World Series: Phillies Right on Schedule

The Phillies have started the World Series just like they started every non-Wild Card series with a split on the road, winning game 1 and losing game 2. The Phillies made the big comeback in game 1. They were able to do so because Dusty Baker left Justin Verlander in the game too long. This is not the regular season. If you have a 5 run lead and your starting pitcher is getting racked in the 4th inning, it’s time to make a move, even though he was dominant he was in the first 3 innings. The first 6 batters in the top of the 4th all hit the ball hard and the Astros were just lucky to get the second out. Verlander probably should not have come out for the 5th inning, but even if you want to give Baker the benefit of the doubt on that, the leadoff double should have been the knockout punch. Instead Verlander was left in the game to surrender the tying runs, and even finish the inning. For Houston, game 1 loss was due to poor managing. Game 2 was a typical Phillies loss where poor defense was a contributing factor. The Phillies made it interesting and if Kyle Schwarber hits a ball 6 inches to the left or about 3 feet farther, the Phillies would have been within 2 runs going into the 9th.

The Phillies will be at home for the next 3 games and in my view, it will be essential for them to win at least 2 of the games to have any chance of winning this series. I think their pitching staff is set up better than the Astros and that may make a difference. They have had bad games at the plate before and seem to be able to shake it off. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can get right back on track with the home field advantage. It would seem very unlikely that they will sweep this Astro team, as they have in the previous two series. I think one of the key players for the Phillies will be Rhys Hoskins, not only with the bat but also on the field. He can be a real streaky hitter, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired. Another player who disappointed during the season but seems to be perking up a little bit in the post season is Nick Castellanos. He had one of hist worst seasons at the plate, but he has gotten a hit in 5 of the last 6 games and made the sliding catch in right field that kept the Astros from winning game 1, on 2 putrid bloops. Last, but certainly not least, the Phillies have to get better starting pitching. Nola and Wheeler both disappointed in the first 2 games. The good news is the Phillies won one of those games. That will be the game to remember, game 1, if the Phillies go on to win the series and beat the cheating Astholes, I mean Astros.

Sports: World Series, Let’s Go Phillies

The World Series is set to begin Friday in Houston with the Astros taking on the Philadelphia Phillies. Some people look at this series as the super team vs. the super hot team, namely the Phillies. The Astros have not exactly been coasting along. Besides going 7-0 in the post season, they finished the season playing a little over .700 ball in September and October. Both teams, not just the Phillies are coming into the World Series at the top of their respective games. The Phillies are 9-2 in the post season and while their defense is still looking shaky, their hitting and pitching has been at the top of the scale. Looking at the teams from a statistic standpoint, the Astros are the clear favorite, and I would not be surprised to see them take the series. Rather than compare the teams’ position by position all the way down to the bullpens, I would rather look at how this series and the Phillies season bring back the memories of the 2019 Series. There are other oddities that might indicate that the stars on not really aligning themselves for the Astros to be able to redeem themselves.

The 2019 Series featured the Houston Astros coming off another big 107 win season and they were playing with that chip on their shoulder because of the sign stealing scandal of 2017. The players wanted to show the world that they could win a title without cheating. In my view they were lucky to have the opportunity, because I felt that MLB was far too lenient on the players and did not hand out any player suspensions. Their opponents were the Washington Nationals, who came back from a horrendous start to the season, to make the wild card and had a great post season going 8-2, defeating the L. A. Dodgers and then the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 in the League Championship Series. They too came into the World Series as a decided underdog. However, due to some spectacular hitting on the road and despite scoring only 3 runs in 3 home games, the Nationals won the Series 4 games to 3, with the surprising outcome of the visiting team winning every game. This had never happened before in World Series history. The Phillies are coming off the same kind of season. On June 1 their record was 22 wins and 29 losses. In 2019 the Nationals had a 25-33 record. The Phillies turned their season around being 6 games over 500 at the All-Star break and played the 2nd half exactly the same way to squeeze into the wild card series. The Nationals just kept getting better as the season progressed and were the home team for the winner take all wild card game in 2019. Then there is the strange fact that there have been only 2 other teams to go 7-0 in the 2 leagues series. The Colorado Rockies in 2007 and the Kansas City Royals in 2014, but both went on to lose the World Series. In fact, the Rockies were swept by the Boston Red Sox. Whether all this karma will prevent the Astros from winning the series, who knows. The final unusual occurrence is that these teams ended the season playing each other. I don’t know what that has to do with the price of oranges but just another strange fact. I will be rooting for the Phillies to take it all.

