Phillies: October 2008 Archives

World Series Game 5

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The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 World Series Champions.

Amazing that I even can type this. My head kept saying that the Rays would beat us in 6 games, but my heart kept saying the Phillies would win this. I'm glad to see my heart was right for once.

There's many thoughts that come to mind as I write this at 2am.

First thought is that "Nothing Is Easy In Philadelphia".

This has been an extremely hard road for the Phillies. 2 years of ending up second place to the Mets. Then last year swept by the Rockies. This year we catch another break, thanks to the Mets, and get past Milwaukee to the Dodgers who took care of the Cubs for us.

Someone remind TJ Simers that "Angryville" is now known as Happy Valley. It's been extended from Penn State into Philly.

This feeling that I have is simply great. A relief. A satisfied sigh that rattles the soul. So many years to endure the barbs and quips of the haters, those people who just hated Philly with a passion is gone.

This was just wonderful to enjoy the win with my friends at Mulligan's Bar in Hoboken. The place went berserk. I took video from one half of the bar, the other side of the bar was going just as crazy. We had about 120 fans in the bar, jumping up and down.

After I took the video they handed be a bottle of champagne that we opened and sprayed into the crowd. We sang we are the champions, danced and I think I must have given out a high-five to about everyone in the bar. Plenty of back clapping and hugging.

A big thank you to those who are part of the "OC" the "Original Crew" of my club who have been with me through the years with their loyalty and trust. Big props to them tonight, we deserve this night - we were the fans when everyone else would be negative and stay home for games this year.

My only wish of wishes is that I could enjoy this with my dad. My mom called me at the bar, and she's been my #1 fan all season long, talking to me about the Phillies. She told me that she put Phillies flags on my father's grave on Saturday (Game 3). I have no doubt that him, Pop Pop, Uncle Bud and Skippy are having a great time in heaven right now cheering on the Phillies.

My Phillies. My 2008 World Champions. The curse is broken.

Cinco De Raino

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Ah well.

My thoughts are basic. It never should have come to the 6th inning. The game should have been suspended in the 4th. Those were ridiculous playing conditions and I even turned to the guy next to me at the top of the 6th and said, "They won't call a rain delay with the Phillies up 2-1, they are hoping for the Rays to score."

Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.

In case you don't know, here's how it pans out:

The game is in the bottom of the 6th with Hamels (presumably it will be a pinch hitter), Rollins and Werth due up, with none out. The day it should begin is Tuesday at 8pm, weather permitting. My educated guess says that it won't be Tuesday, but really Wednesday, since it looks like crap weather all day tomorrow in Philly.

That will push out the final two games (if necessary) for Thursday & Friday in Tampa. I doubt MLB will give the Rays and Phillies an extra day of rest. It just doesn't seem very fair, actually, especially for the Rays who finished an exhausting 7 game series vs Boston and get more time to rest up.

Bottom line is the game is tied at 2, with a slight advantage to the Phillies, because they will have a night's worth of rest to bat for 4 innings, whereas the Rays get 3 innings to score. It's bullpen vs bullpen.

Time for bed, here. I barely had a sip of beer tonight I was so nervous. Glad now that I didn't drink very much.

1 More To Go...And I'm No Saint.

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I'm a jumble of emotions.

Excitement. Nervousness. Joy. Trepidation.

My thoughts on game 3 & 4 are fairly basic: Incredible.

Pitchers hitting home runs? Games decided by a run in the bottom of the ninth? Home run marathon games? This has been a pleasure, up to this point, to be a part of this World Series, but also so tense.

It's hard to really enjoy the series, because the Phillies have to win four games. Oh, the Phillies up 3-1 in the series is beyond my wildest dreams. But the fact remains that Tampa is a very dangerous team, and certainly will not go out of this series lying down.

I think if the Phils keep their bats alive and keep getting runners on base, we have a definite shot to take 1 of the next 3 games.

1 more game to go. No one in Philly realistically thinks that this series is wrapped up. It's Philadelphia - nothing comes easy. It would be beyond incredible for us to win in 5 games.

Here's a story for you which happened last Saturday. It's a story i'm not terribly proud of, but my only defense is that it ended on a good note.

I'm at the bar, it's 9pm and the bar isn't very full, but most of the chairs at the bar are taken. I'm sitting at the bar, having a drink and talking to Phillies fans. Two seats opens up next to me at the bar, and a group asks if anyone is sitting there, and I mirthfully reply, "Nope, all yours. I just hope you aren't Tampa Bay fans."

The group chuckles and shakes their collective heads.

One of the girls sits next to me, she's very cute, and in her early 20's. Her boyfriend, also around the same age, about 5'10 and maybe 165 pounds, was all over her as soon as she sat down next to me. This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. If there were a PDA (Public Display of Affection) magnet, it would be me. Often I joke with my friends, that guys don't do this only to show affection, but marking his "territory". I wish I had a nickel for everytime I walked to the PATH platform, and wait for a train, while a guy sees me and a few seconds later is holding his girlfriend's hand or putting his arm around her. Ok...I get it...she's with you.

