Meanwhile, Johan Santana pitched well against the Red Sox yesterday. His line: 4 IP, 4 K’s, 2 hits, no runs.
For sure, the sports world is ready to explode with action in the next few weeks. Actually, the world sports scene will be packed with HUGE events until the end of the Olympics in Beijing where athletes will battle pollution worse than Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles combined.
Call them “The Iron Lung Games.”
Nevertheless, the faux dramatics of the NCAA College Basketball Selection Show kicks it all off next Sunday. They stretch that tournament out for most of March so they can weed out all of those low-seeded teams that pulled off those early-round upsets. I guess that’s the proper way to do things because the better teams usually win, though it seems as if interest wanes after all the upsets stop and the TV network stops that rapid-fire coverage of showing 19 games ending all at once.
The truth is the NCAA Tournament lasts too long. What is it, six games to win it all? Shoot, they could do the entire thing in a weekend like a CYO Tournament where school kids played two or three games a day to get a trophy for the school’s trophy case.
Isn’t that what they play for in the NCAA Tournament?
They play The Masters, the biggest golf tournament in the world, in just four days the weekend following the NCAA Tournament. Sure, basketball is a little more athletic than golf, but everything is relative. If a person’s mind and body are programmed to play 18 holes of golf for four straight days, it’s kind of like running 18 miles… or something. Actually, let me explain it this way: I once played 18 holes at Pine Valley and didn’t even have to carry my own bag, but my feet were as sore after any of the 13 marathons I’ve run. Yeah, that even includes the ’98 Boston Marathon where my feet got all swole to the point that I couldn’t wear shoes for three days.
Oh, but the NCAA Tournament and The Masters are just the least of it in a busy-as-a-bee next 30 days. Major League Baseball kicks off its season in less than three weeks, the NHL and NBA playoffs start soon (I think), the NFL Draft is approaching and then the London and Boston Marathons, including the U.S. Olympic Trials for the women’s marathon, cap it all off.
That’s a lot of stuff packed into a month and it could be even more if the Flyers and 76ers make it to the playoffs. Forget about the Pennsylvania Primary on April 22 that could decide on who(m) could lead our union for the next four years and the really important stuff like taxes and that stuff – there’s sports to follow. Besides, according to the ESPN.com story, sports people don’t really care that Hillary Clinton will be criss-crossing our Commonwealth for the next few weeks putting to practice the theories that a.) she will say and do anything to get elected, and/or b.) she will claim many cities in Pennsylvania to be “home,” further exemplifying theory A.
On the other side, Barry Obama seems pretty cool.
But frankly, even with the primary, the draft, Opening Day, the NFL and NFL playoffs, The Masters, the overhyped NCAA Tournament, Easter, Passover and St. Patrick’s Day and the accompanying parade of songs by The Pogues ready to blast off, the issue that has everyone worked into a lather is the status of the Phillies’ fifth starter.
You know, the guy who likely won’t appear in his first game until the second week of the season.
OK. The fifth starter… forget about it. No matter what anyone says, handicaps or conventional wisdom. Adam Eaton, and all that’s left of his $24.5 million salary, will continue to be the No. 5 starter until he no longer can be the No. 5 starter. No, that’s not some sort of cryptic hocus-pocus. It means that as long as there is nothing physically wrong with Eaton’s back, shoulder, mental or cardiovascular games, the Phillies will keep trotting him out there. They did the same thing last year even though Eaton went 10-10 with a 6.29 ERA (glass half full: he was 7-3 on the road and shoved it up the Mets’ collective rears at Shea).
So unless Eaton’s arm or back falls off or he’s clubbed so badly that he’s reduced to sitting Indian-style on the mound with one shoe on and the other in his non-glove hand and beating himself on top of his head with the cleated end and the new-look, throwback jersey defaced with Sharpie scrawl with the word “dog” between “Eaton” and “21,” count on the veteran right-hander to keep taking the ball once every five days.
Or who knows… maybe Eaton will split starts with Kris Benson if he is recovered and ready to go come late April or early May. Perhaps the Phillies will go to a six-man rotation like the Red Sox did last September in preparation for the playoffs. Hey, with this Phillies club something like that could work.
Why not? Brett Myers is returning to the rotation after a year in the ‘pen followed by a career of inconsistent starting pitching; Cole Hamels has never pitched more than 183 innings in any season and has suffered an injury in every season going back to his high school days; Kyle Kendrick has turned in uglier numbers than Eaton this spring and probably would have started the 2008 season at Triple-A if he hadn’t been pressed into service last year; and then there is steady, 45-year-old Jamie Moyer who has seemingly turned in 200-plus innings every year going back to the Reagan Administration.
A six-man rotation? Sure, why not. Or maybe a modified six-man rotation with certain pitchers jumping up a day based on matchups or the importance of a particular game.
In other words, forget about the fifth guy… who will take the No. 6 spot?
 Apparently, The Dropkick Murphys and Ted Leo are playing in Dorchester at the IBEW Local 103 this Friday night. Talk about Irish… that’s more Irish than a Friday night with a bottle of Jameson and my Mick uncles and their bloodshot eyes. Everyone is welcome as long as they bring their own tin whistle, four-string and ride home.