Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June swoon for the Phils

The Phillies have lost 6 straight for the first time since the 2006 season. That's the bad news. The good news is they are still in first place by a game over the Florida Marlins. Their last 13 games have been played at a 3 - 10 clip. Since their sweep of the Braves in Atlanta, they have lost 4 straight series. Even worse, they have only scored 1.4 runs per game during their six game losing streak.

So why the sudden loss of offense? Well, they had to play back to back series against the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (who the hell came up with that mouthful?). Simply put, those 2 teams have great, young starting rotations that no team from the NL can really match.

You say that the AL teams have to face the Sawks and the Angels frequently, and their offenses don't go right off the deep end as a result. Well, that's a good point, but the lineups in the AL face these pitchers regularly, and that is a big advantage for the offense. Combine the oppositions great pitching, and the fact that the Phillies' hitters haven't really seen them much, and you have all the ingredients for an offense going into a slump.

Relax Philly, they just need to face a couple of lousy pitchers, and the offense will be fine. If even one player was hot right now (Utley or Howard for example), they would be something more like 2 -4 in their last six, or even 3 - 3. Lets also not forget that the Phillies have been terrible in the first half of the year and great in the second half in recent years. If they have a similar second half record to the last couple years, they will run away from the rest of the NL East and hide.

If we delve a little deeper into their offensive problems, we see that they have really struggled this year against quality pitching. Last year they weren't very good in those situations either, which really ended up biting them in the playoffs when they faced a couple of tough lefties from Colorado.

They don't need to beat good pitchers to get into the playoffs or win their division. However, they do need to beat good (and great) pitching to win in the playoffs. It was great to just make the playoffs last year, but now we want even more. We want a winner so we don't have to hear about the "100 straight seasons of losing" crap any more.

The bottom line is that the Phillies need to figure out a way to beat quality pitching at some point before or during October. They still have 84 games left in the year to prepare themselves for the playoffs. Whether or not they will finally be capable of beating the best pitchers that baseball has to offer remains to be seen, but we know that at the very least, they'll make it interesting. This is Philly after all, and winning the easy way just isn't going to happen. At this point, we'll take it any way we can get it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Anything's posssssiiiiiblllllleeeeee!!!

First off, I would like to thank Kevin Garnett for the best interview I've seen since watching T.O cry after losing to the Giants.

Boston winning ANOTHER championship really grates on my nerves - but at least I didn't have to deal with watching Kobe win another one.

To that end, I would also like to not thank Seattle's general manager for trading Ray Allen for Jeff Green. (seriously, Jeff Green?) If Jeff Green makes one NBA All-Star team, I'll buy tickets to a WNBA game...AND go to it. well as severely boo Larry Brown(again) for Drafting Larry Hughes when we could have had Paul Pierce.

Thanks for giving us one run to the finals, then ruining the franchise for 6 years, ya louse.

All things considered, this has been one of the most fun NBA seasons I've watched in a long time...and for the first time in a long time, the playoffs were almost as entertaining as watching "Are you ballin' like this 5th grader" ... I mean... "Davidson and Goliath" ... I mean... The NCAA Tournament.

After devouring fruit snacks and graham crackers, Stephen Curry devours your bracket.

Here are some other things I enjoyed about this NBA season:

1. I have to give props to the Boston three-party for putting aside egos and playing like a team - often when you put multiple stars - in particular "the first scoring options" on one squad, they cannot play together at a championship level.

The Truth, Da Grown-up Kid, and Jesus Shuttleworth prepare to tell Brian Scalabrine he'll never see the court again.

2. The Kobe - MJ comparisons have GOT to stop now. Seriously, cut it out. Firstly, a Jordan-led team would never have lost a 24-point lead AT home. Secondly - LeBron and the Cavaliers played the C's to 7 games and LeBron went for 45 in that one...I kept waiting for the one game Kobe was gonna put on his ski mask and gloves and steal a game know...drop 45-50 points, look unstoppable for four quarters?

