Monday, October 04, 2010

Ex-Big Red Machine vs. NEW RED MACHINE

Time to grab our hymn books and to re-visit the Ghosts of Cinshitnati Past >> i.e., the examination of the following talking points:
-- the last time that the Phils n' Reds squared off in the playoffs ...
-- the last time that the Reds made the playoffs ...
-- the last time that the Reds visited Philly ...

It's a lot of ground to cover, but, beginning with Oct. '76, "ah, yes" ... America The Beautiful was awash in Bicentennial majesty and some of us were meek-and-paranoid high school freshmen uncertain about the inner-workings of chicks and unsure if a new relationship forged between a SoCal lone wolf and the up-n'-comers from Philly would develop into something as steel-clad as as the, at that time, 5-year association which had been achieved w/ the Steel Curtain.

Alas, there would be no championship rings in the immediate future for the Kalifornia Kid -- although there was that time in P.E. class when somebody asked Albert Anderson what time his dad's team was playin' Game 1.

Albert was Sparky's son (what you need to do, America, is imagine Sparky's face and long, black hair on a 14-year-old body >> NOT a pretty picture, to be sure) ...

("hey, that dude's wearing a Phillies' cap" >> of course he is, Heather ... of course he is ... )

Anyway, none of us remembers seeing Albert in or around the hallway lockers or in the cafeteria or in Social Studies following that freshman year in LancerLand.
If memory serves, Albert might've had a few problems, despite the success of Dad, who, allegedly made his off-season home in T.O. (and maybe he still does, I dunno).

For Philly locals, mid-'70s, they jammed into their semi-new, multi-purpose stadium for the organization's first postseason berth in 26 years ... wayyyy back during an era when MLB and NFL teams shared the big fish bowls >> The Vet, Riverfront, Three Rivers ...

Phillies/Eagles ... Reds/Bengals ... Steelers/Pirates ... big ballparks, loud crowds, the '70s were good to those cities ...

Such was NOT the case in America's Heartland back then ... say, in St. Louis, where the baseball Cards/football Cards were playin' a lot of .500 ball while sharing the bowl furnished by Anheuser Busch.

There can be no mistake: That '76 series sucked ... and it was a devastating blow to hustle home from school, click on the TV to NBC and see Ron Reed servin' up back-to-back HRs to Foster and Bench to begin the 9th >> and, then, abruptly, it was all over, oh shit! as Griffey hit that little tapper, first baseman Bobby Tolan charged in, but, there was no play at the plate, Concepcion completed the slide, pop-up style and then jumped into the arms of his teammates.

That was the first time that some of us actually watched such events and could actually process the process known as "anguish."
It was hard to forget the stunned expression on the face of Downtown Ollie Brown as he sat motionless on the bench with a bat resting between his legs.
101 wins down the drain >> and 6 mos. of bird-doggin' Lisa was probably also down the drain.

Lisa LostCause was part of the "despair" paradigm.
Not anguish.
Two mutually-exclusive, non-conflicting paradigms, people ...

Talking Point #2: We all remember the last time that Cinshitnati reached the postseason >> 1995 ... a simpler time in America's post-MLB Strike of '94 ... as the Phils' front office (for whatever reason) had summarily and diligently deconstructed and dismantled the '93 National League champions ("to what end?" we wondered) by executing a myriad of questionable personnel moves (far too many to list here).

All this whilst the Redlegs of That Era were wearin' those lame white caps w/ red brims (during the '90s/Y2K experiment of 30 or 40 uniform combinations) ... Barry Larkin was the NL MVP and "jeepers, that Pete Schourek had a heckuva year, didn't he?" >> and who can forget Jeff Brantley's 28 saves (44 the next year before gettin' hisself all injured in '97 >> which worked out beautifully when he brought that balsa-wood arm to Team Francona ...

The 2000 Phillies = Francona (65-97), Omar Daal (2-9, 4-19 overall), Paul Byrd (2-9, 6.51), Brantley (2-7, 5.86, 23 saves), Jason Boyd and his 6.55 ERA pitched in 30 gms. (swear to god, I've never even heard of that guy ... 30 games?) ... 2001 Phillies = Bowa (86-76), Omar Daal (8-1 start, 13-7 / 4.46), Joe Table (2.34, 42 saves) and Eddie Oropesa and his 30 gms. were a welcome relief over Jason Boyd, whom I never even heard of ...

