2010: A Banner Year In Philadelphia Sports

December 31, 2010 by Andrew J. Kearney  
Filed under Fan News

In many ways, 2010 was the best year in Philadelphia sports since 1980.  Thirty years ago, all four Philadelphia teams were in their sports' finals (Phillies were the only ones to win.)  

Through the years, Philadelphia has had some amazing times despite having a 25-year championship drought.  The drought that lasted from 1983-2008 still saw some entertaining times, yet so many heartbreaks as well.  

Though no championships were won in 2010, there were many moments and players that will never be forgotten.  A new wave of Philadelphia sports looks to be underway.  Names like Mike Richards, Roy Halladay, Michael Vick and Evan Turner are now synonymous with this era.

Philadelphia is a blue-collar town that's often misunderstood.  These are tough people that just want an honest, 100% effort every single night.  If they get anything less...well, you know, they do that one thing that they know best.  "BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

The futures of the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and 76ers are very bright right now.  Could one of these teams deliver a championship in 2011?  Could several do so?  Only time will tell. But for now a look back at 2010 is necessary.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Signs Cliff Lee: Why the Phillies Are Still Not Like the Yankees

December 30, 2010 by jed zaslow  
Filed under Fan News

The Phillies' recent acquisition of Cliff Lee is drawing the attention of baseball writers all over the country.  Many of them commend GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and his bold decision to acquire the lefty, but others are not quite as generous.  

Although Cliff Lee left money on the table, it still took Philadelphia a boat load of money to bring him back into red pinstripes.  So much money actually, that the Phillies are even being compared to the New York Yankees who are infamous for purchasing the top free agents on the market without any financial limitations.

Now I must confess, I am a die-hard Philadelphia Phillies fan, but it does not take a genius to see that the Phillies are by no means like the Yankees.  Here are some reasons (they are in no specific order):

 

1. The Phillies Payroll Is a Lot Smaller Than the Yankees'

I am not saying the Phillies and Yankees are not comparable.  They both have very high payrolls, they both purchase and trade for stellar players and they both have comparable lineups.  However, the Phillies payroll is around $50 million smaller than the Yankees payroll.

$50 million is a lot of money!  To put that in perspective, the 2009 payroll of the Florida Marlins was smaller than $50 million.  With the big names in free agency this season and an extra $50 million, the Phillies could have re-signed Jayson Werth, still have inked Cliff Lee, signed free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, acquired the top left-handed reliever on the market in Scott Downs and they could use the remaining money to upgrade the bullpen even further.  Now that team would be "Yankee comparable."

The Phillies have also publicized their interest in getting rid of starting pitcher Joe Blanton to help reduce the large number that is the Phillies payroll.  They have acknowledged that a large sum of money was spent and they are planning on loosening the payroll with a trade.  If they do not get this done however, they have many contracts ending after the 2011 season, and they will eat Blanton's salary until they lose players to free agency like Raul Ibanez, and possibly Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge.  Needless to say, after losing those hefty salaries, they will have more money to spend on other players.

 

2. Cliff Lee Was Once a Phillie

In July of 2009, the Philadelphia Phillies were looking to ink a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher to assist them in their quest to their second straight World Series.  Roy Halladay was their prime target, but J.P Ricciardi's asking price was far too high, so they settled for Cliff Lee.  Lee instantly became a fan favorite in Philadelphia leading them to their second straight World Series.

Before the 2010 season began, the Phils were looking to re-attempt to acquire right-handed pitcher Roy Halladay.  Philadelphia fans had already made shirts that said "Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee," but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. felt that the Phillies needed to replenish their farm system, so he sent Cliff Lee away to Seattle for prospects that turned out to be quite mediocre.

This move was very unpopular in Philadelphia, and at the next trade deadline, Ruben Amaro redeemed himself with the acquisition of right-handed starting pitcher Roy Oswalt.  This had already given the Phillies one of the top rotations in all of the majors, but it was not enough as the Phillies fell to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.

