Assessing the Phillies Trading Chips

The Phillies are talking about trading some of their players.

Before we do this, let’s recall some of the Phillies great trades of great players:

1) 1918 – traded Grover Cleveland Alexander for several boxes of cashews and cash to the Cubs.  He went on to win 300 games and go to the Hall of Fame.  And win a World Series.  the Phillies finished last 10 straight years.

some old history stuff

some old history stuff

2)  1930s – traded Chuck Klein Dolph Camilli and Lefty O’Doul for Cash and some Cracker Jack.  Camilli became the MVP and led the Dodgers to the 1941 NL Pennants, Klein and O’Doul continued to hit for other clubs.  The Phillies started to finish last every year.

4) 1950s – release Curt Simmons “because he could not pitch anymore.” – Curt Simmons came back to torture them in 1964 as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals when the Phillies collapsed down the stretch.  The Phillies could have used a third starter other than Bunning and Short–like Curt Simmons.

Sen & Mrs. John & Teresa Heinz prior to his untimely death in 1991

i think John Heinz was US Senatory back in the 1930s and 1940s

5) 1960s – traded Dick Allen for Curt Flood and three so so players – Curt Flood sued baseball and moved to some island in the Mediterranean rather than play in Philly, saying “he wasn’t a slave” and “Philly was racist”.  Tim McCarver reported.  Dick Allen went on to become MVP of the American League in 1972, and nearly led the Chisox to the AL West Divisional Title.  The Phillies fell to last place–behind the Montreal Expos, an expansion team.  Tim McCarver was traded for a used chevy and later re-signed with the Phils as a free agent.

6) 1980s – traded Ryne Sandberg, Larry Bowa and Gary Matthews to the Cubs for dog poop.  The Cubs won the division twice, Ryne Sandberg became the greatest 2d baseman since Rogers Hornsby, and it would take until 1993 for the Phils to win a division again.

OJ Simpson was a very popular football player and actor during the 1970s and 1980s.

OJ Simpson was a very popular football player and actor during the 1970s and 1980s.

7) 1990s – The Phils traded Curt Schilling to Arizona for some table cloths and Vincente Padilla, a mexican-american actor impersonating a starting pitcher.  Arizona immediately won the World Series. Later, Curt Schilling did the bloody sock thing with the Red Sox.   The Phils also traded Scott Rolen to the Cards for Placido Polanco, who the Phils then traded to the Tigers for some used napkins.  The Cardinals went on to win several pennants and two World Series, with Rolen as their 3d baseman.  The Phils won one world series and lost another–with Pedro Feliz at 3d base.  Basically, most of the 2000s was a highlight reel of Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen going to the World Series while the Phillies didn’t.  And yes, those two are probably going to get into the HOF too.

so there’s your Phillies trading history in a nutshell.

Let’s take a statistical look at the actual value of their players.

1) Cliff Lee – Cliff Lee has a JAWs rating in the top 100 of all pitchers lifetime.  He has achieved Pitcher WAR levels above 7.0 in several of his Phillies seasons, and has been the single best pitcher aside from Roy Halladay on the Phils’ staff the past few seasons.  He works quickly and can hit and field his position.  He and Cole Hamels were together worth more than 11 WAR last year collectively–which means, since the team won 70 games or so last year, that without Lee and Hamels, the team would have won around 59 games without them in 2013, and trading Lee and Hamels means the Phils will probably drop to around that level.  He is easily the most valuable piece the Phils have to trade.  He is is great shape, should pitch well for at least 3-5 years, and should fit well as a #1 on a contender.  Lee’s ERA+ this year is 117 and his career ERA+ is 119.  He is a great pitcher, 20% better than league at all times.   Lee has had three years in the past where he was 160 plus ERA or 60% better than league, which is to say virtually unhittable, including 2011.

The Phillies Win the Series 2008

The Phillies Win the Series 2008

2) Cole Hamels – Cole Hamels has a JAWS rating in the top 120 of all pitchers lifetime.  He’s five years younger than Lee, so he should get higher than Lee eventually.  His established WAR levels are around 5.0 but he’s been higher in some seasons.  He pitches 200 innings a year, and he’s a quality starter in the postseason.  He’s been a #1 in the past, as well as a #2 and a #3, and he’s shown he can pitch under pressure.  With the established WAR levels he has, he is a quality starter.  A very valuable trading chip.  Hamels is 131+ ERA this year, and his career ERA+ is 123, very similar to Lee, but slightly better.  He’s been a bit more inconsistent than Lee, but in his good years Hamels puts up 130 plus ERA marks, in his off years he’s around league average, so he’s actually usually 30% better than league.

Chuck Bednarik flattens Frank Gifford

Chuck Bednarik flattens Frank Gifford

 

3)  Chase Utley – Chase Utley is now #13 on the JAWS list alltime of 2d basemen, and has passed Roberto Alomar.  He was the starting All-Star 2d baseman at age 35, and is currently the top offensive Phillie in WAR.  With the renaissance he is having this season, he shows that he will continue to be an excellent hitter for some time to come.  If he were traded to the Yankees or another AL club, Utley could be used somewhat like Jeter–resting some days by DHing–and could last until age 40–and most certainly will go into the Hall of Fame.  He is a 10/5 player and has to waive those rights to be traded.  Utley is a leader, and a clubhouse force.  He’s exactly what the Yankees need as Jeter is on the brink of retirement.

ON MY MARK, UNLEASH HELL!  WAIT A MINUTE, THAT' RUSSELL CROWE'S LINE FROM GLADIATOR...TONITE MEN, WE DINE IN HELL!!!! WE ARE SPARTANS!!!

ON MY MARK, UNLEASH HELL! WAIT A MINUTE, THAT’ RUSSELL CROWE’S LINE FROM GLADIATOR…TONITE MEN, WE DINE IN HELL!!!! WE ARE SPARTANS!!!

 

4) Jonathan Papelbon – having a terrific season, nearly 2.4 WAR as a closer with 60 games to go.  despite the big contract, he has an established WAR of 1.0 plus per season, and despite his contract of $10 million a year, he is a known quantity closer.  Papelbon’s ERA+ this year is 317.   Valuable to a contender needing a closer, and the Phils are ready to move Giles or Diekman into the closer role for less money.  Moreover, Papelbon wants a trade.  The most valuable and most likely to be traded.

