Tag Archives: Roy Halladay

15 Blurted-Out Reactions To The Insanity Of Cliff Lee Signing With Philly

the beautiful prom date Philadelphia couldn't stop thinking about

The universe, and Ruben Amaro Jr., are more absurd than I gave them credit for.  Cliff Lee is going to sign with the Phillies for 5 years, $120 million.  I’m not even happy about it.  So many things I thought I knew about baseball have been proven wrong.  I can’t organize my thoughts into a tidy five-paragraph essay (sorry, 9th grade English teachers!) so here are many of them in bullet-point form.

  • Ruben Amaro Jr. is both brilliant and terrible.  The Phillies just lost the NLCS because they couldn’t hit.  So Amaro lets Jayson Werth walk and signs Cliff Lee.  Natch.
  • Here is what the Phillies have spent on Cliff Lee: 4 minor league prospects + $6 million dollars + Cliff Lee + paying Joe Blanton $24 million over 3 years + losing the 2010 NLCS + $120 million dollars + next year’s first round draft pick + next year’s supplemental round draft pick = Cliff Lee.
  • I’ve always felt that Philly had an obsessive relationship with Cliff Lee.  He was like the beautiful prom date with whom we had one magical night.  Afterwards we figured it wouldn’t work out, so we started seeing somebody else (Roy Halladay).  But in our diaries (ie, Philly sports media) we secretly hoped he might return.
  • We traded Cliff Lee last year, in part, because we though Roy Halladay was better than Cliff Lee.  We were right, we’re still right, and now we learn that Cliff Lee agrees with us.
  • The Phillies really are now the Yankees of the National League.  I have no idea how we can afford another $20 million-per-year player.  I wonder if Citizens Bank is going to foreclose on Citizens Bank Ballpark in 2013 when Amaro and Gillick can’t pay their credit card bills.
  • This signing is overkill.  Yes, we now get to boast a fantasy baseball-like pitching staff.  But our offense is way too left-handed and streaky, our payroll surely now is maxed out for years to come, and Cliff Lee is not going to be worth $20 million dollars in 2014.  Maybe we’ll trade Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown for Justin Upton.
  • The Phillies are certainly going to be good next year.  Hell, I bet we’re going to be winning 120 games…after 7 innings.
  • Maybe we’re entering the post-bullpen era.  Each starter goes 7 innings, and then whichever starter is scheduled to throw a bullpen session that day pitches the 8th and 9th.
  • Last year, we tried to trade Joe Blanton to free up money to sign Cliff Lee.  When we couldn’t do that, we traded Cliff Lee and signed Joe Blanton.  Now we’ve signed Cliff Lee, and are going to free up money by…trading Joe Blanton.  This is insane, and the rest of baseball is laughing.  We can’t afford Blanton (I guess?  who the hell knows), and now we want to trade him.  “Hey baseball,” Amaro is saying, “who wants Joe Blanton and his $16 million dollar contract?”  We’re going to give him away for nothing, because baseball knows the Phillies have no leverage in those negotiations.
  • Maybe now Joe Blanton can retire and join the other heavy-set white guys with trashy facial hair getting drunk in the bleachers like we always knew he should.
  • Early favorite nicknames for the Phillies’ rotation: ClH2O, or CH2O .  Chlorine + water is how you treat your pool.  CH2O is formaldehyde.  We’re also more than halfway to spelling CHOOCH with our starting rotation.
  • This is the first time I can remember that the Yankees could not buy the player they wanted.  The streak is over.  Maybe this is a watershed moment.  Like when Napoleon lost at Waterloo.  Or Voldemort couldn’t kill baby Harry Potter.
  • Jayson Werth must be pissed.
  • By 2014, the Phillies will be Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, and a bunch of players we haven’t even heard of yet.  But hey: the Phillies will have enough money coming off the books in 2011 to sign the entire Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Roy Halladay + Cliff Lee + Roy Oswalt + Cole Hamels is as good on paper as the Maddux + Glavine + Smoltz + Avery/Neagle/Millwood Braves of the 1990s.