Now, one could compare the Phillies to the Yankees, accusing them of stealing the No. 1 free agent on the market, but as poor as the excuse may sound, Cliff Lee is an exception. 

Amaro had earlier stated before the signing that the Phillies payroll is very tight and it would take only a rare exception to expand the payroll any further.  Although Cliff Lee was the top free agent in the free agency pool this year, the Phillies would not have spent that money on Carl Crawford; not once did the Phillies even mention that they were attempting to sign the top outfielder on the free-agent market.

Letting Cliff Lee go in the first place was a mistake—Amaro knew Cliff Lee wanted to be in Philadelphia.  Opportunities, like getting the top pitcher on the free-agent market for much less money, rarely ever occur.  Cliff Lee had a connection with Philadelphia and it is not much of a surprise that they got him; if his name was "Liff Cee" and he never played for the Phillies, they probably would not have tried to get him.  

If you want to compare the Phillies to the Yankees, do not start comparing them after the signing of Cliff Lee, because, although it is improving the team's already-stellar rotation, Cliff Lee has a connection with Philadelphia.  

 

3. Most Phillies Have Been on the Team Since Drafted

Philadelphia's core lineup and the majority of their team consists of players that were drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies or players that came into the majors from the Phillies farm system.  Some of their best players—Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino, and Cole Hamels emerged from the Phillies farm system and became the highly regarded players that they are today.

The Phillies' large payroll is merely a result of retaining their Philadelphia products.  The New York Yankees have six players that they once drafted and 3 of them shape their core: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, and Phil Hughes.  It may seem that they have a lot of homegrown talent, but they have acquired more of their players through trade and free agency and those names like C.C Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, A.J Burnett, and Javier Vasquez are some of the Yankees bigger contributors.  Now it is true that the Yankees have a lot of young talent currently in their systems, but trades do occur and some of those players will be on different clubs in the future. 

So as you can see, the Philadelphia Phillies may be comparable to the New York Yankees, but in terms of accusations towards the Phillies for purchasing the top players on the market, the Phillies are very different.  Let me know what you think.  Thanks! 

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Philadelphia Phillies Fans 2011 New Year Resolutions

December 30, 2010 by Jenn Zambri  
Filed under Fan News

Spring training is still many weeks away, but it is never too soon to begin thinking about the upcoming baseball season.  For Phillies fans, the promise of the new quartet of ace starting pitchers and a ballclub full of rested, healthy players breeds excitement.

But before one becomes overwhelmed with anticipation, all fans should sit down and make a practical list of important New Year Resolutions.  Here are a few to get you started.

1. Do not grumble every time Ryan Howard strikes out.  You should expect this by now.

2. Do not succumb to peer pressure by participating in The Wave.  Sit on your hands if you have to.  I hereby declare The Wave to be officially silly.

3. Stop tweeting the game play by play.  If someone owns a computer and is reading your tweets, you are likely safe in assuming that they also own a TV or a radio for which to see or hear the game.

4. To show the compassion and understanding of all great Phillies fans, offer free hugs to Mets fans.  After all, they are human beings too.

5. Unglue yourself from the computer and swear off fantasy baseball.  You can in fact have a life.

6. On Dollar Dog Night, limit yourself to a five dog maximum.  Take the other $15 dollars you saved and donate it to Phillies Charities.  Your stomach will thank you.

7. For the men: Please wear a shirt to ballgames.  You are not as sexy as you think.

8. For the women: Has your mother never told you that crack kills?  Please wear pants that fit.  Some men may disagree, but all the small children and their parents at the game will be eternally grateful.

9. For the parents: Please buy the super-cool foam finger for your kid after the game is over.  If all I see during a Chase Utley home run is a red foam finger, I will be forced to sit in front of you and break resolution #8.

10. Do not yell at the umpires for being blind.  The Americans With Disabilities Act says that blindness is a handicap and therefore, it is politically incorrect to poke fun at blind people.

