Final Countdown…

 

Since my last post some
things happened that should have happened and some things happened that
were unlikely to happen. They are almost irrelevant since they all would
have happened eventually.

If you understood that psycho
babble then you need read no further, alternatively, just for the hell
of it you could keep on reading just to find out if you analyzed and
decoded my psychotic ramblings about the weeks changes in the divisions.

AL East

As much as it pains me to
read the constant joyous writings of my preferred Yankee
bloggers
, I have to admit, I have all week continued to torture
myself by reading the constant jubilations of such bloggers who have
shown their humor, while proving a contagious sickness exists among Yankee
fans, blogging of their unambiguous support during a week which has seen
the Yankees clinching a playoff berth, to actually winning
the AL east division
,  while enjoying a 5 game winning streak.
When less than a week ago the Yankees magic number was 9
and it looked as though it may take them into the middle of this week to
finalize the division, they did it all in 6 days and I am sure that
there are some Yankee fans who will become even more
delusional about 6 days of work and a day of rest.

AL Central

The Detroit Tigers
are probably the only divisional leading team that while reducing the
magic  number have also managed to reduced the division lead and
with a series starting against the second place Twins, the
Tigers are in jeopardy of losing that slim lead and being
classified as the American League’s choke artist’s much the same as the New
York Mets
are in the National League. The Tigers are
just a .500 team at home this year when facing the Twins
which could mean they will stay as is, in the division, unless the Twins
have a little more desire and fight than the Tigers.
This is definitely going to go down to the last couple of games of the
season. With the Tigers being 5-5 over their last 10
games
and the Twins being 8-2 over their last 10
games
, I have to say the edge goes to the Twins.

AL West

Although the Angels
haven’t clinched yet their magic number is down to 2 and like Detroit
they start a 4 games series against the second place team. This series
is a little different though, the Angels only need to take
1 out of 4 to win the division, in fact they only need to take 2 out of
their last 7 games. Now you wouldn’t think that would be too much of a
challenge, however some Angels fans must be biting their
nails this week, since the Angels lost the mid month make
up game to the Yankees they have been on a somewhat
downward spiral. Still I think 2 games out of the next 7 is a comfortable
task for the Angels and will become division
champions before the end of the week.

NL
East

The Phillies
having completed a 10 game road trip going just 5-5, due to more bullpen
woes, they have managed to reduce their magic number to 3 and
eliminated the Marlins from the divisional race, however
the Braves are still hanging around. The Phillies
have their final 7 games at home and although they close out the season
hosting the Marlins who are sure to be looking to extract
revenge, I believe the Phillies will have clinched the
division before that series gets underway.

NL
Central

The Cardinals
had the least amount of work to do last week to clinch the division and
although they only went 5-5 during their last 10 games managed to seal
the division championship, however one noticeable thing has come to
light during the celebrations the Cardinals enjoyed…

…this picture of Holliday
and Pujols, who else thinks this makes the pride and joy of at
least half of RSBS
look gay, it must raise the question "What is Albert’s right hand
gripping or fondling?"
. If you didn’t know they were in the clubhouse
celebrating then you would think they were just exiting a club somewhere
in San Francisco, maybe. Okay, as unlikely as this maybe,
since he’s married with 3 kids and a devout
Christian,
he certainly has that look.

AL
West

The Dodgers
having clinched a post season place are still looking to win the division
this week. In fact they should be able to seal the deal with the
breakfast meeting against the Pirates today.

AL
Wild Card

The BoSox have
all but taken this, with the few games they have left the Rangers
will find it very hard to make a run now even with the Red Sox at
the start of a losing streak, they themselves are doing no better. The Red
Sox
should have this clinched by the end of the week.

NL
Wild Card

Like the AL Central
race this is a close one, and will probably go down to the final weekend
of play. The Rockies may have the upper hand, but are only
2 1/2 games up on the HOT Braves at the moment.
While the Rockies play host to the Brewers,
which will be tough, especially as the Brewers just
completed a good series against the Phillies, the Braves
are hosting the Marlins, who have just been ousted from
the division race by the Mets. Look for the late charge
from the Braves to come through and clinch this Wild
Card.

