Thursday, May 31, 2012


Baseball players like to say when they are seeing the ball well it floats up to the plate like a beach ball and when they aren't seeing it well it arrives like a pellet from a BB gun.

Carlos Ruiz has been at the beach all Spring.

Sidelined for the last few games with a tender hamstring, Chooch came off the bench last night to hit a two-run, pinch hit homer to knot the score at three apiece en route to a 10-6 victory as the Phils took two of three from the Mets.

Ruiz has always been admired in this town since taking over the starting role.  He is considered a master handler of pitchers, a quiet field general, and a decent hitter.  In the last few years his decency has morphed into excellence   This year his excellence has morphed into "insane".

The pitchers love him.  His manager loves him.  The fans love him.  In this season of discontent and woes, he is an unalloyed pleasure.  Please, don't let us discover he has a lot of library books overdue!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


While the Phillies have been whistling by the graveyard the rest of the NL East hasn't exactly set the world on fire.  Indeed, the rest of the NL period isn't too impressive either.

The Phils have played nearly a third of their season and while they remain in the cellar in their division, they are only four games behind leading Washington.  No one is running away with this division.  The Braves have fallen to earth with a resounding thud.  The Nats have lead all year but they, too, have suffered injuries and inconsistencies.  The Mets and Marlins have made little runs only to fall back to the middle of the pack.

The Phils took three of four last weekend from defending WS champion St. Louis, but as they limped into the Big Apple they lost Roy Halladay for two months, Carlos Ruiz for a few days (at least) and split their first two games with the Mets.

The Phils relief corps has more or less righted the ship, with some notable exceptions including Chad Qualls, but the starting pitching is a real mess.  When you find yourself counting heavily on Kyle Kendrick the term "crap shoot" leaps to mind.

Joe Blanton suffered his third straight poor outing in getting shelled last night.  It's safe to say Blanton is not nor ever will be an answer.  Too bad the Phils didn't move him a month or two ago when his value was a bit higher.  Now, he'd be lucky to bring a utility infielder.

Carlos Ruiz, who is having a career year, has been banged up.  Between getting run over at the plate, suffering the usual indignities of the tools of ignorance, and a tender hammy, Ruiz will need to be spelled a little more often this season than in the past.

The biggest loss of the last few days was Halladay.  Everyone now knows why his velocity, reported to be down as early as Spring Training, was lagging.  Everyone also knows why there's been less movement on his fastball.  Halladay has never been an overpowering pitcher.  He relies on location, movement, savvy and an extraordinary work ethic.  His ailing shoulder is allegedly not damaged in a major way (labrum or rotator cuff), but he will need rest and recuperation of about two months to get back to square one.  Since his problems were noted in the Spring, after several months rest in the off-season, one has to wonder whether all the mileage has begun to take its final toll.  Certainly, he has pitched a lot of innings in his career.  Indeed, he has been overworked by Charlie Manuel, who has a poor record of handling pitchers IMO, but Halladay shares some of the "blame" since he bristles at the thought of being taken out of games.

Only the mediocrity of the division has allowed the Phils to hang around to this point with all the absences of its stars.  At some point, one team will break out.  It sure doesn't look like that team will be wearing red pinstripes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

You Make The Call

Biggest surprise of the weekend in St. Louis:

1.  Kyle Kendricks goes nine on Saturday for his first career shutout and best outing of his five-year career, or;
2.  Roy Halladay goes two on Sunday for his fifth loss of the season vs. four wins.

It's fair to say the Phils have suffered their share of bad breaks this season. Indeed, before the season even got underway they knew they'd be without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the heart if not soul of their team.  They also knew more than a few scouts noticed Halladay's velocity was down, an observation that produced instant outrage from the pitcher himself and those around him.

Sunday, Halladay made his quickest exit in a Phillies uniform and after the game it was admitted he had a sore shoulder and had been nursing one.  Velocity down?

Now Halladay will be examined.  The Phils await word on their latest casualty.

