Ryan Howard is in the Best Shape of His Life

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Man, it’s starting early this year. Take it away Ruben Amaro:

Amaro said Ryan Howard’s offseason conditioning program has already shown results. “I think he’s lost a significant amount of weight, which bodes well for him,” the GM said.

Good for Howard. And good for Amaro for making it safe for all general managers and agents to make reference to a player’s offseason conditioning program as if a player getting into decent shape is a net positive as opposed to the rectification of previous problem. It’s a long offseason and we have to fill it with stuff that doesn’t really matter at all between now and spring training.

In other news, tell me how these two statements later in the article, separated by a mere couple of sentences, conflict with one another:

The Phillies have a reputation for being a by-the-book organization that values good citizenship. It’s difficult to envision them making serious plays for [Josh Hamilton or Melky Cabrera]

and

“I don’t have any problem with Brett [Myers], as long as he could help us,” Amaro said.

Viva by-the-book behavior and good citizenship.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.