...What happened Kobe?

3. Chris Paul has again vindicated the work of FBAB.

For those that have never heard of the FBAB... (Federal Bureau of Advanced Ballin) A secret government project started waaay back in 1972, right after the United States lost the Gold Medal in basketball, and ...around the time China started on their super secret "Project Y"...who eventually was created in 1980 and is known as "Yao Ming."

I can't talk much about the FBAB, or you may never hear from me again...but I will tell you that Chris Paul is the result of combining the DNA of Jason Kidd and Isiah Thomas...possibly their greatest achievement yet. That's including Steve Nash, LeBron James and Brittney Grimer.

Honestly, Chris Paul's numbers were better than Nash's when he won the MVP ... and really, who saw the Hornets almost coming out with the #1 seed out of the west.

Not I.

4. Pau Gasol is the worst groomed man on the planet. Does this man not realize the NBA is televised? Get a haircut and SHAVE.

Hahaha...that's a good one Pau...but seriously man. Get away from me.

5. Dwight Howard made the dunk contest fun again.

For years now, the All-Star weekend has been nearly unwatchable. But everyone is finally taking cues from Dwight Howard and making the dunk contest creative and entertaining. There may not ever be another Jordan vs. Wilkins...or even McGrady vs. Vince Carter...but the dunk contest has regained its rightful place atop the "skills" competitions across the leagues.

6. "You in my five."

Any commercial that I've seen more than 5-10 times generally tends to annoy me. But Dwyane Wade and Charles Barkley are possibly the greatest comedy duo since Cheech and Chong.

"Gimme them socks!"

Okay...maybe not...but at least Penn and Teller.

7. Philadelphia basketball is back!

Barring a 3rd quarter meltdown at home against Detroit (which I had the misfortune of seeing in person), we were very nearly up three games to one against one of the best teams in the east.

Now, we have a new GM, a great point guard, some youth on the roster, and a decent draft spot.
We've also finally rid ourselves of the contracts of Chris Webber, Joe Smith, Alan Henderson, Jamal Mashburn, Matt Geiger, Clarence Weatherspoon, Tim Perry, Lucious Harris and Charles Shackelford...

We can FINALLY sign a good free agent.

Agent Zero? Are you out there? I'll personally buy you a cheesesteak.

"Hey Sam, if you ever mohawk your hair again, we're trading you to Memphis."

I'm out like Shawn Bradley's game.

- Magnum

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Michael Jordan wants to be Tiger Woods when he grows up.

If you haven't seen Tiger Woods' spectacular, amazing, inspiring performance on Saturday at the U.S. Open, get the hell away from that rock you've been under and turn the TV on.

His round started off with yet another double bogey on the first hole and he sandwiched bogeys at #4 and #12 around a birdie at #7. Through the first 12 holes of his day he was 3 over par for the day to move back to +1 for the tournament.

That's when the fun started. On the par 5 13th he drove the ball far to the right, near the porta-johns. He got a drop away from the latrines which actually gave him a pretty favorable angle to the green. He still had to contend with that infamous U.S. Open rough. His shot was true and bounced right over the flag and eventually settled at the back of the green, some 70 ft away from the both the hole and an eagle. Only, 70 ft to Tiger is more like 7 ft to you and I. That ball flat out died right in the hole. Absolutely perfect.

Now seems like a good time to tell you that Tiger Woods' left knee (which he had arthroscopic surgery on right after The Masters) was giving out on him on almost every full swing. In between grimaces of pain, Woods hit miraculous shot after miraculous shot. I mean, this guy hasn't played a round of golf in 2 months. To go into the U.S. Open (by far the hardest golf tournament in the world, by the way) cold and even make the cut is just ridiculous.

On the par 4 17th, his knee gave out during his second shot, which he consequently left short and to the left of the green. He chipped out of the rough and caught too much of the ball. As the ball was about to go flying past the hole, it bounced off of the green then hit the flag stick and dropped straight down into the hole for a birdie.