HOOSIERS - THE GREATEST SPORTS FILM EVER MADE - ABOUT INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL - BUTLERS' KIDS PLAY HOOPS THE WAY COACH'S KIDS PLAY HOOPS IN HOOSIERS!

HOOSIERS – THE GREATEST SPORTS FILM EVER MADE – ABOUT INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL – BUTLERS’ KIDS PLAY HOOPS THE WAY COACH’S KIDS PLAY HOOPS IN HOOSIERS!

 

5)  Jimmy Rollins – right behind Utley in offensive WAR this year, having a great season.  His defensive range has diminished, but he can still hit and run effectively, and among available shortstops, he is 2.5 WAR with 60 games to go.  He currently is 34th on the JAWS list of Shortstops, and can move up still.  Shortstops above and below him on the list are in the Hall of Fame, and he has done things sufficient to get to the Hall.  An interesting fact is that Rollins plays 92% of the games each year, and has an established hit level of 150 hits a year, and is only 738 hits away from 3000.  At his established hit level, he will reach 3,000 hits in just under five more seasons from now, at around age 40.  The odds that he will continue to be productive and hit and field as a shortstop are fairly great; and he could also move over to second base and continue to hit and field and play until age 45 conceivably.  He has home run power, alley power and is excellent from the left side.  He would be a marquee addition to a contending ballclub.  Rollins is a 10/5 player and would have to waive his no trade clause in order to be traded.  The Yankees would be wise to trade for Rollins and Utley as a package to replace the retiring Jeter and whatever 2d baseman they have.  Rolllins would hit 20 homers a year in the new Yankee Stadium, and Utley and Rollins would give tremendous leadership to the existing Yankees along with speed and veteran leadership.

PLACIDO POLANCO - only Phillies to win Gold Gloves at two different positions - second base and third base.  Defense has been a problem for the current Phillies.

PLACIDO POLANCO – only Phillies to win Gold Gloves at two different positions – second base and third base. Defense has been a problem for the current Phillies.

6) Marlon Byrd – currently has WAR of 2.2 with 60 games to go.  Ranks fairly high career wise on the all time CF list, in the top 120 JAWS list.  has an established WAR of nearly 2.0 over 13 seasons.  He can field, he can hit, and he can hit for power.  He had a 4.0 WAR last year and is on pace for a 3.67 WAR this year at age 36.  Normally a team should not trade for a guy this age, but Marlon Byrd is having his best years every right now, and he is a proven veteran.  Watching him day in day out, he seems like a proven professional ballplayer.  He seems very different than the rookie I say play here in the early part of the 2000s.  Marlon Byrd gets good cuts on every at bat, always has a plan when he’s up, and seems to drive the ball, whether its into the alley or over the wall.  He has a fairly inexpensive contract.  An excellent trade piece for a team looking for a corner OF bat.  Very likely to be traded, and will do an excellent job for any team that gets him.  Helped the Pirates last year on their way to the playoffs.

 

Big Ed Delahanty - Left Fielder who once hit four homers in a game and hit .400 in consecutive seasons for the 1890s Phillies.  In the Hall of Fame.

Big Ed Delahanty – Left Fielder who once hit four homers in a game and hit .400 in consecutive seasons for the 1890s Phillies. In the Hall of Fame.

7)  AJ Burnett – even though the stats and peripherals don’t look impressive, Burnett has accumulated 1.0 WAR as a pitcher thus far, and that is with 60 games to go, so he’s on pace for about 1.4 WAR for the year.  Not great, but not shabby.  AJ Burnett has a lot of post season experience, and was helpful for the Pirates last year.  He’s had some good outings this year, and for the right club with run support, he can go 5-7 innings.  Significantly, he’s thrown by far the most innings of any Phillies starter, has 113 Ks in 136 IP, and even though the walks are high (as they are with him), he has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched, with a WHIP of 1.361.  His numbers are a bit off, but his established WAR level in 16 seasons is 1.75–he’s had a couple seasons where he went 4.0 plus, but basically this is what he is, an innings eater who strikes out a lot of guys, but can also be a bit wild.  He’s led the league in strikeouts, but also led the league in walks twice and wild pitches three times and batters hit by pitch once–he’s a classic hard thrower who has trouble locating.  but his career ERA+ is 104+ and he can go out and give you a gem one game, and then blow up the next, as he did in 2009 with the Yankees in the World Series v the Phils, where he blew the Phils away in one Series game, but got torched in the other.  He had a 4.4 WAR season for the Yanks that year, btw.  AJ Burnett should be a great trade piece for the Phils to move.  He’s a big game pitcher, a fastball pitcher who can throw hard and long, and a guy with World Series and playoff experience.  He is the very definition of wily veteran.

 

NATE THE GREAT THURMOND TANGLING IT UP WITH WILT THE STILT CHAMBERLAIN - THOSE AREN'T AIR JORDANS THEY'RE WEARING

NATE THE GREAT THURMOND TANGLING IT UP WITH WILT THE STILT CHAMBERLAIN – THOSE AREN’T AIR JORDANS THEY’RE WEARING

Conclusion

This is about it for players of real value.  The Phils essentially have three wily veteran pitchers – Lee, Hamels and Burnett–all of whom could make a huge difference in the pennant races.  They have an established keystone combo in Rollins and Utley, which they should move as a unit, probably to the Yankees.  And they have a power hitting slugging corner OF in Byrd, who can make a difference to a contender looking for a RH power bat.

The rest of the team is valueless.  People may say Ryan Howard, but in fact, he has no value at all.  At best, the Phils should move him to an AL club, but the better play would be for the Phils to lobby for a change in the rules so the NL gets a DH, so they can keep Howard and use him as a DH themselves, since they will pay his contract in any event.

Howard as a DH would be useful.  Moving the entire NL to a DH would be useful, and the Phils have the votes.  The cubs want a DH, as do several other NL clubs, and only a majority, e.g. 8 clubs, are needed.  The Dodgers now have too many OFs, so they will vote for a DH.  So Cubs, Phils, Dodgers.  Then you have Brewers–they have lots of potential DH’s.  They will go DH.  They were in the AL before anyway.  That’s four.  The Mets get no offense, so they will vote DH.  that’s five.  The Marlins don’t care one way or the others, so that’s six.  The Giants will want to play their MVP catcher Buster Posey at DH, so that’s seven.  Cincinnati will definitely want to play Joey Votto at DH, so that’s eight.  St Louis will want to play Allen Craig at DH, so thats nine.  Colorado will want nine hitters period, so that’s ten.  Arizona and the Padres can’t care so that’s 12.  why Washington would object is beyond me, so that’s 13.  that leaves the Pirates and the Braves, who might object, but who might not.

a big argument for going over to the DH is the fact that there is currently interleague play all the time, and the fact that all teams have a 25 man roster and need a lot of relievers.  a DH means less pinch hitters, and thus you can keep 12-13 pitchers on your 25 man roster, and keep only 12 position players–you only need to sub out if a player is hurt, tired or you need to pinch hit in a specific situation.  What you want in a DH lineup is nine regulars who can go every day, maybe with a platoon a one or two positions.  You don’t pinch-hit, except maybe for poor hitting SS.  So you can carry a lot of pitchers, and bring in relievers early.

