Examining the Season Series

Numbers can lie. A wise man once said: “Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that.” That man was Homer Simpson.  Looking at the record of the Phillies versus the Cardinals this year, alone and by itself, is an instance of stats that can prove anything.  While digging deeper into the story behind the record of the Cardinals winning 6 out of 9, I can prove Homer Simpson right:

First series: May 16 and May 17.

May 16: Cardinals 3, Phillies 1

W: Westbrook, L: Lee

Notable story lines: “I felt like I threw a lot of strikes that were called balls, but whatever,” Lee said. “It is what it is. I’m the pitcher. He’s the umpire. It’s [home-plate umpire Gerry Davis'] job to call balls and strikes, and he felt like they were balls, I guess. It is what it is.”  Basically-Lee got squeezed, but whatever…

Notable line up problems: Valdez at 3rd Base, Mayberry in Center Field, Fransisco in Right Field, and Pete Orr at 2nd.  Not one of these players will be starting at those positions during the NLDS between these two teams.

Notable outlier in this game’s stats: Cliff Lee walked SIX (6!) batters.  If he walks 4 in an NLDS game, someone is warming in the pen.

May 17: Cardinals 2, Phillies 1 (11 Innings)

W: Salas, L:  Baez

Notable story line: Roy Oswalt made his first start in nearly three weeks after returning from witnessing the effects of tornadoes in the town that he grew up in.  The pregame press conference lead to many writers predicting Oswalt’s retirement from the sport after the season.

Notable line up problems: Martinez in Center Field, Fransisco in Right Field, Valdez- then Orr at 2nd Base, and DANE SARDINO at catcher.  Once again, none of these players will be playing these positions-especially players who were so bad, they played their ways out of the organization.  (See: Sardino, Baez)

Notable outlier in this game’s stats:  The Phillies had a AAA line up out there, and the Cards only won by one run-in extra innings.

Second Series: June 21, 22, and 23rd:

June 21: Phillies 10, Cardinals 2

W Stutes, L: Miller

Notable story lines: Phillies tied the game late when Polanco was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.  The Cardinals bullpen, shaky the whole year, fell apart in this game.

Notable outlier in this game’s stats: Phillies scored 9 runs in the 8th inning, after the Cardinals starter, McClellan, gave up 1 ER through 7 innings.

Notable line up problems: None, really, as the line up seemed to follow the way it was set for most of the games prior to the ASG, meaning Fransisco factored into games for no good reason, as he came in for 2 AB after Dom Brown had 3 AB.

June 22: Phillies 4, Cardinals, o

W: Lee, L: Lohse

Notable story lines: This was June, and Lee pitched.  It was the first of two months where he would dominate at a level above everyday domination, which isn’t something you see everyday.

Notable line up problems: Both Brown and Fransisco started this game.  Neither would do such in the playoffs (Brown didn’t even make the post season roster.)

Notable outliers in this games stats: It was a complete game, meaning no pinch hitters.  Lohse gave up 3 ERs, but no grand slams to Kaz.

June 23: Phillies 2, Cardinals 4

W: Carpenter, L: Oswalt

Notable story lines: Oswalt left early, giving up 4 ERs through two innings, leaving the bullpen to patch together a whole game.

Notable line up problems: Oswalt left the game with an injury-lots of pinch hitters.

Notable outliers in the games stats: None, besides the over use of the Phillies bullpen, including pitchers such as Kendrick, Perez, and Baez.  Oh, and Cliff Lee was a pinch hitter in this game.

Third series: September 16, 17, 18, and 19th

September 16: Cardinals 4, Phillies 2

W: McClellen, L: Schwimer

Notable Storyline: This was the game before they would clinch, and it went extras.  This was the 20th game in 19 days, and the Phillies played a double header the day before.  I doubt they will be that tired come the NLDS.

Notable line up problems: Mayberry was playing 1st.  Decent athletes, could play anywhere on the field, but the Big Bopper plays 1st on an everyday. Howard has above average stats against his home town team, so anyone would want him in the lineup for important games.

Notable outlier for this game’s stats: It’s the number of games they were playing in such a short time frame. This can’t be understated, in my opinion.

September 17: Cardinals 2, Phillies 9

W: Oswalt, L: Westbrook

Notable story line: FIVE NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST TITLES IN A ROW.  While the Phillies were already leading late in the game, Raul Ibanez started the party a little earlier with a Grand Slam.

