Father’s Day – A Look Back

Now that the 2007 Mets collapse has unseated the Phillies as having the dubious honor of greatest late season collapse in Baseball History, one can now look back at one of the greatest moments from that 1964 season that just happens to have is 45th anniversary this coming Sunday.

Jim Bunning was the Phillies most famous #14 since Del Ennis and until some guy nicknamed “Charlie Hustle” came along in 1979.  I didn’t begin to follow baseball until the end of Bunning’s career, but from what I’ve read and gathered from people who saw him pitch he was a heck of a pitcher who was the first to ever win 100 games in both the NL and AL en route to the Hall of Fame.

Bunning took the mound against the Mets on June 21, 1964 at the Mets new home, Shea Stadium (home of the 1964 All-Star Game) and was perfect.  Bunning has since admitted that he’s pitched games where he had better stuff but everything fell into place during that game in front of a Father’s Day crowd of 32,026.   Johnny Callison, who would win the All-Star Game at Shea less than a month later with a homer, homered in the game and Bunning knocked in two runs as the Phillies won 6-0.  Bunning struck out 10 Mets and improved to 7-2 with the win.   It was the first perfect game in the NL in 84 years.

Unfortunately the season did not end as well as this day did, but that story is for another time.  Let’s just look back on this one a smile.

Happy Father’s Day!!

Manuel On Lidge

Charlie Manuel called in on the Power Alley show on XM radio earlier today and said that Brad Lidge will make a rehab appearance in the minors as early as tomorrow.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that the Phillies are a little leery of adding Seattle’s Erik Bedard and that Bedard needs to prove his shoulder is healthy before being one of the top trade options.  Heyman reported that Boston’s Brad Penny and Seattle’s Jared Washburn right now are the two most appealing starters on the trade market.

The BigGreek’s take: Penny signed a reasonable contract with the Red Sox and so far has performed well.   The problem is that Boston is in a position of strength and Penny isn’t worth overpaying for.  Neither is Washburn who is pitching well in Seattle – a very pitcher friendly park after not pitching well the past couple seasons.   I’d wait to see if Bedard can prove he’s healthy.  He pitched well in Baltimore two years ago in a ballpark that is more hitter friendly and could be productive in Philly.

Around The League – MLB

There have been a few media reports that the Nationals are planning to fire Manager Manny Acta.  The Nats aren’t commenting which just leaves Acta twisting in the wind.  Manny is a smart guy who simply got stuck with a bad team.  Word is that he is not well-liked in the locker room which is not a good thing when you’re losing as often as the hapless Nats are.  Hopefully if the let Acta go the front office will give the next manager some good young talent to work with instead of bringing in past their prime veterans. 

The Red Sox plan on pitching John Smoltz on Thursday against the Marlins, one day before the Red Sox/Braves series.  How great would that have been to see Smoltz make his first ever start for someone other than the Braves against the Braves? The other question that hasn’t been answered is who will get bumped from the rotation to make room for Smoltz? Penny signed a reasonable contract with the Sox, has pitched okay and would be a prime trade candidate to other teams (like the Phillies) looking for rotation help so the Sox will probably keep him in the rotation, and Beckett and Lester certainly are safe.  That leaves Wakefield and Dice-K.  Wakefield is 8-3 while Dice-K has struggled.  Wakefield has relieved in the past so it would make sense to put him in the bullpen, especially since the knuckler can pitch multiple innings in each appearance.  I’m a little surprised that the Sox don’t start Smoltz out of the pen since he was a top closer a few years ago and made a relief appearance last year for the Braves right before getting shut down for the season. 

Johann Santana has had two real tough starts back-to-back.  He gave up 4 homers to the Phillies (he still won the game) and got bombed by the Yankees yesterday, allowing 9 runs in just 3 innings.  The Mets say its a blister on his pitching hand that’s causing the problems – others think he could be suffering from “tired arm”.   The Mets better hope its a blister because with Maine already on the DL the last thing they need is for their ace to go down as well.   The Mets sit 4 back of the NL East leading Phillies going into today.  Both teams have the day off.

What do Josh Johnson, Matt Cain, Jared Weaver and Cliff Lee all have in common (besides being Major League pitchers)? They all pitched complete game wins for their teams yesterday.  It was almost five – Brian Bannister of the Royals pitched 8 innings against the Reds in a Royals 7-1 win.

Finally lets hope this trend continues in respect to the NL All-Star voting in the outfield.  Manny Ramirez has dropped to 6th in the voting.  What message would that send if Ramirez, suspended 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy, were to be voted in and then actually showed up? I agree with Joe Torre that the best thing Manny could do is decline to play if voted in.  Matter of fact, I think Manny should’ve made that annoucement so that fans could vote for others who actually deserve this year’s vote.

What’s Up With The Mets?

Let me open this by saying that I am NOT a fan of the New York Mets.  I am a Phillies fan although I am married to a Mets fan.  Still, watching them this year and the past two years I just have to wonder what is going on with this team.

Last night’s gift wrapped win to the Yankees (if you didn’t see it, Luis Castillo dropped a pop up with two outs in the 9th that allowed the winning run to score) was just the latest in a collection of gaffes that would make the 1962 team proud.

The other night Carlos Beltran simply dropped a flyball by Jason Werth that was scored a single and got the Phillies game tying rally going – a game that Utley would win in 11 with a homer.  The Mets make consistent base-running mistakes (Church missed third on May 18th against the Dodgers), and fielding mistakes.

Yes, they are banged up right now but this stuff has been going on for two years.  They blamed Willie Randolph so he was let go last season in favor of Jerry Manuel and not much has changed.  The Mets are not a focused team.  Not at all.  Could it simply be a hangover from losing the 2006 ALCS against a Cardinal team that wasn’t as talented? Or is it just that for almost two years (2006 and 2007) nobody noticed because they seemed to own the NL East until the Phillies got up and knocked them down in that famous September two years ago?

Like the Buddy Ryan Eagles of the late 80′s, one could argue that this Mets team should’ve won at least one pennant and maybe even a World Series.  I believe 2006 was their year – I think had they gotten past the Cardinals they would’ve swept out the Tigers.   Now watching the Mets is like watching the Kotite Eagles – they’re still pretty good but not good enough to get over the hump.  I remember how that ended – it wasn’t pretty at all.

Ibanez – Blogger Comments Just Not Right

I was shocked to hear on the radio the other day that someone wrote in a blog that he thought Raul Ibanez of the Phillies was using some sort of performance enhancing substance.   Maybe it was a disgruntled Mets fan – I admit I haven’t read the blog nor will I give any kind of creedence to it.

I guess I need to thank Barry, Sammy, Mark, Roger and all the other guys we’ve suspected or caught using some sort of substance so that now any time a player is having a year that appears to be better than his “norm” we immediately jump to the conclusion that the player must be cheating.   Its simply wrong.

Ibanez has played his entire career in the American League playing in Kansas City and Seattle.  Although he was with the Mariners during their last few years in the offensive-friendly Kingdome he was no more than a bench player on teams that featured Griffey Jr., A-Rod, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner.    As a regular, he has played mainly in Royals Stadium and Safeco Field, both of which are not hitters paradises by any stretch of the imagination.  Now Raul is playing in one of the most offensive minded stadiums in Philly, so its only natural that his power numbers would jump up a bit.  He did hit 33 homers three years ago in Seattle while driving in 123 runs.

I think that before we jump to unfounded conclusions we need to first examine the entire picture and leave a guy like Raul alone and just enjoy his performance.