The ALMOST Yankee Fan ….

sex, xxxx, mlb, nfl, phillies, eagles, sex scandal, eat me, mcdonalds, walmart, target, yankeesA 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.


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.


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…