Woods' reaction was priceless. He wasn't too happy after he hit the shot, but when he saw it bounce in he just broke out laughing. Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than good, something Woods is well aware of. He finally hit a fairway on the par 5 18th, and parlayed that into reaching the green in just 2 shots. As he lined up the eagle putt, the announcers were talking about how they thought he was aiming too far left. I turned to my dad and said, "Doubting Tiger Woods is not a good way to earn a living." Sure enough, he drained the 30 footer for his second eagle in the final 6 holes (he also bogeyed one and birdied one) to go from 5 shots off the lead to a one stroke advantage going into the final day.

This dude is just sick, plain and simple. It would've been an amazing display of athleticism even if he wasn't playing on one leg. It would've been extremely impressive if he had hit every fairway and green on the way to that scintillating final six holes. But the fact that he was clearly in lots of pain and also spraying his drives all over the place, to do what he did is nothing short of legendary. If he was a mere mortal, those last 6 holes would likely have been the ones that put him out of the tournament. Clearly, he is on another plane of athletic existence that the rest of us can only dream about.

I never thought I'd see anything like Kirk Gibson hitting that home run (down a run with a man on first and a 3-2 count) in the bottom of the ninth inning in game one of the 1988 World Series off of the best closer in the game, Dennis Eckersley, then limping around the bases pumping his fist while Jack Buck's famous call rang through our ears. "I don't believe what I just saw!" But now, Kirk has some company in the person of Tiger Woods.

So, as you celebrate Fathers' Day with your dad, do yourself a favor and watch some golf with him. Win or lose, this performance will go down in history as one of the all time greatest and will be spoken about in hushed and reverent tones for generations to come.

- Murdock

Saturday, June 7, 2008

You want me to root for who? (the worst team names in sports)

Watching this Celtics - Lakers series makes me yearn for NES games, Nerf football, and Big League Chew.

It also reminds me what a terrible team name the "Los Angeles Lakers" is.

For your viewing displeasure, here are some more terrible team names.

10. The Houston Texans
I hate undefinable generic names. To me, a Texan could be anything from a C-student president, to a crazy old cowboy drinking moonshine, to an insane cult leader who encourages everyone to buy stock in Atari and Hydrox cookies.

Maybe it encourages state pride, as if that state needs any more.

"Yee-haw! Now this here's gonna be a barn-burner!"

9. Any team named after a small bird (Blue Jays, Cardinals, Orioles, Ravens)

"C'mere n' say that to my face, wiseguy."

Okay, maybe the Ravens don't quite fit in here, and honestly, what the heck is a "Seahawk?" Has anyone ever seen one of these? I know what a SeaGULL looks like, and I HATE them...always trying to steal my funnel cake.

I digress. What I am getting at here is that tiny birds look absolutely ridiculous on grown men, and do the exact opposite of intimidation. Can you really see 6'5, 250lb guys yelling "BLUE JAYS!"

These team names should stop being used after the 5th grade, no later.

8. The Raptors

"You want me to protect the paint wearing this??!"

Thankfully, the Raptors uniform is no longer pinstriped purple, and featuring a ridiculous, angry Raptor about to pull a nasty UTEP-Two-Step. Unfortunately, they are STILL CALLED THE RAPTORS.

Remember when Jurassic Park was popular? Some genius in the NBA front office thought it would be a good idea to include a raptor in the voting for a new franchise name. I guess he didn't predict every 10-14 year old boy in North America voting six times for this atrocity.

I'd rather root for the Pterodactyls, myself.

But then, they're in Canada, so it's not like Canadians wouldn't rather watch hockey anyway.

7. The Milwaukee Brewers

Here's a great idea: Let's name ourselves after what we love the most:

I guess it's better than calling yourself "The Drunks", or "The Lushes."

Still, you've gotta wonder what some other teams would be named if they followed this's a few.

