The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Phillies’

Why getting it right is so wrong

Posted by keithosaunders on October 2, 2015

A few comments about how much baseball sucks today. That 1977 Phillies/Dodgers playoff game I watched the other night: How long do you suppose it took to play that game? Remember, this was a 6-5 game. The Phillies used 4 pitchers while the Dodgers used 6, which was a lot for those days.

It took 2 hours and 59 minutes.

Here’s another thing: In the 2nd inning there was a play at the plate. Burt Hooten hit a double and Steve Garvey tried to score from 2nd. Bob Boone, the Phillies catcher, blocked the plate because this was pre-pussy baseball before the neutering of the catchers and umpires.   Harry Wendelstedt, the home plate ump,  ruled that Garvey was safe. However…he was out. You could easily tell by the ONE REPLAY they showed that Garvey was not able to slide under the tag. Wendelstedt, got the call wrong. The announcers noted it and then moved on, never once mentioning it again.

And guess what? The world didn’t stop turning on its axis, and what ensued was one of the more memorable playoff comebacks. There was the technology, even in ‘1977, to institute booth reviews yet they didn’t. Why? Because they realized they had a great game and didn’t want to ruin it.

Think about this as you enjoy your 5 hour Yankees/Bluejays games.

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Vic Davillio, Manny Mota, and my marching band days.

Posted by keithosaunders on September 29, 2015

In 1978 I was a senior at Van Nuys high school. Somehow my girlfriend, who played the flute, convinced me to join the marching band as a glockenspiel player. It was going to be an easy gig. I was the only glock player in the band so every week I’d line up at the 50, march straight out into the middle of the field where I would march in place as the rest of the band did dipsy doodles around me. Sweet.

So I figured, what’s the harm of it? I’ll go to a few rehearsals after school, see some football games and when the smoke clears I’ll be doing the horizontal mambo.

Well I’ll tell you what the harm of it is: You run the risk of missing one of the great Dodger playoff games of all time!

In 1977 the Dodgers were in the playoffs for the first time in 3 years. (before that they had last been to the post season in 1966) This was the Garvey/Cey/Lopes Dodger team beginning to come into its own and there was a lot of excitement in Los Angeles at that time.

On October 7th the Dodgers played one of the most exciting and improbable playoff games against the Philadelphia Phillies. Was I glued to our black and white Panasonic TV living and dying on every pitch? No. I was standing on the 50 yard line in some road football stadium in South Central LA playing glock. (Why did they schedule that team? Grant High was only 3 miles away, for crying out loud)

So the game: Burt Hooten, who threw a knuckle-curve and was known as a control specialist, started for the Dodgers. Things were going well for him until the 3rd inning when he imploded. He got a couple of bad calls from the home plate ump and the bases were loaded. All of a sudden the Phillies fans, not known for their good cheer, came alive and Hooten was visibly shaken. He proceeded to walk the next three hitters starting with Larry Christenson, the opposing pitcher. Three bases loaded walks in a row! I’d bet my eye teeth that’s a playoff record that still stands.

The game was 5-3 in going to the top of the 9th. The Dodgers had two outs and nobody on and seemed destined to go down 2-1 in the best of 5 playoff when…

“Pinch hitting of the Dodgers, number 33…Vic Davillio.”

Vic Davillio! We’re talking journeyman Vic Davillio. The Vic Davillio who was born in 1936, came up in 1963, played 17 years in the bigs and enjoyed collecting a pay check signed by Mr. O’Malley for services rendered sitting on the bench and enjoying a ballgame. (he had 75 at bats that year)

So what did he do, you ask? He beat out a perfectly executed drag bunt. A bunt! I can picture LaSorda in the dugout: “WAKE UP MOTA. SOMEBODY WAKE UP MOTA!”

Manny Mota, also at the tail end of his career, was a pinch hitter extraordinaire. He hit a booming double of the wall which Greg Luzinski couldn’t handle, scoring Davillio. Now it was the Phillies turn to implode with errant throws, wild pitches, bad calls by the umps. The Dodgers came away with a 6-5 victory.

And until yesterday, I had missed it.

Go to 20:10 to see Hooten walk the ballpark and melt down. Then skip ahead to 1:52 to watch Davillio and Mota win the game.

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The big 5-5 and the Mets

Posted by keithosaunders on August 25, 2015

Today I turned 55.  That’s right, double nickels.  The NY Mets were extremely generous, giving me an eight home run game last night and enough optimism to last until October.

I can’t recall a baseball season in which a team’s personality changed on a dime.  If you look back not even a month to July 29th — that’s when Wilmer Flores learned, in the middle of that night’s game, that he was being traded – you’ll see an entirely different team.  One that could not hit to save their lives.  Their pitching was elite (still is) but their lack of hitting made them extremely beatable.