Once you do this, you keep Ryan Howard around as a career DH, and just bring up Franco as your 1B, or 2B if you move Utley, and put Galvis at SS, and Ruf on 1B or Mayberry on 1B.  Grady Sizemore can play RF, and Brown and Revere CF and LF.  and you wait for all those new prospects to develop.

 

Perry Mason & Della Street

I rest my case: let’s go get dinner, Della!

Jeremy Lin doing his thing for Hahvahd Hoops 2006-2010

Jeremy Lin doing his thing for Hahvahd Hoops 2006-2010

Jeremy Lin is only the 3d player from Harvard to play in the NBA.

He was a terrific player not only at Harvard, but in the Ivies.  He established a line of records unmatched in Ivy League history, and along the way, the Harvard basketball team, which had never amounted to a bucket of warm spit until Lin and Coach Amaker arrived, found its way to the Ivy League title and the NCAA tournament.

My sons and I watched these guys, led by Lin, play a ferocious contest in the Palestra against their arch-rivals Penn in 2010, which was a double overtime contest, and as Harvard finally won, largely due to the intensity and refusal to lose of Lin, who kept penetrating, dishing off, shooting jumpers, and doing whatever it took to win, it seemed like a passing of the guard.

DP made pun of Lin's name back in 2009 at Penn

The Daily Pennsylvanian made pun of Lin's name back in 2009 at Penn, showing once again Philly was three years ahead of NYC media.

So it’s no secret why Lin is the 2d best player on the knicks in win shares per 48 minutes at .187 after Tyson Chandler’s .248; or why his PER approaching 25 leads the team.  Lin plays defense, doesn’t turnover the ball, and is efficient both on offense and defense.  Also, he hustles.  In the Ivy League, he led across a large number of categories, including points, steals, rebounds, assists, assist to turnover ration, etc. and established benchmarks for a guard across many such categories–in fact, all time records for a guard to have such all-around abilities.

What we saw, watching him two years ago, was a guy who refused to lose.  He could penetrate and score; penetrate and dish out to the three line; penetrate and dish to the man beside him after drawing the double-team;  penetrate and dish to the open man; had amazing peripheral vision; could drop the three or the jumper if left unattended; always could run the ball and locate the open man on the run; could play defense; could steal the ball; could rebound and start the break the other way; in short, he was a complete player.

And Lin never stopped to breath.  He was always in continuous motion.  Harvard had a lot of talented players, but they looked kind of confused unless Lin got them the ball and he was coordinating the offense.  He was, in short, a terrific and talented point guard who had game.

A lot of Penn players have played in the NBA, but not so much Harvard.  Hockey has always been the winter sport at Harvard, along with playing the stock market and inventing new financial instruments the SEC can’t regulate.

Three players including Lin played in the NBA:

http://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/colleges.cgi?college=harvard#stats::none

first was

Saul Mariaschin

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/mariasa01.html

who was a 5 foot 11 inch player on the 1947-48 Boston Celtics.  The Celtics were in a predecessor league to the NBA, but who cares?

Here were Saul Mariaschin’s teammates on the Boston Celtics of 1947-48:

riebe_spector_sadowski_garfinkel_mariaschin_1948

riebe, spector, sadowski, garfinkel with Saul Mariaschin Harvard Grad on 1948 Boston Celtics

http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/BOS/1948.html

Here’s another of his teammates from that legendary Celts team:

CHUCK CONNORS.  Yes, the guy who later played the RIFLEMAN on TV.  Lucas McCain himself.  And a 6’5″ grad of Seton Hall, which in 1947-48 would have made him a giant player.  And he was a CELTIC.  You can look it up.

http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/connoch01.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Connors

Chuck Connors was a Celtic and played with Harvard Grad Saul Mariaschin in 1947-48

Chuck Connors was a Celtic and played with Harvard Grad Saul Mariaschin in 1947-48

Chuck Connors also played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers!

And he was a TV Star!

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain the Rifleman

Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain the Rifleman

Chuck Connors was a Boston Celtic and and Brooklyn Dodger

Chuck Connors was a Boston Celtic and and Brooklyn Dodger

The second player that went to Harvard and played in the NBA was

Ed Smith

Edward Bernard Smith (Ed)

Ed Smith was a New York Knick in 1953-54.  On that Knicks team, Ed played with Vince “Moose” Boryla, Nate “Sweetwater” Clifton, Al McGuire and Dick McGuire, and the famous Ernie Vandeweghe, and others well-noted.

That 1953-54 Knicks team finished 1st in the Eastern Division, going 44-28 under the helm of the legendary Joe Lapchick.  And they played in the old Madison Square Garden, which many hold in as high esteem as the old Boston Garden.

Nate "Nat" "Sweetwater" Clifton of the 1953-54 NY Knicks played with Harvard's Ed Smith

Nate "Nat" "Sweetwater" Clifton of the 1953-54 NY Knicks played with Harvard's Ed Smith

and here’s ernie vandewege v bob cousy:

Bob Cousy and Ernie Vandeweghe Reaching For Ball

Bob Cousy and Ernie Vandeweghe Reaching For Ball

Of course, Ernie has some bloodlines. Kiki Vanderweghe was a great NBA player, and now his granddaughter is a professional tennis player:

CoCo Vandeweghe professional tennis player and granddaugher of Ernie Vandeweghe who played on the NY Knicks with Ed Smith in 1953-54.  Ed was the last Harvard alum to play for the NY Knicks, nearly fifty years ago

