The State of the Hall 2009
Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this worldand never will.
The Hall of Fame voting for 2009 is in the books, and the net result is that three new members will be greeted in the hallowed halls (or hall, actually) of Cooperstown: Rickey Henderson (a no-brainer), Jim Rice (in his last year of eligibility) and Joe Gordon (by the easier of the two bifurcated veterans committees).
Henderson was arguably the best player eligible not in Hall. It would be difficult to argue against that assertion given he is the all-time leader in stolen bases, times caught stealing, runs, and leadoff home runs (and walks when he retired) and he had 3000 hits and 535 Win Shares.
The only argument seemed to be how a handful of dolts could leave Rickey off their ballots. Henderson appeared on 511 of the 539 ballots cast or, rather, did not appear on 28 of them. However, his 94.81% voting percentage was twelfth all time and was just slightly ahead of Willie Mays, not such bad company after all. Also, Henderson was 106 votes above the number he needed for election (405). That's the five most votes over the number needed all-time (behind Ripken, Gwynn, Ryan, and Brett). Here are the top 15 Hall of Famers by voting percentage:
Henderson is behind some players, even contemporaries, who were clearly inferior players though Hall of Famers all (Gwynn in particular seems unfair), but it's hard to gripe when you reach such (deservedly) rarified air.
The other two men who will be enshrined were far more controversial because of their selection, not omission. The argument against Rice starts with his being a sentimental pick given he was in the last year of eligibility (on the Baseball Writers ballot at least). Some have argued that he played in a hitter's park and didn't produce on the road. Some will say his career was too short, he was a defensive liability, and that he was a slug around the bases. Some (including me) would argue that his teammate and follow outfielder Dwight Evans was a better player and he fell of the ballot years ago.
As Rob Neyer most acerbically put it, "[W]e can simply add him to the list of good players -- Bruce Sutter, Catfish Hunter and Orlando Cepeda come to mind -- who don't really belong in the Hall of Fame but are there anyway [T]he election of Rice will do little to lower the standards of the institution, as it's unlikely that players like Dave Parker, Albert Belle, Dick Allen and big Frank Howard now will be knocking on the Coop's door (even though, it should be said, all of them were at least Rice's equal)." To quote Tina Fey, "Cat sound!" Wow, Albert Belle is a hard case to make, but luckily for Neyer, he rarely deigns to make it. And what? No mention of the execrable choices like Tommy McCarthy or the spate of other Veterans Committee choices? (More on Joe Gordon later)
There are valid arguments in there. Clearly, Rice was not a first ballot-type candidate, but the question remains as to whether he was a viable candidate for enshrinement. Like Mr. Owl, let's find out
First, as a thumb rule (and a thumb rule only) where does Rice fall in the career Win Shares list for eligible players who are not in the Hall as of 2009? Henderson comes in first, nearly 150 Win Shares ahead of the next highest player with 535. Rice is tied for 69th with Boog Powell, a player who has more chance to land in the advertising hall of fame, at 282. Gordon is even lower tied at 155th at 242 Win Shares (but as I said, more on him later).
Next, we can look at some of the standards that Mssr. Neyer's mentor put together in his Hall of Fame book many years ago. These sorts of arguments are the ones that James cites ad nauseum to make a point in that work. The point is anyone can manipulate the facts to meet his opinion. James strove to set up some of independent set of tools to analyze candidates.
In addition, what makes Rice an ideal candidate for this treatment is that he is the perfect high-peak, short-career type player. James designed his tools to weight career milestones as well as single-season highlights.
Here are the results for all of the candidates on the 2009 BBWAA ballot. Note that I added one for meeting the criterion of average HoFer Win Share total (337):
Note that Henderson and Bert Blyleven are "best" candidates by this method, meeting 83% of the criteria. Anyone who is familiar with ERA+ is already on the Blyleven bandwagon, so I will let that dog lie. However, the next set at 67% is comprised of Rice along with Andre Dawson, another oft-dissed candidate, and Mark McGwire, who would be in the Hall (probably first ballot as well) if not for the steroid scandal.
The next tier, at 50%, is Jack Morris and Dale Murphy, two more highly controversial candidates. Unfortunately, Tim Raines, who ranks second in Win Shares among the BBWAA candidates and who is the one candidate that I would champion above all the rest (if I went in for such things), comes in at just 33% along with Tommy John and Dave Parkerand yet more controversy!
