3. Oswalt is the only one of the five with an Olympic gold medal. He went 1-0 in two starts for Team USA in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
4. Their career regular-season stats:
Halladay: 169-86, 3.32 ERA
Lee: 102-61, 3.85 ERA
Oswalt: 150-83, 3.18 ERA
Hamels: 60-45, 3.53 ERA
Blanton: 72-60, 4.30 ERA
5. Want karma? Lee shares a birthday with Tug McGraw. Tugger was born Aug. 30, 1944, 34 years before Lee.
6. Hamels and Oswalt have official websites. At ColeHamels.com, you can purchase game-worn cleats for $500. At RoyOswalt44.net, his personal mantra of "Small town ... Big Heart" is impossible to miss.
7. Career postseason stats:
Halladay: 2-1 in three starts, 2.45 ERA
Lee: 7-2 in 10 starts, 2.13 ERA
Oswalt: 5-1 in 10 starts and two relief appearances, 3.39 ERA
Hamels: 6-4 in 12 starts, 3.45 ERA
Blanton: 2-0 in six starts and three relief appearaces, 4.12 ERA
8. Hamels needs one more postseason win to break the Phillies' record of six he shares with Steve Carlton. (Three of Lee's seven postseason wins came with the Rangers.)
9. A week before Halladay signed with the Phillies in December 2010, his then-nine-year-old son Braden was printing out the Phillies roster and familiarizing himself with his dad's future teammates.
10. Lee's Phillies' highlight: Shutting out the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series, which included a behind-the-back stab of a Robinson Cano hard grounder in the eighth inning.
11. Blanton was Mr. Baseball in 1999 for the state of Kentucky as a senior at Franklin-Simpson High School. The winner the previous year was current Indians outfielder Austin Kearns.
12. Most homers allowed by hitter:
Halladay: David Ortiz (Red Sox), 6
Lee: Paul Konerko (White Sox), 6
Oswalt: Aramis Ramirez (Cubs) and Albert Pujols (Cardinals), 5
Hamels: Cody Ross (Giants), 4
Blanton: Four guys with 3, including Pat Burrell (Giants)
13. Halladay's darkest professional time was being sent to the minors in 2000. He had gone 8-7 with a 3.92 ERA the previous season, but was such a disaster in 2000 (4-7, 10.64) that the Blue Jays had no choice but to demote him. He was sent as far down as Single A, where pitching instructor Mel Queen adjusted his delivery. He rejoined the Jays late in 2001 and went 19-7 in 2002. His career was saved.
14. At Citizens Bank Park (regular season):
Halladay: 11-5 with a 2.28 ERA in 18 games (17 starts)
Lee: 3-2 with a 2.52 ERA in five starts
Oswalt: 9-0 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 starts
Hamels: 34-22 with a 3.29 ERA in 73 starts
Blanton: 14-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 38 starts
15. Hamels is the all-time leader in wins at CBP.
16. Hamels' biggest mistake as a professional was breaking his pitching hand in a bar fight in 2005. He was expected to challenge for a roster spot that spring until the incident in late January.
17. "I'm a little higher profile than somebody else my age," Hamels told the Philadelphia Inquirer a few weeks after the fight. "I guess I obviously didn't think that at that point. I kind of knew it, but it hadn't really set in. But now it's set in. This is who I am, and this is the way I need to act, as a professional and as a mature 21-year-old."
18. Blanton was acquired from Oakland on July 17, 2008, for three prospects (Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman and Matt Spencer) who have not panned out. Outman is in the Giants' system these days.
19. Oswalt went 14-3 in his first season, but only finished second in the 2001 Rookie of the Year voting. Albert Pujols (37 homers, 130 RBI) was the unanimous winner. Jimmy Rollins, by the way, finished third.
20. Oswalt got a small bit of revenge. Remember that bomb Pujols hit off Brad Lidge in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS? Oswalt came back to stymie the Cards the following night and lead the Astros to their first (and only) World Series.
21. 2011 base salaries:
Note: $11 million of Oswalt's salary will be paid by Houston.
22. Halladay missed the final three months of the 2005 season after fracturing his left tibia off a line drive by Texas' Kevin Mench. Three years later, a liner off Pittsburgh's Nyjer Morgan struck Halladay in the head. Halladay left the game, but did not miss a start.
23. Hamels' Phillies' highlight: Winning the 2008 World Series MVP.
24. 2012 base salaries:
Note: The Phillies can buy out Oswalt's contract for $2 million.
25. Oswalt and Halladay are tied for the longest active streak of Opening Day starts with eight. Halladay will break that tie Friday when he takes the mound against Houston.
26. The food was one of the highlights of Blanton's trip to Japan in 2008, when he was with the A's. A big fan of sushi, Blanton did draw the line on the raw eel on rice and a "giant clam-type thing," he wrote in a blog of the experience.
27. NL opponent he most dominates:
Halladay: 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA against the Nationals
Lee: 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA against the Giants (coulda used him in the 2010 NLCS)
Oswalt: 23-3, 2.81 ERA against the Reds
Hamels: 6-0, 1.07 ERA against the Reds
Blanton: 3-1, 2.64 ERA against the Mets
28. Oswalt's Phillies' highlight: Pitching eight solid innings for the win in Game 2 of the 2010 NLCS (ital) and (end ital) scoring from second on a single by running through a stop sign by third-base coach Sam Perlozzo.
