Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Words can't describe. I remember 1983 well...

BTW: To answer the question....the Parade is on Friday at NOON!!!!!

Did That Just Happen?

Chase That Dream: A Fan On Hold

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 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

No Baseball Today

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.

Suspended Belief

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

Don't Ask About the "P" Word Yet

I don't know when it will be if they win tonite and no one around City Hall is sayin'.

Blanton Brings Phils to the Brink

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

The Eagles.......Remember Them?

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.

Rays Even Series with Phils

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

Phils Take Game 1

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: by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey America.....Why Not Us?

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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Phils Rally Planned for Tomorrow

The City of Philadelphia will hold a rally for the Fightin' Phils tomorrow at Noon at Dilworth Plaza.

If you're thinking of going, it's going to be a nice crisp, Fall day tomorrow:

Monday, October 20, 2008

So, now we know.....Phils vs. Rays

Last night the Rays finally settled things with the Red Sox, winning Game 7 of the ALCS by a score of 3 - 1. Starter Matt Garza got the win and was the MVP of the ALCS.

So, with that, let the speculation and predictions begin. Tim Kurkjian of ESPN breaks down the Phils and Rays and predicts the Rays will win in 7 games. In general, the ESPN experts are all picking the Rays (except for Peter Gammons). That's fine. Alot of those same pundits all picked the Dodgers in the NLCS, so I'm not too concerned about what they think.

I will say this about the matchup; it is going to be much closer than a lot of people think. There is a lot of love for the young talent of the Rays and rightfully so. They are good; but they are not ready, I think. This has the look of a team that is just happy to be in the World Series. I just wonder if everyone is predicting the Rays to win this series, not so much because of the actual state of the talent on the two teams, but on what the Rays COULD become one day. Rays' 3B Evan Longoria is only 23; BJ Upton is only 24. They will both be good for a long time.

The Phillies don't need to be better than the Rays 10 years from now to be the 2008 World Champions; they just need to be better than the Rays 10 days from now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Eagles Can't Lose This Weekend

The Eagles are guaranteed not to lose this weekend....this is the hated bye weekend on the schedule. Yeah, I know these players, who routinely get into collisions every week comparable to an auto accident, need some time off. Frankly, if it wasn't for having a rooting interest in college football and the ubiquity of fantasy football leagues, I'm not sure how I would get through the weekend.

But if you don't have a rooting interest in college football or if you are one of the five sports fans left NOT in a fantasy football league, the following is a list of suggestions to get you through the weekend:

1.) Buy that Halloween pumpkin. I went last weekend, but this weekend is probably the last, best time to go. I spent about $70 all together, between the hayride for me, my wife, and kid, the pumpkins we picked, and all of the other halloween stuff we typically buy. Next weekend, not only do the Eagles play next Sunday, but it's the last weekend before Halloween. The places that sell pumpkins will be crazy crowded and all the good pumpkins will be picked over. Knock this task out this weekend; you'll look like a real mensch to your significant other and your kids.

2.) Negotiate for Phillies World Series tickets. The cheapest general admission tickets on StubHub as of this AM? $425. Per Ticket. And guess what? That's probably what I'll be paying as I didn't get picked in the ticket lottery.

3.) The Flyin' Hawaiian! Wanna meet Shane Victorino? Apparently, he'll be signing autographs this Sunday at the Forman Mills on Grant Avenue from 4pm to 6pm on Sunday.

4.) Check out UPenn Football. The University of Pennsylvania will be playing Columbia at historic Franklin Field on Saturday at 1pm. If you've never been to Franklin Field, you should check it out. It's the site of the Eagles' 1960 NFL Championship victory and as historic of a sports landmark as we have in the city.

5.) Homecoming in Happy Valley. Don't care for Ivy League ball? Head on up to beautiful State College, PA to watch the Penn State Nittany Lions curb stomp Big 10 rival Michigan. It is Homecoming at Penn State this weekend, so hotel rooms will be tough to come by, but it will be a perfect fall day in State College this weekend and great football weather.

I'll actually be heading up to Penn State for the weekend to go to the game and meet up with some old friends, get called "sir" by co-eds young enough to be my daughter, and tell the same 5 dick jokes we've been telling each other for the past 15 years.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Phillies Rally Being Planned?

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, a rally is being planned by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

I'm not sure how I feel about the concept of a "rally". The Phillies haven't really won anything just yet. Would a rally anger the sporting gods?

Let's never forget the Flyers jersey on the William Penn statue and how that worked out for the Flyers (swept by the Red Wings in 1997).

Phillies Beat Dodgers; Advance to World Series!

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the LA Dodgers by a score of 5 - 1 to win the NLCS and earn their 6th National League pennant in their 126 years of existence.

Jimmy Rollins quieted the crowd right out of the gate by slamming a lead off homer to give the Phils the early lead and the early momentum.

The Phils extended their lead in the 3rd, when with one out, Jimmy Rollins singled and stole second. After a Jayson Werth strikeout and a Chase Utley walk, Rollins scored on a Ryan Howard basehit. Pat Burrell plated Chase Utley with a single of his own, giving the Phillies a 3 - 0 lead.

The Phils extended their lead in the top of the fifth. With Howard on 1st and Utley on 2nd with 1 out, Pat Burrell hit a nubber to Rafael Furcal. Furcal booted the ball, and Utley, seeing Furcal lose the ball, ran hard all the way around 3rd and came home safely to extend the Phillies lead to 4 - 0. Furcal was also charged with a throwing error in a vain attempt to throw out Utley at home, allowing Burrell and Howard to advance. The Phils were able to get Ryan Howard home on yet another Rafael Furcal throwing error with two outs to make it 5 - 0.

Cole Hamels, meanwhile, went 7 strong innings giving up 1 run and striking out 5. The only run he gave up was to (who else?) Manny Ramirez on a solo home run. Hamels turned it over to the bullpen, which meant Ryan Madson in the 8th inning and Brad Lidge to close matters out in the 9th.