Are these tests conclusive? No, but it's a preferable approach to searching for facts to fit ones opinion. It puts all the candidates on the same level playing field.
Is Rice a HoFer? Apparently so according to the standards established for the Hall by the players yet far selected.
Is he the best candidate? No, but one could make an argument that he was a "good" choice. He is better than the 69th showing he put up in career Win Shares.
As for my personal opinion of Rice (for full disclosure), frankly, me dear, I don't give a damn. I considered Rice a great hitter in my youth, but clearly he was not as complete a player as, say, Henderson. He is a borderline candidate, so why not the Hall members make the decision based on their own makeup.
And before I get to Gordon, I should mention a number of phantoms who stayed only too briefly on the BBWAA ballot before falling into a pre-Vets Committee purgatory. There are a number of very good candidates that got short shrift from the writers. Some seemed like writer faves (like Will Clark) so maybe it's not just personality that causes the writers to overlook, or underlook, a candidate (e.g., the 28 missing votes for Henderson).
The Forgotten (and other crappy Julianne Moore movies with misplaced alien encounters)
Of the top 25 eligible candidates not in the Hall based on career Win Shares, just eleven of them were on one of the various Hall ballots this year. Here they are:
So one could argue that not only are the best candidates not being picked, they do not even appear on any ballot. BBWAA candidates today either seem to take one of three routes: 1) quick election, usually in the first year, 2) life in limbo staying on the ballot until their time runs out, or 3) failing to get the requisite 5% vote to remain on the ballot and falling quickly into oblivion.
The five-percent rule is arbitrary and unfair. There are good many current Hall of Famers, for good or ill, who would never have made it to the Hall had they been dumped upon failing to reach this magic number. Newly minted HoFer Joe Gordon got just 1 vote in 251 ballots in his first year of eligibility, and did not exceed the magic 5% number for another nine. Before getting the necessary 75% this year, he never exceeded 29% in the 17 previous elections and runoffs (though to be fair, that includes one vote he received in 1945 when he was at war).
But I digress perhaps using Win Shares alone is not the best way to gauge whether the best candidates are getting looked at by one of the ballots. As with Rice, we can look at the Bill James tests for each to determine his worthiness. Let's take a look at the eligible players no longer on the BBWAA ballot, either off the ballot altogether or shifted to one of the vets committees. Here they are sorted by Win Shares:
Using this method a strong argument could be made for antediluvian pitcher Tony Mullane, Sherry Magee, George Van Haltren, Dick Allen, Bob Caruthers, and Jim McCormick. Of these just Magee and Allen appeared on a ballot.
Why Joe Gordon?
You will note in the comparison above that Joe Gordon does not meet one of the criteria, not one. There's not really any kind of coherent argument you could make for Gordon's election. He's about 100 Win Shares below the average Hall of Famer, had a remarkably short careerhe was washed up by age 34 (though some credit should be given for his years lost to WWII), and had some very sub-par years mixed in even before his precipitous decline1943, his last full season before the war, was execrable (79 OPS+!). Besides his peak was never all that great. His best OPS+ was an impressive but far from earth shattering 155, and his career average even with the quick hook was 120.
The best argument for Gordon's election is that the newly constantly revamped Veterans Committee had to pick a player before they were jettisoned for good. They had to split the vote down to pre-1943 and post-1942 before they could election someone. And Gordon's ballot consisted of just ten men with 12 voters. We are getting closer to Ted Williams cajoling a couple of minions into picking his old buddies like Dom Dimaggio, the kind of cronyism that the new Veterans Committee was supposed to stem.
To Be Continued
Best albums of 2008
The votes have been tallied, and the results are in. Here are the top 50 albums of the year.
First, I should mention that the only votes are my own. Also, they are based on the 140 or so albums that I have heard from this year, and there may by others that are just as deserving (Blitzen Trapper's "Furr" comes to mind--I have heard about 3-4 very good tracks off of it but have yet to hear the album in full).
