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Monday, May 18, 2009


Off-topic (like we never do that), but does anyone have a recipe for Veal Marsala for Jose Reyes? He's evidently been adding the wine before the butcher gets to the animal.

Now he says he can't play cause he needs to take care of his stiff calf.

lol Andy. with all the recipes involving brussel sprouts, butter, etc., maybe BL should put together a BL cookbook; a cookbook with 23-28 recipes that reflect each week of the season+playoffs.

With the day off today, the Phils can skip Park's next turn.

JW- Glad to see the Johnny Callison's All Star HR on the list. '64 was a year that was hard to forget, if you were old enough to have ridden that roller-coaster season to its bitter end.

Great home run article, but I always think Victorino's homer three batters before stairs gets lost in the shuffle. All of the sudden, this horrible game was tied--that homer made me believe.

Schmidt's 500th doesn't make the cut? Hard to believe, Harry.

Mariano Duncan's two grand slams in 1993 come to mind also: the first off Lee Smith on Mother's day, erasing a 5-2, 8th inning deficit; the other to put the Phillies ahead for good in the division clincher.

****With the day off today, the Phils can skip Park's next turn.****

I'd rather they just slide Happ into his spot. We can hope they do something.

RSB: Good call on the Duncan homers. I think the Schmidt 500th was omitted intentially since it didn't impact playoffs or the quest for playoffs, and the Callison homer in the all-star game came at a time when AS games meant more.

But certainly the Schmidt 500th homer was the lone highlight for years and years sadly.

Had Sisler's blast as No. 1 even before I saw you included his card in your post.

Yeah, but this Sisler kid'll never make it. Doesn't hit enough dingers to be a 1B.

re: 'new' strike zone
a little research on this 'new' strike zone shows an overall dip in the NL of 0.75 percentage points in terms of strike percentage.

while there have been changes to rotations and what not, the two teams that have most changed in terms of performance are the Phillies and the Brewers, and the Phillies have worsened substantially in more categories than the Brewers have. The two teams that have improved (benefited) the most are the Braves and the Mets. and by the way, these findings, given their constraints of new pitchers/new rotations/new ballparks, are statistically significant.

bottom line:
(1) there really isn't a "new" strike zone league-wide.
(2) there is a "new" strike zone for the Phillies (and the Brewers to a lesser extent).

what this means:
the 'new' strike zone applies to Phillies pitchers only (conspiracy). or the Phillies pitchers have regressed significantly this year. or a combination of both.

On a positive note, this year's World Series games will start at a more reasonable hour.

Maybe now I won't be so sleep deprived in October.

I failed to mention that Houston has also seen a significant dip, comparable to the Phillies.

I completely agree with Midre. Vic's homerun gets completely overlooked as the Dodgers had all the momentum until that moment. As soon as Vic hit that out to tie the game, that was the exact moment I thought to myself the Phils were going to win not only that game and the NLCS, but the World Series as well.

You just knew at that point that the team was simply going to refuse to lose. Stairs's bomb was certainly the icing on the cake, but it was Vic's bomb that changed that game.

TNA: I guess we have to go with your view, but it makes the Phillies staff an amazingly powerful statistical animal.

The league average walks from 2001 through the present:
2001 3.3
2002 3.5
2003 3.3
2004 3.4
2005 3.3
2006 3.4
2007 3.3
2008 3.4
2009 3.8

For a team which has played fewer games than most to have single-handedly pulled the average walks per game up almost a half a walk per nine innings all by themselves, basically, is pretty unbelieveable.

Equally incredible is that last year only two teams finished with BB/9 over 4 (PIT and SFG both 4.1). This year there are five teams over 4 BB/9 (none of them the Phils who are at a rather pedestrian 2009 number of 3.9). Those include the Nats at 4.6, CHC and SDP at 4.2 and SFG at 4.1.

So even though we're getting just as many "strikes" we're getting a lot more walks. I'd be more interested in seeing a comparison of the number of 2-0 counts this year as opposed to last. Show me that we have just as many 2-0's and 3-1's as we have had historically and I'll place my hand on Bill James and swear allegiance to your viewpoint.

Since the PB man-love has died down a bit here recently, let me ask you this: had PtB's leadoff double in the bottom of the 7th of WS game 5 been a jack, would it have made the list? By virtue of reasoning that a no out double is statistically almost a home run, I'm surprised that hit (his last in a Phillies uniform) isn't remembered more than it is.

Thon: it was remembered well enough to earn Burrell a lead spot in the parade and enormous ovations when he appeared at CBP in April. Without that double, Burrell's legacy is probably quite a bit different from what it became instead.

Here is my well-thought and in-depth analysis of Chan Ho Park.

This guy is a pansy. There is no place for wusses in Phiadelphia sports.

Dickie Thon: just let him go.

@jeltz -- great point. Stairs homer has no meaning without Vic's. But Stairs homer was a JUMP OUT OF YOUR SEAT... OH MY GOODNESS CAN YOU BELIEVE IT... kind of a shot... It tore the hearts out of the Dodgers. That's why it has a little more significance for most of us.

