Friday, October 24, 2008

Moyer The Warrior (Phillie/Spartan Crossfire)

Is what the Disneyland Sports Channel is servin' up right now -- Boise State at San Jose State -- satisfying America's needs as a Fri. nite appetizer for tomorrow's college football "banquet" of "vintage" matchups? (i.e. Joe Pa goin' to C-Bus ... where he hasn't won since that trip there 30 years ago when those of us who couldn't attend that game -- because we were 16 years old and living in Cali at the time -- listened on the transistor radio while doin' lotsa yardwork ... when a freshman named Art Schlichter threw 5 INTS in the 19-0 PSU victory in what would be Woody Hayes' final season because of an INT which Schlichter threw in the Gator >>> ...) halt! arbitrary voyages down MEMORY LANE mustn't creep into the equation right now because, let's face it ... even if SJSU does win two more games to become bowl-eligible (which seems kinda pointless ever since they dumped the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose's Spartan Stadium following that Northern Illinois-Troy blockbuster in '04), it doesn't dismiss the fact that recent Spartan QB Marcus Arroyo calls the plays for Dick Tomey or that current QB Kyle Reed doesn't remind anyone of a Steve DeBerg or an Ed Luther or a Jeff Garcia or, for that matter, a Steve Clarkson -- even though Reed is a black kid and even though he's wearing Clarkson's #7 despite probably having never paid $20,000 to be tutored by Clarkson, the QB Coaching Guru who has has mentored some of the most-marginal QBs that some people might've (or might not've) heard of.

So, yeah ... this is kind of a mindless timekiller during a World Series travel day ... although some of us who are alums appreciate the well-rounded play of DB Duke Ihenacho and his D-line brother, Carl Ihenacho.

And, for those of us Phillie phans who took three years of high-school Spanish with a classroom full of Dodger fans pre-SJSU cirriculum, we remember enough of the language to recall that "San Jose" is how Spanish-speaking folk say, "Saint Joseph."

One needn't have earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism & Mass Communications w/ a Concentration in Reporting & Editing from SJSU to realize that this World Series now boils down to what the left arm of that St. Joe's grad, Jamie Moyer, can produce in Game 3 tomorrow night at The Cit, the first ballgame in that ballpark since two Fridays ago when that little Latino center fielder ("wait ... he's Hawaiian? isn't Victorino an Italian name?") was roughing up Chad Billingsley the way that Hugh Beaumont used to slap around Barbara Billingsley on the ol' "Beaver" TV show.

Anyway, the responsibility of gettin' the Series back on track relies on Moyer's ability to minimize the damage done by Brick Myers last night.

Myers pitched just well enough to lose Game 2 (despite that unlikely homer from the guy, Eric Bruntlett, who matriculated right up the road from SJSU ... at Stanford).

Stanford ... that's where Phillies asst. GM Ruben Amaro earned his degree in biology ... not long after Clarkson outdueled John Elway, 35-31, in one of the greatest college football games of the previous century.

Elway's old man -- Fat Jack -- was the winning coach.

Something tells us that Fat Jack tossed back a few bourbons and sucked down several victory Marlboros after that triumph.

Fat Jack's with the angels now ... drinkin' their Scotch and stealin' their smokes.

What a rascal ...

Anyway, Jamie Moyer isn't familiar with what we just described because it occurred when he was acclimating himself to St. Joe's on the East Coast and not San Jose on the West Coast.

Here in the modern day, it is the job of MOYER THE DESTROYER to be more of a Moyer The Warrior than he was in Game 3 of the NLDS and Game 3 of the NLCS.

Those were important Games 3's -- and he failed to meet the challenge.

Now, Moyer's pitching in the most-significant Game 3 of his life -- a potential Series-turner -- and, based on nothing scientific or emperical in nature, it sez here: "He can do it."

It's important, though, that nobody jinx Moyer and inform him that a nifty performance tomorrow night could be provide validation in the minds of the members of the Veterans Committee when Jamie Moyer is elected to the Hall of Fame in 2073.

Even though that'll be seven years after the 2066 enshrinement of Jim Kaat, Bert Blyleven and Tommy John, all four are deserving pitchers.

Sadly, to make room in Cooperstown for this quartet, any (or all) of the following pitchers can be de-enshrined:
Eppa Rixey, Old Hoss Radbourn and Pud Galvin (which should provide some relief for the surviving members of those families who have lived with the guilt for all these years that none of 'em belong in Cooperstown).

True ... it seems like sacrilege to revoke the membership of any Phillie from Cooperstown, particularly one with the name "Eppa Rixey."

Just be thankful that it's not Bubba Church ...

Yet, once we explore "the numbers" (which is what drives the stat geeks which compose the HOF electorate), it's apparent that Jamie Moyer -- when compared, side-by-side to Eppa Rixey, is worthy of enshrinement.

