The long-awaited remake of the 1967 classic “the Prisoner” finally arrived in six episodes on cable this past three days and it actually was terrific.

it was very cool that they used original titles from the original episodes, but totally reworked the plot lines. Harmony in the original was a western shootemup, but was something different i this

Except for the weird ending. Which if you haven’t seen it, stop reading this blog now and go see it on rerun or buy the dvd or whatever.

ok, now let’s discuss what happened.

first, go read my prior post at


OK, we’re oriented.

The ending would have us believe that the village does not actually exist, but is a concept in someone’s mind. actually it’s a bit more complex than that, something about actuating our subconscious and living in it as if it were an alternate reality, but in order for it to happen, someone, either #2’s wife or the new #2, who ends up being #6, has his new girlfriend be the dreamer who dreams it all up in HER mind…

This is actually the “brain in a vat” theory expounded upon countless times in theory of mind, philosophy of mind and psych classes.

imagine if everything around us–everything–weren’t real and we were actually a brain in a vat?

ok, now imagine if everything around us weren’t real, but was someone else’s brain imagining what we’re experiencing, and she was the brain in the vat conjuring it all up?

and if she woke up and stopped conjuring, we’d see the world for what it was and the village would fade away….and we’d be back to reality….

the link to montague semantics and lewis alternate worlds posits are too startling to be coincidental.

the alternate realities also mirror another show, the Dollhouse, in which alternate personalities are imprinted on people by means of technology to the extent that their own memories cease to exist, and every different show becomes an alternate reality or universe of that imprint. Unfortunately, that show has been cancelled, but inevitably, like the Prisoner and the remake of the Prisoner, it is destined to become a legendary classic due to the issues it raises.

the remake of the prisoner actually takes not only as logically posible, but as true, lewis’ view that alternative worlds and alternative outcomes are of course logically possible, in short that all modals are equally plausible. All modal possibles are seen as equaly plausible and logical in the context of the Prisoner.

for example, in the real world, #2 and his wife cannot have a child, but in the dream world of the village, which is completely real to them, they have a child, 11-12. and he believes completely and fully that he is real. he even wants to leave the village, oblivious to the fact that he has no existence outside of the construct of the village.

Thus, if we can’t have a child, then we can have a child. Nothing is false, nothing is true. Thus, the ancient Protagoras was right when he said, quite literally, that he could prove any proposition true and false at the same time.

this is so lewis-montague possible worlds like that it’s scary.

and very much like the matrix, which in turn was based very much upon baudrillard, lewis and montague.

all of this too upon susan sontag’s “on photography” which argues that the plethora of visual images in todays society creates a cognitive distortion within us all in which what we see, images that we see, exert too strong a force upon us in terms of our interpretation of reality. In Sontag’s view, images can replace reality.

boy was that prescient.

this is very similar to what baudrillard argues, and sontag of course follows closely many of the french post-modernist deconstructionist writers in her seminal work and others like Artaud.

the remake of the Prisoner is nothing if not a seminal post-modern re-interpretation of the 1967 classic science fiction work.

the issues it raises about what is real, what ought to be real, and what we have a right to expect from life, from reality, from alternatives to reality, and from logic and life itself, are deep and moving.

I found this mini-series compelling and thoughtful.

Needless to say, Ian McKellen as #2, and Jim Caviezel as #6, acting performances were outstanding, as were Ruth Wilson as #313, along with many other fine actors and actresses, writer Bill Gallagher and director Nick Hurran (perhaps best known for Little Black Book), were all excellent

–art kyriazis


Pedro Feliz’ option for 2010 apparently will not be renewed by the Phillies General Manager, despite a small cost of just five million dollars. Feliz is one of the best third base glove men in major league baseball, and his glove will be difficult, if not impossible to replace.

Recent word is that Eric Bruntlett, the Phils’ utility infielder of the past two years, is also gone. With Eric Bruntlett, the utility man who spelled Jimmy Rollins each of the last two years and pulled off an unassisted triple play this past year, now cut from the Phils’ forty man roster for 2010, two vital players and key infielders from the 2008-09 World Series championship team are now gone.

For it was in the decisive game five of the 2008 World Series Championship, with Eric Bruntlett on base, that Pedro Feliz delivered the winning hit, and Eric Bruntlett scored the winning run, in the Phils’ thrilling and history making game five win over the Rays, that won the series for the Phils and brought the Championship home to Philadelphia after 28 years.

The same game five that was played over two different days due to Commissioner Selig suspending the game for rain after allowing the Rays to tie the game in the top of the fifth against Cole Hamels, and then shutting the game, and Hamels, down, for two long days.

And now, with one fell swoop, the two guys who manufactured the winning run of the 2008 World Series are gone.

All Phillies fans everywhere should mourn the departure of Pedro Feliz & Eric Bruntlett, for they were the unsung heroes, glove men, role players, pinch runners, bench guys, guys hitting seventh, who did their job, scored a run against superior relief pitching, and got the winning run home in the final game of a World Series, when all of the Phillies superstars couldn’t.

To paraphrase an old pop singer, and perhaps the ancient Greeks at Olympia, they were Heroes, if just for one day.

And to further paraphrase the late, legendary Freddy “the Fog” Shero, Flyers Coach, legend, the coach of the 1974-75 Stanley Cup Flyers, when he spoke to Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, Andre DuPont, Bill Kelly and the rest of his ragtag, bluecollar, hard working Broad Street Bullies before Game Six of the 1974 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the heavily favored Bobby Orr-Phil Esposito Boston Bruins, if we win today, we will walk the ice together forever as champions. Champions, forever.

And then the Flyers walked out on the ice and beat those Bruins 1-0 becoming the first expansion franchise in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup. And they still walk the ice together forever as champions…champions forever…

That’s what Bruntlett and Feliz will always be…champions forever…

As we’ll discuss in the body of this post, Feliz is a superior glove man, and Bruntlett, for all his flaws, is an above-average glove man with speed, versatility and the ability pinch-hit and play all of the infield and corner outfield positions. Both will be difficult to replace with better ballplayers, and likely will be replaced by inferior ballplayers.

Here are the main reasons cutting Pedro Feliz (and Eric Bruntlett) is a mistake by the Phillies.

1) Pedro Feliz is widely considered to be among to top five or ten defensive third basemen in baseball, and certainly among the best three-five in the National League.

2) The Phillies, with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, J.A.Happ, and possibly Jamie Moyer, going in the rotation, plan on having at least three and possibly four left-handed starters in their rotation. Pitching more left-handed starters means facing right-handed batters, which means getting more ground balls hit to the left side of the infield, particularly to the third baseman.

3) The Phillies need a good defensive third baseman to advance in the playoffs and get to the World Series each year.

4) As a strategy, keeping your gold glove shortstop (Jimmy Rollins) but sacrificing your outstanding glove man at third base when you have a predominantly left-handed pitching staff makes no sense.

5) It makes no sense because having a gold glove shortstop and an outstanding second baseman, with a bad third baseman, will lead to many more hits, many more errors and many fewer double plays, and thus many more runs allowed, especially with left-handed starters facing right-handed batters.

6) The Phillies have always played best when they have had a good glove man at third base, whether it was David Bell or Pedro Feliz. They have always had problems when they have tried to sacrifice defense at third base in favor of offense. This problem will be aggravated by having a left-handed pitching staff.

7) Eric Bruntlett was a good player off the bench defensively and as a pinch runner, and especially because he could play shortstop and third, key to a team with three-four left-handed starters. Also he could pinch-hit and substitute in late innings, and played well in the post-season and in key situations.

8) The alternatives to Pedro Feliz are inferior defensively and offensively, with two key exceptions, Adrian Beltre, who is much better defensively and offensively (he’s an explosive home run hitter), and Chone Figgins, who is slightly worse defensively but can field the position, but an upgrade offensively because he can get on base and score runs.

9) The alternatives to Pedro Feliz will cost more money.

10) The alternatives to Pedro Feliz may upset the clubhouse chemistry that has brought the Phils three straight NL East Division titles.

OK, let’s examine each of these points in detail. Also, I’ll consider why cutting Eric Bruntlett is a mistake as well.

First, Pedro Feliz is widely considered to be among to top five or ten defensive third basemen in baseball, and certainly among the best three-five in the National League.

This is established by a wide variety of criteria. Sources include Bill James Handbook for 2009, and Dave Pinto’s excellent baseball website,, which rates all the fielders at each position.

According to the 2009 Bill James Handbook, the Fielding Bible Awards rate Pedro Feliz the 8th best defensive third baseman in all of baseball. Those ratings are as follows;

1) Adrian Beltre (Seattle). Power, speed, defense, the whole package. Came up with Dodgers. Best third baseman available of free agents. Playoffs, NL West titles. Hit 48 homers in 2004, has more than 250 homers thru 12 seasons, but still only 31. Averaging 25 homers/year in Seattle (difficult homer run park), also can still steal bases. A plus.

2) Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay). AL East Div Title, 2008, 2008 World Series, best third baseman in AL. Perennial MVP candidate, young.

3) Scott Rolen (Cincinnati, helped win 2006 World Series for Cards, division titles, another World Series appearance, Rookie of Year 1997 for Phillies). Hall of Fame stats through age 30, injuries since then.

4) Jack Hannahan (Seattle, came up with Oakland). Bats left, throws right. Already 30.

5) Joe Crede (White Sox, helped win 2005 World Series for Chisox).

6) David Wright (Mets, helped win NL East Division title in 2006 for Mets, playoffs). Best third baseman in NL. Perennial MVP candidate, young, five tool player. Hall of Fame stats through age 27.

7) Mike Lowell (Red Sox, came up with Marlins, has won 2003 World Series with Marlins, 2007 World Series with Red Sox). Big Hitter.

8) Pedro Feliz (three NL East titles for Phils, World Champions 2008, NL Pennant 2009, second World Series appearance)

9) Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) (2009 NL Gold Glove). Big Hitter.

10) Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) (Division titles, playoffs, 2009 World Series, Yanks) Bound for both Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame.

Ok, that’s the top ten. Now the next ten in order:

11) Troy Glaus (cards, came up with Angels) (2002 World Championship, Angels, many division titles & playoffs).
12) Kevin Kouzmanoff (padres) (division titles & playoffs). Solid.
13) Chipper Jones (braves, probably going to hall of fame) legendary, world series champion 1995, world series 1995, 1996 & eleven consecutive NL East Division titles, .288/.411/.459 line in postseason play)
14) Casey Blake (dodgers, came up with Indians) helped Dodgers win NL West titles at hot corner. 2007 AL Central with Indians, very nearly AL Pennant with Indians. Big Hitter, can field. Twenty homer guy.
15) Blake DeWitt
16) Edwin Encarnarcion
17) Chone Figgins (Angels) Al West Titles, playoffs. Mainly speed.
18) Melvin Mora (Orioles). Good hitter.
19) Aramis Ramirez (Cubs, came up with Pirates) AL Central titles, playoffs, nearly NL pennant except for a certain fan, huge hitter.
20) Bill Hall (Seattle, came up with Brewers) NL Central Title, playoffs, big hitter. Now seems be playing outfield.

Cf the 2009 Bill James Handbook, at p. 18. (Baseball Info Solutions 2008).

It’s pretty obvious the number of World Championships, Division Titles and Playoff teams that are concentrated in this list, especially the higher you go up the list.

The top ten defensive third basemans’ teams have collectively won each of the last five World Series (2005-2009). The next ten have won a lot too, but except for Glaus & Jones, no world championships.

There are no coincidences in baseball. Defensive excellent at third base results in championships.

Of the third basemen on this list, only Rolen, Wright, Feliz and Zimmerman play in the National League. Right now, given Rolen’s age and injury conditions, it’s fair to say that the best defensive third basemen in the NL are, in order;

1) David Wright, Mets
2) Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
3) Pedro Feliz, Phillies
4) Scott Rolen, Reds
5) Troy Glaus, Cards

I’m going to reverse myself later and say that Wright should be ranked third after Zimmerman and Feliz later on, but see further down.

The best defensive third basemen in the AL are, in order;

1) Adrian Beltre, Mariners
2) Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
3) Jack Hannahan, Oakland
4) Mike Lowell, Red Sox
5) Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Some other metrics to consider. On the plus/minus system, from 2006-2008, Chase Utley at +85 was more than thirty points higher than the next rated defensive second basemen, Mark Ellis; Jimmy Rollins (the gold glove winner in the NL 2007-2009) at +42 was second rated only to Adam Everett); and Pedro Feliz at +55 was second rated only to Adrian Beltre at +63.

According to the plus/minus system, therefore, the Phillies had the best infield in baseball, defensively with Rollins, Utley and Feliz.

People complain about Ryan Howard’s defense at first base, but the fact is that even a fantastic defensive first baseman can only save you or cost you about ten runs a year at first base. It’s short, second and third where all the big run savings come in. A good defensive third baseman can save a baseball team a substantial number of runs every year.

A final point is that Pedro Feliz clearly outplayed Alex Rodriguez defensively in the World Series of 2009. Feliz got to more balls, had a better range, showed a better throwing arm, committed no routine errors (except for the double stolen base play, which was a weird play really) and turned a number of difficult ground balls into outs and double plays, whereas Rodriguez failed to get to routine grounders and made errors on routine grounders.

Feliz was clearly the better defensive third baseman in the series when the two played head to head, and he has played well in the postseason defensively two years running in 2008-2009. He also played well in the NLDS in 2007, and well for the Giants in their 2002 series run.

Second, the Phillies, with three and possibly four left-handed starters in their rotation, will have many more ground balls going to the left side of their infield than average.

Bill James and other baseball stat heads have analyzed this phenomenon extensively, but it’s simple really. With more lefties pitching, the lineups they face, due to platoon considerations, will be stacked with more right-handed bats.

Right-handed hitters tend to ground to the left side much more often than to the right side because they try to pull the ball. Many more balls will get hit to the third baseman and shortstop than to the second baseman and first baseman under those circumstances.

Consequently, with a predominantly left-handed staff, it’s vital for the Phillies to have not just a good, but an excellent glove man at third base. The Phillies can expect to see a good many more than the average number of balls hit at or around third base, and they will need a third baseman who can not only get to the ball but also make the routine play, turn the double play and make the throw across—all things that Pedro Feliz did very, very well during his tenure with the Phillies.

Third, in order for the Phillies to advance in the postseason each year, it’s vital for them to have an outstanding defensive third baseman playing the hot corner, especially with so many lefties like Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and JA Happ pitching.

Anyone watching Cliff Lee pitch could see this intuitively–a lot of balls were pulled to third base and down the third base side with Lee pitching. A good third baseman makes those into outs.

In the playoffs, they say that leather, lumber and pitching win, and that was very clear for the Phillies in both 2008 and 2009.

The key to their winning the World Series in 2008 and getting back to the World Series and winning the NL pennant in 2009 and beating tough Rockies and Dodgers teams was definitely pitching and defense.

Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton would not have been nearly as effective without the defense behind them of Pedro Feliz, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in the infield, turning ground balls into outs and double plays, and the outfield defense of Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and the contributions of Raul Ibanez.

Note that David Bell and Pedro Feliz played third base for the 2002 San Francisco Giants, which got all the way to the World Series by beating the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Giants, two pretty good teams, and won an NL West Division title.

Both Bell & Feliz played in the post-season, and both were excellent defensively and offensively for the Giants, and key players holding down the hot corner. No one could say that Rich Aurilia or Jeff Kent were great defensive players even though they were excellent hitters.

Contrast the 2008-09 Phillies with 2007, when the Phils tried to platoon Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs at third base, both poor glove men. The results in the playoffs were not too good, and the Phillies GM immediately recognized that the Phils needed to upgrade defensively at 3B, so they went out and got Pedro Feliz from the Giants.

Feliz’ extensive post-season experience came in handy in the 2009 World Series, as he seemed to come to life, batting .333 with an OPS of .705, and knocked in the winning run in Game 5 that won the Series for the Phillies. You’d have to think it was as if he’d been there before, lost, and didn’t want to lose again, because he knew exactly how bitter it felt. Based on his losing in 2002, that’s probably exactly why he did so well in the 2008 World Series for the Phillies. Post-season experience does count.