There were few all-time standouts. However, there were a great deal of very good albums. There were a few that I wanted to include but just couldn't. There is also arguably not a great deal of difference between the top ten and bottom ten. I haven't seen any top ten lists that have more than one or two albums in common and none with my number 1 even listed. But F' em. Here it is:
1) My Morning Jacket--Evil Urges
I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.
The last few days have been like Christmas. People mill about on the streets greeting others in Phillie jerseys, T-Shirts, hats, or in just plain red. The center city Modell's was so backed that when I went out to buy a souvenir or two yesterday, there was an hour wait to check out. I wisely chose to procure my memorabilia from the many street vendors, who themselves were so inundated that they couldn't unload their ill-gotten booty (or ill-booten gotty) from the trucks.
I am working from home today even though the parade goes right by my office. I am relying on Comcast SportsNet to fill the gap. I have a more important parade to witness, my daughter's Halloween parade at school. Anyway, they start with a half-hour intro narrated by Hall-of-Famer Harry Kalas, not bad.
The Phanatic is leading the parade. Suddenly Mark McGraw, Tug's other son, arrives on a bike and a retro #45 jersey ahead of the meandering flatbeds. Larry Christenson appears in Citizens Bank Park to embody the ghost of the 1980 team. He looks pretty good. LC compares #45 Tug McGraw's leap upon winning the 1980 Series and #54 Brad Lidge's dive in a similar pose upon clinching this year.
Michael Barkann relays a Tug McGraw-Larry Christenson story: McGraw would ask Christenson, "Are you pitching today?" When he was told "yes", he would respond, "Then so am I."
Pat Burrell is riding ahead of the team on a wagon pulled by Clydesdales and piloted by little men in green suits. I guess it's from Budweiser, but why the green suits? I hope they can keep this guy. For someone who had a reputation as a dour, unemotional player, but he has been so emotional this year especially in the playoffs.
Charlie Manuel is in a suit?
The streets are lined with fans, confetti is flowing. The police are riding on cars, motorcycles, and Clydesdales or on foot following each flatbed or double-decker bus like the secret service.
Boy this is moving slowly. Chad Durbin and Cole Hamels passed, but they are apparently still in the "staging area".
Now they are on Market Street and the parade proper can commence.
Pat Burrell has his dog Elvis, who is apparently a member of the clubhouse, on the Clydesdale truck. Barkann calls Elvis a world champion in his own right. In There's Harry the K standing on a truck. Give the guy a seat like B.B. King now does in concert.
Most of the players are in casual attire wearing World Champs paraphernalia and therefore, seem almost indistinguishable from the crowd. The oddest thing is how the players now use video cameras all the time. They are filming the crowd that is watching them.
They are finally turning onto Broad, which they will take all the way down to the stadium. Citizens Bank Park appears to be just half full.
Sorry, I have to go to my daughter's parade. I will have to rely on CSH and my DVR for the rest.
Tom Petty was Right
First, I just read that red is sexy, a little news tidbit that I see as a good omen for the Phils.
Also, Vegas awarded game five to the Phils. There is apparently honor among gamblers, but not among Bud Selig and his cronies.
Manuel sends the little used Geoff Jenkins to lead off the resumed game, an option I instantly dismissed. And it works! Jenkins doubles to left.
Next Manuel has Rollins bunt, something I rarely agree with but I am OK with it here since 1) the top of the order is up instead of the bottom (Manuel loves to bunt #6 man Victorino) and 2) one run could loom large here since the Phils will counter with a well-rested Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge (whose Hero T I am wearing in anticipation, in anticipation mind you).
The Rays look shaky again letting a fly ball drop between the outfield for the lead. (Enter Madson.) Then they misplay a pickoff to let Jayson Werth get to second. Utley and Howard go meekly so it looks like we will have another nail-biter.
So as Buck points out, Hamels is now in line for the win, and could become the first man to go 5-0 in a postseason.
Scratch that, Rocco Baldelli just tied it on a hanger from Madson. Dang. Actually it was a fastball that missed its spot. Another fastball, very straight, for a hit from Bartlett. What's with all the fastballs?
The Rays are having Howell bat for himself. He is able to sacrifice Bartlett over.
That's it for Madson, boy did he look flat. This guy can't start even when he isn't starting.
