Articles tagged with: MLB

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Real Sports Talk Radio

This week Randy Zellea (@randybsp) and Mike Tramontozzi (@mtramontozzi) are back on Real Sports Talk Radio produced Backsportspage.com . This week discuss the Big Winners and losers in the NFL. What is up with Brooklyn Nets??  The Knicks well.....Mike T and Randy will debate. Patrick Creighton from Sports Radio 610am in Houston joins us to give us a different perspective of the week it was. Call in and join the talk at 760-283-0846, #realsportstalkradio, #backsportspage

Mets Broadcaster Howie Rose Puts It In The Book

Written by Nick Singleton on Tuesday, 18 June 2013. Posted in Back Sports Page Book Reviews, Interviews, Baseball, Featured

The Voice of the METS speaks with BSP!!!


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Mets Broadcaster Howie Rose Puts It In The Book

Howie Rose’s lifelong dream began to fuse together when his love for broadcasting and passion for baseball came together in the summer of 1962. In his newly released book, Put It In The Book: A Half Century Of Mets Mania, Howie Rose tells his first-hand account of becoming a devoted New York Mets in ‘62, and how he became their play-by-play radio announcer today. Put It In The Book: A Half Century Of Mets Mania opens by detailing Rose’s first handful of summers traveling into Queens with his friends, and sitting in their favorite upper deck seats at Shea Stadium. 

Melky Cabrera Forfeits Batting Title, Seeks Solace in Obscurity

on Friday, 21 September 2012.

Cabrera Prays Show of Humility Equals Free Agent Dollars


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Melky Cabrera Forfeits Batting Title, Seeks Solace in Obscurity

In a last-ditch attempt to wash away some of the mud flung on his public image, Melky Cabrera removed himself from the race for the National League batting title.

San Francisco Giants Should Ease Off Bumgarner Before October

on Wednesday, 19 September 2012.

Rotation Cannot Repeat 2010 Run Without Rest


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San Francisco Giants Should Ease Off Bumgarner Before October

Madison Bumgarner played a critical role in the San Francisco Giants’ 2010 World Series championship, and will be a crucial tool for the Giants to have a successful playoff run this year. The Giants are on the verge of a playoff berth, as their magic number is now 7 with 14 games to be played. The 23-year-old Bumgarner could be at risk of a shaky October if the Giants continue to overwork him.

State of the Game Part 2: How the West Was Won

on Tuesday, 27 March 2012.

PART 2 IN A SERIES EXAMINING MLB'S CURRENT CLIMATE AND HOW HISTORY LED US HERE


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State of the Game Part 2: How the West Was Won

Ever since Walter O’Malley took his beloved Bums from the honks and gravel of Brooklyn to the golden sunshine of Los Angeles, baseball has been a smash hit out West.  He convinced the Giants to migrate to California too, leaving the Damn Yankees a lonely worm in a rather large Apple, until they were joined by the runt of the New York baseball litter four years later.

State of the Game Part 1: Year of the Pitcher Here to Stay

on Thursday, 22 March 2012.

PART 1 IN A SERIES EXAMINING MLB'S CURRENT CLIMATE AND HOW HISTORY LEAD US HERE


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State of the Game Part 1: Year of the Pitcher Here to Stay

Spring training has sprung.  I tried out a thousand-and-one cute openings lines, but for all of their admirable alliteration, hot crossed puns and finely honed metaphors sharp enough to slice the tupee off Tim McCarver’s head without drawing blood, they did nothing to advance today’s premise compared to the above: Spring training has sprung.  Too often, the shadowy whorls of hubris so cloud a writer’s mind that he festoons the figurative phone line to your frontal lobe with such loads of glittering dung that any direction he once possessed is lost in the muck posing as prose.  I am no such author.

Like Father Like Son

on Monday, 20 February 2012.

Prince Fielder is headed to where his father Cecil made his name

One of the biggest story-lines of the 2012 Major League Baseball offseason was Prince Fielder signing as a free agent with the Detroit Tigers.

