Monday, September 11, 2006
I really didn’t pay any attention to anything while I was gone. While we were away the Mayor of Pittsburgh died, the Crocodile Hunter died, and Paris Hilton had a DUI. Oh, and the Phillies played okay baseball. There just nineteen games left to the season and the Phillies continue to sit within striking distance. I have a few thoughts and then I’ll return to “regular” posts tomorrow:
1. Regardless of if the Phillies make the playoffs, Ryan Howard should be the NL MVP. He’s leading the NL in home runs and RBIs and he’d probably have a shot at the batting title as well if the opposition pitched to him, but they are clearly scared to these days. Nobody is more important to their team than Ryan Howard is to the Phillies. He should be a lock to be MVP.
2. I was focusing my attention on the Phillies catching up to the Reds these last few weeks, so I was stunned to see the Reds essentially collapse and fall out of the playoff race upon my return. Since August 22, the Reds have gone 5-12 and went from leading the pack by about three games to trailing it by three and a half. The Reds have no staying power. They are done.
3. Once more the Florida Marlins rear their ugly heads. I bet Major League Baseball hates these guys: smaller market, full of no-names (aside from Dontrelle Willis), solid pitching-and-defense sort of team … this is starting to look a lot like 2003 again, when the Marlins overtook the Phillies and made the playoffs after being left for dead midseason and spoiled a perfectly good Cubs – Yankees World Series. Seriously, though, the Marlins do frighten me. They are full of rookies who have no clue of the enormity of what is going on. They’ve got nothing to lose and they are playing darn good baseball right now. The Phillies are playing with pressure. They need to win. Charlie Manuel needs to win. The Phillies need to make the playoffs. The Marlins are content to play the spoilers. They are dangerous. That season-ending series in Florida from September 29 – October 1 might just be the final battle. I have a bad feeling about this race to the finish…
4. Dynasty Death Watch, Con’t: The Braves continue to sink out of the playoff race. I believe that they are officially mathematically eliminated from winning the NL East crown (or darn close to it), and their chances of making the post-season are slim at best.
5. College Football season got started. My alma mater, Pitt, won their first two games in convincing fashion with a 38-13 victory over Virginia and a 33-15 win over Cincinnati. Cincy isn’t that good, but the win over the Cavaliers is impressive stuff. Up next, Michigan State. I hope they can beat the Spartans and make it to their game against Rutgers on October 21 undefeated (7-0). They probably won’t, but it would be nice, because after that they have Louisville and West Virginia to contend with.
6. Pro Football is back as well. I watched the Cowboys drop a 24-17 loss to the Jags on Sunday with no little delight. Bledsoe looked clueless and a sitting duck despite having T.O. out there. Seeing T.O. yapping to Bledsoe about being open after a play convinced me that he’ll wear out his welcome in Big D sooner than in Philly.
The Eagles played a pretty dominating game of football against the Texans on Sunday. McNabb was the McNabb of old: 24-of-35, 314 yards, 3 TDs. He was sharp and he looked like he was having fun again. Even better news was that the Eagles actually ran the ball with some authority: Westbrook got 71 yards and Buckhalter got 50. This team finally has a running game! I’m looking forward to next week’s game against the Giants. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the G-men looking up at the Birds at 0-2?
7. Today is the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Nobody will ever forget that day…
I leave every one with … Wildcard Watch!
1. San Diego: 74-68
2. Florida: 72-71 (2.5)
3. Philadelphia: 72-71 (2.5)
4. San Francisco: 72-71 (2.5)
5. Cincinnati: 71-72 (3.5)
6. Houston: 70-72 (4.0)
7. Atlanta: 69-73 (5.0)
At this point any team more than five games out is finished. This is starting to shape up to be a three-way race with the Pads, Phillies and Fishstripes. The rest of these guys look like also-rans. More tomorrow.