RIP Phillies 2010 playoff run

We (and Ruiz) will always have Halladay's no-hitter

If the Phillies want to get to the playoffs next year, I’d recommend investing in the bullpen.  The Mariners are the model to follow.  Sign a bunch of guys with good but erratic stuff, let them fight it out in spring training, and see who sticks.  Most relievers are only good for a couple years at best, so why spend money on them?  It’s not a coincidence that the teams with the best NL bullpens tend to make, and do well in, the playoffs:

NL 2010
1. San Diego (2.81 era, 9.5 k/9)
2. San Francisco (2.99, 8.6 k/9)
3. Atlanta (3.11, 10.1 k/9)
10. Philadelphia (4.02, 8.1 k/9)

NL 2009
1. LA Dodgers (3.14, 8.2 k/9)
2. San Francisco (3.49, 7.9 k/9)
9. Philadelphia (3.91, 7.6 k/9)

NL 2008
1. Philadelphia (3.22, 7.7 k/9)
2. LA Dodgers (3.34, 8.6 k/9)

There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Lineup

Also, Lincecum must be standing on a box

What Halladay is thinking: “Cocky little fucker.  I’m in your league now, so go home and hug your Cy Young trophy and remember what it feels like to be the reigning Cy Young winner, because you’re never going to feel like this again.”

What Lincecum is thinking: “Whoa!  Roy Halladay!”

Top 5 sports moments of my life thus far

I normally try to avoid “whiny personal blog” entries like this.  You know the type, reminiscing or ruminating out into space without any objectively interesting content for anyone besides perhaps the author’s mother.  But I’m still floored by Roy Halladay’s no-hitter last night, and so forgive me this indulgence.

I don’t have the memory for these things that I’d like to have, but I think Roy Halladay’s no-hitter last night was the second-most exciting and meaningful sports moment I’ve ever witnessed or watched.

"The throw to the plate will be late..."

1.  Mariners-Yankees Division Series, 1995, Game 5.  Randy Johnson and Jack McDowell in from the bullpen to pitch in extra-innings.  The Yankees going ahead in the top of the eleventh.  And then Edgar’s double down the left-field line, scoring Joey Cora from third and Griffey all the way from first for a walk-off series win.  I can still recite Dave Niehaus’s call, verbatim, including the pauses and the inflections, and if my mood is right, I can give myself goosebumps.

2.  Roy Halladay’s no-hitter, 2010 Division Series.  Less drama than the Mariners game, but more mind-bogglingly astounding.  One of my favorite players, and one of the most impressive pitchers of the past ten years, in the playoff start he’s been aching for for more than a decade.  And he throws a no-hitter.  There weren’t even any great defensive plays to save it either.  Complete domination of a very good hitting team.  I keep trying to think of analogies and I keep failing.

3.  Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon Finals, 2008.  Federer was this demigod, an untouchable genius of tennis for whom Wimbledon was his most sacred altar.  I always rooted for him.  But everyone had seen Nadal coming for a couple years, like a massive freight train you spot from a long way off.  Both player’s storylines were perfectly complimentary, they collided in the best possible scenario, and then both men played tennis that lived up to the impossible hype.  One of the best tennis matches, both in terms of play and of significance, ever.

4.  Phillies winning the 2008 World Series.  The World Series wasn’t particularly dramatic (in fact, thanks to the weather and Bud Selig, it was almost anticlimactic), but it’s here for me for two reasons.  First, the first sports team I’ve cared about that’s won it all.  Second, that weekday night’s walk to Broad Street.  My housemates and I walked from West Philly to Broad Street, and the spontaneous public celebration of thousands of baseball fans was something I’d never experienced before.  In a city I felt was dominated by a “get out of my way” street mentality, the public street happiness that night blew me away.

"Randy points to the sky..."