CoCo Vandeweghe professional tennis player and granddaugher of Ernie Vandeweghe who played on the NY Knicks with Ed Smith in 1953-54. Ed was the last Harvard alum to play for the NY Knicks, nearly fifty years ago

reposted with new photos from 2008

The Complete Kung Fu on DVD Starring the Late David Carradine

The Complete Kung Fu on DVD Starring the Late David Carradine

THE SOPHIST: TWO SIDES TO EVERY QUESTION

From the Crane, we learn grace and self-control.
The Snake teaches us suppleness and rhythmic endurance.
The Praying Mantis teaches us speed and patience.
And from the Tiger, we learn tenacity and power.
And from the Dragon, we learn to ride the wind.
All creatures, the low and the high, are one with nature.
If we have the wisdom to learn, all may teach us their virtues.
Is it good to seek the past? If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present; but if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future. The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past.
When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.
You must walk the rice paper without leaving any marks. This will signify that you can walk without making any sounds.
The…

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Ok, we’re now into the Elite Eight, and I had the following picks and results so far;

1) East – originally, at round of 64, Kentucky v. West Va. This was also my pick before the Sweet Sixteen Round. This is looking pretty good. I really like Kentucky to win this. I thought Kentucky played an excellent game against Cornell, especially defensively. However, West Virginia is an excellent team with a tough, tough coach we used to see a lot here in the A-10 and later the Big East when he was coaching at Cincinnati. Two great teams and two great coaches. What a game. I will say, originally, I had W.Va. winning this game; i’m revising that pick in light of Kentucky looking so good in this tournament. But of course, that’s a conditional probability pick; if W.Va. does win, then it validates my original bracket pick.

DEMARCUS COUSINS DESTROYED CORNELL UNDERNEATH & INSIDE IN THE SWEET SIXTEEN ROUND MAKING ROOM FOR JOHN WALL ON THE PERIMETER

2) South – originally, at round of 64, i had picked Louisville v. Baylor to come out of the pack. Well, I got that half right, but not the half you would have expected. Before the Sweet Sixteen, knowing that Louisville was out (we call that conditional probability) I picked Duke to win, which of course they did. In light of what I know now, I would have Duke beating Baylor. Incidentally, Baylor put a hurting on St. Mary’s. How lame is Villanova for losing to St. Mary’s? And by the way, should new Baylor President get halfcourt seats or what for this team???

Final Four pick Duke/Baylor winner v. Ky/W.Va winner – this is sort of a no-brainer, and I had this on my original bracket before the tournament opened. I think both Ky and W.Va are both better than Duke, even though W. Va. got a #2 seed. So I see Ky going to the final four over Duke, or alternatively, W. Va going to the final four over Duke. I think Duke’s dance ends at the elite eight.

That’s not to underestimate coach K. Anyone brilliant with a complicated last name ending with K, hey, I have to like that guy, right?

By the way, speaking of the U.Cincinnati, think today’s players are good? check out U.Cincinnati great’s Oscar Robertson’s college stats:

Season School FG% FT% TRB AST PTS
1957-58 Cincinnati .571 .789 15.2 35.1
1958-59 Cincinnati .509 .794 16.3 6.9 32.6
1959-60 Cincinnati .526 .756 14.1 7.3 33.7
Career Cincinnati .535 .780 15.2 4.8 33.8

Yes, that’s right–the Big O averaged a double-double his entire college career–a double double that ran around 35 points and 15 rebounds a night. That was in college, and freshman weren’t allowed to play back then. Imagine what his FOUR year stats would have been.

You think that was pretty good by today’s standards? Today, we think it’s pretty good if a kid averaged barely 15 points and 10 rebounds. That earns him a first round NBA spot.

OSCAR ROBERTSON - THE GREATEST PLAYER IN U.CINCINNATI HISTORY KNOWN AS THE "BIG O" - WON AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP WITH KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR WITH MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Of course, Cincinnati is named for the Roman hero Cincinnatus. If you’ve studied Latin, you know who he is. The rest of you, Google him up. He was a famous hero of the early Roman Republic. Big O and Cincinnatus had a lot in common.

3) Midwest – Originally I had Kansas v. Georgetown in the Elite Eight of this bracket before the round of 64. That bracket was completely busted, of course. Before the round of sixteen, knowing what had happened in the first couple of rounds, I remade picks and picked Michigan State to win their game, and Ohio State to win their game. Well, I got that half right. Tennessee with their orange uniforms and orange sneakers just plain outshot and outhustled Ohio State, thus short-circuiting the Big Ten matchup we were forecasting. Instead, the Elite Eight matchup will be the improbable Mich State #5 seed vs. the Tenn #6 seed for the Midwest Regional Final. This is an interesting matchup.

My heart says to root for the Spartans and Tom Izzo, a veteran, wily coach. However, my head says that Tennessee beat Ohio State while Michigan State lost to Ohio State during the season; that Tennessee lost to Purdue by a point or two while Mich State lost by a lot to Purdue; and that Tennessee beat Kansas during the season. Also that Kalin Lucas is out for Michigan State, while Tennessee is deep and balanced in both scoring and rebounding.

I’m going to call this a flip, but the edge to Tennessee here. So Tennessee to the Final Four. But Mich State definitely has a shot.

4) West – Well, I had Syracuse and Pitt in my original pre-round of 64 bracket picks. That’s pretty busted. After the first two rounds, before the sweet sixteen, I repicked Syracuse and Kansas State. Syracuse was upended by Butler, while Kansas State barely survived a two overtime onslaught from a feisty Xavier team.

That leaves us with Kansas State v. Butler. Here, I like Kansas State over Butler. I believe Kansas State will defeat Butler and get to the Final Four.

Moreover, I believe Kansas State will also defeat the winner of Mich State/Tenn and get to the final round.

This then sets up a final round of Kentucky v. Kansas State.

Here, again, I still like Kentucky to win it all.

–art kyriazis, philly, cradle of college hoops

The Palestra, also known as the Cathedral of College Basketball, is a historic arena and the home gym of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball teams, wrestling team, and Philadelphia Big 5 basketball. Located at 215 South 33rd St. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, near Franklin Field in the University City section of Philadelphia, it opened on January 1, 1927. The arena originally sat about 10,000, but now seats 8,722 for basketball. The Palestra is famed for its close-to-the-court seating with the bleachers ending at the floor with no barrier to separate the fans from the game. At the time of its construction, the Palestra was one of the largest arenas in the world. It was one of the first modern steel-and-concrete arenas in the United States and also one of the first to be constructed without interior pillars blocking the view.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestra

This was an interesting move. Seldom in baseball do you see one Hall of Fame bound pitcher replace another in the starting rotation. Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer, between them, have won about 400 or 500 games in the major leagues; Moyer had already won 260 plus and was still pitching reasonably well this season at age 47 while Pedro Martinez had won nearly 200 games in a brilliant span of about fifteen years when he was nearly unhittable for the Expos and Red Sox during the late 90s and early 2000s.

