It almost that time when we celebrate the begining of a new year
and invariably a new era in the successes of our teams. Before we jump forward
to what could be in 2011, here’s a small review of how my blog saw the Phillies
Here’s hoping you all have a very happy and safe New Year….
A picture I came across not long ago, reminded me of how close it was that maybe I could have become part of the evil empire, it wasn’t to be, I saw the passage to the good side and followed the light. In defense of the fact that I had managed to wear a Yankees hat without my head burning, it was sometime in the 80’s and I had yet to see my first Phillies game. It wasn’t long after this I was resident down the 1st base line at Veterans Stadium enjoying the sight of the Philadelphia Phillies playing the New York Mets. It was early in my understanding of the game, so I was more into why this or why that, than any rivalry.
The brief visits over the next 10 years gave me more of an understanding of the game and an increased passion for the Phillies, even though during those early years in my baseball life L’s were a premium for the Phillies and the W’s could be something of a rarity. I learned that wins and loses aren’t necessarily what get you hooked to baseball, it definitely helps to have a post season visit at some point in time, but right down to the last game before elimination there is still hope and the knowledge that any team could and at times does collapse giving way to the unexpected.
The National League East is definitely heating up, with both the Phillies and the Braves playing only teams within the division through season end, with a 3 game set against each other in Philadelphia next week, the season will end on a 3 game series in Atlanta between the two clubs. I say tighten your belts it’s going to be an up and down roller coaster final couple of weeks for both Braves and Phillies fans.
Some have already written the Cardinals off, but with a couple of shots at the sCrUBs and the Pirates in the final weeks and the Reds having to play double duty with the Brewers and the LOLstros, in my opinion they could be in for a bumpy season end, it only needs the Reds to continue at the 3-7 pace and the Cards to improve with a spurt of wins, after all this is baseball anything can happen and it could be that Texas is the only team that appears safe at the moment, but even they could collapse and make the final weekend full of games that shape the post season.
Useless stats 101 – The year I got the Yankees hat and ultimately became a Phillies fan, there were just 2 divisions in each league and the Phillies finished 26 games back of the Cardinals, in the NL, with a 75-87 record.
Something I haven’t heard for sometime, recently changed, when I heard one of my all time favorite sayings – “Time is something to prevent everything happening at once” The game of baseball is testimony to that statement, with 162 games over 6 months to figure out which teams will play into month 7, although sometimes it seems like it all happens in month 6, it is just an accumulation of outcomes from the numerous WTF occurrences that have taken place during the season.
August saw it’s share of those WTF moments, from coast to coast baseball gave us some gems and as with other months most of those came from the umpires, from early in the month right through to the end. They never seem to have favorites or teams they actually really dislike, although at times your team is always the one getting the brunt of their wrath. With the ability to replay, slow down, freeze frame every pitch, play and call that can affect the outcome of every game the umpires are constantly under the spotlight, so this will constantly produce WTF moments from umpires everywhere..
The month also saw a couple of teams position themselves for this award, not because of the outstanding achievements they had as a collective body, but because they found the need to act like unruly children, NHL players even NFL players. You could say the heated moment between 2 teams fighting for the lead of a division can at times be explained, and is there such a thing as equal punishment, since both teams could have acted more like baseball players and not NHL players. The confusion was in Florida, although this happened on the first day of September, I decided to use it for August just so that we keep the fights together and keep them away from the post season run. We had 2 teams fighting to end the season better than the Mets, fighting each other, this wasn’t heated because the season depended on it, this was simply senseless and a definite WTF moment, but I will not reward those that are teaching our youngsters criminal behavior.
On a high note of the year for at least one team, they started the season off as, in my eyes, the worst team in the National League, they seemed to continue on that same line. In July they made some trades and things seemed to change in August, they had one of the best records in baseball for August with 17 wins, the managed 3 sweeps, yes one may have been against the Pirates, but they also swept the Cardinals and the Phillies. The LOLstros have acted like the worst team in baseball, but WTF have they been drinking in August, okay no chance of post season play unless the Cards continue to meltdown and the Reds follow suit.
Talking of meltdowns, I almost included the San Diego Padres in this list, they have managed to get swept back to back to back, but it seems to me there WTF moment is still ongoing. It would feel right if I didn’t include Lou in this months list, cause lets face it WTF was he thinking (insert retiring or staying this long).
I finally settled on giving the award to a man who has acted like a gentleman through hardship and adversity. His team started of the month in a divisional fight and a literal fight. It was difficult to find anyone worthy enough to present him with this award, but eventually someone who’ll do anything for a shot at being in the spotlight jumped at the chance. The WTF award for August 2010 goes to….
