Pick for yourself which was the more improbable occurrence Saturday afternoon — the Phillies’ magic number stuck at 2 thanks to a fantastic performance by Matt Chico (well, competent enough), or the Padres’ clincher being denied via the bat of Tony Gwynn (Jr.). As a result, not only are the Phillies and Mets deadlocked on the eve of game no. 162, but the Rockies’ lifeline has been extended for at least a few hours. Colorado is currently leading the Snakes, 4-0, (Matt Holiday, 2-2, double, 2 RBI’s) and if that score holds up, they’ll enter play tomorrow needing another win over Arizona coupled with a San Diego defeat in Milwaukee in order to force a Monday playoff for the Wild Card.
In recognition of Manny Acta’s charges doing their best to aid the Mets this weekend (after beating New York 5 times in their last 6 meetings), here’s an except from Thom Loverro of the Washington Times’ admission the Nationals weren’t even close to as bad as advertised.
I might as well get the first, and most painful, atonement, out of the way ” general manager Jim Bowden. Why is it the most painful? Because it’s Bowden, of course.
First, he brought in two players no team wanted ” Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young ” at bargain prices. You could argue both of them have turned out to be among the most valuable players on the roster ” Belliard because of his ability to step in when Cristian Guzman went down and Young for filling in at first base and contending for the National League batting title.
Then he and his staff managed to invite the best scraps from the heap to piece together a pitching staff that performed well enough to keep a weak-hitting team competitive all season.
I may be atoning, but it wasn’t unreasonable to think the pitching staff would be a disaster.
After all, Bowden himself admitted in spring training that he had never seen such uncertainty about a starting rotation ” four spots open.
“I’ve never seen it or heard of it,” Bowden said. “I’ve been in the game since 1984, and I can’t tell you before that. But I’ve never seen it.”
And then the one starter they were counting on ” John Patterson ” made just seven starts this year. Let’s face it, they got lucky, but as Branch Rickey once said, “Luck is the residue of design.”
That’s as close as I can get to atoning to Jim Bowden.
And a lot of people probably need to fess up for doubting Dmitri Young. When I saw him in spring training ” in minor league camp, no less ” I wouldn’t have given him much of a shot to finish spring training, let along make the major league roster. And when he did make the roster, I figured he would last three weeks before he would be on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring.
So not only did he make it through the first month, Young wound up being among the best hitters in the National League, batting .323 in 452 at bats going into last night’s game. He was banished from the Detroit Tigers last fall, even when they were getting ready for the playoffs, became one of the leaders of the Nationals clubhouse.
Indeed, who doesn’t (heart) Da Meat Hook? The cuddly Chad Cordero? The handsome and highly intelligent Robert Fick? The Beltway’s no. 1 Mark E. Smith fan, Jon Rauch-Rumble? Who couldn’t possibly fall in love with a team whose fan base includes “Taxi Driver” enthusiast / noted sabermatrician John Hinckley Jr.? Who dares doubt these Nats can’t win their 74th game of the season tomorrow against 92 year old Jamie Moyer? I know all the
residents humans in this house will be rooting for ‘em, perhaps even decked out in full Nationals regalia — depending on what time the game at Shea ends and what the result was.
I’m sorry. When it comes to fashion (and everything else), I’m kind of fickle.