Martinez in recent years has not been the same unhittable pitcher. His first year for the Mets went well, but after that he began to be injured, and showed signs of weakness on the mound for the first time, and the last three or four years have not been kind to the once invincible Martinez. But this past year he pitched well in the World Baseball Classic, and he seems ready once again to throw in the big leagues.

It’s an interesting move, since Moyer has been pretty much guaranteed money both in the regular season and in the post season for the phils since they obtained him three years ago. He won sixteen games last year and was very effective in 2007; more importantly, Moyer has been like a second pitching coach, teaching his crafty off speed stuff and wily changeups to the staff, like the late great Johnny Podres used to do with older Phillies staffs before him. Its true he’s slowed down a bit in the heat of August, but of course, with 47 year old pitchers, you’re sort of in unchartered territory. After all, last year, when he was 46, he pitched very well in the heat of August.

Brett Myers is also about ready to come back to the bigs in a couple of weeks, and starting September 1, the major league rosters expand to 40, so we might even see the likes of Kyle Drabek get a start or two. The Phillies, weak at starting pitcher all year, suddenly have an embarrassment of riches—Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez are all MVPs or Cy Young winners or big game pitchers who know how to win late in the season or in the post-season, and Joe Blanton and JA Happ have outstanding numbers this season, great strikeout to walk ratios, good WHIP numbers, and neither is allowing too many homers. Hamels’ numbers are also very good, even though fans and the media are complaining, Hamels is on track to strike out 150 batters, and his WHIP and homers allowed are pretty good. They’re just not what they were last year, but compared to an average starter, they’re excellent. And Lee has been phenomenal since arrival. So Lee, Happ, Hamels & Blanton all have great numbers. This move is all about the FIFTH starter. That’s kind of neat—having to fix your fifth starter. I bet the Mets wish they had that problem.

Happ is on pace to allow the fewest homers of any of the starters, and garner the most strikeouts per innings pitched. As I stated in a blog before the season started arguing for Happ to be named to the starting rotation, based on his minor league numbers (he struck out 125 and 150 batters in two seasons starting in AA and AAA), six foot six lefthanders don’t grow on trees. Happ may well be the rookie of the year and win ten games for the Phils. He may win fifteen next year.

Next year the Phils may have the luxury of a rotation with Happ, Blanton, Hamels, Lee Drabek or Myers, which would be a young and very good rotation. Moyer could continue out of the pen as a lefthanded specialist or move to pitching coach. Who knows? The Phils may even have Pedro back for another year.

One additional remark and that is on the Cliff Lee deal. This is GM Ruben Amaro’s first really big trade, and it was a brilliant one. First, because Amaro did not trade for Roy Halladay, who is 35 and his best years behind him, and the Blue Jays asking way too much. Second, because the Indians were asking a fair price for Lee, and the Phillies gave a fair amount for Lee. Third, because Lee is much younger than Halladay, and still in his prime; he won the Cy Young last year, not back in 2003, like Halladay.

If you examine Lee’s numbers, each year he’s been in the league, he’s allowed fewer home runs and fewer walks every year, culminating in his Cy Young year last year. Lee is an accurate thrower who simply throws strike after strike, low in the zone, without allowing homers. Last year he allowed only 10 or 12 homers all year, an impossibly low total in modern five run per game baseball, and very low for an American League pitcher. Halladay by constrast gives up 20 a year. Lee only walked approximately 30 or 35 batters last year while striking out 150 or more. That’s an amazing set of statistics for a starting pitcher.

Lee’s pinpoint control was abundantly on display his first two starts as a Phillie. His first start, a complete game shutout of the Giants, and his second start, in which he allowed only one run (not on a homer), demonstrated that he strikes out a lot of batters, walks few or none, and gives up no homers when he pitches. He also pitches deep into the game, the 7th, 8th or complete game.

Lee is, in short, the ideal starting pitcher. As if that is not enough, he can hit the ball and run the bases, and he’s modest, self-effacing, and farms and hunts in the off-season in his native Kentucky.

If this all sounds like Lee emerged full grown from a Damon Runyon story, I agree. He is too good to be true, but then again, the Phillies have always been blessed with characters who could play—like Aaron Rowand, Pete Rose, Lenny Dykstra, Steve Carlton, Tug McGraw, Cole Hamels—and Cliff Lee seems as if he was born to be a Phillie.

Pedro Martinez will look odd in a Phillies uniform, I’ll admit. But then again, Curt Schilling looked odd in a Red Sox uniform. And from what’s been printed in the various columns in the local news, Pedro’s been eating out at the local restaurants in Philly, so he seems to be enjoying himself here in town.

The Phillies are going to have a tough time in the playoffs this year when and if they clinch the division title. They’re looking at playing the Cubs or Cardinals, or the Giants in the first round, and the Dodgers Cubs or Cardinals in the second round, and all of those teams are loaded up with pitching and hitting. They will have to beat good pitchers like they did in 2008, when they beat CC Sabathia in the playoffs. They will need all of the arms they have acquired to win in the playoffs, and Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer, whether starting or in the bullpen, will be of great value in the playoffs come October.

–art kyriazis, Philly/South Jersey
home of the world champion phillies

The Sixers have finally addressed the glaring issue of three point shooting, which this blogger-columnist has hammered them on repeatedly (see earlier posts regarding this issue), by trading defensive rebounder and shot blocker Reggie Evans to Toronto for three point shooter Jason Kapono.

Kapono has excellent three point shooting numbers. He’s a career 45.4% three point FG shooter in the NBA and his free throw percentage for career is 84.7%. In addition, he’s 6 foot 8, and averages about 2 rebounds, one assist and half a steal a game, and less than one turnover. He scores about 13 points per 36 minutes, and that’s been about his career norm. He’s 29 years old and he went to college at UCLA, not too shabby.

In the playoffs with Toronto in 2007-08, Kapono in five games averaged better than 15 points per game, illustrating that the half court game of the playoffs favors his three point shooting skills. This would be of considerable interest to the sixers should they reach again the playoffs. If they have a healthy elton brand (i know that sounds weird) they actually could alternate between brand and kapono, inside and outside, and have a half court game.