….Albert Pujols, and so we had the chance for the POTUS to award the PUJOLS. Even though he has brought his game and played well enough to give him consideration as the NL’s MVP his team has let him down as they slowly loose contention and could possibly give the chance of the 2010 MVP award to his counterpart at the divisions winning team. A pending free agent at next seasons end, he hasn’t demanded movement to a club that could give him another WS ring, he’s kept smiling and playing the game like the true sportsman that he is, this to some may not be a true WTF moment, but to me its a WTF must he be thinking.
Useless stats 101 – In 2003 Detroit had the least amount of wins in a season during the last 10 years, and they were eliminated from the race by August 21st, the earliest of any team in the last 10 years, Mike Maroth a Detroit pitcher lost 20 games that season. On the bright side they weren’t the 1962 Mets.
It’s always that time of year when every game counts, early in the season
there is less emphasis placed on making every game count. When you look at the
games ahead and see 150 or 135 to play, you’re always thinking ‘plenty of time to
make that up’, the problem is come August it almost seems like it’s almost too late.
Every opportunity to gain ground on your opponent or to increase your lead on
the next placed team is important, which makes the thought that every game counts more
important all year long.
The biggest problem for teams, not just the Phillies, is loses to teams you
should really win. When errors or lack of offence is your downfall then all you
are doing is ‘BEATING YOURSELF’. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that if your
chasing a team in a close race the games you lose will coincide with a game lost
by the team your chasing, which makes the loss all the more disappointing, since
the idea is to win those so you catch the team ahead, or extend your lead on the
When ‘BEATING YOURSELF’ it can be a team effort, which will include some
talented errors, even some possible web gems, it’s when you can attribute an
above average amount to one player it becomes an issue. With the Phillies, early
on after the All Star break it was Wilson Valdez, who without fail would hit
into a double play. This however is now a benefit since they will walk a player
to get to Valdez, who in clutch moments is actually getting those hits now. On a
slow incline, since the All Star break, to become a clear leader these
days for the most assists in getting the Phillies to play ‘BEATING YOURSELF’ is
Jayson Werth. He has actually got some good numbers at the plate, but the
important stat that really helps the team win is where he has really su-cked of
late, ‘hitting with RiSP’. Hopefully he’ll get this out of his system and
September he’ll be hitting like Choooch.
Useless stats 101 – The Phillies 2010 starting line up has appeared in
just 6 games this season, those 6 game were all early in the season, tonight,
(8-24-2010) along with the ‘Chooch Bobblehead’ the Phillies starting line all
appear together again.
who has participated as an exhibitor at a trade show of some kind will be all to
familiar with ‘Tire Kickers’, although not specific to
trade shows, since it’s origin is from used car lots, it is where we have seen the most concentration
any given event over the years. I am sure, some will disagree and claim they have seen
more together in one place somewhere else. In the grand scheme of things, the fact that ‘Tire Kickers’ exist
everywhere is enough.
This time of year baseball has it’s own brand of ‘Tire Kickers’,
the front office people for some clubs transform into these at this time of
year. All the ranting and raving as fans will change none of
that, yes we are all armchair GM’s at some time and we all know what
is best for the teams we help through the season by cheering for them relentlessly
regardless of how they actually perform.
Not every team’s front office can legitimately transform, the Phillies
front office has transformed and can on occasion be seen ‘Kicking Tires’ in
places like Houston, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Washington, and rumor has it even
The Phillies of recent years have done relatively well by
‘Kicking Tires’ till the deadline makes them transform back to actual decision
makers, lets hope this year is Werth the wait. There are those Phillie fans who
think some players are Werth keeping, regardless of performance or contribution,
I think this year the Phillies should make a stab at a good starting pitcher to
assist the teams continued run at post season and if the offer a Werth-while
everyday player then so be it.
In an effort to curb some disdain by the fair weather booing fans, or just to
show they are action minded, they decided Milt Thompson should join the over
crowded list of unemployed in this country. In just the few days since this
occurred the ever drivelous incoherent commentator booth add on of Gary ‘Sarge’
Matthews has pointed out pertinent hitting features for players that apparently
weren’t there two or three days ago, after weeks of telling us what they were
doing wrong at the plate, yet insists he doesn’t want another hitting coaches
job. If you’ve been watching the Phillies for a number of years now you’ll all
remember similar style of added information from non other than Joe Kerrigan
when he was on the Comcast post game show, right before he weaseled his way into
the pitching coach job for Bowa.