Meditation: Purpose

The definition of the noun purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. The verb purpose is defined, as one’s intention or objective. Google, what is the purpose of life, and you will get over 9 million hits. I looked at 10 sites devoted to helping people find their purpose of life. There are even life purpose coaches. These coaches help us find our purpose by giving us suggestions like, identifying dreams, goals, and developing success habits to achieve them. They state that we all have something within us. Supposedly, one of their helpful hints is to think of yourself at age 90. I really could not figure that one out. Quite frankly, I never want to think about that, since I am not that far away from that age. Most of these sites said the same thing but in a different way. First of all, they all feel that it is very important to find your life’s purpose even if some of the sites have a very hard time defining what life’s purpose should be. Every country, religion and science have a different opinion of what life’s purpose should be about. They do agree on one thing, finding your life’s purpose is essential, if you are going to make the most of your life. If you are into the Bible then no problem, we are dependent on God and should trust him. Your purpose in life is to do it for God. Naturally all the sites have ways and suggestions on how to find your true purpose in life. The numbers game comes up again, with one site having 5 ways to find your purpose and another site has not 18, not 20, but 19 ways to find your true purpose. One of the all time best selling books is a Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. This is another view of it all began with God. Now, does yours truly believe that any of this horse manure has any merit. I can answer that with an emphatic no. In fact, I feel that all of this does more harm than good. If you cannot find the so called “purpose” of your life you may not want to even get out of bed. Even though the phrase purpose of life can seem similar to the meaning of life they really are two distinctly different things. The meaning of life is more an idea created by the mind. The purpose of life is a concrete thing to achieve or discover. To get back to the topic should we have a purpose in life. We do, whether we know it or not.

Let’s go back to the beginning and this time let’s leave God out of it. Let’s replace him with the two most God like individuals in the universe, the Mother and the Father. Without a woman and a man having sex and an orgasm at that exact moment you would not exist. The purpose and meaning of your life wouldn’t be worth squat, because you would not exist. Fate, luck and timing are discussed a lot when great or tragic things happen to people all over the world. However, the most fateful of day of your life was when that one sperm fertilized that particular egg. The day you were born is when your true purpose of life began, you began to exist. Believe me, you were damn happy to exist, too. You were happy and joyful but also sad and frustrated. But through all those emotions of your early life, there is not one time you thought about what the hell should my life’s purpose be. As a person gets older the ups and downs of life continue, but when life becomes burdensome is the time when we start to think about the purpose of our life. We start to wonder, what, if anything, can we do about it. The fact remains not a damn thing. We need to feel that our main purpose in life is to exist, and feel every emotion that life has to offer. We all cannot be the best of whatever we are inclined to do, but we all can be the best that we can be. We can maximize our potential in every endeavor that we do. We need to enjoy and feel every part of life, taking in fully the good and the bad. Life is what our parents gave us, and we need to thank them when we can, live every moment to its fullest, and just realize how wonderful life can be. Now, if that’s not the purpose of life then I do not know what is. Maybe I need to reread those awful websites.

Sport: Let The Championship Series Begin, Almost

The National League is in disarray with the San Diego Padres hosting the Philadelphia Phillies as the Championship Series begins. The shocking upsets of the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers has left MLB Network stunned. What they like to call the super teams are gone, finished, kaput. You would have thought that upsets never happen in baseball with all the excuses that the network gave for the surprising results. Too long of a break, one team coasted too long, another team had to work too hard to get the bye, you can’t let the air out of the season and then recharge. Batters have a routine that really gets disrupted when they have a break. They went on and on practically giving no credit to the Phillies and the Padres. Just give the ring to the Astros, who for the moment, are the only “super team” in the semifinals. There have been upsets in the baseball post season for 70 years. The Tigers in 68, Miracle Mets 69 and the Pirates in 71 and 79, just to name a few. This is nothing unique because of more teams being in the post season. A series is a series is a series and you had better be ready to play. Major League Baseball was fortunate that this did not happen in the 16 team tournament of 2020. Enough of the media bemoaning the past, let’s look at what we have in store for the next 7 days.

