Why, the baseball is starting at 12:30 post meridiem. Hot dog! It must be a Thursday afternoon businessperson (née man) special. And thanks to the Internet, the businessperson special is now available for all of us to enjoy, though the magic of MLB gameday and liveblogs on Walkoff Walk.
That's right: It's time for one Dan McQuade (hey, that's me!) to once again contribute to a downturn in productivity of the American worker -- or at least the American baseball fan. The Reds (21-18, 3.5 GB in Central) snapped the Phillies 5-game win streak last night, but a Mets' loss kept the Fightins (21-17) in first place in the NL East by a game. Joe Blanton (1-3, 6.86 ERA) goes up against the modern day Babe Ruth, Micha Owings (3-4, 3.95 ERA). Game time's at 12:30.
12:37: The game hasn't started yet. Liars, MLB. Liars! The Phillies have a day game lineup today, with Philadelphian/Canadian hero Matt Stairs in right and Greg Dobbs at third.
12:40: Jimmy Rollins continues his recent surge with an infield hit to first base. This surge has moved his OPS+ all the way up to 52!
12:41: Chase Utley doubles over the head of a flailing Jay Bruce, and suddenly the Phils have runners on second and third with nobody out.
12:43: Is this the quickest the Phillies have scored this year? Raul Ibanez grounds out to second, Rollins scampers home; Utley is forced to hold at second. For Ibanez, it's his 37th RBI of the year. He's tearing up fantasy leagues left and right. Phillies 1, Reds 0.
12:48: After a Howard fly out to shallow center, MATT STAIRS walks. Stairs' OBP this season was .500 coming into the game. Is there a time when you have to start trying him more often? I mean, if he's getting on base now more than half the time.
12:51: Shane Victorino (who also homered in that fateful inning against the Dodgers' last October) strikes out to end the inning. No <BIG> tag for you, Shane.
12:55: Willie Taveras flies out, Adam Rosales grounds out, Jay Bruce singles to left. Sorry, I was watching this retrospective of Bret Hart World Title wins.
12:59: And, hey, what do you know, nothing happened. Brandon Phillips grounds out to Fat Joe, who bobbled but got it to Ryan Howard in time. Brandon Phillips has a .788 OPS out of the four-hole this year. That's not good, right? I always forget what's good and what's not good in OPS. It wasn't on baseball cards when I was a kid! How was I supposed to figure it out! End 1st.
1:03: Greg Dobbs, hitting .121 this year, opens the top of the second with a walk. His OBP is somewhere south of .500.
1:05: Ruiz strikes out swinging, and Greg Dobbs gets picked off first. Is there a stat that deducts pick-offs from on-base percentage? There really should be.
1:08: Announcer Tom McCarthy notes that Joe Blanton and Brett Myers have become "pretty good friends." Yikes. Blanton then pulls his best Brett Myers-in-2008-postseason impression with a walk. That's the way to turn the lineup over, kids. Be a fat guy and walk.
1:11: On a 3-2 count, Jimmy Rollins gets his second hit of the day through the ride side. Despite moving on the pitch, Joe Blanton stops at second. They don't call him Fat Joe for nothin'.
1:13: The Reds throw behind Blanton at second; the ball hits him in the back. (If you hadn't been catching my fat jokes today, it's rather large.) Jimmy Rollins then steals second as Ryan Hanigan nearly throws it into center field.
1:14: Is this considered small ball? Maybe a combo of smart ball (by the Phillies) and stupid ball (by the Reds). Brandon Phillips can't get to Chase Utley's grounder, two runs score and Utley dives back to first just in time. Phillies 3, Reds 0.
1:15: Maybe Micah Owings should stick to hitting? Raul Ibanez gets his 38th RBI of the year with a double to right center, Chase Utley scores and hilariously-named pitching coach Dick Pole is out to talk to Owings. It's a two-out run parade! Phillies 4, Reds 0.
1:19: Ryan Howard strikes out to finally end the top of the second. Whew! Save some of those runs for the rest of the season, Phils.
