It's hole-punching time in America, that time of year when we hearken back to 1970s-era computer-punch card technology and fill out our ballots for the All-Star Game in July in major league parks everywhere. For those of us experienced with spreadsheets and dog-eared copies of Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract, however, it is as if our very nostrils battle with each other, past the pollen-thick air, for our eyes to look down past them upon it all.
And then we take our 8-year-olds to the ballpark, and as we set up the scorecard to track the game and check Twitter for the lineups, we find them casually punching the hole of every Phillies player on the card. And then you realize, hey:
When you're 8, @cody_smasche is an All-Star. pic.twitter.com/dMGgOGVMwm— Wet Luzinski (@Wet_Luzinski) May 6, 2014
And think, well, when I was 8, just forming my own baseball consciousness, I thought Dave Cash was pretty neat, too (and he was an All-Star, so there's that). Because Chase Utley was merely a gleam in his father's eye still two years away, I had no idea.
But now, of course, I'm much more sophisticated, and able to analyze an interleague game between the Toronto Blue Jays (my A.L. favorite since expansion) and the Phillies, thusly:
- Whither Cole Hamels? 6 IP, 10 H, 2 HR, 1 BB, 6 K. He is still, perhaps, on the puss side of the pussassin paradigm, hurt bicep and all, recovering from
massive, uncontrollable, socially proscribed diarrheaflu-like symptoms. But in that breezy spring air I felt the neck-hair-raising uncertainty of whether I was watching just the start of a cliff-diving decline in performance level. Nah, get it out of your mind. Edwin Encarnacion is an insurmountable puzzle on a chilly night with huge heavy flags blowing toward the infield during the entire game.
- Oh, Freddy Galvis. Fortunately that same breeze was able to swiftly carry the stank you emanated on the field tonight quickly and efficiently over the Delaware River and toward New Jersey somewhere, where it will likely remain in an unlaundered eddy of funk over Wildwood until all the Senior Weeks have dry-heaved themselves into proper summertime. Consider that the opposing starting pitcher, Drew Hutchison, matched you tonight for the season lead in total base hits. Playing for an injured Jimmy Rollins for a second night, we thought you were supposed to be okay on defense, not someone who gives up on grounders into the shift or forgets to cover second.
- I haven't forgotten you, Antonio Bastardo. After all that effort your teammates spent to tie an otherwise utter snoozefest of a game (honestly, this is what was going on across the aisle from me):
#phillies #offense pic.twitter.com/fr4LLo9cnV— Wet Luzinski (@Wet_Luzinski) May 7, 2014
You just have to go out there and muck up the tenth inning with your patented implosion of bad luck, a wild pitch, and inducing sacrifice fly balls to the noodliest of noodle-armed outfielders.
- Dom Brown: You're broken. I despair for you. Your strikeout in the eighth inning against Hutchison was one of the most pathetic at-bats I've seen from you, and I must say: You are getting pretty good at pathetic at-bats. Good God man, fix this thing lest you get sucked into the slipstream of Larry "Fudgie" Greene's Outfielder Express to Palookaville.
But I digress. There were z-snaps aplenty:
- Blind Squirrel Finds Nut: Mayberry's pinch-hit walk set the stage for Asche in the sixth. It shouldn't have worked, but it did.
- Carlos Ruiz is a fire starter. He throws guys out and gets hits. He was in the second spot in the lineup (so a snap for you, Ryne Sandberg) and did some good.
- I done told you guys Marlon Byrd is a sneaky slugger, mostly because of the doubles and triples factor. He may yet be a blessing unto us.
- Jake Diekman, deployed properly, can be a force for good. He and Jeff Manship and, though it pains me a bit to say it sometimes, the incredibly resurgent and effective Jonathan Papelbon really did as much as most bullpens could be expected to do.
- Cody Asche's four hits were a career high. All of a sudden he's hot. His hits were all hard ones, and he made a great play in the tenth for naught. But they were all good things to see.
Yes, sure. The Phillies lost the game in the tenth. But I could care less, and not because I am dispassionately divested of a team that, on the paperless spreadsheets of this bloodless age, seems destined to fail. I feel a kinship to these guys with every improbable win, as I'm on the wrong side of 40 and things take longer to heal.
No, I rejoice in the fact that tonight, I taught my boy how to keep score.
And after punching Cody Asche's ticket to the All-Star Game, his faith was rewarded (and given the fact that his aunts treated him to this game as a gift for his First Holy Communion, can it get better than this?)
It's like four home runs in one hit! pic.twitter.com/hFjtzA5KbF— Wet Luzinski (@Wet_Luzinski) May 7, 2014
No. And you can't put these things on a