This June's Philles-Jays series to be moved to Philadelphia

27 Comments

The home team.jpgThere have been rumblings about this since February, but there will be an announcement later today in which the Jays-Phillies series currently scheduled for June 25-27th in Toronto will be moved to Citizens Bank Park in Philly due to interference from the G-20 summit, which is also scheduled in Toronto for that time.

The technical effect: the Phillies will be the visiting team in their own home park, and the designated hitter will be used.

The practical effect: The Phillies get three extra home games this year and Toronto fans don’t get to see the return of Roy Halladay, which many people had been looking forward to.

This, as the poets like to say, sucks.  Still, it will only “totally suck” if either the Jays or someone in the NL East besides the Phillies finishes one game out of a playoff spot.  Otherwise, everyone will survive, I presume.

One question I presume many will be asking is why Philly? Why not put it in a neutral location, or try to make some event out of it by, say, putting it in Puerto Rico or in the Grand Canyon or something?

My response to that is that baseball (a) wants to maximize revenue, and that while some promotion might be fun, it’s not money-in-the-bank like 40,000+ people buying beer in Philly is; and (b) those neutral site games baseball put in Milwaukee a few years ago due to early-season snowouts and hurricanes and stuff were criticized for being antiseptic and rather joyless games, devoid of any real roaring crowd.

I’d still prefer the powers that be to try and find some way to keep the game in Toronto, but seeing as though that’s apparently impossible, Philly is the best that can be done. I mean, at least in Philly one side is getting cheered, and that kind of matters.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.