Sep 30, 2010
I am very psyched and for the first time since Opening Day, I actually wasn't riveted to the play by play for the Phillies game for the past two days. With all the seeds wrapped up for the playoffs, there are few things to play for:
1. get the starters their innings without getting too tired(Oswalt went 5 innings and less than 70 pitches today),
2. get the bench players some reps at the plate (I was surprised to hear last night that Sweeney had made only two plate appearances since September 11, and it would be nice to see a healed Domonic Brown provide spark, power, and speed off the bench)
3. rest Ryan Madson (seriously, let Bastardo, Worley, and Romero pitch a few innings)
4. get Jimmy Rollins ready to play
5. also, it wouldn't hurt to deny the Braves a chance at the postseason
It was only appropriate that Roy Halladay pitched this game, doing what he leads the league in, completing games. His starts bookended the competitive part of the season, both getting wins, and both being in Washington.
There is a feeling that all that can be accomplished has not been accomplished yet. The celebration was quite subdued. Howard methodically was taking the tops off the champagne bottles and the goggles were ready to go.
The winning of this division title was satisfying in of itself for the team. From where they were at one point in late July (hovering 2 games over .500 at one point) to this culmination was a hard-fought, well-played turnaround. The winning was spurred by a betterment in performance of key individuals (Lidge, Blanton, Ibanez), a return from injury (Utley, Howard, Madson), a sustained success (Werth, Victorino), or just being one of the three starting pitchers who essentially carried the load (Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt).
The historical accomplishment is deep as well; this is the first Phillies team to make 4 straight postseason appearances and the first NL team since those Braves of 1991-2005. They are now attempting to reach 3 straight World Series for the first time since the 98-00 Yankees (ML) and the 42-44 Cardinals (NL). In short, they are vying for two objectives now, make their mark upon the city and their careers and more broadly, upon baseball history itself.
When the playoff schedule opens, the second season begins and will be a combination of good playing, luck, and powerful moments that will propel the Phillies to each successive round. As with anything in baseball, "you never know", but one can sure hope.
Sep 26, 2010
Weekend Pack Break: 2010 Bowman 2 Pack Break or How many sets does it take to get to the center of a Strasburg?
In addition, 2010 Bowman had large insert sets to cloud the collation of the sets even further. Bowman Throwbacks.....to 1992? I would say that's a stretch. With the Heritage line gone, there's no reason to commemorate other issues until a silver anniversary or beyond.
I was able to snag these packs before the craze, but I've been sitting on them....just in case. Of course, the urge to rip and sort is strong...too strong for someone like me. Has anything of value to me or others been revealed?
Base cards-most aesthetic design since 2005/
Gold Cards-useless,useless,useless parallels. Just eliminate them, please.
211-Michael Dunn RC
Inserts-cool ideas, but is it really necessary in this set. Prospects rule this set.
Bowman Expectations: double-sided inserts vex me, but some, like the Halladay/Drabek card are intriguing because of the circumstances surrounding their careers. Can Drabek be the next Halladay? Is it plausible to think so?
BE50-Roy Halladay/Kyle Drabek
BE27-Jose Lopez/Dustin Ackley
Bowman Prospects-I like the idea of prospects, but is 110 new ones each necessary for Bowman and Bowman Chrome and Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects.
BP58-Adam Wilk, Tigers, 11th round pick in 2009,currently in Lakeland in Florida State League (A+)
BP44-Allan Dykstra, Padres, 1st round pick in 2008, Currently in Lake Elsinore California League (A+)
BP36-Trevor May, Phillies, 4th round pick in 2008, currently in Clearwater in Florida State League (A+)
BP106-Grant Green, Athletics, 1st round pick in 2009, currently in Stockton in California League (A+)
Bowman Chrome Prospects-this is where the set's bread is buttered so to speak. I'm happy received someone I've heard of (Jackson).
BCP11-Logan Watkins, Cubs, 21st round pick in 2008, currently in Peoria in Midwest League (A)
BCP103-Nick Franklin, Mariners, 1st round pick in 2009, currently in Clinton in Midwest League (A)
BCP93-Brett Jackson, Cubs, 1st round pick in 2009, currently in Tennessee in Southern League (AA)
BCP99-Thomas Neal, Giants, 37th round pick in 2005,currently in Richmond in Eastern League (AA), still only 22
Too bad prices have risen to more than $8 per pack. Even with the Strasburg hype, in the end, it's still a decent product at its original price point. It has a large variety of cards to collect (this is both a negative and a positive). I just wish Topps stopped with the RC/not a RC in between nonsense. Give me something identifiable or rebrand Bowman to Bowman Chrome Draft Picks and Prospects and make it a late season release with all the prospects they desire to put in the checklist, plus more chrome is good, right? Right?