Fourth, as a strategy, keeping your gold glove shortstop (Jimmy Rollins) but sacrificing your outstanding glove man at third base when you have a predominantly left-handed pitching staff makes no sense. The Phils don’t need to add offense to their lineup—they scored plenty of runs and led the league in home runs.

Where the Phils need improvement is on the pitching side of the ledger—at the start of the season, they were near the bottom of the league in ERA, and during the first half they were allowing almost as many runs as they were scoring.

What the Phils need is more defense and pitching, not more offense. What they need are more guys like Feliz, who can field but not hit.

What helped the Phils last year was adding Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, who both helped a depleted starting staff.

With a left-handed starting staff, the last thing the Phils need to do is open up a defensive hole at third base for errors, missed throws, botched plays and missed double plays that will lead to long innings. Innings are long enough at Citizens Bank Park—quality defensive play is at a premium there.

What good will it do to have a gold glove shortstop if he’s paired with an average or poor defensive third baseman? None at all, really, if all your pitchers are left handed and all the balls are being pulled down the line to third base rather than up the middle to short or second.

It just doesn’t make sense to have three or four left-handed starters and then not have the best glove man available to play third base. Feliz was already here.

Even if they weren’t happy with Feliz’ offense, they surely could have platooned him with another player on off days, day games and on days right-handed pitchers were pitching, and kept him on the roster. And if Greg Dobbs wasn’t doing the job, surely there were other left-handed utility third baseman around to do the job. Or they could have signed Mark DeRosa to play along with Pedro Feliz—put in DeRosa for offense, Feliz for defense, and so forth.

But cutting Feliz loose made no sense at all.

Sixth, the Phillies have always played best when they have had a good glove man at third base, whether it was David Bell or Pedro Feliz. They have always had problems when they have tried to sacrifice defense at third base in favor of offense. This problem will be aggravated by having a left-handed pitching staff.

This is something one would term the “mike schmidt-scott rolen problem.”

The Phillies have been fortunate to have seen play here the greatest third baseman of all time, Michael Jack Schmidt, who was the greatest hitting third baseman of all time, and also the greatest defensive third baseman of all time, a man who created 125 plus runs a year and also saved another 50 runs a year defensively with his spectacular plays at third base.

If you normalize Schmidt’s 550 home run career to 1990s-2000 baseball, you’ll see that he would easily have hit many more than 650 home runs in his career, and hit for a far higher batting average and on base average, if he had played five run a game baseball under modern conditions, and would have made Alex Rodriguez look like an amateur.

Then, later the Phillies had Scott Rolen come up from the farm system, a third baseman who played here until his arbitration years were up, but really his best years, from the mid 1990s until around 2001 or so, and Rolen was good for around 30 homers a year, 35 doubles and a slew of great defensive plays, a 30 win share a year player. His glove work was excellent and the Phillies fans became spoiled.

Between Schmidt and Rolen we had guys like Charlie Hayes, who could pick it, and Dave Hollins, who couldn’t, and Kim Batiste, a defensive replacement who famously made an error in the 1993 NLCS but then made the game winning hit to beat Atlanta.

The Phillies did trade for Placido Polanco when they traded Rolen, and Polanco could have played third—he’s a gold glove second baseman even now with Detroit—but the Phils decided to trade him when they acquired David Bell to play third and Chase Utley came up.

Bell was a good defensive third baseman—his dad Buddy Bell was also a good glove man, and his grandfather Gus Bell a legendary slugger for the Reds. David Bell could do both—he could field and he could hit the home run. The Phillies with David Bell at third base were effective and he helped solidify their pitching corps for a period of time and made their pitchers look better.

Seventh, Eric Bruntlett was a good player off the bench defensively and as a pinch runner, and especially because he could play shortstop and third, key to a team with three-four left-handed starters. Also he could pinch-hit and substitute in late innings, and played well in the post-season and in key situations.

Let’s examine Eric Bruntlett’s defensive stats. All of these stats are from the Bill James Handbook 2009, but anyone is welcome to update them from or from former Sports Center stat guy and former Baseball Info Solutions stat guy (and my friend) Dave Pinto’s excellent fielding stats he keeps on his excellent baseball blog

At first base, Eric Bruntlett had a perfect fielding percentage. He’s an excellent choice to replace Ryan Howard defensively in late innings.

At second base, Bruntlett had a fielding range factor of 4.18 and a fielding percentage of .929 in just five games. This would place him at the lower end of all second baseman. Second base is not Bruntlett’s best position. He’s not a good choice to replace Chase Utley in late innings or to rest Chase Utley on days off because he actually does not appear to play second base all that well. The Phillies actually need another player, a backup second baseman, to rest chase Utley during the season.

At shortstop, Bruntlett had a fielding range factor of 4.22 and a fielding percentage of .970 in nearly 280 innings of play in 2008.

Bruntlett’s fielding range is better than 40% of all regular shortstops playing in major league baseball, and his fielding percentage is certainly good enough to play shortstop at the major league level.

Bruntlett is a very good substitute shortstop, at least defensively. He doesn’t have the Rollins gold glove range factor of 4.52 or Rollins’ fielding accuracy of .988, but Bruntlett averaged 2.63 assists per game and one double play per two games. This compares with Rollins 3 assists per game and slightly higher double play rate of .53 double plays per game, or 1.06 double plays per two games.

In sum, Bruntlett is a very decent, league average or better replacement defensive shortstop.

At third base, Bruntlett had a fielding range factor of 2.86 and a fielding percentage of .955 in 132 innings played at third base in 2008. He averaged 1.78 assists per nine innings, and .14 double plays per nine innings, or roughly one double play each seven full nine inning games he would have played at third base.

In terms of range factor, 2.86 would have placed Bruntlett among the top six third basemen defensively in all of baseball—only Carlos Guillen, Blake DeWitt and Ryan Zimmerman had higher range factors, and Melvin Mora and Mike Lowell also had 2.86 range factors.

In terms of fielding percentage, Bruntlett made 2 errors in 132 innings played, which works out to approximately 19 errors for a season, if he had played 140 nine inning games at third base. David Wright made 21 errors in 159 games, and fielded .962, which is pretty comparable to what Bruntlett did, and Wright is considered a gold glove candidate every year. Chipper Jones fielded .958 and made 21 errors in just 115 games. There were several starting NL third baseman with more errors per nine innings and lower fielding percentages than Bruntlett’s.

In terms of assists, it’s the same story. Bruntlett is solid.

In terms of double plays, Adrian Beltre was probably the best in all of baseball, turning over 27 double plays in just over 1200 innings—working out to .20 double plays per nine innings—or roughly one double play per five full nine inning games. But he’s the best in baseball defensively at third.

Let’s look at someone who’s good, but not great defensively. Aramis Ramirez turned 17 double plays in close to 1300 innings, so his double play rate is closer to .11, or just one double play per 19 full nine inning games played.

So we see, right away, that Eric Bruntlett, if he were a full-time third baseman, would rank among the better third baseman in the National League defensively, as far as turning the double play.

For a full and comprehensive comp defensively, let’s look at David Wright of the NY Mets. Appraising defensive ability is like appraising houses; each one is unique and has its own intrinsic value, but you can approach a value by comparing similar and comparable players and houses.

Wright has a defensive range factor of 2.51, a fielding percentage of .962, makes 1.80 assists per nine innings of play, and turns over .13 double plays per nine innings played. Those numbers are virtually the same as, or not very much different than, Eric Bruntlett.

Moreover, Wright is a fair comparison, since the Mets, like the Phillies, with Santana and Perez in their rotation, have at least two left-handed starters, which means that Wright faces about the same number of ground balls as the Phillies’ third basemen would be expected to face.

Compare this to Pedro Feliz, who had a fielding range factor of 2.72, a fielding percentage of .974, made 2.05 assists per nine innings of play, and turned over .175 double plays per nine innings played. That’s 1.05 double plays per six nine inning games.

Well, it sure looks like Pedro Feliz is a lot more like Adrian Beltre defensively than like David Wright defensively.

The numbers tell the story—which is why Pedro Feliz is actually, after you look at the numbers carefully, not the third best third baseman in the National League, but the second best third baseman in the National League, immediately after 2009 NL Gold Glove winner Ryan Zimmerman.

Obviously, Eric Bruntlett may look like a bad fielder if he goes in and subs for guys who can field as well as Pedro Feliz, Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley.

The basic point, the take away message of this analysis is, Eric Bruntlett is good enough defensively to play third base as a starter on many major league teams. In the American League, where you have a DH, and may need defense at third base instead of a hitter, he’d be a great addition to many teams needing help at the hot corner.

In the national league, where you need defensive help or a guy to rest your shortstop or third baseman, he’s the perfect bench guy.

This brings us to the last part of why it’s a mistake to let Eric Bruntlett go.

Chase Utley will turn 31 in December of this year, and Jimmy Rollins will turn 31 in November of this year in about ten days’ time. Both of them are reaching that point where they need to rest during the season. Pedro Feliz will turn 35 next year, and if the Phillies had re-signed him, he also would have needed a caddy.

Managing a team that plays in the post-season every year is different than managing a team that never makes it in. You’ve got to manage for a possible 181 game season. In 2008, even going through the playoffs and World Series in three, five and five games, the Phillies played 175 games. In 2009, the Phillies played four, five and six games in the playoffs and World Series, adding an additional fifteen games and five weeks to their schedule, playing 177 games in all.

That’s not the National League anymore—those are schedules like the old 1920s-1950s Pacific Coast League, which would play from March until November every year, a 180 game schedule or something like that.

With that kind of long schedule, you need infield replacement help, you can’t play every infielder every inning of every game.

In addition to which, Bruntlett also played the outfield, playing leftfield with a reasonable range factor and error rate. Bruntlett also pinch-ran frequently during his time with the Phillies, and served as a right-handed pinch-hitter, although defensive replacement was his forte. Bruntlett did get hits on occasion, but his career .240/.315/.344 line suggests that he’s just not that good a hitter, though he did punch nine doubles and two homers for the Phils in 2008 and occasionally hit one hard for them in 2009.

Bruntlett will turn 32 next march of 2010 and is still a useful, veteran utility player who would not have cost very much to keep around. It’s very likely a mistake for the Phillies to let him go.

If we remember the way he came in to pinch run in Game Five of the 2008 World Series, and came home to score the eventual winning run on Pedro Feliz’ winning hit, that Eric Bruntlett, of all people, was the hero to score the winning run of the 2008 World Series, we will remember that he was hero for the Phillies during his tenure here.

Sometimes it’s bad luck to cut your role guys. The Yankees let Aaron Boone go after 2003, even though he was the hero of the 2003 ALCS, the guy who hit the walk off homer against the Red Sox to save their 2003 AL pennant, and signed some guy named A-Rod instead. They didn’t get back to the World Series for six years.

Sometime character is more important than talent. Ray Boone, his son Bob Boone, and Bob Boone’s three sons have all been winners in their baseball careers.

Bob Boone was an integral part of three NL East Division winning teams, a playoff team, and a World Series champion here in Philadelphia from 1973-1981.

After the Phillies let Bob Boone go, they only won one more NL East Division title, got back to the World Series, but lost to the Orioles in five games, and Steve Carlton and the rest of the pitching staff was never the same again, even if Carlton had a good year in 82’ and John Denny won the Cy Young in 1983.

Carlton was not as effective in 1983. Boone was a huge reason why rookies like Bob Walk and Dickie Noles had such good seasons in 1980, and why the Phillies won the World Series despite having such a young pitching staff. Not to mention his outplaying Darrell Porter in the Series hands down.

Boone continued to be a great catcher for many more years. When he went to the California Angels, he helped them win two AL East Division titles in 1982-86, and very nearly AL Pennants in both those years, going to the limit of the ALCS before falling to the Brewers in five in 82’ and to the Red Sox in 86 (Donnie Moore famously blowing the saves in two games).

Ray Boone, Bob’s Dad, was a great player for the Tigers and other clubs, and an excellent third baseman.

Bret Boone, as we all know, was a key player on the Mariners’ club that won a league record 116 games in 2001.

Aaron Boone we already spoke about. He is a hero forever in Yankees’ lore.

Character guys like these are hard to come by.

Eighth, the alternatives to Pedro Feliz are inferior both offensive and defensively, with two important exceptions, which are Adrian Beltre & Chone Figgins. Polanco is not really a third baseman, but we’ll consider whether he could come here as a bench player to take over Bruntlett’s job.

The Phillies are considering these alternatives;

1) Chone Figgins
2) Mark DeRosa
3) Placido Polanco
4) Adrian Beltre


First, let’s talk about how great Adrian Beltre is.

Defensively, he’s the best third baseman in baseball, hands down. His stats are incredible. He has the best fielding range, the best assists, double play rates and best error rates of any third baseman in baseball, and he leads the plus/minus charts in the Bill James Handbook for individual seasons as well as for successive seasons among all third baseman by large margins.

Among all experts who voted the Fielding Bible Awards in the 2009 Bill James Handbook, Adrian Beltre was the consensus #1 pick among all who voted, except for Mike Murphy, who is wrong, and the Tango Fan Poll, who voted him #2 after Scott Rolen. Bill James, Dan Casey, Hal Richman, Joe Posnanski, John Dewan, Mat Olkin, Rob Neyer all rate Adrian Beltre the #1 defensive third baseman in all of baseball, along with the BIS Video Scouts.

Adrian Beltre won the AL Gold Glove at third base in 2007 and 2008. Pedro Feliz has never won a Gold Glove in the National League, although he is widely considered to be among the best third basemen defensively in the National League. If Beltre comes over to the NL, he immediately becomes an instant candidate for the NL Gold Glove award at third base.

The same guys basically rate Pedro Feliz between 4, 5, 7 and 8, and he finished 7th in the same poll that Adrian Beltre clearly finished first in by a very, very wide margin.

We already discussed Beltre’s numbers above in the discussion on Bruntlett.

Now let’s talk about offense with Adrian Beltre.

Here’s Pedro Feliz career line: .254 BA/.293 OBA/.422 SA.

Here’s Adrian Beltre’s career line: .270 BA/.325 OBA/.453 SA.

These guys are not on the same planet offensively.

Beltre helped lead the Dodgers to the playoffs in 2004. Where they lost to the Cardinals in the NLDS. Beltre went 4 for 15 with a run scored and an RBI, so his line wasn’t all that impressive. But he got the Dodgers in. Even though Seattle has not made it to the playoffs lately, the Mariners have had seasons in which they won 88 games in 2007 and 85 games in 2009, and Beltre was a key part of both clubs. Also, Seattle has a pitching staff with many lefthanders, so Beltre is used to playing with lefties and seeing a lot of balls come his way. The view here has to be that Beltre is a winner.

Feliz’ post-season numbers dropped off in 2009, but he had a phenomenal World Series in 2008, batting .333 with an OPS of .702 and driving in the game winning run in game 5 of what was clearly a pitching-dominated series. Feliz was the key to winning the World Series in 2008, and his phenomenal glove play clearly was better than Alex Rodriguez at third base in the 2009 World Series, and helped Cliff Lee win two tough ballgames to keep the Phillies in it for six games until the Yankees pushed through in Game Six in Yankee Stadium. Feliz’ defense and offense helped the Phillies obtain a 3-0 lead in Game Three and also helped them obtain a 4-4 tie in Game 4; clearly because of Feliz, the Phils had opportunities to win key games in the 2009 Series and win the Series outright. He kept things winnable at all times.

Also, Feliz has played in three prior post-season series with the Giants including their 2002 World Series run where they fell short against the Angels, so he has actually played in four NLDS and three NLCS and three World Series, as well as in the 2008 and 2009. That’s a lot of post-season experience.

Adrian Beltre has a silver slugger award for his 48 homer year at third base with the Dodger in 2004. He also finished 2d in the MVP voting that year, and was an all-star. He also led the entire National League in home runs that year, something that almost no Los Angeles Dodger has ever done due to the nature of their home park and its horribly negative effect on home run hitting.

Beltre has a career OPS of .778, while Feliz has a career OPS of .715.

