Friday, July 29, 2011

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Phillies Game

I went to last night's Giants-Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park with tempered expectations. After all, the Phillies had by far their worst starter on the team on the mound, while two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum took the hill for San Fran. But I had no idea just how miserable of a night I was in for.

Throughout the day I kept checking because I knew it was supposed to rain at some point. Virtually all day, the rain was expected to be in the afternoon, and then late at night. But then right before I was about to leave, the forecast changed to rain right around game time. And wouldn't you know it, all night long the rain was off and on, keeping my unbelievably high percentage of terrible weather games I've been to this year up. Awesome. Thankfully it never came down in buckets, but still annoying.

However, the most annoying part about rain during a game is not getting wet. Oh no, far from it. The worst part about rain during a game is the assholes who bring umbrellas to the game, and then break them out in the seats, thus blocking the view of everyone sitting behind them.

I am 100 percent of the belief that umbrellas should be banned from any and all sporting events in the country. The people sitting behind you paid for their tickets too, and now they can't see the game because your ignorant ass broke out a huge umbrella and blocked the entire view. Fuck you. I hope you die.

Seeing people open umbrellas in the stands pisses me off so badly that I honestly believe that if you do pull out an umbrella and open it at a game, the person sitting behind you should legally be allowed to take it from you and bludgeon you to death with it. I'm not even joking about that. I honestly think this should be a law in the books, because fuck that ignorant asshole. If you don't want to get wet at a game, go up to the concourse under cover, wear a poncho or just stay the fuck home. Don't ruin everyone else's experience that's around you. They're already getting wet. They'd at least like to see the game.

Seriously, if you bring an umbrella to a stadium, I hate you and I hope you die.

On a bright note, I did get up close and personal to former Phillies prospect and current Giants all-star Ryan Vogelsong's wife.

Turns out, she was in section 129, right next to the seats in 128 that I had. She was easy to spot because the people she was with were all clad in Vogelsong gear. She is tall and attractive. Very. So that at least brightened my spirits.

Anyway, back to the game. As little as my expectations were last night, it didn't make the 4-1 loss any easier to take. Why? Because the Phillies felt like they were out of it all night due to incredibly stupid decisions and poor fundamental baseball. Honestly, damn near every decision Charlie Manuel made last night was baffling, and his players could not do the simplest of things.

The biggest shame of it all is that Kendrick actually pitched very well. He had only surrendered two hits going into the 7th, and he did his job to hold San Francisco there, only an error on what looked to be a double-play ball off the bat of pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand was booted by Michael Martinez at third, leading to two more runs. As much as I'd like to bitch about Kendrick, I can't. He did his job last night. It was the rest of the Phillies who didn't. Namely Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

I know that Chase Utley is the man, and he really is, but the thing that irks me most about Phillies fans is that even after a night like last night where Utley completely sucked until his final at-bat, everyone harps on Ryan Howard's failure to come through without even bringing up Utley's struggles. And last night, despite driving in the lone run of the game for the Phils, Utley by far had the worst at-bats of the game, and here's why.

In his first three plate appearances, Utley came up with runners in scoring position. He went 0-for-3 and didn't even advance a runner. In the first, Jimmy Rollins led off with a double. While some may call it too early to bunt in the first inning, I thought Charlie Manuel made one of his few right calls of the night and had Michael Martinez bunt to get Rollins to third. Runs are not easy to come by against Lincecum, and Martinez is hardly the guy you expect to come through against him. So Martinez laid down a bunt and moved Rollins to third. Up came Utley with Jimmy on third and just one out. All Utley has to do is get the ball to the outfield and Rollins scores.

Now I know that's easier said than done against Lincecum, but it's a spot your three-hole hitter is expected to come through in. Chase did not. He hit a weak, weak pop up to short. It was an awful at-bat and put pressure on Ryan Howard to get a two-out hit.

Ryan Howard did not, striking out, which is infuriating, don't get me wrong, but Utley's at-bat was just as bad. Yet everyone around me was just cursing at Howard without anything more than a moan after Chase's at-bat.

In Utley's second at-bat, he came up with two outs and runners on the corners. They got there because Kendrick inexplicably got a one-out single off Lincecum, then Jimmy walked, and Kendrick surprisingly tagged to get to third after Martinez flew out. Now Chase had a chance to redeem himself. Instead Utley got called out on strikes, and while it certainly looked high from my seats, he still failed to come through with a runner in scoring position for a second straight at-bat.

