Nerd of Batman, sports, logic, objectivity, Star Trek, personal enlightenment, Lincoln, the Rays, psychology, mic dropping. Kind've in that order.
I enjoyed the nightly homerun derby during the 90s and early/mid 00s just like every other fan. Bonds is probably the second greatest athlete I've ever watched and beloved, after Jordan.
But, I've ALWAYS been a pitching first guy. I was a pitcher. I think my most lasting memory of my sporting life that was, was when I threw the most devastating slider that had ever come out of the hand of any 15 year old. At least I thought so at the time. The kid, a friend named Greg Arnold, had no prayer. That thing started in the middle of the plate and dove what must've felt like 12 feet to him. It was probably two feet. He would've needed a tree trunk to just foul it off. I remember how I felt after I threw that pitch, and I think I looked at my hand wondering how I just did that. It's like I was possessed. For one brief moment, Steve Carlton gave me his slider.
Then I got into radio.
My favorite pitcher ever? Greg Maddux. Deceptively unhittable, and quick. Even as a teenager, I didn't have the patience for a meandering three and a half hour marathon of an MLB game. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.
Maddux worked with such grace and pass, he has a term named for a part of his excellence. A CG/SO under 100 pitches is called a Maddux.
Somewhere along the line, probably in 1998, I came across a box score for a game in which Maddux had thrown a complete game shutout, and used fewer than 100 pitches. I LOVED that! Ever since then, I've kept my eye out for such games and calling such a pitching line a "Maddux."
Madduxes are fairly rare, there have been an average of roughly ten per season, going back to 1988, when MLB pitch counts began to be kept consistently (there are various games with accurate counts before that, but 1988 is the most legitimate starting point that can be used). This is the 25th season since then, and there are 256 Madduxes on record.
This year's MLB era is 3.92.
Ten year's ago it was 4.40.
At some point after Bonds hit 73, or maybe it was during that same year when Bret Boone (he's MY face of the PED Era) just about doubled his RBI output (74 to 141!) I said to hell with the offense. I was exhausted and fatigued by games that had box scores where you'd have thought every game was played at the same altitude of Coors Field. 8-7. 10-5. 15-6. Ugh. Stop.
When the Phillies assembled the Four Aces in 2011 (Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt) I was the most eager for a baseball season as I'd been in sometime. They were sure to add another World Series title to the one they'd captured just three years earlier.
The four of them won 59 games and had a WAR of 26.3 Throw in lucky rookie sensation Vance Worley and tack on another 11 wins and 3.4 in WAR.
The 2011 Phillies won the most games (102) in team history on the strength of a 3.02 team ERA.
However, the season, and thus the Four Aces experiment - in the mind of every Phillies fan - was a failure.
Phillie fans despised Ruben Amaro Jr. for trading Cliff Lee after the '09 season. Amra was Ahab and he wanted his white whale named Halladay. Trading Lee seemed the only way to get him. But, there was elation when the Phillies snatched Lee back in the middle of the night from Yankees before the '11 season.
If I recall correctly, his first start back in Philly was dubbed 'Cliff Lee Day.' He worked quick, his hat was scummy, his physique was pedestrian compared to the lanky Hamels and behemoth Halladay, he WANTED to hit, and even pinch run, and he wanted nothing but to win. He embodied so much of what Philadelphia is, or strives to be. And striving is really what matters more than the success itself when it comes to a blue collar town such a Philly. You really don't have to win (just beat the Cowboys) and give a superhuman effort. They'll adore you for ages.
Lee probably won't be a Phillie much longer - if Amaro can secure the right prospect package from contender. This time, however, fans won't be as disappointed when he goes.
Cliff Lee (CLIFF, HOW COULD YOU!?) blew a four run lead Game 2 of the LDS against the soon to be World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, and that symbolically signaled the end of the mini-Phillies dynasty, and became the sobering wet blanket that 102 wins doesn't mean much once the regular season ends and ink of the record book dries. Aside from the perfect Brad Lidge on his knees, Lee's loss looms as arguably the most memorable from this Phillies era. No fan forgets Game 2.
(Actually, the Phillies season didn't REALLY end until the Shakespearean tragedy of Game 5 of the LDS was played. Ryan Howard's achilles popped on his way to first base after a weakly hit ground ball that was the final out in the series - a 3 hitter by Chris Carpenter, outdueling his fishing buddy Halladay - marking the fast paced beginning of the end of the Golden Age of Phillies baseball. In successive years the Phillies went Champs, WS losers, LCS losers, LDS losers...then last year missed the playoffs. My dad doesn't forget this. In fact, I think he forecasted it after the '10 loss to the Giants.)
I mentioned @NeilWeinberg44 yesterday, and he's got some stuff how the current Tigers have the best staff in history, so far.
This was our tweet-a-logue last night.
@NeilWeinberg44 every phillies fan would disagree and simply tell you, cliff lee and four runs. Lets hope things end better for the tigers.— Eric Chase (@Eric_Chase) June 18, 2013
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