Romero will come in to face Iwamura. He hits a grounder that Chase Utley can flag down deep behind the bag, but he wisely does not throw to first since he has no play on Iwamura. Bartlett not so wisely assumed Utley was throwing to first, but he throws home and gets Bartlett by a good three feet to end the inning. Great play.
Burrell leads off the seventh with a double on a hanger that looked like it was gone when it left his bat. Bucks fils says that the wind kept it in. Manuel is lefting Burrell for a pinch-runner? I don't know if I would toss Burrell's bat without a lead. How many postseason dingers does Bruntlett have in him?
Howell is gone.
Timmeh is chiding Burrell for not getting a triple on that hit. Yeah, he should be at third, but is this atypical for Burrell? That could be his last hit as a Phil and imagine if it were a triple?
Chad Bradford? Hmm, I wonder when Maddon is going to bring in Price. Ugh, Victorino is bunting again. Hit away!
Odd, Maddon came out to argue about something. Now, Charlie Manuel.
Victorino swings through on a rising submarine ball. Moves him to third on a grounder to the right side.
Boy, Buck and Timmeh hate Feliz. They want Manuel to pull him every time he steps up to the plate. Feliz hits a nice little ball up the middle for the lead.
Ruiz hits a nice little liner up the middle but a very nice play by Iwamura gets Feliz at second.
Manuel has Romero bat for himself. They list his career batting average as .250, but it's really just a 1-for-4 over ten years, the one hit coming seven years ago though it was a double. Dribbler to second.
Let's hope keeping Romero in was a good idea. If he can get through the eighth, Lidge can close it out. Two of the next three are lefty batters.
Crawford gets a hit up the middle. Upton hits a soft roller to Rollins and he and Utley turn the double play nicely to get the speedy runner at first. Two of their remaining six outs on one play--that was big.
Romero goes to 3-0 on Pena. That's why Romero has not been the same pitcher this year as last, gets too wild. Pena hits a soft liner to Bruntlett in left. Inning over, Lidge will be coming in to win the Series and continue his perfect season. Let's get him an insurance run, top of the lineup, OK?
Doesn't Maddon have to turn to his secret weapon Price to keep it close now?
And he does. Another double-switch for Maddon. That took Manuel about three seasons to master.
Rollins flies to left, right in front of the warning track.
They just went through the last Philly champs. I hate that they do not mention Villanova in 1985 and the USFL Stars in 1984. People forget but they were bigger than the Eagles back then.
Werth K's after almost getting hit by a ball near his shins.
Oh god, they have the useless Chris Myers talking about the Willy Penn silliness. They are jumping on the bandwagon.
Buck fils is second-guessing Maddon for allowing Howell bat for himself though he said nary a word when it was in progress. It should be mentioned that Howell did his job and bunted the runner over though they did have Madson on th ropes and could have pressed the issue with a pinch-hitter.
Now, the FOX idiot twins praise Price right before he walks Utley who was not able to hit his stuff. Great stuff is meaningless if this kid can't find the plate.
Speaking of which, 3-1 to Howard and Price let's Utley stroll to second.
Timmeh bloviates on why the Rays should fear Eric Bruntlett. It's not the beard. It's the lightning-in-bottle homer he hit off Price in game 2.
Howard Ks. Lidge time.
By the way, the title refers to Petty's "The Waiting Is the Hardest Part". But knowing Lidge, the ninth might be the hardest part.
I wonder what Mitch Williams is thinking.
Lidge gets ahead of Longoria 0-2 on two sliders. But he won't chase again. 1-2. High heat misses.
Fox starts doing the "winner cam" with closeups of each Phil fielder. Why can't they just watch the game?
Slider for a soft fly ball. Two more outs.
Beatiful change for strike one, dipping slider for strike two.
Timmeh, shut up about blocking in the dirt.
Damn Navarro breaks his bat but lifts a soft liner to right.
Local hero Perez pinch-runs at first.
Zobrist replaces Baldelli who homered in his last at-bat. High and tight, strike one. Way away, 1-1.
Lidge lets Perez steal second in his sleep. In scoring position and removes the DP.
Maddon is pulling out the stops: Hinske is on deck.
Lidge gets away with one, a hanging sliding. But Zobrist lines it softly to Werth. Thank god.
Hinske who homered hios last and only time up in the Series steos up.
Ground softly down the first baseline, foul.