Sep 25, 2010
All the cards that were posted and requested were of the vintage variety.
1960 Topps Bobby Gene Smith: Significant Stat: Led the NL in fielding % in 1962 by not committing an error in 112 games.
1968 Topps Clay Dalrymple: Significant Stat: In 1962, had a greater than 2:1 BB:K ratio (70:32), leading to a .393 OBP, especially impressive for a catcher.
1971 Topps 1970 American League Batting Leaders: Alex Johnson and Carl Yastrzemski tied for the lead with .329 AVG in 1970, it was the last year Johnson hit over .300.
1971 Topps 1970 AL RBI Leaders: Frank Howard may have been the best home run hitter who wore glasses ever. A league leading 44 HR and 126 RBI in 1970 help illustrate that fact.
1969 Topps Mike Ryan: Significant Stat: Led the AL in assists by a catcher with 79 in one of two seasons in which he was the 1st string catcher in his career.
1969 Topps 1968 American League Home Run Leaders: In the year of the pitcher, these three were the only ones to surpass 30 home runs in the AL.
1963 Topps Frank Lary: Known as the Yankee Killer (which is why I chose this card), he had 56 career starts against the Yankees, more than against any other team, and was 28-13 with a 3.32 ERA. His least favorite team was the Kansas City Athletics vs. whom he was 13-14 with a 4.08 ERA.
And lastly 1968 Topps Gene Mauch (traded edition) since he seemed to have just started managing the Expos when this person acquired the card. Thankfully, they didn't mention what happened in 1964 on the back of his card.
Sep 23, 2010
Cole Hamels has risen to the occasion during the stretch drive for the playoffs. He has pitched to a scoreless streak of 25 2/3 innings, the longest such streak by a Phillies pitcher since Randy Wolf in 2002 (27 innings). He also is approaching Steve Carlton's team record of 6 consecutive starts of pitching 6 or more innings and allowing one run or less. Cole Hamels was struggling this year, the naysayers nayed....look at his won/loss record..look at his ERA creeping over 4. Even the optimists were starting to be swayed by a line of no-decisions and the appearance of one tough inning that would spoil a start. Ah, but that was the Cole Hamels of 2009 and April 2010. Let's take a look game-by-game (and even a couple games before it to see how this streak transpired).
It's a little small print. Besides the runs allowed (which is only so much in the pitcher's control at the end of the day...probably). He's allowed only 5 HR and 21 BB over this 14 start time period. To top it off, he's also struck out 101 batters over these starts. Now, that is control, both of commanding his pitches and of limiting mistakes.
By all accounts, it's because his cutter has developed to complement his fastball and change-up. The fastball has touched 93 mph at times, while the cutter has clocked in at 86 mph or so and the change-up is at 81 mph. He doesn't have a deceptive delivery so much as a similar delivery for all three pitches. The cutter has helped because the other pitches work on the up/down plane, and it works on a left/right plane. Intangibly, Oswalt's and Halladay's influence has crystallized preparation and really helped Hamels harness his talent further.
Hamels has taken the mantle of an ace and is the same (or better) pitcher that he was in 2008. His starts speak for themselves. He may not have the 20 wins that Halladay has (not that wins by themselves matter), but he is an apt representation of the potential and present anchor of a Phillies rotation with a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs. Magic Number is 4!
Sep 20, 2010
This is not the dream job that it once was for me. Of course, in my extreme youth, I wanted to wield the all-powerful hand upon my favorite sport. Then words entered my vocabulary that had not been mentioned before as I read the about the travails and battles of union vs. owners….lockout, strike, missed World Series, replacement players. Well, these problems weren’t hindered by the presence of the current commissioner, so who better to replace him than me? (with all my apparent qualifications)
The On-the Field Side
I’m not sure how much influence the commissioner has in this manner. I do, however, like that “best interests in baseball” clause. How many do you think I can get past the owners without a vote (or even better influence them).
