Thursday, September 22, 2005

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be writing about the Mariners, but sadly, I find it so hard to care about them this week. I'll be better next week, I promise. I'm even going to the games for sure on Tuesday and Friday. Maybe Sunday, depending on what happens with Danny Boy.

Well, wait. Let's see, what happened to the M's this week? They went to Toronto, where they got to hang out with the Boo Jays, a team which is distinctly better than the Mariners, in that they're actually almost playing .500 ball. Also, they're in Canada, which of course makes them cooler, except the part where they lack real Canadians. The player with the most French-sounding name, Gustavo Chacin, is actually from Venezuela. I suppose they've got Cordel Leonard Koskie, the pride of Manitoba, though, so it's not an entirely lost cause.

On Monday, Richie Sexson hit a grand slam to win the game. On Tuesday, the highlight was getting to see Gil Meche bullpenning it, despite a loss. On Felixday, he pitched a heck of a game, and while Eddie tried to lose it, he couldn't, quite. The highlight of that game, of course, was seeing Brandon League come out and replace Dave Bush. The jokes write themselves this late in the season, y'know. Today, we had the father-to-be Pineiro out on the mound, and while it was nice to see the M's weren't going to take the first inning 5-0 deficit lying down, someone decided it'd be a good idea to leave Pineiro in the game into the 8th inning, where he promptly gave up two runs. (Not to totally diss his performance - 8 K in 8 innings is better than we see from most of our staff.)

So, we split the series with the Jays. It could be worse. If we hadn't, they'd be at .500 now, and we'd be tied with Tampa Bay for second-worst team in the AL.

Speaking of the worst team in the AL, for some reason we're now going off to face our AL Central rivals, the Detroit Tigers. They have just come off a wonderful four-game series, where they were, um, swept by Kansas City. Yeah. You know the Royals, right? That team that lost to Cleveland tonight for their 100th loss of the year? Yeah, them. I hope the Tigers are ashamed of themselves.

But, hey, more improbable things have happened. Why don't I talk for a minute about a team I actually care about right now -- the Phillies!

Yes, I'm young (relatively, that is). But I've been properly taught to shudder at certain things. I mean, if you're a diehard Phillies fan, you have a haiku tattooed on your soul that goes a little like this:

Six games up, with twelve to play
Why should we worry?

41 years ago yesterday, September 21 1964, was the day where the Phillies started the legendary ten-game slide which caused them to finish in second place, despite that there should have been no way it could happen with such a great team. My grandfather even had his World Series tickets ordered. I wasn't there. I don't know. But what I do know is, it started with the Cincinnati Reds. It also ended with the Cincinnati Reds. Guess where the Phillies are off to this weekend to play? Cincinnati. And we NEED to win. Despite the Pirates' best attempts -- and they really tried, even putting Zach Duke up today -- the Astros took 3 out of 4 games from the Buccos.

Now, it's true that the Cubs aren't completely awful -- and actually, so far this season the Astros are 4-5 against them -- but, of the Astros' 9 games left to play, 7 are against the Cubs, 2 are against the Cardinals. Even if the Cards whomp 'em and they don't win all of their games against the Cubs, if the Astros go 5-4 in their last 9 games, the Phillies would have to go 7-2 to even tie them for the wildcard. It's not impossible, but it's a long shot by all means.

The really sucky part is that this really all comes down to that series against Houston at the beginning of the month. The Phillies needed to win, and they didn't. It was inexcusable. Especially the part where they didn't win either game that I attended. Bastards.

But let's look at the bright side. Jimmy Rollins, bless his heart, has come back from his slump that made everybody go "What sort of lead-off hitter is this chump?" and instead is in the midst of a 27-game hitting streak, which is the best hitting streak by a Phillies player since Ed Delahanty in 1899.

Ryan Howard, in an equally-improbable event, slugged a grand slam to win Wednesday's game. What's improbable about it? It was off a lefty. Infact, it was his ONLY home run off a lefty this year. But it came at a great time. I can almost imagine him stepping up to the plate, going "I asked you, Jobu, to come help me hit the lefties. I give you rum. I give you cigars. But you no come. Fuck you, Jobu. I do it myself."

Jon Lieber, who I wrote a despondent "Dear Jon" letter to a few weeks ago, has really stepped up this month. He is 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA this month. And while today's game was a nailbiter, still 0-0 into the 9th, the Phillies decided to see if they could get a win for Jonny. And what a win! The first career home run for Shane Victorino couldn't have come at a better time. V is for victory, Victorino, and Vicente Padilla, who takes the mound tomorrow. LET'S GO PHILLIES!

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