There are bad calls and then there are the ones like the one Tim Welke made that’s pictured above. This was an out according to Welke, who obviously went brain-dead for a few moments, or simply made the wrong signal? Ever nod your head yes and say no at the same time? Perhaps that’s what happened to Welke here, or else Todd Helton is master of illusion. He is a crafty veteran. Baseball has an odd relationship with its umpires. From “area plays” to the old “the ball beat him there,” rationale that Wheels loves to wax about, getting an occasional play wrong has always been one of baseball’s quirks. The question is, do you accept baseball in that form, or do you want instant replay. Right now. On everything.
I’ve read a good bit of commentary about this play, including the argument that an especially bad call doesn’t really help the cause for replay. If the number of bad calls were steadily on the rise, or big games were being decided by bad calls, you’d have a better argument than pointing to this anomaly of ineptitude by Welke. I am of the mind that I don’t really want instant replay reviews breaking up the flow of the game. What I would like to see changed is umpires being able to ask for help on certain calls. You’re telling me that the other umpires didn’t notice Helton a country mile off first? A three second huddle probably could have fixed this, but a force out at first base is not allowed to be discussed. Those are the type of rules that make no sense in baseball, not their insistence on maintaining the human element.
Roger Clemens is back in court. I’m not even sure I know what he’s on trial for anymore, perjury? I don’t want to dismiss the seriousness of perjury, but this isn’t a murder trial. We’re talking about a baseball player using steroids and HGH. I think it’s abundantly clear that the public has lost interest. Even with Andy Pettitte slightly buckling under cross-examination, there seems to be no interest in Clemens’ 2nd trip to court. The point, is much like the New Orleans bounty controversy, fans only care to a certain extent. If you can rid the games of PEDs and bounties, most everyone would be in favor of that, but when it comes to handing down punishments, you lose your audience. And, the people who are still paying attention often think the punishments are a bit harsh. An entire year for Jonathan Vilma?
The Phillies lost an especially odd and frustrating game to the Braves last night, 15-13. It had been decades since the Phillies scored 13 in a regular season loss and for me it brought to mind Game 4 of the 1993 World Series–only with much lower stakes. I think a lot of people this morning are thinking, “Oh my God, Halladay.” Roy was pretty dreadful after the first few innings yesterday, even if the Braves did bloop him a bit to death before McCann’s crushing blow. More troubling was Roy looked to be halfway to the heat exhaustion he suffered last season in Chicago. He insisted after the game he was all right, but then left the team to attend to a personal matter. So, Halladay may have physically been fine, but perhaps he wasn’t as sharp as he usually is mentally. I don’t really have time to worry about Halladay, but the bullpen is a major concern. Brian Sanches. Michael Schwimer. Joe Savery. We’re about 20% AAA these days. Is it any surprise the Phillies have trouble getting to Papelbon? They’ve lost three games this year on the final at-bat with Papelbon still in the bullpen. Something about that doesn’t add up. The Phillies need to find a reliable set-up man aside from Chad Qualls, or begin to use Papelbon in a more non-conventional manner.
I’ve got some time-wasters for you if you’re interested on a dreary Thursday. I’m usually not one to praise Grantland, they are shameless idea stealers after all, but the piece on a group of old sportswriters who were called “The Chipmunks,” is an interesting read. I think Grantland is at it’s best when it takes some time and uses all the access it has to come up with something like this. Anyone can write a snarky Mad Men episode review, but it takes some clout to put this together.
Along similar lines, Deadspin’s examination of the Sara Phillips controversy (scam? scandal?) is probably the best thing I’ve ever read on their site. This is a couple of days old by now, but if you haven’t gotten the particulars, Sara Phillips was an internet personality that rose to some level of fame through the message boards at a sports gambling site called Covers.com. She was eventually plucked from the boards to create her own content and made her way to ESPN’s Playbook Page, which is a new incarnation of their former Page 2. It becomes interesting when you start to realize that ESPN may have hired Phillips without ever meeting her in person, and then she started to use her loose association with the company to defraud various bloggers/twitter handles/meme creators by promising them big dollars and a partnership with ESPN. If you ever wanted to know how to hijack an extremely popular Twitter feed–check out the link.
Big Flyers game three tonight against Jersey in Newark. What a shame the Devils don’t play at the Meadowlands anymore. That feels like a more appropriate home for them. Last night the Rangers won a game 3 in 3OTs, and those are the kind of games that people love to say turn a series. I’m not sure if that’s accurate or just some cherry picking hindsight. Regardless, you want to win those odd-numbered games. Flyers Kitten?