Some of us have made a compelling, in-depth and rational argument previously (i.e. when comparing Gary Carter to Lance Parrish, who were basically the same player from the same era, only Parrish didn't have an AquaFresh smile ... lookit up ... they were basically the same player, goddammit! ... ) -- and intelligence and insight are on Moyer's side [which is why he'll never get to Cooperstown ... seriously, have you seen the squids who do the voting? Drunks, pedophiles, bedwetters, any ol' jack-off who's been a member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years (which, is to say, anyone who hasn't expelled from the BBWAA for sneaking into an alley with a 12-year-old boy for, y'know, "fun" ... THAT'S who shapes YOUR bogus Hall of Fame, not a legit Hall of Fame. FACT: For those of us who once shared a sports dept. in the same newsroom as Leonard Koppett "back in the day," we can all agree that "yes" ... his research was thorough and his findings were presented reasonably-well in print, but for a pressbox legend who used to vote for potential Hall of Famers and who, himself, gained HOF status in '93, would it have killed him to brush the solid layer of dandruff off of his shoulders? What about an Altoids (or four)? This ain't some sorta "old school" B.S. where Grantland Rice is workin' on his fifth Scotch while he's rat-a-tat-tatting on his Royal typewriter in a wooden newsroom with varnished wooden chairs, varnished wooden tables, a rotary phone and a tin cup serving as a makeshift ash tray ... this is Jamie Moyer's career on trial, godfuckingdammit. And, with all respect to Leonard Koppett, there's no way that we should allow him to be "a judge" of anything. Go ahead, Lenny ... write the gamer ... collect the quotes ... afterwards, tell your beautifully eloquent stories to colleagues and family members or, if ESPN's Sports Century needs a nugget, give it to 'em ... just don't "judge" what you don't quite understand, Dragon Breath.]

Seriously ... if Pud Galvin, the MLB's first pitcher to win 300 games, was good enough to go 46-29 in 75 starts as a 26-year-old for the 1883 Buffalo Bisons and 46-22 in 68 starts for the '84 Bisons, then what the hell was he doing when he went 23-25 for the '88 Pirates?

And, isn't 46-22 as a 27-year-old in 1884 comparable to a 45-year-old (Moyer) who goes 16-7 in 2008?

Pud Galvin can't defend himself and his "circus stats" because he died in 1902 at the same age (45) that Jamie Moyer is now while winning 16 games for these Phillies.

Typically, Pud Galvin wasn't good enough for Hall of Fame enshrinement with the inaugural class in the early 1930s -- so, America waited breathlessly until those old-school sportswriters, etc. could push their pro-Pud stance and get the dead guy elected in 1965 ... 73 years after his final game ... 63 years following his death.

Makes sense ...

We could say, "Hey, that's what Jamie Moyer has to look forward to" -- except that in 2025, 2050 and 2075, there'll be a new fat-ass Bill Conlin w/ hideous teeth wiping gravy off his shirt (if he notices) and casting a ballot.

Since we've had all day to mull it over, it is interesting to note that Moyer's first seven seasons were junk, capped by that 0-5 season in St. Loo in '91 (which caused him to spend all of '92 in the minors).

In the 16 seasons since, Moyer has been VERY repectable -- and, in a way, it mirrors the start to Eppa Rixey's career ... the eight seasons he spent as a Phillie putting up some extremely mediocre numbers during the Dead Ball Era.

During the past 12 seasons (since he turned 34), Moyer has: 6 excellent seasons, 2 very good seasons, 2 okay seasons, 2 subpar seasons.

This, we must designate as "the prime" of Moyer's career -- and, with the way he's going, the guy who wears his age and the MPH of his fastball on his back -- 50 -- might have two, possibly three, more quality seasons left in him.

By comparison, in Eppa Rixey's 13-season "best years" window (1916-1928), he had: 3 excellent seasons, 4 good seasons, 2 so-so seasons and 4 iffy seasons.

Inescapable truth:
Jamie Moyer's golden years have been better than Eppa Rixey's golden years.

Yet, what makes The MLB soooo wonderful is that we have stodgy, close-minded types such as Gammons or Bill James who'll never vote for Jamie Moyer because those guys were so shitty at baseball that they didn't get picked during pick-up games.

"Hey, super dork ... go to the FoodWay and get us some Sunny D! And ... take yer time!"

Honest to god ... y'think Gammons or James has any clue what it's like to be Jamie Moyer and to win 16 games at age 45 with the junk he throws plateward?

Every time he takes the mind, Moyer has to out-think and outwork every batter with every at-bat.

There really is no margin for error, particularly if he falls behind in the count and then has to ponder throwing that 50 MPH fastball.

If a home-plate ump gets cute and decides to squeeze him, well ...

(Note: You'd think that Gammons, who jams on his guitar w/ Bronson Arroyo would be spiritual and open-minded enough to promote Moyer on the Disneyland Baseball Channel called EspyTime, but, wait! Here's Chris Berman with back back back back ... on that TV show hosted by the milquetoast Karl Ravech and which guest stars former sex addict Steve Phillips)

(Sidebar: Sometimes it's fun to see if Phillips or Kruk are ever going to finish growing their baby goat-tees in order to catch up to the goat-tee Sharpied into full form worn by Fernando Vina ... that's seriously the only substance to that show ... )

Maybe one day Roy Firetone can host and "Up Close" chat with Rogers Hornsby, Rabbit Maranville and Zack Wheat just to see what their impressions were of Eppa Rixey, who held the record for career victories by a southpaw (266 ... Moyer has 264)) until Lefty Grove passed him in 1939 (or thereabouts).

