The Philadelphia Phillies: What The Hell Is Going On Here?

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

There is a scene in Back to the Future II when Marty McFly is staring down the barrel of a shotgun being held by what had been his high school’s disciplinarian Mr. Strickland.  Marty is in the Alternate 1985, the 1985 in which Biff Tannen has become rich and powerful, and has turned Hill Valley upside down.

As Strickland threatens to Marty that he has “three seconds to get off this porch with your nuts in tact,” a confused, overwhelmed, and scared Marty screams “Please, Mr. Strickland, I just wanna know what the hell’s going on here!”

As of right now, the 2010 baseball season has become the Alternate 1985, the Philadelphia Phillies are Mr. Strickland, and Philadelphia Phillies fans are Marty McFly.

We just wanna know what the hell is going on here.

With their 9-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies have now lost nine out of their last 13 games; what’s worse, they have officially fallen out of first place.

The problem with this 13 game skid, of course, is that the Phillies have been lucky to have won the four games they’ve won.  Remember, one of those wins was a 1-0 victory in which Roy Halladay had to pitch a perfect game to ensure the Phillies’ win when the Phils managed only one unearned run.

Suddenly, the Phillies are in an alternate universe in which they have to rely on pitching and defense to win games because their offense is too anemic to consistently score runs. The problem, of course, is that this team is not built around pitching, and defense.  

Admittedly, Jamie Moyer is losing hard-luck games—he has three losses in his last three starts despite giving up only seven earned runs in 18 innings—for the first time in his career.  Nevertheless, this is not a staff that is going to hold teams to four or fewer earned runs very often.

Where this all gets scary is when you look at the offensive numbers for the Phils during the last 13 games.  

In eight of the last 13 games, the Phillies have scored either one run or no runs. During that stretch the Phillies have gone from one of the top offenses in the National League to seventh in the NL. The Phillies haven’t finished a season that low in offense since 2002.

The Phillies went an entire week without a homerun from Sunday May 23rd to Monday May 31st.  The Phillies haven’t gone that long without a homerun since 1999. Plus, the last homerun they hit was by Ross Gload; no offense to Ross, but he’s not the guy we need homeruns from.

And then there are the individual stats: Jayson Werth, who had the day off on Monday, is currently on an 0-for-17 slump, and has watched his batting average drop 40 points in 13 games.

Chase Utley has also watched his average drop almost forty points, and is now hitting .277, which would be a full season career worst.

With an 0-for-4 outting on Monday, Ryan Howard’s OPS dropped below .800; his career OPS is .950.

The first two months of the Phillies season are now over, and it would be difficult to say that this has been a “bad start” to the season.  The Phillies are still six games over .500, and they are still only half a game out of first place in the NL East.

However, what has been a near-historically lethargic month for one of the best offenses in baseball is troubling nonetheless, and the Phillies need to prove to themselves and their fans that they can still snap out of this funk.

At the end of Back to the Future II, Doc and Marty catch up to Biff back in 1955 and save the day, returning the Alternate 1985 to the real 1985, and returning all life to normal.  Will the Phillies be so lucky?

Mr. Strickland’s got his gun pointed at the Phillies’ fans nuts, and we’ve got three seconds to get off his porch.

If the Phillies can’t get this offense turned around soon, we may all find ourselves stuck in the Alternate 1985 forever.

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A Letter to Roy Halladay: The Conflicted Emotions of a Blue Jay Fan

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

This past Saturday, Roy Halladay of the Toro…Philadelphia Phillies pitched the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.

As a life-long Torontonian and die hard Blue Jay fan this was, to say the least, bittersweet.

I equate it to running in to your old high school girlfriend and finding out she’s engaged and has a fantastic new career. 

Meanwhile, your still single, getting fatter by the day, and stuck in a dead in job.

Oh yea, her fiancé (you know, the guy who replaced you) is way better looking than you are.  Awesome.

Anyways, here’s my letter to a lost but never forgotten friend.

Dear Roy,

I remember when we first met.  It was September 27th, 1998 and the Detroit Tigers were in town.  Mutual friend Gord Ash (then Blue Jays GM) had finally decided to invite you to the party.

