Monthly Archives: March 2011

2011 Phillies Preview: Shh…It’s About to Get Funner

So today is Opening Day.  Hope springs eternal and all that jazz.  The Phillies, though, don’t play their first game until the second day of the season, an afternoon tilt against the “Phillies-South” Astros so it’s ok for this preview to go up now.  We’ll take the opportunity to look at the Phils piece-by-piece and then throw in a few thoughts on the rest of the division and a little bit about the anticipated playoff picture.  Let’s get into it.

The Pitching Staff

This is the big one, the place where the Phils made their big splash in the offseason to add yet another Cy Young candidate in Cliff Lee, who’s back in town for a reunion tour after his half-season-plus-playoffs lovefest of 2009 when he was the most unbeatable pitcher in baseball throughout the ’09 postseason.  Oh yeah and the Phillies still have that guy Roy Halladay who won 21 games and the Cy Young last year.  And Roy Oswalt, that guy who was the winningest pitcher in the National League  for a few years in Houston.  And Hollywood Cole Hamels, who carried the Sillies to the ’08 Series and won the NLCS MVP as well as the World Series MVP award.  Also Joe Blanton, the guy that looks like my cousin.  This rotation is going places.  You hear it here first again.

The bullpen?  Eh.  A little less certainty there, although the Phightins bring back a few pretty good parts from last year’s bullpen.  Jose Contreras was a good relieve last year, as was Ryan Madson, and Antonio Bastardo even showed some stuff last year.  Beyond that, though, they lost Chad Durbin who had been a good one-inning reliever for a couple years now after starting his career as a starter and Brad Lidge is down at the start of the season with a mysterious shoulder injury.  Some good pieces here, but the bullpen could ultimately be the undoing of the Phils if things don’t turn around when the season gets underway.

The Lineup

Here’s where people will tell you about the most doom-and-gloom for the 2011 Phils, as they lost Jayson Werth to a comically large contract with the Nationals and never bothered to get a right-handed bat to replace him in the middle of the order.  With his possible replacement Dom Brown and baseball wet dream Chase Utley suffering from injuries, the lineup is not what it looked like it might be on paper coming into the season.  However, I humbly submit the fact that for those of us who actually watched the team last year, we saw EVERY SINGLE PLAYER underperform at the plate with the exceptions of Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco and still rank second in the National League in runs scored.

Still going out every day for the Phightins will be back-to-back MVP’s Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, frustrating-but exciting leadoff man Shane Victorino, the guy who hit better than anyone else for half a season Raul Ibañez, and the clutchest non-English speaking catcher in the world our man Carlos Ruiz.  So everyone chill out a little, there’s still a lot going for these guys.  Oh, and if you’re interested go check out a comparison of Jayson Werth’s first five years in the league and Ben Francisco’s.  There’s reason to believe he might work out okay.

The Bench

Scoff if you’d like at the inclusion here of a separate section for the bench when the bullpen was lumped in with the pitching staff, but in a world where Ryan Howard can get ejected from a game and have Roy Oswalt out in left field, the bench becomes a pretty important facet of a team.  This year the Phils have held onto the key piece of last year’s bench, super-utility man Wilson Valdez, as well as bringing back NL East whore backup catcher Brian Schneider and infielder/outfielder Ross Gload.  New faces to welcome include middle infielders Pete Orr and rookie Michael Martinez, and rookie outfielder John Mayberry.

Valdez should prove to be huge in replacing Utley in the early-going and with any luck can get some momentum going with the regular at-bats to be a good pinch-hitter when Mr. WFC makes his triumphant return.  Mayberry can really mash when he makes contact and could provide some necessary pop off the bench if he gets going (though I don’t know if you want to count on that happening).  The rest of the guys are pretty non-descript, but it should bode well for the Phils that they finally wised up and held onto an extra middle infielder in Martinez considering the injury struggles of Chase and J-Roll in previous years.  Good on ya for that one, Rueben and Co.

All in all?  This team should be pretty dirty.  They won more games than any other team in baseball last year after spending a few months hitting like absolute horse shit.  They may struggle again offensively and have some issues in the bullpen, but every team has flaws.  Not every team has four pitchers that will be unquestioned favorites every time they take the hill.  Let’s not be silly, this team is gonna be fun to be around.

The Division

The Braves are good.  They have three good starters and a good bullpen.  They have Chipper Jones’ corpse hitting like Chipper Jones’ not corpse.  Then they have Brian McCann, Martin Prado, and some good young’ns.  Call me crazy, but I’m not sold that Heyward and Freddie Freeman are going to be quite as good as people think.  Don’t get me wrong, Heyward’s good, but everyone’s gotta have some growing pains sooner or later and I think he may see some this year.

The Marlins have some DAMN good starters, headlined by Josh Johnson and Phillie-killer Ricky Nolasco.  They also still have Hanley Ramirez and a bunch of hard-hitting youngsters, but they lost Dan Uggla and they play defense like a team full of Pat Burrells.  This team is not too scary.