Beltre for his career averages 89 runs created per game. His career slugging average is better than league slugging average, and his career OPS is better that league OPS average. In short, Beltre is more productive, offensively than the average major league player, and creates a lot of runs.

Feliz by contrast averages 62 runs created per game. Feliz’ career slugging average is lower than league slugging average, and his career OPS is lower than league OPS average. In short, Feliz less productive offensively than the average major league player, and does not create as many runs over the course of a season as Beltre.

In fact, Feliz will on average produce only 70% as many runs as Beltre, while Beltre will produce 143% more runs than Feliz on average.

That’s a pretty wide offensive gap.

1) Adrian Beltre will create between 27 more runs per year, on average, than did Pedro Feliz. Beltre can be expected to average around 89 runs created for the Phillies.

Some comparable numbers for other Phillies; Chase Utley usually creates around 110-115 runs; Ryan Howard usually creates around 120 runs; Jimmy Rollins usually creates 100-110 runs a year, and created 124 runs in his MVP year of 2007.

Having Adrian Beltre at third base creating 89 runs a year will create an offensive all-star infield for the Phillies overnight.

2) Adrian Beltre will SAVE the Phillies many runs at third base over Pedro Feliz. He’s a better defensive player than Feliz in nearly every way—better glove, better arm, better range, better at turning the double play, more accurate arm, etc.

Adrian Beltre, in fact, can be expected to win the NL Gold Glove if he arrives in Philadelphia to play third base. That means saving another 10-50 runs per year defensively.

3) Adrian Beltre is a much faster player and better base runner than Pedro Feliz. He has stolen 98 bases in his career, caught 36 times for a stolen base percentage of 73%, and he runs the bases very well, meaning that he gets from first to third, from second to home and so forth, much better than Feliz does, which again means more scoring.

4) Adrian Beltre, despite having twelve years big league experience, will only turn 31 years old in April of 2010. He is substantially younger than Feliz and has far more career upside.

5) Beltre had an off year hitting only 9 homers in 2009, but first, that was only in 110 games (it’s around 13 for a season) and second, he’s hit 103 homers in five years in Seattle. In three of those years he’s hit 25 or more homers, and he’s averaged better than 20 homers a season. Seattle’s a tough home run park and we’ll get to that below. Third, he was injured last season, and fourth, Seattle has acquired Hanrahan from the A’s and Hall from the Brewers, so they are looking at other options at third.

6) Adrian Beltre’s power numbers are truly impressive when you take park considerations into account. He can be expected to hit far, far more home runs playing at Citizens Bank Park than he hit at either Seattle or LA.

a. From 1998-2004, playing as an LA Dodger, he hit 137 home runs in seven season, an average of nearly twenty home runs a year, with a career high of 48 homers in 2004. Of course, this was playing in Dodger Stadium, one of the WORST home run parks in the majors.

Did this affect Adrian Beltre’s home run totals from 1998-2004? Of course it did.

Of those 137 home runs Beltre hit as a Dodger, only 65 came at Dodger Stadium; 72 came on the road.

Some of the splits are pretty radical; in 1999, Beltre hit 6 homers at home, 9 on the road; in 2000, Beltre hit 7 homers at home, 13 on the road, in 2001, Beltre hit 4 homers at home, 9 on the road, in 2002 Beltre hit 7 homers at home, 14 on the road. Even in his career year of 2004, Beltre hit 23 homers at home and 25 on the road.

b. From 2005-2009, Beltre has hit 203 homers at Seattle, averaging more than 20 homers a year.

But Seattle is, if anything, even a worse home park to hit home runs in than Dodger Stadium. Home runs are depressed by a factor of .90 relative to normal in Seattle’s home stadium, which means that only 90% of league normal amount of home runs can expect be hit at Seattle’s home park.

Some of Beltre’s home/away splits illustrate this. In 2005, Beltre hit 7 homers at home and 12 on the road; in 2007 11 at home and 15 on the road; and in 2008 10 at home and 15 on the road.

c. Career, Beltre has 250 home runs through age 30—but he’s been badly hurt by his home parks. Of those 250 home runs, 137 have come on the road—and just 113 at home.

Playing his career in horrible home run parks like Seattle and Dodger Stadium have cost Beltre between 25 and 50 home runs in his career—which means that he should be at around 275-300 career home runs right now.

d. If Beltre were to come to Citizens Bank Park—a home park with a home run factor of 130—it could reasonably be expected that over the course of three years, instead of having a typical Adrian Beltre year of 25 homers, 10 at home and 15 on the road, that we should see an increase of 130/90 in the amount of home runs that Beltre would hit at home at Citizens Bank Park, or approximately 1.44 more homer at home.

Applying that to his usual home run year, it could reasonably be expected that Adrian Beltre would hit 15 homers at home and 15 on the road, for an average total of 30 homers per year, if he was playing in the Bank.

e. Even assuming just the average of twenty homers a year, with 7 at home and 13 on the road as he now hits at Seattle, Beltre would hit an additional three homers a year playing at the Bank at Home, and thus hit 10 at home and 13 on the road, for an average of at least 23 homers a year. But he probably will learn to pull the ball into the short left field porch and do much better than that.

f. Over the course of three years, playing in the Bank, averaging between 23-30 homers a year, and now hitting as many or more homers at home as he does on the road, Beltre will begin to approach 350 career home runs within a three year period.

Over the course of five years, he will very likely approach 400 career home runs. Playing in the Bank, he could eventually finish out his career and become a career 500 home run hitter at this pace.

g. It could also be expected, even at his age and experience level, that Beltre could have a breakout year and hit 40 or more home runs again, with the majority of those at the Bank, because his power is to left field.

In short, Adrian Beltre is the ideal candidate to replace Pedro Feliz at third base. He has the perfect offensive and defensive credentials to fit in with the Phillies, and buried underneath the statistics is the fact that Adrian Beltre is one of the best home run hitters in all of baseball. He’s just waiting for a chance to show the world that he can blast home runs in a park suited to his one greatest talent—the long ball.

And what are the Phillies known for if not the long ball? Based on this analysis, it’s obvious that Adrian Beltre is the guy that the Phillies should be signing to replace Pedro Feliz. He fits in best by far. He knows how to field a left-handed staff, he’s a better glove, and he’s a home run hitting machine whose eyes will light up with delight every time he comes to the Bank. His offensive numbers will swell at home instead of shrinking at home.

Adding Adrian Beltre will immensely strengthen the Phillies at third base. It’s the one answer, the only answer to who can replace Pedro Feliz at third base.

Now let’s talk about the other alternatives, which are inferior offensively and defensively, except for Chone Figgins, who is an acceptable and interesting possibility, except that in order for him to be effective, he’d have to bat leadoff.

1) Mark DeRosa – Everyone should like Mark DeRosa. He quarterbacked Penn to two impresssive Ivy League titles, and he’s a heck of an athlete.

You don’t see too many Penn guys in professional sports (apologies to the great Chuck Bednarik), but DeRosa is an excellent player.

That aside, DeRosa is not an excellent third baseman. He used to be a decent shortstop, but DeRosa will turn 35 next year (yes, 1993 & 1994 were that long ago, Penn football fans) and he doesn’t have the arm to play short anymore, so he’s been playing second base mainly.

Although he’s been playing some third base for the Cards, among others, he’s not a good third baseman defensively.

Offensively, his numbers are no better than Pedro Feliz, and although he’s had some power the last couple of seasons, at age 35, he can’t sustain that for many more seasons.

He did have good seasons with the Cubs in 2008 and with the Cards last year, and with Texas in 2006, but for most of his career he’s been a part-time guy.

DeRosa’s career line is .279BA/.348OBA/.422SA, which is not much different than Feliz, and his career slugging average is below league.

Two points in favor of DeRosa

first, he’s a philly penn guy. that’s good.

second, he’d be a good replacement for eric bruntlett, and he could spell chase utley and ryan howard against tough lefthanded hitters, and also play leftfield for raul ibanez in the same way. as a bench player, who spelled a regular five times a week, he’d be ideal, especially because he hits lefties very well. as a substitute 3d baseman he makes lots of sense. but not a regular 3d baseman on a world series team.

Signing him in combination with Adrian Beltre or Chone Figgins makes a lot of sense; signing DeRosa to play 3d base all the time makes no sense.

2) Chone Figgins – An acceptable alternative to Feliz…an interesting player with unique and strange skills set…

a. First of all, not a good defensive player, inferior to Feliz. As we saw above, Feliz is the #7 defensive player while Figgins is ranked #17 among all major league third basemen.

b. However, these differences may not be as great as we think. Feliz has a defensive range of 2.72, Figgins is 2.65; Feliz defensive percentage is .974 with 19 errors made in 129 games which is 24 errors per 162 games. Figgins defensive percentage is .978 with 6 errors made in 105 games, which is 9-10 errors per 162 game season.

Feliz makes 2.05 assists per 9 innings; Figgins makes 1.82 assists per 9 innings. Those are pretty close.

However, that total has to be examined carefully, because Figgins only plays behind one left-handed starter, while Feliz plays behind three and four left-handed starters, so obviously Feliz has a lot more chances for assists.

Feliz turns one double play ever six games, as cited above, while Figgins turns one double play approximately every seven games, which again is pretty close, but data skewed by the left-handedness of the Philly staff.

c. In summary, Figgins may not be as inferior defensively as initially assumed, although the consensus is he is inferior.

The statistics suggest that he can field the position and that the Phillies will not lose that many runs with Figgins at third base. He will miss some balls due to his height but he will also get to some balls due to his quickness. He actually may work out at third base to be an acceptable option to Feliz.

d. Second, he will be 32 in January of 2010, so you’re not buying youth here.

This is even worse when you consider that Figgins’ entire game is based on speed. He’s only 5 foot 8 and 180, which is kind of heavy for a guy that’s 5 foot 8 and a ballplayer.

He stole 62 bases in 2004, leading the American League but that number has dropped by around ten every season to where he’s stealing only 30 or 40 a year, with a success rate of around 75%.

Notably, Figgins led the American League in caught stealing last year, with 17 outs made while trying to steal second, while making it successfully 42 times, which means he only made it 71% of the time.

The Phillies as a team make it about 85% of the time.

Basic baseball statistics show that if you get thrown out more than 33% of the time while trying to steal second, you’re actually costing your team runs, so Figgins is so slow at this point that he actually shouldn’t be stealing bases at all.

Figgins also led the American League in caught stealing in 2007 as well.

e. Figgins also had 17 triples in 2004, but now he’s only hitting around 7, and the most doubles he’s ever had in a year is 30, which is shockingly low for a guy with this kind of speed.

It means, basically, that he’s not a line drive hitter or a power alley hitter like Victorino or Rollins; he’s basically not a good hitter at all.

f. Figgins has only 31 home runs in eight professional seasons, an average of barely four a year. His career line is .291BA/.363OBA/.388SA. It’s a weird line.

g. Now here’s where Figgins is good; he is great at getting on base and getting around the bases and scoring.

His statistics at advancing from first to third on singles, from first to home on doubles, from second to home on any kind of hit, and so forth, are stratospherically above league average.

Figgins is a run-scoring machine. For his career, he’s averaged 103 runs scored a game. This is a truly impressive statistic.

The hidden part of speed is advancing the bases, not merely stealing; and since the Phillies have a lot of hitters who can hit behind Figgins and advance him, all Figgins has to do is get on base and let the lumber behind him do the rest.

h. Figgins gets on base a lot. He walks a hundred times a year and has a career on base average of .363. This, along with his great speed and fearlessness on the bases, makes him a prototypical leadoff hitter.

Also, despite his having just a .388 career slugging average, Figgins’ high OBA gives him a career OPS of .751, which is higher than league average and propels him into the area where he gets on base so often, he is both a run creating as well as a run scoring machine.

i. In fact, Figgins, for his career, averages 95 runs created per 162 games played, which is very impressive. That’s a far higher total than either Feliz or Beltre, and Beltre is a truly excellent offensive third baseman.

Figgins creates those runs in an entirely different manner than Beltre, however—Figgins does it by walking, bunting, getting infield hits, running out grounders, beating out errors, etc and getting on base any way he can—and then terrifying opposing pitchers with his speed game, or advancing the bases quickly if the next player makes a hit. Figgins is, in fact, a legitimately great leadoff player.

j. The only question with Figgins is, will making Figgins the leadoff hitter drive Jimmy Rollins crazy? J Ro has been the leadoff hitter for so long, the guy who leads the pack, that he may not like hitting second or whatever behind Figgins.

That may ruin the club chemistry, and club chemistry is a fragile thing. On paper, however, it does look a lot better to have Figgins bat first, and then Rollins second.

Then you can bat Victorino in the six hole or seven hole behind either Werth or Ibanez, and he’s a much stronger hitter. Or, if Rollins is having a slump or an off day, you move Victorino up to second and bat someone else seventh.

It certainly gives the lineup more flexibility.

k. Well, there is one other question, and that is Figgins’ durability. Beltre has played nearly every game of every season, excepting two seasons, last year and one season with the Dodgers, whereas Figgins has missed a lot of games for the Angels with injuries. You need a backup plan b with Figgins, you can’t depend on him for 162 games.

Finally, the Phillies are considering bringing back Placido Polanco. Aside from been there, done that, Polanco is now 34 years old and will turn 35 in October of 2010.

He has never played third base regularly except here in Philadelphia back when Larry Bowa was manager.

Polanco’s career line is .306 BA/.350 OBA/.416 SA, which means he has a career OPS of .766, but the holes in his game are well known.

He hardly ever walks, although he also is very hard to strikeout. He hits a lot of doubles, but hardly ever hits a home run. He has speed, but not much of it.

He won the gold glove in the AL last year, but the fielding bible guys at Bill James Handbook 2009 rate him no better than the sixth best second baseman in baseball, and very far from the top. They rate Brandon Phillips, Mark Ellis, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia and Orlando Hudson all better than him defensively. Two guys even named Robinson Cano as better on their ballots, and it’s true, Cano has some great numbers defensively.

But what really sticks out in my mind is a terrible play Polanco didn’t make in the playoff game against Minnesota this past off-season, a ball hit up the middle that Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins would have gotten to with ease, but that Polanco just didn’t get to at all. I just don’t see the range there anymore.

The numbers say that Polanco has a better range factor than Chase Utley, but we who are Phillies fans saw both of them play here at the same time, and we all know that Chase Utley is about five times the glove man that Polanco is. That’s why the Phillies traded away Polanco.

Also, Polanco was not as good a third baseman as David Bell—so why would the Phillies bring him back now when they have the option of putting Chone Figgins or Adrian Beltre, both of whom are natural third baseman—and better third baseman—at the position.

One thing you could do with Placido Polanco is use him as a utility player to spell Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He might not like coming off the bench, but if you think about it, resting Chase Utley or Ryan Howard against tough lefthanders and giving them a day off once or twice a week and starting Polanco in their place makes sense. And then you have Polanco around to spell a Figgins or Beltre at third base.

Maybe Polanco (or DeRosa) is the solution to the Eric Bruntlett problem. He’s been a Phillie before, and the fans did like him. He plays hard, and undoubtedly, having been to the World Series with the Tigers and having lost, he is hungry for a title. And he’s played with these guys before, so he might be willing to accept a part-time role. And he can play first or second base well and hit well enough to make everyone forget about Eric Bruntlett. In fact, if anyone gets hurt, he can play for a month or two because Polanco is a real ballplayer.

So one solution might be to sign both Figgins AND Polanco, and sit back and watch the Phillies roll to another world series. Or Figgins and DeRosa. Or Beltre and DeRosa. Or Beltre and Polanco. Even I’m getting confused now.

What is clear is that DeRosa and Polanco are second baseman who can give howard and utley rest against lefties, while Figgins and Beltre are true third baseman who each bring offense and defense to third base. Figgins is a leadoff get on base speed guy, while Beltre is all power and home runs, with some speed too. Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball. Polanco won the gold glove in the al at 2b last year, he’s a doubles singles hitter while DeRosa is more of a power guy.

