I did my best to avoid watching the Phillies game last night for a couple of reasons. One was that I wanted to go to bed before midnight and if I got caught up in watching the baseball game chances are I would have ended up staying up all night. If there is one thing to be said about these Phillies it is that they are not sleep inducing.
Another reason why I chose only random glances at the ballgame from Dodger Stadium last night before heading off to bed was the fact that the “Godfather II” was on. No offense to the Phillies, their players, management and fans, but a large Italian-American family from New York has had more of an impact on American culture than the remaining baseball club from Philadelphia.
That’s just one man’s opinion, but I’m sticking with it. This type of thinking goes right along with my opinion that Jim Brown was right to retire from the Cleveland Browns so that he could make “The Dirty Dozen.” I’ve seen football games and I’ll venture to guess that I’ll see more of them before I through with my days on this spinning rock, but for my money “The Dirty Dozen” is better than the best football games.
Call me crazy.
But speaking of crazy, it didn’t take Bill James to crunch the numbers and put them all in a neat row on a spreadsheet to figure out what went wrong with the Phillies in the 10-3 loss to the Dodgers last night. Better yet, the antithesis of Bill James probably has a better grasp on what went wrong last night than the so-called master himself.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it was the pitching. More in depth than that it was the pitching of veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer whose final line was a full sampling of the numbers from two through 10.
Take a gander:
5 1/3 IP
10 earned runs
2 home runs
Yep, all of that on just 90 pitches, including a five-pitch fourth inning.
Normally Moyer’s outing would simply be chalked up to being “one of those nights,” except for the fact that “one of those nights” has been the norm and not the exception. Though Moyer, 44, has allowed 10 runs in just three starts of his 21-year Major League career, he has a 10.06 ERA with 27 hits, eight strikeouts, seven walks and four homers.
What makes Moyer’s poor showing most troublesome is that the Phillies have no one else to pick up the slack behind the veteran lefty. In the reports from Dodger Stadium Moyer came up with the bases loaded and two outs with a five-run deficit and manager Charlie Manuel couldn’t pinch-hit for him.
Said Manuel: “I thought about hitting for him there, but then I looked up and thought, ‘Where do we go with our bullpen?’ He had about 60 pitches at that point. I definitely was thinking about it, but we talked it out. I didn’t see where I could pinch-hit for him there.”
In other words, the manager still doesn’t trust the bullpen he’s been given. Frankly, who can blame him? But with Moyer struggling, Adam Eaton still searching for mediocrity, J.D. Durbin and his double-digit ERA holding down a spot in the rotation, with rookie Kyle Kendrick and the quietly struggling Cole Hamels filling out the rotation, Manuel’s troubles my go far beyond the bullpen.
This is about as deep as it gets for the numbers for me, because, frankly, baseball is about people not statistics…
In every game the Phillies have played since the All-Star Break the winning team has scored at least 10 runs. The Phillies have scored 28, while the opposition has 27.
The numbers are starting to come into clearer focus at the Tour de France following the tough Stage 9 that featured three tough climbs, including the daunting Col du Galibier. For one, Michael Rasmussen remained in the Yellow Jersey, while Tour rookie, Mauricio Soler of Colombia, won the toughest stage of this year’s race.
More telling is that it seems as if there are just a handful of riders remaining with a shot to win the race even though there are still 11 stages remaining, including two time trials, four flat stages and three days climbing in the Pyrenees.
It’s still anyone’s race. It just isn’t Alexandre Vinokourov’s race anymore.
Vinokourov, the pre-race favorite, battled to finish 20th in Stage 9 and dropped to 21st overall, more than eight minutes behind Rasmussen. After Tuesday’s stage Vinokourov (still wrapped and stitched up after the early-race wreck) tearfully recounted how he could not respond to the attacks up Telegraphe or Galibier.
But American Levi Leipheimer, in a post-race interview by CSN’s sister station Versus, said the race was still wide open and that even though he wasn’t sure where Vinokourov was in Tuesday’s climbs, knows that no one should sleep on the hard-noses Kazakh.
“Whether he’s really affected by the crash for the next couple of weeks, I couldn’t say for sure,” Leipheimer said. “But I wouldn’t make the mistake of forgetting about him.”
Stage 9 Final
1.) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia in 4:14:24
2.) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at :38
3.) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, same time
4.) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ :40
5.) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, @ :42
6.) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, same time
7.) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, s.t.
8.) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, @ :46
9.) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, same time
10.) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, s.t.
11.) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, @ :54
12.) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, same time
13.) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, @1:33
14.) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 1:36
15.) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at 1:49
16.) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at 3:24
17.) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA, same time
18.) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, s.t.
19.) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, France s.t.
20.) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan
1.) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 43:52:48
2.) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at 2:35
3.) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 2:39
4.) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 2:41
5.) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:08
6.) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 3:18
7.) Carlos Sastre, Team CSC, Spain, at 3:39
8.) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 3:50
9.) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:53
10.) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 5:06
There was an interesting story in today’s The New York Times about a pre-dawn raid by anti-doping inspectors on race leader Michael Rasmussen’s room. The crazy part about this wasn’t that the testing raid (I guess they really needed that blood and urine?) came just five hours before the toughest stage of the Tour de France, but that the raid was sanctioned by the UCI.
The UCI, of course, is the International Cycling Union, or the union that is supposed to represent the riders. But the UCI is hardly the MLBPA. Actually, it seems as if the UCI is more interested in selling out the bike riders it is supposed to represent.
Could anyone imagine the MLBPA staging drug-testing raids on players before a World Series game? How about the NFLPA doing the same thing the morning of the Super Bowl? What is most interesting about the testing of Rasmussen is that as the man with the Yellow Jersey, he is subject to drug tests following every stage.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the UCI won’t be happy until it destroys its sport.