And finally, in the 5th, Utley came up with two on and two out. Ruiz was on second in scoring position. Chase got ahead 3-1 on Lincecum and looked to zone in. This is where Lincecum showed just how filthy he is.

On that 3-1, Chase was sitting dead red on a fastball. Timmy knew it, so he threw one of the best changeups I've ever seen. Utley swung fastball and was way out in front of it, but it didn't matter. If Chase had let it go, it was still a strike. Absolutely nasty pitch. Now the count was 3-2. Here's where the problem was. Lincecum let fly another changeup, only this one was nowhere near as good. It came out low and bounced in the dirt, not even close to a strike. But Utley chased it and struck out for the second straight at-bat, failing to come through for a third straight time with runners in scoring position.

Listen, I know getting a two-out hit is tough. I know facing Lincecum is a losing proposition. But if your three-hole hitter has three straight chances to drive in a run against the same pitcher, he has to come through at least once if you expect to win. Utley didn't and the Phillies lost.

Sure, he did drive in that run in the 7th, but then Howard broke his bat and grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning. That's when a drunk guy in front of us, who stated that he knows his baseball (a dead giveaway that he doesn't know shit), unleashed on Howard, saying he never gets clutch hits and hasn't had one clutch hit all season. Yeah, a guy with 77 RBIs hasn't had a clutch hit all year, and never has in his career despite racking up RBIs, winning an MVP, destroying the baseball in every single September he's ever seen, winning a World Series and having an incredibly hot 2009 October until the World Series. Yet this man did not even make a peep about Utley after his first three at-bats. That's what drives me nuts about Phillies fans.

Don't get me wrong, Howard deserves his criticisms, no doubt. He was 0-for-4 last night and .246 just isn't going to cut it. But Utley is the one who left five guys on base and struck out twice, yet nothing. I know he's awesome and we all love him, but he's not without fail. It feels like a lot of Phillies fans think differently, pinning all the struggles on anyone but Chase.

Beyond the failures of Utley and Howard last night, there was more terrible play. The aforementioned Martinez error was crippling. The insane call from Manuel on Kendrick's at-bat in the 5th was inexplicable. Ruiz led the inning off with a walk, so naturally Kendrick was up there to bunt and move him along. He squared on the first pitch but pulled back and took a called strike. Then he squared again, only to pull back and swing for strike two. Naturally, I thought, after letting him swing with one strike, the bunt would be off. Nope, instead it was on, Kendrick failed to get it down and struck out. What. The. Fuck. If you're going to have him bunt, why in the hell would you have him pull back and swing away with a strike already? That's just insane. And stupid. And I hated it.

Then Charlie for some reason didn't double-switch when he lifted Kendrick despite that fact that Domonic Brown had just made the last out, meaning the pitcher's spot was due up second in the 7th. That didn't make much sense, but OK, maybe he wanted to leave Dom in. Only when Brown's spot came up next in the 8th, Charlie called him back with the lefty Jeremy Affeldt on the mound and sent out Ben Francisco. Naturally, Bruce Bochy brought in a righty to face Francisco and Ben got out. My question is why in the hell did he leave Brown in if he wasn't going to let him hit anyway? Why not just double-switch and leave John Mayberry in, who pinch-hit for Brad Lidge and is about a thousand times more dangerous than Francisco? And listen, I know Dom is green and the game was still close, but how in the hell is he going to learn hit tough left-handed pitching, especially out of the bullpen, if you don't give him the chance to be in there in that spot? You gotta let him hit there and go through the growing pains now in the hopes he's ready come October should they need him.

I just didn't understand any of those moves by Charlie. When you couple that with bad baseball, like Rollins being late on a 3-1 fastball and hitting a weak pop-up the other way, against a good team and good pitcher, forget about it. Add in the stupidity of some fans, the rain, the umbrellas, another loss and my arm being bound, and it was all-around a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad game.

Honestly, the best parts of night were seeing Nicole Vogelsong, then spotting Scott Hartnell outside at McFadden's as we were leaving, and then getting out of the parking lot quickly due to most people staying for the fireworks after the loss. Other than that, it was a completely miserable experience.

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