Category Archives: Sports

Union Preview Part 2: Depth Chart

The 2014 Union season is rapidly approaching. In only 6 days, the Boys in Blue will begin their 5th campaign off of the coast of the Pacific in Portland. There are  many reasons for Union fans this season to be more optimistic about their team’s playoff chances this year more than any other Union season. In Part 1 of my preview, I looked at 5 new players who could be huge difference makers as the U look to reach the playoffs for the 2nd time in their short history. In this part, I will take a look at the Union in a more general sense, by looking at the entire roster, and who coach John Hackworth will look to start. Overall, the personnel on hand makes the Union a playoff team; anything short of that would be a disappointment.

Union Depth Chart:

Goalkeeper– 1. Zac MacMath 2. Andre Blake 3. Brian Holt

For the first time in his young career, MacMath will face stern competition from the 1st overall draft pick Blake, who many believe to be the best goalkeeper prospect in the league for many years. MacMath is talented in his own right- he played a splendid last 3 months of last season, showing improvement at collecting balls in the air to his decent shotstopping skills- and he will not give up the #1 shirt without a fight. In order to retain the starting job, MacMath must continue to improve at dealing with balls in the air, and must improve greatly in his distribution. He could also be more aggressive in organizing his defense. In Blake, the U have a GK prospect who has the total package: athletic, mature, good in the air. Blake will certainly push MacMath hard. Holt is the last resort, and will probably get very little game time this season.

Centerback– Starting- Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry; Reserves- Richie Marquez, Ethan White

Okugo and Berry are the clear starters. Okugo is primed for a breakout season, one which could cement him as one of the 5 or 6 best CB’s in the league. Since entering the league in 2012, Berry has won a Rookie of the Year and has played in 62 games, including playing every minute of the Chicago Fire’s 2013 campaign. The most important part of a defensive partnership is continuity and comfort, and with both players very durable and won’t miss many games, expect the pair to develop chemistry early on. They could be one of the 3 or 4 best pairings in the league by the end of the season. Out of the backups, White is more experienced, though I think he has had a disappointing camp, as he has gotten very little playing time with the 1st team. And, if he was playing well in camp, Haackworth would not have needed to acquire Berry to pair with Okugo. Marques is a rookie, but I think he will get some playing time this year, considering he beat out the more heralded fellow rookie Kevin Cope for a centerback spot.

Right back– 1. Sheanon Williams 2. Ray Gaddis 3. Matt Kassel

This is Williams’ spot. Last season he broke the record for most appearances for the Union, and he did so while quietly putting in a campaign that some people rated as the best for a right back in the entire league. He is able to both defend solidly and attack with real results, leading the league in assists for a defender with 8. Gaddis is an excellent backup. With his amazing speed, he is able to overlap on the attack with ease, knowing he can run back to cover on defense when needed. He is far more comfortable on the right side. Kassel is the emergency option, and in limited minutes last season played okay.

Left back– 1. Fabinho 2. Ray Gaddis

It seems that Fabinho narrowly won the starting spot over Gaddis during the preseason. Fabinho provides some things that Gaddis cannot on the left side; as a left footer who has spent some time at left midfield during his career, he is able to attack and send in crosses down the left flank. However, his defensive skills are lacking. Gaddis is far more effective on the right than on the left. On the left, his crossing ability is negated, and he is far less effective as an offensive weapon. However, Hackworth did surprisingly start Gaddis at left back last season, so do not be surprised if he gets the nod again.

Center midfield– Starting- Maurice Edu, Vincent Noguiera, Brian Carroll; Next subs- Pedro Ribeiro, Zach Pfeffer, Michael Lahoud; Last resorts- Corben Bone, Keon Daniel, Leo Fernandes

There are so many center midfielders on the roster that many of them will only make the Union’s gameday roster, much less start, a few times this season. Edu and Noguiera are definite starters. They were both paid a lot of money to come here, and the U’s fans will expect a lot of results. Both players are in the prime of their careers and have a lot of pedigree; Edu is a former national team player, while Noguiera was the captain of a French Ligue 1 side for many years. Expect Edu to do a lot of work in defense while running forward to connect the side, and Noguiera to act as a “faux-creator” in John Hackworth’s system (more on why he is a “faux-creator” as opposed to just a “creator” in my look at the Union’s tactics). Captain Brian Carroll is virtually a lock in the side, occupying the 3rd midfield role. However, there is concern among the fanbase that Carroll may be redundant in the side, and that the U require a more offensive 3rd midfielder. That other option could be rookie Pedro Ribeiro. At 6’4″, he has the physical stature to dominate other teams with his strength, but he also is extremely gifted technically. He could be a real difference maker for the side this season. Pfeffer is a player with a ton of potential. He is Homegrown, having went to Upper Dublin. With all of the midfielders on the roster, he may not get much playing time this season, but he still has a ton of talent. Expect Lahoud to be a defensive option for Hackworth late in games. Bone, Daniel, and Fernandes may not get much time. I can’t see any of them making a major contribution, although Bone was a pickup this offseason, so it is possible that Hackworth plays him, and Daniel is a veteran who has shown flashes of talent in years other than 2013.