1. Instant Replay
Instant replay in its current form is merely a good start. Anything pertaining to ground rules should be replayable automatically because there are unique rules for each ballpark and each one should be enforced without question.
For me, it’s a matter of getting it right whether the first time, the second time, or whenever. Luckily, in baseball there are way less technicalities and vagaries to specific rules than the NFL (everyone seen the controversy over the Calvin Johnson catch ruling from Week 1?).
The goal is to keep the solution simple. Keep the fair/foul home run rulings, add other fair/foul rulings (reminiscent of the Joe Mauer call from last year’s playoffs), home plate safe/out rulings may be challenged , other base calls may also be challenged. I would like to keep strike/ball calls out of this. Umpires have a pretty good evaluation system, and it’s remarkable how many they get correct.
Teams should get two challenges per game. The crew chief will contact another umpire in the replay booth so that there are two perspectives on the play. A decision then has to be made, decisively, within 90 seconds. The same precedent will apply in the NFL, if there is no conclusive evidence to overturn it, then the original call will stand.
As you can see, I haven’t thought about it too much.
2. Batting Lineups
Contrary to most (probably), I want to keep the personality of the league play and keep the DH in the AL and keep it out of the NL.
However, in the World Series, the rules will be the same throughout the series. This will be pre-determined based on the previous year’s champion.
3. Roster Construction
I abhor the 40 man roster in September. Lately, it creates a parade of relief pitchers and fills the bench with defensive specialists and platoon hitters. This was not the original intent of the bylaw. However, baseball has a history of changing rules that have been abused (witness the elimination of the spitball and the institution of the infield fly rule for examples).
I propose that a 28 man roster should be in effect until April 30. This should allow an extra look at that newcomer or keep a hot bat at the major league level for an extended period of time. The 25 man roster will be in effect May 1-August 31. On September 1, rosters can be expanded up to 30 players for those prospects who deserve a chance to play after their minor league season ends.
4. The All-Star Game and Related Events
The all-star game should not determine home-field advantage of the World Series. There also shouldn’t be any ties. It is an exhibition game of the stars voted by the fans, players, managers, and internet. I would say that they can keep the roster as large as it is now. In addition, the one player per team rule works for me as well. I remember staying up late to watch Von Hayes pinch hit in the all-star game. I wouldn’t want to deprive future generations of that. However, I would say that in the 7th inning of the game, the managers have the discretion to re-insert players to decide the outcome of the game, including pitchers. Musial and Williams played the whole game. Let today’s stars be involved in indelible moments like Williams’ winning HR in the 1941 ASG. Wouldn’t it be much more awesome to see Pujols vs. Hernandez in the 9th inning in addition to the 1st inning? Intriguing individual matchups are what makes the ASG so memorable.
For the other events, I would keep them as is…except with a shorter HR derby.
I like that baseball has few teams in the postseason. There are few cases in the wild card era in which deserving teams (>90 wins) have been left behind. But there is a way to add even more excitement. Add a round robin set of games with all three second place teams from all the divisions participating. This is a little crazy but it really gives credit to division winners. You don’t want to finish in 2nd because then you have to play at least four more games in order to crack the final four of the playoffs. In detail (for example): Day 1: East at Central, Day 2: West at Central, Day 3: East at West, Day 4: Central at West, Day 5: Central at East, Day 6: West at East…..best record advances. Wouldn’t that be a fun week? Other considerations such as travel time and deciding who chooses where to play first still haven’t been worked out.
The other piece of this is divisional alignment. There should not be a 6 team division in a world of 30 teams. Somehow this can be worked out (see part 2 later this week)
I’ll say this first. I like interleague. I like the different matchups (yes, even Pirates vs. Royals); I like how when you have a match-up you can either remember history (Cubs vs Tigers 1909 retro day) or make a new history (Rockies vs. Rays). The scheduling of interleague just has to be more equitable for divisional rivals. They already play an unbalanced schedule to emphasize the importance of the divisional alignment. Why are the interleague schedules so different. Yes, some natural rivals must be maintained, especially in the same region. But the rest of the games should be divided exactly the same.
The next point with the new playoff system mentioned above is that the length of the season (in days) will be longer. I agree that the 7th game of the World Series should be no later than October 31st. Therefore, there should be at least one Turn back to the Clock day per half for each team featuring a Saturday twi-night or day-night doubleheader. Also, there should be no off days (except for obvious travel days) in the first two weeks of the season. Why is there an off day after Opening Day for most teams?