- Because David Boreanaz announced the Phils starting lineup for Fox, Channel 6 weatherman Dave Roberts, who is Boreanaz's father, got a shout out from announcer Joe Buck during the telecast.

- Good to see Scott Boras in the crowd last night. How does he hide his Satan horns and where does he keep his pitchfork?

- Great turn by Jimmy Rollins on that double play the Phils turned in the 5th inning.

- Tremendous running catch by Burrell on Ethier's drive in the bottom of the 6th. Did not think Burrell would come up with that ball.

- Why wasn't Russell Martin thrown out after vehemently arguing balls and strikes with the home plate? Loved the Fox replays of Martin slamming his equipment after the discussion. If Martin could hit with the same aplomb that he threw equipment around in this series, the Dodgers might still be in the series.

- Can't believe that Dodger fans cheered when they thought Victorino got hurt sliding back into first on a pickoff attempt late in the game. I've written it in comments over at and I'll write it again: if that had happened in Philly, the announcers would have made a point to mention it and it would have been a much bigger deal. The stories about Dodger fans in this series have not been good ones.

- Great diving grab by Chase Utley on Furcal's shattered bat shot in the bottom of the 8th.

- Lidge gave us a couple of "moments" in the 9th; both "moments" disappeared into the glove of Shane Victorino, deep in center field.

- NLCS MVP: Cole Hamels.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Flyers Drop 3rd Straight

The Flyers came out last night against their cross-state rivals and dropped a 3 - 2 decision in overtime. The Flyers have yet to get their first victory in three attempts so far on the young season.

The Flyers fell behind in the 2nd period 2 - 0 on a couple of goals where the Flyers play in their own zone was somewhat lacking. The Brook Orpik goal was screen shot and probably preventable had someone been pressuring Orpik on the shot. And on the goal where the Flyers fell behind 2 - 0, it was a case of an unchecked player being able to camp out near the faceoff circle and take a pass from behind the net.

The Flyers did bounce back before the end of the 2nd period, with a fluky goal by Jeff Carter that bounced off of Pens defenseman Hal Gill, and a Simon Gagne tip goal that was originally credited to Mike Richards.

Antero Niittymaki was in goal last night and looked good for the most part, but he did appear to go down a bit too early on the shot from Pascal Dupuis that ended the game in OT. Dupuis' goal may have been a perfect shot from where he took it (coming down the half boards at full speed), but still believe Niitty could have stopped it had he stayed up.

The Flyers will try to bounce back on Thursday, when they travel to Colorado to take on the Avs at 9pm.

Photo: (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shane, Stairs Power Phils

The Phightin' Phils came back from a two-run deficit late in Game 4 to come back and win by a score of 7 - 5. The win allowed the Phils to take a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the best-of-7 NLCS with the Dodgers.

The Phils came out of the gate quickly in the 1st inning, with Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth both getting on with singles. Then, Chase Utley dropped the bat head on a ball and drove a double down the right field line, scoring Rollins and putting Werth on 3rd. Werth came home on a Ryan Howard ground out to make the score 2 - 0, but the threat ended when Shane Victorino grounded into a double play.

Phils starter Joe Blanton gave one of runs back in the first, off of a James Loney double, which scored Rafael Furcal, making the score 2 - 1.

The game coasted along until the 5th inning, when Phils starter Joe Blanton put the first two men on base and gave up an RBI single to Manny Ramirez, tying the score at 2. A Russell Martin ground out gave the Dodgers a 3 - 2 lead. Blanton got out of the jam by inducing Blake DeWitt into a double play.

The Phils fought back in the top of the 6th, putting men on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, but could only get Ryan Howard home on a Chan Ho Park wild pitch, tying the game at 3. Only a great play by Andre Ethier out in right field kept the game tied at 3, as he made a sliding catch on a So Taguchi blooper.

The tie was short-lived, however, as Casey Blake greeted Chad Durbin in the bottom of the 6th inning by going deep to break the tie and give the Dodgers a 4 - 3 lead. The Phils coughed up another run on a Ryan Howard throwing error when the Dodgers were trying to give the Phillies an out on a sacrifice. The thowing error allowed Juan Pierre came around to score to make it 5 - 3 Dodgers. Ryan Madson was able to stop the bleeding, when he induced Russell Martin to line out to Chase Utley, who deftly dove to second base to double the runner off of second base.

The 8th inning saw the Fightin' Phils pound their way back from a deficit. After a Ryan Howard single and a Pat Burrell pop out, Shane Victorino hit Cory Wade's first offering over the right field wall for a 2-run shot to tie the game at 5. Then, after a Carlos Ruiz single, pinch hitter Matt Stairs hit an absolute titantic shot out to right field off of reliever Jonathan Broxton to put the Phils up 7 - 5.

The back-end of the Phillies bullpen took over from there. JC Romero got Andre Ethier to ground into a double-play setting the stage for Brad Lidge to record his first 4-out save as a Phil.

The series continues tomorrow night, with Cole Hamels facing Chad Billingsly at 8:22 pm.


- Another big, tough Dodger threw a temper tantrum in the dugout; this time, it was Derek Lowe after he gave up 2 runs in the first.

- Phils put Manny on first base in the 1st inning....I'm actually OK with it, as long as they are confident they can get Russell Martin out on a regular basis. Especially with the crazy numbers Manny has against Blanton. Ramirez hits at a .560 clip in 25 career at-bats against Blanton.

- For what it's worth, both Manny Ramirez and Hiroki Kuroda got fined a nominal amount of money for last night's stupidity.

- Jimmy Rollins has to come up with that ball in the 2nd inning off of Derek Lowe.

- Ryan Howard's defensive woes continue.

- The Shane Victorino homer underscored the stupidity of having Victorino bunt the runners over in the 6th inning. Yeah, Howard came around to score in that inning, but could Victorino have done more damage?

- Utley went 3 for 5 with an RBI....Phils could use the April and May version of Utley right now.

- Matt Stairs is a Philadelphia folk hero if the Phils hold on in this series.

- Notice Shane Victorino glaring menacingly at the Dodgers from his dugout after the homerun? Big hits like the one Victorino got should be how you make a team pay for throwing at your head.