Back to the Reds of '95 >> like the song asks, "Where have you gone, Eddie Taubensee?"
[[[ Better question: Why did the MLB Network's Barry Larkin -- previously mentioned -- fail to receive HOF enshrinement in his first year of eligibility last Jan.? Compared to ex-Red Joe Morgan, Barry Larkin was a better player (in terms of consistency for a greater period of time) ... in fact, aside from Joe Morgan's 6-year "superstar window" ('72 thru '77), he piled up a lot of Marlon Anderson-type years. And, he was a sub.-200 hitter in all of those postseason games (with Rose hitting ahead of him and Bench, Perez and Foster behind him? c'mon ... ) >> nobody's sayin' that Little Joe SHOULDN'T be in the HOF, but, since he made it on the first ballot, Barry Larkin HAS to go in on the first ballot (it figures: the mustard-stained shirts who vote, didn't put 2B Sandberg in 'til his THIRD year of eligibility -- and it'll be interesting to see how they screw with Jeff Kent ... ]]]

Y'see, it's SHIT such as that which makes The MLB unwatchable and unfollowable -- unpunished criminal action, i.e. Lasorda going into Cooperstown approx. 15 mins. (actually, it was 6 mos., but who's counting?) upon announcing his retirement (read: "MOB ties" ... seriously, how else do ya explain it?).

If only HOF voters had dialed it back to the previous decade when Irwin Fletcher punched the framed photo hanging in Chief Karlin's office >> [SMASH!] "I hate Tommy Lasorda!" >> then maybe BleedsDodgerBlue coulda waited his turn -- as Sparky did when he waited until his FULL five yrs. were up before the Veterans Committee selected "Captain Hook" back in 2000.

The Great Lasorda Panic of '96 was a farce, wasn't it? The MLB thought that Lasorda was gonna die, so a HOF enshrinement (which was so very borderline to begin with) was hustled into effect.
Do the math: Sparky retired the season before Lasorda, but WAS FORCED TO WAIT for induction 'til 3 yrs. after Lasorda.

Typical bullshit from the Clinton Administration ...

Talking Point #3: The modern era >> Dusty's squad w/ the young-stallion pitchers w/ goofy haircuts (Volquez, Cueto & Arroyo), the Cuban P defector who clocks 100 MPH consistently (Chapman), the cleancut sluggers ("Votto-matic!", Bruce and Stubbs) and The Ex-Phillie Which Philly Loves To Hate (Rolen).
Wait a sec ... are we 'sposed to believe that Mighty "Klu" would fit right in with the stars we've just mentioned?

Maybe ... but the thing that makes Cincy from being a truly likeable ballclub is Dusty's triple-wide wristies, the 'pick, the lizard tongue and all the damage he did to the Phils while wearing Dodger Blue in '77/'78 (it's still difficult to totally embrace Davey Lopes >> sorry, pal ... ).

Y'wanna know who didn't need triple-wide wristbands?
"Klu" ...

Of course, this is Cincy's first visit to Philly since that 4-game funfest just before The Break -- and the Reds just might be out for blood, considering how that July get-together turned out:

1) Schneider's walk-off HR in the btm of the 12th ...
2) Howard's 2-run walk-off HR in the btm of the 10th after Dobbsie's 3-run jack and Cody Ransom's 2-run poke ("yeah, I said 'Cody Ransom,' goddammit!") helped the Phils come back from 7-1 down against rookie Mike Leake entering the 9th ...
3) J-Role's walk-off single down the RF line in the btm of the 11th after Chooch led off the inning with a double >> and after Ruiz doubled to the very same LCF gap leading off the 9th after rookie Travis Wood (in his third MLB game) retired the first 24 Phillies ...
4) Cole Hamels' masterpiece on the Sunday goin' into the break ...

The sum of that series, it seems, is that the Phils (The New Red Machine) are snuffing out any memories of the Ol' Big Red Machine.

And, with the mighty 6-pack from the heart of the lineup for postseasons '07, '08, '09, maybe they can become the first team since Debs Garms' St. Louis Cards of '42, '43, '44 to win 3 consecutive N.L. pennants (even though Debs Garms didn't play in '42 ... 'cuz he was fightin' the Nazis in something called Double-U Double-U Two).

