Dan McQuade: September 2009 Archives

Whew! Wasn't that an exciting way to waste spend three hours at work? I think so. The Twins topped the Tigers, 3-2, in 10 innings, moving Minnesota to only a game back of Detroit in the standings.

If things weren't bad enough for Tigers fans, they also have to listen to every stupid blogger who thinks he's a stand-up comedian write jokes about the bad Detroit economy. (Hey, with all that government cash coming in, do you think Washington's loss to the Lions on Sunday was a planned payback?)

Unfortunately for the Tigers fans reading this site, I'm also a stupid blogger who thinks he's a stand-up comedian. So let's make fun of the ads running behind home plate during today's Twins-Tigers game?


What should you do when you have a bad economy? Why, of course, run ads promising a million dollar payout in the lottery, the form of gambling with the worst possible odds that's not-so-coincidentally run by the government.

But wait, there's more!

the-closer.jpg Part of being a "smart" sports fan in the 21st century is being able to separate what's frustrating from what really hurts a team. A Ryan Howard strikeout is frustrating, sure, but strikeouts are part of his game. And when his game is a career .959 OPS (141 OPS+), you can ignore the strikeouts (which are really only slightly more damaging than groundouts or line drive outs or going out of the basepath or putting too much pine tar on your bat, anyway).

But frustrating plays certainly detract from your enjoyment of the game as a fan, or at least make it more, well, frustrating. Last season, the Phillies' enjoyed a near-perfect season from their bullpen, with Brad Lidge converting all 41 of his save opportunities and closing out seven more games in the postseason. It seemed like the Phillies cruised to the World Series title last year, and that's not just because they went 11-3 in October. They also had a bullpen that didn't blow any games. Last year's postseason was extra fun for Phillies fans because there were no close calls, no walkoff homers (or walks) for the other team, no repeat of Mitch Williams.

This year, of course, is another story. The Phillies will still win their third straight division title, but it hasn't been as much fun this time around. Last night, Brad Lidge blew his 11th save of the year, giving up 2 runs in the ninth as the Marlins beat the Phillies. A year after going 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA (225 ERA+), Lidge is 0-8 (!) with a 7.48 ERA (57 ERA+). Before last night's blown one, Lidge had three straight saves -- giving up at least a run in each. His last 1-2-3 save was at the Baker Bowl (Aug. 30, actually).

For Phillies fans, the ninth inning has become the time to pace back and forth, the time to move your Phillies hat around the room in the hopes it has some magical effect on the game, the time to sacrifice a goat in order to turn Brad Lidge into a pitcher who can manage to get out of an inning without giving the other team the win. Personally, I've been locking myself in the bathroom and following the game on MLB.com. It's just easier that way.

I fully expect someone to put out a paper eventually arguing that relief pitching success is almost completely random. Conventional wisdom was Brad Lidge's career was finished after he gave up a game-winning homer to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS. He went out and had a perfect season and closed out the World Series, and only after that can he not finish a game. The Chicago White Sox won the Series in 2005 after a successful season partially due to great relief seasons by guys like Dustin Hermanson, Cliff Politte and Neil Cotts. David Price (22 at the time) shut the door on Boston in last year's ALCS. Jose Mesa saved 321 career games.

That closing games might just be one of life's great mysteries is no comfort to Phils fans. They'll have to keep covering their eyes every time Lidge (or Ryan Madson, who has six blown saves this year) comes into the game. It's more frustrating than when Ryan Howard swings at one of those sliders in the dirt.

Curse Lifted On Matt Stairs

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mattstairsslam.jpg When we last left our hero Matt Stairs, he was mired in a slump that was almost two months long. Stairs hadn't had a hit since the Walkoff Walk heist; clearly, this was the work of someone from this very site.

Well, take your Virgin Mary statues out of your windows: Matt Stairs broke his 0-for-30 slump with a grand slam Thursday night against the Nationals, then added a double against the Mets yesterday. He's on a veritable hot streak! Grab room on the Matt Stairs bandwagon before it's too late.