The Philadelphia Cheesesteaks
The Los Angeles Plastic Surgeries
The Florida Retirees
The Detroit Drive-Bys

"I love this team, I'm sure glad we're not called The Sobers. Hey, where's the bathroom again?"

6. The New Orleans Saints

Sorry, but any team in a town responsible for Mardi Gras CAN'T be called the Saints.

Besides that, I'm sure St. Anthony was great at interpreting the Old Testament, but I don't know if I want him pull-blocking for me on a power sweep out of the I-Formation.

" virtuous."

5. The Atlanta-Minnestota Wild Thrashers (tie)

These two NHL expansion teams have got to be the worst in hockey. First off, there is nothing "wild" about Minnesota (unless you count the Mall of America on black Friday)...and what in the heck does "thrashing" have to do with hockey? This is something a drunken blonde girl does in a mosh pit, or maybe a two year old who you've taken food away from.

NOT something skilled hockey players do.

" Oh it's about to get all wild and thrashy up in here!!"

4. The San Diego Padres
I never understood the origin of it supposed to be like "Padres" in the catholic priest sense (in which case it makes less sense than the saints), or intimidating in the sense of : "wait 'til your father gets home"? Which made all small boys like me run for the hills.

Either way, I can't see how anyone could get behind it.

...are there women's softball teams called the Madres?

Ah well, at least their old uniforms remind me of tacos.

"Taco Bell and the San Diego Padres remind you to think outside the bunt."

3. Any team named after a color, ie. Browns, Reds, Blues

I can't believe the respective leagues let them go along with this. I would have been deathly afraid that other teams would just get lazy as well and start naming their teams "The Blacks","The Purples" and "The Magentas."

"The Hornets? No no...I was thinking...the Teals."

2. Displaced teams whose names make no sense: Los Angeles (formerly Minneapolis) Lakers, The Utah Jazz (formerly of New Orleans)

Let's keep it real.

No one goes to Utah to listen to Jazz. Maybe a mormon boys choir.

Nor are there lakes in Los Angeles. Fakes, yes. Lakes, no.

"The Fakers? LOL! Wait...what?"

1. The Denver Nuggets

I truly believe this team's name to be solely responsible for its mediocrity.

How can you play for, or even root for a team that calls to mind bite sized chicken with delicious dipping sauces? Imagine talking to a girl who knows nothing about sports?

Professional athlete: "Yeah, I'm in the NBA."
Hot girl: "Really? I LOOOVE athletes! What team do you play for?"
Pro: "Um...the uh...Denver Nuggets."
Hot girl: "HAHAHAH!!! No really! What's your REAL teams name?"
Pro: "...So...yeah...I really like your shoes."

The "D" stands for D-lectable. Not defense.

"Yo, this team name is horrible, kid."
"I know right? Maybe we can get them to change it to the Thuggets."

(honorable mention: The White and Red Sox - I never understood as a kid why anyone would want to be socks, especially misspelled this day I still don't.)

I'm out like toes in sandals.

Did I leave any other terrible sports names off this list?

- Magnum

Thursday, June 5, 2008

And they say Philly is bad... I present to you, 10 cent beer night in Cleveland. Insanity.

- Murdock

Phillies complete an 8 - 2 homestand

What a difference a year makes. On June 5th 2007, the Phillies beat the Mets 4-2 in the 11th inning to bring the team to a .500 record (29-29) and to within 7 games of the first place Mets. After today's afternoon game against the Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies record stands at 36-26. They also have a 2 game lead on Fla, as well as a 4 game cushion over both the Braves and the Mets in the NL East.

Last year, the Phillies were still trying to claw their way back in the race after a terrible start to the season amid a rash of injuries to their pitching staff. They were also trying to figure out exactly how to play winning baseball on a consistent basis. Somewhere around the time they called Kyle Kendrick up from AA, and found out what kind of a pitcher they had in J. C. Romero, they figured it out. Their offense started piling up the runs, and their pitching staff kept them in games. Time and time again, they erased an early deficit with a late rally. All of this coincided nicely with the Mets' historical collapse in September and concluded with the team winning their first division title since 1993.

