cubs in the actual race for the final NL Wildcard playoff berth, the Phillies 2019 season is now officially on life support. They still have not won five games in a row all year long.

The Phillies embark on a three-city, 11-game road trip taking them to Atlanta (3), Cleveland (3) and Washington (5) leading up to a season-ending series at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins. The Fish have the worst record in the National League, but sport a winning 9-7 mark against the Phillies this season.

As stated each period, my own  feelings have no input into these MLB Power Rankings. Instead, each team’s position is all about actual performance: their results in the standings, as well as key statistical categories.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

My formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon.

Currently, that formula is made up of the following categories: winning percentage, runs-per-gameOPS against, and “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs.

However, as the current season has unfolded, some teams have improved dramatically while others have slipped. So, here in September, overall winning percentage has been replaced by each team’s win percentage over their most recent 30 games.

The ‘Win-Loss’ component reflects each team’s ability to actually win ball games. ‘OPS against’ reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.

The runs-per-game component acknowledges that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.

Each club’s place in the four component categories gets them assigned a 1-30 numerical value. Those are added up to determine a final ranking points total.

Where there are any ties, those are broken using each team’s winning percentage over the last 30, and then by their current overall winning percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 SEPTEMBER 16 –  MLB RANKINGS

The Oakland Athletics have made a dramatic surge up the Power Rankings over the course of the summer. At 8th place in the first rankings back on June 1, Oakland fell to 12th on June 15.

But then by July 1, the A’s had risen to become the 5th-ranked ball club. They have remained in the top five ever since, finishing as runners-up to the Houston Astros on Labor Day.

Houston ranked first back on both June 15 and July 1, then returned to the top on Labor Day, and now flip places with Oakland.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were the National League’s top team for most of the summer. But on Labor Day they were passed by the Atlanta Braves. Now, both Atlanta and the red-hot Saint Louis Cardinals are ahead of the Dodgers among the NL ball clubs.

The Dodgers, however, have clinched their seventh consecutive NL West Division crown. The following are the “Magic Number” for each team to clinch their respective division title:

AL East: New York – 3, AL Central: Minnesota – 9, AL West: Houston – 5, NL East: Atlanta – 4, NL Central: Saint Louis – 12. Teams have between 11 and 13 games remaining on their 2019 regular season schedules.

In addition, each league’s Wildcard race features three teams within three games of one another in the loss column in the battle for two available spots. In the AL those are Oakland (60), Tampa Bay (62) and Cleveland (63), while in the NL the teams are Washington (66), Chicago (68) and Milwaukee (69).

In parentheses below are each team’s total ranking points this period, as well as their place in the last Power Rankings back on Labor Day.

  1. Oakland Athletics (15-2)
  2. Houston Astros (23-1)
  3. Atlanta Braves (28-3)
  4. Saint Louis Cardinals (33-6)
  5. Minnesota Twins (33-5)
  6. Los Angeles Dodgers (35-4)
  7. Washington Nationals (37-7)
  8. Tampa Bay Rays (37-11)
  9. Chicago Cubs (37-12)
  10. New York Yankees (39-9)
  11. Boston Red Sox (42-13)
  12. Cleveland Indians (42-10)
  13. Arizona Diamondbacks (42-8)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies (52-14)
  15. Milwaukee Brewers (65-19)
  16. New York Mets (65-15)
  17. San Diego Padres (68-16)
  18. Los Angeles Angels (70-17)
  19. Cincinnati Reds (71-18)
  20. Texas Rangers (74-20)
  21. San Francisco Giants (74-21)
  22. Kansas City Royals (80-23)
  23. Colorado Rockies (81-24)
  24. Pittsburgh Pirates (89-22)
  25. Seattle Mariners (90-28)
  26. Toronto Blue Jays (95-25)
  27. Miami Marlins (95-26)
  28. Chicago White Sox (99-27)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (107-29)
  30. Detroit Tigers (113-30)

The next MLB Power Rankings will be the final for the 2019 regular season. They will be released here following the final game of the regular season.

However, if there are any play-in games for a Wildcard berth, the final rankings will include and be released following any such game(s) played.

Sunday Sermon: The prodigal son

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Over the years, I have written more than 130 pieces under the topic of Faith. Each of those articles are slowly being re-introduced in this newly formatted website, available by visiting that section of the tool bar.

