February 28, 2015

A look at the Reds series – and how our offense has fared since the Pence deal

I haven’t seen a Phillies game since 8/17. Been on vacation in New England with no national games, and both weekend games were cancelled once I got home. For that reason, I am going to put together an ol’ fashioned series thread.

2011: 83-46 (104-win pace)
2010: 72-57
2009: 76-53
2008: 70-59
2007: 67-62

Crazy to think – we were FIFTEEN games behind our current pace in 2007, and still made the playoffs…

Let’s take a look at our offense since the Pence trade…

Good News

  • Is Mayberry the next Jayson Werth? Probably not – but he’s played so well Charlie simply can’t justify playing Raul anymore
  • Pence has played well above his career averages thus far. It’s unreasonable to think he can stay this high, but not unreasonable to think he can improve upon his prior years in Houston
  • Howard has had a nice little resurgence since the Pence deal, but I don’t think it has anything to do with that protection business. Good pitchers aren’t scared to throw to Howard.
Bad News
  • Remember that whole “resting Utley more” thing? Well he leads the team in AB during this stretch, and is showing a dip in power – as he has in the past when he gets run down late in the season.
  • Ibanez and Martinez, yuck
  • Ruiz has done well, but his walks have dropped off as of late
Prospect Update
  • Brian Pointer has put himself on the prospect map with a very solid start in the GCL. A 2010 draftee, Pointer nixed his Oregon State scholarship to sign with the Phillies. He was drafted in the 28th round due to his commitment, but signed a $350k bonus (2nd-3rd round money) with the Phillies. So far this year, in 169 AB, the 19-year old has a .273/.353/.508 line and leads the team in HR (6) and SB (8).
Series Preview – Phillies at Reds
Mon, 7:10 – Hamels (2.62 ERA, 5.0 WAR) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (4.44 ERA, 0.4 WAR)
Tues, 7:10 – Halladay (2.56 ERA, 6.0 WAR) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (5.02 ERA, -0.5 WAR)
Wed, 7:10 –  Lee (2.71 ERA, 5.2 WAR) vs. LHP Dontrelle Willis (4.10 ERA, 0.6 WAR)
Thu, 12:35 –  Worley (2.65 ERA, 2.5 WAR) vs. RHP Mike Leake (4.04 ERA, 1.5 WAR)
Series Expectations
Considering our worst guy pitching (Worley) has a full 1.o WAR over any of the 4 going for Cinci – it’s hard to imagine us not winning 3 of 4.
Cinci is pretty desperate right now though – if they are going to make a move it has to be now. And Joey Votto is absolutely killing it – with a 1.232 OPS in August – so it would be very wise for us to not pitch much to him.


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  1. jjg says:

    On a hunch I like Reds against Hamels tonight.  They’re too dangerous a line-up to let Cole master ‘em forever.  He’s coming off his shelf.  Votto, Phillips, Bruce and Rolen – the strongest .242 in the game – await.  Reds NEED immediate Ws.  Dusty’s toothpicks are fresh off the lathe, ready to think.  Law of averages points to Reds win, or at least gettin’ to Hamels some at their home park.  Watch him hurl a 2-hit, 11 K shutout. 


    • phillyfan says:

      I liked the way Cole pitched, and I liked the way Charlie yanked him early.

      Then Shane does well…what a team MVP does. 

  2. Dude says:

    Vintage Chooch at bat there. Took some pitches, fouled some more off, then finally got something he could just serve out behind the runner. Professional.

  3. jjg says:

    Well, at least Pence got to Hamels.

    Shane & Chooch:  blood & guts.

    Big:  Votto bouncing to Utley on 2-0 Stutes delivery to close B8.  Joey, punching air, concurred.

    Hadn’t realized Mr. Rolen was out due to shoulder surgery.  Might’ve made a difference.  Then again, he might’ve flailed at Cole’s southwesterly change-ups like the other righties.

    Marge Schott and Michael Vick wouldn’t have gotten along … “The dog lives here, Pete.  You’re just visiting.”   

  4. Ken Bland says:

    And now, it’s time to test Phillie fan’s memories and see if they can recall a time when they were younger.  The perfect question to do so is when is the last time that Billy Hamilton stole 95 bases.

    With no mention of if I cheated or not to answer this by looking it up, or recalled from memory of when it was live,  Billy Hamilton exceeded the 95 mark was when he ripped off 97 bases in 1895.  This bookended an age 28 year in ’94 when he hit the 100 mark exactly.

    But alas, Billy Hamilton of the Class A Dayton Reds farm affiliate is winding his season down this year at 95 steals, and a .337 OBP, off a .274 BA.  This might bhe part of the Reds rebuild the farm system plan, the one that fell off back in 1971 when they drafted some kid they never signed, and passed on Mike Schmidt, and George Brett.

    And for all I know, there might be 15 other Billy Hamiltons on this side of the earth’s surface, but cain’t many if any be stealing sacks at that pace.       

  5. Ken Bland says:

    Good pitchers aren’t scared to throw to Howard>>

    This speaks greatly to something I’m concerned about in a series of playoff level pitching after playoff level pitching.  Starters, pen, the whole bit.

    It’s not that good pitchers are not afraid to throw to Howard.  It’s that they know they don’t need to throw strikes.  I think that’s much more telling.

    Both last year, and this year, FanGraphs data has shown a ridiculous percentage of balls out of the zone that RyHo has swung at.  It’s frankly amazing that he spent time with the most disciplined hitter baseball’s had in ages, in Barry Bonds 2 off seasons ago, and has raised his swing percentage outside the zone that correlates directly to reduced power.  Contrary to public opinion, the age of the player and length of the contract coming up are not criminally tied.  Oh, he may not hit balls quite with the authority he still does when he’s 36, but he still smashes the ball with more than enough authority that you know he’s still got it.  Even at age 35, 36, his homers might level off, but he should still be dangerous, but his propenisty for swinging at unhittable pitches is just killing his skill.

    Now keep that last sentence in mind for a minute while I tie it in with an even scarier thought.  Hitters are defined in multiple ways.  Lefty or righty, power or spray, disciplined or patient.  The talk was getting a righty to bat behind Howard.  Werth was righty.  But Werth could be maybe even more defined in the patient part of patient versus impatient.  Pence, awesome on the whole as he is, is a comparitively similar swing at balls guy.  So the righty problem is solved, but now you have 2 guys that you can get to swing at unhittable pitches.  A wait and see attitude is best advised on how Pence does against consistent playoff level pitching, best characterized by a talent for knowing who they can get way with throwing balls to.  Add Ibanez to that as the 6 hitter, and it’s a scary proposition facing a smart pitcher in the playoffs.  Even batting Mayberry behind those 2 only reduces the “problem” so much.