 

Streaks
Win
streaks
Braves with 6 games  and the Yankees
with 5 games. Losing streaksBaltimore with 10
games.

Spoilers

the Mets have killed what was left of the Marlins hopes
the CWS have prevented the Tigers
from getting any kind of lead built up…

Race… the
tightest race is still the AL Central, with the Tigers
poised to crumble against the Twins. The NL Wild
Card
should see the Braves over take the Rockies
and clinch this coming weekend.

My message to the Phillies:

 

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Birthday Shout-Out on Phillies last Day Off

 

A Happy Birthday shout out
to my younger brother who’s older than he wants to be, a father of 3 and
another on the way…

Since he’s lives in England
he’s not a baseball fan, but he’s an English football fan, and he
supports Liverpool, which I guess is kind of like being a Yankee fan,
once upon a time they won most things, but now it’s just a dream.

The football fans in England
tend to sing a lot at games in support of their team, so for his
birthday here’s the fans of Liverpool, known locally as the Kop singing their long time anthem.

 

 

It is tough to imagine,
Anfield, home to the Liverpool Football Club has had a record attendance
of just under 62,000. Although the video gives you a good idea of what
it’s like, you would have to imagine over half of a sold out baseball
stadium singing in unison to understand the full effect of being at a
game.

Baseball
Update:

as of 2 pm eastern time on
the 21st of September 2009…

Cardinals magic
number is  4

Phillies magic number
is  6

Angels magic number
is 7

Dodgers magic number
is 8

Yankees magic number
is 9

Tigers magic number
is 11

 


MOUNTAINS to CLIMB…

 

A million dollar hole in one
(Golf), a $25,000 message on shoes (NFL), mountains to climb (MLB)…

 

American
League Mountains…

 

Yankees – without
question lead the AL east 6 games up on the BoSox with
just 14 games left to play, at the extreme they have to play better than
.500 ball for the rest of the season. The last week of the regular
season is going to be the easiest week for the Yankees and should have
no problems winning this division.

Detroit – are
currently the AL central leaders, I say currently, because
they are the team most likely to blow their post season chances, having
just a 3 game lead and still 6 games left against the Twins. Detroit
has a 4-8 record against the Twins this season, which puts
the odds in the favor of the Twins to clinch the division.

Angels – are
favorites for the AL west, holding a 7 1/2 game lead,
although they have 6 games left against the Rangers and are only
4-9 against them this season, they should be able to hold a lead in the
division based on the other teams they play. Still with 15 games left
they have to play better than .500 ball through the end of the season.

Boston – look set to
clinch the AL wild card, with 16 games left they have what
should be the easiest schedule left in the season of AL
teams, still they will have to play better than .500 ball to get a post
season spot.

 

National
League Mountains…

 

Phillies – sitting on
an 8 game lead in the NL east have 8 games left against
division rivals, with 16 games left to play just 1 game better then .500
ball will give them a third division title in a row.

Cardinals – with the
largest divisional lead in MLB currently at 10 games, they
are odds on favorites for the NL central. A fairly safe
schedule left for the Cards, they are now fighting for
home field advantage and of course pride against the Cubs.

Dodgers – still have
the hardest challenge in the NL to clinch their division,
they are in a much better place now than they were a week ago and so are
now looking like favorites for the NL west, especially
since they probably have the easiest schedule left of all the NL
division leaders.

Colorado – sit on top
of the NL wild card at the moment, but with just 4 1/2
games covering the top 4 teams this is the race that should be where the
excitement is right down to the last couple of days of the regular
season. The 4 teams in the hunt for the NL wild card
probably have similar schedule strengths, with maybe Florida
having the hardest and the Giants having the easiest.

More…

Streaks… I
have decided that 5 or more games in a row are the only ones worth a
mention under streaks, so the current streaks. Win streaksPhillies
with 6 games  and the Twins and Oakland
with 5 games. Losing streaksIndians and Mets
with 6 games and the Astros and Rangers with
5 games.