Speaking of Opening Day, the traditional Opening Day in Cincinnati should be the kick-off for the season. The international opening day, while nice, comes before this and should be better integrated into the season.
7. Quick hits
Eliminate the intentional walk as a strategic element. You should pitch to everybody. If you walk him on 4 pitches, you walk him. The unintentional intentional walk exists, it’s just more risky, especially against Vlad Guerrero.
Limit catcher visits to the mound to once per inning per pitcher.
Institute a throw clock for pitchers of 30 seconds (is that too much?). The clock could be reset by pitching the ball or throwing to a base. The penalty would be a ball for the batter. Batters would also have to comply with the clock. Their penalty for being out of the box when the pitch is thrown would be a strike. If there are already, 3 balls or 2 strikes, the penalty would carry over to the next batter. It’s a team effort to keep the pace of the game alive. (there will of course be extenuating circumstances to consider)
Deliberate pitches to the head are an automatic ejection for the pitcher. Deliberate pitches below that are a warning the first time for both teams. The next deliberate HBP will be an ejection.
That’s all I have for the on-field baseball aspects. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow where the things that lawyers and economists are normally more concerned about (I am neither of those things).
World Series day games, bring them back.
Divisional Series day games, do not schedule two at once, maximize exposure.
Anything else you’d like to discuss? Would any of the owners accept these? Also, where can I find the time for all this? The answer lies in a paradox machine, of course. Part 2 will have the non-ballpark centric elements.
Sep 19, 2010
Note: I haven't been posting in a while mostly because I'm unable to finish posts. Ever have a case of attention wandering that just wouldn't quit? Anyway, I'm not going away and it looks like the Phillies aren't either. I'm psyched for the possibility of the 4th straight year of postseason baseball.
I was able to pick this blurry beauty up for $1.00+shipping on the old internet marketplace. I can't tell if this is a posed portrait (possibly painted?) or the superimposing of two photographs where the baseball is held in the correct, auspicious position. What also makes the card image interesting is that it's as if they're standing in front of a supernova sun from a gumdrop sky.
An ace hurler is an ambiguous term of baseball lore. There are aces, there are stoppers, there are #1, among other terms. What distinguishes one from the other.
Here are other ace hurlers of the 1950s (either by stats or reputation)
Even then, it was difficult to maintain a high level for a high number of years. Roberts and Pierce defied that convention for the most part and were deserving choices as ace hurlers.
Sep 11, 2010
Sep 10, 2010
All-Time Phillies Shortstops According to Me With No Prior Research (name/years at SS on Phillies)
1. Jimmy Rollins (2001-present)
2. Granny Hamner (1949-1958)
3. Larry Bowa (1970-1981)
4. Dave Bancroft (1915-1919)
5. Dick Bartell (1931-1934)
6. Kevin Stocker (1993-1997)
7. Doc Doolan (1905-1913)
8. Bobby Wine (1962-1967)
9. Dickie Thon (1989-1991)
10. Heinie Sand (1923-1928)
11. Don Money (1969)
499. Ivan DeJesus (1982-1984)
500. Steve Jeltz (1985-1988)
501. Juan Bell (1992-1993)
Sep 7, 2010
These cards almost complete my "Schmidt and Carlton regular issue during their playing days collection" phase of the Phillies project. This is dangerously close to nearing the end. It looks like 2011 will be the target end year.
1975 Topps Strikeout Leaders Steve Carlton/Nolan Ryan: Carlton had 240 strikeouts, followed by Andy Messersmith with 220, and Tom Seaver with 201. Ryan had 367 Ks, followed by Bert Blyleven with 249. Ryan did strike out a lot of batters in his career.
1972 Topps Steve Carlton: His last card as a Cardinal before the fateful trade.
1974 Topps Mike Schmidt: His first standalone card, which did not celebrate possibly the worst sophomore season by a HOF: .196/.323/.374 with 18 HR and 52 RBI in 1973.
1970 Topps ERA Leaders: Marichal, Carlton, and Gibson: In 1969, there were 9 pitchers with ERAs less than 2.50 with this triumvirate leading the way.
1970 Topps Steve Carlton: Carlton's whistling after his 2nd straight all-star season at the age of 24. Big dreams and results lay ahead.