Meanwhile, the Phils did take three of four from the Cards in St. Louis, a feat they've performed before in the same venue and one which sparked their take off.  But those teams had Utley , Howard and Halladay.  No telling what lies in store for them now.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kid Galvis

As of this morning Freddy "Kid" Galvis deserves to hold on to a starting spot in the lineup when and if Chase Utley returns.  If that means sitting J-Roll, so be it.  If that means moving Chase to first base, so be that.  The worst things the Phillies could do would  be to stick Galvis in a utility role or, perish the thought, send him down to AAA to get regular AB's.

The kid, along with Chooch, have saved the Phils' bacon this year.  Either with the glove, his arm, or, lately, his bat, Kid Galvis has been sensational.  No other Phillies' infielder nails Molina at the plate last night.  It was a game-saving play.  He's all over the place, driving in runs, making the pivot, relaying the ball, hustling.  His development has been a thing of beauty and it's all taken place in a new position.

The Phils' alleged brain trust is going to claim a serious dilemma when and if Utley returns, but there really isn't much of a dilemma unless, of course, sitting a guy who just signed a 3-year $30 million contract represents one.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Who Lost Cole?

There's no telling where the Phillies would be without Cole Hamels, but I'll make a stab at it anyway.

Sixth place in a five team division.

Enjoy him while you can, sports fans, because Cole Hamels, undisputed ace of the staff, is pitching his last season in red pinstripes. 

Ruben Amaro missed his opportunity to re-sign Hamels before this ugly season began.  He won't get another chance because Hamels has seen the future and it doesn't look good for years to come.

San Francisco signed Matt Cain to a five year extension.  The Dodgers signed Clayton Kershaw to a two-year deal.  The Nationals signed Gio Gonzalez to a five-year extension.

And Rube fiddled as the Phillies fizzled.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sinking Fast

This may be what rock bottom looks like.

Roy Halladay looks eminently hittable.  His catcher is thrown out for arguing balls and strikes.  The offense continues its anemic production, especially with RISP.  Oh, and the Phils lose to the Nats again, the thirteenth loss in their last sixteen meetings and fourth in five tries this season.

The natives are understandably restless.  They've become accustomed to winning.  The players look uncomfortable and defeatist.  They've become accustomed to winning, too.

All good things come to an end.  Anyone waiting for the Phils to turn things around is advised to breathe.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mediocre Through And Through

Let's not put too fine a point on all of this:  the Phutiles are a lousy team.

They cannot hit with any degree of consistency.  Their veteran players still come to the plate with little or no feel for game situations.  The pitching remains erratic.  The manager's flaws have been exposed now that he has a mediocre club.  The GM went for broke last year and is left with a broken product.

But here's the real testimony to their mediocrity:  fans leave the ballpark with two innings or more remaining when the team is trailing by two runs or less.  Notice, too, when the camera scans the seats, many are empty.  Now, it's probable those seats were sold, maintaining the string of sell-outs, but it's equally likely many of those ticket holders are becoming no-shows.  Who wants to spend three to four hours overpaying for mediocre food, struggling to exit parking lots (attendants help you check in but disappear when you prepare to check out), and
watch a boring team stumble and bumble about.

I've said it before....  What once were the hardest tickets to come by in the Spring and Summer should be easy to find come September.

* * * * * * * *

I don't know why I bother writing anything about the Sixers.   I know very little about basketball and, worse, I hate the game anyway.  That said, I find their playoff run fascinating.  Indeed, this entire year has been fascinating.  The Sixers are not a very good team when you look around the league, yet here they are in the second round of the playoffs still hanging around.

The began the season like a bat out of hell.  Then they settled into profound mediocrity.  Then they rallied at the end to just make it into the playoffs.  The beat a depleted Chicago team that was missing its best player for all but the first game of the series and another key player for the remainder.  Lots of pundits said the victory was a good one, but it was tainted.  No doubt about it.

Then they take on ancient rival Boston and play the Jekyll and Hyde role to perfection, not only from game to game but half to half.