Notable lineup story: It was the Phillies line up that you’re going to see in Game 1 of the NLDS.  See how good this team can be when they’re all playing?

Notable Outlier in this game’s stats: None, really.  The Cardinals’ bullpen has been their weakest spot all season, which means even more match ups by LaRussa.

September 18: Cardinals 5, Phillies 0

W: Carpenter, L: Hamels

Notable story line: We didn’t realize it yet, but the panic button was about to be hit.  </sarcasm font> In a game that @FanSince09 will likely point to as proof that Hamels isn’t that good, the Phillies were hung over.  Manuel started to rest some of the starters, giving Chooch and Howard the day off.  Phillies managed to get as many hits as the Cards, but couldn’t push anyone across the plate.

Notable line up story: Gload played first base, the only position he could possibly play because he can’t run or move his legs well.  Schneider got a chance to catch Hamels, which won’t happen most likely in the NLDS.

Noteable outlier in this game’s stats: The Phillies just played 21 games in 20 days, and now had a game that didn’t really matter to them.  The pressure to clinch the division was gone, most of these guys partied the night before in the clubhouse, and then they went out and faced a team that was desperate to get wins in hopes to make the post season. I don’t know the stats for “wanted it more”, but the Cards definitely had more WIM’s on this night.

September 19: Cardinals 4, Phillies 3

W: Loshe, L: Halladay

Notable story line: All of a sudden, the Cardinals are only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race, but the Phillies still had a chance to win it in the 9th, and the Cardinals bullpen looked to, once again, cough up a lead.

Noteable line up story: Once again, no Howard, as Gload got a second straight start. And when the Phillies needed a pinch hitter?  Brandon Moss.

Noteable outlier in this game’s stats: Halladay walked 4 batters and gave up 6 hits.  Not really an outlier, because his starts before this, he wasn’t as sharp.  I’m not expecting another no hitter from him in the NLDS, but I’m also not expecting this.  He’s probably already did the whole Rocky scene 5 times yesterday for a warm up to his actual exercises.  And for the rest of the Phillies, Pence even said on the Jim Rome show that the focus and intensity wasn’t there for a few of the players during that 8 game losing streak.  I have a feeling that won’t happen for the Phillies once the post season starts.

I know, it’s baseball, and anything can happen.  These are just stats, and all they do is provide us a way to look at what has already happened.  Stats can be good predictors of what will happen, but you have to look at them in the right light.  The last 3 losses the Phillies had against the Cardinals, one could be a hang over from a double header, and the other two could be a hangover from clinching a division title and then taking the foot off the gas, while the Cardinals were fighting to even get into the playoffs.  There’s a reason why the Phillies were 12 games ahead of them in the standings.

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Review of Nick Lowe’s new single-Check Out Time

It’s fitting that Nick Lowe ponders his mortality in a song that captures his musical career so well.  A rollicking rocking country tune with lyrics that hint to gospel music while using popular culture references, Lowe shows off some of the aspects that are highlighted in his discography that have garnered so many fans over the years.  And yet, with all those ingredients, Lowe is able to create a pop tune that seems effortless and simple.

Listen here.

Lyrics:
I’m 61 years old now,
Lord I’d never thought I’d see 30
Though I know this road is still some way to go
I can’t help thinking on
will I be beloved and celebrated for my past or decline
or just another bum when it comes to check out time

I’m fearful my chances are crossing over jordan into glory
may be comprised by the pies I’ve had my finger in
must I be condemned for ever damned for some long forgotten crime?
or singing rock of ages with the angels soon after Check Out Time?

Yes, when it’s time to pay the bill
I’m going to grab my bag
and I will throw it in the first cab that I find
I’m gonna make this a day to remember until Check Out Time

must I be condemned for ever damned for some long forgotten crime?
or singing rock of ages with angels soon after Check Out Time?

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Michael Smith versus the world of Cycling

On Sunday’s Stage 9 of le Tour de France, a car from French’s 2/3 TV disregarded the instructions to not get into the front of a group of cars, had to swerve to avoid a tree, and ended up taking out 2 cyclists in the leading group.  One rider , Flecha, fell to the pavement, while another, Hoogerland, was sent end over end into a barbed wire fence.  Both ended the stage, and continue to ride, while only getting a letter sent to one of the riders to serve as an apology.  The video was shocking, and the pictures of Hoogerland were even more frightening.  Many television outlets would warn people that they might not want to see the graphic video.  On ESPN, in America, though, it was laughed at and mocked by a round table of talking heads on their drive home hour show “Around The Horn.”  One of the talking heads, Mr Michael Smith, took it a step further and continued to laugh and mock via his twitter account.

