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.
The Phillies and the Mets conclude there weekend of fun in the
sun. The Mets as usual were a tough opponent for the Phillies, but with players
like Ibanez and Ruiz swinging hot bats at the moment the advantage went to the
Phillies. This weekend was the first time this year the Phillies saw Beltran and
as a special treat, Beltran got to taste….
….the cushioning placed on the center field fence, he can
thank former Phillies center fielder, Aaron Rowand for soft get together with
the fence. If you didn’t see this as a web gem you should hunt it down, he back
tracked hoping to catch a ball that just kept going back and he wasn’t expecting
the fence to be there. Obviously it wouldn’t have been so humorous had the fence
not been padded, Beltran suffered no ill effects, just shock of the moment.
in baseball the trading took a curious turn when instead of players on the move
we saw the Pirates finally came to their senses and moved the pitching coach,
Joe Kerrigan, to the long list of unemployed. I have made it no secret that I
have a complete and utter dislike of Kerrigan. The Pirates now need to find
themselves somebody who can help develop the pitching staff into what they
should be, someone like a Duncan, Anderson, McDowell or even a Hickey style
pitching coach, all these guys have different styles yet are very good with
young upcoming talent and can assist the more seasoned pitchers as and when they
need it too.
The Phillies welcome the LA Dodgers to town for a 3 game stint.
Although just 4 games over .500 and currently sitting 4th in the West division,
they are never an easy mark and should be looked upon as if they are running
away with it like last year. Hopefully they’ll leave Manny Ramirez in
California. I guess we can’t do anything about having to endure the onslaught of
Padilla’s constant flesh fluid secretion dowsing the mound on day one of the 3
days, at least it’s Kyle Kendrick sharing the mound with him and not Hamels or
Oswalt or even Halladay, that could scar them for the rest of the season. Lets
see what the Phillies make fo the os called ‘Soap Bubble’ pitch.
Useless stats 101 – This time last year the Phillies had
just experienced umpire Ed Rapuano’s ever changing strike zone and his ability
to to throw out Shane Victorino in center fielder from home plate for throwing
his arms in the air, when an obvious strike was called a ball.
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.
The popularity contest is over, NL and AL rosters are set, okay not entirely,
there is still the opportunity to vote the final spot on each roster, my choices
are Votto (CIN) in the NL and Konnerko
(CWS) in the AL, as for who
should be there and who shouldn’t it’s all about personal choice so now it’s set
the managers have to make the best of it.
The hype around Strasburg continued, you have Charlie Manuel on national television and the best first
question you can come up with is “did you consider Strasburg an option” or words to
that effect. If you have any ounce of intelligence and slight knowledge of baseball,
you know the kid has made 6 starts is not going to the All
Star Game when so many other pitchers have accomplished so much more this
season. To those who claim his 100 mph fast ball is worth him being there, bullsh-it,
after seeing him against the Braves and the Mets, I am convinced the Strasburg
Hyper Interest Tension Syndrome will dissipate
and die before the season ends, he will be ‘the kid that threw really hard’
for a season and a half maybe, who knows his agent may even be able to swing a
movie about him, cause he has obviously worn out his knee pads convincing the
media sheep to hype this kid up. Kevin Kaduk of the Yahoo Sports Blog “Big
League Stew” is one of those who plays the reporter hidden inside a
blog, is a prime example of over hyping Strasburg, telling us ‘MLB is
missing out’, this probably wouldn’t be so laughable if you weren’t actively
promoted by Yahoo as an authority on the MLB and sports.
The media sheep, they get one or two reporters to write it, the rest follow
and there go the bloggers
too. Of course you have the bias
media , yes that’s you Fox Sports, who will tell you that the AL won
the ASG voting because of who the fans selected, then there are those who have
chosen to publicly
mock Charlie for a couple of his picks.
Lets see, Ryan Howard, yes we all know Votto has better
numbers, but he has better numbers than Albert Pujols too, and aren’t the
managers selections there for his amusement, to appease players on his team, after all
Joe Girardi chose A-Rod. Then we have Omar Infante and yes
on first glance I had a dazed look on my face and said “WTF!” then I
saw Chipper Jones’ comment about utility players never get selected, so
good for Charlie for doing his homework, now when a manager has spent
most of the first half of the season relying on utility players to maintain
contention in the division, then this choice makes sense, if indeed this game
does go the extra innings, he now has a player he can use when and where he
Inside sources, who do not wish to be named, said, the Phillies
organization is close to a deal with a large hotel consortium to appear in Las
Vegas during the All Star Break, it seems they did such a good job
making the Pittsburgh Pirates look good over the weekend, the
Treasure Island Hotel Casino would like to use them to help increase awareness
of the Treasure Island pirates.
