Tag Archives: Brewers

The Pundit is starting to get a familiar feeling, especially after the surprising Cardinals victory…

Take a trip down Memory Lane with me for a second. (Editor’s note: Which I’m fairly certain is in Florida somewhere. Maybe Palm Beach.) I want you to go back to the NLDS,  Phillies vs. Brewers. I think that was a series we all were fairly confident the Phils would win. It wasn’t a guarantee, but it would have been surprising, and pretty friggin’ disappointing, had we lost it. Problem was, even if we won, we were still going to have to face the Cubs – oh, those formidable Cubs – if we wanted to get to the World Series. (Editor’s note: Lions and tigers and…cubs. Oh, brother).

And then a funny, unexpected thing happened: the Dodgers beat them.

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From the Nosebleeds – The Philthy Phillies

As you may or may not know, From the Nosebleeds is a new feature to The Pundit, where anyone with the itch to write their take on the sports scene has their forum. Again, please feel free to email me with any material you may have. I will do some editing, and add my own take from time to time, but the floor will be yours.

By Hoffman

It’s been well documented over the years that in the city of Brotherly Love, “we” (Editor’s note: We really do lump ourselves together with the teams and a whole slew of people we don’t even know, as though “we” are connected through the force, or something along such mystical lines) have been without a world championship among the four major sports. For the time being we will forget about pseudo-championship won by the Philadelphia Soul, the arena football team. (Editor’s note: Who?). I tend to think they won not because of great coaching, solid players, and the execution of a good game plan, but rather raucous shouting of Ron “JAWS” Jaworski and the flowing locks of owner, Bon Jovi. I would like to make something extremely clear: I have a strong dislike for Bon Jovi, and I would appreciate if he would find another town to crap in. (Editor’s note: Clearly, Mr. Hoffman wants Bon Jovi out of this town – dead or alive!)

So, going back to my original thought, that being the lack of winning in Philadelphia, I believe that could very well change in the coming weeks. (Editor’s note: People, knock on any wood you have near you, immediately. If you jinx us Mr. Hoffman, I swear to all that is sacred, I’ll get you. Believe that!). After watching a rather lackluster performance by the Eagles this Sunday, I was warmed by thought of the Phillies hosting Game 1 of the NLCS. Oh, and by the way, I’ll be attending, ignoring the burning $200 hole in my pocket. (Editor’s note: You can’t put a price on love, people).

For about the past few seasons, the Phillies have been on the cusp of greatness, or at least a playoff berth, dragging true Philly fans along until the last day of the season. Last year they ended a 14-year playoff drought, ending the Atlanta Braves division dominance, all while the Mets stumbled to the finish line (HAHA!!!). I believe last year at this time the Phillies were just happy to make the playoffs. It was a huge hurdle to jump. Obviously, we know how last year ended. The Phillies got in the way of a locomotive, in the form of the Colorado Rockies. (Editor’s note: Ok, I don’t know if it was intended, but I instantly thought about those stupid Coors Light commercials, where the train rolls through the hot areas, making everybody cool, which, if the metaphor was intended, was precisely what the Rockies did to us last year). How torrid they were, winning 14 of 15, and 11 in a row to close the season. They then went on to sweep us in 3, the D-Backs in 4, only to get swept themselves in the Fall Classic against the Red Sox. (Editor’s note: They cooled off. The mountains turned blue. Mmmmmm…beer).

For the last couple years the Phillies have been picked to be very competitive within the very competitive NL East (Braves, Marlins, Nationals, The Mess. Wait, sorry, I meant the Mets). The Phillies can hit and have three legitimate MVP candidates in J-Roll, Utley, and Howard. Everyone knows we can hit, though they haven’t as consistently as I, the fans, and even they would like. Conversely, the pitching has always been thought of as average at best. A group of decent pitchers that give up a lot of hits is something I have become way too accustomed to. But as the Phillies seemingly displaced the wild card winning Brewers with some amount of ease, and the most overwhelming part of the four game series was the quality of the Phillies pitching. It was vital, and dare I say, borderline brilliant.

