Bowa's Talk Both Smart and Stupid

Larry Bowa came to town for the first time since being deposed as manager of the Phillies and didn't waste much time stirring the pot. As reporters hung on his every word, he didn't disappoint in his pearls of both candor.

Larry Bowa says what he's thinking. He's done that pretty much all throughout his career and he's not about to stop now.

There were plenty of little trinkets that he dropped for the Philadelphia media. Stories of how he would have to call Jimmy Rollins into his office every three weeks or so because Rollins "would get caught up in being J-Roll." The former manager talked of having to bring Rollins back to Earth. Funny, since Pete Rose routinely tells a story of one of his first times in the Phillies' clubhouse. The story has Bowa bragging up his career numbers to Greg Luzinski and Rose stepping in to sort of bring Bowa back to Earth and throwing some numbers back at Bowa. Maybe Larry was caught up in being L-Bo.

Probably the biggest story of Bowa's visit actually came on a New York radio station. WFAN had Bowa on their Mike and Mad Dog show to talk about how he was enjoying his visit to the City of Brotherly Love. On those airwaves, Bowa dropped this little gem: "I was talking to him[Abreu] and he says, 'Maybe sometimes a change of scenery is good.'" Bowa later went on WIP in Philadelphia and backed off his comments only very slightly, leaving the impression that Abreu was looking to get out of town. In his revised version of the conversation, Bowa said it was he that brought up the change of scenery issue. "It looked like something was bothering him," Bowa said of his pregame get-together with Abreu. "I said, 'What's wrong?' He said that he's taking a little beating, and I said, 'Sometimes a change of scenery is good.'"

Of course, the Philadelphia folks picked up on all of this and went to Abreu. ""No, I didn't say that. I mean, I talked to him. I talked to him for a long time [Monday]. I don't remember telling him that," said Abreu with a nervous sort of chuckle.

When you look at Abreu's comments, they're very interesting. In the matter of a two sentences, he goes from a complete denial to an Oliver North sort of denial, blaming it all on his memory. Interesting.

However true Bowa's comments to WFAN were, they were stupid. Baseball frowns on a thing called tampering and if Bowa did talk to Abreu, who has been the subject of trade rumors to the Yankees, that could be construed as tampering. To go on radio stations in two major media markets and repeat the comments would push it over that tampering line completely. Actually, Bowa's WIP version of the discussion is even more damning since he - a coach with a team that Abreu is rumored to be dealt to - brings up how good a change of scenery could be. Sort of a selling point for a player who has a no-trade clause that would have to be waived for a deal to go through. Stupid.

Bowa's visit did bring this little pearl of wisdom though: "You can point fingers at the manager or the coach or the batting instructor or whatever. "But when the numbers are the same after six or seven 7 years, maybe you have to look somewhere else," said Bowa. "It's easy to blame the pitching coach or the hitting coach or the manager. But the numbers consistently do the same thing every year. It doesn't matter if a guy's hard or a guy's easy or a guy's soft or a guy's tough - the numbers are the same. Dallas Green's old philosophy: Sometimes you've got to look in the mirror."

The Phillies have changed managers and general managers, but neither move has made a difference so far. Granted, Pat Gillick hasn't had much time on the job, but his impact hasn't been at all what was expected. Perhaps the problem with the Phillies is the players. Terry Francona had many of these same players and struggled as the manager of the Phillies, so did Bowa and so is Charlie Manuel. Perhaps this group of players simply can't put it all together, no matter who is managing them. Maybe the Phillies need more mirrors in the clubhouse. Smart.

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