The Nats have no pitching, they stole Jayson Werth from us, and Ryan Zimmerman is still a G.  Their freshies Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa might turn out to be legit, but this team starts Rick Ankiel.  They are not a threat with Strasburg out for the year coming off Tommy John surgery and Bryce Harper still douchin’ it up in the minors.

The Mets…oh, the Mets.  The Mets are a joke in so many ways.  They just paid Luis Castillo like $6 million to play for the Phillies for four games.  Ha, the Mets.

Playoffs

The Braves are probably the most legit contenders in the NL and should be good rivals throughout the year and into the postseason.  They and the Phils will probably split the East and the Wild Card in some combination.  Elsewhere in the NL, the Rockies will be good if they can get some pitching, with $140 million worth of good hitters in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.  The Giants WILL NOT make the playoffs this year.  They have some really good young pitchers that got them a World Series title last year, but as we all witnessed with Cole Hamels young pitchers suffer after a long postseason run.  Pablo Sandoval is skinnier now, but Buster Posey is about the only offensive player on that team that scares me.

The AL will be good, and by the AL I mean the Red Sox.  The Yankees have Freddy Garcia on their team (hilarious, hope you checked his medicals) and we stole Cliff Lee right out from under them.  The Rangers should be good again, but a lack of Cliff Lee will probably hurt them, too.  The Tigers are pretty complete, with a real ace (ha, only one) and some good beefy power hitters in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Magglio Ordoñez.

Predictions

National League: Phils, Reds and Rockies win the divisions with the Braves as the Wild Card.  Clayton Kershaw for Cy Young and Pujols with a final MVP for the Cards.

American League: Red Sox, Tigers and Rangers win the Divisions with the Yanks as the Wild Card.  Jon Lester for Cy Young and Josh Hamilton wins MVP.

World Series: Forgive the predictability of this predictable prediction but I’m goin’ Phils over Sawx for the WFC and another Broad Street blackout this fall for yours truly.

Predictable, right?  But man would it be fun if it came true.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Is It Just Me? Vol. 3

Is it just me or has it been a while since I did this thing?  It’s not just me, the last time this thing came out was literally six months ago.  Anyway, to remind you all how this works, I give you a sagely clip derived from the seminal cinematic achievement of our generation, Boy Meets World.  Today, we take a look at one of the classic moments in the show’s history, and one that speaks to this writer in a serious way.  As a blogger bum who spends the first half of my day every day working on the DailyTailgate (read it, read it, god damnit read it every day), I can totally sympathize with the life of a couch potato and watching SportsCenter and all the commercials that tell me how to get out of debt and get my life on track by going to ITT Tech.

In this scene, Eric Matthews is lazing around at home eating a bowl of cereal that can only be described as manly when he drifts into a daydream about being a lady-killing private spy known as the “Good Looking Guy.”

Magical.  Simply magical.

Now onto the air-headed tangential musings of someone who has nothing but time to think and write down stupid thoughts about sports and other things.  As we’ve established, it’s been a while so some of these are going to be a little dated.  Bare with me.

So is it just me or did anyone else notice and get irrationally pissed off by the Saints in the early-goings of this year’s football season.  No, not because they were the media darling Super Bowl champions, they won that and the city was uplifted blah blah blah.  Good for them.  But at least in the beginning of the year, the Saints and “Who Dat” Nation totally ripped off using High Hopes as an anthem.  Not cool, NOLA.  We had it first.  That was Harry’s song and I think if he had been around to find out that you were taking it as your own he’d have narrated an awfully negative Year in Review NFL Films doc about you.  You already have the entire genre of jazz at your disposal, most specifically “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In” and the Who Dat cheer.  Leave the Sinatra impressions for the drunk Philadelphians, please.

Is it just me or are there an incredibly interesting number of similarities between Mike Vick and Allen Iverson?  I’m almost hesitant to mention them here as I want to write more about it at some point, but might as well introduce the ones I can come up with.  So here goes:

  • Born and raised in Newport News, VA
  • All-State Quarterback in High School
  • Left college early, selected as the number one overall pick
  • Criticized for work ethic, abrasive personality
  • Known for late-night social life (even by pro athlete standards)
  • Brought a hip-hop swagger to a traditionally conservative position, received consummate criticism
  • Incarcerated for extended time while still active as an athlete
  • Endeared himself to Philadelphia fans by virtue of talent and “passionate” play
  • Labeled as a “gangster” due to affiliations with childhood friends

There really is so much to this comparison that the list compiled here does not begin to do it justice, but fear not, we will get into each of those points and certainly more of them as time goes on.

Is it just me or did Auburn win one of the more dubious National Championships in recent history?  Start with the pay-for-play scandal, add in the fact that the BCS created such a mess this year and they never had to play TCU who was almost certainly the second or third best team in the country and then take a look at the questionable calls in the game itself and you have a whole lot of reasons to poison some trees.

