Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bloggers' lament

Around the horn of Phillies blogs after last night's debacle:

From the Philling Station:

Back away from the ledge

I don't know what to say about this one, but I sure felt good less than an hour ago. This one can't really be pinned on Ol' Cholly (although Dancy gets failing marks again), the Phils were in perfect position to win this one and they laid a big fat egg.

For those of you who are in full Eagles mode (but still care), here's the rundown: Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Bobby Abreu breaks out of a slump to hit a game-tying homer into the Phils' pen.

Then, with two outs after a close play at the plate, IL MVP Shane Victorino singles in Ryan Howard for the go-ahead run. Howard was 3-4 with a double and his fifteenth homer of the season; he now must be viewed as a serious rookie of the year candidate. His scary good 2005 numbers (.290/.357/.532 in 231 AB) are somewhat reminiscent of Willie McCovey's rookie season of 1959 (.354/.429/.656 in 192 AB), or at least somewhere between that and Stretch's less impressive sophomore campaign (.238/.349/.469 in 260 AB).

The eighth ended with David Bell (improbably drawing an intentional walk) being thrown out at the plate by more than 20 feet, but it hardly seemed to matter with Billy Wagner rarin' to run out and prove to his old team that last night was a fluke.

Well, instead of getting the final out of the inning, Bell got caught on an in-between hop for his 19th error of the season. Forget about his zone rating or range factor, I've defended his defense for the final time. Then, Willy Taveras beat out yet another infield single. Next came Craig Biggio, who turned a mistake pitch by Wags into a back-breaking three-run blast to left. It was his fifth against Phils pitching in 2005 and made all the difference in an 8-6 win for the Astros.

But that's the way it's gone for the Phils vs. the Astros, they are now 0-12 against them over the last two seasons. That's obviously not the best way to go about earning a playoff spot. Oh, and the hot Marlins are coming to town for the weekend. I can only be thankful for the schedule-makers' decision to give us a day off tomorrow, this is absolutely excruciating.

From Shallow Center:

Hous Your Daddy?

Stunned Phillies Swept at Home by Astros, Sink Further in Wild-Card Standings

Seconds after Craig Biggio crashed a crushing three-run tater just inside the leftfield foul pole, a despondent Harry Kalas noted, "All the runs are unearned, but so what." Indeed, Biggo's two-out, ninth-inning game-winner came after David Bell allowed Jose Vizcaino's grounder to clang off his glove and Jimmy Rollins couldn't quite get Willy Taveras at first following a slow roller. Billy Wagner's pitch to Biggio was up and over the plate, and Biggio, as professional a hitter as you'll find, knew exactly what to do with it.

This loss could be the one that spells the end of the season for the Phils. Houston's sweep pushed them down to 2-1/2 games out in the wild-card race. More, it came after the Phillies had rallied to take a lead in the bottom of the eighth on Bobby Abreu's two-run dinger and Shane Victorino's bases-loaded single. This one, in other words, hurt more than most.

Tomorrow morning's papers will include quotes from Phillies grimly promising that they'll pick themselves up and dust themselves off and try again. And I'm reminded that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

From Beer Leaguer:

Short post tonight.

No cute stat that narrows down the Phillies’ problems to a single number, no bitter game coverage, no cocksure proclamation that eventually turns out false.

There were too many mistakes in the final two innings to accurately list, and frankly, I'm burned out of the poetry it takes to write another post mired in grief.

On second thought, there’s time for one number, one that reveals all you need to know about this site: 0. Zero times I've seen my team win it all - in any sport.

Perhaps my readers can fill in the blanks.

Pick one - or all - of the numerous late-game mistakes or poor decisions to discuss in the space below. I'll get you started. How about a nice grab bag of David Bell, a poorly-timed pinch run and a base runner thrown out at home by 20 feet.

Or better yet, why not make the whole thing simple and ask the question on everyone's mind: “How 'bout those Eagles?”

Lack of support? Only on the field

Before the game Wednesday night, closer Billy Wagner talked about the fans not being behind the Phillies in their chase for the wild card.

He complained about the booing.

He said there are fans out there hoping that the Phillies lose.

He talked about the empty seats for a big series against the Astros.

After the game, an 8-6 loss to Astros, the fifth consecutive setback in a September pennant race and the 12th straight loss to the Astros, Wagner was forced to talk about giving up a game-winning homer to friend and former teammate Craig Biggio.

"It's tough," Wagner said. "We've really played three great ball games, and to come up on the losing end three times is how it is right now. If we dwell on that and wait for things to happen when we play Florida, we'll find ourselves really out of this."

Too late, Billy. You are out of it. The numbers may not say so, but the play on the field has spoken.

The Phillies were in each of the three games, but they did not play three great games as Wagner said.

The facts show big errors, poor baserunning, double-clutching, lack of hitting from the middle of the lineup and a bullpen that failed in all three games. Call it well balanced failure.

Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan said it well: "When you know you have to win, and you lose, that's failure. When you lose and lose and lose and lose and lose, stringing together a five-game losing streak at the worst time, that defines your team."

This is all about the team and has nothing to do with the fans. They don't want the Phillies to lose, that is absurd. They just know what's going to happen. History has a way of repeating itself ... over and over again.

The question remains for all of the players, manager, general manager and ownership: "Why does this always happen?"

Take a look in the mirror, boys.