Wednesday, October 29, 2008
If I had taken the time on Monday to describe what I was going through, the description of how I was feeling about the Phillies chances on Monday night would have been positive anticipation.
Anticipation like the kind you have as a kid on Christmas Eve. Like the kind you have in high school when you know your prom date might let you go a little further than she ever did in the past.
The Phils were on the precipice of a championship, with their best pitcher, Cole Hamels, on the mound to put the series away. I was feeling pretty confident about things on Monday, as I had the wife get a babysitter for my 2 1/2 year old son so we could go out and enjoy the revelry that was supposed to be Philadelphia's first World Championship in 25 years.
Now as I sit at work two days later, how do I feel?
Not nearly so great as Monday.
To further my two previous analogies, it's as if you woke up on Christmas, and your parents decided to rethink how they feel about Christmas because of it's blatant commercialism. Or that your prom date decided that she justed wanted to be friends.
Frustration doesn't nearly describe how I feel right now. It's more like nervous angst.
The thought that the game on Monday, which had been setup so perfectly for the Phillies to succeed, did not end in the fairytale fashion we all had hoped has me thinking bad thoughts. Negative thoughts.
Thoughts that go back to prior situations where things seemed like they might work out for the Philadelphia team, but didn't quite end up our way. Thoughts of Mitch Williams, Leon Stickle, and the Legion of Doom-era Flyers teams have been dancing in my head as I type this.
I'm not trying to be negative; it's not hard to be negative after the way the game on Monday was allowed to continue past the point where it should have clearly been stopped (no way the Rays should have been allowed to bat in the 6th inning). Hell, even Tim McCarver has advocated starting Game 5 over again. Can you imagine the hate and discontent THAT decision would cause?
No, I'm not trying to be negative, but it is a little more difficult to be positive today than it was on Monday. As a fan, I'm going to need an early sign.....like a Jimmy Rollins base hit (he bats 2nd in the bottom of the 6th) or an early run, to get back that feeling on Monday like something good was coming my way.
One thing I can offer you as a Phillies fan, if you're in need of a pep talk is the following article from Rich Hofmann, who lays out the case for why the Phillies still have things going in the right direction for tonite.
For the sake of the collective sanity of the Delaware Valley, I hope Rich is right.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Several WIP personalities are reporting that the resumption of last night's World Series game has already been pushed to Wednesday.
KYW-1060 is reporting that there will be no baseball tonite on the front page of their website.
The Phillies and Rays had their World Series game suspended after 5 1/2 innings with the score tied 2 - 2.
The Phils struck first early on the strength of a 2-run Shane Victorino single that drove home Jayson Werth and Chase Utley.
The Rays finally got to Phils starter Cole Hamels in the 4th inning on a Carlos Pena double and an Evan Longoria single.
The Phils, meanwhile, had Rays starter Scott Kazmir on the ropes during his 4 inning stay in the ballgame, but failed to put him away on a couple of occasions. Kazmir walked 6, but the Phils failed to come up with the big hit to break the game open.
The Rays tied the ballgame as the rains really began coming down. Carlos Pena drove in BJ Upton from 2nd, tying the game at 2, and, after Evan Longoria flied out, the umpires finally suspended play.
As of this writing, MLB is unsure as to when they'll start up play again, as the forecast tonite in Philly doesn't look much better than last night.
- I've waited this long....I can wait a little longer.
- Went to Finnigan's Wake on Spring Garden to catch the game. The place was packed and the crowd was into the game. The crowd reaction to suspending the game ranged from drunken anger at stopping the game to drunken anger at NOT stopping the game before Carlos Pena drove in BJ Upton in the top of the 6th. Yeah, people were pretty hammered last night and ready to celebrate.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Joe Blanton, take your place in Philadelphia Sports folklore.
Joe Blanton pitched 6 innings of 2-run ball and hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the 5th inning to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 10-2 win in Game 4 of the World Series. The win gives the Phils a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the best-of-7 series that continues tonight.
The Phils scratched out a run early as Rays' starter Andy Sonnanstine pitched like a deer in the headlights. A control pitcher, Sonnanstine gave up a double to Jimmy Rollins and two walks to hand the Phillies a 1 - 0 lead. The Phils increased their lead in the 3rd inning to 2 - 0, on an RBI single from Pedro Feliz, scoring Chase Utley, who had reached base on an Akinori Iwamura error.