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com:

"It means I won't get shut out the rest of the year," Stairs joked before Friday's game against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. "I still had confidence. I knew I could still hit. But it definitely takes the monkey off the back a bit."

Stairs tried not to put pressure on himself during the slump, but he couldn't help but think about it.

"You try to say, 'This is the day,'" Stairs said. "But when it's not, you start thinking, 'Maybe I can get hit by a pitch.' A lot of things go through your mind. You start hoping that they start hanging pitches. The only thing is that you start losing your aggressiveness a little bit. You don't want to make an easy out or a bad out, because you've done that so many times in a row.

Well, now Stairs is 2 for his last 4 and is well on the way to winning the MVP. It makes sense Stairs was able to break his streak against the Nationals; they are, after all, Canadian defectors. And did he broke his streak on 9/10. All the pieces fit!1

Anyway, good job to whoever broke the curse.2 I owe you a cookie.

1 I mean, I guess the one minor hole in this theory is Stairs hotbed Fredericton, Canada isn't Montreal. Whatever. If the Phoenix Coyotes move to Hamilton (Ontario, not New Jersey), I will be so pissed in the name of the United States of America, and I'm not even quite sure what sport the Coyotes play.

2 I can only conclude the two recent walkoff walks are part of this good fortune. Keep up the good work!

matt.stairs.in.happier.times.jpg Things had been going pretty well for Matt Stairs. Last October, he hit his first ever postseason homer at the most opportune time, helping the Phillies reach the World Series. Then there was the offseason, where he presumably coached some hockey and didn't pay for beers any time he met a Phillies fan. Early on this year, Stairs was on fire. As recently as June 6 he had slash stats of .324/.500/.618. That was good for an OPS+ of a billion. Or, y'know, maybe less.

Stairs had some Walkoff Walk-related heroics, too. No, he didn't have a walkoff walk, but he did homer in the Phillies 5-run rally in the ninth at the Citizens Bank Park Heist. "CAT STAIRS," everyone screamed, and my girlfriend was all, "Why the hell are they talking about my cat?"

Believe it or not, Matt Stairs has not had a hit since that home run on July 11. He's on an 0-for-27 streak after a pinch-hit strikeout last night. He's gone almost two months without a hit! He's not getting a ton of playing time, but that's still an incredible hitless streak. I say it rivals Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak.

Stairs says it's the worst slump of his career. He also said, "I'm just an old guy hitting a door with a bat," so maybe we shouldn't listen to him too much.

Supposedly, Stairs has a hitch in in swing, but is having problems correcting it with the limited at-bats. Please. I think we all know that somehow the fine people at the Walkoff Walk Citizens Bank Heist accidentally cursed him after his homer in the bottom of the ninth on July 11. Whatever one of you did -- I'm looking your way, Kris Liakos -- please correct it as soon as possible.

I could watch this clip all day. It has everything: A game disrupted by a miniature plane flying around Dodger Stadium (a mini Fan Man!), Vin Scully actually announcing the disruption of a game by a radio-control aircraft (รก la the cat at the Royals-Mariners game last month), the crowd cheering the plane's every twist and turn, the Diamondbacks' Augie Ojeda ripping the plane into pieces once it hits the railing of the D-Backs dugout and Dodgers fans booing after the plane is ripped apart.

I also really enjoyed Scully's compliment of Ojeda's destruction of the RC plane at the end.

It's a good idea to destroy it. That would become a very bad habit here in the ballpark, let's face it. It's tough enough with beach balls, but something like that could really be destructive.

Is Scully suggesting that beach balls, too, are destructive, just not as destructive as radio-controlled aircraft? If ol' Vin wants to see a really destructive airplane on a baseball field, he should watch this video:

Now that's a plane that could do some damage at a ballgame. I think Dodgers' CF Matt Kemp has the right idea:

"That was tight -- I liked that. That stayed in the air for a cool two or three minutes."

I'd say it's more ill than tight, but Kemp is the major leaguer, he probably knows better.

Video via The Fightins