The Tigers never seemed to be in the race for Fielder who was being sought after by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers the hardest. After the injury to Victor Martinez however, General Manager Dave Dombrowski had to go out and acquire a bat as solid as Martinez so Fielder was the best option.

But the real storyline doesn’t truly end there because that isn’t the storyline at all.

The storyline is that Fielder is starting another chapter in his career where his father Cecil Fielder made his career.

Through the first part of Fielders career, his father was his advisor but things turned for the worst when Cecil began to have a gambling and domestic problem which resulted in a ugly divorce not only between Cecil and his wife but with his son, Prince, as well.

Cecil Fielder’s career didn’t begin as great in Toronto as Prince’s did in Milwaukee. It really took off when he joined the Tigers clubhouse in 1990 at the age of 26.

In his first full season with Detroit, Cecil hit a career high 51 homeruns and added 132 run’s batted in to that total. He was named to that year’s All-Star game as well as winning the Silver Slugger award. He also came second in the MVP voting. (Rickey Henderson)

In 982 career games with the Tigers, Cecil hit 245 home runs and batted in 758 RBI’s but was never able to help Detroit get into post-season play.

Prince’s career took flight the moment he touched the diamond.

In his first full season with the Brewers, Prince went deep 28 times while adding 81 RBI’s. He finished 7th in the Rookie of the Year voting.

In his second season, at the age of 23, Prince totaled 50 home runs to go with 119 RBI’s. He finished 3rd in the MVP voting but that wasn’t all he got tied to that year. Prince and his father would always be remembered as the only father/son to ever reach the milestone of hitting 50 homeruns.

Prince’s career has been stellar to this point at the age of 27. In 998 games, Prince has 230 home runs and 656 RBI’s.

Though he did help the Brewers to 2 postseasons during his time there, he was a nonfactor in the 3 series they played during that span.

Nonetheless, Prince Fielder is headed to Detroit where his father created a name for himself. Prince has already made his name a staple in the game but now, by signing with the Tigers, he adds a new light shining towards him. The attention he will receive as the days draw closer to the beginning of the season will test if he can wavier past that and help the Tigers win.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and though off the field Prince and his father aren’t the same, on the field they know exactly where to put the baseball; out of the ballpark.

J.R. Bradley: Becoming a Man on the Mound

on Wednesday, 08 February 2012. Posted in Interviews

THE CANDID STORY OF A KID WITH A BIG ARM ON THE ROAD TO THE BIG LEAGUES


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J.R. Bradley: Becoming a Man on the Mound

There is no certainty, only opportunity.

And when you have Major League talent, you must grasp that opportunity with both hands.

For JR Bradley the last five years have been a true testament to that mantra.

The Other Offseason Outlook

on Thursday, 10 November 2011.

WHAT FREE AGENT TRENDS SAY & WHAT TEAMS NOT FROM NEW YORK WILL DO


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The Other Offseason Outlook
Last week Timmy Dimas kicked off the offseason with a rundown of what's ahead for some of the biggest names on both the employee and employer sides of baseball. I'd like to keep things going. Below is my outlook for some of the free agents not named Pujols and some teams from cities a little bit (gasp!) outside the realm of the Connecticut conscience.

A Red Sox Fan's Perspective on Boston's Epic Collapse

on Thursday, 29 September 2011.

WHO GETS THE BLAME FOR BOSTON'S HISTORICAL SEPTEMBER SWOON?


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A Red Sox Fan's Perspective on Boston's Epic Collapse

Hold my hand and take a walk with me, because we’re about to go to a dark place.  That dark place is inside the mind of a Red Sox fan after watching the biggest regular season collapse in the history of baseball.

 

No one who followed the team can say they didn’t see it coming.  It was painfully obvious as September wore on that this just wasn’t the same team that looked invincible from May 1- August 1.  They scuffled through the month of August, but still entered the game’s final month with a nine game lead on division foe Tampa Bay for the Wild Card. 

 

Frankly, the Wild Card was an afterthought because they were locked in a tight division race with the New York Yankees that seemingly would be the race that came down to the final day of the season.

 

And then, it happened.

