Thanks to Tropical Storm ERNESTO, the Fri. nite sports scene 'round Haystack Headquarters was mighty bleak.
Fresno State vs. Nevada as an appetizer to the Sat. entree of coll. FB goodness wasn't the most appealing item on the menu, given the fact that the FSU O-coordinator and the Ol' Pitchfork sat a few rows from each other in that h.s. geometry class exactly 19 autumns ago. While I was busy comprehending the properties of the parallelogram, the isoceles triangle and Rhonda's well-defined curves in the seat behind mine, "that guy" obviously was charting how his X's would fare against the O's when the wheel route or the bubble screen was employed against cover-2.
Even though the wheel route, the bubble screen and cover-2 hadn't been invented yet.
So, rather than watch that FSU-Nev. bull(stuff) and rather than clicking over to USA Network and having my breath taken away AGAIN by the replay of Agassi-Baghdatis (in a rainout replay), it was necessary to re-configure the spreadsheet inside my head for the Phillies' September strategies.
Charlie Manuel was probably doing the same thing, seeing how his Fri. nite in The Cit was a washout.
A Fri. nite rainout might have some Phillie fans lamenting about the Thurs. nite outcome -- when the Phillies were one strike away from winning, 4-2, over the Nats ... only to see D.C. rally with Felipe Lopez's 2-run single off of King Arthur in the 9th and then score twice in the bottom of the 10th after the Phils had taken a 5-4 lead in the top of the 10th.
Everybody in or around Philly will have a good chuckle when the Phils are the 2006 N.L. Wild Card Champions and figuring how best to utilize a starting-pitcher quintet which, through, August looked like this:
The accused hair-pullin', wife-punchin' (emphasis on "accused" with "charges dropped" waiting in the wings) Brett Myers (10-6 / 4.24) ... The Untalented Half of The Battery "Lieber & Lieberthal" (6-9 / 5.09) ... rookie Cole Hamels Smokes Camels (7-7 / 4.50) ... 44-year-old Jamie Moyer & His 44 MPH Heater (1-1 / 6.00 ... and don't forget that 6-12 record as an M) ... and the inspiration for the Wolf Pack (not the Wolf Pack from Nevada), Randy Wolf (3-0 / 5.30).
THAT ... is about as formidable a junior-college staff as most of us have seen in a very long time.
If Gammons were available right now, he'd use his pet expression ("He's tired") to describe 88 percent of The MLB's pitchers nowadays.
And, with 2006 All-Star closer Tom Gordon on the D.L., a bullpen featuring King Arthur & The Knights of the Rhodes Table ... wow.
It's one of those situations where you look around and ask which of these bulldogs wants to take the mound for Game One.
Any one of them could be the next Marty Bystrom (5-0 / 1.50 ERA in his first five MLB starts in '80 ... plus a good NLCS outing vs. Houston and a solid effort at K.C. in Game 5 of the World Series).
Funny how Moyer should be wearing Marty's #50 when he made his Phillies debut last week. That was a little painful to watch when ESPN flashed back to June 1986 when Digger Phelps' son-in-law made his MLB debut as a Cub pitching against the Phils in Wrigley.
One of the highlights was Steve Carlton batting ... and hitting a fly ball to CF.
The thing that people forget is that Lefty @ Wrigley was his next-to-last start as a Phillie. In his next outing, he blew a 4-0 lead in Cincinnati and was released three days later (on June 24, 1986).
The next day, the Phillies faced rookie Moyer in Philly and they lit his tits to the tune of Juan Samuel hitting two homers and a double (with 6 ribbies) and Rick Schu registering 4 hits and 4 ribbies.
(Cue up the laugh track right here): "Rick Schu had four hits."
And four ribbies (laugh track).
Looks like a typo every time.
Nevertheless, there's nothing typographical about this: "Phillies -- 2006 Wild Card Champions."
To achieve this, they'll need players such as Abraham Nunez and Jose Hernandez to step up and become The Latino Rick Schu.
Ever since the Phils traded away the grandson of David Michael Bell, Jr. (read: the son of David Gus Bell), the task of manning the hot corner for the Phillies has been the responsibility of Abe.
Now, Jose is here to provide reinforcement.
All of us would like to see Abe do well because, as it stands, there are two things right now which are killing Abe Nunez jersey sales in local souvenir stores.
1) He's batting only .198, although he did hike it up from a season-low of .156 with some mighty-incredible hot hitting once the grandson of Gus Bell (read: the son of Buddy Bell) was traded to Milwaukee.
2) Not every jersey/uniform manufacturer knows how to place an acceptable "tilde" (the squiggly line which looks like this: ~ ) over the second "N" in "NUNEZ" to give the name the distinctive "Y" action.
Y'know ... "Nooooon-yezzzz."
