Posted on: August 12, 2009 10:16 pm

Stay Classy, Chicago

Tonight while watching the Phillies vs. Cubs game, we witnessed reason number 453 why alcohol should not be served at major sporting events.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, with one out and the Phillies in control of the game easily 12-2, a player popped up to center field. The ball was going to land at about the start of the warning track and Shane Victorino goes back to field the ball. He is in position, and about 2 seconds before he catches the ball, he gets hits directly in the face with a cupfull of beer. Cubs officials handled the situation well, but it just goes to show you that drunk people at sporting events do nothing but drain the atmosphere and experience from the ballpark.

Why can't people just sit in their seats, cheer, and be done with it? Had that play affected Shane Victorino catching the ball, we would be talking about this for months. Drunk people just take away the family experience of going to a ballgame, and in some cases, like this one, interfere with the game at hand.

But of course at 7 bucks a pop the stadiums make too much money to worry about problems like this.

Either way, stay classy Chicago. Great job showing your true colors on the national broadcast.
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 11:34 pm

Umpires, Hawkeye, and some NBA Playoffs

The first point I want to make tonight is about the hilarious ejections that happened in last night's Red Sox/Twins game. Now I understand when a call is pretty close or when the player touches the umpire you are going to get ejected. And I also understand that usually the calls the umpire makes are correct, so usually the player's argument is not justified anyway. The thing that I find so comical about the Varitek ejection is that the runner was absolutely out at the plate. He was out by a decent margin, and if you look at the replay it was blatantly obvious that Varitek tagged him out at the plate. This is one of the only cases where I've seen the player's argument justified. The guy throws out 4 players in a single inning. That must be some sort of record. He changed what was a pretty darn good ball game too. Varitek had two homers, and I think it was something like 11 hits in the ballgame total. Maybe it was just a bad day at the office, I'm not sure. But if you are going to start throwing players out, at least make your calls right before you do it.

In watching the French Open I've noticed that this is the only Grand Slam that doesn't use the Hawkeye system to challenge line calls. The premise behind this is good because you can actually see the ball spots in the clay, so the players can ask the Chair Umpire to come down and look at the ball mark for the official ruling. The problem with this is that I've already seen about 4 missed/wrong calls in the week that I have been watching. In the grand scheme this isn't really that big of a deal, but in a close match it could make all the difference.

For example, in the Safin/Ouanna match that I referenced in my last post, there was a point where Safin was on serve, down 1 game at a crucial point in the match where he served what looked like a good ball on the corner of the box. Ouanna challenged the call and the umpire came down and looked at the wrong spot, awarding the point to Safin. ESPN's ShotSpot showed that the ball was clearly out by a good 2 inches. Ouanna lost the next point and Safin tied the game up. Ouanna would go on to win the match, but lets say that the score was 30-30 and Ouanna was down a game, trying to break to stay in the match. This would have been crucial in the match to have this call right. the human element has been the way to go for years, but now there is technology which is better, so why not use it?

NBA Playoffs:
Why did the Nuggets not even show up tonight? They just layed down and gave the Lakers the series, which is very disappointing. Each game of the conference finals has come down to the wire and has been a real treat to watch. Normally NBA games lack enthusiasm and competition, and until this game they had proved me wrong. This one was, quite honestly, boring to watch. Don't take anything away from the Lakers, they came in and just turned it up a notch, but you would think that the Nuggets would put up more of a fight. As I type the Lakers are up 112-88 in the 4th. Come on. A 10-point game would have at least been watchable.

In Other News:
- The 76ers have offered Eddie Jordan a contract to be their next head coach. What I want to know is were the 76ers watching when Jordan and the Wizards were basement dwelling during his tenure there? I'm not sure. You can't judge a coach before he shows you what he's got the first couple of years, but I'm not really sure that this signing is going to excite the 76ers fans. It sure doesn't excite me. I hope he proves me wrong. We shall see.

- J.A. Happ went out tonight and pitched a beautiful game against the Nationals, giving up 1 run while he was on the mound and leaving the game with a 5-1 lead. It's ashame that the bullpen gave him 2 more earned runs and almost blew the game in the 6th inning there. A spot of good news for the Phillies though, Brad Lidge came out and shut down the Nats in the ninth, picking up his 10th save of the season. Granted, it is only the Nationals, but it's not exactly their lineup that is holding them back. They are definitely capable of producing runs, they just aren't that capable of holding teams to under 5.

Posted on: May 25, 2009 4:36 pm

Stadium Tours: Nationals Park

For my first installment of Stadium Tours, we're going to look at the home of the Washington Nationals, the park I visited most recently. Being an avid Phillies fan, a few friends and I went to an away game between the Phillies and Nationals, a 1:35 PM start.

Accessibility: 4/5
- The park is not that hard to get to if you use the Baltimore/Washington Parkway. Right on Capitol Rd, it is pretty easy to get to, the only problem we ran into is the amount of construction and traffic on the parkway. If you add 15-30 extra minutes in your trip for that you should be set.

Parking: 1/5
- Parking was kind of a joke. For the parking garages right next to the stadium, it costs $35-$40 to park for a single game. The other garages which are 4-5 blocks away are $15-20 to park, and the lot we parked in, lot HH, was $10 but it was 6 blocks from the stadium and literally underneath a highway. It was quite sketchy

Food: 3.5/5
- The food was a bit overpriced, even for a ballpark, but it was understandable for the cost of a new stadium. The food was actually quite delicious, and was made to order. This did, however, increase wait times, which is why I can't give it a 4 or higher.

Attractions: 4.5/5
- The main area with things to do is the outfield section, and boy was there a lot. Starting out in left field, the stadium opens up and by the centerfield gate before the game the Presidents come out to greet the guests and take pictures. They have some fan contests before the game, and the MASN broadcast center is right out in centerfield, so you can watch the pregame show live as it happens, which is pretty cool. The Centerfield section provides some good dining options. In right field, if you go up the steps there is a picnic area behind the scoreboard. Also, there is a pitching/batting cage sort of thing and the Playstation Pavilion offers at least 16-20 PS3 gaming consoles with 4 different games that people can play. The Presidents' Race is a real nice touch for the between-inning entertainment. There's quite a lot to do at the ballpark.

Seating/Section: 5/5+
- We sat in the Centerfield Lounge, section 100L, row B and let me tell you I highly recommend it. First off, the seats are heavily padded, and were very comfortable throughout the game. The view is almost dead centerfield and you get a great view of the action. There are even servers that come down and take food and drink orders through the 7th inning and bring them out to you. Granted, the prices are a little much, but if you're only going for one game I would splurge a little bit and take them up on it. Overall, I would highly recommend that Centerfield Lounge.

Fans: 1/5
- Alright, I know they are the last place team in the league, but there were really more Phillies fans than Nationals fans by a good amount, and even then none of the Nationals fans gave us a problem. As a visitor you expect to get harassed and heckled, and it makes it feel even better being in their stadium but there was really none of that. It was kind of disappointing to be quite honest.

Overall: 19/30
- Overall it was a very nice experience. If it weren't for the fans and parking, this would be a quality ballpark to spend your summer watching baseball. I would definitely go back, but you have to make sure you don't overpay on parking (if there is such a thing).

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