Right wing– 1. Sebastian Le Toux 1b. Danny Cruz 3. Jimmy McLaughlin

This battle is close between Le Toux and Cruz. Both are limited technically, but are excellent athletes who use their athleticism in different ways. Le Toux is one of the most fit soccer player I have ever seen. He is capable of running for 90 minutes every week. Last year, he added a new dimension to his game, as he became an accurate crosser, even taking the lead of Union corner kicks. This technical skill is a huge boost to his game, as he is not a great passer. Cruz, on the other hand, expends all of his energy in a 55 minute stint. He is constantly buzzing around the opposition fullbacks, looking to win the ball off them high up the field to start quick attacks. However, he is limited tactically, as he often doesn’t supply enough defensive cover for his fullback. Add that to his seeming lack of all technical skills, and the U have a player who can infuriate the fanbase. But Hackworth likes him a lot, and even though Le Toux is the better player, Cruz will get a ton of time this season. McLaughlin is the last option and may be sent down to the Union’s lower division affiliate, Harrisbug City Islanders.

Left wing– 1. Cristian Maidana 2. Cristhian Hernandez

This is Maidana’s wing to roam. Signed as a Designated Player like Mo Edu (meaning the U went over the individual salary restriction to sign him), Hackworth desperately needs Maidana to provide tangible results in goals and assists, not just improved technical play on the left flank. On all accounts Maidana is a very skilled player, able to dribble at players and create for others. In fact, he has played a lot of his career as the central attacking midfielder, meaning that he could provide an essential creative option for the side. The Homegrown Hernandez could play with the big club this season. He is versatile, able to play multiple positions, but he won’t get much time unless there are injuries.

Forward– Starting- Jack McInerney; Bench- Connor Casey, Antoine Hoppenot, Aaron Wheeler

This is the year for Jack Mac to cement himself as one of the MLS’ best forwards. After leading the league in goals through May, McInerney only added 2 more the rest of the way. A very intellegent player, who makes excellent runs off of the ball to put himself into good positions, he must prove he can add quality in the buildup. But, his most important task will be becoming a consistent goalscorer. The Union probably need 15-20 goals out of him, and he has the ability to do it. Casey is a very good backup who provides a very different look than McInerney, as he is a very physical player who excels in holding up the ball. However, injuries have hampered his preseason, so he may not provide as much of an impact as last season. Hoppenot is Hackworth’s spark plug off of the bench. But, while he certainly provides energy in the last 30 minutes of games, able to dribble directly at opponents and create dangerous offensive opportunities, he must become a more capable goalscorer. Wheeler is a big body while limited technically, and a bad sign for his playing time this season is that Hackworth had him playing a lot of centerback this offseason.

Now that I have went over the entire Union roster, next time I will focus on their tactics: what Hackworth will implement, and what I think they should play.

Philadelphia Union Preview Part 1: New Faces

2013 was a tough year to be a Union fan. The team, while picking up many good results that saw it in the race for playoff spots until the final day of the season, played ugly soccer and seemed to win many games because of luck rather than outplaying their opponents. About midway through the season, the Union had a chance to seize control over the Eastern Conference playoff race, as other top teams like New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City were faltering. However, the Union failed to take advantage of this opportunity, and ended up just short of the playoffs. Every Union fan knew that massive changes were needed in order to improve the quality of the squad, in particular in midfield, where none of the usual starters were quality passers. But past poor performances in the offseason by the Union’s front office did not give the fan base much hope that the U would significantly improve before their first game on March 8th against the vaunted Portland Timbers and their rabid home fans.

Boy, were Union fans wrong.