5.   Seattle Mariners – Anaheim Angels one-game playoff, 1995.  After Luis Sojo’s bases-clearing double the game wasn’t particularly close.  But Cy Young-winning Randy Johnson pitching a dominating complete game (3 hits, 12 k’s) against the pitcher we traded to get him (Mark Langston) was only half of it.  It was the first time the Mariners had ever made the playoffs, it was the season that kept baseball in Seattle, and, well, things are just more meaningful when you’re 12.

Also up there:

  • 2005 Champions League final, AC Milan vs. Liverpool: watched it while on study abroad in my tiny London dorm kitchen.  Best soccer match I’ve ever seen and the moment I “got it.”
  • 2002 US Open Final, Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi.  Last time they ever played each other.
  • 1996 Summer Olympics Women’s Team Gymnastics Final: had an 11 year old’s crush on all the girls on that team.
  • Michael Phelps, 2008 Summer Olympics (in particular the 4×100 meter freestyle relay where we beat France)

Yankees vs. Phillies: not as easy a choice as I would like

I am a free thinking, freedom-loving baseball fan unburdened by a moldering conscience or a capitalism fetish.  Thus, I root against the Yankees, particularly during the playoffs. 

Living in Philadelphia these past four years has made me a Phillies fan (particularly with the Mariners not giving me much to write home about).  However, with the prospect of another Yankees-Phillies World Series upon us, I am forced to consider the possibility that the Phillies resemble the Evil Empire more than I would prefer to admit.  So let us examine the two likely starting playoff rosters for each team: 

every player a former or deserving all-star at some point

 

[WAR numbers from Fangraphs.com.  The salary figures are in the millions.  The sparkle/shit index (SSI) is a carefully constructed metric weighing how much a golden retriever would root for that player in the playoffs.  Positive numbers indicate golden retriever support.] 

I was surprised to see that the Yankees roster manages to overcome A-Rod’s massive -10 SSI and even out to golden retriever-neutral.  This is the time of year when you have to respect the hell out of Rivera for his post-season performances.  Gardner, Granderson and Swisher are all likeable guys worth cheering for.  This is also the time of year when you root against Jeter just to combat the noise of national baseball journalists humping his leg. 

Now to the Phillies: 

only 4 players who have not been all-star caliber at some point

 

I’m relieved to see significant discrepancies between the Phillies and the Yankees in SSI and salary.  The Phillies also have the best story of the two teams, that of Roy Halladay finally making it to the playoffs.  So it’s clear which team is easier to root for (golden retrievers agree). 

But how about each team’s path to the playoffs?  The Yankees roster is spearheaded by massive free agents Sabathia and Teixeira, plus A-Rod (the Haliburton of baseball players).  The Phillies are less free-agent heavy, but are absolutely banking on Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt to make it through October.  The Phillies used their farm system and financial resources to acquire Halladay and Oswalt from teams who could not afford them.  Very Yankee-like if you ask me. 

So it seems we have two teams here whose financial resources have provided a few key players which separate them from the other strong teams in the league.  Neither team can boast the home-grown, DIY credentials of the Twins or the Rays.  But if roster construction and WAR do not make it clear which cheering section we should occupy this October, the SSI index provides us with an answer: 

woof

Dan Shaughnessy Is Worried About the Celtics – Yeah, That Must Be It

Do not let this man talk to you about sports

Applebees waiter-turned-sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy posted a recent dither on SI.com about fraternization among professional athletes.  Shaughussy’s “thesis” is that the LeBron-Wade-Bosh union in Miami is proof that athletes are too friendly with the competition.  Back in the good old days, Shauhessy pines, players wanted to beat the competition, not hug them.

Now, Shawnmessy should stop tricking Sports Illustrated into perceiving his opinions as “journalism” and go back to telling us about Applebee’s new 550-calorie menu options.  But he does bring up an interesting subject (to us, not him): the balance of competition and good sportsmanship in American professional sports.  I’m steamed about his article, but I’m going to do my best to focus on this topic.

