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.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

I was reading Tom’s comments about the Phils September surge on Shallow Center and I was very surprised to see how well they played in September: 14-7; team WHIP: 1.25; team GPA: .280, 6-0 against the Mets, 3-2 against the Braves, 3-0 against the Fish … hmm, coincidence that they played well while my wife & I were in Hawaii? If the Phils pay, we’ll be happy to take vacations to Hawaii all of the time … but Tom is right: it is a mild kick in the teeth to see them finally vanquish the Fish right when it essentially became irrelevant. If this team always plays better when the pressure is off, that suggests to me that Bowa’s temper tantrums take their toll on the players. The Yankees always play in stressful situations and you never see Joe Torre screaming and yelling. First order of business for the Phils: fire Bowa and hire someone a little more laid back.

Here’s how the Phils did in September:

Starters: (GPA / ISO)
Thome: .268 / .180
Abreu: .324 / .173
Bell: .340 / .259
Burrell: .264 / .288
Rollins: .290 / .194
Polanco: .278 / .200
Lieberthal: .397 / .327
Byrd: .150 / .091

Michaels: .277 / .207
Glanville: .072 / .000
Utley: .201 / .155
Pratt: .268 / .294
Perez: .162 / .125
Howard: .363 / .360

Notably … what was up with Lieberthal and Bell this month? Those were monster performances by both … and a lot of credit has to go to Jimmy Rollins at short: I was very skeptical about his ability to be the Phils lead-off guy but he has put the Byrd-Rollins battle to rest and proven me wrong. I hope the Phils keep him in the off-season and pencil him in as the starter next year … Speaking of Byrd, I’m profoundly disappointed by his performance since his return from Scranton. I really thought he’d come back and improve like he did last season, but that didn’t happen.

The Phils had a surprisingly balanced offense in September too …

Starters: (RC27)
Thome: 5.00
Abreu: 9.14
Bell: 9.66
Burrell: 5.22
Rollins: 7.08
Polanco: 6.07
Lieberthal: 12.36
Byrd: 1.18

Michaels: 6.19
Glanville: -0.19
Utley: 3.26
Pratt: 5.39
Perez: 0.10
Howard: 8.76

Yeah, you read that right: an offense with 9 Doug Glanville’s would have lost runs …

What the stats mean:
GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO
RC27 (Runs Created per 27 Outs): ESPN’s formula for Runs Created is simply too complex for me to replicate easily here. This is their stat based on what a hypothetical team of nine of the same player would score.

Statistically, September was a very good month for the team: the Phils were fourth in the NL in OBP (.353), first in slugging percentage (.486, well above second-place San Diego at .462 … incidentally, I am impressed at how San Diego’s offense came together here late in the season. If they make the playoffs, they could be really dangerous), first in runs scored (128, four better than the Rockies), fourth in WHIP (1.25, just behind the Giants, Cards and Cubs), and third in batting average against (.236).

[WHIP (Walks plus hits by innings pitched): (BB + H) / IP = WHIP]

Look at this as a good building block for the future, or an example of what could have been … I too have noticed a significant decline in the activity on the Phils blogoverse these days. I’ve moved on to The Bird Blog a little more, but there isn’t the community out there of fellow bloggers like I’ve experienced this summer. I’ll keep A Citizen’s Blog rolling through the playoffs and I’ll comment a little on the post-season when events warrant (e.g., when the Phils can Bowa), but it won’t be the same …

And before I go, I know ball players are superstitious types, and based on the fact that the Phils went 14-7 while my wife & I were gone I would like to repeat that we’d be happy to spend next summer in Hawaii, so Ed Wade & Co. know where to find me if they want the Phils to win next year …

(18) comments

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Two wins in a row? Stop the presses! 

Before I talk a little about the Phils I’m going to write a little about my wedding / honeymoon. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t bore anyone with it (this stuff is only interesting to those who experienced it, I've found), but I suspect that everyone would find it more interesting than the Phils …

My wife and I married at 2:30 PM on Saturday, September 4, 2004 in Natrona Heights, PA. Our wedding went well, aside from an embarrassing incident involving a fight (don’t ask). Everyone had a terrific time and the pictures and videos we got back have been terrific. My wife looked beautiful in her wedding gown. My best man gave a terrific toast that was so nice that I can hear a relative of my wife’s remarking on one tape: “What a great friend…” Both families seemed to have a terrific time, and despite the fact that it was a 300+ mile drive from Philly to Pittsburgh, I had a lot of family at the church and reception. I had the time of my life.

