Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What planet is this guy from?

I happily hopped into my wonderful Chevy Lumina and made the short drive to Dillsburg, Pa., to cover my first high school baseball state tournament game. One of our area teams was going up against a team that traveled all the way from Philadelphia, a three-hour trip after factoring in traffic. The hometown fans quickly became bored, as they saw their boys jump out to a 7-0 lead in the first inning and beat the Philly boys in five innings via the 10-run rule. It was disheartening to me that this squad was the best the inner city had to offer, and they struggled with basic mechanics you're supposed to learn in Little League. Major League Baseball has been trying to encourage inner-city youth to appreciate and learn the game again. From what I saw, there's still a long way to go...

Speaking of struggling teams from Philadelphia, I temporarily thought last night that I'd have to push back this particular posting when a Phillies hurler was pitching a no-hitter through six innings. Common sense then smacked me in the face, as I realized that pitcher was Cole Hamels.

Hamels no longer possesses the mental clarity to hold a team hitless for nine innings. Hell, he has to fight to keep his team in front when it gets an early lead for him, and the Phils hadn't even managed to do that for what feels like the 20th straight game. Sure enough, the Padres only needed two solo homers to break up the no-hitter and put themselves in great shape to win the game, denying the Phillies their first home series win in a month.

I know the rule is to never talk to a guy who's throwing a no-hitter, but Hamels is one of those guys you almost have to do the opposite. Talk to him about anything that gets his mind off the fact that he's throwing a no-hitter, because he'll think too much about the bite on his curve or the movement of his splitfinger and then bam! You're down 2-0.

One run.

Seriously, guys? I thought we were done with this. And the guy who dominated you on the mound...what's his name....LeBlanc? The only LeBlanc I had ever heard of before last night was the guy who played Joey on "Friends," and we could probably throw him out there and he'd have just as much success against this lineup.

The Utley-Howard-Werth combination is forming a Bermuda Triangle that wipes out all run production. The trio was a dismal 1-for-11 last night, and for the second game in a row, Jayson Werth ended it striking out swinging with a runner in scoring position.

This is starting to feel like some weird baseball horror movie.

LeBlanc's sucess against the Philly lineup reminded me of the all-to-recent scoreless drought of 30 straight innings against a bunch of no-name pitchers. At roughly the same time, early Cy Young Award favorite Ubaldo Jimenez pulled off a stretch of 33 innings without allowing a run. I've had the opportunity to see the wizard work and Praise Jeebus and Holy Hershiser, his stuff is nasty.

It’s too bad we don’t get more physical evidence of the supernatural or else the Phillies could claim that all those other pitchers they couldn't figure out were injected with Jimenez mojo or talent juice, and then the Monstars came down with orders from Danny DeVito to put the enslavement of the human race up for grabs in a contest featuring Michael Jordan and…oh wait, wrong fantasy…

You see how easy it is to get lost in this nightmare? For the love of Bugs Bunny, get out of this funk, Phillies, and get back in first place where you belong!

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