I’ve always eschewed clichés as I found them to be silly euphemisms for even sillier people.  But on this day I got very silly; for if first impressions are the most enduring then 09/27/98 made a very lasting one indeed.

After 8.1 innings of no hit ball, known puppy hater and Satan worshiper Bobby Higginson decided to pee in the cornflakes of Blue Jay Nation.  He took your fastball over the left field fence to ruin your debut.

Nonetheless, a complete game one hitter is a great way to say hello.

Over the next few seasons our relationship had its typical ups and downs.  Some friends of mine even tried to persuade me to break it off, telling me you were overrated.

I knew better.

Then in 2002 you decided to take our relationship to the next level.  Love was in the air throughout the Summer and it culminated in a 19-7 record with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

Just when I though it couldn’t get any better, the very next year you surpassed all my lofty expectations.

22W-7L. 266 IP. 3.25 ERA. 1.07 WHIP. 204 K’s. 32 BB’s.  Cy Young Award.

Roy, you’re much too humble to care about personal stats but allow me to put this season into perspective.

Using the following benchmark: 200 IP, 20 W, 200 K (min), 40 BB (max), do you know how many pitchers have ever had such a season? 

The answer is four.  Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and You.  They all did it once, but in 2008 you did it a second time (246/20/206/39).

Inexplicably, you didn’t win the Cy Young that year.  Even though you had more strikeouts and led the league in complete games, shutouts and WHIP.

Not that you needed to impress me, you had me at Strike One.

However, all good things come to an end.

Late last year we traded you to Philly.  I understand why we broke up and I’m not bitter.  We didn’t give you what you wanted and even though we still love each other, you deserve that ring.

It just breaks my heart that you’ll get it in a different jersey.

I wish you all the best Roy.  Long may you run.

Love, Jeff (on behalf of Jay fans everywhere)

P.S. I heard Bobby Higginson was spotted mopping the floor of a peep show in Flint, Michigan.  Weird, huh?


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Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Halladay Hurls Perfect Game

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

It’s very rare I root against baseball history, but Saturday night I was forced to make that decision. You see, I was going up against my buddy Odie in fantasy baseball last week and he has Roy Halladay on his team.

When we go against each other in any fantasy sport, it’s usually a battle. We jinx each other’s players and make short-term pickups just to win the week. So when he sent me a text message Saturday night saying you better turn on the Phillies–Marlins game, I knew something was up.

What was up was Halladay was tossing a perfect game against the Marlins. I tried my hardest to jinx Halladay (sorry Phillies’ fans, but fantasy baseball takes precedent over teams I have zero rooting interest in), but it wasn’t meant to be.

Halladay pitched the 20th perfect game in baseball history as the Phillies defeated the Marlins 1-0. It was the third perfect game in the last 10 months and second this month. Dallas Braden of the Oakland A’s pitched the 19th perfect game in history earlier in May.

The final out of the game was a weak ground ball to the hole between third and short by pinch hitter (the third that inning) Ronny Paulino that Phillies’ 3B Juan Castro fielded and fired to first.

Then something happened that I’ve never seen before—Halladay smiled.

If there was ever a guy who should be given the nickname “Stone Cold” it should be Halladay. No offense to Steve Austin, but Halladay has ice water running through his veins; the man never shows any emotion.

That is until Saturday night. Halladay smiled, hugged, and even celebrated with his teammates on the mound.

For the game, Halladay recorded eight ground-ball outs, eight fly ball outs, and struck out 11. Halladay has now won a Cy Young and pitched a perfect game. All he has left to do is win a World Series and his career will be complete.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @theghostofmlg

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Philadelphia Phillies: Who Just Pitched 36-24-36?

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News


Roy Halladay ’s figure might be far from perfect, but Saturday he threw a 10.

I watched Roy’s own personal Man Show fittingly on a girl’s night out. From a seat at Barnaby’s we celebrated, and were soon joined by a group of guys in traditional Scottish attire.

“Why kilts?” I asked.

“Just exploring our ethnic tradition,” the scholar said. “Wanna peek?”