So, is Kapono better than Kyle Korver, the three point guy the Sixers unloaded last year for nothing to Utah in a dumb move that created a black hole at the three point shooting position? Well, oddly enough, the answer is yes, Kapono is a BETTER three point man than Korver. Korver is about a 38.9% three point FG % lifetime; while Korver scores 13 ppg per 36 minutes played, Korver is not as efficient as Kapono. Korver needs more shots and misses more shots to get the same number of points. Kapono is an inch taller and has played much better in the playoffs than Korver.

So, in a word, while it took Eddie Stefanski a year and a half, he finished by upgrading the Sixers roster at the three point shooting end with Kapono. If Stefanski could add another perimeter shooter like Kapono, that would be terrific. Someone like a Rashard Lewis type would be ideal.

Mareese Speights made Reggie Evans expendable–Evans played half the minutes this past season he did in 2007-08–however, the Sixers should beware. Reggie Evans and Theo Ratliff, together, earned 2.5 defensive win shares together–a not insignificant figure–and they played 1700 minutes overall during the season–minutes that some other two players or one player will have to play.

No one here is suggesting that Jason Kapono can play defense or block shots like Reggie Evans or Theo Ratliff, so presumably Elton Brand will actually have to play some defense alongside Dalembert and Speights or Young.

At any rate, this is an early Christmas present for new coach Eddie Jordan.

I haven’t commented on Eddie Jordan. He had a good record in Washington, so let’s give him a chance. The hire is a bit suspicious, since Washington is still paying his salary for the most part, so it looks as if Jordan was the CHEAPEST coach with actual skills available, important since the sixers are still paying mo cheeks to sit at home, but maybe it was a choice based on merit.

then again, maybe the moon is made of cheese, and bank executives will gladly welcome government limits on their bonuses and compensation, and maybe we can re-outlaw alcohol and re-impose prohibition after we’re done nationalizing health care and the automotive industry.

Seriously, this is a good first move by Stefanski after hiring Jordan.

–art kyriazis, philly/south jersey
home of the world champion phillies

With great fanfare, the organizers of the new MLS Soccer Franchise for Philadelphia unveiled their team logo on Monday of this week, an event which was duly reported in the various sports pages of the local newspapers.

The organization which is promoting the new soccer franchise appears to be a group of overweight, entirely male surburban white men, who have absolutely nothing to do, and who have organized themselves into an organization for the promotion of professional soccer in the Delaware Valley/Philadelphia/South Jersey area, known as the “Sons of Ben.”

I only mention this parenthetically, because as it well known, most people who attend soccer games are world/ethnic—they are Latino, Italian, Greek, Caribe’, whatever—anything but white suburbanites.

If these fat white suburban guys driving SUVs buy season tickets to professional soccer, I’d be greatly surprised—and if they do show up, they’ll find a league composed almost entirely of foreign players, for the most part, with a few Americans sprinkled in for show.

Not to mention a stadium full of ethnic segments waving various flags of different countries for their favorite players from those countries, whether it’s Brazil, Germany, Greece, Holland or wherever.

It won’t be the U.S. Flag, I know that.

The Beckham experiment in LA is pretty much par for the course, except that it proved that MLS soccer is so far below the standards of English Premier League, that a guy like Beckham isn’t worth having on your team—it’s like playing Alex Rodriguez in sandlot ball. He doesn’t really help you because people just pitch around him, since all your other players are awful.

Let’s get to the awful LATIN. The logo for the new team is as follows:

PHILADELPHIA UNION
(Picture of Snake)
Jungite aut Perite

see also, the team’s new website,

http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/

which also displays the mistaken latin phrase “Jungite et Perite.”

The organizers assured the press conference that the snake and the latin phrase “Jungite aut Perite” were taken directly from the Newspapers of Benjamin Franklin, and that the phrase means “Join or Die,” and the snake represents the Join or Die emblem employed during the times of the American Revolution.

Ok, except for one huge problem. As Henry Beard, author of “Latin for Even More Occasions” (Villard Books, NY, 1991), states at p. 111 of his very humorous book,

“CONSONANTS….”

“J, W AND Y don’t exist in Latin.”

Beard, Id. at p. 111.

There is no letter “J” in the Latin language.

I believe what the Sons of Ben meant to say was the following:

“IUNGITE AUT PERITE.”

Latin for All Occasions by Henry Beard

Latin for All Occasions by Henry Beard

As is well known to those of us who have either studied the arcana of the Latin language for several years (I won the Latin Prize at Haverford School) (twice, actually) (now I’m just showing off) (thanks to Steve Dall, by the way, a great Latin teacher), or have gone to Catholic School and been forced to take Latin,

THERE IS NO J W OR Y in the Latin alphabet.

The letter J is approximated by the vowel combination “IU” as in “Iuno,” “Iuvenal,” and so forth.

Thus, there actually was no “Julius Caesar.” His name was “Caius Iulius Caii filius Caii nepos Caesar Imperator” (see wikipedia article on “Julius Caesar”) meaning “Gaius Julius Caesar, son of Gaius, grandson of Gaius, Imperator”. See? No “J”.

Gaius Iuilius Caesar

Gaius Iuilius Caesar

Thus, in Latin, there would be no “Dr. J”, only a Dr. “Iulius”

And you couldn’t jam the ball, you could only “iuam” the ball.

anyway, I think you get the fundamental point–there is no “j” in latin, either in the alphabet or in the everyday usage of the language. All of the “J”s you see in modern day latin (as when you see “Julius Caesar”) are added as approximations to the ancient lation usage of “Iu” for “J” which is the proper latin.

Now let’s see if the “Sons of Ben” (none of whom claim any actual lineage from Ben Franklin) actually know their Latin:

Iungite, “Join!”, is the plural imperative form of iungo, with principal parts iungere, iunxi, iunctum, “I join” (from which we get many english cognate words such as “conjunction” or “injunction”). The imperatives are “iunge”, join!, singular, addressed to one person, and “iungite”, join!, addressed to two or more persons. (See J. Wohlberb, 201 Latin Verbs, Barrons, NY, 1964, at pp. 94 & 63, the verbs “iungo” and “eo”) (see infra).

See? No “J” in “Iungite”. “Jungite” is just plain WRONG. The proper word is “IUNGITE”. That would be RIGHT.

Are these guys morons or what? Maybe they should try speaking latin in a Latin American soccer league! (I shudder to think what their spanish or italian is like).

