Monday, May 10, 2010

Dull & Sharp

C'mon, sports fans, admit that Brad Lidge dodged two potentially game-tying home runs in the ninth inning yesterday to earn the least convincing save in memory in this his umpteenth comeback. Yes, I know, the wind blows for both teams, but the post game comment from Lidge that his battery mate Chooch Ruiz just told him "Throw some strikes away and let them do what they want with them" is less than reassuring. Just the other day Lidge was telling reporters there is more bite to his slider. Yesterday it looked to me like that slider nearly bit him back...two times!

Meanwhile, Cole Hamels continued his strange odyssey, throwing four decent innings before coming apart in the fifth frame. Nothing Hamels has done this year has convinced me he is much more than a .500 pitcher. On the other hand, Joe Blanton deserved a better fate Saturday than the loss he absorbed as his teammates failed to deliver with runners in scoring position. In only his second start of the season Blanton looked reasonably sharp. The entire story of the Phils' starting rotation has been bizarre this season apart from Roy Halladay and it remains to be seen just which staff will show up as the season wears on.

Jayson Werth has looked sharp from Opening Day. Werth's AB's can be amazing. One inning he looks fooled and the next time up he crushes the ball. The biggest change in his approach over the last two seasons is that he seems to make excellent in-game adjustments, a real sign his maturity and improvement are not temporary. As of this date his contract year is shaping up as one of supremely perfect timing. I'd hate to think where the Phils would be next year without his bat and glove.

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Like most baseball fans, I have been dismayed and angered by the records being broken by PED aided players like Alex Rodriguez. Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez tied Frank Robinson for seventh place on the all-time home run list with his 586th round tripper. The next player he will presumably pass is fellow violator Sammy Sosa, but beyond him lie Ken Griffey and Willie Mays. Rodriguez will need 75 home runs to pass Mays and if and when he does it will be a sad day.

Baseball has been and always will be a statistics-driven game but at least some of the lists true fans can rattle off have started to lose their meaning. Of course at the top of the list in question resides the biggest cheater of them all, Barry Bonds.

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