The Union have had a nothing less than stunning offseason. Not only have the finally spent money on quality midfielders who can do more than run a lot (like, maybe, pass), they have been aggressive in both foreign and domestic markets to improve almost every inefficiency on the team. This effort to improve has most Philadelphians feeling very good about the upcoming season. In a few parts, I will explain why the 2014 season will feature the best Union team to date, and why the Union should certainly make the playoffs this year. Today I will look at the top 5 new players, and how they will impact the squad.

5. Andre Blake- The 1st overall pick in the 2014 SuperDraft, Blake has a ton of potential. Some MLS analysts have hailed Blake as the best keeper product in the league since Brad Guzan, who now plays for Aston Villa in the English Premier League and is the backup keeper for the United States National Team. Blake is an excellent athlete; however, the thing that really helps him stand out is his maturity and reading of the game. This often does not develop in goal until later in one’s career, and it is an essential skill to have because a goalie must organize his backline well.

4. Cristian Maidana- This tricky Argentine winger has the potential to fill a huge hole for the Union this season- the left wing. Maidana has the technical ability to come back and help the U maintain possession, while also boasting the speed and directness to attack the other side’s goal or isolate the other team’s fullback one on one. Maidana will bring much needed flair to the side.

3. Austin Berry- Berry, the newest player on the squad, was just picked up in a trade with the Chicago Fire. A rugged, 6’2” defender, Berry has played in over 60 consecutive games for the Fire, and played every minute of last season for the squad, while winning Rookie of the Year the year before. The importance of this addition cannot be understated; he is a perfect partner for the smaller, quicker Amobi Okugo (who is poised to have a breakout year). Berry will help the U boast one of the 5 best defenses in the league.

2. Vincent Nogueira- This French midfielder will have a huge impact on making the U play more attractive soccer. He is an excellent passer, mobile, and is able to play both attack and defense. The 26-year old is also a great leader, as he was captain for French side Sochaux for many years. A team can never have enough technical midfielders on its roster, and Nogueira will certainly prove his quality this season as he is asked to play an important central attacking role.

1. Maurice Edu- The biggest splash of the offseason for the Union, Maurice Edu is a former national team player who has not played too much in recent years after signing with Stoke City of England. However, do not think that Edu has nothing to offer; he is an incredibly talented player who can do everything in midfield. The pair of him and Nogueira will rapidly change the side. As great soccer coach Jaunma Lillo once said, “Tell me who your central midfielder is, and I’ll tell you what sort of team you are.” The Union are poised to find out the truth of that statement in a great way. Central midfield is the most important position on the field, and the Union have just increased their talent there exponentially.

NEXT TIME: a look at the broader Union roster, its coaching staff, and strategy.

Clint Dempsey’s Return to the US: Good or Bad for American Soccer?

Yesterday, my favorite European club Tottenham Hotspur (who I covered here) announced that American striker/midfielder Clint Dempsey would be transfered to Seattle Sounders of MLS. Deuce (BTW best nickname in sports?) spent only one year in North London, after moving there from Fulham last summer. Dempsey never seemed like the first choice in Andre Villas Boas’ Spurs squad, so in order to become the star man again like he was at Fulham, he decided to take his talents to the Pacific Northwest. And as much as I love MLS, I must say that this move is a step back for Dempsey.

Last year, when Dempsey demanded to leave Fulham, he said that he wanted to move to a Champions League club. He was certainly good enough to do so: in the 2011-2012 season, Dempsey scored 23 goals for the West London side, smashing American scoring records in the process. However, no English team in the Champions League wanted him that badly, so Deuce settled on a move to Spurs after they beat Liverpool to the chase. Unfortunately, he couldn’t fire Spurs into the Champions League, and his playing time decreased as the season went along. Now, after Spurs signed Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli, it seemed as if Deuce was being frozen out at White Hart Lane. So Dempsey decided to return home to the United States.

But while this was a great move for MLS, Dempsey’s transfer may hurt the American soccer community at large. Dempsey was by far the best-known American playing in Europe. Many people will see this move as Dempsey admitting he isn’t good enough to cut it for a top European team.

Another important factor when assessing the transfer is the US National Team. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann can’t be happy that his best player has left a higher quality league to move back home. However, if Dempsey wasn’t going to be a sure starter with Spurs, then it could turn out to be a good idea that Dempsey will get more minutes. Clint immediately turns into one of the 5 best players in MLS. Before a World Cup, Klinsmann needs all of his key players getting starters’ minutes no matter where they are playing, from Michael Bradley at Roma to Dempsey in Seattle.

