Sunday, July 22, 2007

There's No Disturbin' J.D. Durbin

At least, that's what it reads on the bumper sticker on Phillie Phan's car after what the Phillies' newest mound phenom did in San Diego today.

A shutout?

That's highly unusual for a hurler who received his "total reject" label when he was dumped three times (by the Twins, Bosox and D'Backs) between the beginning of spring training and the first week of the regular season.

Compounding Phillie Phan's bewilderment is that he/she doesn't know if The Disturbin' J.D. Durbin pitchin' at The Cit is a baseball reincarnation of former Eagles' backup QB . . . "The Annoying Bobby Hoying."

Either way, The Disturbin' J.D. Durbin has done a bang-up job (sort of) ever since he arrived in Philly after that one-game stint for Arizona at Coors Field (two-thirds IP, 7 hits, 7 ER).

Durbin had a rocky outing in his Phillies debut (starting against the Mutts in that series which ended June, Durbin allowed 6 runs in 4 2/3, which -- get this -- put his Phillie ERA at 11.57, but lowered his overall season ERA from 94.50 to 21.94).

During three subsequent relief appearances, Phillie Phan watched as the ERA shrunk from 21.94 to 15.95 . . . to 14.00 . . . to 13.50 (that final half-run drop occurring after he walked three batters and allowed a run during one IP of mop-up duty in the 13-3 trouncing of St. Loo).

Then, Durbin got his first Phillie W and -- say it together -- "helped his own cause" by going 3 for 4 in that 15-3, act of heroism in La-La Land . . . an effort which lowered his ERA to 9.00.

Now, with his 5-hit, complete-game shutout vs. the Pods, well . . . the kid who, three games into the season, had an ERA a smidge under 100.00, has a (very) respectable 3.33 ERA with the Phils.

If he keeps this up, J.D. Durbin's going to have Phillie Phan believing that he's the second coming of 1995 All-Star Tyler Green.

Or, better yet . . . Garrett Stephenson.

Sure . . . it seems a little amusing, but it's important to bear in mind the numbers of the Phils' projected No. 1 and No. 2 starters (Brett Myers and Freddy Garcia) since the team came north from spring training:

Myers -- 3 starts, 15 1/3 IP, 15 hits, 9 walks, 5 HRs, an 0-2 record w/ an ERA of 9.39.
Garcia -- 11 starts, 58 IP, 74 hits, 19 walks, 12 HRs, a 1-5 record w/ an ERA of 5.90 -- abyssmal numbers for a pitcher who'd averaged a 15-9 W/L record per season for the first eight years of his career.

Right now, Freddy Garcia is the Latino Joe Cowley, like it or not.

And, right now, there's no tellin' who J.D. Durbin will no-hit next . . .

+ + +

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Fewer-Than-5 Phillies Are 7-35

That's a "crisis stat" -- the deeper meaning being that when the Phillies score less than 5 runs, their record is 7-35.

Granted ... just about every team has a losing record in games in which they fail to score 5 runs. It's a fairly common trend in this, the era of plutonium-filled baseballs, uranium-enriched bats and HGH-saturated players.

Last night's 1-0 loss to the Petco Pods, well ... that was merely the icing on a cake which is filled with sawdust and moist cardboard.

Team Petco, meanwhile, has mastered the low-scoring nailbiter.

A 24-37 record when they score less than 5 runs might not sound like anything to get excited about, winning-percentage-wise -- until we take into consideration that last night's outcome marked the FIFTH time that S.D. has won by a 1-0 score this season.

It's the reason why the Pods are in first place.

It sure as heck isn't because Terrmel Sledge and the Giles Brothers are lighting up the Sea World sky.

So, for the Phillie Phan who reminisces about the good ol' days when the Phils were rapping out 23 hits (one week ago) and 26 hits (three nights ago), the "explosive" lineup is fun -- but it won't win championships.

In other words, The Cit is the place where Ryan Howard can send a shot into Section 202.

It's not a place where we'll ever see "Divisional Champs" banners hanging.

Which is OK, really -- because if the '07 Phils were in first place AND were exciting, that would tarnish the memory of the rough-n'-tumble '93 Phils, right?