A Deep Look at the Philadelphia Phillies; Past, Present and Future

on Wednesday, 21 September 2011.

The Parallels between the Three


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A Deep Look at the Philadelphia Phillies; Past, Present and Future

Editor's Note: All statistics used in this column are as of Tuesday, September 20, 2011.

 

At what point did the Phillies become, well, the Phillies? In Philadelphia, we are almost too accustomed to letdowns. I wasn't quite six years old when Joe Carter literally crushed our 1993 World Series hopes with one swing of the bat. After that Joe Carter home run, it took my Phillies 14 years just to reach the postseason again.

They were swept that year by the eventual 2007 National League Champions, the Colorado Rockies. Phillies fans will remember the 2007 season, not for making the playoffs for the first time in eons, but for Jimmy Rollins' "We're the team to beat" proclamation in Spring Training, and the Phillies' memorable stride to a division championship that year. Phillies fans remember being down seven games, with 17 left to play in September, to a then-revered New York Mets club, and on the final day of the season, defeating the Washington Nationals 6-1, about five minutes after the Mets' lackluster performance in an 8-1 loss to the Florida Marlins. Baseball purists call it one of the biggest collapses in Major League history (on the Mets' part). Phillies fans call it one of the greatest comebacks ever. It was probably both. New York closed out that season 5-12, Philly 13-4. It was undoubtedly the greatest stretch of Phillies baseball that was not in postseason play. Every Phillies fan who was old enough to wear a bib at the time remembers the outcome of the following season.

As fans, we rode the 2008 team to a World Series victory on the strength of ONE ace, Cole Hamels, and a line-up, much of which, like Hamels, grew through the Phillies' farm system. Only two players from the 2008 team's everyday line-up were not drafted by the team in one of Major League Baseball's 2,800 different drafts. Those two players were Jayson Werth, who came over as a free agent in 2006 after starting his career with the Dodgers, and Pedro Feliz, who signed with Philadelphia the winter prior to that '08 campaign, coming over from future nemesis, San Francisco.

Since the 2008 World Series, the Phillies have come within two wins of back-to-back World Series Championships (in 2009) and two wins of becoming the first National League team to appear in three consecutive World Series (in 2010) since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals.

There has never been a better time to be a Phillies fan, although the bar wasn't exactly set high. The recent success of this Philadelphia Phillies team sometimes causes fans (especially younger ones) to forget that this is the franchise with more losses than any other team in professional sports. When the Phillies joined the National League, in 1883, they won just two pennants in their first 97 seasons. They had a 31 year span (from 1918-1948) in which they mustered up one winning season. That one winning season: 1932, when they finished an astounding 78-76, as few games over .500 as possible.

Those Phillies, and the Phillies we all watch, know and love today, are two completeley different clubs, from a personnel standpoint, and also from an organizational standpoint. From the team Pat Gillick structured together to build to 2008 World Series team, to the squad we watch daily today, made up by Ruben Amaro's genuis, this is the first team, maybe in Philadelphia sports history, that isexpected to win, and is supposed to win.

Since Ruben took over at the helm, following the '08 campaign, it seems his primary goal to establish such a dominant club has been to, well, acquire the best pitchers on the market. Some may even argue as outstanding a job he has done to acquire these pitchers, it may be even more incredible that he has done so without paying market rate for the pitchers he's acquired, albeit giving up much of the teams prospects to do so, but we'll get back to that in a bit.

Amaro, Jr. gave up three top-tier prospects to acquire the talents of Roy Halladay, a pitcher who many fancy as the best in the Majors. When he pulled the trigger on the trade for Doc, Halladay signed a 3 year, $60 million extension with the Phillies, who also have a little-known club option for 2014. Cliff Lee was thought by everybody who eats and drinks water to be signing for big money, possibly even record-setting money, with either the Texas Rangers or the New York Yankees. This was until the baseball world was shocked around midnight on December 14 of last year, when he signed with the team that traded him to Seattle after the '09 season, for a much smaller deal at 5 years, $120 million. So yeah, Cliff isn't starving, but as any athlete will tell you, and they would be correct, when they leave money on the negotiating table, they never get that money back, especially when a player is as late in his career as Lee. Most players look for the most money they can grab in that final big contact, but Cliff saw the potential of a bigger picture—ring(s). What's maybe the most satisfying of all of this, as a Phillies fan, is that these guys wanted to come here. Never in my lifetime has a big time player's first choice of a destination to play been Philadelphia, let alone TWO big time players. Any Philadelphia sports fan will co-sign that.