Clearly, no matter how much money the Sons of Ben spent on their advertising, logo and presentation budget, it wasn’t enough.

I, along with numerous others like Victor Davis Hanson, have been lamenting the deconstruction and utter loss of the classics, e.g. the loss of the required learning of Latin and Greek for many years now; here is a pertinent example of WHY everyone should known Latin and Greek.

End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

End of Sparta by Victor Davis Hanson

It is completely embarrassing that a major sports team should hold a press conference, insert a logo on their press team that draws from the Latin language, and then GET IT WRONG, when simple fact checking with a high school latin teacher could have straightened them out.

Here was an opportunity to show lots of schoolchildren that latin still matters–but the growups get it wrong. how embarassing.

On the rest of the slogan, they’re ok—aut means “or,” and “perite” is the plural imperative of “per-eo”—I kill—the root verb being “eo, ire, ii or ivi, itum,” with imperatives “I and ite” singular and plural—you just add per- in front of those to get “per-ite.” (201 Latin Verbs, id., cited supra, p. 63).

I guess I conclude here with a translation of the title of this piece, which was supplied by Mr. Beard—”avaritia bona est” can roughly be translated as “greed is good.” (The slogan from “Wall Street”, 1980s, Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas). (see Beard, id. at p. 14).

Here some other great latin sayings from Beard (id. at p. 24):

Tu, rattus turpis! –
You dirty rat! (Jimmy Cagney)

Ei fer condicionem quam non potest repudiare –
Make him an offer he can’t refuse – Vito Corleone, the Godfather (Marlon Brando)

Age. Fac ut gaudeam. –
Go ahead. Make my day. Dirty Harry (Clint Eastwood).

Fuit mulier quae me potare egit. Nunquam steti gradum ad ei gratias agendas. –
It was a woman who drove me to drink. I never stopped to thank her. (W.C. Fields).

Fasciculum nicotianum fumificum meum quoque amo, sed aliquando eum de ore extraho. –
I like my cigar too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while. (Groucho Marx).

See you all in remedial Latin class!

Art Kyriazis, philly/south jersey
Home of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies

Well, the Phils are winning so far this season, and they are scoring more runs than they’ve allowed, and by quite a bit, and they are close to the division lead, after a bit of a slow start, but their Staff ERA is close to six, 5.72, and their best two pitchers of last year, Brad Lidge, and Cole Hamels, are both nursing injuries.

Cole Hamels, their staff ace, at last, is back, pitching no-hitter stuff recently against the Braves through four innings, and allowing only two runs on a weakly hit seeing eye single to right with two out and two on, and having another fine outing against the Dodgers.

I wrote here recently that I thought Lidge and Hamels should have the month off, or at least shouldn’t be overused in April, but Charlie Manuel insisted on using both early and often, and both had injuries that effectively gave them April off.

Now both are better, though Lidge still doesn’t seem right yet.

It might be the time to inject JA Happ into the starting rotation from time to time and occasionally play around with Blanton and Park depending on whether the team is facing a right-handed or left-handed team in the rotation, keep Lidge on the DL, use Madsen to close, use some other bullpen guys in setup roles to see what they have (better now than never) and bring up a couple of studs from the farm and see what they have.

Your team is averaging like seven runs a game. I think the kids will figure out a way to pitch well enough to win.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to point out that Raul Ibanez has made everyone forget Pat Burrell faster than anyone though humanly possible.

This again demonstrates the illusion of home parks. Ibanez has been hitting 20-30 homers a year in Seattle, a pitchers’ park. Coming to Citizens Bank Park, a hitter’s park it would be expected that his homer run rate would increase about 30% at home, and doggone it if he doesn’t have seven homers in April, which works out to a 42 homer pace for the year.

That’s about what I would have predicted. It also goes to show how much Pat Burrell’s statistics were padded by the park—I’m certain he won’t have the same numbers in Tampa Bay he had here, though he will walk a lot.

Also, Ibanez is a better HITTER than Burrell, in the sense that he hits for a far higher average and hits more doubles, singles and triples—he’s a latin American player and a contact hitter as opposed to Burrell, who waits deep on counts and misses the ball a whopping lot and fails to put it into play.

The two players could not be more different in their styles. Ibanez will not walk as much, but he’s off to a .340 hitting pace, and even if he hits his usual .290, his OBA will be as high as Burrell’s; if he hits 40 homers, 40 doubles and a mess of singles, his slugging average may be very high indeed. His new nickname, “Raul I-BOMB-NEZ” says it all.

Utley is off to his usual great start; Victory-no (yes) is doing very well; Howard is pounding the ball; Pedro Feliz is hitting and playing great third base; and Jayson Werth thinks he’s Albert Pujols. Even the bench players are hitting. J Ro is finally catching the flame.

Jayson Werth stealing 2d, 3d and home the other day was amazing.

The other interesting thing about the Phillies, is that even the national press and commentators are starting to talk about the Phillies “character,” and to compare the Mets unfavorably to the Phillies–in that the Mets don’t have “character,” that the Mets make mental mistakes, the Mets can’t come back late in ballgames, the Mets throw in the towel, the Mets make a lot of unprofessional errors, and so forth.

I find this interesting. I’ve thought for a long time the Mets had a lot of overpaid veterans who didn’t care about winning or losing, but no one was willing to say for the longest time that the emperor had no clothes; now suddenly, everyone is seeing the fact that the Phillies are winning with youth and enthusiasm and hustle, and not with established talent (although Howard Utley and Hamels are certainly talented) but that the Phillies also exemplify a certain STYLE of play–as in Werth stealing home–that the Mets just don’t have.

The Phillies are fun to watch because of this, win or lose, they’re never out of a ballgame. They never give up even down to the last out.

On the plus side as to pitching, Jamie Moyer is getting some good games in finally, Joe Blanton has been uneven but has pitched some good ball, Myers is finding his stride, and the bullpen continues to be very good except for occasional lapses (such as when it was 95 degrees the other night, no one was going to keep the ball in the park that night). Even Chan Ho Park has done better.

A note here: Chris Coste did not do a good job handling the pitching staff in April. It’s obvious the pitchers like Carlos Ruiz behind the plate much better. Also, Coste can’t hit anymore.

It’s time to look for a better backup catcher, one with both defensive and offensive skills, but if one had to choose, at least a backup catcher who can call a game.