Ninth, the alternatives to Pedro Feliz will cost more money. There is no doubt that signing Beltre, or Figgins, or Polanco, or any combination of them, will cost more money than it would have cost to re-sign Feliz and Bruntlett. This is pretty obvious. On the other hand, the Phillies pretty nearly sold out every game last year. They’re swimming in cash. One rabid fan even tried to sell herself, allegedly, to get World Series tickets, although that’s disputed, of course, by her attorneys.

Tenth, the alternatives to Pedro Feliz may upset the clubhouse chemistry that has brought the Phils three straight NL East Division titles. Here’s where the rub, as Shakespeare or Hamlet would say, lies. Beltre or Figgins might be upgrades offensively, defensively or at the leadoff position, but what will they bring to the clubhouse? Is Beltre a winner? Will Figgins move to leadoff upset Jimmy Rollins? Will Polanco be happy as a bench player after starting for the Tigers? Again, clubhouse chemistry is important.

To summarize, the Phillies need to make a decision. The clear-cut decision is to sign Adrian Beltre. He’s clearly better offensively and defensively at third, and he’ll probably hit more homers in the Bank.

The other option is to sign Chone Figgins, and make him your leadoff hitter. That means putting Jimmy Rollins in the two hole, and moving Shane Victorino down to #6 or #7 in the lineup.

If the Phillies sign Figgins, they almost have to sign Polanco or DeRosa or another comparable player to cover for Figgins in case he gets hurt. Also, they need such a player to do what Bruntlett did, and spell Utley, Howard and Rollins, especially spell Howard and Utley against tough lefties and on day games after night games. They need a right-handed guy who can field, hit and has speed. Polanco is perfect for all of these, so Polanco is actually perfect to replace Bruntlett, and he’s the right age and fit for a championship ball club. And he would get a lot of at bats.

The Phillies did something similar in 1993 when they signed Mariano Duncan, a guy who had won the World Series in 1990 with the Reds, and used him to spell Mickey Morandini and John Kruk on the left side of the infield. Duncan turned out to be a brilliant choice as a bench player and role player.

Polanco could be that guy again. He played well for the Phillies in 2003 and 2004, and coming off a gold glove year in Detroit, he could be that guy again in 2009 for a championship level ball club.

So perhaps the Phillies do have alternatives. They will cost some money, but there are always alternatives.

–art kyriazis, philly
Home of the 2008 world champion Phillies
2007, 2008, 2009 NL East Division Champions
2008, 2009 NL Pennant Winners
Jimmy Rollins, three straight gold gloves, 2007-2009
Shane Victorino, two straight gold gloves, 2008-2009
Chase Utley, four straight Silver Slugger Awards, 2b, 2006-2009
1976-1978, 1980, 1983, 1993 NL East Division Champions
1981 NL East Divisional Playoffs.
1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993 NL Pennant Champions
1980 World Champions

Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro made a mistake releasing Brett Myers after the 2009 post-season.

Amaro declined to negotiate with Phillies long-time pitcher Brett Myers, severed all ties and decided to let Myers be a free agent.

There are several reasons why this move is wrong.

1) Myers is the longest tenured Phillie on the roster.

2) Myers has three seasons of effective post-season experience.

3) Myers has been an integral part of three NL East Division
winners, and an integral part of three contending teams before that.

4) Myers is still young, not yet 30.

5) Myers has great strikeout to walk ratios and a great career WHIP (walks and hits to innings pitched ratio).

6) Myers is an innings eater whose stats are better than league average.

7) The Phillies have no one better to replace Myers as a starter or reliever, and plenty who may be much worse.

8) Myers would have been cheap to re-sign to a one year deal.

9) Myers wanted to stay a Phillie, and loves being a Phillie, and the Phillies fan love Myers.

10) Myers should have been re-signed because he had the courage to call Cole Hamels out for “quitting” after Game Three of the 2009 World Series. Demonstrating guts, will to win, and willingness to demand the same of his superstar teammates.

Let’s detail those reasons.

First, Myers was the longest tenured Phillie on the roster. He loves the Phillies, loves the Phillies fans, and he knows how to pitch in Citizens Bank Park.

Second, Myers has three seasons of post-season experience. He pitched as a closer/relief pitcher in the 2007 NLDS against the Rockies, started in the NLDS/NLCS/World Series, and served as a relief pitcher in the 2009 World Series. In 2009 he was available either as a starter, long relief or as backup closer in the event Ryan Madsen or Brad Lidge were unavailable to do the job. He’s been there and has handled the pressure before in the post-season, in Philly and other big towns and can be handed the ball in big game postseason situations.

Third, Myers has been an integral part of each of the three NL East Division Title Winning teams, as well as being a key starter on teams in 2003-2006 that each won 85 or more games and were always in the hunt. In 2007, after four seasons in which he racked up 193, 176, 215 and 198 innings pitched, going 14-9, 11-11, 13-8 and 12-7 in those seasons (50 total win against 35 total losses), he was asked in 2007 to go to the bullpen and become a closer.

In 2007, Myers converted 21 saves in 24 save opportunities with an ERA of 4.33 (park adjusted ERA of 3.63), striking out 83 batters in just 68 and two thirds innings, while walking only 27, with just 6 hit batsmen and 2 wild pitches. He gave up nine homers in those innings, which projects out to around 27 over 200 innings, but that’s a) normal for Myers and b) normal for pitching in Citizens Bank Park, which allows more than 130% more home runs than the average home park.

In 2008, asked to be a starter again, Myers logged 190 innings again and faced 817 batters, striking out 163 while walking only 65, with 6 hit batsmen and 29 homers allowed. His ERA was slightly higher, 4.55, with a park-adjusted ERA of 4.47, and his won lost record 10-13, but his record in 2008 was not dissimilar from his starting stats of 2003 or 2004, in which he had very similar numbers and results. In 2004 he gave up more home runs and more hits per innings and had an ERA of 5.52 and an adjusted ERA of 5.17.

In 2009 Myers had injury problems and was limited in his ability to start and relieve, but still was willing to come back, hurt, and throw, time and time again, for the Phillies.

Other pitchers would have stayed on the disabled list.

Myers is a competitor who always wants the ball. He came back to the Phillies hurt in September, helped out the bullpen as well as the starting staff, and was there to back up the bullpen in the playoffs and the World Series.

His 2009 stats are also off his career norms, but Myers was injured. There is no reason why he can’t be 100% again next year and shoulder a starters’ role.

Fourth, Myers is young. Myers was born on August 17, 1980. He turned 29 this year. That means he will turn 30 next year. He is still good for another five years at least. He’s six foot four and weights 238 pounds. The one thing to recommend is that Myers go on a conditioning program to lose some weight—losing about twenty pound off his frame would help his mechanics and endurance tremendously. Also, alcohol rehabilitation—he needs to stop drinking entirely. That would help with his weight. With those two taken care of, Myers can be a terrific pitcher for the next five-ten years.

Fifth, Myers has great strikeout to walk ratios and an outstanding career WHIP. Career, Myers has through 2008, 936 strikeouts logged in 1113 innings pitched, which is around 7 and one half strikeouts per nine innings. Through the same period Myers has just 390 walks, which is just three walks a game, which gives him a more than 2-1 strikeout to walk ratio. He gives up about one hit per inning pitched, exactly, so his career WHIP is 1.36. Combined with 7.5 strikeouts a game, those are outstanding career strikeout, hits allowed and walks allowed ratios.

Sixth, Myers has shown, over and over, that he is an innings eater whose career era, career WHIP and career strikeout to walk ratio are all under league average in a league where teams score five or more runs a game and in a home park where home runs fly out all the time. The Phillies had another pitcher once who was a lot like Brett Myers, who they also brought up in their farm system, a guy named Kevin Gross. Gross was basically a .500 pitcher, but Gross was a big guy, a strikeout pitcher, who would always eat up 200 innings a year, give you five to eight innings a start, and always keep you in the ballgame most of the time. The Phillies made the mistake of letting Gross get away to the Dodgers, and Gross had a long and productive career after leaving the Phillies. Not a Hall of Famer, but as a #3, 4, or 5 starter that ate up innings and helped keep the Dodgers in ballgames and gave them a chance to win.

Nor did the Phillies ever find another starter who was as good as Gross. As Bill James and other statheads are fond of saying, there is nothing as valuable in baseball as an average player, a replacement level player, a guy who gives you the league average ERA and pitches 200 innings a year. Those guys are hard to find.

Seventh, who will replace Myers? Let’s look as some of the back end starters the Phillies have used in recent years who have been much worse than Myers, and a lot more expensive.

Adam Eaton. Once a high Phillies draft pick, let go to other teams, the Phils resigned him to an expensive deal. Not known for “eaton” innings, Eaton went 10-10 in 2007 with a 6.29 ERA (park-adjusted 6.33) while allowing a staggering 192 hits and 30 homers in just 161 and two thirds innings pitched. Also 11 hit batters and 6 wild pitches. He was worse the next year, only logging 107 innings pitched, going 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA (6.07 park adjusted), allowing 131 hits and 15 homers in those 107 innings, while striking out only 57 and walking 44, with 6 hit batsmen and 2 wild pitches. Awful, terrible, horrible don’t begin to describe how bad Adam Eaton was as a starter.

Jamie Moyer has been a wonderful surprise for the Phillies, but he will turn 47 years old in just five days on November 18, 1962. In fact, Moyer will will in fact be attending his 30th reunion at Penn Charter either this fall of 2009 or this coming spring of 2010. Tempus fugit.

Moyer was terrific for the Phillies in 2007 and 2008, but his ERA ballooned in 2009 as did a number of other stats, and he was actually removed from the rotation in favor of Pedro Martinez. Moyer was doing well in relief, but then suffered a serious injury in September, which was unfortunate, because Moyer was very, very effective in the postseason in both 2007 and 2008, and the Phils could have used Moyer’s junkballing stuff against the lefthanded leaning, fastball-hitting Yankees.

Right now, the Phillies Starting Staff for 2010 looks like this:

1) Cliff Lee 2) Cole Hamels 3) Joe Blanton 4) JA Happ 5) ?

There was every reason to insert Brett Myers in there at Number 5. Atlanta has six starters under contract, and guys get hurt during a season.

The Phillies needed to sign Pedro Martinez and trade for Cliff Lee during the season because starting pitchers get hurt and got hurt, or don’t perform as expected. Brett Myers represented insuranced & depth, and was a known commodity.

Pedro Martinez could start for the Phillies, but it’s not really clear that he can go an entire season and log 200 innings like a Brett Myers. It really would have been a lot safer to use Brett Myers to log 200 innings and use Pedro in relief, and then flip them around come playoff time. That way the Phillies could save Pedro’s arm for the post-season, since Myers can do anything you want him to do. Pedro has broken down physically each of the seasons he was with the Mets, and cold weather doesn’t agree with him at age 38.

Kyle Kendrick is a potential #4 or #5 starter for the Phillies, but a careful analysis of his pitching stats show that his successful 2007 season is an illusion. This is because Kyle Kendrick is not a strikeout pitcher and only succeeds when he doesn’t give up hits and doesn’t give up walks. He was successful in 2007 because a large number of the balls put into play against him happened to be caught—what we call the Voros McCracken effect or factor. This in 2007 he allowed 129 hits in 121 innings pitched, and had an ERA of 2.87 (park adjusted 4.23), but struck out only 49 batters, less than 3.5 per 9 innings, a very very low total for a young pitcher, especially one who’s 6 foot three, 190 and was age 23 at the time—he’s turning 26 in 2010—while walking 25—about 1.75 per nine innings. Now that was a 2-1 strikeout to walk ratio, but notice how many balls are being put into play when you don’t strike out very many people. Kendrick allowed 16 homers in those 121 innings.

In 2008, it was a completely different story for Kendrick. He allowed 194 hits in just 155 and two thirds innings, struck out just 68 batters while walking 57—almost a one to one strikeout to walk ratio—LED the national league in hit batsmen with 14—which would have been around 25 hit batters if he’d gone to 200 plus innings—and also added in 4 wild pitches. Kendrick logged a 5.49 ERA (6.05 adjusted) and allowed 23 homers in those 155.2 innings. This works out to a WHIP of over 1.60—and a WHIP over 1.50 is very very high. Kendrick in 2008 walked nearly 3 and a half batters a game, while striking out just about the same number as he had in 2007, 3 and a half batters a game. So his walks doubled while his strikeouts stayed the same. And his wild pitches, homers and hit batsmen went nuts. Add in the poor strikeout to walk ratio, the high walk ratio, the hit batsmen, the homers and the wild pitches, and you can see why Kendrick was sent down to the minors in 2008 and stayed there in 2009.

Kendrick is simply never going to be an effective major league starting pitcher. If he learns a sinker or change, he might eventually become a good one or two inning or long relief pitcher, but never a closer, starter or 7th inning setup guy. Kendrick doesn’t know how to strikeout batters, and unless he can control the location of his pitches to get ground balls and induce double plays, and not allow homers or hits, he’s not going to be able to hold leads either. He’ll just be a guy you throw in there when you’re losing and you need to eat up innings, but since the Phillies are never out of a ballgame, they just don’t need anyone like him.

It could be the Phils expect Pedro to hold down the fort until Kyle Drabek or someone like him is ready off the farm.

Eighth, the Phillies should have resigned Myers because he would have been cheap to resign.

Coming off an injury plagued year, the Phils could have had him for a one year deal, and probably nowhere close to the money they signed him for a while back when they gave him a long term guaranteed deal. Then the Phils could have sat back and seen how he would have done.

Ninth, Myers wanted to stay with the Phils, because he’s a career Phillie and he loves playing in Philly. He loves the fans, and the fans love him. He’s a gutbucket, blue collar, lunchpail, play hurt kind of player who leaves everything on the field, and that’s exactly what Philly fans love about him. He’s nothing like Pat Burrell or Bobby Abreu or Scott Rolen, all of whom had issues at one time or another about playing in Philly for one reason or another, and each of whom loved to take those long paid DL vacations. Myers has always loved Philly, and always played hurt, and always came back as soon as he could.

Myers was like the aaron rowand of the phillies pitching staff.

Tenth, the Phillies should have signed Myers because he called Cole Hamels out for “quitting” during the World Series this past October/November.

Although it’s controversial, Myers should be given credit for saying to the superstar, hey, you’re the superstar, you can’t go around saying stuff like “I wish the season was over, I quit, I’m mentally drained,” because that shows poor leadership to the rest of the team, especially when you’re playing a go for the jugular team like the Yankees, who essentially play a world series every week since they’re in the cut-throat AL East Division.

Myers showed Billy Martin-Phil Rizzuto-Yogi Berra-Derek Jeter in your face kind of leadership and style by getting in Cole Hamels’ face during the World Series.

The Phillies need that kind of locker room intensity.

The Phillies need guys who want to win so badly, they’re not afraid to fight with each other over who’s trying harder to win the World Series.

Hamels is a very, very gifted pitcher, but how good , how great, how invincible would he be if he had Brett Myers intensity, toughness and desire to win?

Brett Myers must say to himself every day, if I had the talent that Cole Hamels had, I’d never lose. I’d go out and beat those other guys. Because I hate to lose. I’m Brett Myers. Give me the ball.

For that reason, and for all the others enumerated herein, it’s probably a mistake to let a fellow like Brett Myers leave the Phillies.

Facing Myers for the Dodgers or Yankees is a lot different than facing nice Randy Wolf, sloppy Vincente Padilla or CC Sabathia, who has developed a psychological issue with the phils. Myers just wants to beat you any way he can.

It might be a mistake to let him go to an enemy team.

–art kyriazis, philly
home of the 2008 world champion phillies
Jimmy Rollins, three straight gold gloves, 2007-2009
Shane Victorino, two straight gold gloves, 2008-2009
Chase Utley, four straight Silver Slugger Awards, 2b, 2006-2009
JA Happ NL Rookie of the Year 2009
2007, 2008, 2009 NL East Division Champions
2008, 2009 NL Pennant Winners
1976-1978, 1980, 1983, 1993 NL East Division Champions
1981 NL East Divisional Playoffs.
1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993 NL Pennant Champions
1980 World Champions

There were some ugly rumors the past week or so to the effect that the Philadelphia Phillies, in the wake of losing the 2009 World Series to the Yankees, might be willing to trade Cole Hamels to the Blue Jays for Roy Halladay. Since then, the Phils’ front office has categorically denied they will trade Hamels, which is a good thing, but let’s make sure they don’t by putting out the case for NOT trading Hamels in a logical, sensible fashion.