Phils Thumped by Dodgers

The Phils dropped Game 3 to a highly motivated Dodgers team by a score of 7 - 2. Even with the loss, the Phillies are still up in the NLCS 2 games to 1, with Game 4 this evening.

Phils starter Jamie Moyer did not come out and have the kind of 1st inning the Phillies were looking for. Moyer gave up 5 runs on 5 hits and generally did not look sharp. Even as semi-interested in sports as an LA crowd can be, even that crowd was cheering pretty wildly and giving the Dodgers the boost they needed.

The Phils were able to respond in the top of the 2nd, with Pedro Feliz delivering an RBI single, scoring Ryan Howard, who had doubled and advanced on a Jayson Werth fly out.

Moyer was pulled, however, in the 2nd inning after giving up a home run to Rafael Furcal. He was relieved by Clay Condrey, who, while pitching to Russell Martin, threw one high and tight during an at-bat that Martin ultimately grounded into a double play on. Martin, furious because he had been hit (weakly) by Jamie Moyer in the first inning, threw a hissy fit in the dugout.

Upsetting the catcher virtually guarenteed a Phillie would be thrown at the next inning and sure enough, Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda threw over Shane Victorino's head in the next inning. Victorino eventually grounded out during the at-bat, but after Victorino exchanged words with Kuroda, the benches emptied. Most of the pointing and shouting was done by the coaching staffs, but it was funny to watch Manny Ramirez attempt to push through a crowd to get at a Phillie.

After the "gathering" in the middle of the field, the game settled in, with the Phillies batters seemingly doing everything possible to make Hiroki Kuroda's life much easier by swinging at bad pitches and not working the count. When Kuroda departed in the 7th inning, it was after throwing only 84 pitches.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, managed to tack on a 7th run off of JA Happ in the 4th inning, who came on and pitched pretty well in 3 innings of relief, all things considered.

The Phils did manage to scratch out a second run in the 7th inning, when Chase Utley led off with a double and was eventually chased home on a single from Pat Burrell to make the score 7 - 2.

The series continues tonight with Derek Lowe pitching on short rest against Joe Blanton.


- The entire notion that the Dodgers somehow needed to get "revenge" against the Phillies by throwing at Victorino's head was just ridiculous on every level. Even if Myers was throwing at Ramirez in Game 2, did anyone associated with the Dodgers stop to think that it was maybe because Ramirez sat there and preened after he hit that long double against Hamels in game 1? Most players actually do get thrown at for that sort of thing, but Ramirez is consistently allowed to get away with it.

And I don't care what anyone says or how they couch it; Russell Martin embarassed himself with his behavior last night. He got hit on the knee by a guy who was obviously wild in Jamie Moyer. Furthermore, Moyer hit him with a breaking ball and Moyer couldn't break a pane of glass with his stuff even in his younger days. For Martin to pout like he did after getting pitched up and in was a joke.

The fact that the Dodgers seem to think that every inside pitch is an attempt to hit them is in the Phillies favor as it is obviously in the Dodgers' heads. The Phils need to keep pounding the inner half of the plate.

- Could someone let Jimmy Rollins know the NLCS has begun?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eagles "D" Comes Alive; Beats Niners

The Eagles saved themselves 2 weeks of grief and went out and beat the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 40 - 26. The Eagles played this game without Brian Westbrook (broken ribs), Shawn Andrews (back), and Reggie Brown (groin). Now, with the Eagles bye week, it is hoped that they Eagles can get their wounded healthy, and possibly, get Kevin Curtis back from his sports hernia.

The score itself was somewhat deceptive. San Francisco had control of this game for a good portion of the 2nd half, before the Eagles defense finally asserted itself.

The scoring opened in the 1st quarter with a San Francisco field goal with the big play being a 45 yard punt return from ex-Eagle Allen Rossum. The Eagles responded with a big kick return of their own (courtesy of Quintin Demps) that culminated in a 1 yard Correll Buckhalter plunge.

After another San Francisco field goal to make the score 7 - 6, the Eagles drove the ball 78 yards in just over 5 minutes. This time, they scored on a fade pattern from Donovan McNabb to Hank Baskett from 5 yards out.

After a Niner punt, the Eagles drove the ball once more on the strength of two McNabb to DeSean Jackson connections that totalled 53 yards. The Eagles' red zone woes continued, however, as all the Eagles could muster on the possession was a 19 yard field goal from David Akers to make the score 17 - 6.

The Niners did manage to tack on another field goal before the Eagles took over on their final drive of the first half. They drove the ball to the San Francisco 36 yard line where they attempted a field goal with 1 second remaining. The field goal was blocked and picked up by ex-Eagle Donald Strickland, who took the ball into the endzone for a San Francisco touchdown.

The blocked field goal set the tone for the 2nd half as the Niners held the ball through most of the 3rd quarter. The Niners came out for the 3rd quarter and went right down the field, scoring a touchdown on a Frank Gore 6 yd run, giving San Francisco the lead at 23 - 17. After an Eagle punt, the Niners took the ball again and held it for over 6 minutes, but could only cobble together another Joe Nedney field goal to make the score 26 - 17.

The Eagles finally fought back in the 4th quarter, taking advantage of a short field from a poor San Fran punt. The Eagles only had to drive 38 yards to bring them within 2 points on a pass from McNabb to LJ Smith from 2 yards out. Another San Francisco punt later, the Eagles drove 31 yards, which was enough for a successful David Akers field goal try to put the Eagles in the lead by a score of 27 - 26. Niners coach Mike Nolan did unsucessfully challenge the field goal, which seemed to be well above and barely within the uprights, giving the impression that the field goal was no good.

At about the 7 minute mark of the 4th quarter, the Eagles defense finally asserted itself. Quinton Mikell intercepted a JT O'Sullivan pass and took it all the way back to the Niner 7 yd line. This enabled the Eagles to tack on another Akers field goal to make the score 30 - 26.

The defense got the ball back again, this time on a Trent Cole sack and strip of quarterback JT O'Sullivan. Chris Clemons recovered the fumble and the turnover led to another Akers field goal to make the score 33 - 26.