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!

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Joakim Soria: The Final Piece to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Offseason Puzzle?

December 29, 2010 by Gregory Pinto  
Filed under Fan News

The Kansas City Royals had two prized pitchers heading into the offseason. The first was 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke. He was known to be available after having voiced his disgust with the Royals, and a few months later, they shipped him to the Milwaukee Brewers for four of the Brewers' top prospects.

According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the press release had barely gone public when teams started calling about the Royals' second most valued commodity—closer, Joakim Soria.

Soria, 26, has been nicknamed "The Mexicutioner," and it should be fairly obvious why: When he enters the ball game in the ninth inning, the opponent's hopes of winning are all but dead.

Since becoming a full time reliever in 2007, Soria has been electric, appearing in a total of 238 games, posting a record of 8-10, with an ERA of just 2.01. Through age 26, he has converted 238 saves for the bottom dwelling, Kansas City Royals, and has blow just 13 saves over the course of his career. By the time his career is finished, he could be one of the greatest closers baseball has ever seen.

So why would the Royals want to trade him?

Though they're not stuck in the same predicament they were with Greinke, the Royals interest in trading Soria would be more of a want than a necessity. Soria is signed to a team friendly deal through the 2011 season, with club options that become guaranteed with various in-game feats for each season through 2014.

Soria's contract is one of his best selling points, and has drawn the interest of large market teams like the New York Yankees, who were rumored to have offered their top prospect, catcher/DH Jesus Montero, straight up for the Royals' closer. The Yankees were denied because of the depth of the Royals' farm system in that position, but the point is clear: teams are willing to give up their best to acquire Soria. Why is that?

In short, he has been absolutely dominant as a closer. Last season alone, he posted a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 1.78 for the Royals, converting 43 saves. Take into consideration that the Royals won just 67 games in 2010.

That means that Soria saved more than 64 percent of all Royals wins in 2010. Imagine what he can do with an annual contender like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, or as this article is concerned, the Philadelphia Phillies.

With Brad Lidge already in tow, why would the Phillies consider Soria?

When he is completely healthy, Lidge is one of the best closers in baseball. He showed flashes of that brilliance at the end of the 2010 season, where he posted an ERA of 0.76 over the final three months of the season, and reduced his blown saves from 11 in 2009 to just five in 2010. It is his inconsistency that has worried the Phillies organization, however.

Before he returned to form in those final three months, Lidge posted an ERA of 6.52 in the months of June and July. Aside from his on the field performance, Lidge is almost sure to become a free agent after the 2011 season, since the Phillies hold a hefty option for 2012 that is sure to be declined.

The Phillies also boast a set-up man that has "closer stuff," in right-hander Ryan Madson. Madson was much better—and more consistent, for that matter—than Lidge in 2010. He posted a 6-2 with an ERA of 2.55, and despite missing a significant amount of time with a broken toe, recorded 15 holds to effectively set up Lidge.

Like Lidge, however, Madson will become a free agent after the 2011 season, and though he is more likely to return to the Phillies than his closer counterpart, he is a Scott Boras client, and will surely make the Phillies sweat it out and ask for a big pay day.

With the uncertainty of the Phillies bullpen after the 2011 season, why not make a play for the golden standard?

According to Baseball America and numerous other prospect gurus, the Royals have the most talented, deepest farm system in baseball. With names like Mike Montgomery, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Wil Meyers in their system, the Royals made it clear that they will not just settle for a team's top prospect. In any deal for any of their star players, they are going to fill areas of need with young, talented players.

General Manager Dayton Moore made it clear that he was going to seek a middle infielder, a center fielder and pitching help for Zack Greinke's services, and what did he do? He went out and acquired shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain and pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi from the Milwaukee Brewers. So what's left to upgrade?