I’ve had some time to digest the incident of Michael Smith on Around The Horn, and then on Twitter.  I joined the brigade of twitter cyclists that used the #firemrmichaelsmith hashtag, sent tweets to prominent figures in the cycling world, and joined a facebook group.  I also took a chance to step back and think about why I was so quick to join the fray of internet people trying to mount a campaign to have a man lose his job.

As with most people that enjoy riding a bike, and happen to live in a populated area, I’ve been a victim of run ins with automobiles.  I could run off a list of many altercations, some being both, mine, or the drivers fault.  The worst part is, you feel hopeless when you’re involved with something like this. One incident came to mind when I heard Michael Smith laughing at how the car just drives off.  Typical biking scene-at a stop sign that I was stopped at, and a car that was driven by a younger driver, probably early twenties, who was fully equipped with a great stereo system and a cell phone in one hand.  As I started, thinking that because there was no blinking turn signal, the car was going straight.  You know what they say about people who assume….

You would think that having someone hanging onto his car, head and arms actually inside the car, would get someone’s attention.  Unfortunately, the loud euroclub music was so loud, and I guess the cell phone discussion so enthralling, that the driver didn’t even look at me until he was already driving straight again.  Whatever profanities I was trying to yell at him may have scared him, or the sight of nearly running someone over, but wide eyes through the sunglasses and open mouth was the only reaction I got.  Knowing that my legs were not under the car anymore, mostly because the bike was about 20 feet behind me now, I just ended up letting go, since I wasn’t convinced this guy was going to stop.  As I laid on the concrete, watching him drive off at excessive speeds for a residential area, I was left to wonder if I my bike was ok, or even more important, I was ok.  The car behind was nice enough to stop, allow me to get out of the road, look at me, and then drive off.

As I watched the French 2/3 TV car drive off, I thought of my buddy with the cell phone and euro-club soundtrack.  That second car, to me, was Mr Michael Smith, laughing about the car driving off.  Thankfully, I didn’t bounce off the road like Flecha, or fly into a barbed wire fence like Hoogerland, but I was left with a little road rash and a deflated sense of safety on a road I had been on so many times before.  I guess that second car wanted to make sure I was OK, but they never asked anything, or even said a word, really.  On second thought, maybe they were better than Michael Smith.

It was that feeling of anxiousness of nearly being run over by a car on my way to a public speaking class that returned when I watched “Around The Horn.”  That’s why I was so quick to attack, I wanted to get back at every person that has made me feel unsafe to ride, afraid to talk about cycling in a crowded area of mixed people, or had made anyone I know that wanted to ride but was hesitant due to road safety.  It was that sense of outrage that I had for a car that drove off with maybe just a glance in the rearview mirror that I wanted to take out on Michael Smith.

I still would like for something more from ESPN, and Michael Smith, than a half ass apology.  I was upset at the gesture of him laughing, and the continued posting, and I feel like he has a sense of relief, that he’s off the hook for those actions because of that late night tweet.  As I’ve thought over everything, I don’t really want the man fired.  In fact, a man like that, that could garner so much attention over comments on a TV show, I’d like to keep around.  I’d like for him to try riding around-with all the required safety equipment so he’s not in harms way.  Some people have suggested commuting to work on a bike, or maybe riding a mountain in France.  I’ve even thought back on a comment from Jonathan Vaughters from a TdF promo on Versus a couple years back that explained that all someone needed to do to experience a crash like a professional cyclist would be to wear their pajamas and jump from a moving vehicle going 30-40 miles per hour.  I don’t want more harm, though, but there’s something to the idea of giving him an experience that would make him think twice about making fun of an injury to anyone.  I don’t really think that firing him will help him with that experience.  I wish I knew what it should be, but I’d like to extend the olive branch to Mr. Michael Smith, in hopes that next time there’s a crash in a cycling event, he wouldn’t laugh about it on the set.  Of course, then he’d be the only one.

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When did the All Star Game Stop Meaning Something?

Does anyone remember when it wasn’t fashionable to just bash the whole idea of an All Star game?  I remember being so excited about it when I was younger, it was a highlight of the summer.  As with most things in life, those that we remember fondly as children often continue to hold a dear place in our hearts as adults, yet here we are, bashing the All Star game, holding it to a standard that an exhibition game shouldn’t be held.  Is this the same event that used to mean something to me as a kid, pr Pete Rose as a player?