This year, the team is again among the league leaders in come-from-behind victories (they led the league in 2007). The reason for this is twofold. Their bullpen leads the league in ERA and their bench players are lights out. What a luxury it is for Charlie Manuel to be able to call on Greg Dobbs, either Jayson Werth or Geoff Jenkins, and Chris Coste during the late innings of most games. A great bench and a great bullpen = late inning wins, it's really that simple. The Phillies have found their winning formula after all those years of near misses.

They also have this guy named Chase Utley, who is apparently ok at this whole baseball thing. If their starting pitching continues to play the way they have the last couple of weeks, we are in for one hell of a summer and, just maybe, a fall to remember. In a city where there hasn't been too much to cheer about in the last 25 years, this team just feels different. They expect to win and they usually do. So sit back and enjoy the ride, 'cause there's no telling where it might lead.

- Murdock

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Time waits for no man...Except Chase Utley.

So we've all seen the stats for Mr. Baseball aka Chase Utley aka Roy Hobbs Jr:
(as of 6/4/)
- 2nd in the NL in RBI's (53)
- 6th in the NL in batting average (.325)
- 1st in NL in HR's (21)
- 2nd in NL in Runs (49)
- 2nd in Slugging Percentage (.684)
- 1st in baby boys being named after him

Here are some other things you might NOT know:
  • Chase Utley can get reception inside a tunnel.
  • Chase Utley can tackle Barry Sanders in the open field.
  • Chase Utley taught Gordon Bombay the triple deke.
  • Chase Utley can bench Jake Long 33 times.
  • Chase Utley parted the Red Sea before it was cool.
  • Chuck Norris has a sketchbook with just pictures of Chase Utley.
  • Chase Utley has singlehandedly stopped snakes on a plane, snakes on a train, and snakes on a submarine.
  • Chase Utley makes a delicious 99-calorie cheesesteak.
  • Chase Utley has completed "Through the Fire and the Flames" on expert with one hand.
  • Yoda was Chase Utley's padawan.
  • A Happy Meal is only truly happy when being eaten by Chase Utley.
  • The cycle dreams of hitting for Chase Utley.
  • Money doesn't grow on trees, except in Chase Utley's yard.
  • Chase Utley has beaten Tetris.
  • Ocean's 11 is based off a heist Chase Utley pulled off, by HIMSELF.
  • Turbulence is caused by Chase Utley's burps.
  • Collars attempt to pop themselves when worn by Chase Utley.
  • Oscars dream of winning Chase Utleys.
  • Turns out, Chase Utley has had the weapons of mass destruction the whole time.
  • Chase Utley has blocked Kareem's sky hook.
  • Chase Utley always stops Wayne Gretzky on breakaways.
  • The reason SNL isn't funny anymore is because Chase Utley stopped writing for them.
  • Chase Utley can shoot the wings off a fly at 800 feet AFTER six irish car bombs.
  • Pac-Man Jones will play again when Chase decides he can.
  • Chase Utley is the reason for Panic at the Disco.
  • Chase Utley has beaten Michael Jordan in a dunk contest.
  • Chase Utley taught Gwen Stefani how to spell B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
  • Gambling is addicted to Chase Utley.
  • Chase Utley has beaten the Incredible Hulk at arm wrestling.
  • Floyd Landis was doped up on Chase Utley when he won the Tour De France.
  • Chase Utley has Spongebob's regular pants.
  • When there's danger nearby, (or a sale) his Utley sense tingles.
  • Freddy has nightmares involving Chase Utley.

Cape? What for?

Oh, and I guess some props go out to (the) Hudler, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom for beating Pittsburgh tonight.

We'll be hoisting Stanley's Cup before long, so enjoy it while it lasts.

- Magnum