We left two days later we left for the first leg in our journey: we flew to San Francisco and spent a day and two halves in the city by the Bay. SF is gorgeous: the Bay is crystal blue, with white sails from sailing ships dotting the horizon. We cruised the Bay, ate at Pier 39, visited the Bay Aquarium, and toured the Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not! Museum. On Wednesday we left for Oahu. We did our honeymoon as part of a tour group, which was fun. We got to stay at terrific hotels and ate at stellar restaurants.

On Oahu we did all of the touristy stuff: the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial (very, very evocative moment to be standing there, thinking about the over 1,000 sailors who died when the battleship blew up), the Punchbowl National Cemetary, the Polynesian Cultural Center (very interesting and very worthwhile if you get a chance: the students who perform are very talented), etc. We stayed at the Hyatt in Waikiki Beach, which offered a terrific view of the local area. Waikiki is an interesting place (lots of Japanese tourists) and a good beach: very soft surf. I saw people swimming at midnight there.

We left and spent three days on Kauai. I liked our hotel a lot (the Sheraton Kauai at Poipu Beach): it had a gorgeous view of the pool and beach and was situated just forty or so yards from Poipu Beach itself. Kauai is nice but a little too rural and quiet. We had fun doing a helicopter tour of the island (if you go to Kauai you must do it: the views of the island are sensational), but we weren’t that sorry to go. For one thing, while Poipu is nice, I don’t understand why people rave about it the way they do.

Maui, on the other hand … my wife practically cried when we left there. The beach (Ka’anapaali) is like something out of a post-card and Maui itself is just the right mix between quiet and solitude and activity that you could never get bored there. Plus, our hotel (Hyatt Maui) was a palace. Anyway, we did a lot: we snorkeled (I have a cool picture of my wife swimming with a sea turtle), took a trip to Mount Haleakala [sic], and explored Ka’anapaali. We'd go back to Maui in an instant.

We got back and found out that the Pittsburgh area got hit with six inches of rain last Friday, which flooded the rivers and left people’s boats laying on the sides of roads and flooded people out of house and home. My wife and I were fortunate that we live on a hill in an apartment complex, but others lost everything. (one of my wife’s bridesmaids’ family house got about six inches of water in the basement.) It was been very tragic to see.

Anyway, enough of that. I guess the Phils won enough games to break above .500 … their .517 winning percentage projects them to an 84-78 record. Anything less than 90 wins simply doesn’t give them a shot for the wildcard. It has been a deeply frustrating season, and the Phils sudden ability to beat the Florida Marlins seems almost a cruel joke: they shake the curse of the Fish right when the damage has already long-since been done with.

I’ll do a season wrap-up in two weeks or so, but here are some numbers to keep you satisfied:

Starters: (GPA / ISO)
Thome: .326 / .312
Abreu: .323 / .240
Bell: .284 / .171
Burrell: .282 / .214
Rollins: .264 / .150
Polanco: .258 / .144
Lieberthal: .262 / .182
Byrd: .207 / .094

Michaels: .264 / .138
Glanville: .179 / .059
Utley: .253 / .206
Pratt: .220 / .068
Perez: .224 / .203
Howard: .368 / .375

What the stats mean:
GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO

On the bright side the Eagles are 2-0! Check out my Eagles blog …

(12) comments

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Phils win against the Fish? I’m stunned! 

Seriously, I am ... Too little, too late. I didn’t expect to see the Phils miraculously sweep into playoff contention while I was gone, so seeing them mired 11.5 in back of the Braves with twelve left (a virtually mathematically impossible canyon to cross) isn’t surprising. Even though they have an outside (cue Bob Uecker’s “just a bit outside” line from Major League) shot at the wildcard, the season is over.

I anticipate the playoff lineup as: Oakland, Minnesota, Boston and the Yankees (a.k.a., the usual suspects) in the AL, and the Braves, Cubs, Cardinals and Dodgers in the NL. A Red Sox – Cubs World Series like I predicted in the preseason? I’d have my money on Red Sox – Cards.

(0) comments

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Guess who's back... 

Back from Hawaii! My wife & I had a blast. We’re busy fixing up the apartment after two weeks of lying on the beach in Maui, Kauai and Oahu. I’ll do a little write-up in the coming days, but we’ve just started to put this place back together.

(1) comments

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