Phillies Surmount 500-to-1 Odds Against — UPDATED

You read right. 500-to-1. They were that much an underdog on September 12, seven games behind the New York Mets in the National League East (Baseball Prospectus goes over some of the biggest collapses here, and mentions this year’s playoff hunt).

Today, on October 1, the Mets are officially out of the playoffs (the second-worst collapse in baseball history, after the 1964 Phillies and the worst since divisional play began in 1969), while the Phillies are officially in for the first time since 1993.

I’ve mentioned in other articles of mine the vicious rash of injuries the team has endured. I have also mentioned the insane luck against them when they lost to the Braves on September 5. And I have mentioned how many games the bullpen has blown.

And hell, even I was disheartened at one point. But I’m a fan of the Phillies — can you blame me?

The 500-to-1 odds really undershoots what the Phillies did, though.

  • They lost to cancer the one man most emblematic of the Phillies franchise — John Vukovich — on March 8 and wore “VUK” on their sleeves all season.
  • Jayson Werth thought his baseball career might have been over before he signed with the Phillies.
  • Before the season started, Jimmy Rollins declared that the Phillies were “the team to beat” and they started off 4-11.
  • Manager Charlie Manuel berated “journalist” Howard Eskin and was on the “hot seat” until about mid-season.
  • The coaching staff acted rashly and moved their then-ace Brett Myers to the bullpen to pitch the 8th inning (when Tom Gordon went down with an injury, Myers moved to closer).
  • Ryan Howard, the reigning NL MVP, had a horrible April (.390 SLG) and then missed two weeks from May 10 to 24.
  • Pat Burrell had a mind-bogglingly awful first-half of the season (.408 SLG).
  • They started the season with six starting pitchers (Garcia, Lieber, Hamels, Eaton, Myers, Moyer). By season’s end, only one of them would not spend a day on the disabled list — the 44-year-old, who ended up pitching Sunday’s game, the biggest Phillies game in 14 years. In addition, the Phillies set a club record for most pitchers used in a season (28).
  • More than a month after moving Myers to the bullpen, he got injured closing out a game in Florida and missed the next two months. By season’s end, nine Phillies have recorded saves (Myers, Alfonseca Gordon, Condrey, Madson, Mesa, Rosario, Durbin, Ennis).
  • Wes Helms showed himself to be a free agent bust, and saw his playing time significantly reduced in the last two months in favor of the offense of Greg Dobbs and defense of Abraham Nunez.
  • The franchise reached 10,000 losses on July 15.

And despite ALL of that…

  • The Phillies won the most games in a season (89) since 1993 (97).
  • Jimmy Rollins, en route to a possible and likely NL MVP award, recorded the fourth 20 2B/20 3B/20 HR/20 SB season in baseball history, joining Curtis Granderson (also achieved this year), Willie Mays, and Frank Schulte. In addition, he played in all 162 games, and set records in at-bats and plate appearances, surpassing Willie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra, respectively.
  • Pat Burrell followed up his awful first half with an amazing second half (1.016 OPS) and finished the season with at least 30 HR for the third time in his eight-year career.
  • Ryan Howard followed up his awful first half with an amazing second half (1.016 OPS) and finished the season with 47 HR and led the National League with 136 RBI.
  • The Phillies overcame the one-month loss of then-MVP candidate Chase Utley to a hand injury when Pat Gillick made a quick acquisition of Tadahito Iguchi, who instantly took to the red pinstripes.
  • The Phillies overcame the three-week loss (and light use following his return) of Shane Victorino, and the six-week loss of Michael Bourn (both lost in the same game in Chicago) with the help of Jayson Werth (.950 second-half OPS), who at one point hit safely in nine straight at-bats, breaking Pete Rose’s mark of 8 at-bats.
  • The starting rotation changed from Hamels, Moyer, Lieber, Garcia, and Eaton at the start of the season to Hamels, Moyer, Kendrick, Lohse, and Eaton by season’s end. Kendrick is a solid candidate for some third-place Rookie of the Year votes.
  • J.C. Romero put up an insane 369 ERA+. A 100 ERA+ is considered league-average.
  • The Phillies led the league in humanitarian efforts.
  • In their campaign against the Mets, the Phillies beat them in eight consecutive games, including sweeps of a four-game series in Philadelphia and a three-game series in New York.
  • 44-year-old Jamie Moyer, born in Sellersville, PA, pitched the biggest game for his hometown team since 1993. He went 5 and one-third innings, giving up only one unearned run on five hits and no walks, striking out six.

There were far too many great storylines for this year’s Philadelphia Phillies, and far too much going against them. Yet they persevered. It couldn’t have happened to a more likable group of guys or a more deserving group of fans.

Advantage: Phillies

The San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies play a one-game playoff to determine the Wild Card winner at Coors Field tonight. The Padres will send Cy Young candidate Jake Peavy (176 ERA+) to the mound to face Rockies starter Josh Fogg (99 ERA+).

This is beneficial for the Phillies for a few reasons.

  • Both teams will be at the disadvantage of having played an extra game, adding to the risk of injury, and adding to the already high level of fatigue in most of the players.
  • If the Padres win, they will have burned their “ace in the hole” in Peavy until at least Game 3 of the NLDS. It’s even more beneficial when you consider that the Padres’ starting rotation hasn’t been great. Chris Young, for example, has a 5.96 ERA since returning from his injury. Meanwhile, the Phillies will have their ace, Cole Hamels, pitching Game 1 and likely Game 4.
  • While not a long flight, the Padres are at another disadvantage for having to go on the road. The Phillies get to rest until Wednesday.

Give ’em Credit

The Phillies’ 2007 run at the post-season will forever be linked to the biggest divisional collapse in baseball history by the New York Mets. Due to this fact, the Phillies will likely not be given much credit for winning themselves so much as winning by default because of the Mets’ inadequacies.

The Phillies played .623 baseball in August and September, and, as mentioned, beat the Mets in eight consecutive games. Not only was this due to the Phillies’ league-best offense, but the settling down of the pitching staff. They had their occasional bad games, but nothing like the first half when it was commonplace. Since September 13, the Phillies have given up 68 total runs in those 17 games, an average of exactly 4 runs per game, more than a full run better than their seasonal average of 5.07 runs per game.

While the Mets definitely were in a position to cinch the deal in the NL East, let’s give credit where credit is due — to the Philadelphia Phillies.

When Words Aren’t Enough

Yahoo! has some great pictures from the Associated Press, Reuters, and Getty Images.

The Phillies website has some great video footage.

When Words Are Enough

The blogosphere’s reaction to the Phillies and the Mets, looking towards the post-season:

When Words Are Too Much

From SI.com:

[…]Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas sang “High Hopes” over the public address system.

