Phillies or Giants: Which rotation would you rather have if you were starting a new organization?

Philadelphia Phillies all-star pitcher Roy Oswalt delivers a pitch during first inning San Francisco Giants-Philadelphia Phillies NLCS Championship game two at Citizens Bank Park October 17, 2010. . UPI/John Anderson

So you’re the general manager of the new Las Vegas Craps team and baseball commissioner Bud Selig comes to you with the offer of all offers.

He says, since the Craps are going to struggle this year offensively with a lineup comprised of over-the-hill veterans and unproven rookies, you get your pick of stealing either the Phillies or the Giants’ starting rotation.

“Sweet mother of all that is holy,” you say to Selig. “Those are the best starting rotations in the game!”

“Yes they are, Craps owner,” Selig says. “But you have to choose one right now.”

So which rotation would you rather have? Let’s take a look at the deets first.

Philadelphia Phillies

Roy Halladay
Age: 33
Salary: $20 million in 2011; $20 million in 2012; $20 million in 2013; $20 million option in 2014.
Career Stats: 169-86, 1,714 Ks, 3.32 ERA, 58 complete games, 19 shutouts
Accolades: Two-time Cy Young winner, two-time wins champion, seven-time All-Star.

Cliff Lee
Age: 32
Salary: $11 million 2011; $21.5 million in 2012; $25 million from 2013-2015.
Career Stats: 102-61, 3.85 ERA, 1,085 Ks
Accolades: Cy Young winner, two-time All-Star, 7-2 postseason record, 2.13 postseason ERA.

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2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

Years from now, when people look back on 2010, what will they remember as the defining sports moment? Uh, they can only pick one? We discovered that Tiger Woods likes to play the field and that Brett Favre doesn’t mind sending pictures of his anatomy to hot sideline reporters via text message. We found out that LeBron listens to his friends a little too much and that Ben Roethlisberger needed a serious lesson in humility. But we also learned that athletes such as Michael Vick and Josh Hamilton haven’t blown second chance opportunities (or third and fourth chances in the case of Hamilton). It was also nice to see a certain pitcher turn down bigger money so that he can play in a city that he loves.

We’ve done our best to recap the year’s biggest sports stories, staying true to tradition by breaking our Year End Sports Review into three sections: What We Learned, What We Already Knew, and What We Think Might Happen. Up first are the things we learned in 2010, a list that’s littered with scandal, beasts, a Decision and yes, even a little Jenn Sterger.

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

Tiger Woods gets around.

We hesitate to put this under “golf” because the only clubs involved were his wife’s nine-iron hitting the window of his SUV and the various establishments where Tiger wined and dined all of his mistresses…over a dozen in all. This was the biggest story of the early part of the year, but it got to the point that whenever a new alleged mistress came forward, the general public was like, “Yeah, we get it. Tiger screwed around on his wife. A lot.” He has spent the rest of the year attempting to rebuild his once-squeaky clean image, but it’s safe to say, we’ll never look at Tiger the same way.

Golfer Tiger Woods apologizes for irresponsible and selfish behavior during his first public statement to a small gathering of reporters and friends at the headquarters of the U.S. PGA Tour in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida,on February 19, 2010.   UPI/Sam Greenwood/Pool Photo via Newscom

LeBron wilts when his team needs him most.

Say the words “LeBron” and “Game 5” in the same sentence and NBA fans everywhere know exactly what you’re talking about. In the biggest game of the season, LeBron looked disinterested, going 3-of-14 from the field en route to a 120-88 blowout at home at the hands of the Celtics. There were rumors swirling about a possible relationship between LeBron’s mom and his teammate, Delonte West, and there’s speculation that LeBron got that news before tipoff and that’s why he played so poorly. Regardless of the cause, LeBron played awful in that game, and it turned out to be his swan song in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers. Talk about leaving a bitter taste.

You can auction off your talented son’s athletic abilities and get away with it.