“No thanks,” I said. “I have one of those at home.”

I wasn’t talking about the skirt.

I don’t have to pull up Roy’s to tell you what’s underneath. Saturday’s performance tells the tale.

Pardon me, I have to change my panties.

Then Sunday I picked up the paper and read the front page headline—“Perfect.”

What I didn’t know was the article that followed was written by immortal columnist Bill Lyon. If you don’t know Bill—I’ll explain.

His Excellency resides in a levitated state above a swirl of melodic words and catchy phrases in a land far, far away. Every now and then he descends through a scripted mist to transmit prose as only he knows.

I imagine the late night email he sent to the Inquirer after Roy’s masterpiece went something like this—“Hi, this is Bill. I’ll take it from here.”

Then he graced us with giblets of sports gospel.

I started to read, sucking down the imagery with the few coherent brain cells that were spared by the eighties, and did the only thing any aging, premenstrual baseball enthusiast would do.

I wept.

That’s right. While my husband confirmed that I’m crazy, I continued to cry. It was hours before I could speak of the game without that curveball lodging in my throat.

I have bats in the belfry—Roy had angels at the plate.

And at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida almost 26 people witnessed it.

The only problem with the ace’s career quest was the scoreboard records whole numbers, and runs are tallied in increments of one.

There are no A’s for effort or badges for courage. A perfect “P” can only be attained if your team scores at least once. Achieving that seemed to be more elusive than my first “O.” But after endless days of struggling to manufacture runs, the game was ironically won on an “E.”

I’m putting out an APB on the long ball.

The Phil’s offense is as frustrated as a middle-aged babe who can’t perfect the fake press pass.

Hypothetically speaking.

Now let’s give credit where it’s due.

Imagine you’re Carlos Ruiz, an unimposing dude from Panama. You experienced brief notoriety this season as the first batter up in an extra innings game against what could be called the best team in the league.

You walked to the plate in the bottom of the tenth knowing you were the eighth guy in the lineup. If it weren’t for the pitcher, you’d have been ninth.

You’re Ugly Betty.

After a first pitch foul touched down aside of the left field pole, you watched two pitches whiz by to move the count to 2-1. Then you recognized the next pitch as your opportunity to straighten it out. You summoned the same swing and briefly admired the ball sailing toward the left center wall. With confidence you pointed to the dugout as you jogged by, rounding first as the man who’d won the game.

Last but not least, you jumped into the pile at home plate knowing you sent a little guy from section 146 home with a souvenir.

I once saw a quote that read, “It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a tendency toward subtlety.” Well, maybe this is the year for Carlos Ruiz. I can’t wait until the day “Chooch” becomes a household name.

Roy gained so much faith in what Doctor Chooch was prescribing, he gave him the honor of calling the game—starting in the sixth.

So Carlos knelt calmly and did what he was told to do—handle the pitchers. And he does that in English and Spanish.

He can whisper sweet nothings in my ear in Swahili for all I care.

I get a hot flash just thinking about it.

At the end of nine, Chooch added a perfect game to his catching resume, and Roy Halladay enhanced his biography.

The last Phillie to do that chose the year 1964. I had just turned two. While Jim Bunning pitched perfectly to 27 batters, I was chiseling my way into my mother’s padlocked medicine case with the claw of my Fisher-Price hammer, intent on getting my fix on children’s aspirin.

Now I just jones for the Phils.

I know they’ll work through their offensive rut but if they don’t, I won’t be the only doe still in season.

Enjoy the rest of this Halladay weekend.

See you at the ballpark.


Copyright 2010 Flattish Poe All Rights Reserved

Catch life one-liner at a time on Twitter.

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A Perfect Halladay in Philadelphia

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

A perfect Halladay in Philadelphia is just what the Phillies needed.

On Saturday, Roy Halladay threw the 20th perfect game in Major League History against the Florida Marlins. It was a fantastic pitchers duel that was won out by Halladay and the Phillies by the score of 1-0.

The Marlins became the second Major League Baseball team from Florida this year to have their bats silenced by a perfectly pitched game. Tampa Bay Rays was the first victim on May 9, 2010 when Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics sat all 27 of the Rays’ batters.