They are hard to figure out because they are essentially unknowable.  The mystery should end this week, however, when they are finally bounced from the playoffs and can begin again, for the umpteenth time in the last decade, for figure out who they are...and aren't!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Honesty Is Not The Policy

While the Phutiles sink back to sea level another storm was brewing nine months after Ryan Howard blew out his Achilles tendon.

An article in yesterday's Inquirer outlined the risks and attendant debates associated with cortisone injections in the area in question.  Frankly, six months ago I visited my podiatrist and during the exam a resident doing a rotation with him said it was common knowledge the injection was very risky under the circumstances and without question led to the final injury.  What is less common knowledge is that major league sports teams carry all kinds of insurance for their players precisely because they regard them as equipment.  Use the equipment wisely and treat it well and it should provide years of good service.  Abuse it and treat it poorly and it will break down.

Why the article appeared now is equally mysterious.  What we do know if Phutiles GM Ruben Amaro is livid and that order.  The Phutiles have a troubled history regarding the truth about injured players, but these deficiencies normally focus on information not poor judgement regarding treatment.

Howard's loss has had a dramatic impact on the team's performance year-to-date.  By many accounts, injuries of the kind Howard sustained also have a dramatic impact on future performance of the athlete in question.  The injury Howard suffered came at the end of a season during which he was hobbled.  Now in the playoffs, the Phutiles were frantic to keep him in the lineup.  The took the gamble of injecting his injured heel with cortisone and it backfired.  They lost the playoff series and their slugger for much if not all of 2012.  For a team built to win now, Amaro felt compelled to ignore prudence.  He is paying the price now, his credibility further shaken and his team falling in the standings.

* * * * * * * * *

Right now Cole Hamels is the only consistent starting pitcher on this staff of aces.  Roy Halladay righted himself during his last outing, but needs to be consistent to convince this fan he is back in the groove.  Cliff Lee has one of the best ERA's of a losing pitcher, but nevertheless he is a losing pitcher right now.  Joe Blanton is on again, off again.  Kyle Kendrick is predictably unpredictable, and Vance Worley looks like he is going to be out a while.

Hamels gives the Phutiles a good chance to win every time out, which is why Ruben Amaro's failure to sign him to a long term deal before this woeful season got underway will cost him in the end.  Speculation the Phils will trade him at the deadline for top prospects and resign him after the season ends are the worst sort of wishful thinking.  Once Cole departs, he is gone.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rivalries: Real & Imagined

Does anyone get worked up about interleague play any more?  Not only has it become a huge anticlimax, efforts to induce rivalries have fallen flat.  Cubs-White Sox?  Who cares?  O's-Nationals?  Wake me when it's over.  Phillies-Red Sox?  Maybe if Wilt and Russell were in the lineups.

So, last night the Phils beat the Red Sox.  It was the phormerly phutiles sixth straight win and moved them two games above sea level for the first time this year.  Cole Hamels won his sixth game of the season.  Carlos Ruiz got two more hits to boost his numbers into the stratosphere.  If Chooch goes zero for his next 50 he should still be the starting catcher for the NL All Star squad.

Jonathan Papelbon came in to close the game, record his 12th save, and add a little drama (but not much, frankly) in facing his old mates.  By all accounts, he was well-liked in Bean Town.  If he keeps up his good works here, he will be well-liked in Soft Pretzelville, too!

* * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, across the street the Sixers were rallying big time to top the Celtics and even their playoff series at two games apiece.  Wilt and Russell are not present there, either, but the series is beginning to resemble the rivalries of the past in intensity.  Given we live in a Facebook and Twitter age, the memories of those rivalries seem to stop in the '80's by most accounts, when the Doctor the the Birdman were the keynote speakers for each squad.

The Sixers are mostly young, but not entirely, which explains why despite having no busy beating the Celtics they refuse to quit.  The Celtics are old and appear to need every other game off at some point in the proceedings.  If both teams play according to form, the Celts win game five, the Sixers game six and....the Celtics game seven.

BTW, I find the series intriguing for extra curricular reasons.  Basketball itself bores the hell out of me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Barrel Of Laughs

Sports are funny.  Ha ha.

