Lists and rankings will spring up all over the Web this week as baseball goes on All-Star hiatus. Beerleaguer will be no different, beginning with the best and worst games of the first half, starting with the worst.
Loyal reader Ben Keeler originally posted this in yesterday’s game thread. (Great job, Ben). I’ve taken the liberty to include some color in the form of cantankerous highlights from the comments section, and some other developements surrounding those games. Enjoy.
April 2 – Braves 5, Phillies 3: Opening day meltdown, setting the tone for April. Ryan Madson shoulders brunt of blame. (Comments: "The Phillies' consistent failure the entire decade has been in simply rising to the occasion. What happened today is just more of the same. You keep thinking, one of these years, they'll reward everyone's excitement and make a statement in front of a sellout crowd. Never happens. They shrink, every time." ... "One thing that was awful about today's game was Matthews/Wheeler on TV. Just brutal. I refuse to watch the innings where these guys call the game.")
April 4 – Braves 8, Phillies 4: Tom Gordon and Madson waste Cole Hamels’ gem. Shane Victorino thrown out when he tried to steal third late. (Comments: Any pitcher should be able to hold a 2-run lead for 1 inning when the wind is blowing in! You shouldn't need a 50-save closer to get that done. Please. Gordon gets no pass on this one. This is his job. If he isn't ready because he didn't get enough work in ST, then they shouldn't have brought him north. If he wasn't loose because of the cold weather, then he should have told CM.)
April 20 - Reds 2, Phillies 1: One strike from victory, the Reds get their second hit, a Scott Hatteberg HR and go on to win in extras. Offense, without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley struggling, becomes a major concern. Brett Myers had already been moved to the bullpen at this point. Matt Smith was on his way out. (Comments: Anyone who still believes Gordon should be the closer, now's the time to say it. Personally, I think Flash did them a favor tonight by ending the charade quickly. Myers was never going to be Gordon's caddy. Are you kidding me?" and "A couple more losses and they've got themselves a nice hole they'll probably never escape from.")
May 23 - Phillies 8, Marlins 7: Phillies actually win, but Myers gets hurt thanks to catcher Rod Barajas not blocking the plate. Myers was called on to pitch with a four-run lead. Greg Dobbs also made a critical blunder on a throw home. (Comments: "Rod Barajas is not a major league catcher. We now have confirmation. That play had "Fasano" written all over it, like when Sal tried to pump a throw and chucked the ball to third base last season. It cost them this game and it could cost them Myers. Dobbs made a bad choice. Barajas made no choice -- he just stood there with the winning run coming at him. shocking and yet not really" ... "I'm optimistic Myers can bounce back from this, but let it serve warning to Manuel to start getting other pitchers involved. It should have never come to it anyway. Barajas' play was inexcusable. He had about two seconds to get set. I'm not in favor of this four-out save pattern, either, no matter how bad the bullpen is. It's not the way to manage a 162 game season with playoffs in mind. I don't believe any of the other options, within reason, are so poor you can't trust them up four runs against Florida. Rosario can pitch with a four-run lead. So can Madson.")
June 10 - Royals 17, Phillies 5: Embarrasment to the Royals. Jamie Moyer and bullpen B-list rocked. Jose Mesa’s second tour begins. (Comment: "Am I really still watching this? What does that say about me as a person?")
July 3 - Astros 5, Phillies 4: The blown call at first against Houston. Carlos Ruiz out at home by 15 feet. Hunter Pence ends night with a walk-off home run off Mesa. (Comment: I give umpires leeway on bang-bang plays, but that was a horrible call that cost the Phils a win. Carlos Lee was clearly out at normal speed, and REALLY out in slow-mo. The Phils are quite capable of losing on their own, they have a long storied history of it, they don't need assistance from the umps.")
July 6 - Rockies 7, Phillies 6: One strike from victory, Brad Hawpe homers off Antonio Alfonseca and they lose in the 11th inning. (Comment: My unofficial count has this as the 17th loss attributable to the bullpen, either directly or by allowing runs that provided the losing margin after the Phillies came back with runs of their own. The excuse makers who say Gillick did the best he could, his hands were tied, Borowski sucks, the available relievers cost too much, some guys would never sign with us, Madson and Geary are great setup men, Matt Smith is fine, the bullpen should be just guys from our own organization etc. etc. ... I'm sitting here wondering if there's any other team in the major leagues that would carry Durbin, Anderson Garcia or Mesa on their roster right now.")
Best games to be posted later today.