The Figurative Rise and Literal Fall of Shane Victorino.

Shane Thinks There's Something Up There to Protect.

There was a time where Tiger Woods announcing that he was skipping a major would require a post, but at this point I assume Tiger is out until we hear otherwise, and I’m going on with my Shane Victorino post.  The Flyin’ Hawaiian hopped a plane back to Philly today, running the streak of under-reported Phillies injuries to 235.  We’ll see if this hinders Shane’s attempt to be the last chance All-Star Vote winner.  I assume Phillies fans are at work stuffing the virtual ballot boxes.

I wanted to talk about Victorino even before his eventful weekend, but it is convenient that he had such an all encompassing Shane weekend.  While the long tenured members of the Phillies line up (Howard/Utley/Rollins) deal with various issues and the new blood mostly fails to pick up the slack, Shane Victorino has been the Phillies’ most productive offensive player this year.  Even with a DL stint, he leads the team in runs scored, he’s the only regular hitting .300, he’s 2nd on the team in homers and leads in the much ballyhooed OPS stat.  The Victorino vs. Howard argument is the epitome of old-school vs. new school, but regardless of how you come down, the fact that Shane is in the discussion is an indication of the year he is having.

I don’t know that I could find the exact quote, but I know on at least one occasion I said Victorino is the position player the Phillies could least afford to lose.  Not only is Shane contributing on offense, but he’s out there in center field where the Phillies are shockingly thin.  Michael Martinez’s RBI on Monday aside, the guy shouldn’t be on the team.  Their 2nd best center fielder was just recalled from Lehigh Valley, and he hits .220.  We’ve almost accepted the lack of production coming from the corner outfielders, but for center field to become an out as well would render a mediocre offense completely stagnant.  And, whether or not you think Shane deserves his Gold Gloves (he probably doesn’t, not all of them), compared to every other outfielder on the team aside from Mayberry, he looks like a 22-year old Andruw Jones out there.

So, that’s all the upside for Victorino and the reasons we should hope his early return to Philly is just the team showing some caution, but things with Shane are not always positive.  Like I said, the weekend in Toronto was a microcosm.  He hit, he pushed things on the bases, but there were also those two plays that made your head explode.  Consider me part of the camp that thinks Shane essentially injured himself, because he had no idea what he was going to do when he caught that fly ball and changed his mind about 11 times in that one second.  Thus the fumbling, the trip, and the flight home.  He also got stone-cold picked off 2nd base, which is the latest in a long line everyday base running blunders.

How can Victorino be so productive with such a low baseball IQ?  It’s a question I struggle with all the time.  It divides the fans as well.  Some people just like that Shane is personable and hustles.  Others think he could be that much better if he just got a clue.

The announcers did some deep and thorough massaging of Chase Utley’s base running during the same Toronto series. And, for once Wheels made a halfway decent point.  It’s something that shouldn’t stick out so much, but it does, because almost nobody can run the bases.  There’s plenty of speed in the league, but that isn’t the point.  We’re talking about guys that don’t freeze for 5 seconds on every ball in the air.  Some might call it instincts.  I’d call it paying attention.  It’s a minor detail, kind of like running out ground balls, that Utley masters while just about everyone else on the team does not.

Anyway, the reason I’m talking about all of this is because I’m wondering if you can win if Shane Victorino (warts included) is your most productive offensive player.  What if Howard doesn’t have that dominant six-week stretch this year?  I think Chase Utley might make this discussion moot in another month, but what if I am wrong?  We know Shane is a very nice complimentary piece.  If he’s hitting 2nd, you’re in good shape.  If he’s hitting 7th, or is your fourth best offensive player–you’re fine.  But, what about if he’s the true engine?  I’m not so sure, and that’s assuming he can stay healthy.

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Five Tickets To Allentown: Vance Worley Logistical Edition:

  1. Michael Martinez
  2. Danys Baez
  3. Raul Ibanez
  4. Drew Carpenter
  5. Scott Mathieson

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Quiz of the Day: Expensive Big Colleges.  Category: Big School Environment/Liberal Arts Price Tag.  My Score: 11/15.  

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Back In The…

Saddle.