Take the Phillies, for instance.  Nearly a quarter of a season is in the books and the Phils are right back where they started, i.e., EVEN.  Yesterday, for the second time in a few weeks they Phils reached sea-level with a rollicking win over the Cubs.  They have climbed back to so-so by beating up on the NL's also-rans but, hey, even is...well...even.

The brightest spot in the Phils lineup all season has been Carlos Ruiz and he delivered again last night, hitting his seventh round tripper of the year (besting his total for all of last season) in what proved to be the winning runs.

The "funny" parts of last night were the performances of Kyle Kendrick and Jose Contreras.  Kendrick has been simply awful lately, no matter what the role.  Last night his assignment was to fill in for temporarily (when have we heard that before?) injured started Vance Worley.  Kendrick has been lit up lately, coughing up leads and runs with equal ease, but last night he was terrific.  Ha ha.

Contreras, working his way back from the sort of aches and ailments only a 40-year old could understand, has been pretty awful lately, too.  So, of course, he throws a clean inning of relief, holding the fort until Ruiz' heroics.  Ha ha.

Now, the biggest ha ha of the night was actually taking place in Philadelphia, not Chicago.  There, the 76ers, who split their two games in Boston in the playoffs (they should have won both according to most observers), began the night with a basic plan:  they were going to hop on their young scooters and run the aged Celtics on their Harley hogs ragged if not into the ground.  So, naturally, the reverse happened.  The Celtics in all their medicare-supported brilliance, kicked the young 76ers all around the court and stomped them but good. 

The Celtics got the last laugh of the night!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Professional Hitter

Everyone, including yours truly, had written off Placido Polanco at the beginning of the season.  It was a particular ill-considered dismissal on my part because Polly has long been a favorite of mine.  Nevertheless, as he struggled mightily at the plate I joined the mob and called for his head...or at least his job.

Last night he became the 269th major league player to reach 2000 hits for a career.  His batting average has climbed above .280.  He is a lifetime .301 hitter.  He still fields his position admirably.  All of this proves several things, not the least of which is how little most of us know.  The other major conclusion to draw from Polly's rise is that the injuries he suffered the last few seasons took an enormous toll on him and the off-season surgery he had prior to the start of 2012 clearly restored his health.

Hats off to you, Placido Polanco.  You are and remain a professional hitter in the true sense of the word.

Postscript:  And I thought I was a glass half empty guy....

Posters on other sites are already predicting Polly won't  hold up.  Well, duh, he is getting up there in age and is going to need some time off, but to predict his decline seems a bit premature as long as, and this is a big one, Charlie can refrain from running him into the ground.  Now, we know Charlie loves his veterans and hasn't much interest in days off if he thinks he can win without them.  We shall see.  Nothing detracts from Polly's major achievement nor from his far.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Les Miserables

Roy Halladay answered the bell last night.  No one else did.

Halladay lost to even his record at 3-3.  The Inky reported last night's effort was the first time since his rookie season Halladay started five straight games in which his mates did not win.

The Phutiles were pitiful last night, none more than Hunter Pence.  His flailing has always been unorthodox but productive.  Just to show how desperate the Phutiles are, another article in the Inky this AM indicated the coaches have no intention of tinkering with his approach.  Imagine!!  Everyone was satisfied with his approach last year.  Indeed, they were so thrilled they traded for him.  Now, they promise not to tinker.  If that doesn't speak volumes about the Phutiles' miseries, nothing does!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Playing Catch Up

Chooch aside, and that's a pretty big aside, the Phils triumph last night against San Diego did little to inspire much confidence.  Just take a look at the box score for San Diego.  Hardly the '27 Yankees.  Hardly the '12 Phillies for that matter.

Back to Chooch, it's hard to imagine where the Phils would be without his steady hand, head, glove, arm AND bat.  Actually, it isn't hard to imagine.  They'd be even deeper in the cellar.

* * * * * * * *

I had the misfortune to catch the Chase Utley "interview" on DNL the other night.  Utley has perfected many aspects of baseball in his illustrious career, none better than saying nothing while moving his lips.