Cole Hamels has been given the title of staff “ace,” which is a term used much to often around the league these days. When I think of what makes an “ace”, I think of a pitcher who is around the Cy Young Award discussion from the beginning of Spring Training to the first pitch in the autumn air. To be completely honest, Cole isn’t quite there yet. He has all the qualities and attributes to have a great career in this league. Being just 24 years old, his future looks extremely bright. But for now lets leave the “ace” talk for those who truly deserve it, i.e. Brandon Webb. (Editor’s note: I tend to disagree here – I think if Cole Hamels had been given more run support, and thereby gotten more wins, his name would have surfaced more in the Cy Young discussion. He was second in the NL in innings pitched with 227.1, was sixth in ERA at 3.09, was sixth in strikeouts with 196, was fourth in strike out to walk ratio with 3.70 K’s per walk, and was fourth in hits per 9 innings with 7.64. He’s an ace). Cole in game 1 was absolutely stunning. It was an amazing performance, by a guy with seemingly sparse big game experience. That start will propel him throughout the playoffs and probably the next several seasons as he continues to mature.

Brett Myers looks like his old self, or rather a new, better self. Throughout his career in Philly, Brett has had all of the talent, passion, and fire to be great pitcher. But it always seemed like something was getting in the way. And then I figured it out. He couldn’t get out of his own way. His emotion seemed to get the best of him more often than not. His first half of the season, he looked very bad. He couldn’t spot his fastball or even throw it with any sort of velocity. His curveball, which made him a dominant closer in the 2007 season, was non-existent. After coming back from the minors (with the good ol’ Iron Pigs”), Myers has been fantastic, making pitches, throwing with authority and fight, and most importantly, keeping those volatile emotions in check. There have been a few battles between him and manager Charlie Manuel in the past several months regarding Charlie pulling Brett out of the game, but his heart is in the right place.

Game 2 with the Brewers was the pivotal game of the series. Myers was pitching against arguably the best pitcher in the second half of the season, if not the league. CC Sabathia has been pitching out of his mind, posting an 11-2 record with a 1.65 ERA, throwing seven complete games and three shutouts since joining the Brew Crew (show him the money!). But coming off of his fourth straight start on 3 days rest, he was noticeably fatigued. The Phillies bats took advantage of that fatigue, getting out to an early lead with Victorino’s grand salami. They were even able to score runs without help from the glove of Rickie Weeks or Mike Cameron (see Game 1 highlights, or lowlights for the Milwaukee More Taste League).

I’ll quickly touch upon Game 3, as it was a fairly disappointing game, one I missed some due to a little bit of camping. From what I heard and saw as far as highlights, it was not a pretty game. All I have to say is that we need Jamie Moyer (Souderton Graduate in 1981) for the playoffs. We really need him to do well. It would be great if he could throw three consecutive no-hitters, like he did in high school. I mean, seriously…that would be sweeeeeeet!

Joe Blanton has been a great addition to this pitching staff. (Editor’s note: Well, I don’t think I’d go that far). While his midseason numbers were less that spectacular, he did have some playoff experience, which he gained during this days in Oakland. If he can be the pitcher he is capable of being, the Phillies can go a long way this postseason.

I’ll be honest; the Dodgers kind of scare me. They are playing really well, as good as anyone in baseball. They have one of the best modern-day postseason pitchers in Derek Lowe, in my opinion the best hitter, especially in the postseason, and worst left fielder I have ever seen, in Manny Ramirez, and one of the best postseason managers of all-time, in Joe Torre. That is quite a scary combination, but one I am looking forward to face this Thursday. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I’ll be at the game, and you probably won’t. (Editor’s note: Jerk). With everything I have mentioned above, I still just have a feeling about this group of players, a feeling that winning is not just a destination, but also a journey, a journey that will hopefully end dancing down Broad Street.

I hope to be a regular or irregular contributor to this publication. I can only hope my writing can quench the large thirst of the Pundit. (Editor’s note: To do that, you’ll probably need to bring over a case of beer next time you’re around, Mr. Hoffman).

Long Live the Pundit of Pattison! (Editor’s note: I swear to God, I didn’t add that myself. Seriously. All his doing).