Ruben Amaro gave up J.A. Japp (solid starter at the time of the trade) and two second-tier prospects to acquire Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros. More impressively, he somehow convinced the Astros to pick up nearly half of the remaining money owed to Oswalt; for instance, the Phillies are paying just $9 million of the $16 million owed to Roy in this 2011 season. When you add those three aces to the aforementioned home-grown ace, Cole Hamels, these Phillies send out the best pitching rotation since the Braves sent out the likes of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz regularly.

We see dominant pitching staffs on paper from year to year. But not as often do we see these rotations look as good throughout the summer as they did on paper in the spring. This Phillies rotation, with the exception of Roy Oswalt's back, has lived up to, if not exceeded, their expectations.

Roy Halladay (18-6, 2.41), Cliff Lee (16-8, 2.38) and Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.80) are all in the top 10 in the National League in wins and ERA. Furthermore, the three are also top 10 in the NL in strikeouts and WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched for our non-SABR readers), as well. As a team, the Philadelphia Phillies lead the Majors in ERA at 3.08, as well as complete games with 18, shutouts with 21 and quality starts with 102. Yes, the Phillies have played 152 games thus far this year, and have had a quality start in all but 50 of them. Wow.

As great as the team's starting pitching has been, the Phillies found a few diamonds in the rough elsewhere to contribute to some of the numbers above. When the team's fifth starter, Joe Blanton, went down with an elbow injury in May, the team called up little-known pitching prospect Vance Worley from Triple A. Philadelphia went on to win 14 straight games in which Vance had started, before recently losing two of his starts consecutively. With the 2008 hero who did not blow a save that entire season, Brad Lidge, out until late July, the Phillies had to turn elsewhere for a closer. The first choice, Jose Contreras, followed Lidge to the Disabled List after a few stints in his new role. The second choice, Ryan Madsen, may be having a better season as closer than what would have been expected from either Lidge (clearly past his '08 prime) or Contreras. Madsen has 31 saves thus far this year, with a very respectable 2.50 ERA. Maybe even more impressive is that he looks the part. Madsen had been such a dominant set-up man in recent years that Philly fans questioned his closer ability. Not that we didn't think he was capable of closing, more along the lines of, would he be able to go back to that seventh or eighth inning set-up man role once Lidge was healthy. As any relief pitcher will confirm, there are two totally different mindsets between set-up man and closer. One is to, well, set it up for the closer to come in and shut the door; the other, shut the door or lose. Two totally different pressure/mindset circumstances. Madsen has been terrific, which brings us to the next stud from out of nowhere. Antonio Bastardo is on pace to set a Major League record. His .126 batting average against is currently in line to be the best in the history of the league for any pitcher with a minimum of 50 innings pitched according to Baseball Prospectus. Along with that, Bastardo quickly assumed the set-up man role, which was in question when Ryan Madsen took over the closer role. All told, the Philadelphia Phillies have 10 pitchers who have pitched at least 40 innings. Of them, only two have an ERA higher than 3.50. One is Roy Oswalt's back at 3.66, and the other is Mike Stutes at 3.77.

With how incredible the pitching staff has been, this team does bring up a few questions, all of which seem to come on the offensive side of the ball. The Phillies finished either first or second in runs scored in the National League every season from 2005-2010 before dropping to fifth in said category this season. So is the drop-off drastic? Of course not, especially with the pitching that has been provided to them.

It's hard to look at the Phillies’ everyday lineup and think that they could possibly be much worse, if at all, than they were a few years ago. This is largely in part because they have generally sent out the same big names in the everyday lineup as they did at the beginning of this five-year NL East title run. So where do the concerns come in to play? Quite simple, actually. Age.