Strike two on a slider away. The home plate up says he went around, but he didn't. Strikes out on a slider!
That's all she wrote.
Lisge does his Tug McGraw impersonation. Where's Schmidty to jump into his arms?
I hate how they hand out the hats and T-shirts right during the celebration. Save the commercials for later, guys.
Boy, this scrums get more and more dangerous each year. It's fun until somebody loses an eye.
These amateurs at least know to turn to Harry The K's replay, "Swing and a miss, struck him out!" I love that guy.
Bud Selig? Booooooo! Give us the trophy and make like a tree.
Dave Montgomery showing off his horrific Philly accent to the world. Montgomery's been drinking, hasn't he?
Pat Gillick can go out on top. Jeannie Zalasko tries to coax him out of retirement. They already named Amaro, Jeannie.
Here comes Chowlie to frighten the world with another horrific accent. Jeannie, don;t ask him about his dead mom.
Jimmy Rollins brings in a copy of the Inquirer with a "Champs" headline.
Selid is back!?! Oh, the MVP goes to Hamels. I love this kid.
Great, we get a Camarro ad in the midst of the celebration.
Comcast is showing shots of the fans outside the ballpark, who are going batty. I pity the camera man.
Ricky Bo is in the studio but apparently no Mitch Williams. I wanted to hear what he was thinking.
Back to Fox: why do they make the losing manager come out for a public wake. Leave Maddon alone.
By the way, I was hoping for Ruiz to get the MVP though he and all of the batters really were uneven throughout the Series. Hamels had one of the greatest postseasons for a pitcher ever. I am OK with him getting it.
Comcast has yet to go into the locker room, and Fox goes back to Zelasko and Kennedy. Moyers is on the field with it looks like three generations of Moyers taking a pitcher. Can they just make that guy the pitching coach now?
Fox is showing the celebration, but no interviews. Come on!
Myers interviews the ever-humble Ryan Howard on the field. Boy, is that guy due for a big paycheck!
Comcast is now in the clubhouse as Buck fils is thanking their crew (who cares?).
Utley is spraying champagne all over the place. There's Mitch. God bless him. Now we can put that ghost to bed.
There's a guy dressed up as Batman parading around the stadium with an over-sized flag. I don't get it.
Press conference with Charlie Manuel. This guy winning a ring with the Phils is as if they won with that doof Danny Ozark. His philosophy is "excellence over success", huh?
They cut Manuel off to interview Milt Toast Thompson on the field. Another ghost from 1993 put to bed.
Ryan Madson strides up to the mic. Ask him why he threw some many fastballs tonight. Where's the change? Mitch is pouring on the praise for Madson's job this year as the setup guy. I love that guy.
Utley's being interviewed in th clubhouse. He looks wetter now than during the deluge in the first half of game five.
The parade will be at noon on Halloween.
Banner in the outfield: "Mitch, you're off the hook!"
Every Phillie is wearing a lei a la the Flyin' Hawaiian.
I couldn't be happier how every player almost to a man seems very humble and understated. Hamels, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Moyer. It's just pure joy.
Moyer is now posing with what looks like the pitching rubber with a subset of his family.
Lelsie Godell asks Cole Hamels if he's happy about going to arbitration this offseason, and the guy almost blushes.
The Comcast crew mentions the late John Marzano who died earlier this year.
Jayson Werth has lost his voice.
Here comes the trophy. Werth holds it over his head.
An Eric Bruntlett sighting. This guy went from J-Roll's replacement to Pat Burrell's caddy. Poor Bruntlett, the security guy took the trophy away from him.
Ricky Bo also mentions Phils long-time coach and 1980 team member John Vukovich, whom the Phils lost this season.
Mayor Nutter isn't happy with won World Championship and is altready talking about more. Maybe he thinks mor rings we get him reelected.
The Daily News headline for tomorrow AM will read, "We Win", which if I remember correctly was the headline after the 1980 championship.
We Wuz Robbed…So Now What?
A day later a few things have become clearer as the mist clears from the Fox TV cameras. Yes, the Phils were robbed of an abbreviated clincher. Yes, the culprit was Bud Selig. Commissioner Bud couldn't cotton to a world champion muddily celebrating after a umpire's signal rather than after a Tug McGraw-esque ninth inning-two out strikeout. So who cares about the rule book anyway?