The elimination game for the division series between the Yankees and Guardians is this afternoon. My feeling is the Yankees will prevail and MLB Network will at least feel half good, because they will get their wish on the American League side of the playoffs. I would like to see Cleveland win but there are two things that bother me. The pitching has not been near as dominate as it was in the wild card series. The second thing is, after their dramatic win in game 3, it just felt like the Guardians were talking and feeling like they had already won the series. There was not one comment by the players and their manager of putting things into perspective. Things like, hey this was a great win, but we still have to get that third win and the Yankees are not going to lay down and just let us take this thing. I don’t even know if I would call this over confidence, but more of a feeling of accomplishment and contentment, when in reality nothing was accomplished except to go ahead 2 games to 1 in a 5 game series. We will see if the Guardians can refocus this afternoon and pull out the third shocker of the playoffs. It will allow MLB Network to come up with a ton of excuses for the Yankees.

On the National League side, the 5th and 6th seeds are playing to see who will go the World Series. The Phillies look red hot and have been the most impressive of the two teams. Being on a roll can vanish in a heartbeat. The Padres have had some gritty wins and Josh Hader has seemed to have returned to form. The Padres have had players, that had a mediocre regular season, all of a sudden come alive with the bats, to contribute heavily to the playoff wins, in both series. These teams have not met since the end of June when the Phillies took 3 out of 4 in San Diego. The fact that 4 of the 7 games are in San Diego I do not look at as a big advantage for the Padres. This team plays better on the road and showed it in the wild card round. I think one of the big keys to this series is whether Bryce Harper will stay hot, and will San Diego allow him to beat them. I think this will be one of the most entertaining 7 game series we have seen in a long time, and I do think it will go the distance. I just give the slight edge to the Padres because of all the big names they have and how well they seem to be fielding right now. As we have seen so far, nothing will be surprising in this post season.

Baseball, The Four Run Rule

Whenever a team wins or loses a baseball game, there is a part of the team that is responsible for the outcome. It could be a total team effort, the pitching, or the hitting. Four runs is the determining factor that shows who is responsible for the outcome. If a team scores 4 or more runs, then they should win the game. If a team holds their opponent to 4 or less runs, they should win the game. If both teams accomplish this goal on the number, the game will go into extra innings and eventually one team would give up the go ahead runs. Wins and losses can be put into 6 categories: Team win, pitching win, hitting win, team loss, pitching loss, and hitting loss. Here is an example of how each category would play out for the winning and losing team. Final score of 5-4 would be an example of a team win and a pitching loss. Final score of 4-3 would be a team win and a hitting loss. Final score of 7-5 would be a hitting win and a pitching loss. Final score of 3-2 would be a pitching win and hitting loss. Final score of 6-3 would be a team win and team loss. Let’s look at 4 teams in the National League and see how this plays out.

I will look at a bad team, my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, the best team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Milwaukee Brewers, who barely missed the playoffs, and the Philadelphia Phillies, who barely made the playoffs. First, checking some basic year long stats, let’s see where each team finished the season. In runs per game, the Dodgers were 1st, the Phillies 7th, the Brewers 10th and the Pirates 27th. In on base percentage the Dodgers 1st, the Phillies 10th, the Brewers 13th, and the Pirates are at the bottom at 28th. In run prevention, the Dodgers 1st, the Phillies 15th, the Brewers 16th and the Pirates are 28th. In Fielding Independant Pitching, the Dodgers are 3rd, the Phillies 7th, the Brewers 15th and the Pirates are 23rd their highest ranking. No big surprises in those rankings. Here is how the games broke down for each team. In team losses the Pirates lead the way with 42%, followed by the Phillies with 35%, the Dodgers with 29% and the Brewers with 26%. These were the losses that the team gave up more than 4 runs and failed to score 4 runs. In games where the pitchers were responsible for the losses, the Brewers were at 33%, the Phillies 32%, the Dodgers 26% and the Pirates 21%. These were games where the hitters scored 4 or more runs but the pitchers gave up 4 or more runs in the loss. In games where the hitters were responsible for the loss, the Dodgers were at 45%, the Brewers 41%, the Pirates 37%, and Phillies 33%. These were games where the pitchers gave up 4 or less runs but the hitters could not score 4 runs in the loss. In team wins, the Dodgers led the way with 77%, followed by the Pirates 68%, the Brewers 68% and the Phillies 65%. These were games where the team scored 4 or more runs and the pitchers gave up 4 or less runs. Pitching wins were led by Phillies at 18%, the Dodgers Brewers and Pirates tied at 16%. These were games where the hitters score less than 4 runs, but the pitchers held the opponent under 3 runs for the win. Games where the hitters were responsible for the win, were led by the Phillies 17%, the Pirates and Brewers tied at 16%, with Dodgers bringing up the rear at 10%. These were games where the pitchers gave up 4 or more runs but the hitters were able to score more runs for the win. What does all of this mean other than the obvious that the Dodgers are great and the Pirates stink.