After a Carl Crawford solo homer in the top of the 4th to cut the lead to 1, the Phils took the game (and the Series) by the horns. After another Iwamura error and a Jayson Werth walk, Ryan Howard launched a 3-run shot to left field to send the home crowd into a frenzy and gave the Phils a 5 - 1 lead.
The Rays' Eric Hinke went on to tack on another solo shot to bring the Rays back to within 3 runs, but that run was erased when Joe Blanton hit what might be the most improbable home run in World Series history.
Blanton, who had 2 hits in 33 ABs all year, deposited an Edwin Jackson offering well over the left field wall to rip out the Rays' hearts and extend the Phillies lead to 6 - 2. The Phillies then proceeded to beat up on the Rays bullpen in the 8th inning, with a pair of 2-run homers from Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard (his 2nd) respectively.
The Series will continue this evening, with Cole Hamels facing Scott Kazmir.
- Jimmy Rollins....3 for 5 with 3 runs scored. That the Phillies won wasn't an accident when Rollins gets on base 3 times.
- I wonder how the game would have turned out had Pedro Feliz NOT gotten that basehit to drive home Utley in the 3rd inning. The Phils had runners at 1st and 3rd with no outs and to not get at least 1 run out of that siutation again might have hurt the team's confidence a bit. They had Sonnanstine on the ropes in the 1st inning, loading the bases with 1 out and let the young pitcher off the hook.
- Rough night for Akinori Iwamura with 2 errors.
- I'll have a report later today on my trip to Game 3 last Saturday. LONG day, last Saturday.....
Friday, October 24, 2008
Yeah, I know right now the town is all Phillies, all the time, but let's not forget about the local National Football League squadron.
After having the bye last week, the Eagles jump right back into the fray this Sunday afternoon against those upstart Atlanta Falcons. You may have missed some of the following while you were getting your new Phillies gear at the Exxon on the corner of Rt. 70 and Springdale Road:
- No one seems to know how long Shawn Andrews will be out for, but at least everyone seems to agree that he had back surgery. If Andrews misses the remainder of the year, it would mark one of the most bizarre football seasons of any Eagle player since Randall Cunningham, what with the false rumors about Andrews' absence during training camp, which ultimately culminated in Andrews admitting his battle with depression.
- All signs are pointing to Brian Westbrook playing football this Sunday. Westbrook, you'll recall, broke a couple of ribs.
- WR Kevin Curtis looks to be making his 2008 debut this weekend.
- In case you haven't been following, the Cowboys are a hot mess right now.
- Eagles sign local kid, Naval Academy grad Kyle Eckel, to play fullback after cutting Tony Hunt.
The Tampa Bay Rays held the Phillies offense in check last night en route to a 4 - 2 victory in Game 2 of the World Series. The Rays' victory evens the World Series at 1 game apiece as the Series heads to Philadelphia for the next 3 games.
The Rays jumped on the Phillies early in the first. Phils starter Brett Myers, in a continuing theme of having early game troubles, allowed the first two batters of the ballgame to reach base. Both of these batters ended up scoring on groundouts to give the Rays an early 2 - 0 advantage.
The Rays struck again in the 2nd inning, loading the bases with 2 outs for BJ Upton. Upton singled home Dioner Navarro, but fortunately for the Phils, RF Jayson Werth was able to gun down Rocco Baldelli at the plate to stop the bleeding and keep the score at 3 - 0.
The fourth Rays' run was scored on a safety squeeze whereby Jason Bartlett laid down a sacrifice and Cliff Floyd, on third after singling to lead off the inning, scored once determining the bunt was successful.
The Phils offense, meanwhile, continued to be stymied by a combination of bad luck and good pitching. Rays pitcher James Shields pitched well, but the Phils were able to run deep pitch counts on him. What the Phils were unable to do, however, was to get timely basehits to score runners. The Phils had leadoff baserunners in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th inning while Shields was in the ballgame, but like Game 1, they were unable to capitalize on their opportunities.
The Phils did not score until the 8th inning when Eric Bruntlett, pinch hitting for DH Greg Dobbs, hit the first pitch he saw from David Price over the left field wall to give the Phils some hope. The Phils threatened again in the 9th, with Carlos Ruiz stroking a double to lead off the inning and coming home after Evan Longoria booted a Jayson Werth shot, allowing Ruiz to score from 2nd base. The threat died, however, after Chase Utley struck out swinging and Ryan Howard grounded out meekly to 2nd, ending the ballgame.