Halladay’s perfect game could have not come at a better time as the Phillies have struggled to score runs; therefore, their pitching has been paramount. The lack of run support did not matter Saturday as the Marlins could not in the famous words of Wee Willie Keller “hit them where they aint” and the Phillies can thank Halladay for it.

In Halladay previous start, he was hit hard by the Boston Red Sox during interleague play, but it is safe to say he recovered nicely. Halladay had 11 strikeouts, and Phillies’ defense took care of the rest. Perfect games by Halladay and Braden marked only the second time that two perfect games were pitched in the same year. The feat has not been accomplished since 1880.

On Saturday, he came within pitch from giving a batter free pass to first base seven different times but it never happened. Phillies acquisition of Roy Halladay continues to payoff in the best way. It was more of a payoff in a perfect way on Saturday.

Fans were able to enjoy a perfect Halladay in Philadelphia.

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Roy Halladay’s Perfect Game Tarnished By Poor Offense

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Roy Halladay’s perfect game against the Florida Marlins Saturday night was only the 20th in the MLB’s extensive history, and only the second in Phillies history. Halladay looked spectacular in every facet of his game and his defense picked him up during the rare occasions he needed them.

However, even after such a great performance defensively, there are still plenty of reasons to be worried about this team.

For instance, they’ve scored only four runs over the past five games. They were shut out three times against the Mets, scored three runs on the Marlins for a win, and most recently scored only one run to ensure Halladay’s efforts didn’t drag him into extra innings.

But for a team that has lived and died on its ability to score runs, it’s a bit unsettling to see them struggle so mightily for such a long stretch.

The Phils’ offense has been anemic, to say the least.

Halladay can’t pitch every day, and there are certain pitchers in this rotation that will need the offense to score a lot of runs if they want to win.

(Here’s looking at you, Jamie Moyer.)

Without that offense, this is a slightly above-average team because of the outstanding defensive play and, for the most part, very good pitching. Above-average might still sound like a good thing, but slightly above-average teams don’t win the World Series—they get knocked out of the first round in five games.

And what’s troubling about Halladay’s perfect game is that the Phillies couldn’t even score on a base hit, sac fly, or something to that effect. Instead, they have to rely on a boneheaded play by Cameron Maybin to bring Wilson Valdez across the play on an error.

Needless to say, you’re not going to win many playoff series by scoring four runs in five games.

Of course, they have been working without Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz has been banged up, and most recently Placido Polanco has been forced to miss a couple games with a shoulder injury. But if they want to repeat what they accomplished in 2008, they’re going to have to do it while fighting through some injuries.

It’s time for Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth to step up and start playing the way we’ve seen they can. They’re going to be the guys who put the runs on the board. If they don’t take it upon themselves to get the offense moving in the right direction, it’s going to remain in neutral all season long.

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Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Halladay Tosses MLB’s 20th Perfect Game

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee sat cross-legged in the Philadelphia Phillies dugout. They assumed that pose for the longest time, sitting not five feet apart on the bench, and watched their ace Roy Halladay attempt to do something very historic. The 32-year-old pitcher whom they acquired during the offseason was on the mound pitching during the eighth inning, six outs away from throwing a perfect game.

Halladay has been one of the better pitchers in baseball, with perhaps the filthiest repertoire. His movement has baffled so many teams during his illustrious career, and the Florida Marlins were the latest to fall under his spell. Twenty-one outs had come rather easily, and a crowd that was Phillies-partisan stood anticipating perfection.

Juan Castro, getting the start at third base for Placido Polanco, and made a considerable impact, keeping the perfect game intact by gobbling up a hot shot off the bat of Jorge Cantu and firing to first for the eight’s first out.

Dan Uggla was next, and he stared, bat on his shoulder, at strike three, a fastball painted on the outside corner. Four outs left. Two pitches later, Halladay walked off the mound, having induced a pop-up out of Cody Ross, as the stadium buzzed in excitement.