7-35, though, is abyssmal -- yet, it's a stat on which a Wild-Card Also-Ran can hang its hat.
For further amplification, it should be noted that since the Phils beat the Chisox, 3-0, in that ESPN Monday Nighter on June 11 (one day after losing, 17-5, in KC), the Phils are 0-11 when they score less than 5 runs.

Hence, there are no 4-3 or 4-2 or 3-1 wins sprinkled in there.

While we're at it, we could do some comparison shopping with the '93 Phils vs. the '07 Phils.
It was a common misconception back in the day to perceive that our beloved, rag-tag '93 Phils "slugged" their way to the NL pennant -- but the fact of the matter was that pitching in April and May was commonly overlooked.

As it was, THAT Phils team spent the first two months going 8-13 when it scored fewer than 5 runs. Although the '93 Phils won only four games w/ fewer than 5 runs during June, July and August, that clutch manner in scratching out some early-season victories provided the impetus.

Or didja forget that 14 runs was NOT enough to win Game 4 of the World Series?

Not that any of this comes as a major surprise, given the circumstances.

When the season's No. 1 and No. 2 starters (Brett Myers, Freddy Garcia) have a combined TWO victories, that kinda-sorta explains how rookie stiffs such as Zack Segovia and J.A. Happ can make one big-league start ... and then return to the minors.

These are not the glory days of Carlton Loewer and Mike Mimbs.

Which is why the smart Phillie Phan is going to appreciate the numbers which Howard and Utley put up; enjoy some of the excitement from Victorino and Rowand; and continue the countdown of Consecutive Games In Which The Athletic, 13-Million-Dollar Man Pat Burrell Has Not Attempted A Stolen Base.

There's nuthin' else to get fired up about ... at least not now that Historic Loss No. 10,000 was achieved in April and everybody got all fired up about Loss No. 10,035 the other night.

FYI: Pat The Brick is at 388 in a row, by the way ...

Asterisk-esque! Bonds 762, Aaron 761*

With that homer over Wrigley's RF bleachers*
(* -- off of Ted Lilly when the Chicago skies were dark and threatening)
coupled with that fly-ball HR into the basket in CF,*
(* -- against Will Ohman when the Chicago skies were bright n' blue)
America's most-heroic action figure -- Barry Bonds*
(* -- son of the always charismatic and charming Bobby Bonds, the ex-Giant/ex-Yankee/ex-Angel/ex-White Sock/ex-Ranger/ex-Indian/ex-Cardinal/ex-Cub)
became the U.S. career leader in home runs*
(* -- the world record of 868 belongs to Japan's Sadaharu Oh)
with his 761st and 762nd round-trippers*
(* -- a lifetime total which includes postseason homers),
breaking the record previously held by Henry Aaron*
(* -- "Hammerin' Hank" hit 761 untainted homers in his illustrious career).

Let's face it: If we didn't put to good use this pocketful of asterisks, there might've been no means at our disposal to quantify this home run record -- a feat capped by the record-tying homer*
(* -- which not only CLEARed the ivy-covered wall in RF, but the RF bleachers as well)
and the record-setting homer*
(* -- which, although the ball came to rest in the "basket" in CF, was a pitch which Bonds CREAMed nevertheless).

Many Americans will take this opportunity to be hatin'*
(* -- when they should be congratulatin')
while failing to either acknowledge or appreciate the science which went into creating a talented-but-unlikable test-tube slugger*
(* -- apparently, BALCO never perfected the synthesis of proteins for "congeniality").

Since most of America doesn't remember The Hammer's six postseason homers*, (* -- we'll do it here ... just to go against the grain -- and because those homers DID count, by the way)
"761" is a milestone which isn't considered*
(* -- which is precisely what we've come to expect from a sport wherein a mediocre manager named Tommy Lasorda is elected to a so-called Hall of Fame roughly 15 minutes after his retirement, thus negating the validity of said Hall of Fame).

America's failure to acknowledge 761 is most likely the reason why there was little fanfare when Bonds rounded the bases following No. 762*
(* -- doing so without as much as a low-key, celebratory hugs and handshakes from a welcoming committee of Victor Conte, Greg Anderson and Kimberly Bell).