    RyHo and Pence are powerful, dangerous hitters.  They could go back to back deep and drive the autumn Bank throng nuts.  But it’s at a minimum scary as to think of what percentages are more likely, especially since it’s an absolute lock that Charlie’s not altering his 4-5 combo.  If disciplined hitting shows up out of nowhere, the only question left is where the club ranks historically.  That part of credit for winning the tournament is a longshot.

  6. Jesse says:

    I have Phillies comments (not really related to the post though….)
    I remember hearing during a game at the start of the month that the Phillies were trying to become the 5th team in MLB history to win at least 16 games each month during the regular season. I cannot find a list of the teams who have accomplished this anywhere. Do you know how I could figure out who the first 4 were?

    • Ken Bland says:

      its probably the 1906 Cubs, 95 Mariners, 98 Yanks, and 02 Giants or Braves, maybe 1954 Tribe.  Go to baseball reference.com, go to teams, and start clicking around to see the team records in corresponding year, and break it down by month.  A google search for a quick answer didn’t help.

      Best I can tell ya.  Maybe someone else does better. 

      • Ken Bland says:

        scratch the Mariners, from 01 was the 116 game winner anyway, not 95.  Only won 15 games in September.
        I bet Stark uncovered that fact, might answer a tweet or e mail with answer even if he didn’t tap the fact. 

  7. Ken Bland says:

    nice way to start the game.  Res TV…”let’s hope for an 8 1/2 inning game.


  8. Ken Bland says:

    Kershaw should watch this game.  he might learn something.  Fred Lewis just did.  Wham, bam, see ya.

    Da Doctor. 

  9. Ken Bland says:

    Fans can choose from this ballot of 75 eligible broadcasters, which includes a pair from each of the 30 big league markets, as well as traditional fan-ballot favorites for Frick Award entry into Cooperstown.  Names in bold would be my yes votes 
    • Arizona Diamondbacks: Greg Schulte, Daron Sutton
    • Atlanta Braves: Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren
    • Baltimore Orioles: Joe Angel, Jim Hunter
    • Boston Red Sox: Joe Castiglione, Jerry Remy
    • Chicago Cubs: Pat Hughes, Ron Santo
    • Chicago White Sox: Ed Farmer, Ken Harrelson
    • Cincinnati Reds: Waite Hoyt, Joe Nuxhall
    • Cleveland Indians: Mike Hegan, Herb Score (gimme a break, no Tom Hamilton? c’mon!)
    • Colorado Rockies: Jack Corrigan, Wayne Hagin
    • Detroit Tigers: George Kell, Jim Price
    • Florida Marlins: Tommy Hutton, Rick Waltz
    • Houston Astros: Bill Brown, Larry Dierker
    • Kansas City Royals: Ryan Lefebrve, Paul Splittorff
    • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Dick Enberg, Jose Mota
    • Los Angeles Dodgers: Rick Monday, Ross Porter
    • Milwaukee Brewers: Merle Harmon, Bill Schroeder
    • Minnesota Twins: Dick Bremer, John Gordon
    • New York Mets: Gary Cohen, Ralph Kiner
    • New York Yankees: Michael Kay, John Sterling
    • Oakland Athletics: Ray Fosse, Bill King
    • Philadelphia Phillies: Richie Ashburn, Chris Wheeler
    • Pittsburgh Pirates: Steve Blass, Lanny Frattare
    • San Diego Padres: Ted Leitner, Eduardo Ortega
    • San Francisco Giants: Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper
    • Seattle Mariners: Ron Fairly, Rick Rizzs
    • St. Louis Cardinals: Al Hrabosky, Mike Shannon (absolutely!)
    • Tampa Bay Rays: Todd Kalas, Dewayne Staats (very underappreciated)
    • Texas Rangers: Mark Holtz, Eric Nadel
    • Toronto Blue Jays: Tom Cheek, Jerry Howarth
    • Washington Nationals: Bob Carpenter, Charlie Slowes

    • joe says:

      I went to college near St Louis and loved there announcers.  I preferred Jack Buck to Shannon, but both were great.  I also loved Al Hrabosky (especially w Joe Buck), he just hillarious to listen to- often wanting more High and tight pitches, almost picking fights w fans in the bleachers at wrigley.  I also loved the father/son dynamic when Joe and Jack Buck where calling innings together.  I really like Joe back then when he just a cards announcer.  I think SHannon is still on KMOX (you can still get it on a clear night in probably half the country).   but with the Bucks, Shannon, Hrabosky, and Bob Carpeter- they had quite a crew on the mic.  The locals loved those guys to and people brought there radios to listen to them at the games (not just headsets, but big boom boxes)

  10. Ken Bland says:

    Reds TV – last team to finish w/ 3 starters under 2.80 ERA – I’d have guessed it went back to O’s in 70′s, but since they ruled them out, I’ll take the Stros in 05 with Roy, Andy and Rocket.

  11. Ken Bland says:

    100 ribs before Labor Day, one more time.

    Ry HO! 

    • jjg says:

      Eh, numbers.  Was he jutting his mandible, doing his underbiting meany mug?  I want to see him deliver in the playoffs.  He’s had a good rest in that respect.  147 KayOs in 550 PA!    

  12. Ken Bland says:

    A few minutes ago, followers of Phillies baseball finally finished debating whether Del Ennis was good to have on the club.  Yet, every time Ryan Howard does something good, it stirs the same old conversation that people have stated theor opinions on countless times.  Higher than countless.  Tonight, fresh off his usual cemtury ribbie mark topping for like the 6th straight year, not to mention 28th 4 ply swat, beat writers were tweeting the usual RyHo negative stats.

    Like 54th in OPS in the League at .815, and the usual RBI stat is weak.

    It gets old.

    And what really gets old is that I’m sooo tired of it.  Yeah, they either like RyHo, or they don’t, fans and media alike.  But they are gonna keep up with the same old same old for years.  The contract ain’t changing.  Most of his weak points ain’t changing.  Harry’s throwing a CY like effort, and RyHo steals the chat.  I guess some guys swing their sticks to the tune of being a lightning rod.  But it do get old to at least 1 person.  