From an outsider's perspective, the Royals appear to need the most help in the outfield, in the starting rotation, in the bullpen, and behind the plate. If the Phillies were going to express interest in Soria, they could help fill each of those areas. Any deal for Soria would surely start with baseball's top prospect, outfielder Domonic Brown.

Though he had a less than impressive debut, Brown mashed minor league pitching, posting a slash line of .332/.391/.582, with 20 home runs. He is the standard five tool player, and will transition into one of baseball's premier outfielders.

The Phillies could also offer a bevy of relief prospects, highlighted by right hander, Justin DeFratus. He posted ERAs below 2.20 at three different levels in the Phillies' system in 2010, and was added to the 40-man roster earlier in the winter.

Combined with any number of starting pitching prospects like Trevor May, Jarred Cosart, or Brody Colvin and talented defensive catcher Sebastian Valle, and the Phillies could put together an impressive package.

That seems to be where most teams put Dayton Moore on hold. How do you value a pitcher that is going to throw a maximum of 70 innings pitched? According to some sources, the Phillies wouldn't be ridiculous to offer Domonic Brown straight up for Soria, but like the Yankees, they would probably be turned down.

As mentioned earlier, Soria has an extremely team friendly contract that should up his value. If the Phillies were to offer Domonic Brown, Justin DeFratus and another player, I think it would be hard to turn that package down.

Soria himself could also be an obstacle to a deal. He has a partial no trade clause that blocks, among other teams, the Phillies. Though recent reports suggest that Soria wouldn't block a trade to any team, he could use his no-trade clause as leverage to negotiate an extension with a new team. That, is a different discussion all together.

At the end of the day, Soria seems like a perfect fit for the Phillies bullpen. Assuming that they could move Joe Blanton, he'd make just half of what the starter is due in 2011.

Assuming that he'd be the go-to guy in the ninth inning, the Phillies would be able to turn to Jose Contreras, JC Romero, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge in some combination from the sixth inning onward, and with their four horseman manning the rotation, how often would they be necessary?

It would easily be the greatest pitching staff of all time, and certainly complies with General Manager Ruben Amaro's philosophy that pitching wins championships.

I suppose it comes down to the discussion, who is more valuable going forward—Joakim Soria or Domonic Brown?

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Philadelphia Phillies: Power Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in Their Farm System

December 29, 2010 by Casey Schermick  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies have made a name for themselves in recent years, reaching the NLCS the past three seasons. However Ruben Amaro Jr. seems to always make mid-season trades to give them the extra boost they need to make a run.

Many critics say that the Phillies are only a good team in the present time and are not a team of the future. Fans often argue that the team has an excellent farm system and develops players to become great players in the majors. One such case of this is the development of Ryan Howard.

Here are the top 10 players in the Phillies farm system right now.  

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Joe Blanton’s Trade Market: Who Wants the Philadelphia Phillies Righty?

December 28, 2010 by Adam Bernacchio  
Filed under Fan News

The weather here in the northeast is unbelievable. I hope everyone is staying safe and not trying to travel in this snowstorm and the aftermath of it.

Speaking of  the northeast, the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t made too many moves this offseason, but the one move they did make had major impact on the landscape of Major League Baseball. When they signed Cliff Lee, they sent a ripple effect throughout baseball that everyone is still talking about.

Now with Lee in the fold, the Phillies have four aces in their five-man rotation. The fifth guy, Joe Blanton, might just be the odd man out.

The Phillies are looking to trade Blanton so they can free up money to potentially make a move if they have to during the season. Now that the Phillies are looking to trade the former Oakland Athletic, let’s take a look at the pros, cons, and which teams could be interested in Blanton.


Pros

In a day and age where finding pitchers to eat up innings is a rarity, Blanton can eat up innings with the best of them. In his six full seasons in the Major Leagues, Blanton has averaged 199 innings a season. That’s pretty good.

And those 199 innings a season aren’t hollow innings. There is some substance in his performance.

In his three years in Philadelphia, Blanton has averaged 7.1 K/9, which is right on par with pitchers like Matt Cain and and Johnny Cueto.