The question of what lessons professional athletes should teach us is a long and unsettled debate.  Shaughmessy gives anecdotes about Ted Williams embarrassing a young pitcher who asked him for an autograph.  He also relates how he somehow cornered Bob Gibson (in an Applebees booth, probably) and told him about a young hitter homering off Roger Clemens and then asking Clemens to sign the ball.  According to Seanmessy, Gibson was so enthralled by this story that he got really, really mad.  This, Shaunbotony suggests, is how real athletes treat their competition.  With contempt and scorn.  They stomp young, admiring players into the mud and then piss on their broken carcases for daring to acknowledge that striking out Ted Williams or hitting a home run off Bob Gibson is likely to be the pinnacle of their professional careers.

Ty Cobb is more his speed

Our American society is pretty far removed from the constant threat of warfare which has characterized most of human history.  Sports, particularly football, are surrogates for that warfare, allowing us to choose a side and pretend that life, death, and glory are on the line.  It’s safe because we know, at the end of the day, nobody dies.  But we like the adrenaline and we need a source of honor to defend.

We hold up athletics as a way to pursue an upstanding, moral life.  We try to make professional athletes role models, and get all pissy when they fail us.  Sport teaches us important lessons about hard work, dedication, teamwork, and dealing with success and failure.  Must we really choose between respecting one’s opponent (a noble virtue) and seeking their total destruction with every ounce of our strength and cunning (a profitable attitude, but somewhat unstable when found widely throughout society)?

Shabalabadingdong bemoans the hugfest that the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has apparently become in the last 15 years.  Were the 2003 and 2004 series not filled with enmity?  Was Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run not sufficiently competitive?  Did the Red Sox go soft in 2004 by not taking a team piss on the Yankees logo after Game 7?  What about the whole Pedro-Don Zimmer fiasco?

A hug gone wrong, apparently

Surely we can agree that animosity towards your opponent can go too far.  In 1999 Wichita State star pitcher Ben Christensen hit an opposing batter in the eye with a 90 mph pitch because that batter was timing his warm-up pitches from the on-deck circle.  Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson said afterwards that Wichita got the worse end of the deal because Christensen was ejected and suspended.  A horrifying incident and one that not even an Applebees waiter watching 300 trailers on Youtube would think is proper sporting conduct.

In my view, sport creates within the structure of the game sufficient space for competitive animosity.  Roy Halladay wants to dominate the other team every time he takes the ball.  Kevin Garnett takes every point scored on him as a personal affront and challenge.  Roger Federer seeks to methodically turn every opponent he faces into a quivering mass of sneakers and useless synthetic gut string.  The fact that none of these world-class athletes go out of their way to mock, humiliate, or denigrate their opponents outside of the playing arena makes them better, not lesser, athletes. 

Hockey even has a built-in system for the sort of competitive rage Shoonoshy apparently craves.  Enforcers’ primary purpose is to get into fights with the other team and provide violent retaliation (exactly the sort of behavior D. Night Shaunessy wants to see in home plate collisions).  Yet (most) NHL enforcers do not continue the fight in the parking lot after the game.  They know the boundaries of the game, and they “leave it all on the field” (a cliché that our Applebees Serving Associate would probably attribute to the sort of athletes he thinks we don’t see anymore).

Want examples of true contempt for the opposition?  Look at soccer riots, or LeGarrett Blount’s punch, or the Kermit Washington-Rudy Tomjanovich punch.  That’s where the line is crossed.  That is when people lose respect for their athletic opponents.

Perhaps nearly 1,000 words is 1,000 too many to spend in reaction to an SI.Com puff piece faxed to the editors on the back of an Applebees kids’ menu.  But when there’s dog shit on the sidewalk, you do everybody a favor by pointing it out.  Baseball needs dirtier play the way MMA needs smaller compression shorts.  Athletes who give their all in the game, and respect their opponents outside of the game, should be encouraged in the national media, not denigrated.

So what’s the ultimate reading of Dan Shantwritewell’s puff piece?  He’s scared the Miami Heat are going to spend the next 5 years steamrolling his beloved Boston Celtics.

*NOTE: there are a million issues I have with the SI.com article I’m reacting to with this.  But I’m all worked up and doing my best to keep this piece in some semblance of order.