    • Ken Bland says:

      Tweeter talk

      <<By the way: Howard’s OPS w/RISP is .938, second among #Phillies (min 50 AB w/RISP). You know who’s better? Wilson Valdez at .975. Seriously.>>

      morale of the story is give Valdez a new contract. 

    • jjg says:

      I haven’t liked the guy since he was in LA on a national show noddin’ his head like a donkey in the wake of Rollins’ ‘Philly fans are frontrunners’ put down.  More a follower than a leader.  Gets paid like a leader.  Gives like a taker.  His limitations are limitless.  The bland bomber. 

      • Ken Bland says:

        That’s cool.

        Just please don’t tell me you rooted for Apollo against Yo Rock.  If you did, lie to me and tell me you didn’t.  

        • jjg says:

          No, I cannot tell a lie.  I didn’t root for Apollo.  Or Apollo’s team, the Oakland Raiders.  Wasn’t that into Rocky either.  Could take him or leave ‘em.  Did like his manager, his girlfriend, his turtle. his fish and Stu Nahan though.   

          • Ken Bland says:

            Disgraceful that Mantle’s still “The Mick” after Burgess Merideth’s work.  Yo Adrian was 1 sexy lady when she stayed away from Paulie.  But what an effort by Burt Young to play that role though. Cuff and Link are my 2 all time idols.  Captian Philadelphia was pretty cool.  That crossover talent was well demonstrated by career end. 

  13. Ken Bland says:

    Here’s another thing about this Negadelphia thining I’m getting on.

    Sure as Pluto is further away from Wichita than Jupiter, the reaction to this game/series will be yeah, well, they beat another so so team.

    And we can’t exactly argue that, but with the horrors that have taken place in this park over the many years of the rivalry, gimme a break.  It’s not enough that playing winning baseball is back, or should be.  Not enough that the ghosts in Ohio are quiet, which no matter how much better the roster is seldom seems to matter, just always look for something to bitch about.

    But they’ll be at the next parade, mind you. 

    Some wins are indeed special.  But  a win is a win is a win.          

  14. jkay says:

    let’s just agree that the average fan has considerable bias and his opinion on any player should be taken with minimal credibility.
    on the other hand Doc just doubled to clear the bases. let me repeat, doubled. Halladay, once of sub .090 BA, before a few bloopers helped raise that, and even more pitiful .121SLG%. Ha! What a game. wish I were watching it.

    • Ken Bland says:

      I think Doc doubled his career RBI total off that sucker.  Nice.

      • Ken Bland says:

        Some players with fewer bases-loaded RBI than Roy Halladay this season: Dan Uggla, Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, Jose Bautista, Vlad Guerrero.

        courteousy ESPN 

    • jjg says:

      Do I infer correctly to conclude that you’re a genuine above-average fan?  If so, what’s the secret?  And when is your autograph stand next open?      

      • jkay says:

         now you’re just being snarky.

        • jjg says:

          … in the name of making a point that we’re all average fans.  Your WIP reference with its encoded degradation is insulting to scores and scores of locals, is off-base imo and resounds with an air of holier-than-thou, which is holier than very little.  But that’s my take.

          • jkay says:

            I just think too many people are swayed by talk and analysis and can’t just enjoy the ride. 
            I think WIP is an anger therapy session. I do look down on anyone who listens to that.

          • jjg says:

            “enjoy the ride” … I get that part and second the motion.

            The “sway[ing] by talk and analysis” is part of human nature, elements of our constant flux.

            WIP … I enjoy the guy on the street for what he’s worth.  Most of the the blatherers  behind the mic are snooze pills and some are downright obnoxious.  I’ll give ya this:  the station is on the decline.     

    • jjg says:

      A pitcher doubled.  My, my.  Wonders just won’t cease.  Next thing you know, dugouts will empty and another game’ll be in the books.

  15. Ken Bland says:

    gotta play it realistically here.  115 pitch approximate limit.  But only so much chance to regroup.  Cmon Doc

  16. Ken Bland says:

    I assume Doc is done.  You take what you can get.  It’s not like CK wouldn’t a be a fine rep of the CY if it goes that way, and Cliff’s not done, but it is the Doc’s award.  he didn’t hurt his cause tonight.  Award or not, he’s still the Doc.  &th inning like killed him, must have been close to 30 pitches, and K ratio was awesome early, just decent by night’s end.

    But that’s the Doc.  Mini Mart makes an error aginst the Mets, and KK can’t stop the bleeding.  mets lead, 4 zip.  Doc gets in a jam in the 7th, but SUTS THAT SUCKER DOWN.

    Still, and always the best.  Proud to watch the man work his craft.

    And Cliff tomorrow.  Welcome to heaven.      

    • Phillyfan says:

      Kershaw has to be considered the frontrunner at this point.  He leads Doc in wins and ERA (even if slightly) and strikeouts by a good margin.  That alone is enough to give him the nod.  That he has done it ona bad team, whether it should be factored in or not, is and make his numbers more impressive.

  17. Ken Bland says:

    Like to see Schwimer get the 9th.  Give him some road exposure.  Hope Madson gets to pitch tomorrow.  Gotta get some rhythm going, several 2 on, 1 off in a row would be nice.  Be nice to get the shutout, too.

  18. Ken Bland says:

    Speaking of the average fan, however that’s defined, the view after tonight will be id RyHo heating up again?

    And the answer is no.  It’s more a situation where he did in 2 very half decent pitchers.  It’ll be the same old song.  He’ll continue periodic clobberings off the Chris Volstadt’s of the world, but until he starts limiting his swings more (not entirely) to hittable pitches, he is what he is.  Sometimes, it’s become hard to root for, or at least not get disgusted by.  But to anyone thinking he’s on a straight hill downhill, guess again.

    That’s one average fan’s view, spoken with much above average certainty, for what that’s worth.

    ^5 to number 6 on 2 dingers.       

  19. jjg says:

    Schwimer’s herky-jerky delivery reminds me of 60′s reliever Dick Hall, though it’s not as eccentric in style.  Let’s hope he becomes as good a pitcher as the former Swarthmore College great. 

