Friday, May 25, 2007

Goats Galore

Goosebumps? Try hives.

These guys just aren't very good as their fourth unsuccessful attempt to rise one lousy game above .500 amply demonstrates. Hordes of runners left on base including a golden opportunity to take the lead in the eleventh inning when they loaded the bases with one out and, you guessed, failed to score.

On top of that, bad feelings erupted again between the Marlins and Phillies as starters Jon Lieber and Dontrelle Willis each threw behind the other. Typical baseball posturing followed with dugouts emptying, shoving and pushing and no doubt lots of unkind things said. It's all so boring at this point. Does Dontrelle Willis really think Lieber was trying to hit him or show him up?

There were lots of goats in last night's loss but Wes Helms gets the prize in the Player Category for bonehead play of the night, failing to get a good jump from second base on a single by Carlos Ruiz in that fateful eleventh inning that would have given the Phils the lead. Instead, Helms ends up at third base where he dies along with the rest of his team. Remind me again what it was Helms was going to bring to this team? He cannot run, has a stone glove and phenomenally erratic arm, has failed to hit a single home run from a power position and, let us not forget, in a ballpark that encourages such displays.

We aren't quite finished handing out awards for this evening. The prize in the Coach Category goes to third base coach Steve Smith. Let the Inquirer's Todd Zolecki describe the winning entry:

The Phillies tied the game in the eighth, but should have scored one more. Chris Coste, who had two hits, walked to start the inning. Manuel sent Michael Bourn to pinch-run for Coste and pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs doubled to right-center field. Bourn had to stop at second to make sure the ball dropped, but once it did he left for third. Centerfielder Alfredo Amezaga played the ball perfectly off the wall and threw quickly to cutoff man Dan Uggla. There seemed to be no reason to send Bourn because the Phillies would have runners on second and third and no outs.

But third base coach Steve Smith sent Bourn anyway.

Uggla threw a strike home and Bourn, who is the fastest runner on the team, was out by several feet.

Smith knew immediately he made a major mistake. He confirmed that afterward.

"It was a bad play. Bad play. Terrible," Smith said. "I feel bad for these guys. They played their (butts) off and I made a decision like that."

Don't worry, Steve, there is a strong tradition in recent years of miserable decisions coming from the third base coaching box. Really, you fit right in.

Then there was Charlie Manuel's nightly tinkering with the lineup. JRoll was back at his accustomed spot at the top of the order and promptly responded by giving his team a jump start, singling, stealing second and scoring the first run. Heretofore Charlie had buried JRoll in the three hole for what seemed like weeks. On this night, Charlie also decided to give Chase Utley a night off, one game after the team's most reliable player went 3-5 with a home run and a triple. Great decision, eh? Manuel has lost it completely. Hot hand, stone cold hand. It no longer matters. Either he's playing hunches no one else can decipher or he's reading tea leaves. Instead of Utley, Manuel used Abraham Nunez at second and started Helms at third and Chris Coste at first. Nunez had to leave the game after being hit in the face by the catcher's hand by the follow through on a throw to second. So, naturally, Chase Utley came into the game. For the moment we will leave out the whole matter of whether or not Manuel has wrecked Brett Myers' shoulder. Why speculate about what might happen when Manuel provides so much ammunition from what does happen!

These guys aren't much fun to watch any more and the bet here is things could sour much more as the weather turns hotter.

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