Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Baseball In The Daytime: July 29 2009

Yesterday was about the most miserable day of the whole summer. I was intensely hung over from the night before, when I volunteered to help serve food at a concert and ended up drinking a vast amount of Evan Williams "bourbon." The Red Sox, who I follow with great relish, blew a seemingly unblowable game--up by three in the ninth with Pap on the hill. The Rockies, who I keep track of with noticeable regional pride, got worked 4-0 by the New York Mets. To call the Mets a train wreck is to insult many proud drunken railroad engineers who once got plowed on Evan Williams and derailed their vessels. The Mets are chaos wrapped in a riot surrounded by a disorganized circus of unsupervised screaming children.

So the mood was sour when I went to play softball. I know, softball. It's not really a sport, and it's barely a game. To compare my softball foibles to what happens on a major league baseball diamond, even if it involves the Mets, is a leap that strains all credibility. But I'm telling the story and you're stuck reading it, so kiss off. My team, which normally defines mediocrity, has been on quite the little postseason run. After an unremarkable 3-5 regular season, we caught fire in the tournament and advanced to semifinals against our hated nemeses, the Rapist Kangaroos. In the midst of losing to these dicks, I took a line drive off my throwing hand. I don't think it's broken, but my right ring finger is about the same color as those two-tone batting helmets the Rockies wear. If I fumble a few Ks and Us while typing today, that's my excuse.

Now that all my whining is out of the way, let's move on to today. The sun is shining, there's day baseball on the docket, and all is right and peaceful with the world. Join me after the jump, where I'll preview today's ballgames and give you several indispensable bits of baseball trivia you can show off around the water cooler...

Houston @ Chicago Cubs, 12:20 Mountain Boy howdy has this National League Central turned into a humdinger of a donnybrook. After languishing in Suckville for three-fifths of the season, the Cubs have decided in the past two weeks to start playing up to their promise, payroll and preseason predictions. Chicago briefly wrested control of the division from the Cardinals on Monday, but then they gave it right back last night following their heartbreaking gag job versus these dirty Astros. Today the Cubs assign rookie Randy Wells the task of painting the black, while Mike Hampton gets the start for Houston.

Cleveland @ Los Anaheim, 1:35 On the site of an old citrus grove in Orange County today, we get a pitching matchup of Aaron Laffey v. John Lackey. In the annals of funny pitching names, these two are nowhere near the ironical humor of Kevin Slowey, Grant Balfour or Bob Walk. But still, Laffey-Lackey is pretty smirk-inducing. Also, the Indians really blow.

Pittsburgh @ San Francisco, 1:45 While we're getting cheap laughs off of puns involving the random distributions of starting pitchers, let's head to the City By The Bay. There, in a seemingly nondescript tilt betwixt the Pirates and Giants, your starting pitchers are Zach Duke and Matt Cain. Duke-Cain. Same pronunciation as Duquesne, a respectable Catholic university located in...wait for it...Pittsburgh. ZOMG! what are the odds? I guarantee I was the only scribe in Blogstralia to pick up on this stupid, stupid coincidence today.

Toronto @ Seattle, 2:40 Our final day game today features...what? Why are you looking at me like that? I promised you insightful analysis and all you got from me is a rote glance at the standings and a couple dumb jokes? You want stats? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE STATS! I'm here for a few yuks and maybe a guffaw, pal. You want stats, buy an abacus.

Anyway, back to lovely Safeco Field, where Roy Halladay will be on an unfamiliar short leash for his start today. Not because he's shitty or the Blue jays have anything to play for, but because he could literally be traded ANY MINUTE NOW. Seriously, in the middle of his windup he might be tackled by two player-personnel guys from the Phillies and whisked to a waiting helicopter. It's that secretive and intense in the Roy Halladay Saga.

Everyone is shocked, shocked I tell you, that Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi's super-serious Halladay trading deadline of yesterday was complete bullshit. Doc is still in play, but most teams publicly claim to be offended by Ricciardi's immense greed in the number and quality of prospects it will require to secure his services. Philly refuses to part with Kyle Drabek, the Red Sox balked at Daniel Bard, the Dodgers won't even discuss Clayton Kershaw. Which is all fine, those three kids are fucking studs, and there's a chance that all three will some day win Cy Youngs.

There's also a chance, however, that all three are in a holding tank with Ryan Leaf in two years recounting how they blew out their elbows and no one gave them a second chance. If you're a second-tier club like the Pirates or the Orioles, you don't sell the farm for Halladay. You have to win through homegrown players, it's your only route to success. if you're championship-caliber, as the Phillies, Dodgers and Red Sox are, I think you have to seriously consider giving up your top two, three, or four prospects to get him. This ain't Freddy Garcia we're talking about here, this is the meanest ass-kickingest bulldog in the game. Put him on any of the aforementioned three clubs and the road to a title becomes smooth and straight. I'm not saying it guarantees a title, no one player can do that. But it makes it infinitely easier.

If I'm the Sox or the Phillies, and I just won a ring in the past 22 months, I can see backing off and protecting the depth of your organization. You won titles without Halladay and you might do so again. But the Dodgers, come on. The Cards, the (shudder) Yankees, the Angels...what are you guys doing? You get Halladay, you can start printing World Series tickets. Prospects are just that--they may pan out they may not. The Angles have hoarded their minor-league kids for years, and in my opinion it's cost them at least one additional championship. Remember Dallas McPherson. Supposed to be the top power-hitting prospect in all of baseball, now he's an usher for the Shreveport Slugs.

If Humberto and his fellow felons in the bleachers at Dodger Stadium think that a playoff rotation of Chad Billingsley, Kershaw and someone from the Kuroda/Wolf/Schmidt grab bag is going to cut it, I say good luck with that. It could happen--no one thought Cole Hamels was ready to be a postseason workhorse last year. I'm just saying that getting Halladay is worth the long-term damage to your system.

The Phillies are supposedly working up a cheaper deal for Cliff Lee, which I think is insane. Why would you give up 80 per cent of the talent you offered for Halladay for an inferior arm? Cliff Lee's a fine pitcher, and he's definitely better than Joe Blanton or Jamie Moyer or Pedro Martinez in terms of giving you a compliment to Hamels come October. But let's get serious here--championships require sacrifice.

Opposite Halladay at Safeco today is Ryan Rowland-Smith, a distant cousin to Malcolm Jamaal-Warner and Mahmoud Abdul-Raouf. If the hyphen doesn't get you the changeup will, so keep your head in and Play Ball!