The final nail in the coffin for the Niners was when Juqua Parker intercepted a poorly executed screen pass from JT O'Sullivan and rumbled 55 yards for a touchdown to make the score 40 - 26 and to put the game completely out of reach.

The Eagles will now enter their sorely needed bye week, in which they'll get some of their offensive weapons when they take on Atlanta at the Linc on October 26th.


- "Most drops in the NFL"....Thanks Andy for bringing "5" some playmakers.

- I know the announcers cried about Baskett's first quarter reception not being a catch, but there was not nearly enough to overturn the call. Actually, it looked to me like Baskett had his arm under the ball the entire time.

- The blocked field goal leading into the end of the 1st half was bad enough. Watching the Eagles defense get pushed around for the 2nd week in a row was much more tough to take. Frank Gore did rush for 101 yards and the Niners ran successfully on the Eagles. They can count on teams following that blueprint for the rest of the season.

- Takeo Spikes picking McNabb.....some sort of karmic middle finger?

- LJ Smith....who knew he was still on the team?

- The tackle on DeSean Jackson at the 10 minute mark of the 4th looked worse than it was; it wasn't a clothes line, per se. A clothesline tackle is around the neck....this was across Jackson's chest.

- Congrats to Donovan McNabb for breaking Ron Jaworski's all-time passing yards record with the Eagles. Question: Why was Dick Stockton so reluctant to refer to Jaworski by his given nickname when it was brought up? Jaws' nickname was "The Polish Rifle"....Stockton shortened it to "The Rifle". Clearly, Jaws doesn't mind the nickname...he incorporates it into some of his autographs.

- Not sure it was the right play for Nolan to challenge the field goal by Akers, but according to the rules, it IS challengeable, despite what the announcers said.

- Nice play by Juqua Parker blowing up the end around with about 6 minutes left in the game. This was right before the Quinton Mikell interception. Parker had a huge game, in general, with 4 tackles, a sack, and an interception for a touchdown.

- Huge game from Correll Buckhalter, playing in place of Westbrook. He 18 carries for 93 yards to go with 7 receptions for 85 yards. Very much Westbrook-like numbers.

- DeSean Jackson: 6 catches for 98 yards along with a 19 yard punt return in the 2nd quarter.

Flyers Drop Opener

The Flyers, playing in their first regular season game of the year, dropped a strange game to the New York Rangers by a score of 4 - 3.

The Rangers, already playing their 4th game of the season, came out and blitzed the Flyers to the tune of 4 goals in the first period. Two of them were absolutely stoppable by goaltender Martin Biron, who was ultimately pulled from the game in favor of Antero Niittymaki.

Ultimately, however, the Rangers dominance had more to do with the Flyers looking as if they were still playing in the preseason. A couple of Flyers attempted to wake up the team; specifically, Riley Cote, who took on Colton Orr, and Mike Richards, who traded fives with Brandon Dubinsky.

Ultimately, however, it took until the 2nd period for the Flyers to wake up and get on the board. Scott Hartnell converted a Glen Metropolit face off win for a shorthanded goal early in the 2nd period by shooting high over Stephen Valiquette's glove hand. The period also featured Mike Richards flying around the ice; he drew two penalties in the period and seemed determined to dig the Flyers out of the hole they dug for themselves.

The Flyers struck again towards the end of the 2nd period when Simon Gagne batted in a Danny Briere rebound to chalk up his first goal in forever. For the game, I thought Gagne looked like a guy who hadn't played in awhile, but more importantly, he didn't look timid, which was a good sign for a guy coming off of post-concussive syndrome.

The third period was all Flyers, but they could only dent the Ranger net once on a Mike Richards goal from a sweet cross-ice feed from Danny Briere. The Flyers certainly had their opportunities in the 3rd period; they had a 2 man advantage with a little under 10 minutes left in the game, but they were turned away.


- It's hard to understate how poorly the Flyers looked in the 1st peroid; the only consolation you can take from this game is that when they got their skating legs, they dominated the Rangers.

- Danny Briere....2 assists.

- Lasse Kukkonen was a -2 in the game and was the guy that got beat wide when Sjostrom scored.

- Luca Sbisa wasn't bad in his debut. He was a -1, but the whole team was so bad early, it was difficult to tell. By the end of the game, Sbisa was carrying the puck up ice confidently and even pursued on the forecheck at one point.

- Nice work from Glen Metropolit last night. One of the few Flyers that showed energy early on in the game and he got some increased ice time during the game.

- Stephen Valiquette? Again? Really? You gotta be kidding me.

- In case you missed it, I wrote a preview of the 2008-2009 Flyers season for

- Sarah Palin dropping the puck got alot of press after the game. I don't care about the home crowd booing her; what angers me is that she was there to drop the puck in the first place. I'm not angry about her presence at the game because of her politics; I'm angry that Owner Ed Snider would use his hockey team as a bully pulpit for his political views.

Many of us go to the hockey games to forget about politics and the real world for awhile. While I have no problem with highlighting the contributions of the armed services during the game (as the Flyers are wont to do), I am appalled that Snider, a known McCain donor, would push his choice for President under the disingenuous guise of inviting a well-known "Hockey Mom" to drop the puck. I don't care for it when Rock Stars prosthelize their political beliefs during a concert I pay to attend and I don't like it when rich hockey owners do the same.

Photo: by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jackson, Demps Fined

DeSean Jackson and Quintin Demps have been fined for that silly, arms crossed, head bobbing thing they did when Jackson scored last weekend on that punt return against Washington. They had been doing the head bobbing thing all through preseason where both of them returned kicks for touchdowns.

I don't know what's worse; the celebration itself or that the NFL thought to fine them for it. Furthermore, I don't recall a flag being thrown on the play for excessive celebration.

Phils Take Game 2

Brett Myers: Dangerous Offensive Weapon?