I hear from my father so many stories of baseball days of yore. He is a man that cherishes the old days, often to a point where he signals how far we’ve move away from them while offering his opinion of how horrible the departure is. When I was younger, one of the reasons why I wanted the Phillies to win a World Series wasn’t just to watch my favorite team reach the pinnacle, but also to shut my dad up about Dallas Green, Larry Bowa, and the other intense players, thinking that they proved the only blue print to be followed for the way to win the Series.  Through my father, I learned about who was the only Phillies player to hit a game winning home run in an all star game, and then the heart ache that followed that same season.  I learned how the great Pete Rose never took a play off, not even in the All Star Game.  Baseball games never ended in a tie when he was younger, either.

But that was then, and this is now.

When I was younger, the All Star Game held so many aspects that made it special, something unlike any one would see during the baseball season.  It stood apart from your average baseball ball game, as you would see National League and American League players on the field at the same time.  My favorite team was represented, even when the Phillies had no chance of ever making it to the World Series.  It would often be a chance to see Mike Scmidt, Ozzie Smith and Ryne Sandberg on the same team.  These players existed during the Free Agency, but never left their respective team in which they broke into the league.  But, as we move forward with ludicrous contracts, we see players leave their original teams, playing on so many teams.  You could point to the Yankees as the most egregious of this, but that’s the way the game is now, and there’s no doubt it will continue like this.

Some people have expressed a favorable opinion about the All Star Game “Meaning Something,” meaning that it determines home field advantage in the World Series.  I admit, there’s a logic behind this that I could probably get behind-the All Star Game is supposed to be a showcase of each leagues’ best players, so the best players will battle it out to determine something so important.  Of course, when you see players like Derek Jeter not playing in the game, even though he’s not even on the disabled list, or Cole Hamels not pitch, because of the rule that if you pitch on the Sunday before the game you can’t pitch during the ASG, you start to wonder who these Stars are in the ASG.  It took so many injuries to get Andrew McCutchen on the ever expanding roster, even though a third baseman from the Cubs is batting nearly 50 points higher in average than the guy that’s getting the start-but he wasn’t even included on the roster.  The roster is filled with questionable players and back ups that you wonder why a B Squad All Star roster should be determining something as important as homefield advantage.

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Casey Anthony

There’s been something bothering me about this case.  No, there’s been something bothering me about the verdict, and the wave of status updates flowing through social media.  The venom of people for a want of “justice” is amazing, even disturbing.  Some of your reactions scare me. 

I’ll get this out of the way early-I believe she killed her kid, and the family was trying to cover it up, and that she was going out and partying to help cope with what she did.  I believe she’s a horrible human, and so is the family.  But do I have venom towards them?  Well, I guess no, if it’s in comparison to what I’m seeing on facebook and twitter.

With groups suck as “Fuck Casey Anthony” on facebook popping up, I started to wonder.  It made me wonder if, because the coverage and attention towards this case has reached critical mass, Americans were going to react in similar ways to Conan getting the boot from NBC and riots in Tehran a couple years ago.  And then I saw something about porch lights being left on.  Oh, how quaint, how nice.  What does it say about Americans if the way they protest something is by simply clicking a mouse or being too lazy to turn their porch light off?  Thank goodness the internet was not around during the Progressive Era, or the Civil Rights movement.  What happened to us if we can’t follow that feeling in our bones that something terrible has happened with some actual action? 

And then I started to see the idea of physical harm to Casey Anthony float around.  Maybe my question was answered, although in a way that would be terrible.  Maybe it was my Christian upbringing (I was always a fan of the New Testament more), or my adolescent love of reading books on Asian religions of Tao and Buddism, but I’ve never been a fan of doing something to someone that I thought they shouldn’t have done in the first place.  Oh, you killed someone?  Well I’m not a fan of that, so I’m going to suggest that someone do the same.  Yeah, that makes sense.

As I sit here and continue to see a flow of alarming comments flow through my twitter and facebook news feeds, I despair a little more about the state of the world.  A man was just charged with killing his child because he cried too much not too long ago in the Philadelphia area.  I’m sure millions will tune into that case.  How about all the kids that are being killed by guns on the streets of Philadelphia?  I’m sure millions will tune into those cases.  What about the case of Danieal Kelly?  Her father is on trial, so I’m sure the millions are tuning into that case. 