While a lot of people will look at Blanton’s 4.82 ERA and notice it was tied for the highest of his career, he also had some bad luck in 2010. Hitters had a .331 BABIP against Blanton in 201o, which is about 30 points higher than their career average against him. I would expect that number to come back down in 2011, which will make Blanton’s peripherals look a lot better.

The last pro for Blanton is his contract. Two years and $16 million for Blanton is a pretty reasonable contract—$8 million a year is the going rate for a No. 3 or 4 starter these days and Blanton has performed to that amount throughout his career.


Cons

At the end of the day, Joe Blanton is, well, Joe Blanton. He’s not a No. 1 starter, but he’s not a ham n’ egger either. He’s your classic middle of the road starter.

On most nights, Blanton is a guy who is going to pitch five or six innings, give up eight hits, four runs, 3 walks and strike out three while throwing 110 pitches. That’s remarkably average.

And Blanton was remarkably average in 2010. He saw a dip in his K/9 from 7.5 to 6.7 and he had his highest WHIP since 2006 at 1.42.

A team is going to have to ask themselves are they willing to assume $16 million in salary and trade a couple of prospects for No. 3 starter at best. That line of thinking could eliminate a lot of teams as trade possibilities.

Now that we looked at the pros and cons of Blanton, let’s see which teams might be interested in trading for the former University of Kentucky hurler.

Washington Nationals: If the Nationals miss out on Carl Pavano, Blanton could be a fall back option. Sadly, Blanton would be the Nationals’ No. 1 starter in 2011.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have had their eye on Matt Garza for some time now, but if they can’t pull off a trade for him, then Blanton could be Plan B.

Colorado Rockies: The Rockies really need another pitcher behind Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge de la Rosa and Blanton could be that guy. Plus, he has experience pitching in a hitter’s ballpark.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks need a pitcher, but I think they A) don't want to trade young players and B) don’t want to assume Blanton’s salary.

New York Yankees: It would be such a slap in the Yankees' grill if the Phillies traded Blanton to New York to fill the spot that should have been filled by Lee. But what do the Yankees do if Andy Pettitte retires?

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles have done a lot of good things this offseason, like adding Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, but their starting rotation is still horrendous. Perhaps Blanton can fill the role that Kevin Millwood filled last season or should I say, attempted to fill.


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

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The Philadelphia Phillies and The Top 5 Starting Rotations In Baseball

December 28, 2010 by Greg Toci  
Filed under Fan News

With a large part of the 2011 offseason over, teams' rosters are becoming more and more clear.

Which starting rotations are the best in baseball for the 2011 season?

In this article, I will list the top 10 starting rotations in Major League Baseball.

Let me know if you agree/disagree with any of my picks in the comments section.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

MLB Predictions: 50 Players Who Will Have Shocking Seasons in 2011

December 27, 2010 by Brent Nault  
Filed under Fan News

Baseball is one of the most unpredictable sports in the world.   

Before the season starts, predictions are made of who will do this and who will do that.  But, the truth is, there are so many different things that can and will happen.  Every season, the unexpected happens.

It could be a young player having a monster year.  A mediocre player who suddenly becomes a star.  A veteran having one last kick at the can, or a perennial All-Star having an off year.

Either way, these things are hard to predict.  But, I have created a list of players I believe will fall under one of the four categories mentioned above during the 2011 MLB regular season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

National League’s New Pitching Rotations: How They Stack Up

December 27, 2010 by Todd Washburn  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies:

 

After all the articles about how great the Philiadelphia Phillies are (I still don't see the 2010 WS trophy with their team on it), there have been some signings and trades in the off season that has gotten the attention of quite a few baseball fans. Most of them were over-shadowed with a bias for a team that has yet to prove they are the best. 