But the Vic mentions, makes you wish MLB would have a Playoff MVP instead of the individual series like Hockey does. Cole probably likely would have won it anyway, Vic's clutch performances carried us all the way through the first two series...

JW: I figured there was a reason for all the October emphasis. Kind of makes it too easy, though. It's fun to dig back and recall homers from regular-season games during non-playoff years, as well.

For instance, one that's definitely in my personal top 5 is Todd Pratt's 3-run shot to overcome a 5-3 deficit and beat Boston in the 13th inning in '03. Steve Jeltz going deep from both sides of the plate in the game where the Phils came back from 10-0 agsinst the Pirates.

And the guy who postyd as Dickie Thon reminds me of another two of my favorites: when Thon broke up a Frank Viola no-hitter with a grand slam in 1990, and the following year when he hit a 2-out, 2-run HR in the ninth to beat the then-division champ Pirates, 6-5. That was the first time I'd seen a Phillie reverse a deficit in the final AB with a homer, and I'll never forget it.

Andy: haven't been able to run any analysis, but here's the data:

2-0 counts seen:
2009: 63.99% (+2.24% pts)
2008: 66.22% (+.55% pts)
2007: 66.77% (-.58% pts)
2006: 66.19% (+.64% pts)
2005: 66.38%

3-1 counts seen:
2009: 53.86% (+2.00% pts)
2008: 55.85% (+ .5% pts)
2007: 56.35% (-.08% pts)
2006: 56.27% (-.4% pts)
2005: 55.87%

Had Burrell's blast gone over the wall, it most certainly would have made the list and, perhaps, been near or at the top. It would have been a World Series-winning homer.

RSB: I would love for you to gather your personal top 10 regular season homers and I'll run it as a post. E-mail it once you're done.

I guess the next level of analysis would be to see how those percentages breakdown for each team.

Given the above-mentioned NL-wide trends, the Phillies have some counter-intuitive splits:

2-0 counts seen:
2009: 64.29% (- 3.24 % pts)
2008: 67.53% (+ 4.085% pts)
2007: 63.44%

3-1 counts seen:
2009: 51.83% (- 5.63% pts)
2008: 57.46% (+ 2.54% pts)
2007: 54.92%

What does this all mean?

I'm not buying including Callison's All-Star HR & not Schmidt's 500th. The All-Star Game may well have meant more in '64, but if you exclude Schmidt's 500th because it " ... didn't alter a Phillies' season", you have to exclude Callison's HR as well. Unless, of course, Callison's All-Star Game performance is the reason the Phils eventually tanked in '64 (Hint: It wasn't). Interestingly, one could also argue that the All-Star Game actually means *more* now, due to King Bud's ignorant decision to allow the outcome to determine home field advantage in the WFS.

Regardless, I'd replace the Callison HR w/ Sarge's HR in Game 4 of the '83 NLCS, or J-Roll's leadoff HR in Game 5 of the '08 NLCS. Both of those HRs had a far greater impact on the Phillies' season in those years than Callison's did in '64.

Callison's HR in the All Star game was a big deal. Callison almost won the MVP that year and was the focal point of the Phillies. His All Star blow was a sign of respectability for a disrespected team and league. It also showed the NL to be up to the AL, who had won the majority of All Star games up to that point by a wide margin. Callison's homer definitely belongs on this list.

Fred: Big deal, yes, but how did it "... alter a Phillies' season"? I'm not arguing the significance of Callison's HR itself, just that Mr. Smith sets out ground rules for his list in one sentence, & then seems to toss those rules out the window w/ his very first selection.

G-Town Dave, the 1964 season was a mythical season for the Phillies. It had destiny written all over it. Jim Bunning pitched his Father's Day Perfect Game. Richie (later Dick) Allen burst on the scene is blazing fashion to win the Rookie of the Year. Callison's All Star home run brought pride and fame to the Philadelphia Phillies. The September collapse of losing ten straight games due to dildo brained Gene Mauch's decision to go to a reduced pitcher starting rotation ruined it all.

The Callison homerun means a lot more and is more memorable than Sarge's HR in Game 4 of the '83 NLCS, or J-Roll's leadoff HR in Game 5 of the '08 NLCS. Sorry.

I'm with Steve and Midre. Vic's shot was huge. I think that it basically saved the post-season for the Phils. I don't get ranking Stairs' jack so high with putting Vic's in the top 10.

Fred: You're missing my point entirely, which is that Mr. Smith is breaking his own rules. Merely being memorable has nothing to do w/ it. The Phillies would have collapsed whether Callison hit that HR or not. Regardless of symbolic significance, Callison's All-Star Game HR had no impact whatsoever on the FATE of the TEAM.

Dave- The Phillies were a bad team for a decade before '64 - second division mostly -finishing as many as 40 games behind the leaders.
That HR helped establish some credibility (along with the things in Lake Fred's post).
It's a long time ago, and any list like this is subjective , but that HR belongs in my opinion.