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The push to the MLB playoffs: the tale of one city, and the fail of another

I. Philadelphia

Watching the Phillies tonight, I observed in myself a strange phenomenon. (Editor’s note: He wasn’t wearing any pants). I wasn’t concerned. I wasn’t flipping my shit that they were losing 10-4. It wasn’t bothering me that they were about to drop two against the Braves and lose the series. I was watching the entire game in an almost zen-like state, as though there was little in the outside world that was going to shake my unwavering belief that the Phillies were still going to make the playoffs.

This worried me.

This isn’t a Philadelphia attitude. Now, I don’t want to pigeonhole every Philadelphia fan into one attitude – that’s far too simplistic. But I don’t think you can deny that a large population of Philly fans watch every game with a certain amount of tension and doubt; countless failures will do that to a fan base. And truthfully, I have always felt that Philadelphia teams played at their best when they were left for dead and had to play catch-up, especially the Phillies. It was as though they themselves were motivated by the very tension that regularly adds years to the lives of Philly fans.

Some may say that this is a sign of inexperience, and that may be true. In Philly, we call it character. (Editor’s note: And anybody that says otherwise is a frickin’ schmuck, ya know whadda mean?) We’re not used to being the front runner, no matter what J-Roll says. Had I, after the Phillies swept the Brewers and started their hot streak, suddenly been lulled into a false sense of security?

And, more alarming then this, had the Phillies themselves done the same thing? Had they lost their urgency?

This didn’t seem right. I still worry about every game the Phillies play. I don’t take any NL East teams lightly, and I’m certainly worried about the pesky Nationals. I dreaded seeing the Marlins, and though I believed the Phillies would play better against the Braves, I knew they were no joke. So I hadn’t somehow developed the idea that the Phillies, of their own volition, were guaranteed to make the playoffs. Something else was keeping me cool and relaxed.

I didn’t realize what it was until I flipped to ESPN after the Phillies game.

II. New York

I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of the Mets-Cubs game. All I really need to illustrate my point is the bottom of the ninth inning, game tied at six. David Murphy had led off the inning with a triple, and the Mets seemed destined to take the game and slide 1/2 game behind the Phillies. A sacrifice fly or a well-placed hit would score the winning run. And they couldn’t do it. David Wright, in my opinion the Mets best player, and one of the best all-around players in baseball, struck out. After two intentional walks, the Mets only managed a grounder to second for a force at the plate, and another strike-out. The Cubs scored three in the next inning, and won the game.

And suddenly, it hit me – my feeling of zen was completely derived from my complete lack of faith in the Mets ability to win a big game. After Aramis Ramirez hit his two-run homer to extend the lead to 9-6 in the top of the 10th, I literally laughed out loud. (Editor’s note: Lucy, grab the haloperidol, pronto). Not in a mocking sort of way, but more like how you laugh when you have an epiphany and suddenly everything seems right with the world again.

And you know, for the briefest of moments, I truly felt for Mets fans. I know that sinking feeling they have in their gut; that feeling was a fairly regular part of my adolescence supporting Philadelphia teams. Yet this feeling was quickly replaced by a far more sinister realization – I enjoyed watching the Mets blow this game almost as much as I do watching the Phillies win one. Maybe that’s unsportsmanlike, I don’t know, but its also the nature of rivalries, and this has certainly become one.

III. Conclusion

So, in thinking about this, I have decided that I would like to take Mr. Met out to the bars and buy him exactly two beers. Beer one – the “I’m sorry this happened to you” beer. I recognize the plethora of unrecognized potential in the Mets, and how this often leads them toward a spiral of heart-wrenching failure. Cheer up, Mr. Met – someday, somewhere over the rainbow, they may figure it out.

But beer two is an “I appreciate you” beer. You may be trapped in a whirlwind of your own underachievement, but thanks for being such a good friend. When I need something, like a loss that keeps you a game back of the Phillies in the loss column and ties you in the wildcard standings with the Brewers, you always come through. You’re a good friend, Mr. Met, and I drink to you.

Fear the Nationals, Phillies fans. But thank God for the Mets.

