Double dippers

Remember that old adage about good pitching beating good hitting every time? Remember? Of course you do. Aaron Rowand even postulated on it last week after the Phillies dropped two of three to the Dodgers last week. If I remember correctly he said something like, “Good pitching beats good hitting every time… ”

Hey Aaron, guess what? Maybe really good hitting beats good pitching from time to time.

At least that seemed to be the case when the Phillies faced the Padres in pitching-friendly PETCO (or is it Petco?) Park this past weekend. After being shutdown on two hits in a 1-0 loss to Chris Young on Thursday night, Rowand, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and the gang piled on 28 runs in the final three games to take the series.

Check out some of these numbers from the 4-3 trip against the top two clubs in the NL West:

Howard hit .500 (11-for-22) with five homers and 13 RBIs; Utley hit .379 (11-for-29) with five doubles, nine runs and seven RBIs; and Rowand hit .355 (11-for-31) with five runs and eight RBIs.

Meanwhile, some dude named J.D. Durbin allowed just one run in 15 innings including a complete-game shutout in Sunday’s 9-0 victory.

J.D. Durbin? What’s the Deal?

I’m sure we’ll get into Durbin with more depth later, but for now let’s pick on something about Chase Utley. It has been examined by pundits, scribes and the statdorks that Utley is in the mix with Prince Fielder for the NL MVP Award, which is kind of cool but there’s something much more interesting going on under the “2B” for Utley.

There, it reads 41. That’s 41 doubles in 97 games which puts him on pace for 68 for the season. In 1931 a guy named Earl Webb clubbed 67 doubles, which is the best of all time. Interestingly, Webb played two more seasons after his epic ’31 season and then was gone.

Poof! Just like that.

What’s more, no player has hit 60 doubles since 1936 when Joe Medwick and Charlie Gehringer did it. In 2000 Todd Helton hit 59 doubles, which happens to be the Phillies’ record set by Chuck Klein in 1930.

So last year it was Howard taking apart the club’s home run record and this year it could be Utley adding his name atop of the doubles chart.

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David Beckham made his U.S. soccer debut last weekend and all of the stories and all of the hype got me to thinking… how good is that guy? I know a few people who are close followers of soccer and I asked them if Beckham is going to revolutionize something and get people going crazy the way we all did for the New York Cosmos when Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia came to the U.S. in the late ‘70s.

The answer?

Probably not.

“He might be one of the top 100 players ever, but he won’t have as much of an impact on soccer in the U.S. as Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain and the women’s team did,” one friend wrote.

“It helps that he’s white, has a name that’s easy to pronounce, speaks English and is married to a celebrity,” another friend wrote. “He’s probably the best player in the league, but he wasn’t the best player in the European leagues.

However, Beckham joining L.A. in the MLS is kind of like an All-Star baseball player leaving MLB to go play in Japan.”

Meanwhile, U.S. columnists are opining that Beckham’s arrival on our shores won’t turn soccer into a major league sport – though it could push past the NHL. To those ideas I think the writers are missing the point. Soccer already IS a major sport in the U.S. Want proof? Drive past any suburban park on any weekend in any part of the country and look what sport the kids are playing… and no, it ain’t baseball.

Adults might not watch soccer on TV, but the shoe companies dump lots of cash into it and the kids play it. That’s what matters.

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It’s been written that Game 3 of the NBA’s western conference finals from last May was one of the worst officiated games in the league’s history. Anyone have a guess which ref called that game?

Check it out:

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Undoubtedly, it has been a very interesting two days in the Tour de France. Michael Rasmussen has hung onto the Yellow Jersey by riding strong in the Pyrenees after the best time trial of his life. It stands to reason that The Danish Cowboy could take it all the Paris if he rides strong in the final mountain stage on Wednesday, though I suspect he will face a challenge from the Disco boys, Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador, whose victory in Sunday’s mountain stage over Rasmussen was fantastic.

As far as Leipheimer’s Tour goes, he has one more day in which to engage. Either that or hope that one of the riders ahead of him makes a mistake, cracks, or crashes.

Meanwhile, the most memorable rider of the Tour has been Alexandre Vinokourov, who won Saturday’s time trial, reportedly fell on his stitched up knees after colliding with a fan in Sunday’s mountain stage (to lose 29 minutes), before riding away with today’s mountain stage.

Give me a choice between riding cautiously and steadily like Leipheimer or putting it all out there despite the consequences like Vino and I’ll take the blaze of glory.

As Phil Liggett said as Vino pumped his fist to cross the finish line today, “Everyone all over the world loves a fighter… ”

There is nothing inspiring about being careful to get fourth place.

Stage 15 Final
1.) Vinokourov, Astana @ 5:34:28
2.) Kim Kirchen, T- Mobile @ 51 seconds
3.) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi @ same time
4.) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval @ 58 seconds
5.) Juan Manuel Garate, Quick Step @ 2:14
6.) David Arroyo, Caisse d’Epargne @ 3:23
7.) Bernhard Kohl, Team Gerolsteiner @ 4:25
8.) Christian Vandevelde, CSC @ same time
9.) Ludovic Turpin, AG2R Prévoyance @ 5:16
10.) Alberto Contador, The Discovery Channel @ 5:31

Overall
1.) Rasmussen
2.) Contador @ 2:23
3.) Cadel Evans @ 4:00
4.) Leipheimer @ 5:25
5.) Klöden @ 5:34
6.) Carlos Sastre @ 6:46

Here’s my prediction: the winner of the 2007 Tour de France will be evident by lunchtime on Wednesday.

Way to go out on a limb, huh…