The NCAA set a strange precedent this season while dealing with the Newton family. The always inconsistent and completely morally uncorrupt NCAA decided in its infinite wisdom that despite discovering that Cecil Newton shopped his son Cam to Mississippi State for $180,000, and that is a violation of NCAA rules, that Cam would still be eligible because it couldn’t be proven that he knew about it. Conference commissioners and athletic directors around the country spoke out about the decision, while agent-wannabes and greedy fathers everywhere had a light bulb go off in their own heads: As long as we say the player doesn’t know about it, it could go off without a hitch. What was Cecil’s punishment in this whole thing? Limited access to Auburn for the last two games of the season. Easy with that hammer there, NCAA. Read the rest of this entry »

2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

Let’s be honest: Sports bloggers know everything. Just ask us. As part of our 2010 Year-End Sports Review, our list of things we already knew this year includes Brad Childress’ biggest fail, Wade Phillips’ demise in Dallas and John Calipari’s troubles. We also knew Kevin Durant was the next great superstar (who didn’t see that coming?), Roger Clemens is the ultimate windbag and that “Matty Ice” knows fourth-quarter comebacks. We should have gone to medical school…

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

LeBron is a frontrunner.

We all were a little surprised that LeBron left Cleveland, but the writing was on the wall. Growing up, LeBron didn’t root for the local teams. He followed the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys, which in the 1990s constituted the Holy Triumvirate of Frontrunning. He wore his Yankee cap to an Indians game and was seen hobnobbing on the Cowboy sidelines during a Browns game. He says he’s loyal, but he’s only loyal to winners…unless they only win in the regular season, of course.

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241974 Handout photo from ESPN showing LaBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Brad Childress’ biggest flaw cost him his job in the end.

There were many reasons why the Vikings decided to fire head coach Brad Childress roughly a year after they signed him to a contract extension. One of the reasons was because he lost with a talented roster. Another was because he never quite figured out how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, which is a sin given how talented AP is. But the main reason “Chilly” was ousted in Minnesota was because he didn’t know how to manage NFL-caliber personalities. He didn’t know how to handle Brett Favre, which led to blowups on the sidelines and multiple face-to-face confrontations. He also didn’t have a clue how to deal with Randy Moss’ crass attitude, so he released him just four weeks after the team acquired him in a trade from New England. Childress was hired in part to help clean up the mess in Minnesota after the whole “Love Boat” scandal. But the problem with a disciplinarian that hasn’t first earned respect is that his demands fall on deaf ears. In the end, Childress’ inability to command respect from his players cost him his job. You know, on top of the fact that he was losing with a talented roster, he didn’t know how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, he…

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner will forever be one of baseball’s icons.

You may have hated his brash attitude, the way he ran his team or the way he conducted his business. You may even feel that he ruined baseball. But regardless of how you may have felt about him, there’s little denying that George Steinbrenner will forever be one of Major League Baseball’s icons. Steinbrenner passed away in July of this year. He will forever be a man known for helping revolutionize the business side of baseball by being the first owner to sell TV cable rights to the MSG Network. When things eventually went south with MSG, he created the YES Network, which is currently the Yankees’ very own TV station that generates millions in revenue. During his tenure, he took the Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a $1.2 billion juggernaut. In 2005, the Yankees became the first professional sports franchise to be worth an estimated one billion dollars. While many baseball fans came to despise the way he ran his team (mainly because he purchased high priced free agents with reckless abandon due to the fact that he could and others couldn’t), don’t miss the message he often made year in and year out: The Yankees are here to win. He didn’t line his pockets with extra revenue (albeit he generated a lot of extra revenue for his club) – he dumped his money back into the on-field product. Losing wasn’t acceptable and if the Bombers came up short one year, you could bet that Steinbrenner would go after the best talent in the offseason, regardless of what others thought of the approach. How many Pirates and Royals fans wish they had an owner with the same appetite for victory?

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Somebody notify the Rangers that the World Series has started

San Francisco Giants Edgar Renteria (R) watches his solo home run in front of Texas Rangers catcher Matt Treanor (L) and umpire Sam Holbrook (C) in the fifth inning during Game 2 of Major League Baseball's World Series in San Francisco, October 28, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Here’s a six pack of observations following the Giants’ dominating 9-0 win over the Rangers in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night. San Fran is now up 2-0 in the series.