Here we are, eight months since the finish of last season and Utley has yet to take ground balls.  He has to "listen to his body" before pushing himself in this phase of the game.  It has become hard to imagine what would have taken more time; rehab or an operation.  Now I am not a doctor and I don't play one even on the internet.  It's entirely possible surgery was never a real option.  What is less clear is whether or not the recovery time would have been longer had it been an option and performed.

If Utley has yet to field the ball, he isn't likely to be back soon...if at all.

* * * * * * * *

A digression.....

The Sixers are celebrating their passage into the second round of the playoffs, the first time in nine years they have advanced this far.  In the course of beating Chicago more than a few people close to and/or following the team have pointed out how rare it is for an eight seed to beat a number one seed.  Furthermore, the defensive among the aforementioned group are quick to discount the victory came when Chicago was without its two best players for much of the series.

Horse feathers, as Colonel Potter would say!

The Sixers looked pitiful beating a depleted team.  They are going to have their butts kicked in the next round if Boston can stay healthy.

* * * * * * * *

Back to the diamond.....

Tonight should be a pretty big start for Roy Halladay insofar as it will tell us just how much stamina and mustard he has.  He'll be pitching on a warm but pleasant night against a rotten lineup. 

Meanwhile, John Mayberry's average and production are slowly creeping up.   He's going to be getting steady playing time. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bar The Door

Only May and already the dreaded closed door meeting has taken place. Votes of confidence cannot be far behind.

Truth be told, there's nothing to do.  The Phillies are a mess from top to bottom with few exceptions.  The starting rotation remains its only reliable commodity and the closer has been largely reliable as forecast.  Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, else is in total disarray.

It would be hard if not unfair to single out any individual for particular vilification, but Kyle Kendrick certainly holds the lead in this dubious category.  How he remains on a big league staff is testament to how thin major league pitching really is.  Kendrick should be designated for assignment but the Phils would be on the hook for a lot of money ($7.5 million) and would be hard-pressed to find someone to replace him.

Imagine, a reliever who walks batters, gives up extra base hits, hits another batter and surrenders a two-run lead and the Phils would be hard-pressed to replace him!!!!

As the Phillies sink further into the basement in the NL East, their worst record at this date since they began their championship runs in 2007, it is worth noting that help is clearly not on the way.  Reports today suggest Chase Utley is still nowhere near returning.  He can hit but he cannot field.  Maybe he should switch leagues and become a DH.  Ryan Howard was never expected to return before mid-season and, frankly, that is far too optimistic an outlook.  I doubt he will play much if at all this year.

The batters look almost defeated before they reach the plate, especially Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins.  Always-frenetic Hunter Pence always looks ready and Carlos Ruiz has literally saved what little self-respect this team has up to now.  Juan Pierre has performed better than expected.  Placido Polanco has recovered from his early season miseries.  Ty Wiggiton and Lancye Nix have performed above expectations.  That's it.  "Recovering from miseries" and "above expectations" yields a losing record every time.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

A Woeful Tale Of Three Teams

Well, sports fans, it wasn't a particularly good night to be yourselves if you reside in the Delaware Valley.

All the local professional teams lost.  None were pretty.

The Flyers, who a few weeks ago seemed poised to make a run at the Stanley Cup, were left wondering what happened after utterly collapsing against the New Jersey Devils, losing four straight as they were eliminated from the playoffs.

Here are a few suggestions:

1.  The coaching staff  never figured out how to deal with the Devils' press.  Indeed, watching the Flyers struggle to clear the puck at times made we wonder what Peter LaViolette and company did between periods let alone games.  They could not or would not adjust.

2.  It turns out Ilya Bryzgalov was not the answer in goal.  Indeed, I have never seen a goalie who was worse at handling the puck than Bryzgalov, and I don't refer only to last night's gift goal in the first period.  GM Paul Holmgren surely must have thought he'd finally solved the goalie problem last off-season when he signed the Russian.  He was wrong.  Dead wrong.  Now they are saddled with a huge contract for an unreliable goalie for another eight years.

