Friday, September 4, 2009

3 is Greater than 1

As in 3 Cy Youngs is greater than 1, evident by Pedro Martinez's performance last night, bringing back visions of his time as the game's best.

Man oh man, if you appreciate excellent pitching, you had to have loved last night's duel between the old goat and the young freak. For 7 incredible innings, Pedro Martinez flashed his former Cy Young brilliance, matching the reigning NL Cy Young winner pitch for pitch. Actually, he did him one better, giving up just one run to Lincecum's two. It was pitching at its finest.

After surrendering a leadoff home run to Otis Nixon look-alike Eugenio Velez, Pedro locked in and pitched as good as any pitcher, 37 years old or not, could pitch: 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 9 strikeouts. He was electric. There was life on his fastball, he was throwing all four of his pitches for strikes, and he was mixing them in all over the place — inside, outside, high, low — everywhere. For one night, at least, he was vinatage Pedro. And it was awesome to watch.

Especially considering what his counterpart was doing. They don't call Tim Lincecum the Freak for nothing. This guy is scary good. Like a young Pedro, he mixes in a blazing heater with devastating off-speed stuff. His curve is filthy, his changeup unfair and his location damn near perfect.

Talk about a guy who has bad luck, though. Lincecum threw 7 awesome innings, surrendering just four hits and two runs while striking out 11. Thankfully, one of those four hits was this rocket off the bat of Jayson Werth that found its way to the second deck in left field — a place few balls land. Then in the 6th, Lincecum made his first real mistake, hitting Chase Utley with two outs and nobody on. Apparently Tim didn't get the memo that Ryan Howard eats pitchers for lunch in September, and sure enough, the big man delivered the game-winning RBI with a double to plate Utley.

Madson certainly looked good, and Lidge got the job done, even if it was a bit exciting. But the story was unquestionably Pedro.

After not looking all that impressive in his first few starts, then being forced to leave due to two rain delays, there were rumblings that maybe Pedro shouldn't be the one starting. Those rumblings got louder when Jamie Moyer pitched flawlessly in relief of Martinez in those two rain-delayed games. Pedro put those questions to rest last night. Facing the best pitcher in the National League, Martinez stepped up and recaptured the form that made him a 3-time Cy Young winner.

He wasn't just good. He was dominant, breezing through 7 innings on jut 87 pitches. Had Carlos Ruiz not gotten that two-out double in the 7th, rest assured that Pedro was coming out for the 8th. He was throwing that good. And that's why the Phils signed him. For moments like last night. Sure, Pedro isn't what he used to be, not even close. But now healthy for the first time in years, he's capable of showing flashes of his former self. And it couldn't have come at a better time.

And I couldn't have had a better time last night. Not only did the Phillies win to take the series from the Giants, but there was also college football and the final Eagles preseason game on. Thanks to our awesome two TV setup, not to mention having both Comcast and DirecTV, I was in sports viewing heaven.

Now, admittedly, I didn't watch a whole lot of the Eagles game. I was completely focused on the battle between old Cy Young pitcher vs. young Cy Young pitcher, so I can't make any real definitive statements about the game. However, I can say, with 100 percent conviction, that Michael Vick still looked fast as hell. That was encouraging to see. There's no question he can still run the football and make some electrifying plays, and his arm is still a cannon. Beyond that, I still don't think anyone knows what to expect once he takes the field in week 3.

Oh, and from what I saw, Macho Harris looked like a real player. I think I'm going to like that guy.

What I did watch intently was the end of the South Carolina-NC State game, and all of the Oregon-Boise State game. If you like defense, then these games were for you. The SC-NC St. battle was a slugfest (no pun intended), as neither team could do much of anything on offense.

The final score read South Carolina 7, NC State 3. Though it could have easily been 10-7 NC State. With less than 4 minutes left, NC State quarterback Russell Wilson lofted a pass to the end zone. When it was thrown, it looked like a jump ball destined to be picked off. But somehow, it got over both SC defenders and found its way right to receiver Jay Smith. Instead of making the catch and putting the Wolfpack ahead, the ball hit Smith right in the face mask and fell incomplete.

It was a pretty awesome game, but it was just an appetizer to the matchup between No. 16 Oregon and No. 14 Boise State. Leading up to the game, I kept hearing about the bad blood between Boise and Oregon, and it was no joke. These two teams battled for four quarters in a game that truly lacked any semblance of good offense, especially on Oregon's part.

The Broncos bested the Ducks 19-8 with tremendous defense and strong ball control. Virtually all night, Oregon was incompetent on offense, routinely going 3 and out. The Ducks' defense was on the field almost the entire game, and Boise State simply wore them down. Sure, their kicker sucked balls, but the team with the blue field was definitely superior last night.

But the real story came after the game, when LeGarrette Blount lost his damn mind.

Granted, you can't punch someone on the football field. That's a no-no. LeGarrette Blount was 100 percent in the wrong. However, upon seeing it live, I thought Byron Hout got off easy by the announcers and the ensuing media afterward. Watch the replay. Hout clearly slaps Blount on the shoulder and undoubtedly said something to provoke him, at least you'd have to think so. He wasn't exactly being a good sport either, yet there wasn't a word muttered about Hout's unsportsmanlike conduct.

Not that that excuses Blount. Because it doesn't. You can't throw punches. That's a given. And he deserves whatever punishment is cast upon him, especially after continuing to go bonkers all the way back to the locker room. Not a smart move on his part at all, and not good for Oregon or Blount's draft stock because you'd have to think he's facing some sort of suspension.

But it sure as hell was an exciting way to kick off the college football season. It's officially the most wonderful time of the year.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. You pretty much covered it all for me. It was pretty funny hearing Pedro and The Freak talk about each other. They were both pretty much in awe of each other's exploits.

  2. That game was insanely intense. Playoff atmosphere, and Pedro stepped it up.

  3. espn is gay for pulling that clip. i really hate espn these days.