Spoilers
the Royals have killed what was left of the CWS hopesthe
Mariners
are currently trying to do as much harm as they can to
the Yankees… the Reds are trying to end the hopes of the
Marlins… the D’Backs are beating up on the Rockies…

Race… the
tightest race is now the AL central, with the Tigers
looking as though they are about to crumble under the pressure, when
your website’s slogan is: "The Pennant Race Is On"
you know you have problems. The NL wild card has the most
teams locked in a battle. This will heat up next week and I believe we
will see the Giants and the Braves emerge as
the two fighting for the winning spot.

 

My choices at this time
still put the Angels and the Yankees in the ALCS and
the Cards and the Phillies in the NLCS.

It is September ball and we
all know that can change in a matter of a week….

For the
Phillies and Charlie this week Thanksgiving comes early…

…being
thankful for what you’ve got …  Got Phillies !!!


Cap Tip, Double Take, Spotlight and More…

 

In a week when individual
sports showed how easy it is to lose just because of a temper tantrum
and the NFL got underway with the first week of games. Well done to the
Eagles.

Cap
Tip…

Pedro Martinez has
put in 2 very good performances back to back, I for one am very
surprised. He has come close to self destructing each outing in the
first few innings, but he has got through it and gone on to pitch well,
Sunday night against the Mets especially. Pedro went 8
innings, at least 6 of them were showing a slight resemblance of the 29
year old Martinez, throwing 130 pitches on the night he
struck out 7 and walked 2, he only gave up 6 hits… so well done Pedro…

 

 

Double
Take…

The Phillies played
the Nats last week and the Nats played the spoiler
in 1 game, but the double take was when the Nats
played one of the emerging stars to be from the Washington organization,
a little known short stop named ‘Ian Desmond‘, who has some
pretty big shoes to fill, not because he’s destined to replace a great Nats
player, but because he is being highlighted in likeness, actions and mannerisms
to another short stop in the majors….the player they are a likening
him too reached his own milestone this week…. if you didn’t guess this
one then where have you been this weekend, cause lets face it sports
media has really only talked of one short stop…now you’ve got it…Derek
Jeter
…Who became the new Yankees most hits record
holder… well done Jeter, the Yankees
actually kept a player long enough to achieve this, so well done Yankees
too…but I digress, the look-a-like, act-a-like Nats
upcoming short stop Ian Desmond and Derek Jeter, you
decide….

 

 

The
Spotlight…

The Phillies
starting pitchers do well, they get the glory and the win, the pitchers
from the pen get a hold or a save they get the glory, but what of the
guy behind the plate calling the pitches, or blocking that one in the
dirt, giving the pitchers a target to throw at, or saving a stolen base
with a throw. The catcher, where’s his glory, okay so a catcher has
stats like all players, but mostly if the pitcher throws the ball where
the catcher sets up he doesn’t get smacked around, and in the case of
the Phillies the man behind the mask is Carlos Ruiz. Obviously
not all catchers are equal, some are hitters, but cant throw very well,
some aren’t that good at calling a game and get the signs from the dug
out, some just cant throw very well, and some cant block a really good
slider in the dirt. Ruiz I think is good at all the roles
a catcher plays and yet is in the shadow of the starting rotation or pen
most of the time. So here’s my way of putting the spotlight on one of
the best unsung hero’s the Phillies have on the team and without
question one of the best catchers in the NL…

 

 

and
More…

Streaks… the
only real streak going on this week is that of the Tampa Bay Rays
and unfortunately it’s a losing streak, so my hopes of a repeat of the
2008 World Series clash has been dashed, even if they win every last
game the hopes that the other teams in the Wild Card race would lose
enough to enable them to make it are slim to none.

Spoilers
the O’s have taken a couple from the Yankees… the
Nats
took a couple from the Marlins… the Jays
took a couple from the Tigers… the Braves took 3 from
the Cards… the Padres took a couple from the Rockies
most of the other teams destined for the playoffs only gave up 1 loss to
non-contenders.

Race… the
tightest race is still the NL West, although the Dodgers don’t
seem to be giving any ground and maybe the Rockies peaked
to soon, with the Giants and Rockies getting ready
to play each other, the Dodgers get a chance to extend the
lead by hosting the Pirates…

 

My choices at this time
will put the Angels and the Yankees in the ALCS and
the Cards and the Phillies in the NLCS.

It is September ball and we
all know that can change in a matter of a week….