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The Week in Review (9/15/08 – 9/21/08)

No-Show/s of the Week

So, he’s been the ace for the second-half of the season. That makes this harder. But Brett Myers, you can’t give up 10 runs in 4 innings of work against the Marlins. I know, the Marlins have been hot, and you were due to get hit hard one of these games, but this is a bit much. Everyone has off days, I am privy to that; but you can’t be this off, especially when every game is so valuable. The offense scored 8 runs, which should almost always be enough to win. Hopefully, Brett will take it for what it was – one bad start – and focus on the next one. I truly believe that, if Brett maintains his dominance, Cole Hamels keeps finding ways to win, and Jamie Moyer continues to be the ageless blessing he’s been all season, this team could legitimately make a run to the Series.

Stud/s of the Week

The entire Eagles defense and Jim Johnson. 9 sacks, a safety and 3 turnovers against the Steelers will get you Stud recognition every week. We’ll just ignore the fact that technically Monday night’s game against the Cowboys falls within the dates I listed in the title; they more than made up for it this week. The front four generated a rush on its own; Big Ben never knew where the blitz was coming from; Dawkins was soaring through the air and causing mayhem; Asante Samuel made a beautiful interception; Willie Parker had 20 rushing yards. 20! And they didn’t allow a touchdown. As dominating a performance, against a good team, as I have seen from this unit in a while. They were solid across the board, and will need to be again next week, as a game against the Bears, potentially without Brian Westbrook, will probably be another defensive struggle.

My All-Encompassing Thought of the Week

This isn’t about Philly, but bears mentioning – last night was the last game ever played at Yankee Stadium. Now, you may not like the Yankees; God knows I don’t. But it is still sad for me to think that a place that fielded the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, and yes, we’ll someday say Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, will no longer be hosting MLB games. Yankee Stadium is our Colosseum, though it wasn’t a place where warriors were beloved for defying death and committing acts of violence. (Editor’s note: That sounds more like a description of the Vet and its fans). No, Yankee Stadium was a place where perhaps otherwise ordinary men captured the imaginations of people everywhere while playing a child’s game. Where Babe Ruth, a man who looked more akin to the chubby guy on the corner playing cards than a great athlete, represented an American love of excess and just having a good time. For every home run, there was a beer, a woman, and a hot dog to go along with it. Yet the measure of his power, especially when compared to his peers, will likely never be duplicated. Babe Ruth often hit more homers in a season than some teams did, and did so without ever missing a good time. A deity amongst mere mortals. Contrast him to Lou Gehrig, who’s work ethic and consistency perfectly mirrored the blue-collar lifestyle of so many Americans. Fittingly, Gehrig was vastly underrated, and remains so, though I believe him to be one of the five greatest hitters ever. Than there was the tragic figure of Mickey Mantle, whose Herculean abilities were only stymied by his constant injuries and habits. Yet, if you ask anybody who ever saw him play to describe the experience, they will remember it with a certain degree of awe and reverence that is rarely reserved for athletes. Certainly, we all admire the athletic prowess of our favorite sports figures, but to hear someone talk of Mantle is to hear them describe something more than simply a ball player; he was Superman, a man lacking weakness on the diamond. And yet, he was also the protagonist in his own tale of Greek mythology, befallen by tragic flaws but an important reminder that even the most spectacular of us is simply human. Joltin’ Joe dated Marilyn Monroe and hit in 56 straight game; Yogi Berra was always a quip away from profundity.

The Yankees, and how they’re received outside of New York, are strangely representative of America itself. Many people don’t like them, but they win more than they lose, and many of the most important accomplishments in baseball history have come from their players. They’re the big spenders, the guys with money, the team that’s got it made. And yet, much as they are despised, they have traditionally set the bar for success in baseball. The best players in baseball want to play for them. Any true fan of a team from another city will tell you that they despise the Yankees; what they won’t mention is how much they respect them, at least their legacy. Farewell to Yankee Stadium; you may now take your place next to all of the greats you hosted, firmly entrenched in both baseball and American history, and perhaps more fittingly, forever etched in our imaginations.