That might be exactly how we need to start thinking about Myers. Amazingly, he was the Phillies' best offensive weapon last night in the Phillies' 8 - 5 triumph over the LA Dodgers. The Phillies lead the best of 7 series 2 games to none, with the series shifting back to Los Angeles.

It all started with Myers in the second inning, where, with the game tied 1 - 1, Myers stroked a single with 2 outs, scoring Chooch Ruiz from second base to put the Phillies ahead 2 - 1. Myers would eventually come around to score in that inning courtesy of a Shane Victorino 2-run single.

Myers did it again in the 3rd inning; this time with 1 out and the bases loaded. With the Dodger infield in a bit at the corners, Myers laced a single down the right field line, scoring 2 runners and putting the Phillies out in front by a score of 6 - 2. Victorino eventually drove in Myers (and Ruiz) with a 2-run triple making the score 8 - 2.

In terms of his pitching, the best that could be said of Myers was that he hung in there for 5 innings. He had an interesting moment in the first inning, when a ball "slipped" out of Myers' hand giving the appearance that he was throwing at Manny Ramirez. Ramirez eventually got payback for the pitch in the 4th inning, hitting a liner out to left that landed in the flower box, cutting the Phillies lead to 8 - 5.

After the 4th inning, both teams' bullpens took over and Brad Lidge closed out the game for the Phillies.

There was a moment in the 7th inning, where every Phillies fan's heart skipped several beats. With two on and two out in the 7th, Casey Blake sent a drive to deep center field (roughly the same part of the park where Manny hit his double in Game 1)) that sent Shane Victorino feeling his way towards the fence and warning track before he finally made a leaping catch in front of the wall to preserve the lead.

The series picks up again tomorrow night, with Jamie Moyer facing Hiroki Kuroda at 8:22pm EST.


- Myers is the story of the game, but Shane Victorino was amazingly clutch both at the plate and in the field. Shane went 2 - 5 with 4 RBI.

- Chase Utley was 0 for 1 with 4 walks.

- Pat Burrell's night was a bit rough....1 for 4, with 3 Ks and 4 men LOB.

- Interesting reference today in the LA Times from TJ Simers....he mentions towards the end of the piece that the local Philly fans might "burn the place down" if the Phils win the World Series. I guess if anyone would know if a local populace might riot, it would be a writer from Los Angeles.

- By the way; if Manny Ramirez had entertained thoughts of rushing the mound after Myers' "mistake" pitch in the first inning, he was smart to reconsider those thoughts considering Myers' amateur boxing experience.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Charlie Manuel's Mother Passes Away

According to the Delco Times, Charlie Manuel's mother passed away today. No word on if Charlie will be with the team tonite. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Manuel family.

Update: According to Todd Zolecki, Charlie will manage the team tonite.

Phils Take Lead in NLCS

Chase Utley and Pat Burrell both hit homers and Cole Hamels went 7 strong innings as the Phillies beat the Dodgers last night in Game 1 of the NLCS. The win gives the Phils a 1 - 0 series lead, with the NLCS continuing this afternoon with a Happy Hour starting time.

Hamels struggled a little bit in the early going of this game, giving up consecutive doubles in the first inning to Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez to give the Dodgers a 1 - 0. The Dodgers extended the lead to 2 - 0 in the 4th inning, off a double from Matt Kemp, who was eventually advanced and chased home on a sacrifice fly from Blake DeWitt.

Offensively, the Phillies struggled mightily to do anything with Derek Lowe in the early going. The made some noise in the bottom of the 5th, getting two out singles from Chooch Ruiz and Cole Hamels, before Jimmy Rollins flied out to end the inning. That set the stage for a 6th inning of fireworks from two of the Phillies big guns.

Shane Victorino led off the inning by getting on base via a Rafael Furcal throwing error. Chase Utley then hit the first pitch of his at bat into the first couple of rows in right field, evening the score at 2. Utley's homer revived the home crowd, who was put to sleep by the Phillies pounding the ball into the infield for the better part of 5 innings. The Phillies eventually took the lead in the 6th inning, when Pat Burrell took a 3 - 1 pitch out of the yard to left in what could be charitably described as a flower box shot.

Hamels, meanwhile, got through the 7th inning by striking out two of the three batters he faced and that ended his evening with 8 strikeouts and 2 runs allowed. Ryan Madson pitched the 8th inning and Brad Lidge closed matters with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

As mentioned earlier, the Phils and Dodgers play again today at Happy Hour (4:35pm) with Brett Myers facing Chad Billingsly.


- Like you, I thought Manny Ramirez's double in the first inning was out of the park from the bat. Apparently, so did Manny. If he had run that ball out, it would have possibly been a triple and he might have scored on the passed ball incurred by Chooch Ruiz in the first inning.

- TJ Simers is trying his best to take shots at us in his columns of late (today's offering is here). And for the record, I'd much rather live in a passionate and substantive city like "Angryville" than the shallow and fake "Fairweatherville" that is the city of Los Angeles.

- Good offering in yesterday's USA Today on some of the previous playoff clashes between the Dodgers and Phillies. The symmetry of Davy Lopes and Larry Bowa's careers is something I touched on here in the beginning of the season.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

2008 Phillies: Why Not Us?

As we focus on MLB's final four teams, I feel sort of lucky that a second of my four favorite sports teams were able to make it to their sports final four participants (the Flyers being the other). If your team is out of the hunt for the World Series right now, I think I can break it down for you and let you know why you should most assuredly be rooting for the Phillies.

1.) The Other 3 Cities Have Recently Won Stuff. Think about it.

Tampa won a Super Bowl after the 2002 season and they won the 2004 Stanley Cup. And by the way: they won both of those championships by going through a Philadelphia team. Besides, no one in Tampa gives a damn about sports when their team isn't good. Do I have to remind you there is no income tax in Florida?

LA? They had the Shaq and Kobe years, which like, just happened 5 minutes ago. And LA has all the hot actresses you can gape at in addition to beautiful weather. Not worthy.

And do you really need me to get into it about Boston???

Trust me, Philly needs this championship more than Wall Street needs more cheap loans.