Alas ... Rogers Hornsby, Rabbit Maranville and Zack Wheat are all dead, so, the Myth of Eppa Rixey lives on -- while most of us dispute his worthiness with every fiber in our being.

To soften our contempt while keeping in the spirit of the modern-day Phillie, it sometimes becomes necessary to take a spin around the dial to see what other people are thinking (although this totally goes against the self-imposed mission statement of "Who gives a flock what they think?").

Whispering: There's something out there called "Phillies Nation" -- which bills itself as "the most-comprehensive Philadelphia Phillies blog" -- and one of those guys which we saw on NBC Dateline's "To Catch A Predator" had some fascinating observations re: Game 2:

"For the most part, I saw guys trying to do everything with one swing. They were waving at the ball as if Tropicana Field’s fence was 10 feet away. Jayson Werth was trying to pull pitches very low and inside; Pat Burrell was trying to find low junk; Ryan Howard was guessing on the low-away stuff. Then there’s Jimmy Rollins, who just plain sucked. <><> I am confident that the Phils can change this. They have before, and they have to now. This isn’t mid-June, where they can stir around for a week and wait for the offense to return. This is late October, the final five games of the season, the biggest stage in the game. Something tells me they’ll sense the moment and attack correctly. <><> Home runs are not the necessity. Singles kill Shields more than anything, so find a hole and get at it. The homer will come naturally."

Adorable ...

Too precious ...

Some dude allowed his 12-year-old step-daughter to help him type up the Game 2 recap/Game 3 pree.

The only things missing were "let's hear a little chatter out there, okay, fellas?" -- but, then again, we don't know if Tim Malcolm prefers "ay-battuh-battuh!" or "ay-battuh-ay-battuh, swing!"

What if he's right, though?

Maybe it's NOT about reading Charley Lau's "The Art of Hitting .300" or Ted Williams' "The Science of Hitting" or, to a lesser extent, "The Mike Schmidt Study: Hitting Theory, Skills and Technique."

Seriously ... Schmidty's principles re: hitting's 'third force' ... or swing mechanics and hitting evolution ... or the 12-lesson format ... and why the hell it's so damn important to key on the weight shift system and the rotation system and how combining the power of both movements will result in increased energy, comprising a Combined Hitting System are probably NOT what Phillies' hitting instructor Milt Thompson needs to clutter the minds of the batsmen under his tutelege.

Maybe it's time for a new batter's-box paradigm.

The battle plan:
No more trying to do everything with one swing!
No more pretending that the fence is 10 feet away!
No more trying to find low junk!
This isn't mid-June!
It's time to sense the moment and attack correctly!
Find a hole and get at it!
The homers will come naturally!

Re-worded in Malcolmese, it's "we need to attack correctly ... we need to sense the moment and attack correctly ... we need to buy one of those Wii systems and hit more natural homers ... "

Again ... it is adorable (simply precious) when a guy who's never known a bat except when those kids at the playground once used an Easton to violate him purely for kicks is offering batting tips.

It's reminiscent of when we saw that movie wherein baseball flunkie Gil Renard gave to his son, Richie, some interesting advice for Little League.

"Jason Pelligrini's dad takes it up the ass!" ////

Look ... nobody's sayin' that Kruk (as SF Giants star, #46 Rick Lanz) out-acted De Niro in that movie, but, we should note that the modern-day #50 for the Phils finds himself in a position not unlike yesterday's #50 for the Phils.

You remember: When rookie Marty Bystrom was asked to hold the hot-hittin' Royals in check in Game 5 (at K.C.) in the '80 World Series.

For the most part, Bystrom did just that in a game we'll never forget.

Moyer probably remembers it, too. It happened when he was a teenaged Phillies phan ... two months after Brick Myers was born, two months before Joe Blanton was born ...

Very cosmic.

Of course, if "the cosmos" is brought into play, Game 3 is dangerous ground for the Fightin's. The Phillies have never won a Game 3 (or a Game 4) in their rich (but limited) World Series legacy.

0-2 in Games 3 and 4 vs. Boston in 1915 ... 0-2 in Games 3 and 4 vs. the Yankees in 1950 ... 0-2 in Games 3 and 4 vs. K.C. during that eventual Series triumph in 1980 ... 0-2 in Games 3 and 4 vs. the Orioles in 1983 ... and 0-2 in Games 3 and 4 vs. the Jays in 1993 ...

An 0-10 record in Games 3 and 4 has most of us dismissing Malcolmism and instead opting for what McMurphy did when the World Series didn't go his way -- which is to say, broadcasting the imaginary game for his buddies as they watched the turned-off TV.

"Koufax is in big, fuckin' trouble! Big trouble, baby!"

That'll break the spell a lot quicker than "attacking correctly" ...


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