You have to have seen and heard it to appreciate it. Kalas won’t be on American Idol any time soon, but it was a moment where every one of his off-key notes sounded infinitely harmonic.

Please advise me if a video of this is posted on the Internets!

CrashburnAlley [at] Gmail [dot] com.

UPDATE: Thanks to an E-Mailer, here is the Harry Kalas video!

Smoltz and CBP to Seek Counseling Together

As I’ve chronicled here and here, the Braves are far and away the best… at whining. They tend to do it a lot when two stars align: the Braves are playing in Philadelphia, and John Smoltz starts one of those games.

They did indeed align, and as expected, Smoltz whined after the game about the Phillies’ home ballpark.

Last night, the Phillies beat the Braves 6-4 and moved into a tie for first place with the ever-so-slightly collapsing New York Mets, simultaneously eliminating the Braves from playoff contention.

The Phillies needed to make no outs in putting up a four-spot in the first inning off of Johnny Boy.

NL MVP candidate Jimmy Rollins swung at Smoltz’s first pitch of the game and singled up the middle.

Speedster Shane Victorino, making his first start in a week, followed with a bunt down the third base line. Smoltz, rushing, threw errantly to first baseman Mark Teixeira and the ball rolled around in foul territory in right field. Rollins came around to score, and Shane Victorino landed at third base.

Chase Utley then hit a routine grounder to Teixeira, but he booted it, allowing Victorino (who was not going on contact) to score, and Utley to reach first base safely. And, as all the highlights have shown, Ryan Howard torched a Smoltz “didn’t really slide” slider for a line drive two-run home run down the right field line.

Smoltz, ironically, did not whine about this homerun (perhaps because the pitch was a mistake), but just in case he does whine about it, let’s get the facts out of the way. Howard’s home run would have gone out of Turner Field, too.

Admittedly, my method for proving this is rather rough (hey, Hit Tracker hasn’t put it up yet), but if MLB Gameday is in any way accurate, then it should at least drive the point home.

Howard CBP HR

In the above screenshot, we see where Howard’s home run landed in last night’s game at Citizens Bank Park. I will lay this on a screenshot of Turner Field.

Turner Field

I superimposed Turner Field on Citizens Bank Park, aligning them at home plate, and, indeed, Howard’s HR would have gone out in Atlanta, too:

Burrell TF HR

Smoltz didn’t whine about Howard’s hit, though. He whined about Burrell’s third-inning two-run (eventually game-winning) home run. From the Braves website:

Burrell’s ball isn’t a home run. But that’s just what this park can do for you. You get the ball in the air and you can get lucky. Obviously, they feast off it.

I’ll use the same rough experiment.

Burrell at Citizens Bank Park…

Burrell CBP HR

Burrell if he hit it at Turner Field…

Burrell TF HR

[Start Imaginary one-sided conversation with Mr. Smoltz]

Still a homer, John. Your claims are unfounded.

It couldn’t have been that you left a slider up in the zone (you can watch the home run here, under Thursday, September 27). And it couldn’t have been that Burrell put a good swing on the ball.

Six runs (five earned) in four innings. It’s got to be the ballpark.

You, Teixeira, and Kelly Johnson played superb defense throughout the game, right?

And if the ballpark is such a beacon for home runs, then your bullpen most definitely would not benefit from it right? It’s not like your bullpen pitched 5 scoreless innings of relief last night, allowing only two hits and two walks.

[End Imaginary one-sided conversation with Mr. Smoltz]

As the Braves find themselves watching the playoffs from home for the second year in a row, after 14 consecutive seasons of watching them first-hand, they might need to learn how to cope.

Phillies fans are always available to tell you how to deal with it.

The Most Exciting Three Days of the Season

Here are the match-ups for the Mets and Phillies as they begin the final regular season series with the Marlins and Nationals, respectively:

Friday, September 28

WAS (Redding, 123 ERA+) @ PHI (Hamels, 129 ERA+)

FLA (Kim, 79 ERA+) @ NYM (Perez, 128 ERA+)

Saturday, September 29

WAS (Chico, 92 ERA+) @ PHI (Eaton, 72 ERA+)

FLA (Seddon, 62 ERA+) @ NYM (Maine, 105 ERA+)

Sunday, September 30

WAS (Bergmann, 101 ERA+) @ PHI (Moyer, 89 ERA+)

FLA (Willis, 82 ERA+) @ NYM (Glavine, 103 ERA+)

The pitching match-ups certainly favor the Mets, but you never know.

In the Event of a Tie

Per the Phillies website, here’s how the tie-breakers will go down, if they occur:

  • If there’s a five-way tie — yes, it’s possible — with the Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies, New York and Philadelphia kick off the party with a one-game playoff on Monday at Citizens Bank Park to determine the NL East winner.
  • Meanwhile, the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Padres then grapple for the NL West. Colorado, by virtue of the best head-to-head record among those three, could choose whether to play two games at home or one game on the road.
  • Once the divisions are settled, the remaining trio must determine the NL Wild Card, starting another three-team playoff on Wednesday and Thursday. Colorado, if involved, would again have the best head-to-head record, and choose between two home games or one road game.
  • If it’s an NL West club, the Wild Card winner would start the playoffs in either New York or Philadelphia. If it’s an NL East team, the NL West winner hosts.

Gillick Done After 2008

Phillies GM Pat Gillick has impeccable timing. With a week left in the regular season, and with his team in a position to earn a playoff berth, he dropped the bombshell that he won’t be returning to the Phillies after the 2008 season, when his contract expires.

Pat Gillick

Even though he succeeded Ed Wade as GM of the Phillies, Gillick hasn’t enjoyed any popularity while in Philadelphia, and it’s justified. The blunders that have occurred under Gillick’s watch have done more to set the Phillies back than to set them ahead.

He let Brett Myers make his next start following his domestic abuse episode in Boston. He traded Bobby Abreu for rags. He gave Adam Eaton $24.51 million over three years and a mutual 2010 option worth $9 million. He signed Rod Barajas when he already had a catching duo of Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste. He failed to upgrade the bullpen — an obvious problem as early as the beginning of last offseason — and Charlie Manuel has had to work with relievers found off the scrap heap (Jose Mesa, Antonio Alfonseca, among others) and rookies (Mike Zagurski, Francisco Rosario, among others).

Gillick’s offseason moves have been awful, but his mid-season moves have been a Band-Aid of sorts (Jamie Moyer, Rick White, Tadahito Iguchi, Kyle Lohse), so he hasn’t been all bad, technically speaking.