During the July 29th game the cameras captured Flores crying and it looked like it was a new low for the Mets.  The Mets had not yet bottomed out, however.  The very next day they blew a 6 run lead to the Padres at home in the rain.  They were three games behind the Nationals and going nowhere.  I was actually rationalizing the season with an early post-mortem.   “Well they gave me much more competitive four months than I expected…”

And then…CESPEDES.

Who would have thought it possible?  He is the kind of gamer that the Mets almost never get.  Hell, they’re still paying Bobby Bonilla a yearly salary.

Wouldn’t you know it, given a new lease on life Wilmer Flores won two games versus the Nationals.  The Mets swept the series and have gone on to feast on the bottom-dwelling Rockies, Marlins, and Phillies.  True, they were swept by the Pirates, but this humble birthday boy is writing that off as a blip on the radar screen.

The shit’s about to get real.  Fasten your seat belts!

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The wild card run amok

Posted by keithosaunders on September 15, 2011

Today’s post will be devoted to my esteemed guest-blogger, and best friend, Jeff Mazzei.  Since he wrote this, (last week) a couple of the races have tightened up, but with only 15 games or so remaining on the schedule, time is getting short. 

The Redsox, with their myriad of pitching injuries, have somehow let Tampa back into the picture; they are four up in the wild card race.  In the NL wild card, while I wasn’t looking the Cards crept to within four and half of Atlanta. 

But enough of me.  Here’s Jeff!

I don’t know why I should be surprised and confounded by this, but with the pennant races evaporating, all I read is how we need another wild card team like the commissioner wants because he’s coming to the rescue of this September’s non-races.  Talk about another knee-jerk reaction!  How long has the current format been in place?  To my recollection, this is the only time in 17 years it may come down to the wire with no race.  And may I point out that were it not for the wild card, there would be an exciting race in the AL East.  And if the Braves were to close the gap on the Phillies, that would be another non-race race.  Oh, but if the American league only had a second wild card, then we could throw the Texas – Anaheim race in the trash as well.  They just don’t get it.  The people who run this are so myopic.

Mr. Selig wants 2 wild cards in each league having a play-in game.  I can see this coming from 3000 miles down the road:  the first wild card is the Yankees or Red Sox with the 2nd best record in the league.  The second wild card is a so-so team—-we’ll call them the Seattle Mariners—-who happen to have a blue chip pitcher—–we’ll call him Felix Hernandez—-who throws a 2-hit shutout at the 2nd best team in the league, and on goes Seattle.  Let the hand-wringing begin and sound the alarms.

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The Phillies, Heat, Celtics, Wall Street, and the consolidation of power.

Posted by keithosaunders on December 14, 2010

The Yankee fans won’t admit it but they are stunned and shattered by the Phillie’s drive-by signing of Cliff Lee.  They did not see this one coming.  In October, after the Texas Rangers eliminated the Yankees in the ALCS, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were rife with comments such as, “Cliff Lee will look great in pinstripes!”  It was as if the only way the fans could process the ignominy of losing to the small-market Rangers was with the comforting knowledge that they would soon usurp their best player.   They thought it was a foregone conclusion, and they thought so up until 9pm Monday night. 

Have you noticed this recent trend of super-teams?  A few years ago the Celtics somehow  finagled their way into a lineup that included Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.   More recently we saw the Miami Heat’s twin signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh to compliment their resident star, Dwyane Wade.   Now the Phillies will possess what is possibly the greatest pitching staff since the 1970 Baltimore Orioles and the Koufax/Drysdale Dodger teams of the mid-60s. 

In the past great players were content to have teams built around them.  Lately we see them willing to share the spotlight — to coalesce.  They eschew the individual spotlight for the greater glory that comes with championships.  Some would call it selfless. I call it greed.  They are already rich beyond their wildest fantasies — the only thing left for them is a championship ring. 

While I’m glad that Lee didn’t end up on the Yankees, I’m not enamored with him.  I have no use for the type of player who is essentially a hired gun.  That’s why I never liked David Cone or Roidger Clemens.  They would go to a team, collect their ring, and move on.  Lee could have stayed in Texas and become a real hero.  Instead he chose the easy way:  to go a team of superstars and collect his ring a la LeBron.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he went to Philly instead of the Yankees.  At least Philly has only won a couple of times

I think you can draw a line from these powerful sports franchises to the way the American economy has seen its wealth consolidated among the top 1%.   Players are merging to form super-teams, much the way banks were merged to form mega-corporations.   

