Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Rocky Mountain High!  

So what are the chances that the Phils can go 9-1 on this road trip? Probably not good. A 2-2 split is more likely based on the law of averages.

-Think the Phils are going to club 20 home runs in this series? Interestingly, in his nine career games against the Rockies, Thome hasn't homered in any of them. Neither Abreu nor Burrell has hit the Rockies well either, which is odd considering that many teams and players in the NL West pad their stats playing in the rare air of Denver a few times a year. I guess the Phils like getting their home runs the hard way.

See ya'll on Monday.

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Leadin’ Off 

I was reading on CNNSI today and I was intrigued by their article about Sean Burrough’s success as the Padres leadoff man. In cavernous Petco Park playing “small ball” (I’m sorry: I’m sure people are tired of the phrase) is vital for the Padres and Burroughs is doing a pretty nice job: .377 OBP. What struck me, looking at his stats, was the fact that Burroughs has little speed and little power: three steals in 31 games this season, and just seven of his forty-three hits went for extra bases.

I always thought that speed was the sine qua non of being a lead-off man: you get on base, you steal second, you hit-and-run, and that was the way that you produce runs. Now it just looks like OBP is the be-all, end-all of batting first, which bothers me about the Phils because our two lead-off guys are speed and power demons: Rollins seduced a lot of Phils fans back when he came up with his tremendous power and made us think of Ricky Henderson circa 1989. And Byrd, despite my support for Bowa just giving him the leadoff slot, still whiffs twice as often as he walks.

Burroughs, in contrast, has really cut down on the K/BB ratio in 2004: 11-8. Is that what it takes to leadoff now? If so then the Phils might have a problem: this season Byrd is still 2-to-1 (25-11), and Rollins, despite all of the talk about him working with Tony Gwynn to lower his strikeouts, is still a little high (14-9) (although I admit that does suggest that Rollins has a better, more selective, eye this year: it is just that his hits aren't falling). The A's deemphasized speed in the leadoff slot that they've actually put in pinch runners for their leadoff men at times. Should the Phils deal for a guy who hits the Marlins well and plays center or short to leadoff when it comes time to make the run for the pennant in September?

(Oh, and I'd like more feedback on my idea to institute the DH in the NL: surely there are more purists out there!)

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A quick word about the Berg tragedy… 

I know that a lot of people in the Philadelphia area are really stunned by the Berg tragedy.

Nick was my age (26; I’m 27), and he grew up in the same area (West Chester; I grew up in Downingtown, about five minutes away). After I heard about his death I was stunned and saddened, thinking about how terrible it must have been for the Bergs to have their son stolen from them. Seeing the media descend upon West Chester, I felt even worse for them for having to deal with their grief upon the public stage.

I don’t want to comment on U.S. policy in Iraq or on the War on Terror because I want A Citizen’s Blog to be a refuge from the sea of insanity that seems to be gripping the world: I just want everyone to keep the Bergs in their prayers this week. God bless.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Give us the DH... 

Here's something I've been working on, and I am interested to see what you all have to say about it:

I wanted to propose an argument (and take sides) in baseball's version of the Protestant-Catholic split: I am in favor of dropping the NL's 130+ year tradition of just playing 9-on-9 baseball and adopt the DH, as the AL did back in 1973. Here's why:

-Pitchers are awful hitters. Aside from Mike Hampton and Dennis Cook (and Kevin Brown back in the '98 NLCS), I've never seen a pitcher swing the bat well. These poor guys go up to the plate with one task in mind: don't look stupid. AL pitchers? They look comedically unprepared to bat in interleague games. Is that interesting to watch? On the blooper-reel, maybe, but as a serious part of the game it is dull. Scoring opportunities are crushed.

I know it would offend purists, but the pitchers deflates NL batting averages and runs scored vis-a-vis the AL. How much, I cannot say*, but having a Pitcher batting .105 hitting in the nine-hole (or having a pinch-hitter come off the bench cold) has to be killing the NL when the average DH in the American League hits about one hundred and seventy points higher. In contrast to AL teams who must pitch to the whole lineup, NL teams get to artificially cut-off threats by having an almost certain out when the pitcher come to bat. Doesn't that give the AL the right to suggest they are the tougher, better league?

*Help me out here: I tried looking up NL Pitchers and AL DH's league-wide BA's & OBPs and I couldn't find any data. Anyone know where I can look?

-Cutting down on pitching changes: remember Millwood's no-hitter last year?

The Phils, remember, only won that 1-0. Thankfully it was early in the year (April 27). Imagine if that game had been in the middle of a pennant race? The Phillies might have seriously had to contemplate removing Millwood from the game for a pinch-hitter to try to add to the 1-0 lead. What if that were to happen this year? Or next? It is only a matter of time before a pitcher throws a perfect game (or is in the process of doing so) during a pennant run and his team must consider the idea of pulling him. Throwing a perfect game (or a no-hitter), is such a once-in-a-lifetime event it would be a shame to see it happen. Mark my words: it will happen one day.

-Sometimes tradition must bow to reality: the Catholic Church updated its dogma with Vatican II to communicate its values better with modern Catholics. I think even an entity as Catholic as the NL can take a page from those AL Protestants and do something that will strengthen the league, even at the cost of tradition.

-Besides, the AL has had the DH for 31 years. It is de facto tradition now.

Hey, Florida: don't look back now!  

With last night's 10-4 win, the Phils have pulled to within a game of the Fish. This is nothing short of miraculous: I thought the Phils wouldn't have a shot at catching up until June, not May.

The Rollins-Byrd duo played well again, although they did strike out three times. Seeing Chase Utley in the lineup was nice: most of us Phils bloggers are pretty high on him. I think we might see Utley manning the hot corner (3B) by season's end.

Tonight we can tie 'em! Go Phils!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Road Trip! 

So far the Phils western road trip has worked out pretty well with their sweep of the D-backs. The opportunity to take 2 of 3 or more from the Giants is a tantilizing prospect, especially given that the marlins will have their hands full with the Astros.

-Will Byrd & Rollins bat 1-2 again? I'm intruiged to see, based on what happened Sunday.

-The Phils seem to pitch to Bonds well: he's 2-9 against Padilla, 3-13 against Millwood. Quite a contrast to past Phillies pitching staffs: I remember some of the moon shots Bonds hit against the Phils at the Vet. They werent just gone, they were in the parking lot, and well on their way to I-95 by the time they slowed down.

Alright. More later, but not today. (Exam tonight.)

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Monday, May 10, 2004

Nice game! 

I actually got to watch the Phils & D-backs yesterday on ESPN: Miller & Morgan are a fine broadcasting team, but they are clearly inferior to any team that includes Harry Kalas.

Anyway, I was very impressed by the Phils yesterday: they finally played a little “small ball” and produced runs aside from dingers. In particular I was impressed by Rollins decision to run on the sac fly that scored Byrd. That was an aggressive strategy. The Byrd-Rollins leadoff duo worked remarkably well: Byrd 2-2 with two walks, Rollins 4 for 5. The fact that Rollins and Byrd kept getting on base was what killed the D-backs. I know batting Byrd & Rollins 1-2 was just a limited-time-only deal with Polanco on the DL, but it worked surprisingly well.

Also, an impressive outing by Myers who, until now, had been the Phils weakest starter: the fact that he allowed no walks is a terrific sign that he had good control throughout.

So the Phils are just two games back behind Florida, despite their awful start. They can definitely make up some ground against the Giants (while the Fish take on the Astros), but the bottom line is that the Phils need to prepare for facing off with the fish again and actually winning.

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