At least for these 4 teams it lays to rest the old adage that one part of the team can carry the team to victory on a consistant basis. Team wins occurred at least two thirds of the time and the Dodgers had team wins over 75% of the time. Losses on the other hand can be due to one aspect of the team, mainly hitting, not performing. At least one third of the team’s losses were due to a lack of hitting, with the Dodgers losing 45% of their games because of the bats not performing. It shows, that even with the best of teams that hitting can be a sometime thing. The Brewers did not support the aspects of their game well at all. Seventy-four per cent of their losses were due to either the pitchers or hitters not performing well, when their counterpart was doing the job. Only 20 of their 75 losses would be considered a team failure. When the pitchers pitched well, the hitters could not hit, and when the hitters hit, the pitchers could not keep the other team from scoring more runs. Winning seems to more about avoiding the bad performance rather than having great performances. There were a lot of one side of the ball fails for the Brewers which kept them out of the playoffs. We will see how other teams did when applying the 4 run rule.

Sports: On To The Division Series

Tomorrow, the divisions series will start with 3 of the underdogs advancing, from the wild card round. The Padres did do in the Mets, and even though I wrote previously that I would not be surprised by who won the other 3 series, I did not predict any of them correctly. Not only would it be surprising, but it would be downright shocking if the bye teams do not advance to the championship series. None of these teams limped into the playoffs. The Yankees had the post All-Star game slump, but what went unnoticed, because of the Aaron Judge home run chase, was that the Yankees finished 20-11. The other 3 teams did not do too shabby either, with the Astros finishing 22-9, the Dodgers 21-12, and the Braves 21-10. Is there any hope for the 4 teams that have to play these juggernauts. Well, there is always hope until the plug is pulled. Which of these teams have the best chance of pulling off the big upset.

In my view, it is the Guardians. That pitching staff has to be brimming with confidence. The Yankees have been known to go into some mighty large batting slumps. Besides Judge, they have not hit that well all year. One 11 game stretch in August they scored over 3 runs only once and went 2-9. Will the Guardians be determined to not let Aaron Judge beat them? The fact that the Guardians did not have to play on Sunday gives everybody that much needed extra day off. On the other side of the coin, the Guardians bats have not exactly been on fire. In 24 innings they scored 3 runs, all of them on the home run ball. The Guardians have one to the best managers in Terry Francona. The Yankees have one of the worst managers in Aaron Boone. Since he is a former media boy, the media treats him with kid gloves, but the bottom line is, he is the king of the bonehead move. If the games are close this could be a major factor. The other team that has the best shot of pulling off the shocking upset is the Padres. The biggest factor they have to overcome is the Dodgers seem to have their number. This was going to be one of the biggest baseball rivalries, with many people thinking that the Padres were going to challenge the Dodgers for the division title in 2021. The Padres collapsed in the 2nd half of the season and did not even make the playoffs. Even this year it was a struggle as they finished the season just 16-14 but it was good enough to get the wild card. I thought the Padres would beat the Mets, not because the Padres were the Padres but because the Mets were the Mets. The Mets have a dark cloud over them, and it just got darker with that playoff loss. The Padres do have that swagger, but the Dodgers are the heavy favorite to take it all. They were the most dominate team with a staggering 111 wins. Can you believe it, they were 1-5 against the Pirates. As the old saying goes, that is why you play the games. However, if the 4 bye teams are still not standing next week it will be a big surprise.

Sports: Let The Playoffs Begin

For a baseball fan, this is the best time of the year, as the playoffs will start today with the wild card round. To me, this round will be just a prelude to being eliminated in the division round. If the championship series are not Yankees vs. Astros and Dodgers vs. Braves, it will be very surprising. These teams have been the dominate teams most of the year, and if any of them do not make the finals of their respective leagues, it would be a major upset. The wild card round I feel is pretty competitive, and I would not be surprised at any team advancing. I do feel there is one series that is the most intriguing and should help the Braves advance to the championship round.