Selig may have come to this decision before the game as he claims, but if so, he should have informed the players and media, who would have in turn alerted the fans when the situation became a reality.
Also, Selig should have suspended it earlier, clearly by the end of the fifth if not earlier (maybe after the Rollins lazy fly-cum-egregious error). If he is going to ignore the rules, why did they have to orchestrate the tie before suspending the game? They should have suspended after five with the Phils leading 2-1. Waiting for the tie calls into question Selig's supposed higher motives to avoid an abbreviated clincher.
The initial reaction by Phils fans was to bemoan the apparent loss of Cole Hamels for apparently the remainder of the Series unless MLB keeps the travel day between the completion of game five and the start of game 6 in Tampa (which is currently TBD).
But the news is not all bad. Of course, the Phils get one additional half-inning of offense in the resumed game: they lead off and get last ups.
The leadoff hitter will be Cole Hamels' spot meaning a pinch-hitter, and the Phils have a wide-range of options. Maddon, if he's smart, and given his moves so far in the World Series that is hardly a certainty, will send back out righty Grant Balfour to "start" the resumed game. The Phils will most likely counter with a lefty bat. Given Manuel's moves yet far, I would think Matt Stairs will get tabbed. He prefers to save Dobbs and Stairs can regain the lead with one swing. Of course, that will bring lefty J.P. Howell to the mound and then a right-handed bat for the Phils.
Manuel may just avoid the whole mess and go with a righty bat from the start, probably So Taguchi, who could set up the top of the lineup if he gets on and who was a better hitter (and was a better hitter vs. righties this year)though he is likely a wasted AB. But they do get to pick the matchup they prefer and get to keep the extra lefty bat for later.
The Phils also do not have to announce their "starter", again if they are smart. Hamels should be their pitcher until they pinch-hit for him, and a new pitcher does not have to be announced until the start of the seventh. I am thinking they will go with Chad Durbin (or dare I say, J.A. Happ?) unless they grab a lead in the bottom of the sixth, in which case, they might try to cover the last three innings with Madson and Lidge.
So unless Bud decides to add a new home team must swig a beer at each base rule, the Phils have a clear advantage going into the resumed game. Let's hope they put the Rays away. The Cubs have the curse of Bartman, but the Phils do not need to be handcuffed with the curse of Bud-man.
"In my own boorish way, I'm only suggesting that if you two gentlemen continue to work from a script with cues and stage directions, these proceedings take on all the dignity of a very bad Gilbert and Sullivan."
Baseball witnessed its first suspended World Series game tonight. The game went into rain delay after many stops and starts, with the score tied 2-2 in the middle of the sixth. It will resume presumably after forty days and forty nights and after Joe Maddon builds an ark that is 8 cubits long and 9 cubits wide, which he will of course pronounce square. The Phils get the ups in the bottom of the sixth when play does resume but unless that diluvial prediction comes true, Cole Hamels will no longer be the pitcher for the Phils.
There were three previous modern World Series games that ended in ties but they were all extra-inning games before the advent of lighted stadiums that resulted in replayed games. They were on October 8, 1907 with the Tigers and Cubs tied 3-3 in the twelfth; October 9, 1912 with the Red Sox and Giants tied 6-6 in the 11th; and October 5, 1922 with the Giants and Yankees tied 3-3 in the tenth. In the last game, umpire George Hildebrand called the game due to darkness even though the sun had not yet begun to set which outraged the local faithful and called for his head. In response, MLB donated the gate to local charities.
This, however, is the first suspended postseason game, and I just found it very curious how the umps and MLB orchestrated the game to end in a suspended tie. The game conditions were already getting embarrassingly hazardous in the fifth. Jimmy Rollins couldn't track down a routine Rocco Baldelli pop up to lead of the top half of the fifth but Baldelli was erased on a great double play started by Chase Utley. The Phils flied out three times with men at second and first in the bottom of the fifth and each play seemed like it could bust the game wide open with another rain-induced misplay. The inning ended with the Phils ahead 2-1.