Maybe I put my finger on it, and maybe I didn’t, but the venom on this one case is strange and alarming to me.  What about the other Casey Anthonys in the world?  I hope this case brings attention to the many other instances of child abuse and murder.  Casey wasn’t the first one to kill her child, and won’t be the last.  Well, maybe all the facebook groups and lights left on might actually make it the last.  I’m sure.

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I don’t know where this will end up

Well, I’m going to try my hand at writing.  I don’t know entirely why, but something in me is telling me to try to sharpen my craft of words.  I’ll continue to write here as I find reasons to write.  This may end up looking like a notebook, with rough drafts scribbled out for all to see, edit, mock, laugh at, or hopefully enjoy. 

I taught for two years, albeit art, but I had to deal with horrible grammar and spelling.  I was chastised for not having the students do things that, in hindsight, I probably should have, including homework and notebooks.  This is my notebook, a digital version.  I’ll write responses to the stimuli in my life, whatever direction that might be.  I hope it will help me to find my voice, my style.  It will be a work in progress, and constructive criticism is highly suggested.  I’m writing on WordPress.com because I want the responses to be open to anyone-no need to log in, create any sort of account, or anything like that.

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Rapture Playlist

I’ll be partying for the rapture tonight, as I’m sure most people will, too.  To celebrate, I’ve created a playlist of songs to listen to while I watch the bodies fly into the sky and into outer space.  (Warning-a post full of youtube videos follows.)

First Track:

The Man Comes Around-Johnny Cash

The spoken word intro just makes this the perfect song to start off with.  A haunting warning that “the virgins are all trimming their wings.”  I don’t know what that means, but I saw angels do this in Dogma, and I don’t think it will mean good things.

Second Track:

Wilco-You Never Know

Yeah, it’s weird to have a second track already start talking about not caring anymore, but that’s just kids acting like children, I guess.  Paul Simon said every generation throws a hero up the pop charts, Jeff Tweedy thinks every generation predicts the end of the world.  Seeing Justin Beiber get recognized, I assume they’re talking about the same thing.

Third Track:

The Vandals-Its a Fact.

As they say, in 5 billion years, the sun will explode-it’s in the Bible-it’s a Fact!  I guess that goes against the idea that the world will end in 6 months, but doesn’t Bible Math equate one month to like a billion years or something?  Maybe they’re onto something.

Fourth Track:

The Rapture-Echoes

I don’t really like this band, nor this song, but it seems really appropriate to think that for those of us that will be left behind will be able to hear the echoes of those that are super righteous floating up into the sky-probably something like “Told you so!”  Those jerk.

Fifth Track:

Bad Religion: F*ck Armageddon… This is Hell

OK, let’s bring it back to a decent band.  Subtitled because we all know that Jesus wouldn’t know English, since it wasn’t around the last time he visited.  Don’t know if hell know Spanish, either, but isn’t it a Latin language?  Shouldn’t be too hard to grasp for the Son of God.

Sixth Track:

The Clash-Armageddon Time

Turns out, Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, and Topper Headon knew this was going to happen all along, and wanted to pen an appropriate song back in the 70’s.  The clip did have to be live, though, so, in case Jesus is viewing this list when he comes back, he can see what the only band that mattered looked like live.  (You shouldn’t have waited so long, dude.)

Seventh Track:

Woody Guthrie-So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You

It’s just polite to say goodbye to everyone before you go.  I’m sure I’ll be listening to this and thinking “How rude, Shawn Pettigrew just went up there without saying goodbye!”  (Of course, it will be in my best Rudy Huxtable impression)

Eigth Track:

Lucero-Sing Me No Hymns

I just wanted to make sure the people I’m going to be with won’t getting too religious about this whole rapture thing.  Well, Christian/Catholic religious, at least.  (Wonder if the Methodists will be laughing at all the Baptists?)

Ninth Track:

American Lesion-Cease

Last Song.  Everyone knows it’s bad form to put the same band on a playlist twice, which is why I decided on this version of the song, rather than the Bad Religion original.  But, this is also a great track to end an album with, so that works too.

BONUS HIDDEN TRACK!!!

Tim Barry-No News From the North

Everyone loves little hidden goodies, so I figured this would work well.  It’s a song that starts talking about a hangover, which is basically what all the people follows will be feeling like tomorrow.

I know that there’s a bunch of songs that I’m not thinking of, but I’m not going to change this.  Instead, just post below all the songs I forgot, and then we’ll archive this for the next rapture.

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