2.) The way the team was built. I wish I could say it was by design that the Phillies are in contention. The previous GM did not really have a plan for the Phils, but the Phils were built through the draft (5 of their starting 8 were Phillies draft products), sound free agent acquisitions (namely, Jayson Werth and Chad Durbin), and shrewd trades (getting Jamie Moyer from the M's, Brad Lidge from the 'Stros). Furthermore, there are no Alex Rodgriguez-like salaries on this team.

It's funny, but the Tampa Bay Rays are often lauded for having developed their own talent, but you could make this same case for the Phils. Where would the Phils be without Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Ryan Madson, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Brett Myers, and Shane Victorino (Rule 5 draftee)? All of those players were drafted by the Phils and figure prominently in their success.

3.) The Phillies players are really a likable group. Hate on the fans all you want, but these Phillies players are a great group.

Rollins may have called out the fans earlier this year, but he comes up big on the bigger stages and does everything with style. Shane Victorino is such a ball of energy, that the manager needs to remind him to tone it DOWN once in awhile. What is not to like about the short, crisp swing of Chase Utley? And the Big Man, Ryan Howard.....outside of Albert Pujols, he is as powerful a hitter as there is in baseball. Who wouldn't want to sit and have a beer with Pat Burrell as he tells you how he REALLY feels about Billy Wagner?

And don't forget about Brad Lidge, coming back from the baseball dead, Jayson Werth overcoming years of injury problems to realize his potential, and our ace in the making, Cole Hamels.

We may boo, cajole, complain, and catcall on occasion, but Phillies fans genuinely like this team.

So feel free to hop on the bandwagon, America*. Beers at McFadden's are on me**.

* Note: Offer does not apply to Mets fans.
** Note: I really can't afford to buy America beer.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Glad Hockey is Almost Back

After the bitter shot that was the Eagles game, this little video is the refreshing lime wedge to remind us that hockey is around the corner. The video is a great commercial for Versus featuring our own Braydon Coburn, reminding us of the abuse hockey players can take. Eat your heart out, Anquan Boldin....

Westbrook Has Broken Ribs

If I could take back that headline, I surely would, but according to the Eagles' official website, Brian Westbrook has two fractured ribs that he sustained in the game on Sunday and I find it very hard to believe that he won't be out for the forseeable future.

Phils Advance to NLCS

The Phillies powered past the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 6 - 2 yesterday to win their best-of-5 game series with the Brew Crew 3 games to 1. The Phils advance to meet the LA Dodgers, who swept the Cubs in their NLDS series last night.

Phils starter Joe Blanton pitched 6 strong innings, giving up 1 run on 5 hits and striking out 7. The Brewers hitters continued to be patient, running several deep counts with Blanton, but Blanton was able to get the outs when he needed them. Blanton did come out to pitch the 7th inning, but after two straight hits (one of them a Prince Fielder homer), Ryan Madson came on to relieve Blanton. Madson did give up a run, but at the point of the game that Madson entered, the Phils were up by a score of 5 - 1, so Madson was simply collecting outs to get the game to Brad Lidge.

Offensively, the Phils came out of the gate swinging, getting a homer from Jimmy Rollins to lead off the game. Seeing your team down a run before you even get to your seat can be terribly debilitating to a fan and that is what Rollins' lead off homer was able to accomplish.

The big blow, offensively, came from the bat of Pat Burrell. Burrell, who had been struggling coming into this game, came to bat in the bottom of the 3rd, with 2 on and 2 outs. Burrell took a 2 - 2 offereing from Jeff Suppan and drove it to left center field for a 3-run home run that effectively broke open the game and gave the Phils a 4 - 0. Jayson Werth followed up Burrell's homer with a solo shot of his own to extend the lead to 5 - 0.

As an encore, Burrell hit yet another homer in the 8th inning to close out the scoring.

The NLCS starts this Thursday in Philadelphia, with Cole Hamels facing Derek Lowe.


- Can't stop now! I like the matchup against the Dodgers and I'll say why a little later this week.

- If there was an MVP in the NLDS, it would have to be Shane Victorino. Victorino scored or drove in a run in all 3 Phillies victories, including the decisive grand slam against CC Sabathia in Game 2. For the series, Victorino hit .357 with 3 doubles, a homer, and 5 RBI. He also had an OPS of 1.256 for the series.

- Between the Phillies still being in action, the Eagles playing on Sunday afternoon, and the Flyers starting regular season play this Saturday, in addition to all of the college football action, how much marital discord will this coming weekend cause?

Photo: by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Redskins Thump Eagles

As the famed Bill Parcells quote goes "You are what your record says you are".

The Eagles are now a 2 - 3 ballclub and are in danger of becoming an afterthought in the NFC East after a 23 - 17 loss at home to the division rival Redskins.

This game started out well enough for the Eagles. On the Eagles' first offensive possession, they drove right down the field with a variety of well-called plays (loved the WR screen to Jackson). The drive culminated in a Brian Westbrook run from 9 yards out. That first drive did a lot to assure Eagle fans that Westbrook was fine, as he had 5 touches for 39 yards in that first drive.

The Eagles' second score came courtesy of a 68 yard DeSean Jackson punt return, where he went across the field, used his blocking well, and took the kick back to the house. The only catch? The Eagles appeared to be flagged for a block in the back; the refs ultimately picked up the flag, but it appeared that the block in the back did indeed occur, although it could be argued that the block did not affect the return. Regardless, the Eagles definitely got a break.

On offense, the Redskins tried to pass the ball on the Eagles, but Jason Campbell got batted around pretty good on the Skins' first couple of possessions.

This led the Redskins to try the running game to good effect. While the Redskins were only able to cobble together field goals in the first half, they held the ball for the majority of the 2nd quarter, relegating the Eagles offense to the sidelines.

The Redskins continued their offensive assertiveness into the second half, this time converting their drives into touchdowns. In the third quarter, the Skins only took 7 plays to go 75 yards for a Chris Cooley touchdown catch from wideout Antwaan Randle-El. The Skins struck again on a shorter drive to end the third quarter, as Clinton Portis, who had 145 yards in the game, took advantage of the great day his offensive line seemed to be having, and punched the ball into the endzone from 4 yards out.

