Sunday -- Phillies 5, Jays 3: There might be other teams who do this, but man are the Jays notorious for making plug pitchers such as Philly's Adam Eaton look good.
Jesse Litsch was what you would logically expect, looking like a game but fresh-faced kid who should be back in Double-A. (So much for wowing Rogers Sportsnet personalities who have a thing for unnecessary exclamation points and shaky grammar.) Meantime, the Jays reverted to do-too-much form with bonehead plays such as Matt Stairs swinging at a neck-high 3-and-0 pitch in the second inning, so it was hard to stick with this game, even with the lousy weather.
So the Phillies can claim supremacy in the "I-76 to 1-476 to I-81 to the New York State Thruway to I-190 toward Niagara Falls to the QEW series." (Hat tip to Beerleaguer.)
Saturday -- Jays 13, Phillies 2: Lock, look away, lock, look away. Treat this win like it was Eastern Conference championship trophy.
Shaun Marcum threw another decent game considering his arm isn't stretched out to starter calibre. Some hitters who were due to bust out -- looking at you, Lyle Overbay! -- came through and just about everything went wrong for the Phillies.
Friday -- Phillies 5, Jays 3: See Dustin McGowan make the final out in the Toronto half of the fifth right before Philly scored all five of its runs? Not having a DH in the lineup blows.
Reason No. 1 interleague play has to be overhauled: There's no perception baseball needs it anymore.
(Reason No. 2: Barry Bonds might tie or break Henry Aaron's all-time American home run record vs. our beloved Blue Jays. Suddenly, the Bonds Watch is actually relevant.
Reason No. 3 -- seriously, see how Thomas has hit vs. Moyer. Too bad the National League doesn't play by modern baseball rules!)
Interleague is an embarrassing late-'90s leftover. Think back to what you were like in the wild and nutty summer of 1997, sprinting for the dance floor every time the DJ at Stages played Chumbawumba. You've evolved since then, somewhat. So has baseball, somewhat.
In '97, when interleague play came in, baseball needed something new since it was taking its turn as a whipping boy for every soapbox sports columnist throughout the land. It was cast as a passe sport coming off a a ruinous strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series. (Some might say illicit doping was far more scandalous than some labour turmoil.)
Interleague was a gimmick that smacked of desperation. Ten years later, the public has suppressed its moral outrage to care again about baseball even as Bud Selig sputters through questions about it about a certain near-certified 'roidoid in San Francisco who's closing in on his buddy Hank's hallowed record.
The game is relevant again in the public's mind. These days, the NBA is in the barrel. The NHL only wishes it mattered enough in the States to assume such a position. Besides, the way interleague is set up is too cynical by half -- play all the games in May and June, right when attendance picks up since the weather is getting nicer. That creates the illusion of fan interest. Besides, the Jays always soil the good linen against National League teams, and there's sinking suspicion Phils leadoff man Jimmy Rollins (pictured) will run wild on the basepaths this weekend.
Yankees and Mets fans in New York City didn't need actual regular-season games between the teams to feel like rivals. It's much the same for Cubs and White Sox fans in Chicago and probably for Astros and Rangers fans in Texas, since there's always been a rivalry between Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It makes for good TV ratings since fans in Chicago, New York and Oakland/San Francisco have only one game to watch instead of two this weekend, but for everyone else it blows.
If baseball honestly believed in it, they would move a National League team to the AL West to create two 15-team leagues, requiring there would always be one to three interleague series taking place. It wouldn't have these sampler schedules where one team might play a couple dogs from one division while their rival plays a powerhouse. Does the NFL have New York Jets and Giants play each other in interconference games every season? No.
By the way, checking San Fran's schedule, beginning today the Giants have 22 games left before hosting the Jays from June 11-13. Bonds is 10 homers away from tying Henry Aaron, so if he gets on a roll he could tie the record against the Jays.
What that would say for Bud Selig's legacy is better left unsaid.
Reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard, incidentally, is doing his rehab assignment with Lakewood in the South Atlantic League. So much for the hope he might get assigned to Ottawa.
(Yes, we saw ex-Jay Eric Hinske do a faceplant to make an inning-ending catch in right field and hit the game-winning home run for the the Bostons on Thursday. Don't look that way -- who but the Evil Empires can afford a $5 million backup corner player?)
That's all for now. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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