The Phillies should not trade Hamels for Roy Halladay. Since Hamels and Halladay follow each other alphabetically in the 2009 Bill James Handbook and on, this one is easy to figure out.

1) Hamels is much younger than Roy Halladay, Halladay is 33, Hamels 26.

2) Hamels has thrown one fourth as many career innings as Halladay.

3) Hamels has a better strikeout to walk ratio than Halladay; Halladay just isn’t a strikeout pitcher.

4) Halladay is wilder than Hamels, hitting more batters and throwing more wild pitches.

5) Hamels is a much, much better hitter than Halladay, important in the NL.

6) Hamels is a proven post-season winner and performer; Halladay has never pitched in the post-season. Moreover, Halladay has never gotten his team into the playoffs, even when paired with AJ Burnett, whereas Hamels got his team the NL East crown with #2 starters like Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick. Hamels is a better leader.

7) Hamels is very likely to rebound in 2009 and beyond and become a career dominant pitcher like Steve Carlton.

So let’s go into the details behind these reasons:

First, Hamels is far younger than Halladay.

Roy Halladay will be 33 years old in 2010, having been born on May 14, 1977. He is six foot six, weighs 225 throws right and bats right.

Cole Hamels will be 26 in December of 2009, having been born on December 27, 1983, an age advantage of eleven years. He is six foot three weighs 190 throws left and bats left.

CLEAR ADVANTAGE: HAMELS. Hamels has an entire career ahead of him. Halladay could have five years left, or he could be done tomorrow. It’s really hard to say.

Second, Hamels has thrown far fewer innings than Halladay.

Halladay has thrown eleven seasons in the big leagues. From 1998 to 2001, he did not pitch over 150 innings. In 2002 and 2003 he led the league in innings pitched with 239 and 266. In 2004 and 2005 he was limited to 133 and 141 innings pitched. In 2006-2007 he pitched mor than 220 innings and in 2008 again led the league in innings pitched with 246. In 2003 he led the league in wins and won the AL Cy Young Award. Total Innings worked in eleven seasons: Adding in 2009, he’s pitched around 2000 plus innings in the big leagues.

Hamels has thrown four seasons in the big leagues, and only two seasons over two hundred innings. He’s pitched deep into the postseason the past two seasons, which has increased his workload, but adding in 2009 he’s still only pitched around just short of 800 innings in the big leagues. One point is that the pace of Hamels’ workload at this age is far greater that it was at a comparable age for Halladay. If Hamels were to continue this pace, he would throw nearly 3,000 innings by the time he reached Halladay’s age. On the other hand, if he could continue this pace, you’d have a pitcher of Hamel’s quality throwing 2,000 plus career innings for you the next five to ten years.


Third, Hamels has a far, far better Strikeout to Walk ratio than Halladay.

Halladay, career, through 2008, struck out 1287 batters in 1808 innings pitched, while walking 420 batters, which is about 6 strikeouts and two walks per nine innings pitched.

Hamels, career, through 2008, has struck out 518 batters in 543 innings pitched, while waking 144 batters, which roughly works out to 8 strikeouts and three walks per nine innings pitched.

When comparing pitchers, the strikeout pitcher is always to be preferred to the pitcher who keeps the ball in play.


Fourth, Hamels is not as wild as Halladay.

Halladay, career, through 2008, has hit 51 batsmen and thrown 41 wild pitches in 1808 career innings. That’s a pretty high self-destruction index, to paraphrase one of Bill James’ famous columns.

Hamels, career, through 2008, has hit 7 batsment and thrown 10 wild pitches in 543 career innings. That’s nowhere close to Halladay’s wildness. In fact, for a pitcher of Hamels’ quality, those are impressively low numbers.

Thus, even though Hamels may have a slightly higher walk ratio, the fact is that Hamels doesn’t hit batsmen, and doesn’t throw wild pitches at anywhere close to the rate that Halladay does.


Fifth, Hamels is a better hitter than Halladay.

Halladay has spent his entire career in the AL and has never hit for himself. It would be expected that he cannot hit at all.

Hamels, an exceptional all around athlete born and reared in Southern California who trains very hard, is an excellent hitter for a pitcher, routinely gets singles, rbis and can get the bunt down when called upon in game situations.

In the National League, a pitcher who can hit, over the course of a season, can save you runs and pick up win shares, and therefore games. The difference between a .050 batting average and a .200 batting average over the course of a season is substantial—you’re not giving away as many outs at the number nine hole, especially if your pitching ace logging innings is getting all those at bats.


Sixth, Hamels has proven himself in the postseason.

Roy Halladay has never pitched in the postseason. This is not really his fault, but at the same time he has never led his club to a championship, a division title or a wild card berth despite his pitching prowess. Toronto has had some fine clubs, including some 90 game winning clubs, but the Yankees and Red Sox keep winning many more than ninety games, leaving Toronto unable to get into the AL Playoffs as a wildcard. In 2008, with AJ Burnett and Roy Halladay at the top of their staff, Toronto had an outstanding team that won 86 and lost 73—and yet finished fourth in the AL East division, behind Tampa Bay, who went 97-65, the Red Sox who went 95-67, and the Yankees, who went 89-73. When AJ Burnett went to the Yankees in 2009, the Yankees improved by nearly fifteen games and won 103 games in 2009, walking away with the division, and Burnett turned in a sharp postseason performance for the Yankees, suggesting that perhaps he and not Halladay was the gutsier performer with the will to win.

Hamels, by contrast, has not only pitched three years of playoff baseball, he’s been integral in the Phillies three consecutive NL East Division Championships. Yet that was with #2 pitchers in 2007 and 2008 like Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick. The Phillies did not add another truly great starter until mid-2009 when Cliff Lee arrived on the scene. Until Lee arrived, Hamels clearly was the ace who had led the Phillies not only to the 2007 and 2008 NL East crowns, but also to a substantial lead in mid-2009.

While the NL East is not the AL East, it is a difficult division, with the Mets, Braves and Marlins all very competitive every year. Again, perhaps it is Hamels, like Burnett, who is the gutsier performer with the will to win.

This is not to question Halladay’s will or desire to win, but the record shows that he’s never led any of his teams to the playoffs, whereas Burnett has been on two World Series teams, as has Hamels. This may be closely related to the fact that Hamels and Burnett are both strikeout pitchers, while Halladay is not really a strikeout pitcher.

In the 2007 postseason, even though he gave up three runs and lost, Hamels had seven strikeouts and only gave up three hits, even though the Rockies won the game. Even in losing, Hamels pitched tough.

In the 2008 postseason, Hamels was untouchable through the NLDS, the NLCS and the World Series, and won the MVP for the 2008 World Series. Even though the Phils won in five games, all but one of those games were one-run wins, and but for Hamels and Lidge, the Phils would not have won over a very fine Blue James team that beat the Yanks and Red Sox in the AL East to get to the Series. Hamels was unbelievably great in October of 2008, and even when the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, attempted to take Hamels’ Game Five win away from him by allowing play to continue in the rain until BJ Upton scored a tying run in the mud and slop of a drenching rainstorm before Selig “suspended” play for the first time in a modern World Series game, Hamels maintained his calm demeanor.

In the 2009 postseason, while not quite as sharp, Hamels did the job through the NLDS and NLCS as the Phils marched through the Rockies (exacting revenge for 2007) and the Dodgers in five games each. In the World Series, Hamels in critical game 3 was pitching a no-hitter through three innings with lots of strikeouts when again, the Commissioner of Baseball interfered with another Hamels game by illegally reviewing an obvious ground-rule double/in live play Alex Rodriguez ball that struck a camera that was in the field of play, erroneously ruling that the ball had “stuck an object over the fence in flight” and ruling the ball a home run on instant replay (from a lawyers room in the Commissioner’s Office in New York, Bud Selig again), turning second and third and a 3-0 lead into a 3-2 one run game.

(see my prior blog on this subject posted a couple of weeks back for an explanation of why the double hit by rodriquez was not subject to instant replay review under the rules of baseball–in fact, the next night they pushed the camera back and out of the field of play, proving my point entirely).

This time, Hamels did not react as coolly and he gave up three more runs the next inning and had to be removed. Nonetheless, he had struck out numerous Yankees, and only given up a very few hits when he was replaced, and the home run by Rodriguez was bogus. Some would argue that forces in New York wanted to see the Yankees succeed at any cost, even if it mean rattling Hamels’ cage to do it.

It certainly is suspicious that the Commissioner of Baseball and the umpires would interfere with two Hamels World Series games in consecutive years to the detriment of the Phillies.

But then again there are those who still think JFK was shot by a lone gunmen, or that money doesn’t buy influence in politics, or that drinking, gambling, staying up late and going out with the ladies is the best preparation for professional athletic contests even if your name isn’t babe ruth.

At any rate, Hamels still pitched well in spite of everything, and even if the Yanks got runs off him, he still pitched well enough to win if the Rodriguez ball hadn’t been called a home run.

The bottom line is that Hamels is a good postseason pitcher.

Note also that Hamels did not disintegrate on the mound like AJ Burnett did on three days rest in Game 5 of the World Series after throwing a masterpiece in game 2.


Seventh: Career Comparison suggests that Hamels’ 2009 Stats following 2008 are a lot like Steve Carlton’s 1973 Stats following 1972.

In 1972, Steve Carlton won the Cy Young, working more than 300 innings and winning 29 games and losing only 10, striking out more than 300 batters with a miniscule ERA, for a last place Phillies team that frankly, was dreadful. The next year, Carlton lost twenty games or nearly that, with a much higher ERA, and about a .500 winning record. It took Carlton a year or too to get back his mojo, but he once again became a regular twenty game winner, and went on to win three or four more Cy Young Awards, and one of the most feared, dominant pitchers in the league, and a feared, dominant post-season pitcher as well, eventually winning game six over the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 World Series to clinch for the Phillies their first World Championship.

If you normalize Cole Hamels’ stats for 2008 and 2009, and also Steve Carlton’s stats for 1972 and 1973, either back to 1972 or up to 2008, you will quickly see that the two pairs of years by the two pitchers look very, very similar.

This suggest strongly that Hamels’ year this past year is not a sign of his moving backwards, but merely that after a huge year last year (like Carlton’s first huge year), some pitchers tend to regress back towards to mean, first because of pitcher workload reasons, and second for psychological reasons.

Carlton’s answer was to stop talking to the media and intensify his legenday workout program.

Hamels has already shown signs of this. He’s indicated first, that he was mentally drained from last year, indicating that psychology was a factor for him. Second, he’s indicated that he will be speaking less to the media and at public events this offseason, and working harder on conditioning. Third, he’s made it clear that he wants redemption and wants to come back next year in excellent physical shape, ready to compete at a high level.

Consequently, there is some reason to believe that Hamels’ career arc will be like Carlton’s—there may be offyears, but the high points will be very high indeed—Cy Young Years, MVP Years, years when he leads the NL in strikeouts, shutouts and the like.

Consequently, the Phillies should not trade Hamels.

–art kyriazis, philly
home of the 2008 world champion phillies
Jimmy Rollins, three straight gold gloves, 2007-2009
Shane Victorino, two straight gold gloves, 2008-2009
Chase Utley, four straight Silver Slugger Awards, 2b, 2006-2009
2007, 2008, 2009 NL East Division Champions
2008, 2009 NL Pennant Winners
1976-1978, 1980, 1983, 1993 NL East Division Champions
1981 NL East Divisional Playoffs.
1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993 NL Pennant Champions
1980 World Champions

Well the yanks finally did it.

Five years and nine months after trading Alfonso Soriano for Alex Rodriguez in February of 2004, their master plan of winning the World Series and avenging their defeats at the hands of first the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 (Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson) and then the Florida Marlins in 2003 (Josh Beckett) finally came to fruition.

Well, not exactly. There were some weird detours in the road.

First, in 2004, they ALMOST got there. they hung a 3-0 lead on the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS–and you know the rest. They caved, the choked, they lost four straight–the only team in baseball history to do that–and the Red Sox reversed the curse and won the world series in 2004.

In 2005, the Yanks lost to the Angels in the AL Division Series. This was pretty awful. The Angels didn’t even make it to the Series–the White Sox did, and the White Sox won and reversed their Curse and won the series against the Houston Astros, which appeared in the series for the first time.

In 2006, the Yanks tried again. This time, they were destroyed by the Detroit Tigers 3-1 in the ALDivision Series, but at least the Tigers got to the World Series. But the Tigers, who had great pitching and Jimmy Leyland as manager, lost to the St Louis Cards and Tony LaRussa. That was a real upset, since the Cards had won only 83 games all season long.

In 2007, the Cleveland Indians, with a couple of guys named Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia, knocked the Yanks out of the AL Division Series for the third year in a row, 3-1. The Red Sox edged the powerful Indians 4-3 in the ALCS (which was probably the real world series) and then went on to sweep the hapless Colorado Rockies 4-0, who were probably just happy to be making their first appearance in world series play.

So now, since AROD had arrived, the yanks had 1) made one of the all time chokes in alcs history in 2004, and 2) lost three straight ALDS series for the first time in who knows when…

Did they trade A-ROD? of course not..they fired Joe Torre instead…

and in 2008, the Yankees missed the playoffs entirely, while the tampa bay rays (they took the name devil out, pleasing god) and the red sox took the two playoff spots in the al east. tampa disposed of the white sox while boston beat the angels, and then tampa got rid of the red sox in a great seven game alcs.

meanwhile, the phillies, who had edged out the mets in 2007 to win the nl east, only to be swept out in the nlds by the rockies, won the nl east again in 2008, and this time, they took care of business, beating the Brewers with cc sabathia, and then meeting–the la dodgers with joe torre as manager.

so in 2008 joe torre got to the playoffs but a rod did not.


the dodgers played the phils tough but the phils won in 5 in the nlcs, setting up a great world series, which was dominated by cole hamels and brad lidge’s great pitching.

Those scores, if you recall, were;
g1 philly 3-2
g2 tampa 4-2
g3 philly 5-4
g4 philly 10-2
g5 philly 4-3

notice that this was a low-scoring series with 3 one run games and a two run game and only one blowout? both tampa bay and the phillies had great pitching, great fielding, great speed, and great defense.

This year, the yanks decided to get drastic. they opened their wallets and bought;
1) cc sabathia
2) aj burnett and
3) mark teixeira

well, these were wise investments. the yanks won 103 games with these three guys, and blew through the playoffs to the world series.

burnett won one key game in the series. sabathia was solid in two games of the series, even if he lost game one. teixeira was an animal who had to be pitched around even if he wasn’t great, so a rod got more pitches to hit.

but as great as this team now is, there’s a big problem.

it took them so long to get here, the core is old.

1 C Jorge Posada# 37
4 SS Derek Jeter 35
5 3B Alex Rodriguez 33
6 LF Johnny Damon* 35
9 DH Hideki Matsui* 35
11 C Jose Molina 34
23 P Andy Pettitte* 37
24 P A.J. Burnett 32
29 P Mariano Rivera 39

Nick Swisher is 28, and Mark Teixeira is 29, so actually they might be expected to decline in the years ahead.

But clearly, athletes after age 27 or 28 have age related declines, and athletes after age 35, have sharp age related declines and are subject to career ending injuries.

The yankees are simply not just old, they are geriatric at five key batting positions, and three key pitching positions.

They also lack a #4 and a #5 starter, and lack depth in the bullpen.

Melkey Cabrera can’t field, and he can’t hit.

Hideki Matsui is a free agent in any case, and wants to go to the west coast by all accounts. He wants a lot more money.