I'm trying to watch the pre-game, but Mr. Boyfriend is kissing or hugging or touching this girl every five minutes. I'm rolling my eyes and just trying to watch the tv and ignore the guy, but it's kind of hard when they she is sitting right next to me, and he's draped on her.

The game begins later, after a 90 minute rain delay, and the boyfriend starts half-watching the game. When the Phillies made a mistake or the Rays did something well, the boyfriend started to cheer & clap.

Now i'm trying to set this up for you as best I can. You are in a bar full of Phillies fans. Yes, I can fully respect and understand if this fellow is from Tampa, cheering on his team. There's about 40 bars in town people can drink at and this bar is barely full, with the majority of people standing around wearing Phillies hats. Plus i'm already irritable with his constant fawning of his girlfriend.

After the third bout of cheering I turn to the girl and say, "Is your boyfriend from Tampa or a Rays fan or something?"

She looks embarassed and says bashfully, "No, he's from London. He's just being an asshole. I'm sorry."

I say to her, "It's not your fault, he's the one being a jerk on purpose. I can understand if he was a Rays fan, but why sit in a bar full of Philly people just to cheer on the other team?"

I get her boyfriends attention, who has a big dopey smile on his face.

I say to him with an acerbic tone: "Hey, pal. Look, not for nothin' - but what's the deal? You are in a bar full of Phillies fans and cheering on the Rays? That would be like me visiting London, walking into a Man United bar and clapping and cheering on Liverpool or Arsenal during a match. I'm a die hard Philly fan and you have another thing coming if you think i'm gonna sit here and listen to you cheer on a team that means nothing to you."

For the record, even if he was from Tampa I probably would have told him the same thing. I don't have a strong track record when it comes to listening to opposing fans sit next to me and cheer on their team.

The smile quickly faded from his face and his response was apologetic, "Hey, sorry I didn't know, calm down.". I told him "I am calm, i'm calmly telling you to shut up or get lost."

I know, I know. Not very nice of me. I'm sure Yankee fans can understand my irritation, especially with all the Bawh-Stahn Red Sowx fans around Hoboken. I can only imagine what a nightmare a Philly vs Boston series would have produced. It would be 'Fight Central' in Hoboken.

The game goes on and I really don't pay much attention to the guy or his group. Mr. Boyfriend is much more reserved and the girlfriend (who really didn't seem much into him to begin with) leaves ten minutes later. I'm guessing that my tirade to him didn't help matters between them.

It's the second inning and someone buys four shots of Irish wiskey at the bar, takes two and disappears. By the fourth inning the shots are still sitting there and I hate to see good alcohol go to waste. I grab them and offer one to Mr. Boyfriend, who is chatting up his remaining two friends. I offer him one of the shots and we cheer each other.

He and I start talking. He's visiting from London and didn't know a thing about baseball. Yes, I did feel a bit badly, but I think about how Americans who go overseas and act stupid & obnoxious in a foreign country? Maybe this guy learned a valuable lesson at 22 years old about how to act in America.

I explain the game to him, using cricket as an example - explaining strike zones and the rules for batters and pitchers. By the 7th inning Mr. Boyfriend and I are all chummy, thanks to the power of alcohol, and my thinly veiled threats are basically forgotten. When he gets up to leave, shakes my hand and leaves the bar.

I never said I was a saint.

World Series Game 1

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"I always say it's better to come up empty with a lot of guys in scoring position than not have any runners at all," Utley said.

That was probably the best quote of the night to sum up the game. Phillies played well. Had runners on base. Just a single away from the score ending 5-2 versus 3-2.

Play the same way again, I say. Just get a few more "small ball" hits and the Phillies will cruise to another win tonight.

I think the pitching looked solid. Defense was nearly spectacular, with only Howard goofing twice in his fielding, but making up for it by reaching into the stands to get a foul out.

I seriously wonder why Coste was the DH, but I guess hindsight is 20/20, and easy to say that after the game. To me, I would still just use our best bat in the lineup, and have Greg Dobbs at DH or, possibly, Pat Burrell at DH and have someone in right field to replace him.

Another thought is if the Rays defense puts the shift on Utley & Howard, i'd keep doing what Utley tried in the first inning: bunt. Why not? Get a run on base and put the Rays on their heels.

Big win for the fightin's, for 5 key reasons:

1. You get that monkey off your back about not being able to win in clutch games.
2. You nullify homefield advantage.
3. You prove you can win, on the road, in Tampa, against a hostile crowd.
4. The Phillies can relax a bit, realize that what they did in Game 1 they can do again.
5. The pressure is on the Rays now.