After dealing Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier, and David Bell in July of 2006, Gillick expressed no confidence in his team:

It will be a stretch to say we’ll be there in ’07. We’ll have to plug in some young pitchers and anytime you do that you’ll have some inconsistency. It’s going to take another year.

It makes no sense for Gillick to tell us all that 2008 will be his last season as a general manager. It makes even less sense to say that while his team is fighting for a playoff spot. With a week left, why not keep your mouth shut until the Phillies are eliminated from playoff contention, or from the playoffs (should they make it)?

Manager Charlie Manuel and shortstop Jimmy Rollins have already taken veiled shots at Gillick for his failure to give the team an adequate bullpen. Phillies fans don’t like him.

Just quit now. Based on Gillick’s quotes, it’s obvious being a GM of a Major League Baseball team isn’t his top priority, and if it has been that way for Gillick since he joined the Phillies, it’s evident. Don’t keep the team in limbo and give a reason for everyone to second-guess.

In hoping for Gillick’s ouster, we have to think about a successor. Speaking realistically, that successor will likely come from within the Phillies organization — namely Ruben Amaro, Jr. (who was candidate #2 for the Houston Astros GM job given to Wade) and Mike Arbuckle, both assistant GM’s.

Amaro presents a glass half-full or glass half-empty scenario. Is he a bad candidate because he worked under Wade and Gillick, learned from their antiquated notions, and is doomed to repeat them? Or is he a good candidate because he worked under Wade and Gillick, learned from their antiquated notions, and will not repeat them?

In an interview with Rob Neyer, Arbuckle gave one reason why he might be a good candidate:

Neyer: Do you have much use for the sabermetric approach that seems to be inching its way into baseball these days? Have the Phillies ever employed, or considered employing, somebody as essentially a statistical analyst?

Arbuckle: No, we haven’t. I do think there’s some value in that approach, but mostly at the professional level. At the amateur level, the competition level varies so much that you can outsmart yourself.

At the professional level, it adds something to the equation, but if you start saying that element is going to outweigh the experience of the scouts — most of the time, multiple scouts have seen the player you’re talking about — then you can get in trouble. I do think it’s a good supplementary tool, if you’re going to make a deal, that may clarify some gray areas.

While Arbuckle hasn’t hopped on the Sabermetric bandwagon as much as I personally wish he would have, he is at least open-minded to the “new school” method of player evaluation.

In an ideal world, however, the next Phillies GM will come from outside the organization, one who is not clouded by the notion that veterans are inherently better than their younger counterparts, or that you can slug your way into the playoffs without a solid pitching foundation, or that offseason acquisition mistakes can be patched up with July and August waiver pick-ups.

The most important aspect of the next Phillies GM is that he is not a yes-man for the Phillies front office, whose main concern is with the profit margins, rather than a .590 winning percentage over .540. The next Phillies GM cannot trade away valuable cogs because they are open about their displeasure with the management, as was the case with Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling, both of whom were traded for next to nothing.

Rolen turned down a 7-year, $90 million contract from the Phillies because he didn’t like the direction in which the franchise was heading.

Ed Wade referred to Schilling as “a horse every fifth day and a horse’s ass the other four.”

When we’re dealing with a city that hasn’t tasted a championship since 1983, dealing with key players that way is unacceptable.

So, here’s hoping that A) Gillick is fired/resigns after this season; and, B) The Phillies organization replaces him with someone quite capable of delivering.

While I’m daydreaming… is Mark Cuban interested in buying the Phillies?

UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, I read the following via ESPN:

Phillies general manager Pat Gillick says he may or may not leave the team when his contract runs out next season.

[…]

“I think the reporter kind of got a little over zealous,” [Gillick — ESPN attributed this quote to Manuel, but I think they made a typo] said on XM Radio’s “Baseball this Morning” program. “We were talking about Charlie Manuel’s contract because it’s running out at the end of the season, and he asked about my contract, and I told him it ends at the end of next year and I’ll probably retire or do something else … it wasn’t any big deal. They’re trying to make a big deal more than it is. It’s basically my contract is running out and I don’t know right now. There is a possibility it could go past next year…”

Cardinals-Phillies by the Numbers

In case you missed it, the Phillies came out victorious in one of the most exciting games of the season (after that 11-10 win over the Mets).

Fangraphs

0 – Number of reasons for ever having Abraham Nunez in the lineup

1 – Number of Rod Barajas’ at-bats, hits, runs, and RBI

1 – Number of position players still available in the 14th inning — Rod Barajas, who delivered the game-winning RBI single

1 – Number of Cardinal extra-base hits

1.5 – Number of games the Phillies trail the Mets and Padres by in the NL East and Wild Card, respectively

2 – Number of pinch-runners used each by the Phillies and Cardinals

2 – Number of triples and stolen bases for Jayson Werth (the last person to achieve this feat in the same game was Larry Walker in 1996)

2 – Number of pitchers used by Tony LaRussa to pinch-run

2 – Number of blown saves in this game

3 – Number of 14th inning runs the Phillies scored

3 – Number of innings the Phillies’ ace pitched in his return from the disabled list

3 – Number of pinch-hitters used by the Cardinals

3 – Number of Cardinals pitchers who were in the game, but did not pitch (Wainwright as a pinch-hitter; Reyes and Piniero as pinch-runners)

4 – Number of Phillies relievers used after Cole Hamels to not yield any runs

4 – Number of hits the Phillies had through 12 innings of play

5 – Number of hitless at-bats for Ryan Howard

5 – Number of pinch-hitters used by the Phillies

5 – Number of consecutive losses for the Mets

6 – Number of Phillies fans confident in Jose Mesa when he came in to pitch in the 12th and 13th innings

6 – Number of consecutive wins for the Phillies

6 – Number of catchers used (Ruiz, Coste, Barajas, LaForest; Molina, Stinnett)

7 – Number of people still awake watching the game at its conclusion, around 1:15 AM EST

8 – Number of total hits in the game for the Phillies in 49 at-bats

8 – Number of pitchers used by the Phillies

8 – Number of combined pinch-hitters used

9 – Number of strikeouts from the Phillies’ #1-5 hitters

9 – Number of Phillies relievers to earn a save this season (Clay Condrey earned it in this particular game)

10 – Number of scoreless innings pitched by the Phillies bullpen (Myers allowed one run in the 10th inning)

11 – Number of pitchers used by the Cardinals, a National League record

19 – Number of total pitchers used by both teams

21 – Number of scoreless innings of 28

25 – Number of Phillies players used

28 – Number of Cardinal players used, tying the National League record

53 – Number of combined players used, tying the National League record

168 – Number of days passed since the Phillies were this close to the lead in the NL East

304 – Number of minutes the game lasted

481 – Number of combined pitches thrown

42,170 – Paid attendance at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO

Phillies Bullpen Isn’t to Blame for This Loss

In poker, you can be at the top of your game, making no mistakes and capitalizing on your opponents’ weaknesses and miscues, but still end up losing. When that happens, you abdicate your chair, shake your opponent’s hand, tell him “nice hand,” and mutter “That’s poker” back to the bar to drown your sorrows.