CC Sabathia is 28, but let’s face it, the man looks like he lives on a diet of pizza and philly cheesesteaks. when i told my kids he was 28, my daughter, who is 15, remarked, “he looks like he’s 45” or something like that.

pitchers with cc sabathia’s build and body type don’t tend to age well, and do tend to come down with arm problems, as opposed to pitchers with cole hamels or cliff lee’s body type.

for example, brett myers has always been overweight. this is one of the reasons he’s been injury prone his whole career. a pitcher needs to be light and have good mechanics to stay healthy over the course of a season.

cliff lee has beautiful mechanics.

the good news for the yanks is they have a lot of good young pitchers who may mature into much better pitchers. i like their young staff and i believe that one or two or more of them will emerge as real winners next year–after all, they have a good offense behind them.

I should point out one last point–the sabrmetrician in me needs to. Although the Yankees won 103 and lost 59, their pythagorean won lost record was only 95-67, based on their scoring 915 runs and allowing 753 runs. That means that they won eight more games than they should have based on random or luck factors–regression to the mean would suggest that they are actually a 95 win ball club that got a bit lucky this year. They did have a 22-16 record in one run games, which perhaps explains some of this disparity. Also, the Yanks were 7-3 in extra inning games as well.

But those kind of results tend to even out over seasons.

Assuming they regress back to 95 wins, and lose 7-8 wins off of that due to age or related factors, the yankees might not even get back to the playoffs in 2010.

The Yankees to get back, need to retool, get younger, and address their serious aging problem.

I will address the Phillies in a separate article.

In the meantime, the Yankees and their fans should enjoy their parade. It’s very likely the last hurrah of a great core that has now won five world championships in 14 seasons since 1996, and appeared in seven world series during that time, just about half of them. It’s a truly remarkable achievement.

Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettite, all now seemed bound to cash in their ticket for the Hall of Fame.

Alex Rodriquez has tainted credentials due to steroid use. I personally would not vote for him, or any other steroid user. At least I would take a wait and see attitude on those guys. Roger Clemens, who was a key part of several of those teams, is also now a problem child due to steroid allegations, but Clemens is also clearly perhaps the greatest pitcher who ever took the mound, so he’s kind of a borderline issue case, whereas Rodriguez is kind of like Vern Stephens on steroids.

So hats off the yanks, and make sure their medicaid cards and long term care policies are paid for.

–art k philly
home of Mr. November, Chase Utley
Home of the 2008 World Champion Phillies
“it was a very good year” –frank sinatra

in 2006, the Phils and Yankees made the historic Bobby Abreu trade, but the forgotten man in that deal was Starting Pitcher Cory Lidle:

July 30, 2006: Pitcher Cory Lidle Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with Bobby Abreu to the New York Yankees for C.J. Henry (minors), Carlos Monastrios (minors), Jesus Sanchez (minors) and Matt Smith.

Abreu spent 2 years with the Yanks, then moved on to the Angels, where he helped the Angels reach the ALCS before they fell to the Yanks. Abreu did not have a good ALCS vs the Yanks.

Why is Lidle that important? Because, as everyone knows, or has forgotten, the Yankees were looking for depth at the back end of their rotation at the time. Cory Lidle was an innings eater, a guy who averaged 185-200 innnings a year. His career 162 game average was 189 innings pitched per year with a 12-10 career won lost record, a 4.57 ERA, a very good strikeout to walk ratio, and a WHIP of 1.33, which is decent for a 4 or 5 starter.

But as everyone knows, or has forgotten, on October 11, 2006, Cory Lidle was killed accidentally while flying his airplane near new york city over one of the rivers bordering manhattan. It was a gruesome disaster, and spelled the end to a young life. Lidle was only 34 years old at the time and still pitching very well indeed–and probably would have stuck with the Yanks.

The reason I mention the late Cory Lidle is twofold.

First, you would think someone would have thought to honor his memory during this series. It would have been right.

Second, if Cory Lidle had lived, he surely would have been the back end starter that the Yankees were searching for all year this year–the guy to take heat off of Joba Chamberlain, and surely a guy they could have dialed up to start Game 5 instead of rushing AJ Burnett out there to get pounded on three days rest.

No one gives much credit to the #4 and #5 starters of the world–the Joe Blantons–but they do an important job–they eat up innings, hold the other team to 3 or 4 runs, and give their teams a chance to win.

Cory Lidle on normal rest would have done that for the Yanks, and hey, he would have loved to pitch in the world series against his old team.

It’s a shame he never got the chance.

–art kyriazis, philly
Home of Chase Utley, Mr. November, Five Homers in a World Series
Tying Reggie Jackson’s all time record, Mr. October, set 32 years ago, 1977 vs. LA Dodgers.
Phillies, 2008 World Champions, 2009 NL Champions, congratulate the 2009 World Champion Yankees.

The Yankees may be winning this thing, based on AJ Burnett slightly edging Pedro in a pitchers duel and AROD getting a home run courtesy of a NEW YORK LAWYER sitting in Bud Selig’s office doing “impartial” instant replay (sure, that was really impartial, fair and just, new yawkers) based on illegal umpiring and illegal ground rules (for my discussion of the persecution of cole hamels going back to game 5 of last years world series, and the rules, see my prior blog entry, “if I had a hamels…”), but still, the Yanks are making mistakes.

1) Melky Cabrera is not a very good hitter, and not a very good centerfielder. In fact, when I checked his stats, he’s one of the worst centerfielders in all of baseball. He also has a terrible arm. In the NL park, where the pitcher has to hit, it would make some sense to lift the weak-hitting Cabrera from the lineup and have either Damon, who still had great fielding stats, play center, or just have Swisher play Center, since Swisher was a centerfielder with the Chisox. Swisher is no worse than Cabrera. I’d put Matsui in Left Field, and get his bat into the lineup any way I could. If I got the lead, then I’d replace him with Cabrera, or better yet, Gardner. In fact, if I really wanted defense in center, I’d just play Gardner—Gardner’s defensive stats are amazing. Cabrera’s are not. Also, Gardner is fast, Cabrera is not.

2) Jose Molina should really be catching. He’s not just a little bit better defensively; he’s the BEST DEFENSIVE CATCHER IN BASEBALL, BY A LONG SHOT. Here are some amazing stats: Molina throws out more than 40% of all baserunners who attempt to steal against him—the average, good defensive catcher throws out about 25% in the current game—and Jorge Posada, at age 38, is throwing out just about no one, Posada throws out about 5% of baserunners, which is to say no one. Which means that the Phillies, a baserunning team with Rollins, Victorino and Werth all baserunning threats, will run wild on Posada, whereas with Molina, you shut down the Phillies running game, as demonstrated in Game 2 of the World Series, where Werth was picked off first to nip a rally in the bud. I would use Molina even in the NL park, and certainly in the AL park, where Posada can be the dh.

3) Matsui should be playing in the field. It’s a luxury to have a leftfielder perfectly capable of fielding playing dh. I’m not sure why matsui can’t field, because I saw him field for years. Damon can certainly play center and so can Swisher. You’d get more offense if you played matsui, damon and swisher in the of. Why play Cabrera at all? Plus with Molina at catcher, you shut down the running game of certain teams.

4) Last point, the yanks are dumb to throw their three best starters on three days rest. This mimeght work for Sabathia or Burnett once but not both twice, and what you’re going to end up with is Andy Pettite on short rest in game six, and Sabathia going twice on short rest in game 7, whereas Charlie Manuel has the option of going with something completely different in game 7 – he can flip flop Pedro and JA Happ for game six, and save Pedro for Game 7—or he can go Pedro game six and save JA Happ for Game 7—or he can consciously use Hamels with the idea that he’ll relieve him at the first sign of trouble and go Hamels, Happ, Myers. He could even start Myers, and go Hamels, Happ.

5) It’s a shame the Phils don’t have Jamie Moyer this year. Right now the Yanks could be fooled by the junkballing lefty after seeing a steady diet of hard-throwing fastballers like Pedro, Lee and Hamels. Moyer is a crafty vet and he cranked up good couple of games in last years’ postseason. Plus the yanks don’t hit lefties too well. A major loss for the phils especially now that they’re down a game. They could have used moyer to relieve hamels when hamels got upset after the arod call. Moyer would have come in and restored order and given the phils a chance to win.

–art kyriazis, philly
home of the world series champion phillies
nl pennant winners, 2008, 2009
nl east division champs, 2007, 2008, 2009
The Philadelphia Phillies – the team that doesn’t need steroids, celebrities, actress girlfriends, the largest payroll in baseball, or instant replay to win – they do it the old fashioned way – they EARN it…

Last night we witnessed the triumph of existentialism, or should I say, Instantiation, in modern baseball, because the alleged two run home run hit by Alex Rodriguez NEVER ACTUALLY OCCURRED.

To understand this, first we must review the Home Run Rule in modern baseball, which was first defined in 1885, and was subsequently amended in 1892, 1914, 1920, 1926, 1931, 1950 and 1955.

The key concept of the home run rule is most plainly expressed in the 1892 rule which has not been changed very much since 1892:


The key concepts here are that

1) the ball has to be fair; and
2) the ball has to go “over the fence.”

The 1892 rule adds that “A distinctive line is to be marked on the fence showing the required point.” Meaning, if the ball goes over the fence above the line, it goes “over the fence.”

However, and this is the key point, the ball still has to go OVER the fence, not just ABOVE the line.

Last nite’s alleged home run by Alex Rodriquez, as a careful examination of the Rules of Baseball in this blog will demonstrate, was not a home run, but a Ground Rule Double.

It was a Ground Rule Double, because the ball never went OVER the Fence, as require plainly by the Rules of Baseball, but merely hit an object, which was in the field of play, above the line, but still in the field of play.

As to whether the ball would have, could have, or should have gone over the fence, but for the object, which was a TV camera, that is an interesting philosophical debate (which is the same as conceiving of unicorns, trolls, a planet without war and the tooth fairy), but the result is still the same: the home run remains an abstraction, something INSTANTIATED and given EXISTENCE only in the collective minds of the umpires.

You see the replay plainly on Fox TV. At no time did the ball go OVER the Fence. Moreover, the camera was jutting a good five to ten feet into the field. Even if the camera wasn’t there, the downward arc of the ball meant that the ball might have gone over the fence, or it might have continued its downward slope and hit the fence at a point BELOW the line of the fence.

Now, as a careful examination of the rules will show, similar disputes such as balls getting caught in the wiring of the ivy fences at Wrigley have always been rules as ground rule doubles. At no time have such balls ever been rules home runs, not in World Series and never on instant replay, because there has never been instant replay in the World Series or at any time in baseball.

I’m certainly pleased to see that baseball, not content with attempting to stop the Phillies from winning the World Series last year by calling a rain delay halt for the first time in World Series History when Cole Hamels was pitching a brilliant game in game five, this year, for the first time in World Series history called a fake home rum and foiled Cole Hamels again from winning.

Up to the point of the fake homer call, Hamels was pitching a no-hitter. It was obvious that Hamels was furious with the call. And rightly so. The call was utter and total BS, and proves that Bud Selig and Organized Baseball are determined to see that the Yankees win the World Series at all costs. The Umpiring crew rules so quickly that they must have been told by Selig how to rule. They didn’t have time to deliberate.

This is reminiscent of 1950, when the Yankees used their connections with the US Government to have Curt Simmons, a blazing lefthander with Sandy Koufax stuff, a twenty game winner, on the Phillies, get his draft notice in mid-September 1950, two weeks before the World Series was coming up with the Yanks. At the time, the Phils had Robin Roberts, now in the Hall of Fame, and Curt Simmons, a blazing lefthander, on their staff. The two pitchers had combined for more than fifty wins. The two pitchers could each have won two games in the series and blown out the Yanks, much like Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson won the 2001 Series for Arizona back a few years. But with Curt Simmons in the Army, the Phillies barely won the Pennant, and were eradicated by the Yanks in four games.

The Yankees always need to cheat to win.

Ok, so here are the Home Run Rules:

1885 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence at a distance less than 210 feet from home base shall entitle the batsmen to two bases. A distinctive line shall be marked on the fence at this point.

My comment: At this point, a ball “over the fence” is not a homer at all, it’s a ground rule double. Weird.

1892 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence shall entitle the batter to a home run; except that should it go over the fence at a distance less than 235 feeet from home base, the batter is entitled to only two bases. A distinctive line is to be marked on the fence showing the required point.

My comment: This is essentially the modern rule. The ball has to go “over” the “fence” to be a home run. And it has to go “over” the “distinctive line” of the “fence”. Not above, but over.

I think we all understand the difference between going near, above and around a line painted on a fence, and going over a fence. It’s the difference between a hurdler stumbling on the hurdle, and a hurdler clearing the hurdle entirely.

Rodriquez’ ball last nite, in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, is not a home run under the Home Run Rule. It did not go “over the fence” or over the “distinctive line”, because in three dimensional space, it hit the camera before it crossed the plane of the line, and was knocked back into the field. Therefore, it never went over the line, never went over the wall, and never went over the fence.

Consequently, it was not a home run under the 1892 rule.

Are there any changes in the rules SINCE 1892 that could make it a home run? The answer is no, but let’s go through them all and see.

Note that this is not a “judgment call” by the umpires. The ball has to go “over the fence” and be a “fair ball” to be a home run. End of story. An umpire or group of umpires cannot make a ball that might have been or should have been a home run except that it hit something, into a home run by philosophical instantiation, or abstractive analysis.

In short, there are no unicorns, trolls or other imaginary beings just because we think there are; and there are no imaginary home runs. C.f. Occam’s razor—we don’t create a multiplicity of abstract universal beings just because we name them, think of them or create them in our minds. If we create now a class of abstract home runs, home runs that might have been, should have been and so forth, we now introduce into baseball a series of abstract balls, strikes, stolen bases, catches, hits and so forth and soon there will be entire parallel universes of baseball realities creeping into games, abstract realities which have nothing to do with what’s going on down at the field level, or, more pertinently, in the empirical world or in the rulebook. Everything will come down to what the umpires say and we’ll have a courtroom, not a ballgame.

1914 – Should an errant thrown ball remain in the meshes of a wire screen protecting the spectators, the runner or runners shall be entitled to two bases. The umpire in awarding such bases shall be governed by the position of the runner or runners at the time the throw is made.

My comment – this is the first indication that hitting a camera should be a ground rule double. Here the rule says if an errant thrown ball gets caught in wire screen mesh, the runner gets two bases and two bases only. It doesn’t matter if the ball is over the fence in fair ground, it’s still only two bases.

1920 – Home Run/Game-Ending – If a batsman, in the last half of the final inning of any game, hits a home run over the fence or into a stand, all runners on the bases at the time, as well as the batsman, shall be entitled to score, and in such event all bases must be touched in order, and the final score of the game shall be the total number of runs made.

My comment – this is the famous “walk off homer” rule change. Prior to 1920, if someone hit a walk off homer with one, two or three men on that won the game, the only runs that counted were the ones that won the game, e.g. if the score were 9-8 the road team, and you hit a grand slam, you got two runs, the score ended 10-9 home team, and you were credited with either a single or a double, usually a single. Not a grand slam. But under the walk-off rule, the score ended 12-9, the batter got credit for a homer, a grand slam and 4 RBI.

Note again that the rule says “over the fence” and “into the stand”. Rodriquez’ alleged homer last night meets neither of these key tests.

1926 – A fair batted ball that goes over the fence or into a stand shall entitle the batsman to a home run, unless it should pass out of the ground or into a stand at a distance less than 250 feet from the home base, in which case the batsman shall be entitled to two bases only. In either event the batsman must touch the bases in regular order. The point at which a fence or stand is less than 250 feet from the home base shall be plainly indicated by a white or black sign or mark for the umpire’s guidance.

My comment – again, the rule says “over the fence” or “into a stand” in order for a ball to be a home run. This changes the 1892 rule by making the minimum fence distance 250 feet for a home run instead of 235 feet in order not to have “cheap” home runs, although even 250 feet would be a pretty short distance. Of course, Yankee Stadium had a 297 foot right field porch for years for their left handed sluggers, another example of the Yankees “cheating”, and then they would have an all-lefthanded staff to keep the other team from stacking up lefties against them, c.f. Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Andy Pettite, Ron Guidry and so forth. This unfair advantage has been wiped out with the new Yankee Stadium, although allegedly there remains a slightly easier job of hitting to right field.

1931 – Batter/Awarded Bases – A fair hit ball that bounds into a stand or over a fence shall be a two-base hit. Note: There is no reference to distance in this rule and any fair hit ball bounding over the fence or into the stand is a two-base hit.

