Posted on: June 20, 2009 2:03 pm

A Horrendous Homestand

The best road team in Major League Baseball has still not found its bearings on it's home field. Of course I am talking about the Phillies. Fresh off a 7-2 loss to the Orioles Thursday to make it 6 losses in their last 7 tries at home, there really is no explanation for why the Phillies are playing the way they are at home. Let's look at some statistics of this 1-6 homestand, namely pitching:

L vs. BOS 2-5
L vs. BOS 6-11
W vs. BOS 11-6
L vs. TOR 3-8
L vs. TOR 1-7
L vs. TOR 7-8
L vs. BAL 2-7

Upcoming Home Games
Sat. vs. BAL
Sun vs. BAL

Starting Pitching
0-3, 38 IP, 46 H, 27 ER, 30 K, 16 BB, 6.39 ERA

Joe Blanton (0-0) 12.1 IP, 14 H, 6 ER, 9K, 3 BB, 4.38 ERA
Antonio Bastardo (0-2) 8 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 1 K, 3 BB, 9.00 ERA
J.A. Happ (0-0) 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 K, 6 BB, 7.94 ERA
Cole Hamels (0-0) 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 6 K, 2 BB, 3.00 ERA
Jamie Moyer (0-1) 6 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 6 K, 2 BB, 9.00 ERA

1-3, 30 IP, 40 H, 23 ER, 30 K, 26 BB , 6.90 ERA

Chan Ho Park (1-0) 3 G, 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 2 BB, 2.25 ERA
J.C. Romero (0-0) 4 G, 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 7 BB , 4.50 ERA
Ryan Madson (0-1) 4 G, 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 4.50 ERA
Clay Condrey (0-1) 4 G, 2.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 1 K, 4 BB, 23.14 ERA
Kyle Kendrick (0-1) 1 G, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 1 BB, 13.50 ERA **Sent to Minors**
Chad Durbin (0-0) 3 G, 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 1.80 ERA
Jack Taschner (0-0) 3 G, 4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 3 K, 3 BB, 13.50 ERA
Sergio Escalona (0-0) 1 G, 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 K, 2 BB, 9.00 ERA **Sent to Minors**
Tyler Walker (0-0) 3 G, 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 K, 1 BB, 0.00 ERA

Now, Phillies hitters are averaging somewhere around 11.3 strikeouts per game during the homestand, but even still, they have scored 4.57 runs per game, so it's not like the team has not been producing. Looking at the starting pitching, we can now see that Bastardo is a problem. In my opinion, the Phillies are lucky for that rain delay against Boston, because in the one inning Bastardo pitched, he gave up 4 ER on 3 Hits. Hamels gave another quality outing, although he did get knocked around a little bit. However, he did get out of trouble a few times so something can be said for that. Blanton hasn't been bad either. His strikeout numbers have been up and he's cutting down on walks. What has been hurting him are the home runs. Moyer still is looking old, but he's not down at the bottom of the rotation yet. I see him as the number 4 in the rotation as of now. Happ continues to show signs of growth, but the consistency is not there yet. He still hasn't lost a game though, so he's been able to keep the team around.

Rotation as I see it: 1. Hamels 2. Blanton 3. Happ 4. Moyer 5. Bastardo

The bullpen is what has been killing me. I bolded a few things there so let me explain. First off, the number of walks has been a big problem and is one of the reasons for the bloated ERA. Romero has been averaging 1.75 Walks per inning. You can't get by in the big leagues giving up that much. The bullpen as a whole is giving up 3.71 walks per game. It's just too many. I know walks happen, but when they total up they just put baserunners on and then a single ends up hurting you. I'd rather get hurt with the longball or a well hit double than a single scoring runs as a result of walks.

The two players I highlighted have been huge problems, in my opinion. I don't know what's up with Condrey's back problems, but he clearly is not performing on the field. The numbers speak for themselves. The same goes for Taschner. In last night's game, he puts Taschner in there down 4-2, and he ends up giving up the next 3 runs, giving the Phillies no chance to get back in it. Madson looks uncomfortable in the closing role, but we know that he will come around and start pitching well again. He's only giving up a run here or there, but in a 1-run game that costs you the game in most cases. The sad part about it all is that Chan Ho Park is finally starting to pitch well out of the bullpen. He's striking guys out and is getting the job done.

Bullpen as I see it:
CP: Madson
SU: Durbin
MR: Romero
MR: Walker
MR: Condrey
LR: Park
LR: Taschner

Maybe it's just a bad week. Maybe it's just interleague play. Those are definitely bad excuses. The pitching needs to pick up real quick, and I still think that the Phils need to go out and get a starter. Bastardo would be a nice addition to the bullpen, maybe working Long Relief with Park. It would help sure up Taschner's spot and maybe we can get him down in the minors for a while.