Since I’ve missed a few days or more, the Phillies, after the
ASG break have….
….given 3 out of 4 to the sCrUBs and given 3 out of 4 to the
Cards, while on the road, back at home they currently have won the first 2 of a
4 game set against the Rockies with game 3 being played today at CBP. They actually
managed to knock Ubaldo Jimenez out of the game in 2 plus innings, but
today is another day and it all starts again, especially for JA Happ who is back
with the club, his last start was in April and has been on the DL, rehabbing and
just plain getting back into the swing of things.
Just a Thought:
If a player can have specific balls put into the game when
it’s his at bat, what stops teams from rotating balls in and out for home team
hitters and away hitters. I know a ball is a ball is a ball, but if the Rockies
can process their balls to reduce flight, why can’t teams do that for visiting
teams and process for increased flight for home hitters. I know many will
dismiss this as just another conspiracy with no substance, but isn’t anything
possible in this day and age, and won’t teams grab every advantage they can fair
or foul…. the big prize seems to cloud the judgment of people in and around
sports, no matter what the sport.
The National League managed an upset of the American League by taking the All Star Game victory, because of recent history showing the dominance of the American League this is a good way to move forward into the second half of the 2010 season for National League teams.
At the beginning of the season I laid out how I thought the season would progress and how teams would position themselves for October baseball, with just over half the games played it’s a good time to reflect and update my season ending visions.
The American League has shown some surprises, out West the Mariners have not faired as I thought so this has left the Rangers and Angels duking it out for a post season place. In the Central the Indians are not performing in the manor they could have been and in the East the top 3 are as expected, but the Jays are doing better than I had thought, as a mid way summary I now have the following possible outcomes.
Angels ……..88-93 wins
Rangers ……..86-91 wins
The A’s will hover around the .500 mark and the Mariners will finish below .500 with about 70 wins.
ChiSox ……..84-89 wins
Twins ……..81-86 wins
Tigers ……..81-86 wins
The Royals and the Tribe will fight, but fail to reach .500 this year.
Yankees ……..93-98 wins
Rays ……..92-97 wins
BoSox ……..90-95 wins
As you can see this could be any of these, I had considered the Yankees breaking 100 wins again, but recent history shows last time they had 56 wins in the first half they had a dismal second half with only 33 wins, so the Yankees number is a crap shoot, the Jays should end around the .500 mark and the O’s will probably break 64 wins, but no more than 70 wins.
The National League has also given us a couple of surprises, the Padres are the biggest one for me, kudos to them, I thought they would struggle to be a .500 team this year, but they proved me very wrong. The Pirates are more disappointing than anything, I really thought they could be a above .500 team this year, but not going to happen, the Reds are better than expected or are the Cardinals not as good as expected. The East is as expected a 3 horse race and will continue through season end.
Padres ……..85-90 wins
Rockies ……..84-89 wins
Dodgers ……..83-88 wins
Giants ……..79-84 wins
Arizona will struggle to reach 70 wins this year.
Cardinals ……..85-90 wins
Reds ……..85-90 wins
The Brewers and Cubs will struggle stay around the .500 mark on the year, the Pirates and Astros will have chance to play spoiler or helper in September as the Cards and Reds are on target to give us a game 163 this year, but as the Astros and Pirates play out the year they’ll both struggle to get over 65 wins.
Phillies ……..90-95 wins
Mets ……..88-93 wins
Braves ……..87-92 wins
Still a close 3 team race and could go to any of the 3, itll be up to the Nats and Marlins to play spoiler, since both those teams wont even be knocking on the .500 door.
So these are my mid-term visions as far as the divisions are set, as for Phillies players and that dreaded date of July 31st, where teams negotiate to the wire to get the best possible deal, or they think is the best possible deal. The past few seasons the Phillies have faired pretty good at the trading deadline, this year I would say look to see Jayson Werth end up with one of 3 teams, Astros, Pirates or even the Reds, also movers could include, Dobbs, Castro or Ransom and maybe even Kendrick or Happ, I do not think anything major will occur, it is possible we could get Oswalt, but no breath holding here, or even one of the Reds pitchers, it maybe that the Dodgers decide they can lose Broxton, so the Phillies can lose Lidge, but that’s as farfetched as a straight trade of Pujols and Howard, or Werth and Ethier, dream on people ESPN’s got no inside track and the second half is just beginning. So tighten that safety belt, keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times and enjoy the ride, don’t forget to scream and raise your arms at the appropriate times, but most of all have FUN.