My comment: This is the modern ground-rule double rule. It hasn’t changed at all. Most importantly, READ what it says. “A FAIR HIT BALL THAT BOUNDS INTO A STAND OR OVER A FENCE SHALL BE A TWO-BASE HIT.” That means that if the ball bounces off a camera and then over the fence, it’s a two base hit. If the ball bounces off a fan and over the fence, it’s a two base hit. If it bounces off the top of the Astrodome, and back into the field of play, as happened to Mike Schmidt in 1974, it’s a two base hit; but if it went off the top of the Astrodome and then over the fence, it would be a ground rule double according to the rule.

According to the plain language of the ground rule double rule of 1931, the ball A Rod hit last nite in game 3 of the World Series was a double. Not subject to review, not subject to judgment call. A ground rule double. It went off a camera and bounded over the fence and then back into the field. It was in play. It’s a ground rule double in that case.

In 1950 the rulebook was entirely recodified and rewritten, refined and clarified:

1950: Batter/Awarded Bases: Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability of being put out, advance to home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes over the field fence in flight and he touch [sic] all bases legally; of if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have cleared the field fence in flight, is deflected by the act of a defensive player in throwing his glove, cap or any article of his apparel, the runner shall be awarded a home run.

My comment – to be a home run, the ball must go over the fence “in flight”. The only case where an umpire may exercise judgment and rule on whether a ball “would have cleared the field fence in flight” is solely and exclusively the case of when the ball is “deflected by the act of a defensive player in throwing his glove, cap or any article of his apparel”. This is the one and only situation where an umpire may exercise abstract judgment and award a hypothetical or abstract home run under the rules of baseball; where a fielder attempts to block the ball by throwing his glove, cap or article of his clothing at the ball.

This was not the case with A Rod’s home run last night. Jayson Werth did not throw his cap, his glove or any article of his clothing at the ball last night. Consequently, the ball would have had to clear the fence “in flight” to be a home run. Since the ball never cleared the fence “in flight”, it was not a home run under the 1950 rule, as amended.

More 1950 changes:

The batter becomes a baserunner when a fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands or passes through or under a fence or through or under shrubbery or vines on the field, in which case the batter and the baserunners shall be entitled to advance two bases.

The batter becomes a baserunner when any fair ball which, either before or striking the ground, passes through or under a fence or through or under a scoreboard or through or any opening in the fence or scoreboard or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the baserunners shall be entitled to two bases.
The batter becomes a baserunner when any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands or over or under a fence on fair or foul ground, in which case the batter and all baserunners shall be entitled to advance two bases.

The batter becomes a baserunner when any fair fly ball is defelected by the fielder into the stands or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run.

My comment – the first three rules make clear that deflections by the fielder and interference with the ball by objects on the field, such as vines, fences and shrubbery, are always ground rule doubles. The only case where a ball is NOT a ground rule double is when there is a deflection by the fielder, and for this to be a home run, there are four requirements;
1) a fair fly ball in fair territory;
2) deflected by a fielder;
3) into the stands; or
4) over the fence.

Note that even if argued analogically to last nites hit by A Rod, the 1950 rule does him no good. First, the camera deflected the ball back into the field. Second, the deflection was by a camera, not by a fielder. Third, the deflection was not “into the stands.” Fourth, the deflection was not “over the fence.”

Consequently, it’s really, really, really crystal clear that what we have is a ground rule double, under the remaining provisions of the 1950 and 1932 ground rule double rules. A Rod and the Yankees were only entitled to a ground rule double last nite in game 3 of the World Series.

1955 Rule Change

The 1955 rule change is very, very minor, it just provides that if a hitter hits a homer and has an accident while running the bases and time is called, he can have a runner come in and pinch run for him and run out the homer run and score it. It has no effect whatsoever on the discussion at hand.

Ok, through 1995, that’s all the rule changes I have from the source J. Thorn, P. Palmer, M. Gershman, D. Pietruskza, Total Baseball V: The Official Encyclopaedia of Major League Baseball (Viking NY 1997), c.f. D. Bingham & T. Heitz, “Rules and Scoring,” at pp. 2376-2432.

Now let’s hit the Net.

The rules as they exist through 1955 continue to exist and are codified in Official Rules of Baseball at Rule 6.09, exactly as they were enacted in 1950, see for yourself:

6.09 The batter becomes a runner when—
(a) He hits a fair ball;
(b) The third strike called by the umpire is not caught, providing (1) first base is unoccupied, or (2) first base is occupied with two out;
Rule 6.09(b) Comment: A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
(c) A fair ball, after having passed a fielder other than the pitcher, or after having been touched by a fielder, including the pitcher, shall touch an umpire or runner on fair territory;
(d) A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more. Such hit entitles the batter to a home run when he shall have touched all bases legally. A fair fly ball that passes out of the playing field at a point less than 250 feet from home base shall entitle the batter to advance to second base only;
(e) A fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands, or passes through, over or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(f) Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to two bases;
(g) Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;
(h) Any fair fly ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over the fence into foul territory, in which case the batter shall be entitled to advance to second base; but if deflected into the stands or over the fence in fair territory, the batter shall be entitled to a home run. However, should such a fair fly be deflected at a point less than 250 feet from home plate, the batter shall be entitled to two bases only.

the deflection by the fielder rule is also exactly the same as adopted in 1950 and has not been changed, and is codified in Rule 7.05(a);

7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—
(a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;

See? It’s exactly the same. The only way an upire can judge if the fair ball would have left the stadium and gone out of the playing field in flight, is if it was deflected by the act of a fielder under Rule 7.05(a).

The umpire can’t make a judgment call under any other of the rules of baseball.

All the rules of baseball, incidentally, are on line and available for you all to read for yourselves at;

see also these websites:

There IS however, a rule which pertains to interference by media, and that is rule 3.15, which I hereby quote now:

3.15 No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club. In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

NOTE WHAT RULE 3.15 SAYS ABOUT INTERFERENCE WITH A BALL BY NEWSPHOTOGRAPHERS WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE ON THE FIELD OF PLAY: In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play.

Since A-Rod’s ball was UNINTENTIONALLY INTERFERED WITH BY A PRESS CAMERA, RULE 3.15 COMES INTO PLAY EXPRESSLY AND THE BALL IS IN PLAY. It’s not a case of fan interference where the umpires are allowed to make a judgment call to nullify the fan interference and create a home run abstractly.

To the contrary, the rule is clear and express- “the ball is in play” says the rule. Since the ball did not go over the fence or into the stands or over the fence in flight, but back to the field, and since Werth relayed it back, the Yankees runners were stuck at 2d and 3d.

There was no interference, and if there were a ground rule here, it was at best a ground rule double. See discussion above, supra.


The Umps and all of major league baseball got the rules wrong last night.

The ball was alive and in play last night and/or was a ground rule double, under the ground rule double rules and also under official Rule 3.15.

The Umps had no interference discretion under rules 3.15 or 3.16 because NO FAN touched the ball—instead, an authorized member of the press touched the ball.

The camera was an authorized photographer.

Consequently, the ball was in play.

Note the difference if a spectator had touched the ball:

3.16 When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.
APPROVED RULING: If spectator interference clearly prevents a fielder from catching a fly ball, the umpire shall declare the batter out.

Rule 3.16 Comment: There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15. Batter and runners shall be placed where in the umpire’s judgment they would have been had the interference not occurred.
No interference shall be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk. However, should a spectator reach out on the playing field side of such fence, railing or rope, and plainly prevent the fielder from catching the ball, then the batsman should be called out for the spectator’s interference.
Example: Runner on third base, one out and a batter hits a fly ball deep to the outfield (fair or foul). Spectator clearly interferes with the outfielder attempting to catch the fly ball. Umpire calls the batter out for spectator interference. Ball is dead at the time of the call. Umpire decides that because of the distance the ball was hit, the runner on third base would have scored after the catch if the fielder had caught the ball which was interfered with, therefore, the runner is permitted to score. This might not be the case if such fly ball was interfered with a short distance from home plate.

The ground rules for ground rule doubles are exactly the same as the 1950 and 1932 rules discussed above, and are codified at the official rules of baseball 7.05;

7.05 Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance—
(a) To home base, scoring a run, if a fair ball goes out of the playing field in flight and he touched all bases legally; or if a fair ball which, in the umpire’s judgment, would have gone out of the playing field in flight, is deflected by the act of a fielder in throwing his glove, cap, or any article of his apparel;
(b) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a fair ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril;
(c) Three bases, if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a fair ball. The ball is in play and the batter may advance to home base at his peril.
(d) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately touches a thrown ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play;
(e) Two bases, if a fielder deliberately throws his glove at and touches a thrown ball. The ball is in play;
Rule 7.05(b) through 7.05(e) Comment: In applying (b-c-d-e) the umpire must rule that the thrown glove or detached cap or mask has touched the ball. There is no penalty if the ball is not touched.
Under (c-e) this penalty shall not be invoked against a fielder whose glove is carried off his hand by the force of a batted or thrown ball, or when his glove flies off his hand as he makes an obvious effort to make a legitimate catch.

(f) Two bases, if a fair ball bounces or is deflected into the stands outside the first or third base foul lines; or if it goes through or under a field fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence; or if it sticks in such fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines;
(g) Two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made;
APPROVED RULING: If all runners, including the batter-runner, have advanced at least one base when an infielder makes a wild throw on the first play after the pitch, the award shall be governed by the position of the runners when the wild throw was made.
Rule 7.05(g) Comment: In certain circumstances it is impossible to award a runner two bases. Example: Runner on first. Batter hits fly to short right. Runner holds up between first and second and batter comes around first and pulls up behind him. Ball falls safely. Outfielder, in throwing to first, throws ball into stand.
APPROVED RULING: Since no runner, when the ball is dead, may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled, the runner originally on first base goes to third base and the batter is held at second base.
The term “when the wild throw was made” means when the throw actually left the player’s hand and not when the thrown ball hit the ground, passes a receiving fielder or goes out of play into the stands.
The position of the batter-runner at the time the wild throw left the thrower’s hand is the key in deciding the award of bases. If the batter-runner has not reached first base, the award is two bases at the time the pitch was made for all runners. The decision as to whether the batter-runner has reached first base before the throw is a judgment call.
If an unusual play arises where a first throw by an infielder goes into stands or dugout but the batter did not become a runner (such as catcher throwing ball into stands in attempt to get runner from third trying to score on passed ball or wild pitch) award of two bases shall be from the position of the runners at the time of the throw. (For the purpose of Rule 7.05 (g) a catcher is considered an infielder.)
PLAY. Runner on first base, batter hits a ball to the shortstop, who throws to second base too late to get runner at second, and second baseman throws toward first base after batter has crossed first base. Ruling—Runner at second scores. (On this play, only if batter-runner is past first base when throw is made is he awarded third base.)
(h) One base, if a ball, pitched to the batter, or thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher’s plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand or a bench, or over or through a field fence or backstop. The ball is dead;

APPROVED RULING: When a wild pitch or passed ball goes through or by the catcher, or deflects off the catcher, and goes directly into the dugout, stands, above the break, or any area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be one base. One base shall also be awarded if the pitcher while in contact with the rubber, throws to a base, and the throw goes directly into the stands or into any area where the ball is dead.
If, however, the pitched or thrown ball goes through or by the catcher or through the fielder, and remains on the playing field, and is subsequently kicked or deflected into the dugout, stands or other area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be two bases from position of runners at the time of the pitch or throw.
(i) One base, if the batter becomes a runner on Ball Four or Strike Three, when the pitch passes the catcher and lodges in the umpire’s mask or paraphernalia.
If the batter becomes a runner on a wild pitch which entitles the runners to advance one base, the batter-runner shall be entitled to first base only.

Rule 7.05(i) Comment: The fact a runner is awarded a base or bases without liability to be put out does not relieve him of the responsibility to touch the base he is awarded and all intervening bases. For example: batter hits a ground ball which an infielder throws into the stands but the batter-runner missed first base. He may be called out on appeal for missing first base after the ball is put in play even though he was “awarded” second base.
If a runner is forced to return to a base after a catch, he must retouch his original base even though, because of some ground rule or other rule, he is awarded additional bases. He may retouch while the ball is dead and the award is then made from his original base.
(j) One base, if a fielder deliberately touches a pitched ball with his cap, mask or any part of his uniform detached from its proper place on his person. The ball is in play, and the award is made from the position of the runner at the time the ball was touched

as you can plainly see, nothing has changed in the ground rules at all.

Consequently, A-Rod’s hit was either a ground rule double under rule 7.05, or it was a ball in play since it hit a media camera which was authorized to be in the field of play under rule 3.15. What it was not was a home run under either rule 6.09(d) or rule 7.05(a) or any other rule of baseball.

I’ve looked exhaustively and so have my sabrmetric friends, and there isn’t a rule in the book supporting what happened last night.

What happened also violates the laws of logic and violates the laws of physics. It violates the laws of logic, because the home run was created by an act of particular instantiation—abstract thought created a thing from a concept—what we in philosophy call a “unicorn”—which would make my old professor of logic at Harvard turn over twice—and violates Occam’s razor—that you don’t create needless entities through nominalism.

Instead, empiricism and realism dictate that a home run is a home run when we SEE and WITNESS that the ball goes over the fence—not that we imagine or suppose that it MIGHT have gone over the fence.

The problem with the umpires’ supposition last night is that it is what we call in philosophy a “modal” proposition, an “if….then” statement, that is conditional.

“If the camera were not there, then the ball would have flown over the fence.”

This can readily be recognized as a categorical statement of conditional form—namely, if there were no camera “x”, the trajectory of flight of the ball would have been different in form “y”.

The problem, as anyone knows, is that without an actual observation of same, there are a plethora of possible universes of possible “y’s”.

All we know is that the ball may or might have gone over the wall—or it may or might have bounced below the line and back onto the field. All we have is a possibility that it might have gone over the wall.

All conditionals are like this.

Moreover, accepting conditionals as true introduces a host of problems.

The medieval philosophers didn’t like conditionals, and neither should we.

It’s true that rule 9.03c states that

Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules.

however, in this case, the A-Rod double IS covered specifically by the baseball rules. There is no room for discretion or authority to rule.

Here’s what actually occurred before game 3 of the World Series according to the umpiring crew:

Indeed, umpire crew chief Gerry Davis said that his crew explored every inch of Citizens Bank Park prior to Game 3, spending time reviewing areas unique to the park. The right-field camera was one of the aspects they discussed.
“We tour the field during the series whenever we go to a new ballpark, and discuss specific ground rules and potential trouble areas just like that,” Davis said. “Because we cannot control what the cameraman does with the camera, one of the specific ground rules is when the ball hits the camera, [it’s a] home run.”

So, the umpiring crew themselves MADE UP THEIR OWN GROUND RULE that the camera, if it was hit, would be a home run.

That would be fine, except that it’s in direct violation of Baseball Rule 3.15, as cited above, supra, that a media photographic camera, if a ball strikes it, the ball is in play and NOT a home run.

The Umpires don’t have discretion to make a ground rule about that.

The statement made by Umpire Davis is totally and completely WRONG. The rules cover the situation of when a ball strikes a camera held by a camera man.

Let’s see the rule again:

3.15 No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club. In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach’s box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

Ok, then, cameramen, news photographers who unintentionally interfere with the ball, and the interference is unintentionall, the “ball is alive and in play.”

It’s not up to Davis and his crew to make up a ground rule there. It’s up to Davis and his crew to follow Rule 3.15. Rule 3.15 trumps Article 9 and the umpire discretion rules.

Now let’s discuss the instant replay rule.

