Howard visits Eagles, Not Vick ….

Phillies Outside

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seemed just like any other sporting Sunday in Philadelphia, this one was just a
little more special though. The Phillies had lost the first game of the NLCS to
the San Francisco Giants the day before and so desperately needed the win to
even the series.

The countries premier sporting complex in Philadelphia had
tailgating starting early, the Philadelphia Eagles would be hosting the Atlanta
Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field just a stones throw, or a long toss away from
Citizens Bank Park. Why was this different to any other Sunday when both teams
were playing at home, well the fact that Fox Sports decided the Eagles game
would be the main attraction for the 1 PM ET game slot.

If you didn’t watch the Eagles game or haven’t seen the news
then, you will have missed out on the fact that Ryan Howard made an appearance
at Lincoln Financial during the first quarter of the game. It sparked a flurry
of ‘tweets’ from Phillies fans complaining of his presence when they
thought he should be in the batting cages. Why was did Howard pick this day to
visit the Eagles?

According to inside sources, as part of Fox Sports promotional
efforts, they requested a Phillies player show up. Who’s decision to make it
Howard and not a less prominent player is still a mystery. There may however be
more underlying parts to this story, because while Howard took time out of his
busy schedule and made an appearance on the sidelines there was another prominent
person absent from the sidelines.

Vick the, on again, off again, QB for the Eagles was absent from
the sidelines, Andy Reid dodged the question at the post game news conference
causing speculation as to Vick’s absence. While reports from within the NFL
media and closely connected personnel indicated that it was nothing, speculation
grew about his avoidance of interaction with fans and his old club. In fact he
even kept his old manager waiting in the locker room area.

If the media wasn’t so narrow minded and spotlight focused on
their own sources within the sport they serve, they may have seen a broader
picture with more characters than their lack of multi-tasking NFL minds could
probably handle. Inner circles seem to have suggested that, the very pro animal
rights personnel connected to the Phillies team suggested that if a key Phillies
player  was to attend the Eagles game, then that player couldn’t be seen to
interact with Vick, who was scheduled to be on the sidelines. If anyone has any
doubts that Fox Sports has no pull in what happens in the 2 biggest sports in
the country then think again, this was a mere minor manipulation for Fox Sports
to get their live on air promotion.

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night finally arrived all the players in where they should be, there was no
Eagles player invasion, since there was nothing NFL related for Fox to reverse
promote. The ‘O’ from the Phillies 3 headed strike force, known as H2O, also
known as Roy Oswalt, was on the mound for the Phillies. The Giants countered
with their second ‘Ace’, Sanchez, who would try and put the Giants in a position
to take a 2-0 series lead.

Sunday saw a different look to the Phillies players, there
wasn’t a different line up, they hadn’t all had anything done to change their
appearance, but from the first at bat through to the final at bat, you could
tell they had the winning attitude. This attitude had been sorely missing during
Saturdays game, in fact it almost appeared like they new the outcome before the
game Saturday. Game 2 was different, they looked like they new there was no
outcome defined, they wanted this win and they did everthing they could to get
it. Oswalt turned in a performance worthy of the H2O status, the Phillies
players all played their part, with bats and gloves. In addition to an excellent
pitching display Oswalt showed he could hit and run the bases, for me he more
than made up for his previous start.

Now it’s off the San Francisco, with the series tied at 1-1, the
shift of home field advantage may well have shifted to the Giants, but if there
is one thing we have learned in this post season, home field advantage isn’t so
much of an advantage.

Go Phillies….


Tire Kickers ….

Phillies Outside

Anyone
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
at
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
Florida.

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.


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.


Cliff Lee, Pitching and Hitting to Win #3…..(updated)

Cliff Lee takes his 3rd straight win as the Ace in the Phillies rotation and
lee1-vs-cubs.jpgdrives the Phillies to a sweep of the
Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. After suffering the embarrassment of being swept at home last weekend the Phillies issued there own 3 game sweep on the road.

Lee pitched outstanding for 8 innings, like me, most thought Madson would come on in relief at the start of the 8th inning, but he didn’t, Lee came out for the 8th and got through it like an Ace. Lee ended his day after throwing 122 pitches with over 67% of them for strikes, he gave up 1 run on 6 hits and walked 3 batters. It wasn’t till the 4th inning that the Phillies offense gave Lee the lead, he managed to get himself out of a couple of jams during the first 4 innings, it wasn’t till the 5th inning that the Cubs managed tlee2-vs-cubs.jpgo drive in a run and that was the only time a Cubs player would cross the plate. He held the Cubs to a 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position, obviously the Phillies defense played a role in this too. Lee seems to like this playing in the NL where he gets to show case his bat swinging abilities, he hit his 2nd double, but was eventually stranded on 3rd at the end of the inning. With the Phillies, Lee is now 3-0 with an ERA of 1.13 through 24 innings as a pitcher, as a hitter he is 3 for 9 (.333) with 2 doubles.

Ryan Madson came on in relief of Lee to start the 9th, he pitched a scoreless inning giving up just 1 walk with 2 strike outs.

The Phillies offense came off of 10 hits and 3 walks, the big offensivehoward-vs-cubs.jpg inning was the 4th, when Ryan Howard hit a 3 run home run to the opposite field, this was Ryan’s 1st home run in August, ironic really, I had said at the end of July, that it seems when 

Raul Ibanez goes deep then Ryan goes deep and visa versa, and in Wednesday’s game Raul went deep and so Thursday Ryan went deep. In the same inning Pedro Feliz took Dempster deep too, giving the Phillies a 4 run lead. Utley picked up an RBI in the 6th and Feliz picked up another in the 7th giving the Phillies a 6-1 lead that they never relinquished.

The Phillies headed to Atlanta last night to start a 3 game series against the Braves today, before heading home for the only day off between now and the end of August. Joe Blanton is scheduled to start tonight against the Braves, Saturday is an afternoon game and although it’s Hamels rotation spot, it is currently being listed as TBA, have they not announced it yet or are they holding back to the last minute because of a possible problem? I am sure we will find out soon.(update: Hamels is now listed as the starting pitcher for Saturday). It does though, seem to be freaky days of late in Philadelphia sports, everybody has heard by now that Vick signed a 2 year deal with the Eagles, what were they thinking? I am sure they will let us know soon enough.

Still with freaky things, the ‘Idiot Cubs Fan’ turned himself in to Chicago police yesterday, probably wants another 15 minutes of fame, or a beer commercial contract.