There have also been more than 70 pieces within a special ‘Sunday Sermon’ series. Those articles specifically come out on Sundays. The most recent piece in the series and on faith topics in general came all the way back in January 2018.

Today’s article marks a return to both the topic and the series. You can look for future ‘Sunday Sermon’ pieces at least every other Sunday from here on out.

Catholics who attend Mass around the world today heard one of the most famous teachings of Jesus. Coming from the New Testament’s Book of Luke, it was the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Basically, the parable goes like this:

A wealthy man has two sons. The younger one goes to him and asks for his inheritance. The father grants his wish, and that son goes off to squander his newfound fortune by living a hedonistic lifestyle, eventually becoming destitute.

That is the very meaning of the word, by the way. Prodigal means to spend money or resources freely and recklessly in a wasteful and often extravagant manner.

In the parable, a famine hits the land. That young son, now poor and ashamed, hires himself out as a laborer. His new master sends the young man out into the fields to tend the hogs, where the young man is so hungry that he wishes he could eat at least what was being fed to the animals.

Then it dawned on the young man that his own father’s servants were treated better than this. They had plenty to eat. So, he decides to return home, beg forgiveness, and hopefully be hired as a servant by his father.

While all that was happening, the older son had remained at home, working hard to help the father maintain his estate. In fact, that older son was out working on the land one day as the younger son suddenly returned home.

As the father was informed of the younger son’s return after many months away, he ran out to enthusiastically greet his son with a warm hug and kiss.

The young son said to his father “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

But the father would have none of it. He ordered his servants to prepare a great feast for this returned prodigal son, saying “this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

As the feast was taking place, the older son returns from working hard all day. He saw one of the servants, who informed him as to what was happening.

The older son then confronted the father:

All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!

The father responds:

My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

There are many lessons that can be learned from this wonderful parable. But one of the most important is a reminder from Jesus that, no matter how far away we may have strayed in our lives, our Father is always waiting with open arms to welcome us back.

In the story, this is an earthly father welcoming back his son, who had learned a difficult lesson the hard way. How many of us can fully relate? Probably every single one of us.

But more important is that you should know that, no matter how long you have been away from the Lord, no matter how far away you may have strayed, you can always turn around and come back.

The decision is yours. If you haven’t prayed in awhile, set a few moments aside, and say a prayer asking for help. If you have been away from church, give it another chance. If you have turned your back on God, turn back towards Him.

He will always be there with outstretched arms, waiting happily to welcome you back, just as that father did with his young son in Jesus’ parable.

Book Review: America, the Last Best Hope

 

If your child attends an American public school that teaches them a U.S. history course, take a look some time at their text book.

Assuming you are someone who actually believes that the teaching of this subject matters, you just might be shocked.

For decades now, many American educational systems have been moving away from teaching a genuine history of the United States. Instead, a politically correct and sanitized version is often taught, highlighting episodes within that history that are important to so-called progressives.

In a January 2017 article for the New York Post titled “Why schools have stopped teaching American history“, Karol Markowicz included the following:

A 2014 report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that an abysmal 18 percent of American high school kids were proficient in US history.

The NAEP is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Their goal is to help students, parents, teachers, and principals “inform decisions about how to improve the education system in our country.”

If any educational system in the country truly wants to present American history to high school students, even any college or university, they would do well to use  “America: The Last Best Hope” by Bill Bennett.

Bennett released the title in a first volume back in 2006. That book covered the period from Columbus in 1492 through the lead-up to World War I in 1914.

The 573 pages in the original volume are packed with 525 of actual history. It also includes a five-page introduction from the author and a comprehensive notes and index at the back.

Volume I includes topics such as the settlement of the New World, the revolution of the colonies, the founding and early years of the American republic, westward expansion, the Civil War, post-war reconstruction, and the emergence of American industrialism.

In 2007, Bennett released “Volume 2”, which picked up where the first book left off and covered most of the 20th century, right through the 1989 end of Ronald Reagan’s second presidential term.

With “Volume 2”, the topics included World Wars I and II, with the roaring 20’s, stock market crash, the Great Depression, the rise of worldwide fascism, and FDR’s ‘New Deal’ in between.

It then moves through the post-war era, the rise of American political and economic might during the 1950’s, the social turmoil of the 1960’s, the politically turbulent 1970’s, and finally into the Reagan revival.