3.  The Flyers were streaky all season, particularly on offense.  Their power play had been a strength at the end of the season and in the first round of the playoffs.  It literally disappeared versus New Jersey.  Again, the coaches failed to adjust.

4.  The Flyers are a good mix of veterans and rookies, but some of those veterans are on their last legs.  Jaromir Jagr looked his age toward the latter part of the season.  I doubt he will return.  Kimmo Timonen is nearing the end of a great career.  He might have had enough.

The Sixers failed to close out a wounded and depleted Chicago Bulls team, scoring the fewest number of points in the first half of their loss last night since 1955.  That's all you need to know about the Sixers, whom some sports writers in this town named Hayes think are poised to make the jump literally and figuratively to the next level.  If they were playing the full Bulls sqaud, the Sixers would already be playing golf.

And then there were the Phillies.  Woe are the Phillies.  Can't  hit much, especially in the clutch.  Spell "relief" GASOLINE.  Send out at least two or three starters every night who are really AAA players at best.  They are now four games below sea level and taking on water fast.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Odds And Ends

Mets 5- Phils 2.  Jonathan Papelbon serves up a 3-run homer to a call-up.

That's the beauty of a twenty-five man roster:  everyone gets a chance to blow one.

* * * * * * * *

Too bad about Jayson Werth's injury.  Apparently, he was even more angry at the cat-calls from some Phillies fans present for the event in DC.  (I thought the Nats alleged brain trust was banning Phillies fans from home games???).  Werth expressed plenty of vitriol of his own in response, promising to do everything in his power to prevent any parades down Broad Street ever again.

Not to worry, Jayson.  There aren't going to be any parades involving this team for a long time. 

* * * * * * * *

Who'd have guessed Cole Hamels was so old school?  Not only did he plunk Nats phenom Bryce Harper, he said he did it deliberately.  The Nats retaliated a short while later, plunking the plunker himself, but trust me, that ain't the end of it.  Even Werth's injury, no one's "fault", will fuel this rivalry.

* * * * * * * *

Charlie Manuel has already made more questionable decisions this season than all of last year.  The difference is he had a more talented team to offset his bungling in 2011 than in 2012.  As I said a week or so ago, no one is immune, Charlie.  They fired Terry Francona and he won TWO titles.

* * * * * * * *

One reason this team cannot establish any rhythm is that Manuel has already panicked about the slow, at times painfully slow, starts of several players being counted on this season.  The lineup remains completely unsettled, batting order and starters.  Meanwhile, middle relief is a complete mess.  The setup role is, too.

* * * * * * * *

Carlos Ruiz has been the Phillies most reliable player this season.  This comes as no surprise.  If he continues to hit, Ruiz will be rewarded with an All Star appearance on merit.  It won't hurt matters that he will also be the only Phillie deserving of a spot.  Remember, every team must be represented.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


Without question one of the biggest if not the biggest stories of the Spring has been the utter futility of Albert Pujols since donning the halo. 

Homerless and batting below  the Mendoza line (say it ain't so, Alberto), Pujols has hit rock bottom.

The Inky reported Albert was benched for yesterday's game.  ESPN noted he'd been given the day off.

One man's benching is another man's respite.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Role Reversal

It's a classic story.  One team, perennial losers, builds slowly through the draft.  The losses mount, but, then, so do the draft picks.

The other, perennial winners (in recent times, at least), reaches the top largely through its productive farm system at first but in order to stay at the top largely via trades and free agency.

The perennial losers slowly improve over the years, adding a piece here and a piece there, primarily through their own farm system.  The perennial winners get old rather suddenly, their decline compounded by serious injuries to key players. Unfortunately, there aren't many replacements down on the farm; many of their top prospects having been traded.

The losers were built to win later.  The winners were built to win now.

It's a story often repeated.  It's a story being repeated right now in the NL East.

The Washington Nationals are arriving; the Philadelphia Phillies are departing.  If not this season, then next will see a complete role reversal

And, oh yes, by the way.....