The series continues (maybe) on Saturday, with Jamie Moyer facing Matt Garza at 8:20pm.
- The last time I was this frustrated as a fan watching my team play in a Championship game was when the Eagles were wasting time during Super Bowl 39 and not running a 2-minute offense. The Phillies were consistently getting men on base, but just could not break through. This game was there to be had; instead, the Phils now have a dog fight on their hands.
- I know the Phils wouldn't be in the World Series but for the pinch hitting skills of Greg Dobbs, but Dobbs embarrassed himself in his first two plate appearances last night. He struck out his first time up and never took the bat off of his shoulder. He struck out again in the 4th inning, taking feeble cuts all the while. Maybe a change of scenery to Citizen's Bank Ballpark will help Dobbs, but the fact is, the Phils' DHs in the first 2 games are a paltry 1 for 7 in the series.
- Phils batters left a combined 24 runners on base last night. Pedro Feliz left 6 runners on by himself last night.
- Chooch Ruiz was the only one who could seemingly find his bat last night, getting two doubles and walking twice. He also performed a text book block of home plate to enable the Phillies to get Rocco Baldelli at the plate in the 2nd inning.
- What in the hell was Jayson Werth doing in the 5th inning allowing himself to get doubled off of first base? Inexecusable.
- Jimmy Rollins is now 0 for 10 in the World Series. His reputation for coming up big in big spots is looking unearned in the first two games.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The Phillies took the initiative in Game 1 and took out the upstart Rays by a score of 3 - 2. They lead the World Series by a count of 1 game to none.
The Rays got their nose bloodied early in the first inning, when, with 1 out, Jayson Werth walked, bringing up Chase Utley. Utley took a 2-2 pitch from Scott Kazmir over the right field fence to give the Phillies a 2 - 0 lead.
The Phils added a third run in the 4th inning by virtue of a Carlos Ruiz ground out, scoring Shane Victorino from third.
The Rays, meanwhile, were stifled by Cole Hamels for the most past. Carl Crawford took Hamels deep to make the score 3 - 1 in the bottom of the fourth inning and Akinori Iwamura doubled home Jason Bartlett in the bottom of the fifth to draw within a run. Other than those two threats, however, the Rays didn't really make a lot of noise offensively. Hamels went 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits and struck out 5.
The Phillies, meanwhile, seemed to allow Scott Kazmir to pitch in this game far longer than he had any right to. After taking a 2 run lead in the first, the Phils had lead off baserunners in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th inning, but failed to get anyone home. The closest the Phils came to getting another run early was squandered in the bottom of the 2nd when Shane Victorino, on third because of an infield single, was thrown out at the plate by BJ Upton on a shallow Jimmy Rollins fly out.
Hamels gave way in the 8th inning to Ryan Madson, who pitched a scoreless 8th inning and later, to Brad Lidge, who closed out matters gaining his 6th save in the post-season.
The series continues tonite with Brett Myers facing James Shields.
- Loved the attempted bunt by Chase Utley in the first. What is with that shift they are playing on Utley? I guarantee he will drop a bunt down the third base line in this series.
- No more Ryan Howard at first base. Please. I can't take it anymore. He. is. TERRIBLE in the field. DH him in the AL ballparks. Whatever. But no more.
- Howard also struck out 3 times and left 4 men on base.
- Jimmy Rollins. 0 for 5. Left 5 guys on base.
- While I'm on the topic, the Phillies batters were responsible for leaving 21 runners on base last night. This game should have been a laugher. Instead, it was a nailbiter that tested both my nerves and my liver.
- Shane Victorino really seemed to get under the Rays' skin on the basepaths.
- What was with the BJ Upton glare while at the plate in the 3rd inning? I particularly enjoyed his two GIDPs.
Picture: Yahoo.com(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I almost forgot how much fun it is to get to a championship round of one of the four major sports. Since the Phillies got into the World Series last week, it's amazing how much it's done for the morale of people who live in and around Philadelphia. Everyone is wearing red to work, people are a little nicer, the sun is shining just a little brighter.