  20. Ken Bland says:

    Schwimer was optioned out after the game.  This may pave the way for a roster move tomorrow.  I don’t know, maybe a lefty reliever, maybe a lefty bat.  Hard to imagine Giambi clearing waivers, but maybe, and Matsui supposedly has cleared, but that’s not supposed to be public knowledge, so who knows.  Might be Dom coming back.  God only knows what the thinking on Gload is at this time, with the hip.

    This 8/31 on the roster to be playoff eligible might get overblown.  Supposedly, there’s a loophole around it, workable by just 60 day DLing a guy to clear room.  Might be wrong, but I don’t think Conrtreras is on the 60, so they could move him, and bring back Schwim, if they chose to.  No doubt he’ll be an important part of the pen the next couple years, but he’s a really knowledgable baseball guy, and shares that with the fans, so there’s strong interest in seeing him get a chance to compete for a ring, and with this special bunch.  You never know how often you’ll get to the World Series.  

  21. Stacy says:

    I forgot about Contreras – he’s still listed as on the 15 day DL – you’d have to think they’ll transfer him to the 60 day to make room.  They already know he’s not coming back this season.

    • Ken Bland says:

      They just did move him to make room for John Bowker, lefty pinch bat acquired from the Pirates.  1B/OF, nice pinch hitting record.

      • jkay says:

        so does this mean Gload is gonna get shelved?
        Phils are never clear about his injury status

        • Ken Bland says:

          Um, I guess so?  I mean you’d think so, wouldn’t you?  It’s kinda weird in that they didn’t move Gload to the DL to make room for what I assumje is a double supply of lefty on the bench, but I don’t have much unserstanding of the 25 vs. 40 and all that good stuff.

          • Stacy says:

            I’m not sure what good keeping him is going to do.  If he gets a hit then you have to use an additional player to run and if he doesn’t get a hit, then you just wasted an at bat anyway. 

  22. Ken Bland says:

    This 16 wins every month question Jessie asked yesterday is getting a little tricky.  He said 4 teams had done it previously, and the Phils win last night gave them 17 wins each of the last 3 months, and head into September in position to qualify.  Specially with the raibn caused doubleheaders, adding like 2-3 games to the schedule.

    You’d think the predecessors were high win total teams.  But the 54 Tribe (111), 86 Mets (108), 75 Reds (108), 27 Yanks (110), 93 Braves (104), 74 Dodgers (102), 01 M’s (115) fell short.  So did the 70 Orioles, who completed a back to back Bird finish of 109 and 108 wins in regular season play.  That is bleeping awesome.  But the 69 Birds, who lost to the Mets in the Series did it, as did the truly great team of the 98 Yanks, who won 114, and might have beaten the best Braves team ever in the Series, in 4 straight, no less, after losing the first 2.

    Now there are no doubt a few high team wins I didn’t check on that might make up the other 2, but they might just be consistent win clubs.  You just don’t win 16 games exactly 6 months in a row, but maybe you can be 1 of the clubs by winning as few as 100 or so.       

    So now you have 2 of the previous 4 – 98 Yanks, 69 O’s. 

  23. Ken Bland says:

    There is still a long way to go in the CY race, and in that regard, it seems pointless to update opinions with any degree of frequency.

    That said, it’s ridiculously tight between Doc and Kshaw, and having an edge going into a start sure doesn’t hurt in competition so keen.

    My feeling today is that the competition between the 2 is so tight that I might lean on tiebreakers if I had a ballot, and use the have to beat the champ to dethrone him mentality (rightly or wrongly), in couple with Doc’s pitching meaningful baseball all year by definition of a pennant race.

    Now that said, I’m also of the opinion that if Cliff throws a complete game shutout tonight, rather assumptive that it might be, I think he will hold the same hair’s length edge over Doc that I’m suggesting Doc holds over Kshaw.

    Doc essentially leads Cliff by bare margins in a good number of categories.  But with Cliff getting his numbers even more in line off his last game, 7 shutout innings, he’s positioned himself to catch Doc with this start, if he can go the 9, and carry the typical numbers you might expect in a Cliff shutout.  Like 8 Ks, 5 hits, a walk.  In that range.

    Great as he is, it’s still kind of amazing that Cliff has climbed to this close.  He’s really terrific in his own right, but not Doc.  And it’s not like Doc’s done anything that reflects a diminishing pitcher.  But Cliff, with what would be 6 CG shutouts has that nudge and tiebreaker in his pocket if he can get it done tonight.

    Gonna be a great race no matter who wins.                

    • jjg says:

      Cliff “Laser” Lee:  Last 5, Tomato Can City.

      Mets        TKO    ranked 7 of 16 (runs scored)  @ Blue Horizon South (sellout)  
      D-Backs   TKO    ranked 4 of 16                      @ Blue Horizon South (sellout)
      Dodgers   TKO    ranked 12 of 16                    @ LA Sports Arena vicinity
      Giants       KO     ranked 16 of 16                    @ Cow Palace vicinity 
      Pirates     TKO    ranked 13 of 16                    @ Blue Horizon South (sellout) 

      Tonight’s a test.  When they’re right, Reds can hit like Ernie “The Acorn” Shavers.

      • Ken Bland says:
        • jjg says:

          Strong rebuttal!  However, Elias research forgets Johnson & Gibson pitched to wooden bats, not rubber ones.  :)

          Reds need Scotty – of 2004. 

          • Ken Bland says:

            Oh, I wasn’t so much rebutting, as maybe suggesting that all that’s remembered will be the numbers.  Let’s face it, Gibby, great as he was, had some pitcher flavored advantages in that particular year, and for all I know, Walter might have had same in his year (to take nothing away from either).

            I actually was of the same mentality when Cliff got rolling in June tomato can wise in projecting him as on a roll, or not, and all star worthy or not.  He started off against a couple slumping, or unskilled clubs, and it wasn’t until either the Red Sox, or one start before that, that I was more confident of a roll.  

          • jjg says:

            Lee is pitching lights out lately.  Gotta hand it to him. 

            Just one of the differences between Cliffy and Gibby:  Lee has some ham in him, Bob was dead serious about his work.  I guess 20-some million for each of the next 5 seasons tends to loosen a fella up.

  24. Jesse says:

    Ken – thanks for the response I thought my question got lost in the shuffle. I wish I wrote down the 4 teams when I saw the graphic (I believe it was on the Dodgers Broadcast when the Phillies played out in LA earlier this month). I’m sure if the Phillies get close to that mark that stat will appear again.

