It should be noted that Friday is also the birth day for Yasser Arafat, Vince McMahon, Cal Ripken Jr., Reggie Miller and Dave Chappelle.
Anyway, I will be checking in from time to time, but I will not return with regular posts until September 7. When we return expect something of a new look, structure and organization… maybe even a redesign, too.
Like anyone who has devoted time to baseball, I know that statistics are not worth the paper they are printed on. They lie and can be manipulated to prove bogus points. Statistics also cannot quantify health, heart, ability and whether or not someone has put hard workouts to be prepared for a long season. Plus, stats don’t go into the clubhouse and get a feel of the mood of the room or have to go face-to-face with a player it may have lied about.
Statistics are cowards. Sports are for playing, not watching – we hold these truths to be self evident.
But sometimes it is difficult to debate the statistics. For instance, in pushing the streak of not winning a series in Pittsburgh since June of 2001, the Phillies were outscored by the Pirates 15-2 from the seventh inning on last weekend at PNC Park or whatever the hell corporation owns the naming rights now.
Yeah, that’s right, 15-2… against the Pirates… the worst team in the National League.
So I’m going to cherry pick that one specific statistic to show that the Phillies might not have the pitching needed to get to the playoffs. Then again, it wasn’t like anyone needed a stat for that.
Pitching aside, the Phillies should have a really good idea of how the last month of the season will play out at the end of the next 10 days. With three games against the Dodgers and three more against both the Padres and the Mets – the two teams the Phillies are chasing in different playoff races – the playoff race is right in front of the team.
For the Phillies, 5-5 is treading water, 6-4 is reasonable; and 7-3 and better is ideal. But anything worse than .a 500 homestand could be the beginning of the beginning of the end.
According to Ryan Howard the Phillies control their own destiny... they also take them one game at a time and give 110 percent.
“This is a big series for us and the good thing is that we control our own destiny,” Howard said before Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers. “There will be a little bit of scoreboard watching going on, but most of it will be us trying to handle our own business.”
Scoreboard watching, huh?
“The scoreboard sits right there in front of us so we can’t help but not look at it,” manager Charlie Manuel said on Tuesday. “It’s about that time of the year and that can be good.”
Meanwhile, Chase Utley could return in a week after being cleared to take some swings with a bat for the first time after breaking his wrist at the end of July.
“(I) took some swings off the tee – started with the fungo and moved to my regular bat. I didn’t swing 100 percent but it felt pretty good,” Utley offered.
Based on his recovery from day to day, Utley hopes to add a little more volume to his workouts as he looks to his return.
But the injury bug has reared its head again… Cole Hamels has been scratched from tomorrow’s start with some left elbow tenderness. From the initial, knee-jerk reaction it doesn’t seem to be anything other than late-season tiredness, but pitchers’ arms are quite mysterious.
Regardless, Hamels is being diagnosed with a mild elbow strain and will have a precautionary MRI tomorrow.
“He was up front with us so I hope we got it early,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said.
Though one current Dodger pitcher once told me that “sometimes injuries just happen,” I respectfully disagreed. Injuries always happen for a reason – sometimes we can’t figure out what the reason is, but as our boy Floyd said, all it takes is the proper training:
“There's only one rule: The guy who trains the hardest, the most, wins. Period. Because you won't die. Even though you feel like you'll die, you don't actually die. Like when you're training, you can always do one more. Always. As tired as you might think you are, you can always, always do one more.
“If you overtrained, it means that you didn't train hard enough to handle that level of training. So you weren't overtrained; you were actually undertrained to begin with. So there's the rule again: The guy who trains the hardest, the most, wins."”
Learn it. Live it. Love it.