Monthly Archives: April 2011

Championships or Bust

After last years amazing run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Flyers came out hot out of the gates this year. They had a bad bad second half of the season but still ended up with the 2 seed in the East. They host the Sabres when the playoffs start this Wednesday. I think I speak for all of Philadelphia when I say that it’s time for the Flyers to win a Stanley Cup. Last year was the closest they have come in my entire lifetime. They’ve got the team to do it, led by the offense. Stanley Cup or bust.

I still don’t care at all about the Sixers. I do like Doug Collins but I will not root for the Sixers again until Andre Iguodala is gone. I hope they get swept in the playoffs.

After a rough first season, the Philadelphia Union are off to a hot start with 3 wins in 4 games. 9 points puts them at the top of the Eastern Conference. The biggest move the Union made was bringing in goalie Faryd Mondragon. Mondragon is an experienced goalie from Colombia who is a million times better than Chris Seitz was last year. Mondragon has the defense organized, calm, and no longer making that one stupid pass out of the back each game that ends up in a game-changing goal. The defense has looked great so far this year only giving up 1 goal in 360 minutes.

After watching last nights 1-0 win at home against the New York Red Bulls, honestly, I am kind of worried about the offense. The midfield got dominated. The Union had pretty much no possession the entire game. But hey, they took advantage of the one real chance they got when Danny Mwanga intercepted a poor pass out of the back from Tim Ream and dished it off to Roger Torres who put it away for the winning goal. Sebastian Le Toux looked terrible last night, and hasn’t gotten it going quite like last year yet this year. Carlos Ruiz could never get it going either. Between Mwanga, Le Toux, Ruiz and Torres they should turn it around and have no problem getting the goal or two each game that they’ll need to at least secure a tie.

I really think that the Union are going to make a run this year at a championship. Defense wins championships and I think that the Mondragon-led defense of the Union are one of the best in the MLS.

To everyone who doubted the Phillies before this year: Shutup. In the first week or so of the season the Phils have already opened up a 2 game lead on the 2nd place Marlins. I’d say 7-2 is a decent start and to have a run differential of +26 just makes their record even more impressive. Hamels was absolutely lights out today. Two negatives this weekend though. Cliff Lee had no command on Friday night. I’ve never seen him throw so many pitches right over the middle of the plate. And Ryan Howard did not look good at all. I think he was 1-10 for the series. The positives were pretty much everything else, Chooch came up huge off the bench on Saturday, Oswalt had a good start, Hamels was even better. A shutout to close the series out was a great way to end the series. I’m just going to say it right here, right now: World Series or Bust.

Bronco

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Phils-‘Stros Series Recap

For seven innings at the beginning of their season-opening series, the Phillies played right into the hands of their detractors, seemingly unable to back up the efforts of the heroic pitching staff assembled to make their run for a fifth consecutive NL East title.  They were over-eager to prove those detractors wrong with their bats, swinging freely without converting runs and committing errors in the field at the worst positions (Ben Francisco in right and Wilson Valdez at second).

On an Opening Day when the bright colors of pomp and circumstance were trying their hardest to shine through, the play on the Phils’ home field was mimicking the weather that nearly derailed it.  The enthusiasm for the new season was being slowly muted by the gray skies and the equally dull performance from everyone in red pinstripes not named Roy Halladay

Then, the seventh inning rolled around and a funny thing happened: the sun started to peek through the clouds and shine, and it would seem that was all the inspiration the Phillies would need.  From there, the Phillies mounted a 5-run comeback that stretched the eighth and ninth innings and taught us all once again what makes these Phillies the team that they are: the resiliency of a veteran squad who has been in these positions before and has proven time and again that they have what it takes to come through.

John Mayberry was welcomed to the fraternity of heroes that populates the Phillies roster from top to bottom when he converted a walk off hit in the ninth inning of the Phils’ 5-4 Opening Day victory as he completed a rally begun by some of the recent Phillies’ mainstays, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins.

It was no illusion when, as the first shaving crème pie of the season was lathered on the face of John Mayberry, that the day was just a little brighter than it had started, the season outlook just a little less muted than it had been but hours before.

That brightness would continue through Saturday’s game, in which Cliff Lee made his triumphant return to the friendly confines of South Philadelphia, striking out 11 batters and walking 0 in a seven-inning performance that saw Lee record the vaunted rotation’s first official win and ultimately saw the highly-criticized Phillies offense put up 9 runs driven in by 6 different batters.

Roy Oswalt and the gang completed the sweep on Sunday in front of a packed house in now-always sunny Philadelphia.  The offense once again came through with seven runs, four of which came from Ryan Howard by way of a 3-run homer in the first inning and an RBI double later on.  Ben Francisco came through once again, contributing a solo homer and a not-quite-Rowand-esque catch against the outfield scoreboard.  Still pretty sweet though,

Now the Phils welcome in the lowly New York Mets amidst sun and warmth in Philadelphia with Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton making their 2011 debuts and Roy Halladay attempting to get his first win after a no-decision that preceded the heroics of the Opening Day comeback win.

We’ll be back to discuss that series after the games are played, but for now here’s to 3-0 and hopefully to 6-0 after the Broad Street Baseballers take care of business against the Mutts.

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Phillies Biggest Loss: Not Werth

It’s opening day today for the Phillies. The buzz around the team is ridiculously high right now and for good reason. The addition of Cliff Lee to the rotation was slightly unexpected but absolutely amazing. With all of the positive energy around the team I thought I’d be a big old jerk and write about the Phillies biggest loss this offseason.

No, I’m not talking about that prick Jayson Werth. I’ll be the first to say that I loved him the last couple years but I have absolutely no respect for a player who gives up any chance of winning just for money. The Phillies got Cliff Lee not because they gave him the most money, but because he wanted to be here and he knew he has a great chance to win here. That’s not the point of this article though.

Let me take you back to a moment completely unrelated to the Phillies. 2004 ALCS Red Sox down in the series 3-0 and in the game 4-3 in the 9th to the Yankees.  Kevin Millar draws a walk from Mariano Rivera. Dave Roberts comes in to pinch run. Rivera throws over 3 times and then Roberts steals the first pitch Rivera throws. Bill Mueller knocks him in, Bo Sox end up winning in 12 innings, come back win the ALCS and then the World Series. That one stolen base was enormous. It took the 2004 Boston Red Sox team from being the team who got swept by the Yankees in the playoffs to the team who ended the 2nd longest World Series drought at the time. This is where I bring it back to the Phillies…

People tend to think 1st base coaches could just be any old Joe Schmo, and sometimes they are right. It is hard to be a 1st base coach who has a serious impact on the team, but if its negative it’s a killer and if it’s a positive impact it can change games, series, and really whole seasons. The last 4 seasons, the Phillies led the league in stolen base percentage every single year, including the 2007 season where they were successful on a major league record 87.9%(138-157) of their stolen base attempts.

Losing Davey Lopes as a 1st base coach is going to be the biggest loss of the offseason for the Phillies. Who is going to replace Lopes? Sam Perlozzo. Last years 3rd base coach is making the move over to 1st. It is going to be interesting to see how he does. If the Phillies can still steal bases extremely effectively, then it will prove to be a really unimportant loss, but if say out of 157 attempts (just like the 2007 season), the Phillies are only successful say 120 times, that is 18 less outs available to get hits and the Phillies just wont have runners in scoring position quite as much, which could be really bad.

Phillies prediction: 162-0

Bronco

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