Yes, I am anti-anyone who is crowed champion before the season starts.  Also I am sick of the argument that a team who is not the best still wins the championship.  Look, if they win the whole magilla, guess what? They're the best.  Don't twist the stats around and tell me on paper that your team or their team is better, just deal with the fact that last year's team is the best team period. 

Now, checking out all of these rotations I want to show how close it really is, and how competitive this year's NL will be regardless of what all the media types and east coast fans try to tell you. I will also include a list of who's-who of off season additions.  This article is meant to show the new arms and what they bring to current rotations to make them better.

RH Roy Halladay ... 21-10, 2.44 ERA,

LH Cliff Lee ... 12-9, 3.18 ERA,

RH Roy Oswalt ... 13-13, 2.76 ERA

LH Cole Hamels ... 12-11, 3.06 ERA

TOTALS ... 58-43, 2.84 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 4.93 K/BB

Let's take a trip down memory lane....

The NLCS: Game 1: Lincecum W, Halladay L

Game 2: Oswalt W, Sanchez L

Game 3: Cain W, Hamels L

Game 4: Wilson W, Oswalt L

Game 5: Halladay W, Lincecum L

Halladay and Oswalt both .500 in the NLCS.  But to no avail the Giants of Frisco defeat the Phillies in game 6.  Proof is in the pudding there, the Phillies are not the better team.  With the loss of Jayson Werth, they will struggle to replace that 85 RBI's and 27 HRs.  With the addition of Lee, Perhaps they can hold their opponents long enough to compensate. Giants were a combined 7-2 vs the current Phillies rotation.  Eat it up.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Halladay and Don Larsen: A World Series Game Is Not a Playoff Game

December 27, 2010 by harold friend  
Filed under Fan News

Enough is enough. There is no comparison between Roy Halladay and Don Larsen. The former is on his way to the Hall of Fame. The latter was a journeyman pitcher who caught lightning in a bottle.

Larsen faced the National League's defending World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Brooklyn had won 98 games and lost 55 for a .641 winning percentage.

Roy Halladay faced the National League Central Division champion Cincinnati Reds in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. Cincinnati won 91 games while losing 71 for a .562 winning percentage.

Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter against the Reds in the opening game of the playoff series, missing a perfect game when he walked Jay Bruce with one out in the fifth inning. Halladay was not facing the best team in the league. He was facing a division winner.

Don Larsen was facing the best team in the National League in the World Series. There were no playoffs in 1956, so how could Roy Halladay have pitched the second no-hitter in playoff history?

The playoffs started in 1969. Roy Halladay pitched the first no-hitter in playoff history. Don Larsen pitched the only no-hitter and perfect game in World Series history. They are not the same.

Until the playoffs were initiated, the term "postseason" was not used. Each league had a pennant winner, and they met to determine the World Champion. The first goal was to win the pennant, and the second goal was to win the World Series.

Today, most teams consider making the playoffs a successful season. The Reds made the 2010 playoffs, and despite not winning a single game once they got to the playoffs, players and fans consider it to have been a successful season.

Would the 1975 Cincinnati Reds of Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Tony Perez have considered it to have been a successful season if they had lost the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Pirates?

In 1954, the New York Yankees won 103 games, which was the most they won under Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel. The most games they won during their streak of five consecutive pennants and World Championships was 99 in 1953.

The Yankees problem that season was that the Cleveland Indians won an American League-record 111 games. The Yankees and their fans considered 1954 an unsuccessful season.

Under today's playoff system, mediocre teams often qualify for the playoffs. It is recognized that upsets occur, but it cannot be denied that in most cases, the better teams usually win.

Of course it is possible for a pitcher to pitch a no-hitter or even a perfect game in the first or second round of the playoffs and have faced the soon-to-be pennant winner, but it must be (and will not be) recognized that the playoffs and the World Series are not the same. Today, they are all considered playoff games. What a joke.

Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in the history of the World Series. Roy Halladay pitched the only no-hitter in the history of the playoffs. Both are great achievements, but they are not the same.



Reference: Retrosheet

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