The tension was brutal

Thoughts on a weekend that left you more covered with sweat than if you’d worked out in a boxing ring.

1. Is it just me, or does Hunter Pence further enhance the Phillies’ league-leading collction of bad beards?

Just kidding. The Phillies got their man and he’s important both in righthanded batters box and right field, because excellent fielding helps an already top-flight pitching staff look even better.

And after watching Chase Utley and Ryan Howard go a pathetic 1 for 16 against Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum on Wednesday and Thursday, GM Ruben Amaro, Jr., clearly had no choice but to surrender the minor leaguers Houston asked for.

Pence’s line in his Saturday debut looked unimpressive at first glance: 5 ABs, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 RBI.

But the most important line might have been 0 Ks. As in no strikeouts.

2. To answer the recurrent question of just why Ed Wade is so eager to help the team that fired him six years ago, whisper the most important single word in baseball: “money.”

The Phillies got a good baseball player; the Astros got to subtract the $10 million Pence would have made next spring after whipping them in arbitration the way Michael Bourn did this spring. (Why do you think Bourn is on the block right now?) Plus another $12 or so off the 2013 payroll.

When Wade gave the Phillies Roy Oswalt last season he was able to subract $15 million from this season’s payroll.

Baseball is a lot different at the bottom-feeder level than at the lofty perch occupied by the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox and Giants.

3. The Eagles have done a truely outstanding job of rebuilding their defense (if you like fourth-round rookie linebackers in the middle calling signals, that is) and deserve accolades for bringing in Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins.

But if I were an Eagles fan I’d give a little thought to the five most important guys on the field — the five who protect Michael Vick on each and every snap.

Contact staff writer Don McKee at