That's why this monumental moment is so bittersweet*
(* -- and not with accompanied by the glee and overwhelming joy the way it was for America when Ripken rescued The MLB in '95 with his 2,131th consecutive game ... or when Big Mac re-rescued The MLB in '98 by going into the seats near the dugout and hugging all the members of the Maris Family).

It's not a matter of whether Barry "cheated"*
(* -- it's more about "What ever happened to that jangly little crucifix earring that Bonds used to wear?").
because America needs heroes now more than ever*
(* -- that is, heroes other than the ones we find at the X Games).

For the record, what We The People "know" is that Barry is not better than our all-time favorites*
(* -- the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig, and the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams).
Ranking Bonds with those legends is like grouping Avon cosmetics with Maybelline*
(* -- or with Revlon, take yer pick).

If the guy REALLY was interested in winning our hearts, he'd pull a Walter Payton*
(* -- who, shortly after breaking the all-time NFL rushing record, said that his accomplishment was for the Joe Delaneys and the David Overstreets and the Brian Piccolos)
and inform us that his inspiration came from the greatest home-run hitter of all-time*
(* -- Josh Gibson).

Not that it matters -- because, all along the S.F. Peninsula tonight, they're awash in the 762 fever provided by their homegrown hero*
(* -- who, by the way, could fornicate with a goat atop the Giants dugout in AT&T Park and elicit only a "Why do people have to pick on Barry?" response from the Bonds loyalists/apologists).

For those of us who conducted a phone interview with Bonds on the day he was drafted*
(* -- as a rookie intern way back in '85)
this magical moment ranks right up there with the thrill of being the one who broke the news to a naked Vida Blue that he was taking Bill Laskey's spot in the rotation and would be starting Friday against the Padres*
( * -- a few weeks after that phone interview with Bonds way back in '85).

From the Giants' standpoint, this historic homer should spell an end to the controversy*
(* -- a messy situation which began when outfielder Bobby Rayburn left Atlanta to sign that fat contract with the Giants -- only to find himself jinxed and slumping because Juan Primo refused to surrender uniform #11, which was Rayburn's number with the Braves. BUT, THEN ... crazed fan, Gil Renard, took matters into his own hands and fatally stabbed Primo in the hotel sauna, although there was NO EXCUSE for disguising himself as the home plate umpire and then slashing the throat of Giants star "Lanz" during that final confrontation in the monsoon at Candlestick) ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Innocent VICKtim -- Or Future ConVICK-t?

It seems like only yesterday when Michael Vick was teaming up with LaDainian Tomlinson -- as well as with defensive stalwarts Brian Urlacher and Troy Polamalu -- in leading the Marlin Briscoe High Hawks to that last-second victory against "Visitor" in the Nike TV spots.

It definitely was an unusual scenario as the Hawks were trailing Visitor, 14-13, when Vick made the toss to L.T. on the sweep to the right -- except that L.T. pulled up and uncorked that pass crossfield to that Ryan guy in the end zone.

Well, actually, it wasn't "yesterday" -- it was last summer. Most of us are still scratchin' our heads wondering why the Hawks -- with all that firepower on offense and defense -- needed a gadget play to defeat Visitor.

(Answer: 'Cuz when Shula's yer head coach, well ...)

As it turns out, life is not a TV spot for Michael Vick -- and, with the federal indictment which he is now facing, the obvious question becomes: "Will this hurt or help Michael Vick in ESPN's 'Who's Now' competition?"

Wait ... the dude we came to love as Ron Mexico is NOT in the Who Dat competition?

Why dat?

The coolest aspect of naming Vick on a federal indictment is that ESPN, CNN, FOX News, et al. will dredge up lots of file footage wherein we see gruesome dog-on-dog action (blood-stained snouts optional).

For those of us who acknowledge that canines should be runnin' the planet and that humans should be chained to fire escapes, any time that we see the rough footage (usually from a hidden camera) of one dog attempting to destroy another dog, we ask, "How come we can't watch video of what takes place inside a beef "processing" plant wherein cows are slaughtered? Why can't we see footage of poachers stealing elephant tusks? Where's the home video of a drunken uncle teaching his 8-year-old niece about good touching and bad touching?"