Here’s the story on the instant replay rule adopted in September of 2008:

5. Instant replay
Main article: Instant replay
In November 2007, the general managers of Major League Baseball voted in favor of implementing instant replay reviews on boundary home run calls. [19] The proposal limited the use of instant replay to determining whether a boundary home run call is:
• A fair (home run) or foul ball
• A live ball (ball hit fence and rebounded onto the field), ground rule double (ball hit fence before leaving the field), or home run (ball hit some object beyond the fence while in flight)
• Spectator interference or home run (spectator touched ball after it broke the plane of the fence).
On August 28, 2008, instant replay review became available in MLB for reviewing calls in accordance with the above proposal. It was first utilized on September 3, 2008 in a game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. [20] Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees hit what appeared to be a home run, but the ball hit a catwalk behind the foul pole. It was at first called a home run, until Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon argued the call, and the umpires decided to review the play. After 2 minutes and 15 seconds, the umpires came back and ruled it a home run.
About two weeks later, on September 19, also at Tropicana Field, a boundary call was overturned for the first time. In this case, Carlos Peña of the Rays was given a ground rule double in a game against the Minnesota Twins after an umpire believed a fan reached into the field of play to catch a fly ball in right field. The umpires reviewed the play, determined the fan did not reach over the fence, and reversed the call, awarding Peña a home run.
Aside from the two aforementioned reviews at Tampa Bay, replay was used four more times in the 2008 MLB regular season: twice at Houston, once at Seattle, and once at San Francisco. The San Francisco incident is perhaps the most unusual. Bengie Molina, the Giants’ Catcher, hit what was first called a double. Molina then was replaced in the game by a pinch-runner before the umpires re-evaluated the call and ruled it a home run. In this instance though, Molina was not allowed to return to the game to complete the run, as he had already been replaced. Molina was credited with the home run, and two RBIs, but not for the run scored which went to the pinch-runner instead.
On October 31, 2009, in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Alex Rodriguez hit a long fly ball that appeared to hit a camera protruding over the wall and into the field of play in deep left field. The ball ricocheted off the camera and re-entered the field, initially ruled a double. However, after the umpires consulted with each other after watching the instant replay, the hit was ruled a home run, marking the first time an instant replay home run was hit in a playoff game. [21]

Citing to

• ESPN – GMs vote 25-5 to use replay to aid home run decisions – MLB

Now, let’s parse all this.

What instant replay boils down to is this.

A lawyer sits in Bud Selig’s offices in NYC and HE reviews the play and decides how it should be called.

The head of the umpiring crew calls NYC and asks the lawyer how the play should be ruled.

Then they decide.

Uh, what’s wrong with this picture if the NEW YORK YANKEES are one of the teams in the playoffs?

Let’s see, a NEW YORK LAWYER making the call? Against a PHILLY team?

Oh right, that would be really fair, impartial and just.

Incidentally, let’s review the rule again:

The proposal limited the use of instant replay to determining whether a boundary home run call is:
• A fair (home run) or foul ball
• A live ball (ball hit fence and rebounded onto the field), ground rule double (ball hit fence before leaving the field), or home run (ball hit some object beyond the fence while in flight)
• Spectator interference or home run (spectator touched ball after it broke the plane of the fence).
Id, supra.

Note that the ball has to hit an object BEYOND the fence while in flight.

Not in front of the fence, but BEYOND the fence.

This is completely consistent with Rules 6.09 and 7.05(a) which define a home run as one hit “over the fence in flight”.

The camera, in this case, was jutting out over the fence by a good five to ten feet.

So it was not beyond the fence, but on the field of play.

Second, because it was on the field of play, it was therefore a photographic interference under Rule 3.15, and should have been considered an unintentional interference, and a live ball in play under Rule 3.15.

Third, if not a live ball in play, then the ground rule double rule of 7.05 (b) et seq. comes into play.

What’s wrong with this picture?


Let’s review the criteria for instant replay;

1) is it fair or foul? Well, it was a fair ball. No need for instant replay.
2) Is it a live ball that hit the fence and bounced back to the field? No. No need for instant replay.

Was it a live ball that hit some object beyond the fence while in flight?

No. It never went beyond the fence. So no instant replay was required.

Well, it hit the camera==part of which was behind the fence, but the part of the camera the ball hit was NOT beyond the fence.

This is not a semantic issue, but a real rules issue, because if you start saying that balls that don’t go over the fence in flight are home runs, just because the umpires make up ground rules before the game to make them eligible for instant review, doesn’t make it so.

I think the key here is to parse the fact that the umpiring crew made a mistake before the game establishing false ground rules, by making a camera that jutted INTO the field, a candidate for HOME RUN instant replay.

That wasn’t their call to make.

Under the instant replay rule, the camera has to be entirely beyond the fence for them to make that decision, end of story.

Remember, the rule is to decide the boundary issue of when a ball has hit an object BEYOND the fence–not an object within the ballfield.

The Umps exceeded their rulemaking authority. Also, see #3, below, because there’s actually a different rule that applies to cameras that are in the field of play and not beyond the field of play, in which case the ball is either a ground rule double or in play. In either case the result is the same; arod at 2d, texeira at 3d.

3) There was not spectator interference, but rather, photographer interference under rule 3.15, which made it a live ball under the rules, and on the field of play.

Consequently, there was no jurisdiction for an instant reply. Rather, the umpires AGGREGATED and SEIZED inappropriately the jurisdiction for home run instant replay because they forgot their own rule book and the rules of baseball.

They got the call all wrong.

It’s an insult to our collective intelligence and our common sense to say that a ball that fell short of the wall, and never went over the wall, is a “fair ball” that “went over the fence in flight” or that after instant replay, was shown to have struct an object “beyond the fence” in flight. None of these things occured on arod’s hit.

And messed up a 25 year old kids’ no hitter in the processs.

Did they purposefully do it?

Did the NY Offices of baseball reverse the call to obstruct the Phillies from repeating?

I don’t know—go ask the Atlanta Braves. No one in Bud Selig’s office was happy when they went up 2-0 on the Yankees in 1996 either.

The Commissioner’s office basically wants LA or NY to win the series because that’s good for TV ratings.

They like to ignore Philly and Atlanta even though we’re much more rabid about baseball than New Yorkers, most of whom are too poor to afford to go to a game, whereas in Philly or Atlanta, it’s mostly the middle class who attend.

And if we have to cheat and violate the rules to make the Yankees winners, what the hay?

Just remember Curt Simmons’ draft notice, and Bud Selig’s ridiculous rain delay call in last year’s Game Five in Philly.

Definitely be sure there’s bias against the Phillies in NYC.

And of course, let’s not forget they used a single New York Lawyer as the judging panel for instant replay of a World Series play involving….

The New York Yankees.

Like that’s really fair.

This is the Second World Series in a row where Bud Selig has personally messed around with our ace, Cole Hamels, in a World Series game.

First was Game Five in World Series 2008, in which Cole Hamels was shutting the door down on Tampa Bay. Selig allowed the game to proceed in the rain, then let Tampa Bay score a cheap run in rain soaked conditions against Hamels, a cheap run in conditions not fit to play in, and then Selig announced the game would be suspended—a first in Series history—which infuriated not only the Phillies, but Hamels, who had pitched well enough to win. Last year the story line was supposed to be tampa bay to win, cindarella, last place to world champions. New york didn’t want philly winning.

Conspiracy theorists, you are right if you think Selig hates Hamels.

And now this year, Selig sends Davis and an experienced umpiring crew out, and they set up illegal ground rules, and use the first chance they get, to award a two run instant replay home run—an existential, instantiated home run—an abstraction if you will, because nothing ever left the park or ever went over the fence in flight—for the sole purpose of screwing up Cole Hamels’ game in game 3, the pivotal game of the 2009 world series.

I need not point out how furious Hamels must have been with all this BS; for the second year in a row, he’s been messed with, not by the opposing lineup, but by lawyers and umpires and the commissioners’ office. They just won’t let him do his job.

I understand why he might have hung a few curves the next inning to Swisher and Damon.

What I don’t understand is why the Phillies don’t aggressively move

1) for Bud Selig’s immediate ouster as Commissioner of Baseball; and
2) an immediate amendment of the baseball instant replay rule requiring that the review of plays always be done in a neutral city by an impartial panel of three arbitrators, not lawyers, with one chosen by each team and the third chosen by the other two.
3) And the umpiring crew and ground rules be reviewed two weeks in advance of the World Series by the front office of each team, and by the teams attorneys, to be sure there are no conflicts with the Rules of Baseball.

Even my 80 year old mother in law, who just had eye surgery, who watched the game last night, and used to be a Brooklyn Dodger fan from Brooklyn, saw the play last night and she knew that the A-Rod hit wasn’t a home run.

“it didn’t go out of the park” she said. “how could it be a home run?”

Exactly. To be a home run, under rule 7.05(a), and in the common sense of every fan, a home run must go over the fence in flight.

And to be a home run for instant replay purposes, it has to go over the fence in flight and THEN hit some object.

Not hit some object which inteferes with the ball from going over the fence in flight. That’s a ground rule double or a ball live in play, as we have seen from our discussion, at length, of the rules.

The difference last night was two runs.

But the difference, from our perspective, is the lawlessness of the Bud Selig regime.

A regime which bars Pete Rose from the Hall of Fame, but tolerates steroid use by the likes of A-Rod and David Ortiz, and turns a blind eye to the income inequalities between teams like the Yankees and the Twins that keep baseball from truly being competitive.

A regime which makes arbitrary and capricious decisions each and every year about rain delays, rain suspensions, instant replay home runs in the World Series, and which plays games of law and fate which affect a man’s life and career in the case of Cole Hamels, who is a truly great pitcher along the lines of a Steve Carlton.

In fact, if you study Hamels stats, you will see that his 2009 is to his 2008, as Carlton’s 1973 was to Carlton’s Cy Young 1972.

I expect Cole Hamels to have a very bright future.

And he will not take much more of this abuse from Bud Selig and his cronies.

And neither should we philly fans.

And New York Yankee fans, you are cheating to win.

And to think I actually shed tears for you guys on 9/11.

And by the way, your NY Giants got rolled by the Eagles. At least the NFL runs a fair league. Thank you Pete Rozelle Paul Tagliabue and your successors.

Guess those memories of Joe Namath are starting to fade, eh?

–art kyriazis, philly
home of the world champion phillies, 2008 world champions
2008, 2009 National League pennant champs

“Where am I?”
“In the Village.”
“What do you want?”
“Whose side are you on?”
“That would be telling. We want Information. Information. Information.”
“You won’t get it.”
“By hook or by crook, we will.”
“Who are you?”
“The new Number #2.”
“Who is Number #1?”
“You are Number #6.”
[stranger laughs diabolically at his assertion of freedom].

THE PRISONER (1967) STARRING PATRICK MCGOOHAN (SOON TO BE SHOWN AS A REMAKE ON CABLE TV) – This is truly one of the legendary TV shows of all time, and an inspired choice for a remake. The originals are now out on Comcast on demand and available to be seen for the first time in quite a while. They are in color and in excellent, really superb quality, considering they were filmed more than forty years ago and have been in the vaults a long time. The Prisoner was a cult hit in both Britain, and later in the US, where it was shown on PBS sometime after it was shown in Britain. Along with Monty Python and Sesame Street, it was one of PBS’ biggest hits of the late 60s/early 70s.

Every episode of the Prisoner started the same.

McGoohan, who is a british spy, obviously working for British Intelligence, has an angry argument with his superior, then bangs the table and throws his resignation letter on the desk.

Then cut to McGoohan’s apartment, where we see him packing. Meanwhile, next cut to a strange looking man in a top hat who approaches the apartment door from the outside. Cut to inside view and gas starts pouring visibly inside McGoohan’s flat, overcoming him.

He wakes up in a strange bed in a strange place. He does not know where he is. He looks out the window and sees a strange town. Then cut to a strange place, a strange person seated in a throne like chair in a round room. McGoohan is being interrogated by the Stranger.

McGoohan: “Where am I?”
Stranger: “In the Village.”
McGoohan: “What do you want?”
Stranger: “Information.”
McGoohan: “Whose side are you on?”
Stranger: “That would be telling. We want Information. Information. Information.”
McGoohan: “You won’t get it.”
Stranger: “By hook or by crook, we will.”
McGoohan: “Who are you?”
Stranger: “The new Number #2.”
McGoohan: “Who is Number #1?”
Stranger: “You are Number #6.”
McGoohan: “I am not a Number, I am a Free Man!!!”
Stranger: [laughs diabolically].

So many aspects of the show are classic—the bubble chasing down anyone trying to escape, the taxi which goes nowhere (local service only), the oblique references to a “New World Order”, the bicycle logo with its subtextual semiotic references to Orwellian dystopias, the constant references to the battles between McGoohan and science, McGoohan and psychology, McGoohan and being watched all the time, and the hilarious fact that every week, McGoohan defeats #2 and a new #2 has to brought in to break him down because McGoohan has broken down the previous #2. No one has money in the Village, only “work units,” and there appears to be a sort of communitarian utopia. There is a democratic council, but there are no actual rights. In one episode, McGoohan runs for election, but he quickly finds out he is not actually allowed to say or do anything that would upset the status quo. “your local council” is just a hollow slogan, a catch phrase for a democracy that doesn’t exist at all.

The key concepts of the show are freedom, human aspiration, knowledge, escape, dignity, free will and liberty. Everyone in the village has all their material needs met, but they must sacrifice all of their liberty, including their own individual identities, their memories and their minds, in order to obtain it.

In short, this show presents a working picture of what a communist or fascist society must really be like, in which everyone enjoys health care, work, food, leisure and a decent living quarters, but absolutely no freedoms whatsoever to think or exist except as dictated by the state. Presented hour after hour, episode after episode, the Prisoner is an unqualified call to freedom everywhere.

In our own times, many movies and series have been inspired in whole or in part by the Prisoner. The X-Files, certainly, draws some inspiration from the Prisoner. The Jim Carrey movie “The Truman Show” draws heavily on the Prisoner for its set designs and concept of an observed, controlled village, and for the notion that a person is subject to psychological control by an unseen central force.

Finally, we have the current phenomenon, worldwide, of people being arrested and detained without due process of law, in places unknown, for periods of time, and being interrogated in all sorts of ways for what they know. Every side politically does this, including our side with Guantanamo Bay and all our allies who assist in the war on terror. Of course, at the time of the Prisoner, it was understood that Russia and the US were both doing this as part of the Cold War—and yet both the James Bond series of movies, as well as Get Smart, the Prisoner, the Man from Uncle, and numerous other fictional spy shows continued to assert the existence of a third, “shadow” force, as powerful as the US or Russia, which also employed spies, torture methods, interrogation methods, and bargained or double-dealt using agents who had defected from one or both sides—under such acronyms as KAOS, SPECTRE, and so forth. Even the recent series of Mission Impossible films remade with Tom Cruise as their star clearly posit a so-called “third party” of international force. This premise was cleverly lampooned in the Austin Powers-Man of Mystery series of spy-lampoon movies, where the third power was led by a man called “Dr. Evil”, who was laughably played by the same actor playing Austin Powers, in perhaps the most brilliant series of spy spoofs ever committed to film.

Without commenting on the right or wrong of it, imagine if you will the situation of a man seized and placed in a “village” one day, deprived of his freedom and dignity, and forced to give up not only his secrets and knowledge, but also his identity, his selfhood and everything that makes him a man. Every dystopian novel or non-fiction work ever written—Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, Player Piano, the Gulag Archipelago, The Road to Serfdom, the Open Society and Its Enemies, Atlas Shrugged—posits precisely this sort of situation coming to pass in our own day.

Perhaps no two writers were more articulate about this phenomenon than Arthur Koestler and George Orwell, who wrote frequently, passionately and articulately about the dangers and evils of communism, socialism and false utopias. Koestler’s Darkness at Noon is the dystopian novel which most clearly reflects, and inspires, the series “the Prisoner,” in that it is directly a synopsis of the main character’s experience of what must have been the experience of Stalin’s purge and show trials of the late 1930s—first capture, then interrogation, then brainwashing, then being made to confess one’s sins in public, and finally, the inevitable lengthy prison sentence in Siberia or, perhaps more mercifully, death. The forturnate few were “rehabilitated” if they could be made to “understand” Stalinist communism and completely confess and revoke their sins, and be made to be a number, and not a free man.

The Prisoner is a powerful reminder of why liberty is the most important right we have.

Art Kyriazis, November 1, 2009
Philadelphia, PA
Eagles Pounding Giants as we speak