When this batch of Phillies first stuck their nose in the playoffs, the everyday lineup's average age was 28.8 years old. This year, the average age of the lineup is 31.5. This may not appear to be a huge difference, and it's not, but it is noticeable. We see it daily from how often guys need a day off, to their batting averages, slugging percentages and on-base percentages. I'm not suggesting baseball players age like NFL running backs, but they don't age like wine, either. Many of these guys came up together, thus many of them are getting older together, and it's showing.

In Jimmy Rollins' 2007 MVP season, he was 28 years old and batted .296/.344/.531. Today, at age 32, he is batting just .268/.339/.397. His numbers today are still respectable, but hardly what a team wants from their everyday leadoff batter. When Ryan Howard won the league MVP in 2006, he was 26 years old. That season he hit .313/.425/.659 and led the Majors with 58 home runs. This year, the 31-year-old Ryan Howard's batting average is .249, his on-base percentage is .343 and his slugging percentage is a career-low .490. Perhaps more importantly, when everyone thought Ryan Howard deserved a contract extension, and he did, they failed to realize when the deal was signed that Ryan's extension wouldn't start until next year, at age 32. So the Phillies have themselves locked into an on-the-decline, 32-year-old, mediocre fielding (and we're getting there with his batting) first baseman for 5 years and $125 million. Anyone in baseball (or the Phillies organization itself) will tell you behind closed doors and off the record that Ryan Howard is not worth a 5 year, $125 million extension. Three years ago, perhaps, but not today. And at no point in Ryan's career has he been able to field with great consistency or hit left-handed pitching. For his career he is batting just .233/.312/.443 against lefties. Howard is in the everyday lineup for only a few reasons, his ability to crush right-handers and his clutch factor in September. If he loses his edge in either of those two categories, he'll barely be worth anything other than an AL designated hitter role, let alone $125 million. And if the Phillies pitching continues to be this great in the years to come, then his September hitting greatness almost becomes moot. The third core player in this team's everyday lineup, who was arguably a better bat (.332/.410/.566) in 2007 than either Howard or Rollins is none other than, you guessed it, Chase Utley. Chase is a perennial Gold Glove second baseman year in and year out, but his offensive numbers this year, .262/.341/.430, have noticeably diminished as well. Add that to the fact that all the fastballs Chase has taken to the body may finally be catching up with him. Chase has always been a gamer, he's always been known to play through the pain, but suddenly the guy has been labeled as "injury prone" and correctly so. Last season Chase missed a career-high 45 games. This year, he set a new career high, at 58 thus far. Lil Wayne told me that men lie, women lie and numbers don't. The age, combined with the easily noticeable decline in these guys’ numbers as age increases, is undeniable and unhideable. At some point the Phillies must rein in on this, but when and how?

The Philadelphia Phillies already have $113 million tied up in payroll for next season. This does not include whatever amount of money it will cost to re-sign Cole Hamels (free agent) or Jimmy Rollins (free agent), or if the team wants to look elsewhere at the shortstop position, which is arguable in two ways. While the Phillies can easily find J-Roll's production at a cheaper price, they can't replace what he brings to the clubhouse. They could also look the other way and pay a lot more for a shortstop that is finishing up the greatest season of his career just in time to hit the free agent market in Jose Reyes. The Phillies could also wind up paying more for Cole Hamels than they did with either Lee or Halladay. There will be many teams pining for Hamels' services when the offseason hits. Will Cole go elsewhere for more money or give Philly a hometown discount to stay with this elite pitching staff and a manager who we all love, but who hasn't exactly treated Cole like a World Series MVP? (Cole was listed as the team's fourth starter heading into this season and hey, I love Halladay and Lee, and their resumes, but neither has "World Series MVP" on it.)