1. America, meet Matt Cain.
Because the Giants play on the West Coast, there’s a good chance that the majority of the country hasn’t seen Matt Cain pitch. If you caught Game 2 of the World Series, then you realized what Giants fans have known for years: He can be every bit as good as ace Tim Lincecum. If baseball had a stat for hard-luck losers, Cain would be No. 1 on the list. He’s been a victim of horrendous run support for most of his career, but he’s stayed patient and is finally getting his due. Cain hasn’t allowed a run in three postseason starts this year and completely shut down the Rangers on Thursday night. He pitched 7.2 innings of shutout ball while allowing just four hits and striking out two. These weren’t the Mariners or Pirates he was facing; the Rangers led the league in batting average this season and finished fifth in runs scored. They’ve only been shutout six times this year (including Thursday night) and can beat you 1 through 8. But they couldn’t hit Cain tonight if they were notified what the pitch and location were going to be. He was brilliant.

2. What an embarrassing performance by the Rangers’ bullpen.
With his team only down 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Darren O’Day struck out Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez to start the inning. But then rookie catcher Buster Posey singled to shallow center and O’Day was pulled for Derek Holland, who proceeded to walk Nate Schierholtz and Cody Ross on eight straight pitches, then walked Aubrey Huff to score Posey. Despite the first two walks, Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington failed to get another pitcher warmed up and by the time Mark Lowe came in, the Giants already had a 3-0 lead and the bases still loaded. Lowe then walked Uribe to score Schierholtz and gave up a single to Edgar Renteria (more on him next) to score Ross and Huff. Michael Kirkman, who was the fourth pitcher used in the inning, then relieved Lowe and promptly gave up a bases-clearing triple to Aaron Rowand and a double to Torres. By the time Sanchez came back around to strike out, the damage was done and the Giants had built a 9-0 lead. It was an inexcusable performance by the Rangers’ bullpen, which has looked horrendous two nights in a row now.

3. Edgar Renteria still has some postseason magic in him.
Renteria has certainly frustrated Giants fans over the last two years with his minimal range at short, his weak at-bats and his stints on the disabled list. But for at least one night, nobody is going to complain about how much money GM Brian Sabean foolishly gave the aging veteran two offseasons ago. Renteria hit an absolute bomb off Texas starter C.J. Wilson in the fifth to break a scoreless tie and then added a two-run single in the eighth, which essentially put the nail in the coffin. He’s also played tremendous defense thus far and has given the Giants’ professional at bats every time he walks to the plate (which is something they haven’t been getting out of more heralded hitters like Pat Burrell). Renteria won the World Series as a rookie back in 1997 and if he decides to retire at the end of the year, winning another championship would certainly be a sweet way to go out. He’s a class act and while his game has deteriorated over the years, he proved tonight that he’s clutch when it matters most.

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Rangers need to stay the course – there’s no time to panic

Members of the Texas Rangers stand in the dugout in the ninth inning in Game 1 of Major League Baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, October 27, 2010. The Giants beat the Rangers 11-7. REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Was it surprising that Cliff Lee got rocked in Game 1 of the World Series? Surprising doesn’t even begin to cover it. Shocking would be a start, but even then the word would be selling the situation short.

But nothing changes here. The game plan remains the same.

Teams that don’t have home field advantage know that they have to split the first two games on the road, then take two-of-three at home before splitting again on the road in order to come out victorious. That’s the same recipe the Giants used against the Phillies in the NLCS and it seemed to work out well for them.

C.J. Wilson needs to best Matt Cain in Game 2 Thursday night. That’s no small feat considering that Cain hasn’t allowed a run in two postseason starts, but the Rangers’ offense has a way of making even the best pitchers look mortal (just ask Tim Lincecum, who lasted only 5.2 innings and gave up four runs in Game 1).

Texas has already shown its mettle twice this postseason. After beating the Rays twice on the road in the ALDS, they dropped two games at home and then had to play at Tampa in Game 5. Thanks to Lee, they won and they moved on to face the Yankees, who came from behind to shock the Rangers in Game 1 in what could have been a backbreaker.

But it wasn’t. The Rangers took Game 2 to even the series and then went on to beat the Bombers in six games. They’ve shown their resiliency before and if they can do it again, they’ll essentially have home field advantage in what would turn into a five game series. That’s why splitting on the road in the first two games is vital.

And that’s what they’ll need to do tonight. For once, the Rangers need to let Lee off the hook.

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