Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suprising? No. But interesting nonetheless.

http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/state/pennsylvania/20081028_ap_recordlowforagame5inseriestvratings.html

I just want to know who the 40% are in Philadelphia not watching. Must be Communists.

And as the 40% in Tampa who are watching, well, I'm impressed. Didn't think that many people knew Tampa had a baseball team.

Worst Commissioner Ever!

Bud Selig's legacy was probably sealed on the day he canceled the 1994 World Series.

I (and millions of other fans) would probably never have forgiven him.

But instead of the bitterness gradually declining over the years, it's grown.

With each succeeding moment of crisis, Bud Selig has shown himself to be utterly contemptible.

I won't trace the entirety of Selig's sorry legacy here. Instead, I'll just mention the lowlights.

1. 1994 World Series Cancellation
Bud Selig accomplished what even Hitler couldn't. We had a year without a Series.

2. Steroids
Amid mounting evidence so incontrovertible a 10-year-old could tell there was a problem, Selig did nothing until the stench of chemically enhanced players reached even Capitol Hill. Facing Congressional action, Selig finally admitted there might be a problem, but the damage remains with an entire generation of players tainted.

3. 2002 All-Star Game
In what Selig clearly thought would be a welcome homecoming in Milwaukee, he was faced with two managers who had adopted the now-common practice of ensuring every player got in the game, instead of making sure they had enough pitchers to finish the game. Selig made the decision personally to end the game in a tie. And then he adopted the silly gimmick of determining home field advantage in the World Series based on the results of the All-Star Game, further insulting the game's history and degrading 70 years of entertainment with the offensive slogan, "Now, it counts."

4. Last Night

There can be no doubt that Bud Selig represented a sea change in the role of the Commissioner. Bart Giamatti ruled with an iron fist and upheld the finest tradition of the office when he prevented Pete Rose from entering the Hall of Fame. Fay Vincent was forced out for having the audacity to not be Bart Giamatti but trying to exercise the same authority.

When the owners decided to elevate one of their own to be the Commissioner, they stripped away whatever autonomy the office ever held; and instead they asked a bookkeeper to mind the till and make sure the cash register kept ringing.

By that standard, Selig has been an enormous success. Financially, baseball is in its best condition ever. New ballparks have sprouted up across the country with taxpayers everywhere footing the bill to ensure that multi-millionaire owners didn't take the team to another community willing to empty more of their coffers.

But for the fans, the Commissioner isn't about bottom lines; hasn't ever been about the economics of the game (except in the sense that they want the game to be fair and their own team not to be economically disadvantaged). For the fans, the Commissioner was officially established to restore and has always been about maintaining the integrity of the game.

And by that measure, Selig's tenure has been a complete failure.

Every time and issue has arisen that has threatened the integrity of the game, Selig has taken the weasely option, clearly putting anything else (in reverse order, it's been television ratings, the desire of two managers to not look bad at an All-Star game, a smooth collective bargaining agreement, and the desire of ownership to "stand up" to the union) in front of the integrity of the game.

So, even when he claims (as last evening), to be making his decisions solely for the good of the game, no fan believes him.

Monday, October 27, 2008

One More Win!

I want a parade, and I'm feeling nervous because everything seems to be coming together to get one.

Last night, I was at the game with Andy, who is my boss, and another friend from work. After Joe Blanton hit his solo home run to put the Phillies up 6-2, I leaned over to Andy and said, "This is starting to feel inevitable, and that makes me nervous."

I mean, the Phillies ace, Cole Hamels, on the mound at home with the opportunity to clinch after we just pummelled the opposition into submission (I think Eva Longoria might have gone back to the hotel and cried).

Phillies fans couldn't get more than this. It's too perfect. It's so un-Philadelphia.

But I'll take it.

All I want now is one more win!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quick Hits

* This is the sixth time the Phillies have gone to the World Series. Harry Kalas has called four of them.

* Charlie Manuel managed superbly under incredibly trying circumstances.

* Gotta love the NYPost's take on it all.

* And yet they'll still talk about Santa Claus.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Up 2-0

Last night's victory was huge for the Phillies.

Traveling to LA is always rough for East Coast teams. Doing so up 2-0, is much better than the alternatives...and it puts some serious pressure on the Dodgers.

I especially like that situation with Jamie Moyer on the mound. If the Phillies can get one or two runs in the early innings, the Dodgers' hitters will start pressing, and that plays into Jamie Mayer's hands perfectly.

I am still concerned about the lack of offense. Despite yesterday's eight runs, the offense has still been in a slumber. Without Brett Myers (3 RBI and 2 runs scored), they would have been in serious trouble. (Boy, who ever expected to write that sentence!)

J-Roll went 1 for 5 (his first hit of the series).
Utley went 0 for 1 (with four walks).
Howard went 0 for 4 (with one walk) and yet to get a hit in the series.

An optimist sees this and thinks "Wow! The Phillies are up 2-0, and the big three still aren't clicking."

I'm very happy that the Phillies are up 2-0, but I'm concerned that this team still isn't living up to its potential, and it will need to do so before this season ends. Otherwise, the season will end short of the ultimate goal—a parade down Broad Street.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Down

First, the good news. Cole looked great. After almost giving up a
two-run homer to Man-Ram in the first inning (What was it? Two feet
short?), he settled in to a very good outing. Seven innings, 2 runs, 8
K's and only 2 walks. And the defense behind Cole was solid. A nice
play by Rollins turned into a double play, and Howard's miscue was a
bad hop, not an error.