    • Ken Bland says:

      The Phils are already closer to that mark than close defines.  I mean, geez, September checks in as less than 7 hours old, and all that’s needed is a 16-13 record the rest of the way. 

  25. Ken Bland says:

    Clayton Kershaw historically…

    Going all the way back to 1901, and requiring at least 600 innings logged before turning 24 years old, Kershaw has the 10th best ERA+ at 131. If we instead go back to 1950, then only Dwight Gooden, Bert Blyleven and Dean Chance rank ahead of him. Kershaw finds himself in even more limited company when some of his best attributes are introduced. Since 1901, there are only two pitchers to throw 600 innings before their 24th birthday, while also posting a 9+ K/9: Kershaw and Sam McDowell. The latter whiffed 9.7 batters per nine innings over 799 2/3 frames over the 1961-66 seasons.

  26. Ken Bland says:

    Looks like RyHo won’t be at 35/110 by Labor Day.  Chris Volstadt pitched yesterday against the Meet the Mets.  That’s too bad.  That one sided matchup is always fun to watch.

    I have figured out a way to think highly of Thomas McCarthy, and Christopher Wheeler.  Its called pay attention to the audio portion of Tom Brenneman, and Jeff Brantley.  The raves about Ibanez “excellent career”, and he will find a job next year are rather amazing.   Brenneman, having those good genes in place maybe oughta stick to the pbp portion of the assignment, although clearly, that’s a trait that isn’t available from that family’s genetics.

  27. Ken Bland says:

    update…I have downgraded the junior Brenneman, and Brantley from morons to imbiciles.  And every time they irritate me, the Phils score another run.  It’s all good. 

    • jjg says:

      Where do idiots and simpletons scale relative to morons and imbeciles?  Seems to be fine lines which I can’t discern.  I know a pinwheel hat is a dead giveaway for one of ‘em.  Not sure which.  Any thoughts?   

      • Ken Bland says:

        I’m too much of a simpleton to answer that idiotic question.

        But I’m laughing at it. 

        • Ken Bland says:

          Here’s an example of an imecile, a category so exemplified in this form that places an imbecile as off the charts..
          n choosing the easy way out by signing with Philadelphia, Cliff Lee‘s quest for a World Series ring has suddenly become hollow. Pedro Martinez would not have done this. Doc Gooden would not have done this. Sandy Koufax would not have done this. Those guys, were real men. They would not have wanted to pitch with Roy Halladay. They would have wanted to beat him.
          To be truly great, you have to win with your own team. In taking the sidekick route, Cliff Lee revealed that he isn’t serious about working. When the going got tough, Cliff Lee ran away.
          His legacy is forever destroyed. Instead of sticking it out and winning a championship for the people of Texas, Lee checked out. To make matters worse, he’s from Arkansas, which is basically the same thing. Such a bitter Lee-trayal.
          I blame today’s hip-hop AAU culture. These kids today… they’re all friends. They become “boys” (that’s what they call it) when they are 12 and it’s all a game to them. It’s terrible. Things were better when guys only ran into each other at the paternity tests. When I look at today’s sports world. I’m sickened. The greatest moment of my childhood was when [insert name] did [insert insane thing]. That was the spectacle of human greatness instantiated.

          Don’t blame Cliff Lee though. He really doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s surrounded by a team of yes men that are telling him we’ll all praise him.
          How wrong they are.
          Instead of choosing to be truly great, instead of choosing to be the man, Cliff Lee revealed himself to be a little punk. Instead of …. blah blah blah something phallic and psycho-sexual he blah blah blah something considered feminine.

  28. Ken Bland says:

    Vegas update…..

    When we first checked Vegas post season odds about a month ago, you had to wager 11 to win 10 on the Phils to win the pennant, and 10 to win 50 on the Crew.

    Times have changed.  Now, you have to wager 13 to win 10 on the Phils, and 10 to win 35 on the Crew.  The Braves remain a 10 to win 50 payoff, the Giants now pay 120 on a 10 dollar wager (must be Jonathan Sanchez’s injury, huh?), and the Dbacks offer like half the profitability they did.

    You bet 10 bucks on the Phils to win it all, the payoff is 21 dollars.        

    • jjg says:

      21 bucks … less than half a tank of gas.  Tanks, but no tanks.  The road is strewn with flagmen like Jurrjens and Hudson and Cain and Lincecum and Gallardo and Marcum.  10 for a fill-up sounds better.

      • Ken Bland says:

        Financial management wise, it’s absolute nuts.  If you can’t find sharper chances to do with your money than bet such a return on getting through this field, there’s something wrong with you.  It’s an absolute sucker bet.
        You wanna put some throway money on it to show Phillie loyalty, it’s a whole different presentation. 

  29. Ken Bland says:

    Here’s a cute goal for see you in September.  Pretty sure I remember this correctly from a Zoelecki tweet.

    Seems like Pence kinda just got here yesterday, right?  Flies do time when you’re winning, ya know?

    If the Phils win 17 games in September, hardly a miraculous amount, Pence will have been a part of the Phillies for more wins than he was for Astros wins in 2011.

    This must be more than night and day to the fired up right fielder.       

    • Stacy says:

      no kidding?  that’s awesome.

    • jkay says:

      Pence started 100 games for the Stros, is there anything tangibly quantitative in your evaluation (WAR?) or is it something intrinsic/perceived?

      • jkay says:

        omitted: started 100 games, they had won at least 35 by the time he was traded.

      • Ken Bland says:

        no, its straight fact.  Like if they played 100, what did they win, maybe 33?  So if he’s played here for 35, and we’ve won 22, he’d need to play in 12 more to have played in more Phillie wins than Stros wins.  This is arbitrary numbers I’m using.  I’m not certain TZ said 17 was the needed total, just reasonably sure.  Just seems amazing he’d have a chance to do more wins here than there since his joining the team seems so recent.


        • jkay says:

          hmm, that’s nice, but duhhh!!  – It’s the freaking Astros versus the Phils.
          It’d sound more insane once he gets those 12 wins though. it would be the equivalent of a long distance runner overlapping his competitor on the track.

          • Ken Bland says:

            here’s the straight dope, assuming I’m correct that Hunter wrapped up with the Stros the Thursday before 7/31, and he debuted here that Saturday night.  Prett ysure that timeline’s right.

            He was with the Stros for 35 wins.  Not counting today, pending, the Phils have won 20 since he got here.