The Cleveland Indians head to Philadelphia, this must be the best chance
Philadelphia is going to have to break out of the ‘anti’hot’ mode and actually
win a series that they should win, yes they won the series at Yankee stadium,
but the Yankees just got the hell knocked out of them by
The Indians are currently number 2 in the
American League‘s bargain basement,
if you don’t understand that expression then check out the standings, basically
it means for National League teams there are just 4
American League teams that
you should expect to either win the series against or even sweep, the prime
number 1 team everyone wants to play are the Orioles, then you have the
then the Royals and finally the Mariners, any other
AL teams would on paper be a
tough opponent for any of the National League teams.
isn’t to say the American League is better than the
National League, because
during inter-league play I am sure there are just 4 NL teams that the AL would
like to play, they being, Pirates, Astros, D’Backs and the
though the alignment of baseball planets and good and bad karma just don’t allow
what should be, to be. Take the Yankees, please take the
Yankees, or at least
prevent them making headlines because of Lady GaGa, for instance, they
should conceivably sweep the D’Backs, lets face most people thought it, most
Yankee fans expected it, but yesterday they got what could only be looked upon
as the playground bully being smacked around by the nerdy loser kid, doesn’t
happen often, but when it does, we all root for the loser nerdy kid, even now I
find myself thinking, wouldn’t it be good if they actually swept the Yankees.
I was kind of hoping when the schedule was released for 2010 that the
Phillies would actually play the Tribe at the
‘Jake’, yep I am told to call it
that up and coming insurance name is some kind of insult to true Clevelanders, I
am not sure why cause no one actually goes to the games anyway. Maybe if they
could encourage a celebrity to turn up in underwear and flip everyone the bird,
maybe it would draw more fans in Cleveland, probably not, what about if they had
‘King James’ make an appearance, again probably not since he’d show up as the
final pitch was being thrown and then only if there was a chance he’d be
supporting the winning team. Lets face it the great ‘LeBron Day’ that was supposed
to show support for him staying in Cleveland, that was held at the University of
Akron’s campus, was a wash out, some 4,000 people showed up to claim a free
t-shirt and then went double time so it appeared like 8,000 people were in
attendance. Yes, the chances are good once again New York will wield it’s mighty
check book in a different sport and land ‘King James’ although for this sport in
question it does seem as though Chicago’s check book could be bigger than the
Knicks, but it’s all speculation as is the content of the little chat between
James and Curry.
Off track a little, well it is a sporting event and it uses a ball and it has
ties to Cleveland, who are playing the Phillies, in
Philadelphia for 3 days,
whooopi, I get to watch it all happen on some Cleveland Indians
that is about as lame as the Dodgers,
Kansas City and the Astros winning skills at the moment.
Notable occurrences, the Indians got swept by the
Mets, then lost 2 of 3 to
the Pirates and the answer to the Tribe fans prayers during the off season, the
Nationals manager, Manny Acta moving to Cleveland, and after being handed a 5-3
loss Sunday what words of wisdom do the Indians fans get from Acta “We
weren’t able to pick up the ball and throw it to first base. That’s why we
lost.” WOW, I see Manny has come a long way since playing the staring
manager’s role in Washington DC, although you’d think it was
DC Comics with
the way he managers the Tribe.
Lets just hope tonight the Indians are
nothing more than a comedy of errors and the Phillies
are able to use it to their advantage, with the return of J-Roll it
should be an interesting 3 days.
Just a minor gliche in the online voting system, they seem to have Pat
Burrell listed as a DH for the Tampa Bay Rays, when he’s actually in San
Francisco, and his numbers are already better in San Fran than they were in
Tampa, so here’s the dilemma, has anyone got voted onto the AL roster and actually
being playing for an NL team at the time of the All Star game, or visa versa…
I hear you saying Stanton wasn’t opposing Strasburg last night,
Stanton wasn’t the pitcher for the Pirates, and your right, it was
Stanton vs Strasburg in major league debut’s and although Strasburg
got the over-hyped coverage, personally I think Stanton will do more for
his club in the long run.
It was a day when the world would see the over-hyped Stephen Strasburg pitch
in his long awaited major league debut for the Washington Nationals at home to the
Pittsburgh Pirates, what more could you ask for, oh yeah, a sell out crowd, got that too.
The question is did everyone get their monies worth, most analysts, well
probably all of them will give a resounding ‘YES’ you did, on the night, you probably did, 14 strike outs through 7 innings, okay it’s not perfect,
he gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and he threw a lot of pitches really fast. Now any
normal person knows that the majority are going to expect the same if not better
the next time, and the next time, and the next time, and so on and so on, etc.
This we don’t know if it will happen, we know that the chances are it won’t happen, cause he’ll
come up against a team that loves the fast ball and is hotter than hell at the
plate and he’ll be lucky to go 5 innings, but till then he can bask in his glory
and the Nationals can have the pleasure of knowing that the over-hyped major
league debut, much like most things in Washington, was very well controlled and
we got to see what they wanted us to see.