Then with the camera becoming as glossy as a Liz Taylor White Diamonds commercial and two outs in the top of the sixth, Another slick ball eluded Rollins, this time a grounder off the bat of B.J. Upton. It ended up a single and Rollins may very well have not had a play had he fielded the ball cleanly. The game became tied as Carlos Pena singled to left and Pat Burrell gingerly tossed the ball toward home. After a Longoria fly out to end the inning, the umps delayed and finally suspended the game.
As I watched these same umps and their master, commissioner Bud Selig, a man who comes off just slightly more compassionate than Dick Cheney, dance around reporters in the postgame wake, I wondered how relieved they all were that the Rays had achieved a tie so that they could suspend the game cleanly. I wonder how long they would have let the farce of a game continue had the Phils retained the lead.
A perusal of the rules points to the problem. The general rule seems clear enough:
4.12 SUSPENDED GAMES.
Per the rules, the game could have been called at the top of the sixth after conditions had become unplayable with the Phils winning the game and a splashy title. You see, the rules set up for postseason games were just for games that had not yet become official:
(7) The game has not become a regulation game (4½ innings with the home team ahead, or 5 innings with the visiting club ahead or tied).
I expect that this rule will be expanded to accommodate suspended regulation games next year. However, with no rule to handle the situation, as Bud Selig alluded to later at the press conference, they were not prepared to award the Phils the crown without having played nine innings.
Ergo, the Rays tying the score in the sixth let the MLB off the hook. Now, if the Rays come back to win the Series, I wonder how MLB look back on what they wrought. Then again, the woefully poor umpiring throughout the Series (let alone the entire postseason) is embarrassment enough.
“We Owe You One. We Owe You 1!”
The Phils pummeled the Rays tonight 10-2 in game four of the World Series to take a commanding three-games-to-one lead. And the game wasn't even that close as the Phils' inability to score within the red zone continued to handcuff them in the early innings. They left the bases loaded in the first and third innings and left seven men on base in total. Meanwhile the Rays could do little more than hit two solo home runs.
The Phils equaled their run output in games one through three tonight. This has happened just three times when ten or more runs were scored in the fourth game. The most was by, guess who, the '93 Phils who coughed up game four of the World Series 15-14:
If The Phils win behind Cole Hamels tomorrow, it would quite an historic night. Of course, there's the second Phils World Championship in 126 years of existence, which would garner most of the press. But Hamels (as previously mentioned) would become the first pitcher to record five wins in a postseason without a loss. And the Phils would become just the ninth team since the advent of divisional play and the first since 1999 to win a World Series without a postseason loss at home.
Here are all the others:
The Phils are beating the Rays 6-2 in the middle of the sixth inning of game 4 of the World Series, and Joe Blanton, besides pitching an inspired game so far, has been an unexpected hero at the plate. Blanton went deep for the first time in his career in the fifth and established a little corner of history for himself.
Blanton is now just the fifth man, and the first in forty years, to hit his first career home run in the World Series. Here are the rest with their previous regular-season ABs:
Blanton is also the first pitcher to hit a World Series homer in 34 years. Something that has been done no more than 18 times in baseball history:
Note that I list the primary position for the 19th century players who may have hit a home run in the Series as a position player or a pitcher. The record is incomplete. That's why I say that it has been done no more than 18 times.
The Wee Small Hours
Hell of a game. It's too late to say much more.
The Phils now lead two to one. This series is so close at this point that a couple of miscues can turn the tide. Ryan Madson allowing B.J. Upton to steal second and third and then Carlos Ruiz's throwing error which led to the tying run seemed as if it would be the turning point. And then suddenly the Rays have their own problems with a wild pitch and a throwing error by Dioner Navarro on an ill-advised attempt to correct miscue #1, left Eric Bruntlett at third and a dribbler by newly minted Series hero Carlos Ruiz gave the Phillies a win.
The two teams are now separated by four runs in three games. It looks like this could go seven games even though ESPN reports no one is watching.
Here are the other Series that had the first three games decided by four or fewer runs (ignoring ties). Note that only three went the seven full games:
Cole Hamels has a chance to have demonstrably the greatest postseason pitching performance of all time. He is currently 4-0 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts. Should he get one more starthe is tabbed for game 5he could become the first pitcher in baseball history to win five games without a loss in a postseason.
Here is how he currently falls among the greatest postseason in history based on a minimum of four games won and sorted by most games won, fewest lost, and then best ERA:
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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