It's too early to say if all of this will end up as the first chapter in "Ron Mexico's Pit Bull Awareness Week."
Getting all worked up about this matter doesn't seem to make much sense. After all, Vick ain't out there train robbin' and cattle rustlin' and bootleggin' moonshine.

More important, isn't the NFL supposed to be finding Nicole and Ron's killers -- or sorting out the matter of how Pat Tillman (who referred to himself as "Pat Expletive Tillman") died overseas?

Not to worry, Fantasy Leaguers. We're predicting that after much community service and some heartfelt "I'm sorrys," Vick's gonna be out there doin' what he does best -- scatter-arming rocket passes all over the Georgia Dome.

Go, Briscoe High!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

9,999 -- Or Not 9,999?

... so, if Phillie Phan is thinkin' that the Phils blowing a 3-0 lead tonight (in a 6-3 loss) in Colorado (one night after blowing a 6-1 lead and losing, 7-6) is Phillies Loss No. 9,999, well ... Phillie Phan is wrong about the Phillies (again).

To reiterate: There exist greater forces at work than the geniuses and archivists and sabermaticians who are STILL quibbling as to whether the 1890 Phillies were 78-53 or 78-54.
The terms of our recent (friendly-but-firm) negotation could not have been more clear.
---> For those of us who were caught up in Loss No. 9,000 when it occurred in 1995 (according to the records which the Baseball Encyclopedia and the National League Green Book corroborated), we have conceded that Bandwagon American can HAVE the 9,955 losses it believes the Phillies had before the '07 season began
---> That's because the ACTUAL number was 9,990 -- because, "yes" ... 35 grueling postseason losses DO count (especially for those of us Phillie Phans who were born in the L.A. Basin and were persecuted and tormented by that fat, F-ing, worthless baseball anti-Christ named Tommy Lasorda ... the douchebag who puts the "ass" in "ambassador")

Loss No. 10,000 was almost three months ago, kids.
13 innings ... in RFK Stadium ... WP = Levale Speigner.

Howzat fit into your 53/54-loss paradigm for the 1890 Phillies?

Bottom line: It's the oldest axiom there is -- Phillie Phan is allowed to kick the Phillies.
We've earned that right.
Then, we're gonna go out and tip over the Badmouthers' Bandwagon ...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Champion Chestnut (Top Wiener Chomper)

The world's greatest hot-dog eating hero has made some of us soooooo proud to wear a San Jose State University sleeveless T around town.
Y'know ... with a victory of this magnitude, it might not be a bad idea to accessorize that SJSU sleeveless T with a yellow SJSU Spartans wristband.

SJSU's most-famous civil engineering student put the pedal to the metal and edged out Kobayashi, who punctuated his performance on Coney Island by spraying bystanders with a backwash of dog, bun and water a mere split-second before the final horn sounded.

Joey Chestnut's 66 dogs in 12 minutes not only shattered his own world record (set on Memorial Day) of 59-1/2 hot dogs, but shattered the Nathan's record of 53-3/4 set by Kobayashi last year.

And, as many of us proud SJSU Spartans do, Joe comported himself in a dignified manner on the postdog show ... when ESPN's Jimmy Dykes rammed a microphone in his face.
Joey did not mistake the microphone for a wiener.

Since watching Kobayashi ram that food in his face is a disgusting act, some of us switched over to NBC in mid-frankfurter frenzy to see Serena and Justine in an interesting Wimbledon quarterfinal.
Time might've been better served, however, watching Shittypova gettin' her ass kicked by Venus.
Not that we're pro-Venus ... but we are anti-MostOverratedThingInTennisInALongTime (AndDefinitelyNotThe JawDroppingBabushkaThatKournikovaWas/Is).

One of these days, instead of hot dogs, we're going to see a Marlboro smoke-off (we hope, we hope).
Makes ya wonder how many a guy could wolf down in 12 minutes.
Best guesstimate: More than three -- but less than 66 ...

And, it depends if we're using Pall Malls or not ...