            So they need 16 wins, 15, if today’s lead holds up to have been part of the Phils for more wins than Houston had while he was with them.     

  30. Ken Bland says:

    wonder how Billy Wagner’s enjoying his 1st year away from the game.  Never cheated anyone on effort, left the game on his terms, easily could have picked up more millions with another year.  Real smooth transition away from Billy in the Braves pen made it even a quieter move.

  31. Ken Bland says:

    How’s this for progression?

    Bastardo….batting average against….

    09 – .274
    10 – .253
    11 – .114

    The WHIP drop is also better than outstanding, but he’s walked 19 in 50 innings, which is pretty good, but it’s the lack of hits that’s really propelled the BAA drop, so bragging on the WHIP drop is redundant.  I believe I’ll be calling Bastardo Venters North for a spell.  Even related to cat acquisitions, I seem to have a fine knack for naming skills.  At least if I quit thinking so while I’m ahead.         

    • Ken Bland says:

      Scratch that.  Bastardo South might become Venters new nickname.  Prolly sell better to the Philadelphia custmer base.

  32. Ken Bland says:

    Now I like the steady work for Ryan, 3 in a row, CONDSIDERING last night was only 1 hitter, but hopefully, this takes him out of tomorrow vs the Fish.  Steady through September, but not overdoing it.  Gotta have this guy ready for the playoffs.  Starters, Bastardo, Madson, other guys spotted, and it’s a plan.

    Hey, Drew Stubbs just struck out!  What a surprise! 

    • jkay says:

      what kind of role do you think Lidge takes on in the postseason?
      I like how Charlie is spotting him in certain situations. e.g today pulling him when the lefty came up.

      • Ken Bland says:

        fits pretty well as a righty vs righty specialist.  I’d pick and choose my spots for him, believe Charlie and Dubee have done that.  Think they need to do that with Stutes, too.  Too many walks still, but outstanding stuff.  But going directly from The Big 3 to Bastardo to Madson seems the principle plan.  Doesn’t seem too arguable, but if you see a better idea, lemme know.

    • jjg says:

      Drew Stubbs.  Runs like Frank Budd.  Hits like Jumbo Elliot.  

  33. Ken Bland says:

    87 in da books. 41 over.  87 used to be a nice winter reflection to look back on, and ahead to.  The times have changed.  Onto Florida, and as the Original and real D Train (no offense to Dontrelle would say…

    sky is the limit and you know that you keep on just keep on pressin’ on
    sky is the limit and you know that you can have what you want, be who you want

    Go Phils! 


    • jjg says:

      This season is so non-competitive it’s boring. 

      Wondering if Bowker is closer in talent to Bobby Molinaro, Doug Clemens or Elmer Valo.

      • Dude says:

        I was just noticing these things myself. More to the point, phils sitting on an 8 game division lead with 29 to go. ATL only has 27 to go. I’m sure everyone here is smart enough to do the math… Also worth noting: SF sitting 6 games behind the DBacks, and 9 games away from wild card status.

  34. jkay says:

    lost in Howard’s 30/100 plateau today was him (finally?) turning a 3-6-3 double play. Even though the ball set him up at a good angle, he looked more comfortable throwing to 2nd. Add that to improved reaction on stopping balls down the 1st base line, improvement I dare say.
    Baby Steps Howie, Baby steps.

  35. Ken Bland says:

    Tonight’s game against Florida has a subplot of curiousity.  Pitching management.

    Cole, 76 pitches in his 1st start in 13 days on Monday, probably has a foundation of conditioning that would enable him to go deep into a pitch count if needed, but while he won’t be on a formal pitch count, I’d guess he’ll need a pretty nice effort to see the bottom of the 9th.  Seeing the 8th would be a mild surprise, unless he’s in a groove.

    The tricky part is that Bastardo has pitched 2 straight days, and Madson, with 1 very short outing (finishing for Cliff) has worked 4 straight. 

    So maybe Brad Lidge would get a would be bottom of the 9th, and Stutes would get the setup call.

    I assume Kendrick and Herndon will not be used unless the Phils are playing from behind.


    The Phils road record now is 42-24.  That looks outrageously amazing.  Particularly when you consider that in the National League, the only clubs with home records in that territory are the few other good clubs, like the Crew and Braves.  But a look at the American league ledger finds both the Yanks and Red Sox sporting near identical road marks.  Common thread?  Experienced, talented, deep pocketed clubs.

  36. Ken Bland says:

     “The only team that can really put any pressure on them and beat them somewhat is us. And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason. If we get them head-to-head, we like our chances. We’ve beaten their big three [starting pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels]. I’m not sure if any other team in baseball has beaten their big three. They’re a great ballclub, don’t get me wrong. But we’re not scared of them. It’s going to be a knock down, drag out [fight].”

                                                                                                         Larr-ee Jones
                                                                                                         Atlanta Braves, 3B
                                                                                                         September, 2011

    Yo, Larry.  Way to talk the talk.  Not that you should have said one syllable differently, but let’s get down to brass facts.  The Milwaukee Brewers stand in your way.  They ain’t got no lefties, a relative weakness of your tomahawk choppin’ club, and you got a vicious bullpen that could shut their stellar offense down in timely spots, but you have road field disdvantage, and might wanna adopt the time honored notion of one step at a time.  And dare I remind you of pre all star weekend, when the Aron-Mathews less Braves, not to mention the Maddux-Glavine-Smoltzless tandem blew into the Bank with a chance to set up at least an interesting NL East second half, and  http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI201107100.shtml?  Of course you aren’t scared, Larry.  Not now.  But if you beat the Crew, and wind up setting up some opportune moment where the Fightin Phils and their crowd can absolutely slit your throats with 1 more swing of the bat, that’s the time we’ll see if your ballclub be’s scared.  I wouldn’t plan against it.   


    • Ken Bland says:

      Larry told I think its Danny Kobler from CBS Sportsline that Ruben should be the Exec of the year for his acquisition of Cliff and HP.

      That’s an interesting opinion.  And it’s an interesting slap at his own organization, least wise as far as Pence.

      I’m extremely all for RAJ nailing the exec award.  The problem is Chipper’s logic.  Cliff, this time, he sorta fell into.  Maybe Cliff should get the award for making Ruben look good. 

      The Pence deal, well, yeah, HP has been everything this team has needed from energy level to playing performance.  And in the real time tense, the deal looks solid.  But, it’d be kind of ironic if that propelled the award, and the trade comes back to  haunt long term.