And, finally, this move is huge for MLS. They were able to bring back a player still in his prime, one adored across the country. MLS is still establishing itself in the global soccer ecosystem. It can only help the league’s reputation that teams are bringing in established players. So while, this may seem as a bad move personally for Deuce (although not financially: he will receive $8 million a year in Seattle), overall this is a good move for American soccer.

The Blueprint: How the Sixers Will Become Contenders in the NBA

With the current sorry state of Philadelphia sports, the team that I am most excited for in the future is the Sixers. General manager/Godfather/Albert Einstein’s protege/Jesus’ brother Sam Hinkie has turned the Sixers from the most mediocre team in basketball (actually second behind Milwaukee. Like they are MEDIOCRE) into the worst team in basketball. As Borat Sagdiyev would say, “Great success!”

“Wait, what?” you are telling yourself. “You are an idiot, Peter Taylor. It’s not good that the Sixers got worse this season by trading Jrue Holiday, an all-star, for someone who only has one knee and can’t play offense (Nerlens Noel) and a draft pick.”

But, friend, this is where I tell you that you are wrong. See, in the NBA, the Land of Mediocrity is the closest thing to hell that you can find. Teams like Milwaukee, Toronto, Portland, and the Sixers pre-Noel trade have no potential to be contenders. While they may make the playoffs as an 8 seed every couple years, there is no real chance that these teams will be real factors in the playoffs.

But sucking, like the Sixers, Orlando, Utah, and many other teams are doing this year, allows teams to acquire blue-chip prospects in the draft. By pick 15, where a team like Milwaukee will usually select, all the players with All-Star potential or even sometimes starting potential are all gone.

And next year’s draft is an especially good one. Some very smart NBA people, like ESPN’s draft expert Chad Ford, expect the 2014 draft to have around 6-8 players who would have been surefire 1st selections in the 2013 draft. One prospect in particular, Andrew Wiggins, has been hailed as the best player since Lebron.

So, Sam Hinkie being the smart man he is, decided to blow up the team. By trading Holiday, he not only acquired Noel, the consensus top talent in the draft who would have been taken first if not for a knee injury, he picked up a 1st round pick for the 2014 draft. While hurting his team this season, Hinkie has put himself in a position to have a Sixers team in 2014 featuring 4 players who were top 14 picks in a draft (Noel, super athletic point guard Michael Carter-Williams, and their two picks next year). Add that to the estimated $35 million plus in cap space for 2014, and the Sixers could be one of the best teams in the league, as early as 2015.

And, even better for the Sixers, their two current star prospects could fit well together. Carter-Williams, while incredibly athletic, is literally the worst jump shooter in the league. But, with his speed and size (he is 6’7″, huge for a PG), he could dominate teams in the pick and roll. And he has just the big man to play it with: Noel. Noel does not have much of a low post game, but the freakishly athletic big could wreck defenses in the pick and roll as well. And their upside defensively is enormous: Noel is one of the best defensive players to be drafted in some time, and MCW’s length could make him a shutdown perimeter defender. Granted, MCW needs some kind of jump shot to be a success in the NBA, and Noel has to first recover from ACL surgery and then develop a little low post game. But if that happens, the Sixers will have two quality starters with a lot of upside.

And then, considering how bad the team this year, they are a lock for a top 5 pick, and more likely a top 3 pick. And those top three picks will be All-Star potential players like Wiggins, power forward Julius Randle, small forward Jabari Parker, or point guard Marcus Smart. Add that pick to their 1st round pick they acquired from New Orleans in the Holiday/Noel trade, which will likely fall from 10-15, and there’s two top level talents from the best draft in a decade. Add them to Noel, MCW, and a possible star free agent from a loaded class in 2014 like Kevin Love, Lebron, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and others, and the Sixers are a contender.

Until then, the Sixers will suck. But it will be a fun suck. Sam Hinkie, the ball is in your court. Let’s make it happen.

#WinlessForWiggins

Why Ruben Amaro Receives Too Much Blame For the Phillies’ Current State

The Golden Age of Philadelphia baseball is over. Injuries, advancing age. and all-time terrible innings of baseball have combined to turn the Phils from the best team in the league to a very mediocre one. Much of the blame has been shoved on general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.’s shoulders for making a series of poor decisions. However, looking past his poor track record from the past two seasons, Amaro actually did an excellent job positioning his team to win another World Series from 2009-2011.

In 2009, with their offense surging and many of their position players (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins) still in their prime, the Phillies needed to aquire another pitcher to make a run at a consecutive World Series title. Amaro went out and brought in the best pitcher on the market, Cliff Lee, and none of the prospects he gave up in return have featured in the big leagues. And while the Phillies lost to the superior New York Yankees in that season’s Fall Classic, Amaro had done everything he possibly could to assemble a championship-winning team.