1:22: Laynce Nix strikes out. That last inning was so long I nearly forgot to make fun of the Keys to the Game! Let's take a look:
What is it about keys to the game on sports broadcasts? They never contain any actual keys to the game. The second one today: Maybe, if I'm being generous. But the first one is, basically: Win! Nice key, guys! Why don't they just call it "Phillies Update" or "Phils Pills!" or "I Had Sex With Your Mother Last Night" or "Waiting For Tonight! Oooohhh!" Any of those would make more sense than "Keys to the Game."
Meanwhile, Joe Blanton strikes out Ramon Hernandez and gets Ryan "Alyson" Hanigan to ground out. End 2nd.
1:30: MATT STAIRS' OBP is back down to .500 as he grounds out.
1:32: Shane Victorino's OBP is still down way below .500 as he flies out to right.
1:34: Greg Dobbs joins the party. Finally! The lefty rips one into the Phillies bullpen in right field for his first homer of the year. Phillies 5, Reds 0.
1:34 and 1 second: Carlos Ruiz flies out, literally a microsecond after Dobbs' homer.
1:37: Geeze. Joe "Big Game" Blanton is just mowing them down today. Paul Janish flies out to Shane Victorino to open the bottom of the third.
1:40: I guess the incredibly long discussion by the Phillies' announcers of how amazing Micah Owings is as a hitter gave him some extra confidence, as he singles to right.
1:41: Willie Taveras' Ks on a slider. After a first-pitch strike on Adam Rosales, Blanton has thrown first pitch strikes to 9 of 11 batters today. The announcers keep mentioning this, so I figured I'd join the party.
1:42: Three pitches, three strikes and the Phillies are out of the inning. More from Micah Owings next! I can't wait. End 3rd.
1:45: Psych! Micah Owings was just in to bat. Ramon Ramirez, a 26-year-old from Venezuela, is in now; he's making his first appearance of the year. He has an easy one to open as Joe Blanton flies out.
1:47: Is this going to be like that game where Babe Ruth was ejected and the reliever retired the next 27 batters? J-Roll flies out down the foul line to Jay Bruce. Do they call him The Boss?
1:49: Whoops, I guess it's not going to be like that quasi-perfect game at all. Chase Utley hammers it deep into right field. He has a single, double, homer and 3 RBI. Phillies 6, Reds 0.
1:52: Ibanez grounds out to first. Phils are up a half-dozen midway through the fourth.
1:54: What if you had never seen a baseball game before, knew nothing about the game and turned on the Phillies-Reds tilt (always a good start!) and saw this on the screen:
How the hell would you think baseball was played?
1:55: If you just tuned in for Jay Bruce's last at bat, you'd think it was cool to pop-up, as he just did that.
1:56: Joe Blanton takes a ball of his leg -- his number 56 is for the 56 inches around each of his legs are -- and tosses it to first to retire Brandon Phillips.
1:58: Laynce "Lance" Nix bloops one into left to end Blanton's streak of retiring all the batters he'd faced since Micah Owings. It was only like four or something, don't cry.
2:01: It's a 6-4 FC for Ramon Hernandez, and Joe Blanton has another goose egg. I always hated that term. I would erase it but this computer doesn't have a deelete function.
2:02: I have to admit, that was a pretty lame joke. I apologize.
2:04: Ryan Howard strikes out. Tom McCarthy attempts to claim that the Tigers' Curtis Granderson "doesn't hit many home runs," but a quick look shows him with 19 in 2006, 23 in '07, 22 in '08 and 11 already this year. Being fast does not mean one can't hit homers.
2:05: Whoo! MATT STAIRS takes a page from Chase Utley and gets plunked. Keep that OBP up!
2:06: Shane Victorino grounds to Brandon Phillips, who tags Stairs and is a second late (maybe) on the throw to first. Two down.
2:07: Shane Victorino steals his fourth base of the year. MATT STAIRS coulda done that, I bet.
2:08: Those lazy bums the Phillies don't score a run for the first time today, as Dobbs strikes out. Still up a six-pack, though -- and a six of good stuff, too, like Dogfish or Sly Fox.
2:13: Oh, I almost forgot! Using this photo, you can pretend you're both (a) there, and (b) outside!
