Posted in Baseball, Uncategorized

Phillies fans might not want to read this one

Cole Hamels (2010 file photo - credit: Paul Hadsall)
Cole Hamels (2010 file photo – credit: Paul Hadsall)

Philadelphia Phillies spring training camp is probably going to be pretty awkward this year.

Consider Cole Hamels‘ statements in an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

“I just want to win. That’s all. That’s all any competitor wants. And I know it’s not going to happen here. This isn’t what I expected. It’s not what the Phillies expected, either. But it’s reality.”

While we’d all be inclined to agree with Hamels’ assessment of the Phillies’ chances, it’s still pretty shocking to see a baseball player speak that openly about his team being a bad one. But then again, Hamels doesn’t really see the Phillies as his team anymore – he wants out.

“I want to go to a place where I can win again,” Hamels told USA Today Sports. “It’s not like I’m a hired gun. I’ve got four or five years left on my contract. I want to help that team win just like I did here.”

So, that’s going to be an interesting storyline to watch until Ruben Amaro Jr. does finally trade away his ace for whatever return he can get.

Ryan Howard (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)
Ryan Howard (Photo credit: Paul Hadsall)

The Phillies’ first base situation is another potential source of fun.

Amaro made no secret of wanting Ryan Howard off of his team. In a December radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli, the Phillies GM said, “We’ve talked to Ryan. And I told him that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him. With that said if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him.”

Howard is still a Phillie, and it looks like he’s still the starting first baseman… for now.

Manager Ryne Sandberg offered this ambivalent endorsement to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:

“Right now, unless he gets unseated, he’s the first baseman. He needs to prepare himself to be the best first baseman he can be.”

The implosion of the Phillies “dynasty” continues like a slow-motion train wreck.

Posted in Uncategorized

Expected losses

I’ve reached the point where it no longer bothers me when the Mets lose. I expect it.

I tuned in tonight to watch Matt Harvey‘s final start of 2012, because he’s one of the few players on the team that I actually still want to see. But before I even got the TV turned on, Harvey had already given up a leadoff home run to Jimmy Rollins. I figured he’d lose 1-0.

But the Mets surprised me. Ruben Tejada singled and actually stole a base in the third inning. Daniel Murphy got a hit to drive him in, and Harvey was off the hook. David Wright added a solo homer in the sixth, and it seemed like Harvey might get his fourth win of the season.

Bobby Parnell followed Harvey’s seven superb innings with a scoreless eighth. With Frank Francisco unavailable to pitch the ninth, Terry Collins turned to Josh Edgin and it seemed like he’d get his first major league save when he struck out the first two batters he faced.

But then it was time for our first half flashback, when the bullpen was the primary cause of frustrating losses instead of a complete absence of offense.

Chase Utley walked. Ryan Howard made a baseball disappear into the right field stands.

Game over, but not before Bob Davidson and Jordany Valdespin had an opportunity to embarrass themselves on a third strike call in the bottom of the ninth.

At least the fans who went to the game shouldn’t have had a problem getting out of the ballpark after it was all over.

Don’t look now – the Marlins are only one game behind the Mets. The race to the bottom might be one that the Mets can win.

Posted in Uncategorized

Another Mets injury (no, they aren’t really cursed)

The Mets were able to field a lineup with seven of their eight anticipated Opening Day starters last night… at least for two innings.

Andres Torres bats
Andres Torres bats for the San Francisco Giants in this 2010 photo by Flickr user Aunti Juli

Center fielder Andres Torres strained his left calf while making a nice catch to end the top of the second inning, and he’s going to miss at least a few days.

It’s the latest in a series of minor injuries that have struck the Mets this spring, making me jokingly suggest that they should arrange for a purification ceremony for Digital Domain Park to drive out the evil spirits.

But the Mets are not alone in their injury problems – it seems like every team has had to deal with a significant number of muscle strains and tears this spring. If there’s a curse, it’s probably the vanity of professional athletes who want sculpted muscles rather than the flexibility that the sport of baseball requires.

Aside from David Wright‘s abdominal muscle tear, Tim Byrdak‘s knee surgery and Scott Hairston‘s strained oblique, none of the Mets’ injuries have been particularly significant so far… and all three players could still potentially be ready for Opening Day.

If you want to talk about a National League East team with real injury problems, look at the Philadelphia Phillies. Ryan Howard isn’t expected to return until June after having off-season surgery to repair his left Achilles tendon. Chase Utley‘s chronic knee issues will likely make him miss Opening Day and are leading to speculation about his baseball future. And on top of the major questions surrounding their two big hitters, they’ve got the same minor injury issues every other team does.

Continue reading “Another Mets injury (no, they aren’t really cursed)”

Posted in Autographs, Baseball Cards, Uncategorized

Autograph of the day: Al Luplow

Al Luplow played in the Major Leagues from 1961-1967, for the Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Topps selected Luplow to their All-Rookie Team in 1962. Either the pickings were really slim that year, or Luplow never quite lived up to the potential that Topps saw in him. In 481 career games, Luplow batted .235 with 33 home runs and 125 RBIs. To put those numbers into perspective, Phillies first baseban Ryan Howard batted .251 with 48 home runs and 146 RBIs this season. (To be fair to Luplow, though, he only struck out 213 times in 1,243 at bats. Howard struck out 199 times in 610 at bats this year.)

To provide some perspective on the Mets teams of the era, Luplow batted third 26 times in 1966. He hit cleanup 10 times, and batted fifth 4 times. This in a year where he finished with a .251 batting average, 7 home runs and 31 RBIs in 334 at bats.

I do want to thank Mr. Luplow for signing this card from the 1991 Mets Wiz SGA set for me earlier this year.