Remember earlier in the column when I said we'd get back to the Phillies' farm system? Well, we're there. To reiterate, the team has plucked players out of the farm system so many times in recent years to assemble this current roster that it’s all but depleted. The team's latest deal, which brought immediate fan favorite Hunter Pence over from Houston, cost the Phillies four prospects, including two elite guys, right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathon Singleton. The latter may be the biggest hit to the franchise due to the above-mentioned downhill spiral Ryan Howard has been on since his MVP season. The Pence trade has quickly paid off, as he's batting .317 with 9 home runs and 28 RBI in 47 games with his new club. I'm not going to sit here and act like some minor league baseball junkie, but I trust the ones I do read and speak with, and the Phillies have some arms remaining in their farm system. But they have just one potential young bat to groom, whom we all know as Domonic Brown, who hasn't exactly lit up the Major Leagues just yet. It's thought that he will be replacing Raul Ibanez (free agent) in left field next season. I'm openly petitioning for John Mayberry, Jr. to assume that role, allowing Brown to platoon in and out on occasion.

Furthermore, two other teams in the NL East are stockpiled with young talent. The Washington Nationals have timed back-to-back 100-loss seasons about as well as the feat can be done. After each of the past three MLB drafts, the Nationals have signed two of the most talented prospects at their respective positions in recent memory in starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper and in this year's draft, selected Anthony Rendon, the best college bat in America. When you combine the three of them with Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman, Tyler Clippard, Jordan Zimmerman and Drew Storen—all of whom are 26 or younger—Washington is a team moving in the right direction and within years, could be atop the division. No one wants to say these things, because right now it seems unfeasible that the Nationals would ever lead the NL East, but they aren't too far away. Take that core of players and add in their veteran acquisition of the offseason, Jayson Werth, and the Nationals have a plethora of talent to move forward with. Sure, they still need some arms for the rotation but again, they're not as far off as one may think. Oh, by the way, they will have another top pick in next year’s draft to add to it.

The second of these two teams is already a couple steps ahead of the game, the always daunting Atlanta Braves. Whether or not Atlanta pulls off a Met-like collapse, circa 2007, the Braves are set up very nicely for the future. Atlanta's farm system seems to produce talent at a rate the Gronkowski parents can't even match. Last season they started rookie right fielder Jason Heyward, who had a phenomenal season by 20-year-old hitter's standards, batting .227/.393/.456 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI. By comparison, in Ken Griffey, Jr.'s second season (when he was 20 years old), he hit .300/.366/.481 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI, and Griffey had the benefit of already having one season under his belt. This year, for Atlanta, its rookie first baseman, 21-year-old Freddie Freeman, who is batting .288/.353/.452 with 19 long balls and 73 RBI. Freeman's competition for Rookie of the Year in 2011 is Phillies SP Vance Worley and Braves' sensational rookie closer Craig Kimbrel, who has already set a Major League record for a rookie with 45 saves, while posting an ERA of 2.03. Last year's rookie reliever for the Braves, Jonny Venters, is posting a 1.69 ERA this season after posting a 1.95 ERA in his rookie campaign. Atlanta also has four starting pitchers, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson, who are all 25 years old or younger.

Nothing irks sports fans more than watching their team repeatedly make the same mistakes. It's been over 25 years since the Phillies have done what they may be setting themselves up for in the not-so-distant future, and if they can win their second ring in four years, or even more, then it may not matter to the fan base at all. But I've lived in this town my entire life and if I know one thing about the city of Philadelphia—their fans are never satisfied.

The Philadelphia Phillies dominated the late 1970's much like they have these past five years. The Phils lost three straight National League Championship Series from 1976-1978, in '76 to the Cincinnati Reds, and the following two years both to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team missed the playoffs in 1979 before breaking through with the club's first world championship in 1980, defeating the Kansas City Royals in six games. The team's offense that year, much like its offense this year, began to show their age. Every regular in the lineup was 29 years of age or older. The Phillies followed that season by adding more age to their already aging lineup by bringing in Joe Morgan and Tony Perez (both well past their heyday). Three years later, in 1983, the team's average age was just a shade under 32 years old. Pete Rose, who was 42 at the time, and Tony Perez, 41, split time at first base that season. Joe Morgan, who was 39, played second. In fact, the only hitter in the team's everyday lineup who hadn't yet struck 30 years old was Von Hayes, a right fielder for whom the Phillies traded five prospects to acquire. Does this ring a bell for anyone? Say...Hunter Pence? One of the prospects traded for Hayes' services, Julio Franco, only ended up being one of the best batters of his generation (Career Numbers: 173 HR, 1194 RBI, 281 SB, and a career batting average of .298). The Phillies also traded prospects heading into the 1982 season to acquire starting shortstop Ivan de Jesus, a below average player throughout his 15-year career, who in three season with the Phillies, never hit better than .257 and averaged just 51 runs scored per season with the club. One of the prospects given up to acquire Ivan, you've probably heard of—Ryne Sandberg. It looked to work at first. The Phillies won the 1983 NL pennant before losing to the Baltimore Orioles in the World Series in five games. In 1984, the Philadelphia Phillies finished .500 (81-81) and returned to the playoffs just once between then and 2007. We covered that one playoff appearance in the first paragraph.