The Phillies clung to a 1-0 lead entering their half of the ninth inning, as they to were baffled. Marlins ace Josh Johnson was excellent over his seven innings, allowing the lone run in the third inning as an error by Cameron Maybin had Wilson Valdez speeding around to score from first .

A struggling offense would have the opportunity to extend their slim advantage and make life much easier for Halladay. They could not provide insurance. One crack of the bat by the Marlins into the near empty seats could break up the perfect-game, no-hitter, shutout, and squander the lead.

Mike Lamb pinch-hit for catcher Brett Hayes to begin the bottom of the ninth, with the few thousand in attendance on their feet—Marlins and Phillies fans alike. His at-bat ended innocently enough, as an impeccably placed Halladay fastball was lifted meekly into center field.

For the second out, the 6’6″ righthander’s handling of pinch-hitter Wes Helms exemplified that it was indeed his night, that he was as sharp as could be. A fastball clipped the inside corner, another was tipped foul, a third narrowly missed the same target, and then the fourth hit Carlos Ruiz’s glove that danced on the inner-reaches of the strikezone.

Helms walked away. The crowd cheered. The announcer’s tone grew ever-more enthusiastic. One more out and Halladay would notch the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history, his first of such kind, as well as his first no-hitter.

A third-straight pinch-hitter strode to the plate. Ronny Paulino, a .280 career hitter who entered batting .310 on the season, could thwart history or be a part of it. The latter took place, as a fourth-pitch curveball hit sharply to third was consumed by Castro and fired to first baseman Ryan Howard.

Howard tapped the bag and thrust his arms in the air, as the crowd cheered as one. Halladay stood pumping his fist as the 27th straight out was recorded , hugged Ruiz, and sported the happiest of smiles as his teammates joined in on the celebration .

That smiled remained spread euphorically across his face as the few hundred Marlins fans and the few thousand Phillies fans stood and applauded. For a pitcher that dominated the American League for years with the Toronto Blue Jays, a pitcher that entered with 154 wins, including six this year, this moment was a long time coming—a moment only 19 others have experienced.

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Is Roy Halladay the Best Pitcher To Throw a Perfect Game?

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

With his perfect game against the Florida Marlins on Saturday night, Philadelphia Phillies’ pitcher Roy Halladay became the 20th pitcher to throw a perfect game in MLB history.

The question can now be asked, is Halladay the best pitcher to throw a perfect game?

But, after looking at the list of perfect game pitchers, there are some names that start the argument against Halladay.

Of the twenty pitchers, I singled out a few names that are worthy of making the discussion of best pitcher to throw a perfect game.

Cy Young, May 5, 1904

Addie Joss, October 2, 1908

Sandy Koufax, September 9, 1965

Catfish Hunter, May 8, 1968

Randy Johnson, May 18, 2004

Roy Halladay, May 29, 2010

The first four are already Hall of Famers and Johnson and Halladay should join them at the end of their careers.

Joss can be eliminated because of how short his career was. If Joss did not die at 31 from disease, he would have had better numbers and a more illustrious career.

Koufax lost years from his career at the end when he had to retire after only 11 seasons in the big leagues.

Now, the debate really begins.

Cy Young is the best pitcher statiscally in wins but he did play in a different era of baseball when pitchers were the focus of the game.

Hunter can also be thrown into the discussion with a career 224-166 record and over 2,000 strikeouts.

The Big Unit was a dominant force no matter where he landed and his 303 wins and 4,875 strikouts are there to prove how dominant he was.

Then, there is Halladay.

Halladay is now 33 years old with 155 career wins and over 1,500 strikeouts. Beyond the statistics, Halladay was consistently good on a consistently bad team in Toronto for a decade and is now on a winning team in Philadelphia.

Will he reach 300 wins? He just might. At 155 already, he will win at least ten more this season and has had 16 wins in each of the past four seasons.

So, the answer to the question of Who is the best perfect game pitcher is hard to figure out due to the eras that these four played in but Roy Halladay is surely on track to keep the debate going on and on for generations of baseball fans to debate this question.

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Marlins Mastery: Phillies’ Roy Halladay Fires Perfect Game!