Fundamentally sound baseball is winning baseball.

And it was again tonight.

The Dodgers only error (combined with nice, fundamentally sound
baserunning by Victorino) cost the Dodgers a run.

The bad news is that a very powerful Phillies offense remained cold.
Seven hits, but none by Rollins, none by Victorino, and none by
Howard. I can't believe that's a long-term recipe for success. And
again tonight (as against the Brewers) the offense had only one inning
of scoring, with no scoring against the bullpen.

But as always in baseball, there's no asterisk in the win column.

--
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Overconfidence

I'm posting my response to an email from a fellow Phillies fan. BTW, he called me a nattering nabob of negativism (way to pull an Agnew):

I'm seeing WAY too much overconfidence for my taste.

All of these stories about how the past is gone and they've achieved so much. I mean, come on, people, they won ONE playoff series. Big deal. If they get swept by the Dodgers, is ANYONE going to think that's good enough? I won't, and I don't think many fans will either. This city and team is starting to look a lot like the Chicago Cubs did one week ago.

Howard, Utley, Feliz, and Ruiz (i.e., half our starting 8!) still aren't hitting. The bullpen, which had been a rock all season, has suddenly become questionable, and we're relying on Joe Blanton (Joe Blanton!) to be our savior. Sorry, but as much as I'd love to agree with this line, I have to say that the smart money is on the Dodgers right now. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm afraid I'm right.

I just want the next two days to hurry up and finish because I don't think my nerves can take much more of this.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dodger Blue Up Next

Well, we got lucky. The Phillies continue on.

I'm worried about the offense. Burrell finally came out of his slump on Sunday. And normally, I'd think he's going to go on a hot streak (being an incredibly streaky player), but with 3 days off, it would take a miracle for Burrell to "continue" a hot streak. In fact, I think any realist would have to describe any success Burrell might have on Thursday and Friday as beginning a new hot streak, not continuing his existing one.

And with the way Chase and Howard have performed so far this off-season, I'm not exactly sanguine about our performance against the Blue.

Let's just say that as much as I love Victorino and Werth (both spent some time on my fantasy baseball team this year), I can't imagine that they're going to be able to carry us to a parade down Broad Street.

And that's what I want.

In addition, I really disliked all of the media coverage today. It was as if the Phillies had done something. They didn't. They beat the Brewers in the first stage of the playoffs.

I care about a World Series WIN, not just an appearance. So, let's quit acting as if we've done something and get back to work.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

2 Down

Great to get a win against their ace. Tonight was probably his last game in a Brewers uniform. The Brewers can't complain about what they got from him, but I'm still confused by the trade. Doug Melvin really thought getting swept in the first round was worth their entire future? Baffling.

As for tonight's game, I was worried throughout. No runs scored after the second inning? This was an enemic effort from our offense. It has to get better if we're going to do anything in the playoffs. And I really don't like the bad fundamental baseball.

Runner on first and one out in the first inning. How many runs? Zero.

I want a parade down Broad Street. We'll only get that by playing better baseball.

On the bright side, Brad Lidge was back to his "Lights out" self, and Brett Myers will be talking about that at-bat against CC right up to his next start. Reporters will have to press him to get him to talk about his pitching.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

One Down

Great win.

I'm concerned about the lack of offense (particularly with Sabathia waiting on deck), but I'm hoping that the conditions had something to do with the lack of hitting.

As for the debate of the moment (should Charlie Manuel have taken out Cole Hamels to start the ninth inning), I say Charlie absolutely did the right thing.

1. Charlie doesn't like to bring in Brad Lidge in the middle of an inning (that's why he frequently has brought him in to games with a 4-run lead, which is not a "save" situation).

There's a good reason for Charlie's preference. Lidge tends to take a batter or two until he settles in. It's not unusual for Lidge to unload with a wild pitch to the first batter he faces. Lidge has openly discussed this and pointed out that he sometimes takes a batter to settle in. Given that fact, it's always a better idea to bring Lidge in at the beginning of an inning, rather than waiting until there's trouble, when problems to the first hitter such as a wild pitch could be disastrous.

2. This guarantees a no-lose situation for Hamels.

Hamels pitched eight shutout innings in his second season in the majors. That's fantastic, and it will be the headline. He also gets to talk about how much he would have liked to finish out the game, which gives him added incentive to do better next time. There's very little extra bump for Hamels in pitching a complete game shutout vs. an eight-inning shutout. And what little bump there is provides motivation for Cole to do better next time.

So, if Cole comes out in the ninth and doesn't finish it off, you've wasted all of the good created by Cole through the first eight innings, and you have to bring in Lidge in a less-than-ideal situation.

Whereas by taking out Cole, you're able to bring in Lidge (who, BTW, has been perfect in save situations for more than a season) in his ideal situation.

3. And if, by some chance, Lidge blows his first save, that's OK so long as Cole didn't start the inning because Cole gets to shoot off his mouth about how Charlie shouldn't have taken him out of the game, and everyone focuses their venom on Charlie instead of focusing it on Cole for not being able to finish off the game.

So, yes, Charlie Manuel made the right decision. Had Cole been truly dominant today (say he was working on a no-hitter), then it would have been different. But under these circumstances, Charlie did exactly the right thing.

Good decision, Charlie.

And great win, Phillies!

Let's get another one tomorrow.