Daily Grind 8.11

The Rich Get Richer, Another Bullpen Blunder, and Stephen Strasburg.

Soon after I learned the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard, I swear I heard Owen Shroyer crying. LA threw quite a devastating wrench in the LeBron dynasty quest. Somewhere in London, Kobe Bryant is laughing at LeBron James…counting his Championship rings, and preparing for another in 2013.

The Howard deal quickly reminded NBA fans of whose dynasty still prevails: The Los Angeles Lakers. The 16-time NBA Champions added to the storied lineage of Lakers big men dating back to George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, who all led the Lakers to championships after joining the team.

Ironically, Shaq also left the Orlando Magic after playing the first four years of his career there. His legacy in LA includes a 3-peat from 1999-2002.

The Lakers have acquired 2-Time MVP Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, and Howard to bolster a lineup already including Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace.

Take that, Ray Allen.

Moving on…

Friday’s loss in Philadelphia showed glimpses of expectations the Phillies had coming into the 2012 campaign. A rotation featuring Doc Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. The ‘we will beat you with pitching’ approach…but, they’re 10 games below .500 and stand 18.5 games out.

Halladay had the law of averages on his side, having allowed 8 ER in his last 2 starts vs STL. He was flat-out good, going 8 innings, allowing 2 hits, while efficiently throwing 72 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

Meanwhile, manager Mike Matheny’s weekly bullpen blunder shined again. He removed starter Kyle Lohse after throwing 101 pitches over 7 innings. He went with Barrett Browning, who is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 5 August appearances. Ride the hot hand, ay? Matheny went with the lefty to face Jimmy Rollins (switch), Juan Pierre (left), Chase Utley (left), and Ryan Howard (left). A single, a sacrifice, and a hanging slider gave Philly a 3-1 lead with St. Louis down to 3 outs.

And then, in a somewhat hysterical ending, Carlos Beltran got picked off by Jonathan Papelbon to end the game. David Freese never saw a 1-1 offering with 2 on and 2 out. Game. Over. The Phillies offer no break today with Cliff Lee, who is 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA lifetime against St. Louis.

Innings Count: Stephen Strasburg 127.1 IP
The Washington Nationals have an MLB-best 70 wins, leading Atlanta by 4.5 games in the NL East. They want to shut down the young phenom when he reaches 180 innings to rest his right arm, two years removed from Tommy John surgery. I disagree 100% with any decision to “rest” your best player. Imagine if St. Louis wanted to “rest” Chris Carpenter’s injury riddled arm in 2011…well you might not have a Championship. I’ll have more on the over-throwing misconception another day.

Finally, the Rams play their first preseason game on Sunday against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, starters won’t see much PT, but it’s time for the wide receiving corps to start differentiating their skills under the bright lights. Time for the offensive line to start building chemistry. Time for, well, a lot of decisions between now and September 9th versus Detroit. Are you ready for some foo-ball?
Keep Grindin’

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