"They're not booing, Joe ... they're saying, 'Noooooon-yezzzz.'!"
No #3 NUNEZ is complete w/o said tilde.
On the other hand, it's up to Abe to look in the mirror and to ask himself what kind of tilde-related ballplayer he wants to be.
Is it the NLDS MVP or the NLCS MVP?
Noonie and King Arthur need to become a little more dependable lest we start believing that they are sacks of shit who are impeding the Phillies' quest for the NLDS and NLCS championships.
While the starting rotation, Noonie and Hernie work on taking their immense mediocrity to the next level, America needs to hail Ryan Howard as the new messiah. His month of August (14 HRs, 41 ribs, .348 avg.) was amazing ... and, actually, SUPER-DUPER AMAZING when one considers that Pat Burrell hits behind him in the order.
Why why why why would anyone pitch to Howard when a .259-batting strikeout machine is in the on-deck circle?
Chalk that one up to pitching-coach braindeadishness.
Since pitching in Y2K06 consists solely of buzzwords "the cutter" and "the 4-seamer," what you see is what you get.
"No, Officer ... I have no command of The Cutter. I cannot throw The Cutter for a strike. But, I do enjoy gripping The Cutter. And, I like to say, 'The Cutter.' "
And then Ryan Howard is banging one of those cutters 15 rows deep into the bleachers in LF.
Sometimes, it's fun to remind America that when Thome went down with his injury in May '05, the Phils (read: pencilneck GM Ed Wade and Biology Major Asst. GM Ruben Amaro) opted to go to the scrap heap for the fill-in first baseman ... signing Jose Offerman.
People forget that a tremendous sack of (stuff) named Jose Offerman was the first option to replace Thome at 1B ... heaven forbid Ryan Howard should be called up after a monster '04 in the minors because "we just don't know if he's ready!"
As if a .157-battin' Jose Offerman is a more-viable option.
One would hope that if a pencilneck GM and a Biology Major Asst. GM are going to get silly with acquisitions and signees, that they at least take their silliness seriously.
Y'know ... such as re-signing Todd Zeile or somebody like that.
"Seriously" ... what did Wade and Rubes envision Offerman doing (other than killing every rally in sight)?
Luckily, Phillie phans are phorgiving pholk -- and they are appreciative that Pat Gillick has built one of the best 67-66 wild-card contenders of all-time.
Then again, if the Phillies finish 80-82 and miss the wild-wild-wild card action by one game, the intelligent Phillie phaithful is likely to pin it on King Arthur and his blown saves past, present and future.
Forget that 4-19 stretch during the June Swoon. Forget the shitty interleague record. Forget that this incredible lineup got the bats completely rammed up their rectums while going 0-3 vs. Mets pitcher John Maine in August.
"It's all Arthur Rhodes' fault!"
It's not going to end like that, though ... not if Conine The Barbarian and Moyer The Destroyer have anything to say about it. Since each was acquired after the July 31 trade deadline, neither is eligible for the postseason, meaning that the door is wide open for a dream come true:
Abraham Nunez: 2006 NLDS MVP.
Unless he's opting for NLCS MVP.
That's Noonie for ya ... keepin' his options open.
So, watch out, MLB! Noonie is ready to go on a .224-hittin' assault -- and no one should be surprised if the Phils go on a 15-13 rampage to finish 82-80 ... thus becoming one of baseball's all-time most-feared 82-80 wild-card teams.
It's just a matter of who'll pitch Game 3 at The Cit after Myers and Hamels win Games 1 and 2 in St. Louis.
If anyone is thinking that this scenario sounds ridiculous, then those anyones obviously didn't hear Jeff Brantley a few weeks ago on "Baseball Tonight" when Boston acquired Eric Hinske from Toronto and "Cowboy" summed up The Hinsk's abilities thusly:
"Eric Hinske ... was ... born ... to ... hit ..."
Yes ... Cowboy paused after each word, so as to create emphasis w/o really thinking about what he was saying (that is, unless he was pausing to allow the translators typing along at ESPN Deportes to catch up).
"Eric Hinske ... was ... born ... to ... hit ..."
Eric Hinske was born to hit WHAT exactly?
His West Coast girlfriend?
His wife after his wife finds out about his West Coast girlfriend?
The pavement really splattastically after falling from a 17th story ledge?
The booze hard after another oh-for-four collar?
Jeff "My Middle Name Is HOKE (Rhymes With Joke/Choke)" Brantley doesn't remember the Eric Hinske who couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat.
Jeff Brantley ... was ... born ... to ... huff ...
Huff floor wax.
Huff furniture polish.
Huff fumes from the gas can.
Huff teammates' sweaty pants following any of his blown saves for the '00 Phillies.
Good gravy, this is going to be a fun run to the playoffs.
But, only if Noonie decides that he WANTS this ...