May 29, 2010 by  
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Coming off his worst outing of the season and surrounded by a team struggling to score runs, Roy Halladay was determined to get things righted tonight with a strong performance against the Florida Marlins. 

Although his Phillies teammates could scratch out only one run, Halladay etched his name in the  baseball annals by hurling the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history. 

27 up, 27 down! 

The big right-hander added his name to the prestigious list in convincing fashion. Halladay pounded the strike zone, relying heavily on a 93-94 mph fastball with heavy action from start to finish. 

Marlins’ hitters were largely over-matched throughout the contest, with very few balls even having a chance to be a hit. On the few occasions they were, Halladay’s defense was up to the challenge.  

Phillies’ shortstop Wilson Valdez ranged deep into the hole in the bottom of the sixth inning and gunned out speedster Cameron Maybin at first by half a step. In the eighth inning, it was third baseman Juan Castro stabbing a sharp one hopper with a dive to his left and spinning to nail Jorge Cantu to end the frame. 

Then, with two outs in the ninth, Marlins’ pinch-hitter, former Phil and reigning Phillies killer Ronnie Paulino struck a bouncer that initially appeared that it might be headed through the hole on the left-side of the infield. Again, Castro ranged far to his left to make the grab, wheeled and fired to Ryan Howard for the final out. 

Interestingly, the biggest plays on defense were made by two offseason free agent pick-ups filling in for two reigning Gold Glovers shelved by injuries. 

Castro was making his first start of the season at third with regular Placido Polanco sidelined with a sore elbow. Valdez was making his second consecutive start at shortstop for the injured Jimmy Rollins. 

Overall, Halladay retired eight Marlins on ground balls and the same number on fly balls. The other eleven he set down via strikes, primarily by painting the corners with hard, sinking fastballs.

After the game, Halladay proved himself to be almost as eloquent off the field as he was elegant on the field.

He praised catcher Carlos Ruiz for a superb job behind the plate and indicated that he followed his lead on pitch selection. Halladay also credited Castro, Valdez, and Chase Utley with making fine plays behind him. 

He even passed credit to Jamie Moyer for helping him right his mechanics in a bullpen session yesterday.   

As much as he wanted to share the credit, make no mistake about it though— this night belonged to Halladay. With the aid of one unearned run and a few nice plays, arguably baseball’s best pitcher further cemented his legacy with a truly masterful game for the ages. 

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Is Missing a Perfect Game the Worst Feeling as a Fan?

May 29, 2010 by  
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First of all, I would like to congratutlate Roy Halladay for throwing the 20th perfect game in MLB history. Secondly, I would like to hang myself for not being present, even though I had the chance to be.

I don’t know if it is the worst feeling a fan can ever have. I have seen the Cubs piss away a lead in game 6 of the NLCS. I have witnessed several Bengals’ playoff losses. I have also seen many Northwestern bowl losses. This one hurts.

I was asked today, the day of Halladay’s perfect game if I wanted to attend tonight’s game. I said yes, and was told to text or call him. He never responded.

It turns out he got food poisoning from a local deli and was praying all night to the porcelain Gods, at least until he heard what Roy had done. He was upset to say the least. Other than that, he said he had gone from upset-crying-sad to upset-pissed-off-mad.

It got me thinking about if this could be the worst feeling in sports.

True, you get mad or upset when your team loses in the playoffs or championship, but how upset can you get?

It is so rare to see a perfect game in baseball. The odds are so less than 1% that it cannot be measured. It is more likely that you will see a no hitter, triple-double in basketball, or 5 OT game in hockey playoffs.

Is it me or do I look a fool with my pants on the ground?

I feel that the perfect game in baseball is the ultimate in what you can be a part of in sports history. It is so hard to be perfect in anything, including sports. It is even more impossible to be perfect in being a fan, which I feel inadequate in as of now.

So I guess I ask the question, what is the worst feeling as a sports fan? Is it missing a huge sporting event, even though you could have been there? Is it watching your team bomb a title game? As always, your opinions are much appreciated so feel free to comment below.

Also, as a single male, I also like comforting hugs, which I surely need at this time in my life, and I hope many sports fans will agree…..

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