Meanwhile, the Eagles' offense, stagnant for 2 quarters, seemed to come to life in the fourth quarter, but only to have their redzone woes continue as the Eagles, on a 3rd and inches call from the 2 1/2 yard line, called a play that was a predictable as tax time in April. The play lost 3 yards and brought on a field goal try from a distance that is apparently amenable to David Akers' current skillset to bring the score to 23 - 17.

Unfortunately, that field goal drive was the last time you saw the Eagles' offense the whole day. The Redskins simply shoved the ball down the Eagles' throat for the final 7 minutes of the game to secure the victory.


- Greg Lewis should have come up with that 3rd down catch towards the end of the 1st quarter. I know that Troy Aikman said nice things about him during the broadcast, but I don't think I'll ever be sold on Lewis for anything more than a spare receiver.

- David Akers missed another 50 yarder and it was a momentum killer. Akers' long distance struggles were underscored by the fact that the Redskins' kicker, Shaun Suisham, was able to hit 3 field goals, all from over 40 yards (including a 50 yarder just before the half).

- Brian Westbrook left the game during the Eagles' drive toward the end of the 1st quarter. He appeared to have something wrong with his chest. Pam Oliver lated reported it as a rib injury.

- Sav Rocca....great 53 yard punt that put the Skins on their own 2 yard line at the 10:15 mark in the 2nd quarter.

- What a horrible challenge on the Chris Cooley touchdown. The brain trust thought that Randle-El was past the line of scrimmage, but it wasn't really even close.

- Eagle defenders have done just a brutal job of getting off of blocks in this game. The entire defense looks a step slow.

- The Asante Samuel penalty for defensive holding was a killer. That allowed the Redskins to convert a 3rd and 9.

- Where was the Eagles' linebacker corps in this game?

- The Redskins rolled up 203 yards rushing on the Eagles defense. This led to a 10 minute time of possession discrepancy in favor of the Redskins and frankly, this was the story of the game.

Phils Drop Game 3 to Brewers

The Phils dropped a choppy, strange Game 3 to the Brewers in Milwaukee by a score of 4 - 1. They still lead the best-of-5 series 2 games to 1.

Starter Jamie Moyer did not fare well in this game, going only 4 innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the 5th inning. Moyer had a hard time getting a handle on his control, as he walked two in the first inning and threw a wild pitch, before giving up a sacrifice fly to Prince Fielder and an RBI single to JJ Hardy. While the Brewer lead was only 2 - 0, it could have been much more. Moyer continued to struggle, putting runners on base in the 2nd and 3rd inning. He had a quiet 4th inning, but at this point, he had thrown 90 pitches and seemed unable to pinpoint home plate umpire Brian Runge's strikezone.

By contrast, Brewer starter Dave Bush had Phillies batters flailing away at his sharp curveball. Bush gave up only 1 run over 5 1/3 innings and could have pitched deeper, but Brewer manager Dale Sveum smartly pulled Bush in favor of his bullpen, whom the Phillies had not had much success with the series so far.

The Phillies looked to finally break through in the 9th inning against Brewer closer Salomon Torres. The Phils had the bases loaded and no one out, for Pedro Feliz, who turned over on a ball that squirted to the third baseman for a double play. That play was not enough to score the run from 3rd, however, as Ryan Howard was ordered to go back to third base as Shane Victorino was called for interfering with second baseman Craig Counsell, whom Victorino clipped as he was trying to turn a double play.

The series continues today at 1pm, with Joe Blanton facing Jeff Suppan.


- The umpiring was abysmal in this game for both side. Home plate umpire Brian Runge's strike zone was inconsistent at best.

- Ryan Howard was absolutely safe on that ground ball he hit to third that drove in the Phils' only run of the game. Television replays proved that he was safe. Just the fecal icing on the crap cake that was baked for the Phils by the umps last night.

- Strange didn't flow well and the Brewers could not really deliver the knock out punch. Don't think this flows over into Game 4.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Deep Thoughts on the Phils' Game 2 Win

Couldn't get a post done earlier this AM, as my boss did the one thing I will never do myself as a boss: call an 8AM meeting. What's worse, is that he called the meeting and was 15 minutes late. After that meeting, I was caught up all AM in other people's drama. God, I hate work.

Some Thoughts on the Phils and the NLDS series so far....

- So far, so good for the Fightins. If I had a criticism offensively, so far, is that they have only scored in two innings of this series so far. It just so happens that when they scored in those innings, the aggregation of runs was such that it rattled the Milwaukee starter and whomever the Phils were starting made that big inning stand up.

What I am getting at here, is that it would be nice once the Phils got into the other team's bullpen that they would actually score some runs when they got baserunners. They seem unable to put the kill shot to Milwaukee when they get men on base. I am hoping that this is a function of a good Milwaukee bullpen and not some weird state we are getting into with this Phillies lineup.

- Thank you, Brad Lidge, for not killing me in game 2 the way you killed me in game 1. If I was anywhere near a bar, reputable or otherwise, watching game 1, I would have gotten hammered just during Lidge's ninth inning, let alone from the previous 8 innings of play. He threw only 12 pitches last night, and should certainly be available on Saturday.

- Brett Myers' ABs in Game 2 of this series will go down in Phillies lore as two of the greatest ABs to not produce a hit. What they succeeded in doing is making CC Sabathia, pitching on 3 days rest for seemingly the last three months, work much harder on what should have been automatic outs. Myers worked a 9-pitch walk that kept the Phillies big inning going in the 2nd inning and later, in the 4th inning, made Sabathia throw 10 pitches before eventually flying out to center. The 19 pitches Sabathia threw to Myers represent almost 20% of the pitches Sabathia threw for his 3 2/3 innings he could stay in the game. Sure, Shane Victorino was the offensive star of the game for his grand slam, but don't overlook Myers.

- Was it me, or do the Brewers just not look comfortable trying to be patient (passive?) at the plate? They look like they're going up against pitchers like Myers and Lidge with a game plan of being patient, but they looked slow once Myers and Lidge eventually started pounding the strike zone instead of nibbling around.

