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….
This weekend is what makes baseball a great sport, not a good sport, a GREAT
sport. With something on the line for 6 teams going into the final day of the
regular season, it is without a doubt, tense and nervous for some, exciting and
fun for others.
Just when you thought those teams that are comfortable will just sit back and
watch, along comes Charlie Manuel….
…. to place credibility back into the last weekend of the season. Initially
yesterdays line-up may have appeared a little weak compared to the last time the
Phillies and Braves met, but the game became a fight to the end with the
Phillies rookie Vance Worley giving a commanding performance thru 5 innings and
then the Phillies bullpen blanking the Braves thru the final 4 innings to give
the Phillies a 7-0 shut out on the day the Braves honored Bobby Cox.
Today I believe the Phillies may have jumped past Michael Vick to become the
most hated entity in Atlanta. Some Braves fans feel since the Phillies are in
why they don’t lay down and let the Braves get to the post season, as Charlie
Manuel said, "How is that fair to the Padres and Giants", so suck it
up Atlanta and win because you can, not because the Phillies let you.
The Yankees had a double header, while the Rays tried to find a way to beat
the Royals. The Rays managed to shut the Royals out in a 4-0 win, while the
Yankees took game 1 from the BoSox and looked like they may even sweep the
double header, except it was AJ on the mound and sometimes his cry baby attitude
gets the better of him….
….AJ’s mind went like this: let me check to make sure the
umpire called that play correctly, cause we all know, if I argue he’ll change
his mind, oh and while I argue let me see if I can trick the BoSox into thinking
it’s a dead ball. DOH!
It seems the only guy he tricked was Berkman, who just stood
there and looked dumb. Now I would like to know when AJ entered the dug out and
went down the steps, what the hell did AJ say to Girardi, it almost looked as
though AJ was blaming Girardi, and Girardi had this look on his face as if to
say AJ your just fu-cking crazy.
So we have the AL East all tied up again, but today it will be
decided, the winner of the east will also get home field advantage, the Yankees
passed the advantage back to the Rays yesterday, because now the Yankees need a
win and a Rays loss to clinch, so do they stay in Boston to find out or do they
grab everything and rush back to New York to see if they can celebrate.
The NL is a little more screwed up, the scenarios are bountiful,
the bottom line is the right wins and loses and there could be baseball everyday
till the post season starts. So we know the Phillies have home field in the NL,
but who will they play, we don’t know, since we could have 4 teams with the same
record at the end of today.
The introduction of video replay on the possibility of a home
run ball was supposed to make things right, everyone keeps saying we need more
video replays, to many errors by the umpires. What if the video replay shows one
thing yet they still make the wrong call after seeing it….
….there you have it fan interference, wait they’re playing in
Ohio, okay that means it must be a home run ball then. If you didn’t see this
then it’s worth a look, no matter how many time I replay it I still see the fan
reach over the fence touch the ball with his glove at the same time he hits the
fielders glove. The ball could have been caught by the fielder, if it wasn’t
caught it appears it may have hit the top of the wall and come back into play.
So how then will video replay prevent the umpires from getting in wrong, okay
it’ll involve someone in New York who’ll review it, lot of good that did.
This the last day of regular season is probably one of the most
exciting final days since they went to divisional play. We will at least know
the outcome of the American League battles and who the AL East champions are, as
for the National League, this could be done today or it could take till the end
of Tuesday for us to know.
3 Days to post season play – GO PHILLIES….
The Do or Die weekend got underway Friday, the first day of October. For some teams this weekend is the only October baseball they will play this season, for others it’s a chance to keep their fans entertained for a few more weeks.
The National League has the Giants, Padres and Braves are all in Do or Die situations. The Padres must win at all costs, the Braves can make it with a mix of Padres loses and their own wins, the Giants just need a win.
The American League has all their post season teams decided, it’s just a case of who will have the Eastern Division crown, the Yankees and Rays were deadlocked at the start of play, so any sort of favorable win/loss combination would work for either team.
While the Yankees watched the rain fall in Boston, the Rays were embarrassingly out played by the Royals, so the Yankees get a half game lead by default.
The Giants and Padres get to beat up on each other and the first round went to the Padres who seemed to want it just a little bit more.
The Braves thought they had an easy shot, at home to the Phillies it should be a no- brainer. The Phillies already are in and so will be using the time for tryouts for a post season roster. The Braves have the best home record in baseball and so felt comfortable with having the champagne bottles ready to start cork popping.
The Braves didn’t count on the fact that the Phillies would like nothing more than to stick it to division rivals at any and all given opportunities. In the center of it as usual was….
….Jimmy Rollins with his first hit since returning, not just any ordinary hit, on a night when the wind was blowing in, J-Roll hit a deep line drive home run to left field for a grand slam in the 6th inning. Phillies end up postponing any Braves celebrations with an 11-5 win.
Today at Turner Field, they say goodbye to….