The same holds true in baseball. Wednesday’s Braves-Phillies game is one of the few where the box score doesn’t tell the whole story. To the many Phillies and Braves fans who stopped watching the game once it was “out of reach” at 8-2 in the top of the 8th inning, the box score will tell you that Tom Gordon and Brett Myers combined for an impressive performance in blowing a six-run lead.

Sure, Gordon did give up a legitimate lead-off double to Chipper Jones. But the three singles that followed were flukey in every sense of the word. After getting Mark Teixeira to fly out to right field, catcher Brian McCann hit a fly ball to shallow right-center field, and neither Aaron Rowand nor Chris Roberson could reach it, and it fell for a single. Jeff Francoeur followed in similar fashion, blooping an end-of-the-bat single to the shallow outfield, well in front of Roberson, allowing Jones to score. As if the game was a perpetual torture machine, Scott Thorman gave us an encore with a bloop single in the dreaded “Bermuda Triangle” between left-fielder Jayson Werth, Rowand, and shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Things were getting tense, but it’s only 8-3… but it was also a save situation (the tying run is on-deck), so in came closer Brett Myers, who wasted no time in letting the Braves’ fourth run cross home plate by throwing his first pitch in the dirt in front of new catcher Carlos Ruiz. Showing no command, Myers threw three more balls to Yunel Escobar to give him a free ticket to first base.

To Myers’ credit, he made a good pitch to the next hitter, Matt Diaz. He got it on on his fists, and the ball had little momentum, but just enough to get past the pitcher in-between the third baseman and shortstop. One of those flukey base hits again, this one scored Francoeur to make it 8-5. Myers’ lack of command flared up again, walking Willie Harris and forcing in Thorman for an 8-6 bid. Kelly Johnson helped him by fouling out to third base early in the count, and frustrated Chipper Jones by throwing him two straight 3-2 curveballs to fly out to left-center.

To Phillies fans, watching that inning was like passing a kidney stone. And it wasn’t over. Just for the added suspense, what I am about to describe happened after Myers easily retired the first two batters, Mark Teixeira and Brayan Pena.

Braves fluke hits

Francoeur grounded a ball past third baseman Abraham Nunez, just deep enough in the hole so that Rollins couldn’t get enough on the throw to beat Francoeur at first base. Martin Prado came up to the plate and chopped the ball off of home plate. Phillies fans held their breath as Myers and catcher Ruiz stared up into the sky for a good three seconds — enough to ensure an infield single for Prado. The ball had to have richocheted off of home plate into the air at least 50 feet. At this point, Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas was having an aneurysm, and Phillies fans were having flashbacks of the Craig Biggio homerun off of Billy Wagner (spooky — it was almost two years ago to the day). To add insult to injury, Myers walked Yunel Escobar, putting the tying run at second base, and the winning run at first base.

Matt Diaz would be the last batter to swing his bat, ripping the deathblow to right field, off of Chris Roberson’s glove, scoring all three Braves baserunners.

So, in the 8th, the Braves had one legitimate hit (Jone’s double), four flukey hits (McCann, Francoeur, Thorman, and Diaz), a wild pitch, and two walks. In the 9th, the Braves had one legitimate hit that should have been caught (Diaz’s walk-off), two flukey hits (Francoeur and Prado), and a walk.

I can’t blame the bullpen for this loss. I can’t blame Charlie Manuel, either. I blame Lady Luck for choosing the Braves. Maybe she was sympathetic to Chipper Jones’ cause.

As for what the win could have meant for the Phillies, the Mets lost and so did the Padres, Rockies, and Dodgers. The only team the Phillies wouldn’t have picked up or gained ground on were the Diamondbacks, who beat the Padres. Instead, the Phillies have 5 games to pick up in the East, and 3 games in the Wild Card with 23 games to go. They can earn a playoff berth thusly:

Assuming the Mets go 12-11 in their final 23, the Phillies would have to finish the season 18-5 to win the East.

Assuming the Diamondbacks win the NL West, the Padres go 12-11 in their final 23, and no one else in the Wild Card chase picks up ground, the Phillies would have to finish the season 16-7 to win the Wild Card.

Assuming the Padres win the NL West, the Diamondbacks go 11-10 in their final 21, and no one else in the Wild Card chase picks up ground, the Phillies would have to finish the season 17-6 to win the Wild Card.

There’s always next year.

The World’s Tiniest Violin Plays for the Atlanta Braves… Again

Back on August 13, I wrote about the Atlanta Braves’ whining following a 5-3 loss at the hands of a Ryan Howard three-run homerun. Manager Bobby Cox and right fielder Jeff Francoeur complained about the dimensions of Citizens Bank Park, a tactic not foreign to the Tomahawks — John Smoltz loves to hate the “bandbox,” too.

But tonight, the Braves lost by a similar margin, 5-2, to the Phillies and starter Kyle Lohse, who went six and two-thirds innings, allowing only two runs — both at the hands of Chipper Jones. But was that enough for Larry? Of course not. It wasn’t Buddy Carlyle’s fault he went only one and two-thirds innings in the loss, and it wasn’t the Braves’ fault for getting 10 baserunners on base and only scoring 2 of them. It’s the home plate umpire’s fault they lost.

Courtesy FOXSports.com, we have a gem from Mr. Jones:

The first pitch to me with the bases loaded was in my batter’s box, inside. Now you tell me how I’m supposed to hit that. We have to get Questec here in this ballpark. We’ve got to. Umpires have got to be held accountable. That’s Little League World Series stuff right there.

It’s a joke. I’m tired of it. And baseball can fine me whatever they want. I do not care. Somebody’s got to say something. I’ve got more walks than strikeouts in my career – I know what a strike looks like.

You’re going to see frustration from now on as long as the officiating is abysmal. Major League Baseball ought to be ashamed. It’s abysmal. It’s awful. Not all of them but some of them. It’s awful.

Are Jones’ complaints valid? Let’s look at a screenshot of the at-bat on MLB Gameday:

Chipper Jones

Yes, the first pitch was a ball, but it was close. If MLB Gameday is accurate, part of the pitch went across the plate, if only a sliver.

Jones’ complaints are nothing more than [warning: amateur psychoanalysis] pent-up frustration from a season gone awry as a result of the Braves winning only 6 of their last 19 game, and now 8.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East, and 5.5 games behind in the Wild Card. After 14 straight seasons of making the postseason from 1991-2005 (excluding the strike-shortened ’94 season), losing is probably an unpleasant foreign concept to Chipper.

