Kids will run you ragged. It’s so very true.
As a result of being run ragged over the last three weeks or so, I’ve had a chance to really watch the Phillies very closely on television and at the ballpark (and I’ll be tap-tap-tapping away on my little laptop from the splendor of Robert Francis Kennedy Memorial Stadium in the District of Columbia this weekend) and I gotta tell you – I’m perplexed.
The Phillies are running me ragged.
Thinking about the Phillies and their chances to make the playoffs renders the same response as my wife gets when she peppers me with three questions without pause right on top of each other. Actually, this happens at least twice a day and my response is always the same – my brow scrunches tight, my eyes narrow and then my lips move but no cognitive sounds come out of my mouth.
It’s as if my brain was a typewriter and someone pushed all of the keys at the same time.
Anyway, most folks will tell you that the Phillies’ 13-11 victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis last night was a harbinger of bad things to come. Nursing an 11-run lead into the late innings the way our pal Ken Mandel suckles a Shirley Temple, the Phillies’ bullpen turned the game into a save situation and faced a handful of at-bats in which to potential game-winning run was at the plate. Had the Phillies lost the game it would have been devastating, they say, because there are so few games remaining in the season.
How does a team deep in the throes of a pennant race bounce back from blowing an 11-0 lead?
Guess what? We’ll never know.
We’ll never know because the Phillies didn’t blow the 11-0 lead. In fact, they won the game and picked up more ground in the NL East standings to cut the Mets’ lead to 2½ games. Sure, there was the issue of the bullpen giving up 11 runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but chances are manager Charlie Manuel will bypass relievers Clay Condrey (five runs on four hits without getting an out) and Jose Mesa (6.11 ERA) in any situation of significance during the next 12 games. With J.C. Romero, Tom Gordon and Brett Myers unavailable last night because of the heavy lifting the trio did in sweeping the Mets at Shea last weekend, the Phillies’ bullpen was asked to do nothing more than play a little matador defense.
With an 11-run lead what else were they supposed to do? You know, aside from give up 11 runs…
Though Gordon is recovering from back spasms, the Phillies seem to have everyone in place for the final 12 games. With Cole Hamels set to start tonight – though he will only throw approximately 70 pitches before he heads back to the clubhouse to rub fish oil on his arm – the rotation is as good as it is going to get. And with Myers entrenched at the back of the bullpen, along with Gordon, Romero, and Geoff Geary as the go-to relievers, everyone is reasonably healthy.
The real question is whether or not the Phillies’ pitching is good enough. Most people have doubts, though the answer will be evident in less than two weeks.
The day of reckoning It should be noted that the public relations folks that run interference for Floyd Landis have supplied me with all pertinent information to this point regarding the soon-to-be announced decision by the three-man arbitration panel in the USADA’s doping case against the Lancaster Countian and Tour de France champ. But the truth is there really isn’t anything anyone can say… at least until the big day comes.
Which will be soon, apparently.
Either way, Floyd’s people have been nothing but kind to me, which makes me feel a tiny bit bad about being a little smart-assy with them yesterday… but not that much. I kind of base my entire personality around being a jerk.
If I were a betting man, I’d wager that we will know whether or not Floyd is exonerated or will face a ban and more legal wrangling by Saturday… or Sunday… absolutely by Monday.
Take your numbers and crunch them In an essay for ESPN.com, the advanced and wildly astute cultural commentator Chuck Klosterman explained that fantasy football has nothing to do with reality or football. Yet despite this – or because of this – fantasy football remains wildly popular. People, it seems, love to use non-contextual statistics to show others that they… well, I don’t know what they’re trying to prove. It’s the gambling, I guess.
Anyway, if there was a better example of how sports statistics are meaningless (aside from Barry Bonds and pretty much all of baseball and football), it was seen in Donovan McNabb’s outing against the Washington Redskins last night. By all reasonable accounts, McNabb turned in a mediocre (at best) game in the 20-12 loss. However, his 240-yards passing (on 28-for-46) looks fairly decent considering that McNabb did not throw an interception.
But McNabb wasn’t very good and his team lost the game. Do you think that fantasy football players care about that?
Of course not.
My theory is that 75 (maybe 90) percent of the folks that follow the NFL from week to week do so solely for fantasy/gambling purposes. Actually, my contention is that most people really don’t care about football aside from the folks wearing the local team’s uniform, but the fact that Kelly Holcomb is a person's bye week starter makes every smacked ass with a wireless card Doctor freaking Z.
My point is sports statistics are meaningless. They are meaningless because good players on good teams sacrifice personal glory and statistics for the good of the team. In a sense these players on good teams are a type of neo-Marxists like Steve Nash and Derek Jeter, who, despite the fact that they make hundreds of millions of dollars, wantonly distribute and share the statistical wealth to their teammates. To players like Jeter and Nash, and locally, Chase Utley, the numbers beneath their names don’t mean nearly as much as the digits in the win-loss columns.
That's the biggest reason why people, subconsciously, don't want fantasy sports to be "real."Regardless, my personal draw to fantasy football is the incessant one-upsmanship in trying to be the most funny and the most insulting amongst the people in the league. In fact, I can’t think of any other reason to participate... well, aside from winning the league championship (like I did last season) and the ancillary benefits that go with such a thing. Finally The burgeoning criminals behind the art-rock band, Les Savy Fav, have released a new album. It's called "Let's Stay Friends," and the masterminds at Pitchfork gave it an 8.3, which seems rather arbitrary, though I'm sure it's very meaningful. Anyway, I uploaded three tracks from the new record on the widget on the right column. Go nuts.