Tag Archives: David Wright

Though Phillies optimism runs rampant, doubt still lurks in the shadows

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I am inherently fond of polarity. I discover balance by immersing myself in the extremes of any argument or genre, whatever the case may be. The exploration of contradiction in any subject, I find, lends a person an advanced sense of empathy, and facilitates the sort of intellectual antagonism that forges new schools of thought. And I’m fairly certain it explains why I love the Philly sports scene as psychotically as I do.

Because, with optimism at an all-time high for the approaching Phillies season, one question has bullied its way to the forefront of radio shows and newspaper columns.

What should we be worried about? Continue reading

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In a strange twist, David Wright knocks in Jimmy Rollins to win game; plus, a quick Tourney note

Hey, I’m not going to act like I watched the U.S. play Puerto Rico – I was too busy yelling at the the TV while the Red Wings came back to beat the Flyers, or standing on my couch and pumping my fist after Iggy knocked down the game-winning three against the Lakers.

But this was a hell of a finish in its own right, and featured a few of our Phillies in prominent roles. Video after the jump. Continue reading

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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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Most Valuable Power? The Pundit makes the MVP case for Ryan Howard

Ladies and gentlemen of the Court of Public Opinion, today I would like to talk to you about a man I think you should name the MVP: A Mr. Ryan Howard. Something happens to Mr. Howard in September: he literally becomes a Tower of Power (Editor’s note: Oh brother). But has his latest surge, including last evening’s game-winning, two-run dinger in the 8th, been enough to merit him MVP legitimacy?

My friends, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. (Editor’s note: Resounding? We’ll see).

If it pleases the court, I will now present Article A – home run and RBI totals for the NL’s leaders.

Home runs: 1. Ryan Howard – 45    2. Adam Dunn  – 37    3. Ryan Braun / Carlos Delgado – 35    5. Ryan Ludwick / Albert Pujols – 33

RBI’s: 1. Ryan Howard – 136    2. David Wright – 114     3. Adrian Gonzalez – 111    4. Aramis Ramirez – 107    5. Carlos Delgado – 104

Nobody is close to Mr. Howard in these categories. His 8 home run lead over Adam Dunn is impressive, but I’d like to focus on the RBI total. A 22 RBI lead over his closest contender? Astounding, to say the least. Let us not forget that he’d be leading the AL in both of these categories, as well. Please keep this in mind as we continue our evaluation.

Before we go further, I would like to present my list of players who, currently, deserve a serious look for the MVP award. These players are: Albert Pujols, David Wright, Carlos Delgado.

These players just miss the cut: Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee (nearly identical stats, makes it hard to determine which has been more important to team, team likely out of playoffs), Ryan Braun (has gone cold lately, unless he gets hot and helps Brewers make wildcard, in which case he’s back in), Ryan Ludwick (his own teammate, Mr. Pujols, has just been far more impressive).

In all honesty, it will be difficult for either Wright or Delgado to win the award. They’ll split the vote, and if the Phillies win the division over them on Howard’s back, he’ll most likely get the nod over each of them. That brings us to Mr. Pujols.

Why consider Pujols? Well, his .357 batting average and .461 OBP are just silly (both second in NL), he has 33 long balls and 101 RBI’s, and his .645 slugging percentage is tops in the NL, 59 points higher than any other player in the league.

Yeah, he’s pretty damn good.

So why should Howard win the award over Pujols? Baseball is all about winning. If the Phillies make the postseason, and Howard’s hot ways help push them there while Pujols and the Cards take vacation, Howard gets the edge there. Plus, it is a whole lot easier to win games when you score runs. So, which of the two produced more total runs? To figure it out, I added RBI’s and runs scored and subtracted homers, as otherwise they would be counted twice, since both a run and an RBI is produced by a home run.(Editor’s note: As a collective “DUHHHHHHHH!” is exclaimed from the throats of stringent sabermetricians everywhere).

Ryan Howard – 186

Albert Pujols – 161

Is this difference enough to make up for the fact that Howard has 139 more K’s than Pujols, or that his batting average is 108 points lower, or that Pujols is better in the field? If Howard gets to 50 dingers and 150 RBI’s (somehow), then it absolutely is. That, however, is unlikely.

So, the argument, it seems, becomes a philosophical divide as to what is more valuable: is it the consistency and nearly flawless plate game of Albert Pujols, or the pure run production of Ryan Howard? And after answering that question, we need to specify it even further: who has been more valuable to their particular team? And finally, how has that player’s impact on their particular team affected the rest of the National League? (Editor’s note: And I’ve gone cross-eyed).

In general, most people would tell you that the steady production of Pujols is more valuable than Howard’s erratic power. Every at-bat with Pujols is frightening: you know he’s likely to put the ball in play or draw a walk because he’s disciplined, he can turn your nasty pitches into fisted singles, and if you make a mistake, he’ll kill you. With Howard, if you can get him to chase bad pitches, he’s putty in your hands. He’ll kill your mistakes at a higher rate than anyone in baseball, but he’ll also whiff a whole lot.

But then again, the Phillies have their Albert Pujols in Chase Utley, the guy who is supposed to give pitcher’s fits with his mix of tough at-bats and power. Ryan Howard’s job is to produce runs, and he does so better than anyone in the National League. As a matter of fact, Howard has produced 25.1% of all of the Phillies runs this year, as opposed to Pujols producing 22.8% for the Cards. (Howard 186 out of 741 total, Pujols 161 out of 706 total). It may not be consistent and often isn’t pretty, and I’d like to see him put the ball in play a bit more, but he does his particular job better than anyone in baseball.

So, Pujols may give you scarier at-bats on the regular, but Howard fits his role better than anyone in baseball. Seems to me as though they are equally vital to their respective teams. Thus do we move to our final inquiry – which of the two has more greatly impacted the National League? Fact is, if Howard stays hot, and the Phils make the playoffs (especially by winning the division), then Howard has. It all comes down to your determination of value and league impact: I value Howard being the best in baseball at his run-production role on a Phillies team that makes the playoffs a bit more than I do Pujols being the best all-around hitter in baseball on a team that likely will miss them. In my opinion, if the Phillies miss the playoffs, or Howard suddenly goes ridiculously cold over the final stretch, it goes to Pujols, easy. But if that isn’t the case, I give it to Howard by a nose.

I leave it to you, the jury sitting in this Court of Public Opinion: what is your verdict?

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