The Atlanta Braves are often said to be a classy organization, and for the most part, they are, but their players and manager act childish when things don’t go their way. They’re sore losers.

Perhaps [warning: more amateur psychoanalysis] it’s the realization that their NL East dominance is fading. Maybe it’s the realization that John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox are close to resigning from their current positions. Maybe it’s that the ownership changed. Maybe it’s the uncaring fanbase (10th out of 16 NL teams in attendance this season, and they’ve given their fans more than enough reason to come out to the ballpark).

For what it’s worth, Carlos Ruiz’s solo homerun (to view it, click here, then click “Top Play: 350K” and select “Ruiz’s Homer” from the list) in the top of the second inning barely cleared the 380-foot mark in left-center. I’m waiting for the Braves to complain about the “bandbox-ish” dimensions of their own ballpark.

Falling Behind, Looking Ahead

They had the Thursday night rush from drinking the Red Bull that was sweeping the division-leading New York Mets, only to have a Labor Day weekend-long crash that saw J.D. Durbin allow the first seven Florida Marlin baseruners to reach base in the first inning, the Phillies pitching fork over a 5-0 lead to the Marlins, and the NL-best offense snooze its way to a depressing 5-1 loss to the downtrodden Atlanta Braves.

The starting pitching had to return to reality eventually — the second-worst pitching staff in the NL had held the Mets to six runs in the first three games of the four-game series that turned up aces for the Phillies. After allowing the Mets to score ten times in the series finale, the pitching seemed to recover, holding the Marlins to only two runs in the opener, in large part to Kyle Kendrick and his typical quality start (two-thirds of his starts have been of the quality variety, tied for ninth-best in the National League). But that was just a tease.

A recap of the Marlins series and the Labor Day game against the Braves:

August 31 @ FLA, Phillies win 9-2

As mentioned, Kyle Kendrick put up seven innings of quality pitching, Kane Davis become the Phillies’ 28th different pitcher used this season (a club record), Jimmy Rollins reached base in four out of five at-bats (two singles, a double, and a walk), Chase Utley knocked in three runs on two hits, and Jayson Werth continued his hot hitting with three hits in four at-bats.

All in all, an impressive offensive showing despite Ryan Howard going 0-5 with three strikeouts. The Mets beat the Braves, and the Padres beat the Dodgers, so the Phillies stayed at two games behind in both the NL East and the Wild Card.

September 1 @ FLA, Phillies lose 12-6

As far as “quick and painless” defeats go, this seemed to be it. J.D. Durbin allowed the first seven baserunners to reach base (five singles, a hit batter, and a walk) before Charlie Manuel pulled him for Clay Condrey, who allowed three of his inherited baserunners to score, putting the Phillies at a quick 7-1 deficit.

However, the Phillies appeared to be on the verge of one of their typical comebacks, scoring three runs on five hits immediately off of Marlins starter Byun-Hyun Kim. The inning could have been bigger, but Clay Condrey failed to get down a sacrifice bunt, and Chase Utley failed to make contact with runners on second and third base.

They failed to score again until the eighth inning, scattering five baserunners over the next five innings. After the Phillies scored those two eighth-inning runs (on an RBI groundout and single), the Marlins came right back and delivered the knockout blow, scoring three times in the bottom-half of the inning on an RBI single and a two-run homerun to Cody Ross, his second of the game.

The Phillies bullpen was responsible for 5 of the 12 runs (Mesa, 2; Alfonseca, 3), but that looks miniscule considering the bullpen was asked to pitch nine innings in relief of Durbin, whose ERA for the game is “INF” (infinite, since he didn’t record an out).

The Mets and Padres both won, so the Phillies moved to three games back in both the East and the Wild Card.

September 2 @ FLA, Phillies lose 7-6

This loss, more than anything, was unnecessary. The Phillies had Marlins starter Scott Olsen on the ropes early, making him throw 97 pitches in three and one-third innings, putting up five runs in the third and fourth innings.

Adam Eaton, though, showed why he has the worst ERA in baseball (among those who have pitched enough innings to qualify) by awarding the Marlins five runs over the next three innings, three of which came via homerun (Cabrera, Ross twice). Kane Davis did a great Adam Eaton impression, allowing back-to-back solo homeruns to NL VORP leader Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla to lead off the bottom of the seventh.

Jimmy Rollins doesn't like the umpire's call

The Phillies mounted a comeback against Marlins closer Kevin Gregg, though. Down 7-5, they put runners on first and second for Carlos Ruiz, who singled to center field to score Aaron Rowand. Chase Utley walked to load the bases for Jimmy Rollins, who was robbed of an game-tying RBI walk by the home plate umpire, who called a fastball that was clearly around Rollins’ chin a strike (replays confirm that this was, in fact, a ball), moving the count to 3-2. Having to swing defensively, Rollins flew out to center field to end the game.

The Mets won and the Padres lost, putting the Phillies at four games back in the East, and three games back in the Wild Card.

September 3 @ ATL, Phillies lose 5-1

The Braves entered the Labor Day game reeling from a three-game sweep at the hands of the Mets — three games in which they managed only one extra base hit and four total runs. Even better was the fact that they were to face Lance Cormier, he of the 57 ERA+ in six starts. Putting the league-best offense against such a pitcher calls for an offensive outburst, but Cormier had everything working, as he held the Phillies to one run on four hits (Utley had three of those hits, Burrell had the only other one). The Braves bullpen pitched three and one-third nearly flawless innings (one walk).

Jamie Moyer pitched well for the most part, but was a victim of bad luck and bad defense. Abraham Nunez, only in the lineup for his defense at third base (because right-handed hitters pull Jamie Moyer’s slow pitches), was unable to barehand a slow ground ball off of the bat of Andruw Jones in the bottom of the fourth inning, loading the bases for Brian McCann. The Braves’ catcher ripped a double to right field, scoring two. Kelly Johnson tacked on one more with a sacrifice fly that allowed Jones to score following an airmailed throw to the plate from center fielder Aaron Rowand.

Moyer’s bad luck came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when he easily retired Jeff Francoeur and Andruw Jones to start the inning, but allowed singles to McCann and Kelly Johnson to put runners at first and third. Pinch-hitter Brayan Pena hit a slow ground ball to Jimmy Rollins, but beat the throw at first base, scoring McCann.

Jeff Francoeur tacked on the fifth run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, sealing the deal for the Braves. Unfortunately for the Phillies, the Mets won handily in Pedro Martinez’s 2007 debut, 10-4 over the Reds, pushing the Phillies to five games back in the East. As of this writing, the Padres have a 4-0 lead on the Diamondbacks in the third inning, so things aren’t looking good.

