A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Roy Halladay

Philadelphia has long been known for its doctors. There was Dr. J and his sweet 70s afro flying through the sky for slam dunks with style and class. There was Bill Cosby delivering babies and proving that the African American place was wherever their talents and drive could take them. The University of Penn and Temple both have famous doctoral schools and churn out lots of great medical professionals, but no doctor in the city of Philadelphia is quite as famous as Doc Halladay (and while he may not win 30 games like The Baseball Project predicts, he could come very close).
Yesterday, he was sitting down Padres like a defrocking convention gone haywire. All in all, he had 14 friars getting irate in the dugout by the end of the 8th inning, but then, he blew the 2 hit shutout in the 9th inning with 3 more hits, and so in came Antonio Bastardo to seal the deal on the Phillies first home sweep of the Padres since 1979 and the days of Ozzie Smith.

This was a perfect comeback after the debacle against Milwaulkee (6.2 innings, 6 earned, 3 whiffs), but it doesn't disguise the hatred that I feel for Philadelphia's announcers (for their partisan nature and dullness) since the days of Harry Kalas shufflinging off this mortal coil. However, yesterday was about watching a game, so it's not like I really cared who was commentating, but when I have to listen to the backpedaling after "innings counts don't matter" and then going into "he's getting a lot of innings" after hearing "he's going to want to finish this game," I just want to vomit.

I'm from the Nolan Ryan school of pitching. Three runs in 6 innings is not a quality start. I'm for guys finishing their games and leaving losers like Dan Wheeler in the breadline or forcing him to find a real job (instead of being the designated innings eater whipping boy, which I'm sure every team needs, but still... I could do that job for far less money). I'm for removing the role of all closers except consistent ones (something that Mariano Rivera has been faltering on lately with his second blown save of the year on Sunday). Even then, I'm for bringing them in when the door needs slammed shut. I'm for multiple innings saves. Giving Bastardo a 1 pitch save for inducing an out... bullshit (in the words of Matthew McConaughey to Kate Hudson - when she wasn't ruining herself being A-Rod's non-Madonna arm candy - then again, with her track record of men, she's not exactly a prize herself).

Nevertheless, if there is no limit to pitches - especially in light of finishing a gem of a game (and I heard this same line with Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez's no hitter flirtations), then they should do the deed or lose it all.

Yesterday, the good folks at MLBTV (the baseball fetishist's porn without nipples network) showed game 7 of the 1992 NLCS - Pirates against Braves... the beginning of all that was Atlanta and Barry Bond's stake through the heart to Andy Van Slyke and the rest of the Pittsburgh faithful (no winning seasons in almost 20 years). Drabek gets to the 9th and is dealing, but then the wheels come off. It's a pitcher refusing to let the ball free and doing what it takes to win or lose on his shoulders because he got the team here, and goll dang it... he's reveling in the glory or sulking in defeat. One misplayed ball later, Sid Bream comes home on a single to Bonds, and despite all those surgeries, he's under the glove, and that's it.

But that's a pitcher letting it all hang out.

It's Pedro in 2003 with Grady Little not demanding the ball. If you don't demand it, you have to give in to the pitcher's ego.

And if it's Halladay, there's an ego. One run in with two on in the ninth - to pull the ball is to disrespect your workhorse. Let him win it or lose it. He's got the stuff... even if he's tiring out - or don't bring him out for the 9th. You (Charlie Manuel) are the one who left him hit... now you're the one that should leave him pitch.

But all the same... creating adorable little Muppets that get yanked after 6 innings and therapy headcases that need to be reassured that they're ok even when they're not (Brad Lidge) just shows how far we've come from tough pitchers to move into a world of pampered athletes.

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