The difference between those Phillies and today's Phillies is slight. The 2011 Phillies have potentially one of the greatest pitching staffs of all time. So long as Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay are battling each other for Cy Youngs, it's hard to imagine this team suffering any kind of dismal season when marching those guys out three out of every five days. The second thing, and maybe more important, is the Phillies spending budget. Philadelphia started this season with a $165 million opening day payroll, second to only the New York Yankees. As long as Phillies fans keep paying for tickets, the team has showed their commitment in putting the money right back into the team. The Phillies have, almost out of nowhere, become the Yankees of the National League as far as spending whatever it takes to put a good product on the field is concerned. Therein lies the Catch 22. The Phillies need the fans to keep coming to remain atop the National League (especially with no sort of solid farm system currently intact). Again, I've lived in this city my entire life and I'll be the first to admit, our fans are only going to keep coming if the team keeps winning. The Phillies, whether they meant to or not, suddenly became one of the few teams in baseball that can buy their way to championships, but throw a couple of bad seasons at the fan base and suddenly they will not have that huge budget, or the farm system. I condone what the Phillies have done to create this team. They are without a doubt the best Philadelphia sports team within my lifetime, and I'll be the first to say, you play to win now, not next year. And that in itself is exactly what the Phillies need to do with this current roster—win...now.

 


A Wolfpack at the Back of the 'Pen

on Tuesday, 09 August 2011.

BRAVES' ARMS KIMBREL, VENTERS, O'FLAHERTY SHRED OPPOSING LINEUPS


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A Wolfpack at the Back of the 'Pen

O'Ventbrel.

Really just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Lefties Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters and rookie righthander Craig Kimbrel have been far more than just a cute name combination for the Atlanta Braves this season.

More than an Athlete: Jorge Posada

on Wednesday, 03 August 2011. Posted in Beyond the Athlete

The Jorge Posada Foundation


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More than an Athlete: Jorge Posada

We all watch sports for various reasons: entertainment value, the commitment to laundry, the intrigue of certain players for different reasons, gambling, fantasy game—I could list reasons for the rest of the column.

If you get the vast majority of your sports fix via your television, which most of us do, it is often easy to forget that the athletes we are watching are people. People with lives outside of sports. People who may make more money than most of us can fathom, but also people who, for the most part, perform services to help those less fortunate. Athletes help average people but also those struggling the most in society. Moral of the story: the majority of athletes are not just rich, pampered men with nice cars and trophy wives who have more money than they know what to do with.

Entourage Season Premiere

on Monday, 25 July 2011. Posted in Reviews

With a little taste of Sports

Sometimes, it is okay to be a follower.

 

I was two years and 17 days old when The Simpsons premiered on Fox in 1989. To this day I'm not sure I've ever seen the pilot episode for the soon to be 22 year old sitcom (for the record, I'm not the biggest Simpsons fan). All I remember is watching the NFL on Sundays as a child, and The Simpsons following the Fox game. When you're four, five or six, you watch what your parents watched, mine watched The Simpsons.

 

How to Improve MLB

Written by Timmy Dimas on Friday, 08 July 2011.

THREE SUGGESTIONS FOR BUD SELIG

There are three things in Major League Baseball that need to be addressed.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is All-Star selection.