 

Wanting to go one step further next season, Amaro then took a huge risk in the hopes of winning it all in 2010: he traded for Roy Halladay, the best pitcher in baseball, but also traded Cliff Lee for prospects to rehaul a suddenly thin minor league system. At the time, there was very little criticism for the deals. Praise was universal about Amaro’s acquisition of Halladay, and while fans hated to see the universally popular Lee depart, they understood that the organization was in desperate need of prospects. At the time, however, there was concern that Amaro had given up Lee to Seattle for not enough talent. These concerns, knowing what we know now, were well founded: J.C Ramirez and Phillippe Aumont have both struggled in limited major league action, and Tyson Gillies is still toiling down in the minor leagues. However, the Phillies team Amaro assembled was still good enough to win 97 games, the most in baseball. He even acquired Roy Oswalt at the trade deadline in order to bolster an already strong rotation. But this trip to the postseason would not end with a trip to the World Series; in fact, the Phils would be defeated by an inferior Giants club in the first round of the playoffs. Yet again, Amaro did his job: he assambled a team that won the most games in baseball and were certainly capable of winning the World Series. The players were the ones at fault, not Amaro.

 

 

Amaro again did a good job building the 2011 Phillies. Realizing how good Cliff Lee was, he pulled off the biggest surprise that offseason when he signed the stud lefthander to a free agent deal. In doing so Amaro put together one of the most talented pitching staffs in the history of the MLB: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, the homegrown Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton.

 

Unfortunately, in order to sign Lee, Amaro had to let rightfielder Jayson Werth walk, but Lee was and is the more talented player. And even though the Phillies would cruise in route to winning 102 games, Amaro made another deal at the deadline, sending some quality prospects for the solid outfielder Hunter Pence to bolster a thin outfield corps. Instead of having Werth, Amaro acquired someone 4 years younger, someone who would make $3.5 million less in 2011 and $2.5 million less in 2012, and while producing more at the plate: Pence hit .317 hit adding 22 homeruns and 97 RBIs in 2011, while Werth hit a paltry .232 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs (all those numbers from Baseball Reference).

 

All in all, the 2011 Phillies were one of the most talented baseball teams I have ever seen. Most of that is thanks to Amaro. Yet the Phillies failed yet again in the postseason, as they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round. Granted, injuries played a key part in their campaign: Utley would be hampered yet again by knee injuries and Oswalt would suffer a back injury which would lead to inconsistent form. But the Phillies still had a stellar rotation, still had two former MVPs in their lineup (Rollins and Howard), still had Pence as an above-average 5-hole hitter, still played flawless defense. There are no excuses that the Phils lost in 2011. Amaro is not to blame.

 

Since then, unfortunately, Amaro hasn’t made as productive decisions. He has been unable to put together a productive bullpen since 2011, although, yet again, performance is a large reason for the decline: Antonio Bastardo’s ERA rose from 2.64 to 4.33 in 2012, Chad Qualls was just plain awful, and Michael Stutes couldn’t remain healthy. However, one sigining that could come back to haunt Amaro was his signing of Jonathon Papelbon. In general, the position of closer is by far the most overvalued in baseball, and probably in professional sports. It makes no sense to sign closers to colossal free agent deals when the players who play the position are so volatile in performance year to year. The position of closer is an interesting one, and I will cover it at greater depth in some point, but paying over $10 million a year for a player who pitches at the max 70 innings a year, which is the most Papelbon ever pitched in a season (last year via Baseball Reference), is just foolish.

 

Also, the trade of Pence to the Giants was a disappointing one, strictly because they gave up so much in order to acquire him just a year before. After dealing their top pitching prospect, Jared Cosart (who pitched brilliantly in his major league debut a few weeks ago), and their top position prospect, 1B Jonathon Singleton, to get Pence from the Astros, they only got one player with a real chance of playing in the big leagues, catcher Tommy Joseph. Joseph has even struggled this season in the lower minor leagues.

