Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Momentum Theory Loses...Well, Loses Momentum

  • Mets 6-Phillies 3:
Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa, two men who combined probably know more in-the-trenches baseball than any duo currently breathing, have always believed that
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momentum stops and starts with the performance of the next day's starting pitcher. No matter how disheartening a loss, if the next day's starter delivers a stellar performance or just keeps their team in the game, the previous night's game is forgotten. Fans would be amazed at how quickly a professional athlete puts a poor performance behind him once the next game starts; this Mets game was a case of them facing a pitcher in Brett Myers who is at a crossroads in his career; having their entire bullpen ready for action in situations familiar to them (Billy Wagner won't get booed for awhile at least); and getting a required performance from starter John Maine of seven innings and three runs allowed under a reasonable pitch total of 104.
For every self-styled expert who thinks he's got his fingers on the pulse of an athlete like Mike Francesa from The Mike and the Mad Dog radio show, and who treated the loss on Tuesday like an epic catastrophe, one would think they'd learn by now that momentum comes from performance. If a player is slumping that's one thing, but the game on Tuesday could also be seen as one in which the Mets dominated the Phillies, but didn't execute when necessary for tack-on runs and their bullpen gacked up a lead because they weren't mentally ready to replace their All Star closer even for one game.
As for the Phillies, they're going to have to come to a solution with Myers and quick. There's something not right. The minor league assignment hasn't fixed much of anything that
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was wrong with him and either he's hurt or he was affected more by the sudden switch in roles to closer last season than anyone realizes. They traded for Joe Blanton ostensibly to replace Adam Eaton in the rotation, but Myers hasn't been any more reliable than Eaton; if Myers isn't hurt and Tom Gordon is out for a lengthy period, they may have to keep Eaton in the rotation and use Myers back in the bullpen. Myers was reluctant to move back into the rotation anyway and his problem may be nothing more than the drug-like adrenaline affects of pitching almost every day in games the team has to win. J.A. Happ acquitted himself well in his two starts replacing Myers and Kris Benson is still down in the minors (his numbers aren't good and I don't even know if he's healthy), so there are options if they have to move Myers to the bullpen and don't want Eaton in the rotation either. If Myers is physically healthy, then the Phillies have to find out what's going on with him because they're going to need him to perform in some capacity if they want to make the playoffs as a division winner or Wild Card.
  • Brewers 3- Cardinals 0:
In a blog on June 10th discussing the potential for C.C. Sabathia to get the Johan Santana/Barry Zito-type contract he's going to want as a free agent at the end of this season, I mentioned that the big lefty might have to go on an Orel Hershiser-style run of shutouts and
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lead his team (then the Cleveland Indians) to the playoffs and World Series to guarantee the paycheck----Pinning Their Financial Hopes On The One Desperate Lunatic; well he's starting to look like he is going on such a run only he's carrying the Brewers on his broad shoulders instead of the Indians.
Three straight complete games and last night's virtuoso performance bring back memories of Hershiser's unbelievable streak; the acquisition of Sabathia for the Brewers brings back memories of the Cubs acquisition of Rick Sutcliffe from the Indians in 1984 in which Sutcliffe went 16-1 to carry the Cubs to the playoffs. Sabathia is reveling in his situation as the "hired gun" as David Cone used to like to call himself, and at this rate, he's going to hypnotize an owner to give him the money he wants.
One note about the Cardinals: it's very interesting that manager Tony La Russa allowed struggling closer Jason Isringhausen to pitch two innings and throw 31 pitches. Is La Russa planning to possibly move Isringhausen into the starting rotation or make him part of a "pieced together" starter with Todd Wellemeyer and the (possibly) returning Chris Carpenter? He's been so bad in late innings, using him for three or four innings isn't a bad idea and La Russa's got the guts to make such a move in the latter portion of a season.
  • Red Sox 6-Mariners 3; Reds 9-Padres 5:
I'm still waiting for someone to explain why the Seattle Mariners have been considered a poorly-constructed, leaderless and embarrassing laughingstock and both GM Bill Bavasi and manager John McLaren have been fired and team CEO Howard Lincoln is under fire while the
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Padres expectations were as high, if not higher, than that of the Mariners and there's not a similar righteous indignation at their humiliating performance this year. ESPN's Rob Neyer for example (with whom I agree and disagree on many things----I agreed most recently with the confusion regarding the Randy Wolf and Jon Rauch trades; and who, after my anger induced attack on him earlier this year, was a beyond-the-call nice and reasonable guy) is still referencing Paul DePodesta as a qualified baseball guy and I do not understand it. It's one thing to have a personal affinity for a guy as Neyer clearly does with DePodesta, but that shouldn't blind one to reality. I think Omar Minaya's a nice guy and a good baseball man, but I've criticized him when warranted. How is it that the Padres are not being raked over the coals as their performance, in many ways worse than that of the Mariners, is being glossed over and ignored for the travesty it's been?
  • Speaking of embarrassing travesties, is this some MTV-teen reality show, or is it two of the most revered and canonized NFL franchises and one of the most beloved (especially by the media) players in its history?
So now the Brett Fav...ruh saga has descended into accusations and denials as to whether or not he used a "Packers-issued" cell phone to talk to the Minnesota Vikings about joining
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them? These big, tough football guys are acting like members of the cast of The Real World instead of the cold, calculating military-style leaders and tough and oblivious to the elements performers they're portrayed as being by the NFL.
Those that are involved with the NFL in one capacity or another like gossiping as much as any teenage girl and this absurdity is to the point where it needs a resolution because all this is doing is bringing attention to a situation that is going to drag on until it's resolved and it's just going to get more and more silly.

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