- Chase Utley did not look good at the plate yesterday and neither did Ryan Howard. They struck out a combined 6 times and collectively left 6 runners on base.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hamels Hurls Gem; Phils Win Game 1

The Phillies, behind the dominant pitching of Cole Hamels, took game one of the 2008 NLDS by a score of 3 - 1. They lead the best-of-5 series 1 -0 and the victory marked the first post-season victory by the Phillies franchise since the 1993 World Series.

On a windy and rainy day in South Philly, Cole Hamels was positively dominant. In his second ever post-season start, Hamels did not give up a basehit or a baserunner until the 5th inning. He only gave up two hits in all during his 8 innings of work and also struck out 9.

The Phils scored their only runs of the game during a weird 3rd inning that started with a Carlos Ruiz single. Cole Hamels successfully attempted a sacrifice to move Ruiz over, but the Brewer covering 1st base (Ricky Weeks) failed to secure the ball to force Hamels, giving the Phils two men on and no one out. After Rollins flew out and Werth struck out, Chase Utley hit a ball in the left centerfield gap that Mike Cameron appeared to get leather on, but could not control. The ball fell on the outfield grass as two Phils scored and Utley stood on second base. Brewers starter Yovanni Gollardo then proceeded to intentionally walk Ryan Howard, and then walked two more batters to give the Phils their 3rd run.

Hamels was lifted after the 8th inning and Brad Lidge provided yet another eventful save, giving up a run on two hits, but he also struck out the side to preserve the victory.

The series continues today at 6pm, with Brett Myers facing CC Sabathia.


- When did Brad Lidge turn into Mitch Williams? Did I miss the memo? And since he threw 35 pitches, is there anyway that Lidge is available today? I can't see it.

- If Utley had kept his feet when receiving the relay throw from Jayson Werth in the 9th inning, Ray Durham either stays at 3rd or gets cut down at the plate. As it was, when Utley did lose his feet and Durham broke for 3rd, a decent throw might have gotten Durham.

- Speaking of Utley, he made a great play on Tony Gwynn Jr's attempted bunt in the 8th inning.

- Pedro Feliz left 6 men on base in going 0 for 4. He'll probably play again today, with lefty Sabathia on the mound.

- The Brewers practically emptied their bullpen yesterday after Gallardo could only go 4 innings; they better hope Sabathia eats some innings today.

Photo: ((Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images))

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Eagles-Bears: A Post-Mortem

Didn't get a chance to write up a game report from the Eagles' 24 - 20 loss to the Chicago Bears last Sunday night, but I did want to mention a couple of pertinent things to take away from the game.

In short, the game against the Bears represents a missed opportunity on a couple of levels. It was a winnable road game that would have nicely position the Eagles for the 2nd quarter of their schedule. Unfortunately, there is not much to be done about it now, but to break down what went right and what went wrong.

Offense. 1.) I felt that Donovan McNabb actually had about as good of a game as you're going to have when you're missing your best wide receiver, your best running back/offensive weapon, and your starting tight end. In going 25 for 41 for 262 yards and a touchdown, you can't lay this loss at McNabb's feet. He spread the ball to an astounding 9 different receivers.

2.) The offensive play that probably garners the most attention will probably be the call on 4th and 1 to run Buckhalter up the middle. I have no problem with the call to go for it on 4th down in that spot. What I will take issue with is putting the ball in Buckhalter's hands rather than McNabb's. To reiterate what John Madden said during the telecast, you put the ball into the hands of your best player and the Eagles' best player is McNabb (at least he is as long as Westbrook is hurt).

3.) Another thought that struck during the game on Sunday night and during the final drives during the Dallas game is how much better the Eagles would be with a dominant wide receiver or tight end they can count on when they need a crucial 3rd down late in the game. I think DeSean Jackson is going to be a weapon on this team this year, but I don't think he's at that stage of utter reliability late in a game just yet.

Defense. 1.) The defense played well for the most part, but when they didn't get through on the blitz, they got burnt badly. They did force Kyle Orton to turn the ball over 4 times, but I wonder if they waited too long to dial things back and make Orton work for his touchdowns a bit more.

2.) If you give Kyle Orton 10 opportunities to make that throw that he made to Devin Hester when they hooked up for a touchdown, he misses that pass 8 times out of 10. It was a heckuva throw by Orton and a good grab by Hester, with Asante Samuel trailing in his wake.

3.) The defense did not come through after they Eagles offense whiffed on that 4th down by the goalline. They allowed Matt Forte to run through them at key situations. While Stewart Bradley played OK, he has to step up in that spot as the leader of the front 7 and make sure that doesn't happen.

4.) Omar Gaither was a beast in this game with 9 tackles and a recovered fumble.

Special Teams. 1.) The area I think Andy Reid will only address after it is too late is the matter of David Akers not being a trustworthy kicker from over 40 yards. Akers' two misses, one of 50 yards and the other of 47 yards, has a direct effect on the decisions to made by Reid during the game (HINT: the 4th down call at the goalline might have been a field goal at that stage of the game). If Akers hits even one of those two kicks, the Eagles probably win this game.

I don't want to put the whole loss on Akers; they had other opportunities to win it. But during the NFC Championship years, Akers used to be an absolute weapon from over 40 yards and ever since Koy Detmer stopped holding on field goals, he's gone downhill. This has got to be a mental thing at this stage for Akers; he needs to solve it before the weather gets colder outside and long field goals become even more difficult to hit. I wouldn't mind seeing Reid bring in a kicker who can hit those longer field goals if Akers is unable to get it done from long distance anymore.

Getting back to DeSean Jackson, it was pointed out during the telecast that he wasn't quite the same player, offensively, after he put the ball on the turf early in the 2nd quarter. Hard to disagree with that; it seemed that he and McNabb were not on the same page on the interception that McNabb threw in the 2nd half. If Jackson is going to be an offensive weapon this year, he can't take mistakes he might make on special teams with him into the offensive huddle.