      Kevin Towers is gonna be tough to stop for that award.  He got rid of 6000 strikeouts over the winter, and has rebuilt his pitching on the fly.  You gotts give Ruben a lot of credit as it turns out for the way the Kendrick deal went down, credit for not dealing Blanton.  Well, sort of, I guess.  And credit for Martinez, albeit not a major contributor, but a fairly important one.  But I don’t know that Chipper’s reasons for Ruben getting the award are right, even if he does beat Towers out.  Least as far as Cliff.          

  37. Ken Bland says:

    Here’s a mind numbing stat that perhaps contains some degree of luck or coincidence, but this is IMPRESSIVE.

    It’s one thing to look at an ERA, and look at this fairly credible indicator of a pitcher’s work.  But when you add in unearned runs, you get a feel for how things went after trouble developed, as to whether the pitcher stood up to it.  To be sure, luck or fate might intervence, but a great stop the blood guy like Doc, who’s allowed 4 unearned runs now gets your respect.

    Most good pitchers shrug things off, and their unearned run totals are low.  Doesn’t even mean it’s necessarily their fault if unearned runs score, but grabbing the situation, and working out of it is a men from boys separator.

    I won’t swear to this being the poster picture of Cole Hamels growing up process, but the one thing that stands out to me from back in the day was when Chase didn’t execute a double play, and the TV pic of Cole throwing his arms up in the air is still clear as day to me.

    You can look at some great names of NL pitchers and see separation between runs, and additional unearned runs.  There’s only 1 guy who hasn’t given up an unearned run this year among the top 30 or so ERAs.  That’d be Cole Hamels.  That, is rising to the occasion, and bailing your teammates out.  Cliff has only allowed 2, and Doc only 4, including one yesterday off his own error.  It’s a tribute to the pitchers, and the defense behind it.  Critics scream about the Phils defense.  There’s a lot to be said for making the plays you are supposed to make.  That, too contributes to negating unearned runs even if an error created the crisis in the first place.  At least limit your mistakes.      

  38. Ken Bland says:

    Time now for a classic “this guy needs a life” demonstration.

    But when the subject is Cliff Lee, and a goal is this close, responsibilities and appetities can be delayed.  As a wise man once said, “Never do now what you can put off for tomorrow.”   How generous of me to call myself a wise man.

    Cliff’s ERA in CY 08 was 2.54.  My goal for him was to touch that this year.  Not a real small task after his bad innings here and there put him like in the mid to maybe upper 3′s early on, not too terribly far removed from when I set the goal.

    Cliff is listed at 2.59 rigth now, but that because the actuaries are sleeping on the job.  It actually rounds to 2.60.  I know yous care.  So it comes down to this.  To touch it before he allows another earned run, he needs to go 3 2/3 innings tonight, and he’s there.  That, I figured.  Only being semi obsessed with Cliff, I’m not figureing it to any more complex level than that.  Obviously, a 1 ER effort over 7 innings or so turns the trick.

    If Cliff had to earn a living solely off what he’s done versus The Choppers, he’d be overpaid by minimum wage standards.  So in that regard, it won’t be easy.  But I was tomahawk chopping my way through yesterday in hopes of the Braves crushing Kershaw.  Today, my arm motion is half raised for the toast acknowledging Cliff touching his old buddy, 2.54.  Still another in the never ending series of so glad he’s back with the Phils.  As soon as tonight.  Go Cliff!           

  39. Ken Bland says:

    If Cliff had to earn a living solely off what he’s done versus The Choppers, he’d be overpaid by minimum wage standards>>

    And then again, there’s always the old your only as good (versus the Braves) as your last game theory




  40. Ken Bland says:

    Regarding having lost 2 straight now….


  41. jjg says:

    ’64 Ford.  ’66 Koufax.  ’71 Blue.  ’72 Carlton.  ’78 Guidry.  ’02 Johnson.

    ’11 Lee pales in comparison but I’ve concluded he’s worth having on a staff if only to spur fan romanticism, hope and merchandise sales during this dreadful, precarious state of our economy.  

  42. Chris McC says:

    A bit last minute, but I’ve got an extra ticket for tonight’s game if anyone ’round these parts is interested.
    Shoot me an email, mccarry.chris@gmail.com, I’ll be checking it for another hour or so.

    • Vitoria says:

      if there had been ten flashing YOU’VE WON bnnaers around it would have been like a time warp back to the nineties. I appreciate the cheap .gifs though. The internet needs more .gifs.

  43. Ken Bland says:

    The record will now show that Cliff Lee has 6 complete game shutouts in 2011.  The degree of excellence of that is well stated by the points of his career total up to 2011 was 5 complete game shutouts.  Its even better expressed with the mention of the first pitcher since Randy Johnson to throw that amount in 1998, and NL wise, Tim Belcher in 1989.  Those 2 years are a long, long time ago.

    But that headline won’t tell you two things. Cliff has also

    thrown an 8 2/3 inning shutout against the Reds
    thrown a 7 inning shutout against the Mets
    thrown an 8 inning shutout against the Dodgers 
    throiwn a 7 inning shutout against the Dodgers 
    thrown an 8 inning shutout against the Rangers 

    The other thing that the record won’t tell you is another rarity Cliff has achieved.  A year ago, when he got hot, it was commonly expressed how each outstanding game was rasing his free agent staus by x dollars.  The motivation had to be outstanding, and a factor.  He was winding down a 2 year stint of 4 teams that had to be exhausting.  HOW MANY FREE AGENTS HAVE SIGNED A BIG CONTRACT AND EITHER COASTED (OR SEEMED TO), AND CLIFF LEE GETS MAYBE BETTER?   And the half full crowd will tell you wait til the playoffs.  Don’t nobody know any more than Cliff Lee that that is what it’s about.  And to expect him to fail on that stage is just plain negative thinking. 

    You are watching something very special.  Not uniquely, mind you.  But very special, nonetheless.  And the funny thing is he may still just be the 3rd best starter on this wonderful team.  But the bottom line is that for the first time all year, we can accurately opine that Cliff Lee is the leading contender for the NL CY award.  It’s been a helluva trip.  And that the best is yet to come is very possible is incredibly exciting.   

    • Dino says:

      3rd best starter ?  I think he’s our ace now;  he’s the guy I would want to see start  in a pivotal WS or playoff game. 