My girlfriend last night said Cincinnati was "the prettiest part of Ohio." I told her this wasn't a very good description of whether the city was pretty or not. The sky is pretty today, though. (This looked great in 1080i. Because "outside" is what I really need in HD.)
2:14: Where have you gone, Big Game Joe? He gives up a pair of singles -- one just in front of MATT STAIRS -- and the Reds have two on. Ramon Ramirez sacrifices Ryan Hanigan and Paul Janish up one base each with a bunt.
2:17: Willie Taveras just gets it past Greg Dobbs and Jimmy Rollins and the Reds have their first run of the game. Phillies 6, Reds 1.
2:21: Adam Rosales grounds out, Janish scores, and the Phillies are now only up four. Phillies 6, Reds 2.
2:23: Jay Bruce walks. The Great American Ballpark PA system does not play "Walk This Way," "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Walk On" or that clip that goes "BASE!" What kind of stadium do they have out there in pretty Cincinnati?
2:25: I really can't have a game where I can relax, quit early like a real blogger and go play Punch-Out!! for Wii, can I? Brandon Phillips rips one into the left field seats and it's 6-5. Joe Blanton's ERA is now like 8 million. Phillies 6, Reds 5.
2:27: Jimmy Rollins makes a nice spinning grab of a Laynce Nix grounder and gets him by a step at first (maybe). End 5th.
2:30: Now I'm in a bad mood. This game was just rolling along, and now it's going to be another crazy one. Even Carlos Ruiz' walk to open the top of the sixth can't put me in a better mood. I need to do something really fun, like make fun of the new Jeff Passan column.
ST. LOUIS - The stare is a time-worn tradition of peeved pitchers. They break it out of their hip pocket for a manager with the temerity to yank them from a game. There are different levels of the stare, the ultimate causing the heart to pump blood at such an accelerated rate the jugular vein starts to pulse, like an internal time bomb.
Jesus. How many times did Jeff Passan consult the thesaurus while writing this first graf? If I ask nicely, will he calculate the leaders in pitcher jugular vein over replacement player (PJVORP) for this season for us?
2:33: Also pissing me off: The ball-strike counter on screen, which has been wrong the last two batters. And now Dusty Baker is making a double switch. Maybe this won't make any sense; it is Dusty Baker. That would cheer me up.
2:36: Jerry Hairston Jr. will come in to play third; the new pitcher is Daniel Ray Herrera (henceforth known as DRH).
2:40: Jimmy Rollins continues his hot streak, hitting one to right that sends Ruiz to third; he moves up to second on a throw into third; might get credit for the double as he was going all the way.
2:41: Utley nearly gets hit with the first pitch of the at-bat, Tom McCarthy speculates if the pitch "went through his legs." That would be impossible. Utley ends up getting a sac fly; Jay Bruce nearly gets Ruiz at the plate but he's about a quarter-second late. Phillies 7, Reds 5.
2:42: My jugular vein is throbbing a little less after that; even Raul Ibanez's groundout can't make it throb too much.
2:46: Now is as good of a time of any to mention that this game (presumably) going longer has delayed my viewing of the Rick Steves' Europe episode Oslo, Bergen, and the Fjords, which features Rick Steves in a bathrobe:
Clay Condrey -- who came in for Fat Big Game Joe Blanton gets Ramon Hernandez to ground out, then walks Ryan Hanigan.
2:49: Jerry Hairston Jr. is up after a fly out by Paul Janish to (who else?) MATT STAIRS.
2:51: The Reds continue to stay in this one. Hairston singles to right, and Willie Taveras is up.
2:53: Willie Taveras chops one down the first base line, nearly steps on it running to first, but Clay Condrey picks it up after it rolls foul.
2:56: All that for nothin', Willie. Another 6-4 FC ends an inning. End 6th.
2:59: Ryan Howard hits one to dead center. I think it landed in Kentucky. Really, really far. Phillies 8, Reds 5.
3:01: Jayson Werth comes up to pinch hit, ending my day of using the <BIG> tag for Matt Stairs. Dusty Baker then comes out to change pitchers, it's commercial time. Baseball fever: CATCH IT!