After the long weekend, I’m not sure that my brain is ready to handle to handle a full post, so I’m going ease myself back in with a collection of abbreviated thoughts.  Even for me, the 3-day weekend is a bit of a mind-blower.  It is Tuesday.  I just double checked my phone for that.  Anyway, since last weekend the following has crossed my mind:

Aren’t fireworks shows really just a big leap of faith?  You are counting on the grand finale.  That is what brings the people out.  I’m sure if there was some type of malfunction with the finale that the mood of the crowd would change in an instant. Something would get blown up, because that is what the people came out to see.  I was watching fireworks last night and at first you get excited to see them, but then you get into a this lull of one or two fireworks at a time.  It’s a little repetitive, you’re thinking have I really been watching this for 25 minutes?  And then, BOOM.  The grand finale, and you once again are the happiest person in the world, and it is so totally, totally worth it.  Heaven help the municipality that messes up the big finish.

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I’d like to start a petition to expunge the term, “walk-off,” from the baseball lexicon.  Or, any other sport it has penetrated. I don’t think I can bear hearing it one more time.  Perhaps you heard that Monday there was a, “walk-off balk.”  Sports announcers get irrationally amused when they get to use this term, or, “walk-off walk.”  That’s a classic, as well.  The word is killed.  Perhaps in its infancy you could make an argument for, “walk-off homer,” but now it is that term that so many people use in so many instances that it couldn’t possibly still be cool.  Not that the cool factor has anything to do with it, it’s all false hype.  There’s nothing exciting about a walk-off balk.  There’s no need to scream “Walk-off BALK!” into the mic, or anything like that.  What’s the proper call for a walk-off balk?  Here:  “Did he just?  Yeah, he did.  He balked.  Royals Lose.  What a sh*t show.”

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Bryce Harper Update?  Bryce Harper Update.  We’re a little worried over here at Team Bryce.  Since his well executed blown kiss there has been a fretful drop in production for America’s favorite eye-blacked phenom.  Harper saw his average plummet about 40 points, and he stopped hitting homers, but yesterday he still earned a promotion to AA Harrisburg.  He started off his Eastern League career with a little 2 for 3.  Now, there was a very brief period in my life where I watched a lot of Eastern League baseball.  This included a very fleeting interlude with Harrisburg’s Vladimir Guerrero.  Double-A baseball was a complete waste of Vlady’s time.  I can say that with some certainty.  How will Harper fare?  Well, there’s only one way to find out, and that’s to kick up the Bryce Harper road trip machine, again.  Who’s in?  Reading?  Trenton? Anyone?

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Vance Worley is inspiring a hell of a, “Flash in the Pan Trade Bait/Future Number 3 Starter,” debate in Philly.  Every time I see someone like Worley come up, I think Brandon Duckworth.  Or, J.A. Happ.   My inclination with guys who emerge from the minors to baffle big league hitters for a spell is to immediately sell high.  We should all be thankful the Phillies shipped off Happ, regardless the condition of Oswalt’s back.  Happ screamed that he was eventually going to get hit, but Worley isn’t so obvious with his lack of stuff.  He’s not Kendrickian.  He also seems to have a reasonable amount of confidence which manifests itself in both good ways (doesn’t panic out there) and bad (the mohawk).  The Phillies couldn’t move Vance until Blanton or Oswalt came back, if not both of them.  For me, if someone was dangling a real, live right-handed hitter in front of my face, it’d be tempting.  I have a feeling Vance has won a lot of hearts, though.

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Everyone should know by now that the most powerful combination in the world is vanilla and chocolate.  Personally, I am a slave to this combination.  Buying ice cream?  Oh, I’ll take the vanilla and chocolate.  Soft serve?  Swirl that sh*t, Skippy. Black and white shake?  Uh, Yesssir.  But, also when I am eating chocolate cake I prefer to have a little bit of vanilla at the dance.  Some people will swear by chocolate cake and chocolate icing.  Me?  I like that vanilla icing, but if it is going chocolate/chocolate you’ve got to set that off with some vanilla ice cream.  My mother used to call this, “cutting the sweetness.”  You know your mom is on top of things when she says, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.  That’s too much chocolate.  Take some vanilla ice cream.”  So, I’m just saying, respect the power of the combo. I’d also like to hear from anyone who likes chocolate cake/chocolate icing/chocolate ice cream.  That’s just pure balls.