For the
Phillies it remains the same for this guy…

…make the right choices and
the Phillies can be in the post season shooting for a repeat, the
wrong choices and the season ends October 4th.


The Race is on…

Race for the N.L. East Division Title…

Looking at how the Phillies have been playing of late, I thought this division was going to be the closest run contest, but having seen how the Rockies and Dodgers are playing, the N.L. West could produce the biggest upset in September.

The teams in the N.L. East will all play a major role in the way this division unfolds during September, everybody plays everybody, so I am going to do a brief review of each team and the role they could play.

The Washington Nationals (47-90) in my opinion will have the biggest impact on the outcome of this division race. There current strategy seems to be reviewing players and setting up the team to go into the off season, so they can best decide who to trade and who to keep, plus they are looking at what areas they will need to fill during the off-season so as to not end up with the worst record in baseball in the 2010 season.

The Nats play everyone in the division which means they will be a spoiler and a helper, who they will help and who’s hope’s they will spoil is yet to be seen. They could even have a hand in the N.L. West with (2) 3 games still scheduled against the Dodgers. They host 3 games against the Phillies starting today (Tuesday, Sept 8th) and with the way the Phillies have been playing of late anything could happen.

The New York Mets (62-75) currently are in an ‘argumentum ad misericordiam’ state. They cannot decide if self-pity or pity from the fans right, considering the new stadium, the pre-season hype then the injuries, the ball park not very player friendly and of course the cross town Yankees doing so well, they are desperately seeking a ‘It’s NOT our fault’ acceptance from the not so fair weather fans.

Although they do play everyone in the division, the role of the Mets is more likely to be a deciding factor in where and how the Marlins and Braves finish.

The Atlanta Braves (70-67) are fighting to hold onto a winning record and at the same time desperately trying to stay in the wild card race. They are only 8 games back in the division race, but with Florida and the Phillies ahead of them, they would have to sweep both team during games this month and they only have 3 against the division leading Phillies. the wild card has it’s own challenges, currently 7 1/2 games out they have to hope the 3 teams ahead of them completely collapse.

They will probably be more inclined to spoil the chances of the Marlins while maintaining a winning record this year.

The Florida Marlins (72-65) are the FISH with a WISH. It’s tough to decide which is the hardest task for them, the wild card or division, both are very hard mountains to climb. Currently standing 6 games back in the division and 5 1/2 games back in the wild card it’s a 50/50 chance to make either one. They do have 6 games left against the Phillies and they did sweep the Phillies at CBP and the Phillies have been struggling of late, so there has to be hope in the hearts of the Marlins fans.

The Philadelphia Phillies (77-58) have a hard schedule ahead, with just 2 days off, but 2 double headers to play. They will play 6 games outside of the division, tough games against central division teams, but more importantly the in division games are critical. With Florida and Atlanta hoping for a shot the Phillies will have to bring the best of the season together to finish out on top.

A team in turmoil at the moment, with the starting pitching being the only element of the team delivering a winning performance, the offence needs to step up and the bull pen needs to refocus. the offense it’s all about the players, Raul Ibanez seems to be on a slow climb from his slump, the rest of them have to become more consistent, the bull pen is solid except for 2 or 3 players, who Charlie seems to favor.

It’s all about choices and this man has some to make…

Make the right choices and the Phillies can be in the post season shooting for a repeat, the wrong choices and the season ends October 4th.


HOUSTON we have a PROBELM….

Houston we have a problem… and it appears that Charlie is going to stick by that problem regardless…

Bench control to closer Lidge
Bench control to closer Lidge
Take your jacket off and put your ball cap on

Bench control to closer Lidge
Commence your warm up, tosses now
Check in mirror and in gods sake get the save

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five,
Four, three, two, one, lights off

This is bench control to closer Lidge
You need to get three outs
And the papers want to know who really cares
Now its time to save a game if you dare

This is closer Lidge to bench control
I’m stepping from the pen
And I’m walking in a most peculiar way
And the fans look very different today

For here
Am I standing on a pitchers mound
Far above the field
Players shirts are blue
And there’s nothing I can do

Though I’ve walked two guys to base
Im feeling very ill
And I think this baseball knows which way to go
Tell my fans I really suck, they know

Bench control to closer Lidge
Your arm is dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, closer Lidge? 
Can you hear me, closer Lidge? 
Can you hear me, closer Lidge? 
Can you….