My Painfully Specific Thought of the Week

It doesn’t bother me one bit that the Yankees will miss the playoffs this year.

Moment of the Week

Yesterday was awesome, and frightening, but mostly awesome. The Eagles D looked great, but seeing both Westbrook and McNabb leave the field with potential injuries was horrifying. The Phillies won, but Lidge sure made it more exciting than it needed to be. So, after three games, the Eagles look like, if they stay healthy, one of the NFC’s top teams, and the Phillies, with 6 games left and leads of 1 1/2 in the division and 3 over the Brewers for the wildcard, look as though they’re headed to the postseason (Editor’s note: Somebody knock on some frickin’ wood, for God’s sake!). I mean, the following things happened yesterday: Big Ben was hit so many times by Eagles defenders, he had to leave the game; we beat the pesky Marlins and don’t have to play them again until next year; the Mets’ bullpen blew another game. A beautiful Sunday, and though it most certainly is not always sunny in Philadelphia, it sure as hell is today.

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The Pundit senses a Phillies postseason run – here’s why…

I don’t know about you, but I just have the feeling that the Phillies are headed to the postseason. Normally, I don’t tend toward such blatant optimism, but this team has “the look.” Here are the reasons I think they’ll make the playoffs.

Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins have been smoking hot this September. If Jimmy sets the table, and Howard keeps clearing it, this lineup is soooo dangerous. Ryan Howard has the look of a guy that can carry his team into the postseason, and the look of a guy who is going to finish his season very close to 50 homers and 150 RBI’s

Brett Myers has been absolutely dominant. He is their stopper. It hasn’t been Hamels, though Cole is always capable of shutting the opponent down. But Myers, suddenly, is the ace of this staff, and unless he randomly melts down, should continue to be a force.

The lineup seems to have found a flow. Rollins-Utley-Werth-Howard-Burrell-Victorino-Feliz-Ruiz/Coste-Pitcher. This lineup seems to work for the Phils. I don’t understand how, after a season of tinkering, the Phillies ended up with this particular lineup, but they’ve been winning with it, so why change now?

Brad Lidge. Honestly, need I say more? He has been, consistently, the most valuable of the Phillies over the course of the entire season. Do I worry that he may blow a save late, and suddenly become the ghost of Brad Lidge in Houston, post Pujols? Yeah, a bit, but anytime you watch a man make Chipper Jones swing as silly at a slider as he did tonight, your confidence in the guy increases.

J.C. Romero. Huh? Romero? Remember how clutch he was last year? How he almost always came in and shut down the opposition in September? He’s only pitched 55.1 innings this year, so he should be fairly fresh, and he’s got the stuff to pitch to both righties and lefties. The back end of the Phils bullpen should be rock solid.

The Mets and Brewers. The likelihood of one of these teams choking, if not both, is almost certain. The Mets not only have to have last year in the back of their mind, they’ve also got four against the Cubs. And the Brewers – I don’t think they’ll ever recover from the sweep against the Phillies. That was a statement. (Editor’s note: “Hey Brewers, could you quiet down? Yeah, the grown teams are talking”)

They always believed. All season long, we heard them saying it: “We’re going to hit.” Well, they’re hitting. But the point here isn’t the fact that they believed they would hit – this team has always believed it would win. They didn’t panic; they didn’t start worrying and losing belief in themselves. Their play-it-cool approach is sometimes frustrating, especially to the passion junkies that are Philly fans, but Charlie Manuel has got these guys playing with something that is absolutely priceless in baseball – an unwavering, cool confidence. They’ve done this before; they’ll do it again.

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The Week in Review

No-Show of the Week

You know, I almost feel bad doing this, mostly because he seems like a genuinely good guy. But Kyle Kendrick has been absolutely killing the Phillies, and he did it again this week. His line against the Marlins on Tuesday: 1 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 runs! Wait, did you catch that? Hold on, let me give that to you again. 1 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 runs! (Editor’s note: Could you repeat it one more time?) 1 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 runs! Kyle, baby, we need you to step it up. (Editor’s note: Insert 70’s soul music in the background here). I know we boo sometimes, sugar, but it’s because we care – because we need you. Just give us a few more quality starts, and we won’t boo you no more. Please, please don’t do us no harm, Kyle – we can’t bear it no mo’. (Editor’s note: The Pundit is so tender, isn’t he?)