But overall, Amaro has done an admirable job. He was willing to take massive risks in order to achieve greatness with this franchise. He should not be slammed by revisionist history because those risks didn’t pan out. The fact of the matter is that if the Phillies had added one more World Series title to their resume from ’09 through ’11, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Two Fall Classics in such a short period would have made all those involved with the successes, including Amaro, legends. Just because the players didn’t accomplish what they were more than capable of doesn’t mean that we should heap all of the blame on Ruben Amaro Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stu Holden’s Latest Setback, And What It May Mean For the US Soccer Team

Today, during the Gold Cup final which the US won, 1-0, over a resilient Panama team (a recap will be coming your way later), talented center midfielder Stu Holden went down to injury. Again. Holden reportedly suffered a sprain to his right knee. The biggest shame of recent times for the USMNT has been Holden’s persistent injury problems. Holden has not played significant minutes for his club side, Bolton Wanderers in England, since the spring of 2011, as he has battled major knee injures, from an ACL tear (which I am actually recovering from right now, so I know how painful it is and how grueling the 9-month rehab period is) to microfracture surgery to repair torn cartilage.

The US missed Holden dearly during his time on the sidelines. Holden is the rare American player who is completely comfortable in possession, and he is capable of impacting the game both offensively and defensively. He demonstrated when he returned from his injury nightmare that he can still be the same player.

Luckily for the US, central midfield is one of their deepest positions. Michael Bradley, the engine room for a quality Roma side, and Jermaine Jones, a bruiser from German club Shalke, man the two starting positions in Jurgen Klinsmann’s team. And Landon Donovan has shown that he is more than capable of playing alongside Clint Dempsey as a more attacking midfielder. However, Holden could have proved a vital addition to the squad during the World Cup next summer. Playing him instead of Jones would allow Bradley to become more defensive while still using his ball retention skills to great effect. The US side would become much more attractive with those two sitting behind Donovan in midfield, and Holden could replace most of Jones’ defense physicality while adding his own passing signature. Now, after Klinsmann said after the game that “It’s not looking good for Stu”, it is safe to assume that Holden’s injury to his knee is more serious than the sprain that was originally reported. For such a class act (he even won the 2008 Humanitarian of the Year Award in MLS) this latest setback can only be classified as a shame.

The Worst Inning of Baseball Ever Played

For those of you who follow baseball, you probably know that the Philadelphia Phillies aren’t playing too hot right now. In fact, today they lost yet again to the Detroit Tigers, 12-4, dropping their 8th game in a row. I mean, come on. That’s just really impressive. Props to my Phils for never stopping at just ordinary badness. They always go above and beyond the call of duty in order to suck.

And today, the Phillies decided they were going to lose in a special way. Bored, I assume, of just plain ol’ losing by scores like 5-4, 4-1, and 10-0, the Phils decided today to actually score runs! Before the other team! A novel idea! After storming out to a 3 (3 runs!) run lead in the 5th, the Phils remembered that they were destined to lose this game and be swept for the second series in a row. After surrendering the lead during a 3-run 5th inning, the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies proceeded to play the Worst Inning in the History of Baseball.

It all started with a Jake Diekmam walk to lead off the home half of the 6th inning, not an uncommon occurrence. Then things got weird. Tigers catcher Alex Avila then laid down a bunt to move over the runner, when Diekman decided to nail Avila in the back instead of just throwing it to first baseman Darin Ruf in order to record the out. Not satisfied, however, with that misplay of a bunt, Diekman then proceded to botch another bunt defensively, waiting too long to throw to first to retire Ramon Santiago.

Then things got ugly.

After Austin Jackson recorded the first out on a flyout, Don Kelly hit a routine fly to left fielder Steve Susdorf, making his first big league start. Susdorf then dropped the ball, allowing all of the baserunners to move up ninety feet and recording the first run of the innning. Tigers 4, Phillies 3.

But the Phils weren’t through. Relief pitcher Luis Garcia then walked the next batter on 4 pitches, walking in another run and leaving the bases loaded. After that, Prince Fielder hit a grounder to Ruf, who through it away from catcher Carlos Ruiz. And then, after an 11 pitch walk to Victor Martinez, walking in the second run of the inning, Garcia served up a grand slam to Jhonny Peralta, ending the carnage.

All in all, the Phillies surrended 8 unearned runs in the bottom of the 6th inning on 2, yes 2 hits. There were 3 errors. There were two botched bunts defensively IN A ROW. There were three walks in total, but two with the bases loaded. One of the hits was the second bunt play that Diekman botched, so there was really one legitimate hit in the inning, the backbreaker by Peralta.

After the game, Jimmy Rollins commented, “That was embarrassing”. Really, J-Roll? I’m just happy I got to witness history. I witnessed the Worst Inning of Baseball Ever Played. Please comment if you know of an inning worse, because that would be truly exceptional.