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Today is:
Kovack's Takes
By Bob Kovack

Farewell to Abreu, Now Spend the Money

The Philadelphia Phillies needed to change the face of this franchise for at least the past decade and the trading of the unmotivated, lethargic, Bobby "stay away from the wall" Abreu is a step in the right direction. The Phillies traded Abreu, along with marginal starting pitcher Cory Lidle, to the New York Yankees for four minor league prospects on the day before the trade deadline.

It is deal that was a long time coming and a deal that had to be made.

At face value this may look like a lopsided trade in favor of the Yankees. Many argue that Phillies general manager, Pat Gillick did not get enough in return for a career .300 hitter, who had an on-base
percentage around .400 nearly every season. Abreu was and is a talented ball player, but Phillies fans had seen enough of his lackadaisical effort in the outfield, to go along with his poor performance (walks not withstanding) in the clutch.

Abreu may do fine with the Yankees as he should be able to blend into the background of Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yankees stars, but in Philadelphia, Abreu had worn out his welcome. It was simply not going to
work anymore with him in right field and the middle of the lineup. Abreu should have been able to do more, but he continuously came up small in terms of leading the Phillies and in the end is just another baseball player who put up big numbers, but had nothing to show for it.

The Phillies would have loved to obtain a number one or two starting pitcher for Abreu or even some major league ready talent, but unfortunately that was not possible. In today's game, like most sports it is about money and unloading contracts. The Phillies now have saved themselves over $22 million in salary by dealing Abreu and that alone was worth the trade.

Now with that being said, there has to be another part to this. That money needs to be well spent. Gillick must go out and spend that money this off-season to improve this franchise. Trading Abreu was great, but if the Phillies sit on the money, even the biggest of Abreu haters, cannot spin this trade as a successful one.

Gillick is a proven winner and has earned the faith of fans (for now) to be patient and give him opportunity to turn things around. Everybody understands he inherited a huge mess from Ed Wade of large contracts, with no-trade clauses. The trading of Abreu, along with Bell and the imminent departure of Mike Lieberthal after this season gives Gillick plenty of money to make some key moves by opening day 2007.

Real baseball fans celebrated when Abreu was dealt and have confidence that Gillick can get the job done, but his one-year honeymoon period is almost over. Gillick needs to start putting a better product on the field or come 2007 those same knowledgeable fans patience will be no longer.

Plans for Christmas?

Yes, Christmas is still four months away, but Philadelphia sports' fans need to start getting their excuses ready now to sit in front of the television and movie screen Christmas evening.

Gentlemen, get your "family time" in during the daytime hours, open the kids' presents and have dinner with in-laws early because this year December 25 is for us. It does not get any better than the Philadelphia Eagles versus the despised Dallas Cowboys at 5pm Christmas night, and in case your forget a certain number 81 will be prancing around like Rudolph for the Cowboys too.

Then after throwing back some egg nog or cold beers (whatever you prefer) while watching the Eagles dismantle T.O. and the Cowgirls, gather up the troops to head on over to your local movie theater.

That is right after three plus hours of Eagles football, Philadelphians are able to view Rocky VI, which opens Christmas night. We all know that Rocky V was a bit of a stretch, but Rocky is still Rocky and is beloved in this city. Unfortunately he has been the only champion around here for a while, but we do not need to go there. So follow up an Eagles game with the final Rocky and you have a Christmas for the ages.

A Merry early Christmas and happy holidays to all and to T.O. good

No Room for Fantasy in NFL

The kickoff of another football season is only a few days away and  have already been invited to join about 15 NFL fantasy leagues. I'll pass, thank you very much.

The mere title of it, "fantasy" says it all and there is no place for it in football. Fantasy football is not real and news flash, nobody cares about how many yards your running back had in the Sunday night game to put you within five points of the league title.

Fantasy football is weak and real NFL fans should stay away from it. There is nothing worse then sitting at a local establishment watching the Eagles and hearing some knucklehead jump up and shout because the
Saints defense just recorded a safety against the Titans.

At first, I pause give the guy the benefit of the doubt and say something like "hey man how much are you laying with the Saints." That is followed up with a perplexed look and, "huh, I have the Saints defense this week for my fantasy and if Tiki runs for over 82 yards tonight I'm only 55 points out of second." Enough already, it is a bogus thing for people with short attention spans, who know nothing about football. These same people will spend about $1000 in 6 different fantasy leagues, but refuse to put up five dollars for the weekly office pool or buy a round of beverages for that matter.

These are the same people who sit in on Saturday night playing "dungeons and dragons" and play on-line poker all night because they are too scared to sit down and play with human beings (note that playing online
poker in addition to regular poker is okay).

We do not live in a fantasy world and people love fantasy football because it is a pathetic escape from reality. I know it is more popular now then ever before, but I refuse to join the masses in participating in this ridiculous act.

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