  44. phillyfan says:

    hard to take the Brewers as some kind of juggernaut with that home/road split.  Been a long time since a team angling for 95 wins was not at least 500 on the road.  To me, that points to a couple fatal flaws when you talk world champ contender, whether in the head or in the bullpen. 

  45. Ken Bland says:

    now there’s a fascinating development.  Chuck Lamar resigns leaving overseeing the farm system open.  Interesting timing.   

  46. Ken Bland says:

    I mentioned a couple weeks ago a source of concern within my mind about the batting order going 4-5, and maybe even 6 if Raul is playing on a given playoff night of undisciplined hitters.  Not that on the whole, having Ryan Howard and Hunter Pence 4 and 5 is anything close to bad, but I just have this picture in mind of the Phils trailing in a pivotal or deciding game, and a smart pitcher realizing he doesn’t need to throw strikes if those guys are in their typical mentality.  That, on a scale of watchful (least) to paranoid about it (most) probably falls nerest to concerned, which is closer to paranoid than anything.

    I guess if I groped deeply enough, I might find as many as 3 things to list in a sources of concern theme.  My second, and non gropeful last item is more to the tune of watchful.  I know he can rise to the ocasion, but a small part of me marches to the beat of will he.

    Relievers are a funny breed.  I have zero idea why.  Maybe its as simple as the arm isn’t met to pitch with, and 2-3 days in a row of it can be challenging.  Larger scale, for some mysterious reason, back to back fine years are a dream for a lot of relievers.

    For a few years, Ryan Madson was a consistently effective setup guy, maximizing his value on a consistent basis.  As fate would have it, a few train wrecks, spelled Lidge and Contreras happened at once, and in his about as well timed career wise as could happen, Madson, somewhat by limited choice, emerged as thee closer, smack up against his free agent year.

    I get the impression from interviews I’ve heard that Madson is a sharp cookie, strong on character, and I know he’s got effective tools in especially his changeup, and his fastball.  Most situations, when he does the usual closer drill of let’s create a little havoc, and make this interesting, Madson poises, regroups, and gets back to the script of Phillies win, and the save goes to Ryan Madson. 

    Congesting his mind with the soon to arrive pressure he’s under would do Madson no good whatsoever.  But in a free agent time zone, in a market where a mentality of why pay relievers a lot is devloping, a team that faces incredible pressure to win, Madson couldn’t face bigger crossroads within the game of baseball if he tried.

    I don’t know that Madson takes blown saves personally.  And I’m sure it’s not as easy as ain’t no thang thinking that enables the rare breed to put yesterday’s failure behind them so fast.  But I do sense from media exposure that I digest that Madson hasn’t perfected the skill of bouncing back from trauma quite as nicely as we might like.  Seems like most nights he’s on, he is ON.  But when things get a little iffy, I’ll be watchful of him grabbing the bull by the horns, and capitalizing on the timing of his free agency.  It’d be absolutely horrible to see him fail in a must do spot, and leave a team he’s contributed a great deal to with memories that take time to get over while free agent bucks simultaneously flow another relievers way.

    I know he can do it.  But part of me wonders will he.  Color me watchful on this one.                   

  47. Ken Bland says:

    Despite the NFL’s return this weekend, and the lack of pennant races industry wide, once we get to the World Series, MLB will once again offer it’s best shot to compete with the NFL for attention over a potential 10 day or so period.  Even the most intruiging LCS matchups don’t figure to grab an overwhelming support quantity from borderline fans as Yankees-Red Sox for an actual League championship still carries appeal, but deservedly, not what it did as recently as a few years ago.  Phillies-Brewers might actually be more likely to do that, and I guess Phillies-Braves draws some automatic interest, but I feel like that’s as much hype as substance, or close to it at least. There’s no question whatsoever that the highest TV ratings would be generated by the most popular clubs.  The Phils have probably made strides toward climbing to the top of that, but there’s certainly no doubt that the Yanks, Red Sox and Phils are in that mix.

    But from a broader based standpoint, what rivalry might offer the biggest shot at capturing widerspread national attention?

    I don’t know that there’s a clearcut answer, but here are some choices.

    Perhaps ranking as first, and seen by most as the least likely, which might add a dimension of appeal in and of itself, the Dbacks versus the Tigers.  The lead reason, of course would be the Kirk Gibson-(bench coach) Alan Trammell return to Motown.  No fiercer competitor than Kirk Gibson ever played sports, but deep down, it’d be hard for him to be consumed of the hatred for the enemy that seems a prerequisite of his competitive nature.  Add to that the excellence at the top of the rotations, but a much softer underbelly, and it might turn out to be the Game’s first 7 game series in the Fall Classic since 2002.  By the time I was 13 years old, I’d followed 4 7 game World Series, no doubt a factor of great effect, now, 16 year olds have yet to see one. 

    If I had to choose a 2nd most compelling, it’d be the Phillies and the Rangers.  The idea of Cliff Lee trying to avert 3 straight WS losses against his former team would be pretty intruiging.  Not to mention that the Rangers, if they make the playoffs, have the 600 pound gorilla on their back of losing the Series last year smack dab in front of their eyes.  This might have been an even better showcase last year, after Lee went indirectly from thre Phils to Texas, but this way, we have the added drama of Cliff’s good friend Ian Kinsler’s comment (taken from context) of “we don’t need him,” when Lee opted to return to the Phils.

    It’d be easy to put a Phillie-Yankee series ahead of the Rangers and Phils.  It’s hard to decide if Phils-Yanks would be more captivating than Phils-Red Sox in anticpation terms. Phils-Yanks plays off recent rematch history, and Cliff Lee having done a modern day Tug McGraw version of NYC can take this trophy and stick it. 
    The Red Sox have 200 hit guys up the yin yang, but their pitching staff won’t be getting to autumn as celebrated as it was in the spring.  Not that the Yanks pitching staff is celebrated, but of the 2 lineups, the Yanks offer more power, and matched up against the Phils celebrated starters, that might carry more appeal.
    Plus, there’s always something special about watching CC Sabathia face Shane Victorino after one particular at bat that you wonder if it might happen again. Course that’s of more interest to a fan that lives at 20th and tasker than in Riverside, Cali, but still.

    Other than that, it really looks like matchups of curiousity than slap you in the face obvious interesting themes.  But, the Fall Classic is the Fall Classic, and I always feel priveleged to add another one to the list of the ones I had the chance to follow.