Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. The Phillies Bullpen. Yeah, it was a heck of a game. The Mets looked dominant early. The Phillies looked powerful in the middle. And things were just flat-out strange late. Both Carlos Delgado and Ryan Howard made potentially game-saving defensive plays in extra innings. By the time the Mets were beaten I was so tired that it was almost a relief. Almost. But not quite. The fact I had given up hope during each of Aaron Heilman's three innings of work had me well onto the acceptance stage of grief by the time that Victorino crossed home plate with the winning run. The final story, however, features the Fightins relievers in the central role. After the Jamie Moyer got roughed up by the Metropolitans early in the contest, those fellows who trotted in from just below the standing-room section in right-center field limited the visiting team to just 1 run over 10 innings. And that run? It came in the fourth inning of a game that eventually went 13 frames. So the Mets were essentially shut out over a regulation nine-inning affair by Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madsen, JC Romero and Rudy Seanez. That last guy actually played with Keith Hernandez in Cleveland before No. 17 hung up his cleats. Yet he and his rag-tag group (Eyre was recently discarded by the Cubs, Romero was dumped by the Red Sox last season) did exactly what they needed to do to get there side a big, big, bigger win.

2. Instant Replay. After a solid and seemingly rigid resistance, Major League Baseball has worked shockingly quick to institute instant replay on "boundary calls" starting Thursday. The reviewable things will be homer-related. Was the home run fair/foul? Was it really out (most important in those asinine parks with the line on the wall separating in-play from home run)? Was it touched by a fan? In other words, there will be no more Jeffrey Maier moments in October. For one, I think this is great. A home run should be a home run. I have no interest in seeing the game have the tape used for fair/foul on balls hit down the line or for bang-bang plays at a base. Or, least of all balls and strikes. The human element can stay in those places because it is integral to those moments. That's why there are rules like, Tie goes to the runner. That "tie" is based on the human perception of the events rather than the absolute micro-second, frame-by-frame analysis of what arrived first. The human element is part of the game. However, there should be no human element in a home run. That is an absolute entity.

3. The CC for Cy Campaign. Although Big Pelf may become my darkhorse candidate if he keeps it up, WWOD? is currently touting CC Sabathia for the NL Cy Young. And, perhaps (not) following my lead, is Steve Aschburner over at Sports Illustrated. The heftiest lefty is currently 8-0 in ten starts since arriving in Milwaukee and would be become the first player ever to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards in both leagues.

4. Fantasy Football Drafts. Most of them are done. I had my first one last night. My girlfriend's league had theirs last week. My "main" league doesn't even know if we're using Yahoo or ESPN.com yet. But, then again, we particularly bad at things involving organization or following through. Nevertheless, it doesn't really get too much better than digging into a good Fantasy Football draft. The drunkeness, the single-minded focus on something with no bearing on our real lives. The drunkeness. It's just a great end-of-summer rite. Few things really make a sports fan realize that Fall is really around the corner, that the smell of burnt leaves and the taste of tailgate food is on the way.

5. Michael Strahan. Maybe the story got ahead of him a little bit, with his financial requirements for returning to the New York Football Giants as well documented Osi's knee injury. Or, maybe he was actually savvy enough to know that there was zero chance he would be able to write a better ending to his playing career then he already did and that sort of personal narrative is worth more than eight million dollars as he embarks on his secondary and tertiary careers. Either way, I applaud the great-gap-toothed pass rusher for staying on the sidelines this season. Of course, the Giants were going to reach out to him after the Pro-Bowl defensive end went down. Of course, FOX Sports was going to say that he could do as he wished and they'd keep his seat warm. This was all on Strahan (and whomever it is he actually listens to) and they made the right call.

Benched. The Mets late-game offense. Although, I guess I can't really bench the Mets late-game offense since it doesn't actually exist. It would be like benching Bigfoot. Or my health insurance.