Vic's shot was bigger than Stairs. When he hit, an LA win, and a tie series, was starting to feel inevitable. After Vic turned the tide, Stairs just rode it.

Stairs was, of course, much more photogenic.

Thanks for the history lesson, guys. Hearing my father tell epic tales of the 1964 season every other day of my life, Callison's HR & Bunnings perfect game included, clearly wasn't enough. However, if any of you would care to address the point that Mr. Smith makes a rule to exclude Schmidt's 500th HR, & then breaks that same rule by including Callison's All-Star Game HR, I'd be happy to listen to what you have to say.

I think Stairs HR was bigger than Vic's. Vic's tied the game, Stairs' was a game winner. The game winner is always bigger than the game tying HR.

Also... Stairs' homer was majestic and it was off of the Dodgers closer, not some middle reliever.

Both HRs were MASSIVE, but I think Stairs' was more impressive.

CJ: Agreed. Game Winning RBI trumps Game Tying RBI. Vic's HR gave me hope. Stairs' HR, off of a Dodger's closer who hadn't given up a HR in forever, made me BELIEVE.

Interesting. I saw most of these home runs on TV at the time they were hit. It may just be because it is so recent (so were Utley and Vic's HRs), but there was something really special about the Stairs HR.

At that point the Phils were in an ugly, tense game that no one had really grabbed hold of, and the outcome of which was very much in doubt.

When Stairs hit that shot, the whole momentum of that game and the playoffs went decisively to the Phils, and you could just sense the wind and spirits go out of the Dodgers and their fans like air out of a slashed tire.

Emotionally, the only thing I can remember that was a little like it was Pujols HR against Lidge in Houston. Tens of thousands of screaming fans and suddenly...silence.

Utley and Burrell in Game 1 of the NLCS last year. Lowe was pitching lights-out till then.

Just thought I'd comment about the exclusion of Schmidt's 500th home run and the inclusion of Callison's.

I debated about whether to omit Callison's shot, but decided to include it because of where the Phillies were at that point in time.

The team was growing under Mauch, but still was fighting for respectability in a lot of ways. Just three years before they had lost 107 games.

Callison's home run may not have altered a season, but it did really make people step up and take notice that this Phillies team was for real, that they had top-notch players.

No doubt, Schmidt's home run was memorable. It won the game. Harry's call was great. It the was highlight during a downturn for the franchise.

But it didn't make people view the Phillies any differently. Callison's home run did. that's why it made the cut.

Thanks for reading and reacting.

bsmith: Consider me a textualist in that I do not accept that, under the guidelines you laid out (e.g., a season-altering HR), Callison's HR may rightfully be included in your list. However, I appreciate both your response, & the column itself. It's fun to debate this sort of thing, especially as last season added so many more great HRs to the pool of choices.

I'd also vote for Victorino's tying blast to make the list. It's easy in retrospect to downplay it but at the time we were in real trouble of dropping that game and ending up tied 2-2 in that series, which is a lot scarier than up 3-1.

Good link, EFF. If you re-watch that game up to the point Vic homers, you'd think they have no shot to win the way they played up until that point.

After that homer, I really didn't doubt they were going to win even though the game was tied at the time.

They're both important HRs and of course Stairs' is more impressive visually, but I think Vic should be on the list.

Either way, this is more fun to debate than the length of Chan Ho's leash.

G-Town Dave, we'll have to agree to disagree. Like I said, I almost didn't include Callison's homer, but it didn't feel right not to. Maybe next time I won't set such "stringent" guidelines.

These kind of debates are part of what makes baseball different from other sports. Can't imagine a list of the most significant field goals in Eagles history, for example.

Regarding Victorino's homer against the Dodgers. It was a very important home run, no doubt, and would be in the top 20.

But consider. What if Stairs had made an out and the Phillies had gone on to lose the game? How would Vic's homer be remembered then?

Well, comparing field goals to home runs is silly. Compare TDs to HRs and you could have such a list.

Vic's HR changed the game and the series. The talk here was who was going to pitch game 7 or would the Dodgers clinch in 6.

Stairs HR was great for breaking the tie and being such a mammoth blast, but it also got a lot of emotion added to it by coming in the same inning that the game turned around.

well, to digress, the best homer i ever saw at a phillies game was hit at connie mack and was hit by willie mccovey late june/ early july of '63 that was still rising as it cleared the clock over the right field scoreboard. the ball has yet to come down and NORAD scrabbled fighter jets when it was picked up on their radar. been watching baseball for 47 years and never saw a shot like that since.

Glad so many agree on the Victorino shot. The Stairs homer was amazing and I think it had the advantage of being hit by a guy who looks more like a (literal) beerleaguer. But Victorino's shot was just so improbable--I still can't quite believe it was high enough to get out. Thanks EFF for reminding me how miserable I was before that home run.

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