Quick Hit:
- Keep your eyes on John Mayberry in LF. He's got a cannon arm and has some nice power at the plate. Expect good things out of this kid in the future.

Posted on: May 29, 2009 1:45 am

French Open

If you are not a tennis fan, now is probably a great time to get into the sport with the French Open.

Live coverage starts each morning at 5AM EST on the Tennis channel and moves over to ESPN2 at 12 PM EST, and any critical matches you missed during the morning hours, ESPN will show from aboutu 3-6 because by that time live play has concluded in France.

Here are men and women who don't get paid by the season, they get paid by their performance. This is why I think from a competitive level tennis is better than the four major sports (yes hockey is a major sport contrary to most people's beliefs). Here you have people fighting for every last point because if they don't they'll be bounced from the tournament. If you saw the match between 20 Marat Safin and Josselin Quanna you know what I'm talking about. Ouanna wins the match 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 3-6, 10-8 in a match lasting 4 hours and 30 minutes. The last set of this one was absolutely incredible, each player making these sick nasty shots from all angles of the court. Both players held on serve until the last game where Ouanna broke Safin on a double match point to finally take it after 79 minutes in the 5th set. There's no video replay like the other 4 majors and there's no teammates to blame or anything. Just straight up 1v1, where after 5 sets the best player will come out.

Comebacks happen pretty often too. Take the match between 3 Venus Williams and Lucie Safarova on the women's side today. Venus wins the match 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-5 after being down 5-3 in the 3rd and final set. She just took Safarova to town after saving match point.

Tell you what, even if my descriptions don't sound too appetizing, just watch the matches. I can almost guarantee you'll at least not flip the channel when you see tennis is on. It may not get the hype that the NBA playoffs are getting, but I'm telling you right now you'll see more competition in one match at the French Open than you'll see the whole NBA playoffs.

Quick Hits:

- I think the NBA is getting way too wrapped up in technical fouls. It's getting to the point of ridiculousness. Oh, and also: stop reviewing foul calls and crap after the game. If the referee deems the play a flagrant foul or a technical foul let the damn thing stand. It's like saying "oh well that wasn't actually a homerun, we're going to change that call and take away the run" after the game. Or something like that.

- Carlos Zambrano really made me laugh with his little tirade but you know what, I am glad he's manning up to what he did and coming out and saying "I'm not going to appeal this suspension because I know I was wrong." Too many athletes don't take responsibility for their actions, and most players would try to appeal a 6-game suspension, because they can't go 6 days without pay from their multi-million dollar contract as a penalty for doing something wrong. For example: how many times do you hear an athlete go "Yes, I took steroids, and yes it was wrong and now I am going to pay the penalty" BEFORE they deny it to reporters and get found out later? You just don't hear it anymore. Athletes are the biggest role models there are and I'm glad to see that one of them is finally owning up to what they did wrong.

Posted on: May 27, 2009 1:14 am

NBA Playoffs

I don't care how much or how little you like the NBA, if you haven't been watching all of the games of the conference finals you're missing the greatest professional basketball that has been around in the last decade. You have superstars one-upping each other, and each game has come down to the wire (almost).

Lets start in Orlando with Game 4 tonight. The Magic are doing a great job of putting a little tear in David Stern's perfect storyline for the year. So far in this series, all four games have been decided by single digits, one game going to overtime, and buzzer beaters all over the place. This latest game was probably the most physical of the series, and we are witnessing Dwight Howard just absolutely manhandle the Cavaliers' big men.
Oh and then there is LeBron James. Is there anything this man can not do with a basketball? He just seems to hit from everywhere, and when the jump shots aren't falling if there is an open spot in the lane he'll find it and get right up to the basket. Meanwhile Dwight Howard is leading his team to the series lead, averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds in this postseason.

In Denver, Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets are giving Kobe a run for their money. I don't see how the Lakers lose this series, but I fully expect it to go 7 games. Kobe has a big game 1, and Melo answers in game 2. Lakers steal game 3 on the road and the Nuggets come out and absolutely dominate in game 4. Call and answer. The only problem is that after game 7, there won't be an answer for one team. This is a good series, watch Anderson off the bench for the Nuggets. He'll be the hidden key if the Nuggets want to move on.

Quick Hits:
- Zack Greinke is absolutely blowing my mind with his pitching this year. Here's a guy with 5 complete games, and has only allowed 1 ER in any given game all season. His ERA is below 1 right now. Absolutely without a doubt the most dominant player in the league right now. If you aren't watching you should start.

- The Rays collapsed last night against the Indians, blowing a 10-0 lead and giving up 7 in the 9th to lost it 11-10. It is looking more and more as if the Rays are going to have been a 1-hit wonder, especially if the Blue Jays continue to be up there in the Wild Card hunt.

- If you haven't watched the video of Cornell's collapse to Syracuse in the final 5 minutes of the lacrosse national championship, you need to check that out. Insane stuff right there.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com