The Phils were stomped today by the Nationals 7-1, the second straight victory for the ascending Nats.  The pitcher for Washington was former Phillies farmhand and phenom Gio Gonzalez.

Strictly By The Book

Round one to the Nationals with an assist from the umpires.  Make no mistake about it, however, the real mistakes continue to be made by the bullpen, which coughs up leads with alarming frequency.  The only exception is closer Jonathan Papelbon, who cannot be faulted when he doesn't even get into the game.

Charlie Manuel loves to play by the book and the chapter he most dearly loves details how you don't bring your closer in before the ninth inning and NEVER on the road.  Those who live by the book.....

Friday, May 04, 2012

There's No Place Like....Washington

Folks around these parts like to think the Phillies-Mets are natural rivals separated by one turnpike, but the Washington Nationals seem poised to take over as the team we most like to hate.

The Nationals' front office stoked the fires of this rivalry by complaining publicly of the huge number of Phillies fans who had the effrontery  to fill their own stadium for games between the two teams.  Worse, the Nats alleged brain trust decided to limit the number of tickets it would make available to Phillies fans for the 2012 season.  If that weren't fuel enough, the Nats went out over the last two seasons and drafted some damn good players, some of whom are coming into their own and others who have arrived on the scene with a bang!  This, mind you, while the Philllies were getting old and injured.

It's difficult to imagine exactly how the Nationals can control who buys tickets to their games unless they track ISP's on web purchases and conveniently fail to fill any mail orders whose zip codes include 191_ _.  I guess they can also monitor Stub Hub, but it seems unlikely the latter would agree to such restraints of trade.

The assumption here is the Nats just want to get their fans whipped up into enough of a frenzy to go out and buy tickets.

Ever since the Montreal Expos expired only to be resurrected as the Washington Nationals, one of the questions surrounding this latest incarnation of a franchise in the nation's capital has been "will anyone show up"?.   Washington is famously hot and humid during the summer and, worse, abandoned by many of its better-heeled inhabitants who prefer Bethany or Rehoboth, DE, to the banks of the Anaconda River. Years of losing haven't helped, but now the Nats seem on the verge of becoming winners.  They still need offense and a serious closer, but they have addressed one of those needs with the call-up of Bryce Harper, the most touted phenom in baseball.

Tonight's meeting between the clubs, the first of the season, promises to be a doozy with one caveat:  instead of sending out one of its aces, the Phils are throwing Kyle Kendrick to the   Kendrick hardly inspires confidence, especially when his mound opponent is the Nats bona fide star hurler Stephen Strasburg.  Tomorrow night the Phils get to face former farmhand Gio Gonzalez, who has blossomed into a front line pitcher as well.  The Nats will be without star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, on the DL, and possible Adam LaRoche, who has a habit of hitting well against the Phils.

The Phils, meanwhile, are coming off a series win in Atlanta during which the offense exploded at times.

It should be a good one, especially when the turnstile results are counted.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Hey, at least they hit!

If you are following along, you might want to take a moment to officially add Roy Halladay to your list of worries about these Phillies.

Halladay was staked to a 6-0 lead in Atlanta last night and proceeded to give up eight runs before departing the scene.  The Phils rallied a few times to take the lead before blowing it and the game in the 11th inning thanks to a walk-off home run by Chipper Jones, one of the resident Phillies killers.  Braves catcher Brian McCann, the president of the local chapter, socked a grand slam off Halladay earlier in the night.

All in all it was an incredibly ugly affair thanks to a pitching staff that was simply awful.

The Inquirer reported this AM the Phillies hadn't blown a game in which they scored 13 runs since 1969.  Good thing, too, because this kind of game leaves just about everyone muttering and wiping spittle off his chin.

There were a few highlights, of course.  How couldn't there be when you score 13 runs?  Carlos Ruiz continues to lead this club in just about every important way.  Last night he gave them two leads while knocking in seven runs.  Ruiz called his usual fine game.  It's just too bad he couldn't call the pitches AND throw them!!