Looking Ahead

A look at the Phillies’ and their competitors’ schedules for the rest of the season:

Phillies

(2) @ ATL (70-68, .507)
(3) vs. FLA (60-78, .435)
(4) vs. COL (70-66, .515)
(3) @ NYM (77-60, .562)
(3) @ STL (67-67, .500)
(4) @ WAS (61-77, .442)
(3) vs. ATL (.507)
(3) vs. WAS (.442)

Average: .489

12 road games
13 home games

Mets

(2) @ CIN (62-76, .449)
(3) vs. HOU (61-76, .442)
(3) vs. ATL (.507)
(3) vs. PHI (72-65, .526)
(3) @ WAS (.442)
(4) @ FLA (.435)
(3) vs. WAS (.442)
(1) vs. STL (.500)
(3) vs. FLA (.435)

Average: .464

9 road games
16 home games

Padres

(2) @ ARI (76-62, .551)
(3) @ COL (.515)
(3) @ LAD (71-65, .522)
(3) vs. SFG (62-75, .453)
(3) vs. PIT (60-77, .438)
(3) vs. COL (.515)
(3) @ SFG (.453)
(4) @ MIL (69-67, .507)

Average: .494

15 road games
9 home games

Diamondbacks

(2) vs. SD (.551)
(3) vs. STL (.500)
(3) @ SFG (.453)
(3) @ LAD (.522)
(3) vs. SFG (.453)
(3) vs. LAD (.522)
(3) @ PIT (.438)
(3) @ COL (.515)

Average: .494

12 road games
11 home games

So, things look more favorable for the Phillies against the Padres and Diamondbacks for the Wild Card, than against the Mets for the East. The schedule favors the Mets, who have the advantage of both facing weaker opponents overall, and playing the most games at home.

Who’s Up?

Jayson Werth, who had hit safely in nine straight at-bats, just one more hit short of tying the National League record. Werth went 5-for-5 with five singles against the Padres on August 26, and 4-for-4 with four singles and a walk against the Mets on the 27th.

Jimmy Rollins, who had a multi-hit game in seven straight games from August 26 to September 1. He sandwiched those multi-hit games with one-hit games, combining for a nine-game hitting streak that ended today against the Braves. During the hitting streak, Rollins put up a 1.321 OPS (three doubles, a triple, and three homeruns).

Who’s Down?

J.D. Durbin, for his lack of a performance against the Marlins September 1. As mentioned, he allowed the first seven baserunners to reach base before Charlie Manuel replaced him with Clay Condrey.

Antonio Alfonseca, has allowed more hits (eight) than he’s recorded outs (seven), according to Phillies.com. His manager understands why Alfonseca has been extemely hittable lately:

Stop and think about it. He’s given us a lot this year. We’ve asked a whole lot of him, and he’s given us a lot. I tell you what, he doesn’t have a whole lot left in his tank.

Ryan Howard. Not that strikeouts are indicative of a bad hitter, but with three more today against the Braves, Howard’s strikeouts total has reached 168. At this pace, he’ll finish the season with 199, which is four more than Adam Dunn’s all-time record for strikeouts in a season.

Down and Certainly Not Out — Not Anymore

The Phillies tried desperately to give the New York Mets a victory yesterday, squandering a 5-0 lead, and then an 8-5 lead. The Mets — Billy Wagner, specifically — wouldn’t hear of it and promptly forked over 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth and nine innings after taking a 10-8 lead, to lose in dramatic fashion.

The Phillies hit ’em hard (two homeruns from Pat Burrell, a Ruthian two-run homerun from Ryan Howard, and a solo homerun from Aaron Rowand) and they hit ’em soft (bloop RBI singles from Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino, and a slow-rolling RBI single up the middle from Jimmy Rollins).

The most impressive feat of the series, though, was not the offense (outscoring the Mets 27-16 in the four-game series) — it was the bullpen (sans Thursday):

August 27: 2.2 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 3 K
August 28: 4.1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K
August 29: 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K

Total: 10 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 4 BB, 8 K

And then the ugly August 30 day game: 5.1 IP, 7 R, 5 H, 6 BB, 0 K

The Mets’ bullpen, on the other hand… not so fortunate:

August 27: 3.1 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 K
August 28: 2 IP, 4 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 0 K
August 29: 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K
August 30: 5.1 IP, 6 R, 11 H, 4 BB, 5 K

Total: 12.2 IP, 14 R, 25 H, 8 BB, 8 K

Kudos to Pat Burrell for continuing his hot streak. Burrell leads the Major Leagues in on-base percentage and slugging percentage since the All-Star break. He put up a 1.486 OPS in the four games against the Mets, hitting 4 HR and knocking in 7 runs.

Jimmy Rollins put up a 1.342 OPS for the series, hitting 2 HR and knocking in 3 runs.

How about Jayson Werth? 1.278 OPS for the series, and his 2 stolen bases in the 9th inning against Billy Wagner allowed Tadahito Iguchi to knock in the 10th and tying run with a marginally-deep sacrifice fly, or any base hit.

An interesting note about the series: each game was unique. The 27th was a mild blowout, the 28th was a come-from-behind win, the 29th ended on an umpire’s judgment, and the 30th was a mild blowout that turned into a come-from-behind win. Anyone who bought tickets to any of those four games definitely got their money’s worth (especially those who sat in Section 302).

And the Phillies did all this without Cole Hamels starting a game. With Utley missing the third game against Mets starter Oliver Perez. With Shane Victorino playing sparingly. With a makeshift starting rotation. With all the pressure the city of Philadelphia could throw on top of them. Four straight wins against the division leader, where even a series split would have been devastating to the Phillies’ playoff hopes.

Baseball Prospectus now lists the Phillies’ odds of making the postseason at 39% (the Wild Card-leading Padres are at 62%, and the East-leading Mets are at 85%). The Mets are playing two games better than their Pythagorean W-L record, and the Phillies are exactly where the PWL calculates them, which says that the Phillies are on par with the Mets, and a division title is not out of the realm of possibility.

So, now we look on with our newfound playoff hopes.

August 31-September 2, Phillies @ Florida Marlins

Kyle Kendrick (116 ERA+) vs. Sergio Mitre (98 ERA+)

J.D. Durbin (111 ERA+) vs. Byung-Hyun Kim (95 ERA+)

Adam Eaton* (72 ERA+) vs. Scott Olsen (75 ERA+)

This is a sweep-able series. The Mets go to Atlanta to face the Braves, and they have to face both Tim Hudson and John Smoltz. Even better — on Saturday, the Mets will trot out Mike Pelfrey to the bump.