San Diego Padres are the wild card team of the wild card round. They play just as well on the road as they do at home. In fact, their road record is one game better than their home record. The Padres really did not set the world on fire after they acquired Josh Hader, Josh Bell, and Juan Soto. They looked like they might not even make the playoffs with Milwaukee challenging them right into the last week of the season. They are a seasoned group when it comes to playoff experience. They beat the Mets 4 out of 6 games during the regular season. The Mets are going to open with Scherzer and DeGrom, but they did the same thing against Atlanta and lost both games. The Padres have always had a certain swagger, whether it is justified or not. When you look at the teams statistically the Mets have the decided advantage. There is this perception that the Mets somehow blew the division title or limped into the playoffs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their record before and after the All-Star break is exactly the same. For whatever reason the Mets have this aura of failure around them. If the Padres pull off the upset, which I think they will, this aura will only darken. It will just be the Mets being the Mets.

Pirates Morning Report, The Final Game

Final Score: Pirates 5 Cardinals 3

How The 2023 Pirates Did: As a group (7), they went 8 for 24 with 4 walks, scoring 5 runs, driving in 3 and striking out only 5 times. I’m not sure if Miquel Andujar will be part of the 2023 Pirates next year but I am counting him for now, had 3 hits to lead the way. Johan Oviedo could only go 4 innings but looked better than most starters lately giving up 2 earned runs on 5 hits. The bullpen, this time was able to protect the lead after the Pirates put up the crooked number in the bottom of the 4th. Who knows what the bullpen will look like next year, but I count their performance none the less. The fielding was sketchy again with 2 more errors.

Key Moment of The Game: The Paul De Jong line out to end the game. If this ball is hit a little harder or a little higher there is no telling how the game would have ended with this bullpen history. It allowed the Pirates to close the season with a win.

Next Game: March 30, 2023, Red in Cincinnati. The Pirates start their playoff run.

Pirates Noon Report, Losing No. 100 In Style

Final Score: Pirates 7 Cardinals 8 in 10 innings

How The 2023 Pirates Did: The Pirates brought out the lumber last night scoring 7 runs on 15 hits. The first 6 batters for the Pirates went 12 for 28, scoring 6 runs and driving in 4. Oneil Cruz led the way getting 3 hits. Ji Hwan Bae, batting 9th, had a nice game going 2 for 5, with 1 RBI and 1 run scored. The starting pitching continued their late season slump with J. T. Brubaker only going 2.2 innings giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk. The bullpen could not hold the lead of 7-3 and the game went 10 innings before the Pirates lost 8-7. Cruz and Bae each made an error which contributed to the Cardinals scoring.

Key Moment of The Game: With score 8-7 Cardinals in the bottom of the 10 designated runner Kevin Newman was on 2nd base with one out. On a ground ball by Cruz that went off the first baseman’s glove and was retrieved by the 2nd baseman, Newman tried to score all the way from 2nd on the play. I do not know who made the decision, but it was a bad one and Newman was out at the plate. Instead of the Pirates having 1st and 3rd with one out, they had a runner on 1st with 2 outs. Cruz managed to get all the way around to third base, but Reynolds grounded out to end the game. The Pirates lost game number 100 for the season with some flare at least.

Next And Last Game of The Season: This afternoon, Cardinals in Pittsburgh. The last chance for the Pirates to put the 2023 Pirates on the field. On a personal note, I was in San Diego for the week, and it was fun to watch a team clinch a playoff spot and see the excitement. I got in very early this AM, which is why this is a noon report. After the season I will look at what the 2023 Pirates will do next year when they try and win games. Playoff baseball is right around the corner, and I can hardly keep my fingers still.

Pirates Morning Report, I Only Thought The Pirates Would Do That

Final Score: Pirates 3 Cardinals 2

How The 2023 Pirates Did: The Pirate’s bats were quiet for most of the game. Reynolds, Castillo, Suwinski and Delay each got 1 hit, with Reynolds doubling in a run and Suwinski hitting a home run. Keller started off strong but faltered in the 6th giving up 4 straight hits to start the inning, including a 2 run homer to Albert Pujols. The Pirates only struck out 2 times which may be a season low. The bullpen hung tough for the 2nd game in a row.

Key Moment of The Game: Earlier, I wrote that the Pirate’s bats were quiet, but they were very quiet in the bottom of the 9th. In fact, they never made a sound. Unbelievably, the Cardinals walked the first 4 batters in the bottom of the 9th to lose the game. If I thought I would ever see something like that, it would be the Pirates who would do it. I was wrong and the Pirates won 3-2.

Next Game: Tonight, Cardinals in Pittsburgh. Came close to the lineup last night but Newman had to start. Can the Pirates avoid 100 losses? Who cares, certainly management doesn’t.

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