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Good Ol' Chowlie—He Just Didn't Care
2006-05-24 10:12
by Mike Carminati

There was a bit on the old TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 in which they lambasted the producers of the monster movie that they were reviewing in one segment called, "They Just Didn't Care!" They shouted that phrase repeatedly over shots from the film of some of the supposed monsters with visible zippers and others wearing lycra bodysuits and sneakers. It ranks right up there with their top bits along with their examination for one film of the main character's proclivity to "put his leg up on things" or when the demented Torgo delivered a pizza.

Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel must be a fan of the show, or maybe he was watching it in the dugout during yesterday's extra-inning somnambulating by his Phils. "I Need A" left long reliever Ryan Madson in to soak up seven-plus innings throwing 105 pitches and batting twice—TWICE! Madson trotted out for his eighth inning of relief in the 16th but surrendered a leadoff homer to Carlos Beltran, thereby ending the rather odd marathon.

Madson was pitching well but it was not as if he was lights out on the mound. His first few innings were shaky at best, and I gasped every time he threw that big hanging curve. The Mets left men at first and second in his first inning of work, the ninth, with Kaz Matsui grounding out to end it. They left Reyes at second after he stole the base in the tenth. They left men at first and second in the eleventh and again Matsui grounded out, this time to Madson. The also had the leadoff hitter, Beltran, walk and steal second, but then he overran the bag and was tagged out. Two batters later David Wright started a second rally with a single that may have scored Beltran.

OK, so the Phils should consider themselves lucky to get three scoreless innings from Madson even though the Mets got men into scoring position in each inning and he walked four men (though two were intentional). With Madson batting second in the top of the twelfth, everyone including the Phils broadcasters expected "I Need A" to lift Madson for a pinch-hitter. But, incredibly, Madson came up to fly out to left to help the Phils go down in order. I guess "I Need A" was playing for a tie—maybe he forgot he wasn't at home.

The game looked like it was over when David Wright hit a ball to the right field wall that Bobby Abreu nabbed. It was a big hanging curve that looked like it was out of the ballpark when it came off the bat. The long flyout ended the inning, but anyone on the Phils side had to breath a deep sigh of relief.

So again, one would expect that Madson was gone, right? Nope, "I Need A" left him in to lead off the fifteenth by striking out—again he played for the tie.

The Phils offense was anemic in the second half of the ballgame. After scoring eight runs in seven innings, the Phils scored none on just four hits in the last nine innings. They went 4 for 25 with a walk, one hit batsman, one caught stealing, and nine—count 'em, NINE—strikeouts against five different Met pitchers, four of whom pitched during Madson's Harvey Haddix impersonation.

While they were sucking wind at the plate, "I Need A" nursed his two—TWO!—backup catchers on the bench until the 15th inning. Yes, he kept Sal Fasano and his inflamed testicle in the game for fifteen innings (And speaking of which, if you Tivoed "House" and have yet to watch it, skip the scene when the patient goes to the bathroom and something, that will remain nameless, explodes. OH, THE HUMANITY!).

"I Need A" decided to pull a double-switch—again playing for the tie—when Madson entered the game. He pulled David Bell who was 2-for-5 with a homer and 5 RBI and replaced him with Abraham Nunez, who would go 0-for-3. Now, I'm not Bell's biggest fan, but when a player is that hot, why replace him?

Well, for the magnificent double-switch, of course. The pitcher's spot in the lineup was due up second in the tenth. He had to make the move, right?

I won't even point out that they could have pinch-hit for Madson and brought in another pitcher. Well, maybe I will. The Phils had a day off the day before. Closer Tom Gordon had been used in one game (May 21) for just one inning since May 14, and that was in the ninth inning of a 10-5 win, a great use of one's closer. In classic Manuel style, Gordon worked the previous three games and nine of the previous 14, dating back to April 30. To quote Judge Smails, "The man's a menace!"

However, if they did want to get more than one inning out of Madson, they could have pulled double-switch with Fasano. He led off the next inning, was coming off an injury, and the Phils just added a third catcher to the active roster. Why not use them? Especially, in a potentially extra-inning game? Why do you have a third catcher if you don't pull your putative starter there? Insane.

And while I'm at it, I have to point out that Jimmy Rollins is killing this team's offsense. He went 1-for-7 yesterday, and is batting .241 with a .308 on-base percentage. You're in trouble when your leadoff hitting gets on just 30% of the time. He's been especially bad in May batting .210 with just a .297 OBP and a .642 OPS. He's getting killing by lefties: 163/275/.302/.577. It might be time to give up on switch-hitting when you're doing that badly.

The Phils are 26th in the majors in on-base percentage from the leadoff spot (.301). With Bobby Abreu struggling—for him (I know he has a .949 OPS)—at the plate, could it be time to try him in the lead off spot and see if his .449 OBP could be of use. OK, it may be nuts to bat your best hitter first, but what about trying Shane Victorino, who is batting .360 with a .407 OBP in 75 at-bats spelling Aaron Rowand in center. When Rowand returns, his .356 OBP couldn't hurt in the leadoff spot.

Whatever they do, if they do want to stay in the playoff hunt, they have to make a change at the top of the order. Rollins is an incredibly streaky hitter. If he again regains his stroke and becomes a credible leadoff man again, then that's a big plus. It opens up some options. But right now he's an albatross in the leadoff spot, one they cannot afford to have around their necks any longer.

Finally, this game, you probably heard, was the longest so far this season. It ranks among the longest the team has ever played. It's their 41st game that was 16 or more innings. The longest was a game on July 17, 1918 at Wrigley. They lost 2-1 to the soon-to-be NL Champ Cubbies in the 21st inning. Lefty Tyler went 21 innings for Chicago scattering 13 hits and one walk.

Here are all the games of 16 or more innings. By the way, they were 15-26 in these games:

DateGame NumVisiting teamHome teamVT runsHT runsInning
2006-05-24 20:42:39
1.   das411
Well at least we know Lieberthal must be close to returning because Salitalian caught FIFTEEN innings in that game. AND Randy Wolf may be rehabbing faster than schedule too b/c of how Cholly used his best starter for seven innings of relief.

Good thing Jim Thome's personal manager is still around...oh wait...

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