So, by Monday, the Phillies could find themselves in first place in the NL East.

It’s about time the Phillies start getting some respect.

* Cole Hamels was supposed to start in the series finale against Scott Olsen, but, according to Todd Zolecki of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels has suffered a setback and will not start Sunday against the Florida Marlins at Dolphins Stadium.

The Phillies said Hamels had discomfort in his left elbow in his last bullpen session. They will shut him down from throwing for the next few days and progress him accordingly.

Hamels went on the disabled list August 22 with a mild elbow strain. He has not pitched since August 16 at Washington.

Adam Eaton will start Sunday in Hamels’ place.

Phillies Bullpen Is Back to Normal

With the return of Brett Myers and Tom Gordon from the disabled list, the Phillies’ bullpen was finally able to stabilize and return to its status quo of forking over leads late in the game. The two combined in an impressive effort on August 25 against the San Diego Padres, allowing three solo homeruns in two innings of work.

Kyle Lohse pitched six and two-thirds of excellent baseball, and J.C. Romero met the bullpen quota of a scoreless one-third of an inning to retire the Padres in the seventh inning.

In comes Gordon with his arsenal of belt-high fastballs. As if on cue, he served one on a platter to the show-boating Milton Bradley to tie the game at two-all.

Many disagreed with Charlie Manuel’s decision to use Brett Myers in the ninth inning of a tie game, but Myers has really been the only reliable arm in the bullpen. It seems Manuel is not a fan of statistics, because the following should indicate that Myers is never to be used in relief of a tie game:

Tie Game: 1.016 OPS

Within 1 run: .912 OPS

Within 2 runs: .785 OPS

Within 3 runs: .762 OPS

Cue solo homeruns to Kevin Kouzmanoff and Terrmel Sledge to make it a 4-2 game — out of reach, even for the comeback-prone Phillies, who did score one run in the bottom of the ninth, but Aaron Rowand whiffed with Ryan Howard standing on first base to end the game.

After the game, Brett Myers gave many an open door to make references to his domestic abuse issue last summer by physically threatening a reporter who was needling him about the homeruns he gave up, and blamed on the size of Citizens Bank Park. Myers is still unapologetic to the reporter he berated and threatened, but did apologize to the other members of the media.

Three things I want to address:

1. Just how bad is the Phillies’ bullpen?

2. What is in Brett Myers’ future?

3. Is Citizens Bank Park really a “joke” as Milton Bradley insists?


1. Just how bad is the Phillies’ bullpen? I’ve scoured the FanGraphs and I’ve come up with quite a few games that the Phillies’ bullpen has blown.
Bullpen blew a lead or tie, Phillies lost
  1. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Tom Gordon (1 run), Brett Myers (2 runs); Phillies lose, 4-3
  2. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): J.C. Romero (1 run), Tom Gordon (1 run), Geoff Geary (2 runs); Phillies lose, 5-2.
  3. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): J.C. Romero (1 run), Antonio Alfonseca (3 runs), Yoel Hernandez (1 run); Phillies lose, 8-4.
  4. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Jose Mesa (3 runs), Mike Zagurski (1 run), Antonio Alfonseca (1 run); Phillies lose, 11-6.
  5. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Brett Myers (2 runs); Phillies lose, 4-2.
  6. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Tom Gordon (2 runs); Phillies lose, 6-5.
  7. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): J.C. Romero (2 runs), Mike Zagurski (2 runs); Phillies lose, 7-6.
  8. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Mike Zagurski (1 run), Jose Mesa (1 run), Antonio Alfonseca (1 run), J.D. Durbin (1 run); Phillies lose, 7-6.
  9. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Antonio Alfonseca (1 run), Jose Mesa (1 run); Phillies lose, 5-4.
  10. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Geoff Geary (4 runs), Mike Zagurski (2 runs), Ryan Madson (1 run), Jose Mesa (2 runs); Phillies lose, 9-6.
  11. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Geoff Geary (1 run), Yoel Hernandez (5 runs); Phillies lose, 7-4.
  12. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Francisco Rosario (1 run); Phillies lose, 4-3.
  13. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Antonio Alfonseca (1 run), Francisco Rosario (1 run); Phillies lose, 4-3.
  14. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Antonio Alfonseca (3 runs); Phillies lose, 5-2.
  15. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Tom Gordon (2 runs); Phillies lose, 2-1.
  16. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Francisco Rosario (1 run); Phillies lose, 5-4.
  17. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Matt Smith (1 run), Geoff Geary (2 runs), Jon Lieber (5 runs); Phillies lose, 11-5.
  18. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-0…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Tom Gordon (2 runs), Ryan Madson (1 run); Phillies lose, 3-2.
  19. fangraphs.com/wins.aspx?date=2007-o…amp;season=2007
    • Culprit(s): Ryan Madson (2 runs); Phillies lose, 5-3.

Even if the bullpen is just moderately bad — let’s say they only blow 10 leads — the Phillies would be 76-53, good for the second-best record in baseball behind the Boston Red Sox, and they would be three games in front of the New York Mets instead of six games back.

2. What is in Brett Myers’ future?

Myers will continue to be the Phillies’ closer, as he has done a great job when he is trying to nail down a lead — 12-for-13 in save opportunities. After 2007, however, is a question.

Citing Curt Schilling, Scott Rolen, and Jason Michaels just from recent memory, the Phillies’ upper management has been quick to ship out players that aren’t displaying good behavior. Schilling and Rolen had openly criticized the Phillies’ organization, and Michaels punched a police officer.

However, the Phillies’ starting rotation is in shambles and will continue to be in the off-season. Jamie Moyer could retire. Freddy Garcia will most likely not be resigned. Jon Lieber is a free agent. So, that leaves the Phillies rotation with Cole Hamels, Adam Eaton, and Kyle Kendrick as certainties, and one or two spots to fill depending on which direction the Phillies go in. If Moyer comes back for another year, and the Phillies decide to use a prospect in the rotation (J.A. Happ would be the most likely candidate), Myers will once again be the Phillies’ closer.

If the Phillies’ front office decides to stock up on relievers, Myers will probably be pushed back to the starting rotation, no matter how much he enjoys closing. Scott Mathieson, who has missed most of this season following “Tommy John” surgery, could be a dark horse candidate for the closing role.

Adding to the uncertainty is the rumor that Pat Gillick will not be returning as the Phillies’ GM. Granted, the source of this rumor is one Howard Eskin (the “journalist” who famously brought manager Charlie Manuel to a rolling boil following an 8-1 loss to the New York Mets). Assistant GM Ruben Amaro is likely to take the reins should Gillick leave.