The one interesting thing I've found so far? A vast majority of people outside of Philadelphia are rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays. Hell, a vast majority of the major media outlets (*cough*ESPN*cough) have (anecdotally) spent more time highlighting the Rays than they are the Phillies. This is remarkable, if only because the Phillies have the last 2 NL MVPs on their team and a third guy, Chase Utley, who is easily the best 2nd baseman in all of baseball. You would think this would make the Phillies the more prominently featured of the two teams, but this has not been the case.
Now, some of these people rooting against the Phillies are rooting against the Phils strictly for one reason: scheudenfreude. And believe me, I get that one. I spent the better parts of 10 years at a certain Wall Street firm and most of my co-workers were either Yankee fans and Mets fans. I would rather gargle a bottle of Pine Sol than to go through the 2000 Subway series again. That World Series featured two of the most annoying fanbases in all of sports bickering over who had the better team, the better stadium, everything. This was akin to watching the Two Corey's discuss who had the better movie career.
But some of you good people of America are rooting for the Rays strictly out of the good, altruistic reasons. If you fall into this category, you probably are rooting for the Rays because they have been perennial losers, they have interesting players, etc. I want to try to sell you on the idea that if you are rooting for Tampa based on these factors, that NO team deserves your rooting interest more than the Philadelphia Phillies.
1.) The Perennial Loser Factor. Are you aware that the Philadelphia Phillies franchise has more losses than any team in the history of professional sports in North America with over 10,000 losses? That's a mind boggling number of losses. When the Phillies registered their 10,000th loss, I compiled a lineup of Phillies who represented losing baseball to me since about 1977. Fact is, I probably could have compiled several lineups worth of really bad Phillies players going back to 1883.
You like the Rays because they have been perennial losers? Hell, from the perspective of a Phillies fan, the Rays are spoiled, having been to 1 World Series in their 10 year history. The Phillies have been around since 1883, and have been to only 6 of these things; that's one World Series every 21 years!
2.) Compelling Players. The youth and skill of BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, and Scott Kazmir have really drawn people to this team. Even guys who haven't even pitched 10 regular season innings like David Price are getting a ton of press leading up to the World Series.
Not to brag, but the Phillies have quite a few pretty good players on their team. As mentioned previously, the Phillies have the last two NL MVPs on their team in 1B Ryan Howard and SS Jimmy Rollins. If you never saw great left-handed sluggers like Willie Stargell or Willie McCovey hit, Ryan Howard is a worthy successor to that lineage. Jimmy Rollins has a style all of his own and a knack for coming through when the Phils need him most (see the leadoff homers he had in both clinching playoff games the Phillies have had this year as reference). Both Rollins and Howard are just short of 30 years old.
The Phillies also have a 3rd guy just short of 30 that could win the MVP any year now in 2B Chase Utley. People in Philadelphia already love Utley, but you may not know much about him. Check out this article as a primer on a guy many consider to be one of the best all-around players in the game.
And don't forget about the energy of CF Shane Victorino, the quiet confidence of young SP Cole Hamels, and skill and sagacity of 45 year old starting pitcher SP Jamie Moyer.
3.) Committed Fanbase. You don't need me to get into the attendance figures from Tampa's history from when they were bad. I'll simply use this year as an example.
The 2008 Tampa Bay Rays drew only 1.78 million people this year; well below the AL average of 2.46 million. Also to be considered in Tampa's attendance are the number of northern transplants from places like New York and Boston who go to the ballpark to see the Yankees and the Red Sox more than the Rays. And this was in a year when the Rays were good.
The Phillies fans, on the other hand, have been coming out in droves this year. The Phils drew 3.4 million fans this year; well above the NL average of 2.75 million people.
The point? If people in Tampa have barely cared about this team this year, why should you?
4.) Entertainment Factor Upon Victory. The city of Tampa had the Buccaneers, which won the Super Bowl in 2002. They have the Lightning, which won the Stanley Cup in 2004. Both of these championships were won by going through a Philadelphia sports team.
Tampa does not need another championship. Philadelphia NEEDS a championship much like a junkie needs their next fix. This much is well documented.
If the Phillies win this World Series, there is no telling what will happen in the city if they win. I'm not saying rioting or looting, but I'm sure they'll be enough jackassery that will occur and get posted on YouTube such that bloggers will be kept busy making fun of Philly fans for the next month.
And if the Phils win, and we get made fun of? Well, that'd be just fine.