3:04: Werth strikes out swinging. Matt Stairs coulda done that! Only he wouldn't have, because he would have probably hit two homers.
3:05: Meanwhile, my favorite commercial just aired during the last break. Get ready, people. Get ready.
Amazing: There is more copyright infringement in that commercial than on your average blog.
3:06: Buoyed by that awesome ad, Victorino gets a one-out double to left center. It's his 9th double of the season.
3:07: Greg Dobbs gets intentionally walked. I'll recap it with dance music and PowerPoint later.
3:10: Carlos Ruiz grounds out to second, and Pedro Feliz comes up to pinch hit for Clay Condrey. Werth and Feliz will be out in the field in the bottom half of this inning, most likely.
3:12: Hey, the Phillies are scoring almost as many runs in the second half of this game as they did in the first half of it! Pedro Feliz doubles to deep right center, two runs score and the Phillies are up a bunch again. Phillies 10, Reds 5.
3:14: Jimmy Rollins drives it to right, Pedro Feliz gets his hand in just under the Ryan Hanigan tag -- Jay Bruce has a hell of an arm but is just catching some bad breaks today -- and people in Philadelphia are dancing in the streets and overturning cars. Phillies 11, Reds 5.
3:17: Chase Utley takes ball four, but the ump calls it a strike to end the top of the seventh. Clearly the guy behind the plate has a copy of Punch-Out!! for Wii in his hotel room waiting for him.
3:25: Oh, I'm sorry. I was knocked out by the creepiness when this thing appeared on screen:
Yikes. Meanwhile, Scott Eyre walked Darnell McDonald to open the inning; Jay Bruce followed with a single.
3:26: The Phillies are no longer creeped out, either! Brandon Phillips grounds into a 4-3 DP.
3:27: Laynce Nix pops one into foul territory, and Jimmy Rollins shakes the hand of some dude in the stands. Eyre strikes out Nix two pitches later and the Phillies are cruising again. End 7th.
3:31: Be sure to check the comments, where we're discussing the Jersey shore. Also be sure to check the left field stands, where Raul Ibanez just sent a homer. Phillies 12, Reds 5.
3:34: Ryan Howard almost hits another homer into the left field stands, but it dies at the warning track. If you're wondering, Ibanez has 15 homers and 40 RBI; he's leading in both triple crown categories and is in the top 10 in average to boot.
3:36: Jayson Werth pops out to right, and Shane Victorino strikes out. We're getting closer and closer to Punch-Out!! for Wii and Rick Steves in a bathrobe. I actually have some writing to work on. I'm going to have to go to a coffee shop to avoid temptation. Wait, where were we?
3:40: Oh, right, the Phillies. Ramon Hernandez grounds out to open the bottom of the eighth.
3:43: Chan Ho Park (demoted from the rotation) is on in relief, incidentally. He better not hurt the Phillies Pythagorean record!
3:46: He's certainly not helping the Phillies' team WHIP, as he's walked two Reds this inning. And by that I mean players on the Cincinnati National League baseball club, not Soviets.
3:47: See what I did there?! Sorry. I'm just suffering from a little Punch-Out!! withdrawal, that's all.
3:49: Chan Ho Park strikes out Willie Taveras to get out of this jam and keep the Phillies' run differential at a cool +16 for the year. End 8th.
3:53: Park stays in to bat and strikes out on three pitches, but Carlos Ruiz follows up with a double over Willie Taveras' head.
3:58: Pedro Feliz pops up and J-Roll is out on strikes. We're only a half-inning away from having to go back to whatever it is people do during the day.
4:01: Hey, look, everyone's left the stadium.
Phillies' rook Sergio Escalona (he of the cute quote) gets someone named Chris Dickerson to fly out deep to center.
4:03: It's so... strange. I feel like I want the Reds to win, even though I'm a Phillies fan, and, really, even the Phils can't blow this one. It's like someone convinced me to... root for the Reds.
4:05: Well, another flyout to center ends it. I'm off to go... eat some Skyline Chili. Odd, I didn't think I liked chili. End 9th. Final: Phillies 12, Reds 5.