29. NL team he struggles with most:
Halladay: 0-2, 7.23 ERA against the Giants
Lee: 0-2, 9.35 ERA against the Astros
Oswalt: 6-8, 3.61 ERA against the Giants
Hamels: 2-8, 3.83 ERA against the Mets
Blanton: 1-3, 5.67 ERA against the Braves
30. There is a great commercial for the video game MLB2K11 in which Halladay consults a stuffed Carlos Ruiz doll on choices of sandwiches and wardrobe. "Every perfect game needs a Carlos Ruiz," Halladay says straightly at the end. It's on YouTube.
31. Where ya from?
Halladay's hometown: Denver, Colo.
Lee's hometown: Benton, Ark.
Oswalt's hometown: Kosciusko, Miss.
Hamels' hometown: San Diego, Calif.
Blanton's hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
Note: Blanton was raised in the very small town of Brownsville, Ky.
32. Blanton was a teammate at the University of Kentucky with former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. His manager at UK was Keith Madison, who played high school ball with Blanton's father.
33. Oswalt's most uncertain professional time was also his most shocking. He was bothered terribly by shoulder pain after the 1999 season when he went out to work on his truck. He mistakenly grabbed a live spark plug and the resulting jolt supposedly loosened scar tissue and cured his injury.
34. Wives' names:
35. Nicole and Roy Oswalt were high school sweethearts, but their relationship goes back to when they played T-Ball against one another.
36. Nastiest pitch:
Halladay: Cut fastball
Lee: Four-seam fastball
Oswalt: Four-seam fastball
Hamels: Circle changeup
37. The 14 players (alphabetically, by position) Cliff Lee has been traded for in his career: pitchers Phillippe Aumont, Blake Beevan, Carlos Carrasco, Bartolo Colon, Tim Drew, Jason Knapp, Mark Lowe, Josh Lueke and J.C. Ramirez; catcher Lou Marson; infielders Jason Donald, Matt Lawson and Justin Smoak; outfielder Tyson Gillies.
38. Halladay's Phillies' highlight: Pitching a no-hitter against the Reds in the playoffs or tossing a perfect game against the Marlins - your choice.
39. Who's the biggest?
Halladay: 6-6, 230
Hamels: 6-3, 190
Lee: 6-3, 190
Oswalt: 6-0, 190
Blanton: 6-3, 245
40. Blanton's Phillies' highlight came when he homered off Tampa Bay's Edwin Jackson in Game 4 of the 2008 World Series. He remains the only Phillies pitcher ever to go deep in the World Series.
41. At the plate:
Halladay: A career .123 hitter with 16 singles in 130 at-bats. Did go 2-for-6 (.333) in the playoffs last year.
Lee: A career .132 average (9-for-68) with one RBI, which he picked up in 2009 with the Phillies.
Oswalt: A career batting average of .157. He homered off Pittsburgh's Shawn Chacon in 2006.
Hamels: A career .160 hitter with nine doubles among his 50 hits (in 312 at-bats).
Blanton: A career .114 average (16-for-140) in the regular season, which only made his World Series homer even more unlikely.
42. The Phillies were 10-1 in Blanton's final 11 starts last year.
43. Who's the oldest?
Halladay: 33. Turns 34 on May 14
Lee: 32. Turns 33 on Aug. 30
Oswalt: 33. Turns 34 on Aug. 29
Hamels: 27. Turns 28 on Dec. 27
Blanton: 30. Turns 31 on Dec. 11
44. Lee's lowest professional time came in late July 2007, when he was sent to the minors the day after getting lit up by the Red Sox for seven runs in four innings. He was booed as he left the game and sarcastically tipped his cap to the Cleveland fans. This is a guy who was 18-5 and finished fourth in the American League Cy Young voting two years before.
45. His start before the Red Sox game was worse. Lee beaned Sammy Sosa on a night when the Rangers were honoring him for hitting 600 home runs. The wayward pitch reportedly sparked a heated argument between Lee and Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez and a closed-door, players-only meeting. His next outing, against Boston, resulted in a trip to the minors.
46. "Cliff didn't like going down, but who does?" Indians manager Eric Wedge said at the time. "You really find out about somebody when they have tough times. I think we're finding out how tough Cliff is."
47. Lee came back the following season to go 22-3 and win the AL Cy Young.
48. My boy Blue! Best numbers by umpire:
Halladay: 5-1 with a 1.76 ERA with Jim Joyce behind the plate.
Lee: 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA with "Cowboy" Joe West.
Oswalt: 6-0 with a 1.48 ERA with Ted Barrett.
Hamels: 5-0 with a 1.50 ERA with Gary Darling.
Blanton: 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA with Ed Hickox behind the plate.
49. Kill the ump! Worst numbers by umpire:
Halladay: 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA with Angel Hernandez.
Lee: 2-2 with a 6.45 ERA with Hunter Wendlestedt in nine starts.
Oswalt: 1-4 with a 4.15 ERA when Mike Reilly is behind the plate.
Hamels: 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA with Larry Vanover.
Blanton: 1-4 with a 5.70 ERA with Wally Bell.
50. "I never wanted to leave this place in the first place." - Cliff Lee, Dec. 15, 2010.