Check out the wantlist on the sidebar for what remains. Only the rookie for the Schmidt collection remains. For the Carlton collection, all that remains is the rookie, 1968 Topps, and 1972 Topps (Traded). And then, and then....what happens when you complete something like this?
Sep 2, 2010
As a backup infielder (mostly second baseman), for many teams in the PCL (mostly the Oakland Oaks), he contributed to winning squads with slick fielding and timely hitting. He just missed the joys of winning the World Series by one year in either direction during his career. He was on the Yankees in 1930-1931 (they won in 1932) and the Cardinals in 1932 (they won in 1931). Even so, he got to experience baseball on the highest level and performed admirably. He was the roommate of Babe Ruth, famously saying, "I roomed with Ruth's suitcase."
After finishing his playing career, he was in the army and then he scouted and coached at various locations. He finally found his calling at the age of 71 when he was hired by the Angels in 1972 as a fitness coach. He became a mainstay of the fungo art, seemingly able to hit the ball wherever he wanted it to go. Every player would be conditioned by Coach Reese.
September is a story about generations. For the first time, fresh-faced prospects peek out into the major league world and are both excited and nervous by what they see. Maybe they can make history with a home run or strikeout in their first appearance. Maybe they contribute to a winning team or lay the foundation for a rebuilding team. Either way, they must learn from those who were there before: players, managers, and coaches to get a handle of the game.
Jimmie Reese's memory stretched back to the time of Babe Ruth and Connie Mack. Imagine the baseball wisdom he passed on. The ball's for you next kid!
Sep 1, 2010
Chipper Jones/Ryan Braun/Miguel Cabrera green parallel #d/499: They are heroes because they all couldn't field well enough at 3B at some point in their careers and had to be moved to other positions. (anyone remember the Chipper LF experiment in Atlanta when Vinny Castilla played 3B?) This teaches us that perseverance is a key trait to possess.
Joe Mauer: expressed heroism by winning the 2006 AL batting title. It was an initiation of sorts since he also went on to win the 2008 and 2009 batting titles as well.
Don Mattingly: was a hero because he won the 1985 AL MVP award, inspiring Mark Teixeira to be a professional baseball player, join the Yankees, and fulfill his dream of winning the World Series and earning $20 million a year. Plus, he inspired a whole generation of kids that played with velcro sideburns.
Eric Chavez blue parallel #d/199: Though on the card, it says he won his 6th Gold Glove award in 2006, this was foreshadowing to the depths of depression which he would endure. It was unfortunate, his career path. Here's to Eric Chavez, the ultimate Moneyballer.
Erik Bedard: led the AL in K/9 in 2007. It just goes to show that being left handed is not the disadvantage that we;re told it is in elementary school (if you write that way, your handwriting will smear all over the paper)
Brad Penny: started the 2006 All-Star game, giving credence to fast starts and forgotten finishes. This is not heroic, a hero finishes all tasks.
Brandon Webb: won the 2006 NL Cy Young award. Again, perseverance is showcased. Just look at his 2004 stats (and the 2004 Diamondback team). It is a testament to his character and awesome sinker he was able to bounce back from that debacle.
Lastly, Stan Musial and Albert Pujols are the Atlases of the St Louis baseball world. They have hoisted that city on their sturdy shoulders and lifted the spirits of the ever-shrinking Metropolis during their respective times there, especially during those terrible, terrible summer weather days (I lived in St Louis for over 5 years, I know what I'm saying)
Also, for those curious, here's the card-by-card breakdown of the packs.
101 Joe Mauer
135 Chase Utley
157 Troy Glaus
189 Chipper Jones/Ryan Braun/Miguel Cabrera green parallel(303/499)-a trio of powerful sluggers
178 Albert Pujols/Stan Musial-birds of a feather flock together
58 Garrett Atkins
88 Brad Penny
155 Erik Bedard
34 Wade Boggs
107 David Wright
125 Don Mattingly
128 Eric Chavez blue parallel 161/199
199 Ken Griffey Jr/Roberto Clemente/Vladimir Guerrero/Joe Dimaggio-a quartet of dazzling outfield defenders I'd like to examine this claim in more detail at some point
24 Jacoby Ellsbury
84 Howie Kendrick
1 Brandon Webb
Upper Deck Heroes, what a concept, in more ways than one.