Here am I wallowing in self pity mode
Far above my skills
Players shirts are blue
And there’s nothing I can do.

 

I would have sang it on a video with images of Lidge and Charlie, but I cant sing, so sing it in your heads and picture another blown save from Lidge, and in case you don’t know the song, here it is, it’s only part of the song so you have to figure out where in the song the words fit….

 

Yes I admit it, I spent my teenage years in the 70’s and this guy was one of my favorites….


September/October… the Final Countdown…

What’s in store for the Phillies
as we enter the final month of baseball, okay so the regular season runs
into October this year, but it’s only 4 days.

33 Games in 33 Days…

So the end of season
schedule is not being kind to a team trying to go back to back World
Series Champions, they have a full month and beyond. During September
they will play 30 games, in fact lets go from here to the regular season
end, 33 days to go, 33 games to play and somewhere they will get 2 days
off and play 2 double headers. Being 7 1/2 games up in the NL East is
certainly an advantage, but with this schedule it will definitely make
it a challenge to maintain. Finishing off the season is going to make
them tired even before post season play begins, at best you can hope for
a strong showing in the first half of September, so they can rest some
of the key players leading up to post season.

Offense and Defense…

 

The same guys that have
been producing the offense, (some days it may not have been much
offense
), are producing stellar defense. These guys are playing
every game like it is October baseball, they are making plays like it is
the last out, they are truly supporting every pitcher that takes the
mound.

The pitching staff seem to
be turning things around, yes your going to have the occasional game
where the opposition hit you around, those days make you more intense
the next time out. 

Starting Pitching…

 

 

Cliff Lee, took
his first loss in a Phillies uniform, which was okay, this way there are
no added strains on him to go perfect to season end. He can now pitch
his game and do what he does best.

Cole Hamels, last
2 games have been more like the Hamels we know from last year, hopefully
he has his game back and we can move forward. His confidence was such
that his game against the Giants this week saw him stealing a base, the
first of his career and he also went a solid 9 shut out innings giving
up just 2 hits in that game.

JA Happ, has
been the rookie with a veteran look, he has been excellent all year,
even when the chips are down, he stays focused and pitches his game. He
is without a doubt prime candidate for ‘Rookie of the Year‘ this
year.

Joe Blanton, the
Hulk‘, the ‘Work Horse‘, when you see him pitch it is
obvious he enjoys what he does and he stays in command and doesn’t get
phased by anything, he’s had good numbers this year and his second half
is as usual, very good.

Pedro Martinez,
the newest member of the starting rotation, who has not yet produced
what you would call a quality start. Facing 2 rain games that lasted 2
and 3 innings for him and 2 other games where he was seemed to be still
trying to find his way back in the majors. We will have to see how he
does this week against the Giants, a team the Phillies don’t produce
much offense against, will Martinez be able to keep it close, we will
see this week.

Jamie Moyer, Although
Moyer is now in the pen, I have included him here, simply because he has
taken the 2 rain delay games from Martinez and been outstanding, he has
also pitched reasonably well all year as a starter, still holding the
most wins as a Phillies starting pitcher this year. With the 2 double
headers the Phillies will be facing I think his role will be very
important, especially as one is against the Marlins, a team he has
dominated.

The Bull Pen seems
to have had some rest of late, although there are some deep issues still
to be resolved, I haven’t included a breakdown for them here, because I
think we need a little more time into September to see if the looming
post season is going to spur them on or if we will continue to see the erratic
side of the pen. I will mention thus far the only two I am comfortable
with are Eyre and Park, but we will continue to watch and see how Lidge
and Madson perform during the next week, along with some notables like
Durbin, Walker and Taschner, now he’s back up.

With the ability to load up
the team with new faces in September, the Phillies have chosen to be a
little more conservative, holding room for some of the DL players to
make an impact in the post season, assuming the Phillies maintain the
current state of play and make the post season of course.

More to come over the
weekend, with a look at bench players and the expected return of DL
players…