The Chris Coste story was nice for a couple of seasons, but the fact is that Coste’s limitations contributed in part to the staff’s high ERA in April. It’s obvious that blanton, park and even hamels like ruiz back there, and are not comfortable with coste calling the game.

Right now, the phils are winning on hitting and scoring runs. Their pattern looks more like 2007 than 2008, but they won a division title slugging their way to the top that year.

So they can win a title this way. To win another world championship will require some pitching. It may be that they need to rest Hamels and Lidge, and maybe look for another starter at the trade deadline.

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies

So I guess we know now why Manny Ramirez was so irritated all the time at his teammates, why he was having anger management problems, why he wanted to leave Boston despite winning two world titles, and why he was depressed, moody and suicidally despondent at times despite being the best ballplayer in the AL at times—it was all because of the steroids.

And why he grew the longest dreadlocks this side of Jamaica-mon.

LA made him no happier and now we know why. There’s nothing really to say, except that when a right handed slugger defies statistical norms, fails to decline in age-related fashion the way every other player has for decades, and fails to regress to the mean the way every other player does, it’s either because a) he has the talent of a hank aaron or babe ruth, b) the laws of statistics and probability have failed us or c) he’s taking steroids to beat the odds.

In the cases of Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriquez and now Manny Ramirez, we know the answer to the statistical riddle of how it is they could do what no other ballplayers could do. The answer is, they took performance enhancing drugs. They cheated, and they cheated badly. They wanted to beat the house odds and beat father time.

I still think the pitchers who threw spitballs and scuffballs and vaseline balls should be treated the same; it’s the same sort of deal. But as all of this gets worse and worse, we are left with fewer and fewer heroes. Even Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker gambled on baseball, but somehow they were set free.

And a voice in the distance, ever so faint, cries out more loudly;

FREE PETE ROSE!
FREE PETE ROSE!
FREE PETE ROSE!
FREE PETE ROSE!
FREE PETE ROSE!
FREE PETE ROSE!
FREE PETE ROSE!
FREE PETE ROSE!

And what the heck, Shoeless Joe and the Black Sox as well…

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the Philadelphia Phillies

Detroit was embarrassingly bad against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, by far the worst performance of any playoff team.

Not only that, but the games were boring.

There was one player who might have at least made the games entertaining, and here I refer to ALLEN IVERSON who for some odd reason was sitting down by order of Detroit management.

AI has the second highest career playoff scoring average in NBA history—second only to Michael Jordan—and YOU SIT HIM DOWN FOR THE PLAYOFFS?

I should think that AI would have been a bit revved up to play LeBron James, only the best player in the league.

Even if Detroit went down in flames, I think we could have seen AI go off for 40 points in at least one of those playoff games.

He’s Allen Iverson, that’s what he does.

I’m not totally sure what narcotics or drugs Detroit is on, but sitting down your best scorer against the NBA’s best team in the playoffs is crazy.

I might note, Detroit had trouble scoring even 80 points most every game in the series—they had point totals like 78, 79, and so forth. Again, an Allen Iverson would have helped that tremendously.

Over and over, even hurt, Allen Iverson has always shown up for the playoffs and played big.

Commissioner David Stern should have stepped in here and required Detroit to produced Allen Iverson for the playoffs.

It’s embarrassing for the league and for the fans that we were denied the opportunity to see an Allen Iverson-LeBron James playoff series.

This is an insult to our intelligence and to us as fans.

No other matchup in the playoffs would have been as interesting or intriguing, except possibly watching Kobe Bryant against LeBron James in the finals.

Whenever AI went against LeBron James this winter in the regular season, he had an extraordinary game on a nationally televised Sunday afternoon game, he scored 30 or 40 points, I can’t recall how many.

But it’s easy enough to look up the game logs from the regular season:

November 19, 2008: Detroit 96, Cleveland 89. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 23 points, followed by Rasheed Wallace with 21 points. LeBron James and Mo Williams each with 25 points. Detroit outscores Cleveland 30-21 in the 4th quarter.

February 1, 2009: Cleveland 90, Detroit 80. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 22 points, followed by Rick Hamilton with 16 points. LeBron James goes off for 33 points in this game, Mo Williams scores 22. Detroit is winning after three quarters, but Cleveland takes Detroit down in the 4th quarter 32-14, coming from eight back to win by ten at the end. This was actually a great game where Iverson and James were dueling, and James just came up huge in the 4th quarter. This is what the playoffs might have been like between them.

February 22, 2009: Cleveland 99, Detroit 78. Iverson leading scorer for Detroit with 14 points, followed by Walter Hermann. It’s pretty clear AI is injured in this game. He only played about 26 minutes. Surprisingly, Delonte West (of St. Joe’s Philly fame) led Cleveland with 25 points, followed by LeBron James with 25. This game was a blowout. Cleveland broke out 31-17 in the first quarter and never looked back.

March 31, 2009: Cleveland 79, Detroit 73. Rick Hamilton leads Detroit with 13 points, playing almost 35 minutes, Iverson scores 11 points playing about 18 minutes. This is a weird game due to the low score. LeBron scores 25 for Cleveland, but no one else on the Cavs gets more than a dozen. A close game, but the Cavs win. Here, again, Iverson is hurt, plays limited minutes, but contributes offensively and keeps Detroit in the game.

SUMMARY: In four regular season games, Detroit won once, had two close games, and was only blown out once. Iverson was their leading scorer in three of those games, and was their second leading scorer in the fourth game, and in every game except perhaps the blowout game, made a huge impact on the game. It’s fair to infer, from the box scores, that if you took Iverson away from the Detroit Pistons, in a direct Cleveland-Detroit Playoff matchup, that Detroit would probably get blown out.

Actual results:

Game 1 April 18 Detroit Pistons 84 Cleveland Cavaliers 102
Game 2 April 21 Detroit Pistons 82 Cleveland Cavaliers 94
Game 3 April 24 Cleveland Cavaliers 79 Detroit Pistons 68
Game 4 April 26 Cleveland Cavaliers 99 Detroit Pistons 78

As you can see, Detroit not only lost four in a row, but they scored 84, 82, 68 and 78 points in those games, which is an average offensive output of only 78 points a game. That’s pretty horrible, especially when you’re giving up 102, 94, 79 and 99 points to the opposition.

Even though Detroit would have lost with AI, the playoffs would have been the LeBron-AI show instead of a pathetic rollover. Detroit should be ashamed of themselves.

Art Kyriazis
Philly/South Jersey
Home of the Philadelphia Phillies