Stud of the Week

M-V-P! Well, maybe. Ryan Howard has been hotter than a pudding wrestling match between Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel lately. (Editor’s note: Ah, the clash of the Jessicas. This claim, of course, is absolutely absurd. Nothing is hotter than that. And pudding is delicious.). His line for the week: 12-34 (.353), 8 runs scored, 14 RBI’s, 4 HR’s, 4 doubles. The big fella just might carry the Phils into the postseason all by himself. He either scored or knocked in 18 of the Phillies 57 runs this week, a cool 32%. That, people, is MVP production. Jimmy Rollins has been ridiculous lately as well, setting the table and scoring runs like the Jimmy of last year. I give it to Howard by a nose because it has seemed that, with runners on, he has been completely locked in, but Rollins comes a close second.

My All-Encompassing Thought of the Week

Monday Night Football, when the Eagles are playing, and especially when its against the Cowbitches, requires a special sort of preparation. First, it is important to watch with a group of people, to maximize the energy and positive karma for the good guys. Make sure that, if you have any lucky jerseys or hats or boxers (Editor’s note: I never leave home without my lucky Eagles Speedo), you are wearing them for the game. While a professional spread isn’t necessary, one should be offering or offered with appropriate football cuisine: hot wings, pizza, french fries, veggies and dip, potato chips, one of those 17 foot long hoagies, those little pepperoni’s and cheese trays, etc. Greasiness is next to godliness. Beer. And maybe some more beer. Plus, the beer. That all goes without saying. But don’t be afraid to up the ante a bit. Make yourself a T.O. voodoo doll. Randomly start up the E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES chant. It might be best to start this early in the day – nothing says “Hey, I’m an ambitious and enthusiastic worker” like doing the Eagles chant all day long during work. That’s pretty much a guaranteed raise, trust me. Full body paint is acceptable, unless you’re excessively hairy and/or packing the ol’ gut keg. Go crazy, people. (Editor’s note: Who does The Pundit hang out with?)

Painfully Specifiic Thought of the Week

Pat Burrell is having a bizarro world version of his season last year, but in reverse. Last year, he struggled early in the year, and came on late – this year, he was on fire early in the year, and has since disappeared. But look at his numbers from the two years: 77 runs, 121 hits, 26 doubles, 30 homers, 97 RBI’s, 114 walks, 120 K’s, .256 AVG last year, compared with 68 runs, 123 hits, 30 doubles, 30 homers, 77 RBI’s, 94 walks, 127 K’s, .250 AVG. His walks and RBI’s are each down, but everything else is pretty much spot on. Just in reverse. I’m not sure what it means, but can you imagine if Pat the Bat could produce consistently for an entire year? He’d be a force to be reckoned with.

Moment of the Week

How ’bout them Phillies, sweeping the Brewers in 4 straight games? The Phillies had the look of a playoff team, and the Brewers had the look of a team that was just hanging on for dear life. It’s like when you’re at the bar, and you see a guy trying to run game on a woman, but she seems half-interested and he’s refusing to take the hint. Then, another guy checks her out and they do the whole “we’ll talk for awhile but we’re going to hook up later” eye contact sex-glance. He starts in, and the first guy sees what’s happening, and makes a drastic move, like asking her to dance or seeing if she wants another drink, but all three know that that this guy is old news and the new guy is moving in for the kill. Think of the Wildcard as the hot chick, the Brewers as Mr. Old News, and the Phillies as Johnny Smooth. They know what to do; they’ve done this before, while the Brewers blew it last year and have the look of a team that might blow it again. Of course, if the Phillies keep playing their cards right, they may be able to flip the Wildcard for her even hotter friend, the Division Title. God, she’s sexy. The Mets have been suave thus far, but they couldn’t close before – here’s hoping they get too drunk and start humping her leg on the dance floor or something. (Editor’s note: Let’s get Mr. Met plastered!)

Go get ’em, birds. E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!

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