….Bobby Cox, not sure what this entails, but I am sure it’s a chance for the fans to cheer and scream and make Bobby cry and cover up the fact that he’s more saddened by the fact the he still doesn’t know if he can take off Monday for his retirement home.
Today the Phillies pit Vance Worley against Tommy Hansen, so I guess the Phillies are saying to the Braves, if you cant win today you don’t deserve to be in the post season.
Around Baseball –
The Yankees get to play a double header in Boston, this will be a tough day as it’s hard enough to win in Boston without having to win 2 on the same day.
The Rays are back at it with the Royals, having passed the advantage to the Yankees it’s almost a must win if they want any chance of the division title.
The Padres and Giants face of again in San Francisco, I am sure both these teams and the Braves will be score board watching, no one admits to it, but they all do it.
4 Days to post season play – GO PHILLIES….
The final regular season game against the Nationals, although the Phillies
are playing spring training type baseball at the moment, they have to consider
who they want in the first series of the post season when they head into Atlanta
for the final weekend. If they play ‘FALL’ training games in Atlanta it will
undoubtedly give the Braves the advantage over the Padres on who gets the wild
card slot. If Atlanta get the wild card then it would depend on how the Reds and
Giants finish out the season. This is of course speculative on the basis that
the Giants clinch in the West, stranger things have happened and the Padres
could still leap frog the Giants and grab the division.
The guy they call Big Joe Blanton took the mound tonight, some say
it’s ‘Big Joe’ cause he’s a ‘FATtee’, others say it’s cause of his
….me I’m just glad his name isn’t Richard. The bench players
got another start tonight and went back to back with homers in the top of the
2nd inning added to it in the 4th and 5th to give Joe a cushioned lead to pitch
off. When the start of the bottom of the 7th inning came around the Phillies had
just back up players on the field except for Blanton, I am sure the 7-1 lead the
Phillies were enjoying played a part, in addition to this being post season
auditions for the back up players.
A day off today gives everyone a rest and time to consider the
Braves series, do they continue auditions or go to Atlanta and make a statement.
The Phillies get home field advantage, which means they get to
play at home at the start of each series while they are in the post season. With
this in mind there is at least one change they should consider making before
post season play begins….
….the 2nd base bag, this has been the culprit of injuries and
has even come completely out and into the hands of sliding runners. This base
pad is responsible for a Valdez injury, Utley injury and a
Rollins injury and is suspected of being part of some bad judgment calls by
Werth, Ruiz and Victorino, so what do you say ground crew, lets replace this bag
with one that is more reliable and a little more favorable to the Phillies.
The Yankees lost to the Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays lost to the O’s,
so no changes there.
The NL West is still a fight to the end with both San Diego and
the San Francisco winning.
The Braves won again keeping their lead in the Wild Card and the
Phillies still uncertain of who will be the team they face in the first series
of post season play.
6 Days to post season play – GO PHILLIES….
Some called it a hangover game, some called it the day after game, but it should have been just another game that we went out there and tried to win. The starting pitcher goes out there, albeit a shortened game of just 5 innings regardless of how he does, so for Roy Oswalt, yes I said Roy Oswalt, cause if you were listening to the Phillies TV feed you would be a little confused, they kept on calling him Roy Halladay, in fact they called him Roy Halladay more than they called him Roy Oswalt, so just in case T-Mac , Wheels or Sarge actually read anything that is written here maybe they’ll offer an apology to Roy Oswalt.
So there not totally confused here’s what Oswalt looks like….
….without wanting to point out the obvious, he’s the one with ’44’ and the name ‘OSWALT’ on his back.
The Phillies have selected the post season schedule already, and needless to say they have selected the one that allows them to go with a 3 pitcher starting rotation. The choice was somewhat of a no brain-er, and members of the press asking Manuel why he’s going that way, should not be covering baseball for any media outlet.
Just in case you missed it, they have been labeled H2O by a number of fans and some members of the Philadelphia press….
They have suggested that Halladay will start game 1, but this is speculation at this time, it is also an obvious choice. In keeping with obvious choices personally I would have Hamels then Oswalt, this would be just to break up the righties with a leftie in between, but it’s all about what Charlie thinks at the time.
I was dubious about constantly resting players from our starting line up between now and October 6th, but on reflection I think it’s more for Manuel to see what bench players and what bull pen members are going to make the cut. It’s a waiting game now, it’s like a second round of spring training in the fall.
The Yankees and the Tampa bay rays won last night assuring them both of play off spots, it’s just a case of who’s the division winners and who’s the wild card team.
The Reds beat the LOLstros last night to clinch the NL Central, kudos to them.
The NL West is a fight to the end and can only be decided when the Padres and Giants go at each other in the final series of the season. The Braves need to keep winning to keep them in the wild card, the series against the Phillies could be their do or die series. The Padres have the toughest road over their final 5 games.
7 Days to post season play – GO PHILLIES….
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.
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.