Hopefully this is just a trend.  Otherwise the Mets are screwed.

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Is this what baseball has come to?

Posted by keithosaunders on November 30, 2010

Today, on my way to checking my fantasy teams, I happened upon a yahoo article that I found to be one of the most cynical pieces of journa-ma-lism ever.  The article is about the Rockies having locked up their all-world shortstop, Troy Tulowitski, to a long-term, big-money contract.  The reporter, Jeff Passan, opines that Tulo was foolish not to pursue more money, as well as championships, with different teams. [read large-market]

What could’ve been, though. Oh, what could’ve been. On one hand, Tulowitzki played things safe. He was reasonable. And on the other, he lacked the fortitude to chase the greater glory that awaited him elsewhere. The money he could’ve gotten and the championships he could’ve won had he simply played out his current contract with the franchise that can’t help itself from taking a blade to its jugular.

So this is what it has come to?  Remaining loyal to one team throughout your entire career shows a lack of fortitude?!  I didn’t realize that Ernie Banks had such little gumption.  According to Passan we should look up to people like Alex Rodriguez, Cliff Lee, and Roidger Clemens — athletes who follow their dreams of glory through inevitable championships.   

Passan goes on to write

If this deal is bad for Tulowitzki, it’s ill-conceived and unconscionable for a Rockies team that knows what long-term, big-money contracts do to franchises with middling budgets: cripple them. 

So as the Rockies celebrate Tulowitzki’s new deal, they do so knowing that Ubaldo Jimenez is now likely to leave after the 2014 season. And that Carlos Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, is certain to do so. And that rather than waiting until 2014 to figure out where to spend their money, the team went all-in on a player who has missed significant time in two of his four seasons because of injuries.

In Passon’s cynical world the chief function of teams such as the Rockies and the Washington Nationals is to serve as petri dishes for the serious contenders.  The temerity of the Rockies, to lock up this talented player, thereby denying the large-market teams the chance to tweak their already over-stuffed lineups. 

My dreams scenario for 2011:  The Rockies win the NL West by 10 games and breeze to the Series by beating the Cards and Phillies in the playoffs.  In the Series they sweep the New York Yankees on the strength of Troy Tulowitzki’s 4 homerun, 10 RBI performance. 

   

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At last…the MLB playoffs!

Posted by keithosaunders on October 6, 2010

As we turn the page on another disappointing Mets season it’s time to focus on the playoffs.  The divisional series I’m most intrigued by is Phillies vs Reds — two classic teams which date back to before the turn of the 19th century. 

The Reds won the Black Sox Series of 1919 — there probably should be an asterisk after that one – and they appeared in back to back Series in 1939 and ’40, winning in 7 games against the Tigers in 1940.  They then endured a 21 year Series drought before losing to the Yankees in 5 games in 1961.  They lost to the Orioles in 1970 and the As in ’72, but by 1975 the Big Red Machine was in full bloom and they won a classic 7 game Series against the Boston Redsox.  Next year they would go on to sweep the Yankees.  Throw in a sweep of the steroidally-infused Oakland As of 1990 and you are up to date with Reds Series history.

It’s a much simpler endeavor to chronicle the Philadelphia Phillies World Series appearances.  In fact, until I was 20 years of age they had yet to win one.  They first appeared in the Series in 1915, losing to the Redsox in 5 games.  If you had been born in November of that year you would have had to wait until your 35th birthday to see them play post-season ball.  That’s 1950, for those of you scoring at home, when the team known as the Whiz kids finally returned to the Series.  They were the youngest National League champs in history with an average age of 26.  Youth was not served, however, as they were swept by the Yankees, who were in the midst of winning 5 consecutive championships.

In the 70s the Phillies got good again.  (note:  I am magnanimously skipping over the great pennant race collapse of 1964.)  With a nucleus of Mike Schmidt, Bake McBride, Larry Bowa, Steve Carlton, and Tug McGraw they appeared in 3 straight playoffs — from 1976 to ’78 — losing all of them.  Just when it appeared they would never get over the hump, they beat the Houston Astros in the 1980 NLCS, a series in which 4 out of the 5 games went to extra innings!  The Phillies would go on to win their first World Series ever, beating the Kansas City Royals in 6 games.

In 1983 the Phillies lost to the Orioles in 5 games, and in 1993 their Lenny Dykstra/John Kruk/Mitch Williams version lost to the Toronto Bluejays in 6 games.  (I’ll thank you not to mention Joe Carter)  That takes us into the current millennium in which the Phillies won their second Series, a 5 gamer against the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.  Throw in last year’s loss to the Yankees in 6 games and you are up to date.

Now let the games begin!

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