Is it just me or is too much being made of how bad the Phillies offense is going to be this year?  I understand that Howard has declined from his unconscionable production of a few years ago and Utley is hurt, but the only piece they lost was Jayson Werth from an offense that was second in the National League in runs scored last season.  And if you watched the Phillies last season, you know that every player under-performed at the plate, save for Polanco making a run at the best average in baseball and Chooch becoming less of a liability at the plate.  Jayson Werth entered the Phillies lineup three years ago at least as big of a question mark as Ben Francisco is right now, and the rest of the lineup allowed him to produce.  Let’s at least give Benny Fresh a shot before we go crazy over losing The Beard.

Is it just me or do the Flyers STILL not get enough credit for how good they are?  They went to the freakin Stanley Cup last year and they lead the league in points and all people can talk about is Chris Pronger wearing a Charlie Sheen “Winning” shirt.  Oh and by the way, shut the hell up Charlie Sheen.  Nobody cares if you’re a coked up moron.  There are plenty of coked up morons in the world, the rest of them just can’t give TV interviews where they make an ass out of themselves and spew garbage out of their mouths.

Is it just me or is Bill Simmons’ podcast the worst thing that ever happened to Bill Simmons the writer?  Did you know there used to be a time when he would write more than one article a week?  (Oh hey, what’s up pot?  I’m kettle.  You’re looking a little black these days ya know.)  They were good, too.  Now he just sits in his house and records phone calls with his friends and B-List ESPN personalities.  And I listen to them, they have their place, but Jesus write something every now and then.  I can’t listen to podcasts at work and there are better things to occupy my time when I’m not at work.

Is it just me or is the Gus Johnson love-fest thisclose to jumping the proverbial shark?  I think he’s a great announcer, and a ton of fun to listen to, but when people who never say anything about sports are referencing Gus Johnson, the phenomenon is inching dangerously close to Pink Red Sox Hat territory.

Is it just me or are the Sixers just doin’ it wrong?  They have some mojo this year and it looks like Jrue Holiday might be pretty legit.  Unfortunately, Doug Collins is absurdly stubborn on letting Andre Iguodala’s biceps take the last shot in games.  He’s not a creator, Doug.  That’s why he was successful on the USA Basketball squad this summer.  He didn’t have to be something he’s not.

Yeah we’ll go ahead and call it quits there.  But don’t worry, the next round will come sooner rather than later, I’ve been sitting on some stuff for a while and since I’m as active as Eric Matthews in our featured clip of the week (yes he did just bring that shit full circle), I will gladly oblige you all with more unnecessarily scatterbrained and poorly-argued sports non sequiturs.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

NFL Players: Modern-day Slaves?

According to one NFL player, Adrian Peterson, arguably the best running back in the league, the NFL is treating their players like slaves.

“It’s modern-day slavery, you know?” Peterson said. “People kind of laugh at that, but there are people working at regular jobs who get treated the same way, too. With all the money … the owners are trying to get a different percentage, and bring in more money.”

You know what modern day slavery is? Modern-day slavery is a rebel group showing up at your mud, and stick, and straw hut nowhere near a modern city, and forcing your parents to either give you away to them or face death. Then even when the parents are killed they take the children anyway and force them to fight for their cause. Childhood, as we in America know it, being taken away from kids to fight in a war that they have no chance of benefiting from; that is modern-day slavery, Adrian.

Modern-day slavery is being drugged in a club in Europe, and waking up the next day and meeting the man who is now your boss, and who is going to sell you to men for sex everyday. That is modern-day slavery.

Modern-day slavery is working in a sweatshop or in a field all day for maybe 2 to 3 dollars, if you’re lucky, without Sundays off, without playing the game you supposedly love, without fans cheering you on, or a multi-million dollar shoe deal. That is modern-day slavery, Adrian.

I am not a slave, never have been and with any luck will never be one. I am also not African American and to my knowledge, I am not a descendant of any slaves. All of that said, I am offended by this comment.

Peterson makes $10.72 million a year in salary from the Minnesota Vikings. That is $10.720,00.00 every single year for playing football. And he just compared his work to slavery. A very good yearly salary for a normal American citizen is $100,000. With $100K you are in the upper middle class, your kids might go to private school, and they’re definitely going to college, but apparently making $10,720,000.00 per year is comparable to slavery.

You know why people “kind of laugh at that,” Adrian? Because that is (pardon my language) the biggest fucking joke I have ever heard in my entire life. To make a comment that stupid is appalling. I am not even going to bother explaining on here how bad slavery was in the United States because anyone reading this probably has an understanding of it. That is because you learn it in I think 4th grade? Are you that stupid Adrian? Or are you just an ignorant asshole? You are exactly why some people hate todays athletes. You make a comment like this and think nothing of it. Maybe instead of bitching, Adrian, you should go out in the World and see what REAL modern-day slavery is like. Maybe then you’d realize how stupid you sound.

Bronco

Welcome back to the blog. Should be more to come in the coming days, I know you all missed us greatly.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized