Wu-Tang Forever: Cliff Lee's Ridiculous Start Ends Ridiculous Month, Phils Lose Anyway

Wu-Tang Forever: Cliff Lee's Ridiculous Start Ends Ridiculous Month, Phils Lose Anyway

If you didn't know better watching the Phils last night, you might have thought they were actually playing for something. Well, actually, that's not true at all--the offense looks like it packed it in months ago, and the Fightins continued their prodigious recent output at the plate last night with a mere two hits, two walks and zero runs. (The Phils have now scored an average of one run a game over their last five outings.)

But oh man, that boy Cliff Lee. If the Phils officially had lost motivation to do anything else but secure a bottom-ten record at season's end, apparently no one told Clifton Pfifer. He made the NL's best team look positively Single A-ish last night, striking out 13 batters--six in a row at one point-- and giving up just three hits while walking none in eight innings of work.

If you're thinking to yourself "wait, those numbers sound kind of familiar," that might be because he had an outing nearly as ridiculous against the Marlins just a week-and-a-half ago. In fact, this whole month has been pretty damn nutso for the Pfife Dog, who has an ERA of just 1.85 in his five September starts, while striking out 54 batters and walking just one.

You might want to read those numbers again. 54 strikeouts. Just one walk. Even if you were facing no one but Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia for a whole month, that'd be damn impressive.

Matter of fact, it's damn near unprecedented. No pitcher has ever struck out 50 batters in a month without giving up more than a single walk. According to NBC Sports, it's only the 48th time since 1901 that a pitcher has struck out 54 batters over five starts, regardless of how many walks they've given up. Cliff's had some pretty ridiculous months in his career--he only let up one run in all of June 2011, you might recall--but September '13 is as dominant as he's ever been on the mound.

Of course, it's barely mattered at all, since not only are the Phils long out of contention, but they haven't felt like scoring much for him lately, meaning that a golfed Chris Johnson solo shot to left that just barely crept over the wall last night was more than enough to fell the Fightins. The Phils have now lost eight of their last nine, all but guaranteeing them that bottom-ten record. (If the season ended today, they'd be tied with the Rockies for seventh-worst.) Perhaps it's for the best, but it's a shame to see Cliff Lee making history in the dark like this.

In any event, we gotta give it up to our ace for giving us one source of pride in an otherwise fairly shameful couple weeks of Phillies baseball. And if not for Clayton Kershaw, who's been doing historic things basically all season in Los Angeles, Lee's excellent final line of 14-8, 2.87 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and a 6.94 K/BB ratio--his third time leading the league in that category--would certainly put him in contention for his second Cy Young trophy. Good show, Cliff.

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The biggest sports story in town in the Sixers, winners of 4 of 5 and an exhilarating team on the floor, led by a superstar player who seems to actually get us as a fan base. And to think, all it took to bring us to this point was getting rid of Sam Hinkie.

Look at what a dark place the Sixers were in a year ago. They were in last place, with the league’s worst roster and no hope for the future except for a bunch of ill-defined future draft picks. And they were led by a general manager with absolutely zero interest in winning, explaining himself, or (worst of all) appearing on the WIP Morning Show. 

But now, there’s hope. Joel Embiid is the real deal. The supporting cast is rapidly improving, with guys like T.J. McConnell, Robert Covington and Dario Saric looking like valuable supporting players, and Ben Simmons joining them very soon. 

I know the Hinkie apologists are going to say these improvements are because of him and that he deserves credit -- please. To credit Hinkie with drafting Joel Embiid is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in all my years of watching Philadelphia sports. We all know Hinkie wanted Andrew Wiggins -- therefore, he gets no credit for drafting Embiid. And as Bob Brookover pointed out last week, Embiid is a Sixer because of luck.  

Ben Simmons, of course, was drafted by Bryan Colangelo, who also acquired the best Sixer since Thaddeus Young, Ersan Ilyasova. And if the two first-round picks next year turn out to be stars, Colangelo will get credit for those, too

Hinkie did things like draft three centers in a  row, take Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis, trade valuable players like Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels for nothing, and sign no veterans at all for three years. 

Joel Embiid is a winner, Sam Hinkie is a loser, and that’s all there is to it.  

In other Sixers news, it was nice to see Simmons warming up on the court last week against Boston- when Embiid did that, it meant he was 16-18 months away from returning to action. In the last two years, the Sixers lead the league in pre-game social media posts featuring players who aren’t active for that night’s game. 

And speaking of records, congrats to Nerlens Noel for breaking Shane Victorino’s longstanding local athlete record for use of “you know” in a single interview, when he talked to Woj last week

Other Philly sports takes: 

The Cowboys’ loss to the Packers on Sunday proves two things: Dak Prescott is a fraud, and the Cowboys were never very good anyway. The only reason they went 13-3 was the easy schedule. 

Can you believe Allen Iverson getting photographed in a Cowboys jersey? Doesn’t he know the rules? If you play in Philly, you must root for every one of the city’s teams, regardless of circumstance, for the rest of your life. 

Even so, shame on the Knicks’ Derrick Rose for no-showing a game. If you want to be a legendary NBA guard, you’re supposed to skip PRACTICES, not games. Not a game. 

Angelo made a good point: Embiid is so perfect as a Philadelphia athlete that it makes me notice how much Carson Wentz isn’t. Hunting trips? Shotgun gifts? Getting locked in a gas station bathroom? That’s just not cutting it. Carson, immediately, needs to start drinking Shirley Temples, imitating pro wrestler entrances, and insulting porn stars on Instagram, or else I fear he won’t last in this town. 

Another good column by Marcus Hayes -- the Eagles must sacrifice multiple draft picks to trade up for wide receiver Mike Williams. Whatever it takes. 

Come on Eagles- no room on the staff for either of Buddy’s sons? How about both? 

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.