In it’s 592 pages there can be found another 533 pages of history, with just a short introduction, but with the same comprehensive notes and index provided with the first volume.

In 2011, Bennett returned to the series, including American history from “the collapse of communism to the rise of radical Islam” in a more brief 352 page continuation.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Bill Bennett turned 76 years of age on July 31, 2019. He is a graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts, with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas, and a J.D. from Harvard University.

One of the most respected political theorists and pundits of the last three decades, Bennett was chairman for the National Endowment of the Humanities from 1981-85. He then served in President Reagan’s cabinet as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 1985-88, and held the position of Director of the Office of National Drug Policy under the first President Bush.

The author of more than two dozen books, Bennett is currently a senior advisor to Project Lead the Way, which is considered to be one of the leading providers of training and curriculum to improve STEM education in American schools. He is involved in numerous other educational causes as well.

Due to be released in October of this year is a massive new edition of “America: The Last Best Hope“, which will integrate all three of the original volumes into one book.

All three volumes were not only informative, but each was genuinely enjoyable to read. This new, fully integrated edition would make an outstanding text book for any legitimate class on United States history.

However, this is not to be considered as only that – a text book for intellectual pursuits. Bennett has put together a tremendous history of America from its very beginnings right up through recent years that is readable and enjoyable for everyone.

I highly recommend “America: The Last Best Hope” for anyone who loves our nation, and for anyone who truly wants a well-written, all-encompassing history of the United States.

Buy it in the three original volumes and enjoy one at a time, as I did, or wait for the new concatenated version to be released in October. That version will be available in hard cover, paperback, or for your device, and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon and many other outlets.

And if you are a fan of Bennett who would like something a bit more collector-worthy (not to mention expensive), well, there is a beautiful leather-bound version of the first two volumes available from The Easton Press at that link, autographed by the author.

9/11: All Americans should visit the memorials

Yours truly, posing with two of New York’s finest during our visit to the WTC Memorial site in 2015

 

On September 11, 2001, the United States of America came under attack by Islamofascists who were representative of millions around the world who hated – who, in fact, still hate – our way of life.

Thousands of Americans were killed and injured. The iconic Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York fell. The eye of the Pentagon, the very home of American security, was blackened, with more than a hundred more killed.

And in a previously anonymous field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, United Air Lines Flight 93 exploded into the ground. All 44 people on board were killed, including a number of brave passengers who rushed the terrorists who had overpowered the crew and taken command of their plane.

As with every September 11th since that fateful day, AmericanS remember. Just as with the attack on our nation that occurred on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, we will never, ever forget.

We watch on television and our devices as the President delivers a message to the nation. The roll of names will be read of those who were killed at the various locations in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. They are pictures and sounds that most of us have seen and heard in some version for 18 years now.

But there is another thing that I would recommend every American should do at some point. Actually plan a trip and go to the site of each of these memorials.

In late summer 2015, my wife and I undertook a trip to Manhattan. We stayed at the World Center Hotel, with a room overlooking the World Trade Center memorial site. We visited the memorial area, and went to the top of the new Freedom Tower.

The 9/11 memorial park itself, in the very footprint of the former Twin Towers, is a moving place of reflection adjacent to a beautiful, serene park.

Freedom Tower, formally known now as One World Trade Center, is a majestic, powerful symbol of America’s ability to recover and thrive after attack and disaster.

It was a trip that I am so very glad now that we took. I have not yet been to the Pentagon, or to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They are absolutely on my personal bucket list.

I would encourage all Americans to make a trip to each of these memorials. Being there in person, at the very place where so much death, destruction and carnage took place on that day, really brings it all home so much more powerfully than any television image.

Below are links to many of the official memorial sites and other valuable resources to help plan your trips.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Areas of the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial will be closed for lighting repairs and construction, due to be open fully again by late May 2020.

NEW YORK

PENNSYLVANIA

WASHINGTON, D.C.

READ MORE

(previous related pieces that I’ve published)

7.07.2005 – Hello, American liberals? London calling

11.28.2007 – Seven signs of terrorism

7.23.2008 – Islamism Series: Introduction

9.11.2008 – Incredible 9/11 video

12.30.2008 – American of the Year: George W. Bush

9.11.2009 – 9/11: Not the first attack on America, won’t be the last

9.11.2009 – Where were you?

9.11.2011 – 9/11: Are we expected to forgive?

9.11.2013 – How long will we “Never forget”?