3. Is Citizens Bank Park really a “joke” as Milton Bradley insists?

The ballpark has been criticized by many in Major League Baseball. Milton Bradley said of his fifth-inning three-run homerun against the Phillies on Saturday, “I thought I flied out. This park is a joke.”

Recently, I wrote about the Atlanta Braves whining about the ballpark when they lost to the Phillies 5-3 due to Ryan Howard’s lead-changing three-run homerun off of Buddy Carlyle

Well, is there something fishy about the ballpark? And if so, does it provide a distinct advantage to the Phillies?

According to ESPN.com’s park factors, Citizens Bank Park ranks eleventh in runs, and first in homeruns. A look back since the park’s inception:

2007: Runs, 11th; HR, 1st.

2006: Runs, 8th; HR, 6th.

2005: Runs, 2nd; HR, 2nd.

2004: Runs, 12th; HR, 5th.

So, the ballpark has always been homer-friendly, and home of above-average run scoring. Now, let’s find out how much the Phillies have benefited from this (keep in mind that, before the 2006 season, they moved the fences in left field back five feet and raised 2.5 feet):

From the above chart, we can glean that the Phillies get a slight bump in OPS from playing at home. The .019 average difference between their OPS and the OPS allowed at home is essentially the difference in slugging between Chipper Jones and Magglio Ordonez, to put it in perspective (in other words, not that much).

This season, the Phillies’ 103 HR allowed at home ranks first among all thirty Major League teams, while their 61 HR allowed away from home ranks twenty-third among all thirty Major League teams. So, the Phillies’ opponents seem to get a huge advantage in homeruns when they play in Philadelphia.

It’s not the dimensions of the field that make it so homer-friendly — it’s the wind. As Anthony Wood of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes,

In contrast to hulking Veterans Stadium, winds pour through Citizens Bank Park like water through a flow-through tea bag. Balls that get airborne are lifted up, up and away.

The most obvious suspects are the prevailing southwest and south winds of summer, which blow straight out to center and right-center fields. Those winds increase with height. Other factors might also be at work.

[…] [Phillies president Dave] Montgomery believes that the structural mass of Veterans Stadium – totally enclosed save for the exit-ramp openings – had a blocking effect on the movement of air. Jim Eberwine, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, says Montgomery is on sound scientific footing. A massive building would affect air currents the way an island distorts approaching waves. […]

In the new park, a wind blowing toward center outside the park blows toward center inside, too.

An important difference between the two stadiums is how Citizens Bank Park uses prevailing winds to benefit hitters.

Well after the park was designed, the Phillies retained a Canadian engineering firm to study air-flow patterns at the site. Using Weather Service data, RWDI Inc. determined that the prevailing winds on summer nights were from the south, averaging about 12 m.p.h.

So, if the Phillies want to cut down on homeruns at Citizens Bank Park, they can do one of two things:

Marcus Hayes, You’re On Notice

If you read through my What’s Wrong With Ryan Howard? article, you might have read, and probably became upset with Marcus Hayes’ disparaging remarks towards a Sabermetric-using Phillies fan.

A contributor at The Good Phight wrote about it here. Jim from Broad Street Bastards initially sent Hayes the E-Mail that prompted the wrath of the Daily News columnist.

Philadelphia Will Do caught wind of the article written at TGP, and reposted Hayes’ comments, and slammed him in defense of Sabermetrics.

[Quoting Hayes] Sabremetrics [SIC] are the bastion of wannabes who never could quite figure out which hand the mitt went on, a false industry created and fueled by people whose association with the game always will be vicarious, and, frankly, pathetic.

As opposed to sports writers, who are clearly… former… major league… baseball… players? Ha ha, remember when the Phillies were short in the bullpen and they got Marcus Hayes to close that one night? Man, that was awesome.

Marcus Hayes himself apparently showed up and posted a comment to PWD’s blog. He responded thusly:

Numberheads,

Just letting you blogicians know:
No longer will you, or anyone else, be afforded the privilege (burden?) of corresponding with me. When I reply to an individual it is intended to be a confidential response. Since I can’t trust you, I assume I can’t trust anyone.
It is not meant to be posted on anyone’s blog, and certainly not on a for-profit entity of a direct competitor.
So, no more responses. Can’t trust you, so don’t bother writing.
But then, if you hold my replies in such low esteem, why bother writing?
Of course, this gives many of you more time for your World of Warcraft RPG endeavors.
Happy gaming.
Hope the eczema clears up.
M

Marcus Hayes, of the Philadelphia Daily News, you’re officially On Notice!

On Notice

As a self-described distributor of truth, I would like to clear up a few assumptions Hayes makes in his comment (if that was really him):

  • E-Mails are not implicitly confidential. Any parties that you send the E-Mail to have ownership of said E-Mail and can do with it what they wish. However, no one has the right to actually go through your E-Mail (despite what the USA PATRIOT Act says).Most people would abide by a simple request to keep the E-Mail(s) confidential.And it is also important to remember the context in which the exchange between “jonk” at TGP and Hayes took place. It was an informal conversation. Jonk was not interviewing Hayes for the purpose of an article, so the conversation had nothing to do with actual journalism. If Hayes hadn’t been so disparaging, the exchange would have never been posted, most likely.
  • Hayes says that Proponents of Sabermetrics are role-playing nerds with eczema. I can cite two professional baseball players off of the top of my head that are proponents of the Sabermetric approach: Billy Beane, and Carlos Gomez (let me know if there are others, as I’m curious myself).And then there’s Hayes’ ignorant use of stereotypes — that bloggers are unathletic nerds that live in their mothers’ basements. What’s sad is that Hayes’ beliefs about proponents of Sabermetrics are shared by many others in the journalism circles. Fire Joe Morgan does a great job of holding most of them accountable.Oh, and there’s also the irony. In Hayes’ original E-Mail to “jonk” at TGP, he accuses bloggers of living vicariously through the athletes. Well, what do you do then, Mr. Hayes? Aren’t you the one jamming tape recorders under their chin, and talking and writing about them on a daily basis — for which you went to school for four years of your life?

I think Hayes did a great job of making himself look extremely foolish and immature. He has given me ample reasoning to never purchase a newspaper from the Philadelphia Daily News again (not that I had been recently anyway).

If any of my readers are interested in joining me in this boycott, Hayes also appears weekly on ESPN’s First Take, and he participates on a somewhat regular basis with Comcast SportsNet’s Daily News Live, a show featuring host Michael Barkann and three or more guests — writers from the Philadelphia Daily News, as well as some guests (athletes, celebrities, comedians, etc.).

Marcus Hayes, you’re On Notice. You don’t want to be Dead to Me.