Let's lookit the big board (or the laminated stat card that some of us keep in our wallet):

Victorino 32 gm. (.277 > 33x119), 7 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 23 rbi
Howard . 32 gm. (.271 > 32x118), 9 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 27 rbi > 20 BB
Werth . . 31 gm. (.261 > 31x119), 8 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 17 rbi
Rollins . . 31 gm. (.231 > 31x134), 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 11 rbi
Ruiz . . . .32 gm. (.303 > 30 x 99 ), 7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 rbi > 19 BB
Utley . . . 32 gm. (.252 > 29x115), 4 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 19 rbi > 27 BB

That's some robust production, not to mention a handsome balance (was it only 3 yrs. ago when the Fightin's went into the playoffs with a 5-tool CF (Rowand) and a RF platoon of Victorino & Werth one season after trading away the 30/30, 100-rbi, 100-BB, .300, Gold Glove RF Bobby Abreu because he didn't care ... or didn't play as if he cared ... or didn't care if anybody didn't care that he actually did care ...

Now, it's up to that sextet to deliver the goods during a postseason run which'll reinforce that MLB-best 97-65 record not to mention obliterating the memory of the Ghost of Debs Garms, The St. Louis Cardinal Nazi Killer.

Wow ... Victorino's next postseason hit will give him the team record.

Schmidt . 36 gm. (.236 > 33x140), 9 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 16 rbi
Maddox . 29 gm. (.271 > 29x107), 8 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 11 rbi
Bowa . . . 27 gm. (.262 > 27x103), 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 rbi
Rose . . . 25 gm. (.327 > 31 x 95 ), 3 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 rbi
Boone . . 24 gm. (.264 > 19 x 72 ), 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 7 rbi
Luzinski . 19 gm. (.269 > 18 x 67 ), 5 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 12 rbi

Seeing how these numbers don't stack up against the modern-era stars, we don't know if any of our heroes from yesteryear could hang with today's Dandy Dons, etc.
Probably ... if we apply rules of baseball relativity ...

I mean, in a Tom Emanski-imagined baseball skillz competition, is the Flyin' Hawaiian better than Garry Maddox? Could Victorino have played "back then"? Could Maddox play today?

Fightin' Phanatics are gonna find out.

Oddly enough, the last time that the Fightin's DID NOT sell out The Cit (before the current streak of 135 sellouts in a row -- or thereabouts) was that 22-1 win over the Reds in July of last season ... a blowout ignited by a 10-run 1st, highlighted by Victorino's 2-run HR, Dobbs' 2-run HR, Hamels' 3-run 2B, Rollins' RBI 2B and a 3-run HR by Utley ... not a great night for Johnny Cueto.

Or for infielder Paul Janish, who pitched the 8th and gave up 6 runs, capped by Werth's 3-run HR.

Janish pitched one inning of a blowout 2 mos. earlier vs. the Brew Crew and gave up 5 runs in that mop-up session (meaning that his ERA ballooned to only 49.50 from 45.00, which isn't all that bad, all things considered).

In the Phillies cosmos, however, that 22-1 rout might've signaled the dawning of Phillie Phanticism gone wild, seeing how that month last year ended with the beating death of that guy, David Sale, inside and outside of McFadden's (during the same game vs. St. Loo when Cards players were bothered by the green light of a laser pointer during that FOX Saturday game).

The fans carried the momentum of the beating death carried out by the drunken Fishtown 3 with such nefarious acts as the woman who was charged with soliciting sex for World Series tix, the vomitting guy, toddlers drinkin' beer, the dude who got Tasered, the guy who shoulda been Tasered the very next night for jumping onto the field while wearing capri pants, the guy in the red body suit a few weeks ago during the Atlanta series ...

As far as fans which are "most deserving," Phillie fans probably ain't it.
I mean, if Phillie Phan ever finds out that Whammy Douglas posed for a Topps card as a Redlegs pitcher while never actually ever pitching in a game for the Redlegs, Phillie Phan is probably gonna blame Scott Rolen and then fill water balloons with urine and throw 'em toward Rolen from The Cit's upper-deck seating.

Which is what ya'd expect, isn't it?

It's playoff time.

Gotta pick up their game ...

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