The media over shadowed the major league debut of someone who, I believe,
will end up giving
more to his team and more to baseball in the long run than the over-hyped Strasburg, if you didn’t know the under-hyped
Michael Stanton made his
major league debut for the Florida Marlins in right field last night. The
expectation is that he will give to the Marlins what
Jason Heyward is giving to
the Braves, a young talented outfielder with a bat that can knock them out with
the best of them. He had a really good outing last night, albeit against the
Phillies pitcher that is in the rotation by default, the fact that J.A. Happ is
still on the DL means Kendrick is still in the rotation, but he is a major
league pitcher, and Stanton came out of the chute swinging and got himself a
base hit in his first at bat, I tip my cap to Michael Stanton, he looked
good and he was far from cocky about his talents, he paid a lot of attention to
the game and other players on the field while he was in the dugout, he should
have no problem keeping his head on
straight and doing what it is he does best, play ball. I’m thinking this year
the Home Run Derby should have a special section that sees some
rookies get in on the action, like, Stanton, Heyward, Donald, Desmond to
mention just some of them.
It was also a night that saw the Phillies do something’s that haven’t been
seen for sometime in Philadelphia, all those doubters that didn’t believe it was going to
happen, well it did, During April they ‘did it’ 9 out of 22
times, during the first
17 days of May they ‘did it’, 8 out of 16 times, May 17th was the last time they
‘did it’, and last night they ‘did it’ again, they scored 7 or more runs in 1 game,
well last night they scored double digit runs, another first since May 17th,
with a few fielding errors the Phillies managed to pull out a win with a come
from behind 8th inning. Carlos Ruiz was the only starter that didn’t hit, but he
drew two walks so he’s forgiven, Ben Francisco had a couple of
fielding errors out in right field that cost the Phillies
runs, but made up for some of that with a timely hit in the 8th to drive in 2
runs, which was all the Phillies would
ultimately need to win, but he was followed by Ibanez who drove in the
final run of the night to give the Phillies
10 runs on 13 hits, Ibanez broke out with a 4 for 5 night, while Howard
and Victorino both hit homers. All in all it was like spring break, it
….without the boobs.
Finally the MLB Draft, I hope one of the best picks this year
will turn out to be Perci Garner, Pick #77 by the Phillies.
Good luck to Perci on his MLB career, from the small town of Dover,
Perfection is a hard thing to achieve, in baseball terms for a pitcher, it’s
throwing 9 innings and facing the minimum number of batters, just 27, without
giving up a hit, walk or anything else that may put a batter on the bases. It
was the end of the worst week of the Phillies
season so far, it was Saturday night in Florida, the Phillies
had set a record for innings without a run during the week, they were what could
only be described as having a case of hitlessness…..
Tonight the Phillies ‘ACE’ Roy
‘The Doc’ Halladay turned the tables and threw the perfect game, not just a
no hitter, a perfect game, the 20th in baseball history, 27 Marlins
came up and 27 Marlins went down, including
3 straight pinch hitters in the 9th inning.
Roy Halladay, definitely imprinted himself in the Phillies
history books and it is well deserved. A man of class, saying he just followed
Ruiz from the 6th inning on, so to the pair of them congratulations.
I guess the rivalry between the BoSox and
Phillies has built somewhat over the last
few years, not to the same extent as between other teams. The stage was set
however for the first game of this weekend series, the opener to inter-league
play for the Phillies, and almost every
major league team.
Cole Hamels on the mound for the Phillies,
although he has pitched well in his last few starts, there is still some
elements in the back of your mind, asking who will show up to pitch tonight. The
fears were dispensed after the first inning hiccup, as he gave up a home run to V-Mart,
who by the way doesn’t look right in a BoSox
uniform, from then on he shut the Red Sox
down through 7 innings allowing just the 1 run on 3 hits and a walk, while he
picked up 8 strike outs.
John Lackey took to the mound for the Red
Sox, some of the media in Philadelphia
had labeled him as somewhat of a Halladay clone, when he is on his game.
It appeared as though Lackey was on his game and the Phillies
were in trouble through the first 3 innings. Then the bottom of the 4th inning
came and so did Ryan Howard, who started the Phillies
offense with a home run to left field, then it was like the Boston
Red Sox outfield was playing a game of….
….‘now you see me now you don’t’ or was it WWE‘s
John Cena’s ‘You Can’t See Me’ they lost a fly ball from Jayson
Werth somewhere in the night sky and lights, from then on it was all Phillies
who as a team ended the day with 5 runs on 9 hits, winning the first game by a
score of 5-1. The big set back for the Phillies was that Jimmy Rollins disappeared
into the dressing rooms half way through the game after feeling a twinge from
his right calf muscle. Rollins has just returned from the DL after the strain to
his calf put him there earlier in the season, Rollins will be day to day at the
Tonight the Phillies send Kendrick
to the mound, Kendrick has had a number of shaky starts this year, but
his last 3 have been fairly strong, inline with most 5th place rotation guys.
The Red Sox have the right handed Matsuzaka
who has really only had one good outing this year against the Blue
Jays, he has given up more hits than innings pitched and in 4 games
has served up 19 runs to the opposition.
We all expect our teams to win, but after the was the Phillies
offense failed to produce against both the Pirates and the Cubs,
we must realize you can’t win them all, just be nice to win the more than the