Sports Irreverence and More from The Other Tip of the Goldberg

Maybe it’s because of the rain that fell this morning—I haven’t seen any rain for about eight years, and it has me a little confused.

The rain also washed away my pickup softball game this morning, giving me a little more time on my hands to think about the pressing issues of the day.

The economy?  Nah, nothing I can do about that; it’s way above my pay grade—which is a problem in and of itself, of course.

The Eagles home/season opener against Green Bay, and the Washington McNabbs hosting Big D? Still too many hours away. 

Memo to Phillies Fans:   We’re in a real pennant race here—only 19 games left to play, and we’re deadlocked with the Braves for first in the NL East and only two games ahead of the Giants for baseball’s consolation prize.  We have three world-class starting pitchers, and then two question marks—a heavy one that gets shelled in the first inning (Joe Blanton) and a skinny one (Kyle Kendrick) that looks like Greg Maddux occasionally and Mike Maddux more regularly.

I’m reminded of that old saying coined in the late 1940’s for the Boston Braves who had two top hurlers in Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, and then, as legend has it, used Blanton and Kendrick as their third and fourth starters. Someone, please check their birth certificates.

Spahn and Sain, and Pray for Rain went the refrain, and in the days of four-man (and sometimes three-man) pitching rotations, it was not that much of a stretch for Braves fans to wish for that.

Fast-forward, kind of, to the 1964 Phillies.  Now, I was a bit too young to have experienced this, but it’s hard-wired (with pessimism and jaded cynicism) into my Philly Sports Fan DNA.  As many (even) older Phils fans can tell you the Fightins—long the doormats of the National League—were having a dream season, featuring Jim Bunning’s perfecto, a great season from co-ace Chris Short, an exciting rookie in Richie (“I became Dick later”) Allen and great play from right fielder Johnny Callison.

They found themselves, improbably, 6 ½ games in front of the Reds with only 12 games left to play.  Fans were lining up for World Season tickets—the first Fall Classic to hit Shibe Park/Connie Mark Stadium since 1950, when…

…Manager Gene Mauch remembered that Spahn/Sain ditty and also remembered that he was not enamored of any starting pitchers not named Bunning or Short.  Chaining “Blanton and Kendrick” to the bench, the Little General overused Bunning and Short, and presto—the Phils managed to lose 10 straight games, the first seven of them played before the forgiving Philly faithful.  No pennant; just an all-time collapse: the Philly Phold, Mauch’s Meltdown…

Bunning and Short And Make A Mockery of the Sport???

So, what to do about 2010?  In case you didn’t know, the Phillies—counting today, and assuming they’ll play through the rain—have 19 big games left in their next 22 days.  The next three Thursdays are off.  6 of those remaining 19 games are huge showdowns versus those Atlanta Braves.

Does Charlie Manuel—with three scheduled days off—go with a four-man rotation and choose Blanton or Kendrick to be the odd-man out? Does he get greedy and jettison both Blanton and Kendrick, and stay with his three-headed monster of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels?

And as a longtime Phils fan, I must ask:  Does Uncle Cholly channel his inner Mauch and go with Halladay and his pick of either Hamels or Oswalt (coin flip or arm wrestling) in a two-man rotation—an homage to those beloved ’64 near-champions. It says here that if Manuel does lose it and goes that route, that he should stay with Hamels and keep Oswalt as his emergency (16th-inning) left fielder. It could happen and pardon the self-reference below:

Now, I don’t really expect Cholly to totally lose it, but he could partially panic and go with that three-headed monster of Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels—three pitchers who may all get you over 200 innings pitched with a 3.00 ERA (or lower, in Doc’s case) and over 200 strikeouts (Halladay’s there, Hamels should surpass it, and Oswalt will get close to it.)

Of course, our three-headed monster needs a catchier nickname, than “(Our) Three-Headed Monster”, and to that cause I propose:

Two Roys and a Boy (okay: that kind of sucked, but I’m typing out loud here)

King Cole and The Roy-al Court (Get it? Blame it on the rain)

Roy Squared and Cole


Okay, I think I have it.  We have two H’s, but also two Roys, and that’s been throwing me off.  Let’s go with their last initials: Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt.

H 2 O …we can say that Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt are like water torture for opposing batters.  Well, we don’t have to, but.

What do you think?  It’s pure, it’s clean, it’s, it’s… water. 

Which reminds me that it’s raining, and with three scheduled days off and 6 games remaining against the Braves in our last 19…

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