No matter how you slice it, every game is huge. But i'll tell ya, tonight's game is bigger for the Rays than the Phillies. Sure, Phillies want to win, but the Rays NEED to win now. They can't afford to roll into Philadelphia down 2 games and play in a hostile stadium.

Phillies are in the driver's seat. Go out, play hard like they did Game 1 and see if they can earn another win in Tampa. That's it.

Phillies World Series Analysis

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I'll start out this by saying that if I were able to tell the future, I wouldn't be writing blogs, but sitting in Vegas playing cards.

Also, I want to be clear about something, I am not a baseball expert, but I am a guy who has watched the Phillies all season and I feel like I know this team very well. I won't try to sit there and tell you that I know everything about the Rays, because I don't. I haven't watched them at much this season, except for highlights and the last three games of the Red Sox ACLS series. So for my "prediction" I will just stick to what I know - the Phillies players.

The Phillies can win the World Series. I don't care who they play, they can win it. But *to* win it is a different story. Here's my quick hits about what I think in this series, looking at each player and what I think:

1. Jimmy Rollins - Jimmy has been mostly average this year (especially when compared to 2007). An early injury in the regular season and Jimmy hasn't impressed me at all this year offensively - he has a rash of good games and then disappears for a few more. His one key factor is that his defense has been Golden Glove solid this year. If J-Ro plays well, gets on base, this could be the #1 deciding factor of the series.

2. Jason Werth - Jason has been good this year, I don't think he's spectacular in the playoffs, but has been a mostly solid contributor at bat and in the field. I expect more of the same from him.

3. Chase Utley - Another "X-factor" like Rollins. Depends which Chase shows up for the series. The deer-in-headlights Chase that can't seem to get the clutch hit or the solid Chase Utley that dominates at the plate. You can't deny that at 2B Chase is excellent in the field (but, truth be told has made a few errors this season, too). I don't think that's going to change much in the World Series.

4. Ryan Howard - here's the deal. Everyone makes a big deal of Ryan. I think this year he had a terrible first two months, a decent summer, a white hot September and an average playoff run. He can't hit left handed pitchers. I think the first game Ryan goes 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts and 2 ground outs to second. Good news is that the Rays next 3 pitchers are righties after that. What will happen, I don't know. I know that Ryan isn't always clutch hitter like a Manny Ramirez. He's a much better player when we have a lead and he's relaxed.

5. Pat Burrell - another guy that will define the series. Will the real Pat show up? Aside from the Brewers series, Pat did little in the Dodgers series to excite me. He's slow. Often he's replaced by the 6th inning if we are down in runs with another player. I don't expect that it's going to be any different in the World Series.

6. Shane Victorino - now here's a guy who has taken the pressure of the playoffs, laughed, and been our shining star. Whereas Chase Utley has a tendancy to fold under the pressure, Shane has stepped up in multiple games to make huge offensive hits and key defensive plays. I don't see that changing, and I think Shane will still hit very well, especially that he's a switch hitter who can hit in clutch plays.

7. Pedro Feliz - Great defense, one of the best defensive third basemen we have had in a long time, but his bat is just average. Sure, he can get hits, but i'm not super confident he will do much better than .200 this series. May have to get swapped with Greg Dobbs if we are down by the 6th inning and need a bat.

8. Carlos Ruiz - another excellent defensive player, and I can't wait to watch him call this game. He's had 5 days to watch tape of the Rays and figure out how he is going to pitch all their batters. Don't forget this. The Rays have had Monday & Tuesday to figure out the Phillies (oh, sure the back office probably has this done, but the players haven't had time to really sit and watch who they are facing). Believe it or not, Carlos Ruiz is going to be a difference maker in this series for that reason and for his bat. Everyone knows that Carlos can't hit. There's a big tail off in our lineup offensive production after Shane Victorino. If Carlos (and Pedro for that matter) can muster offense against a very good Rays pitching staff, this will be huge.

9. Designated Hitter - I'm not sure who Charlie puts in here. If I were in charge, i'd have Greg Dobbs. Why? As much as the Phillies love playing with the Pedro Feliz/Greg Dobbs sixth inning switch-a-roo, I think we need to put in our best bat at #9 spot. That's Dobbs.

Pitching:

I'm not going to analyze each player here. I think Cole Hamels is the "ace", Meyers has been solid since his return from the minors and the bullpen is very good, even better than the Rays. Moyer did have a bad game against the Dodgers, but don't forget he won 16 games this season. Blanton has been average, nothing special, and in my opinion, if the Phils are down 2 games to 1, i'd put Cole Hamels on short rest on the mound for game 4 (Hell, for the series it would be Hamels pitching 1-4-7 if I were the manager), and have Blanton pitch game 6. Hamels can hit the ball, whereas Blanton can't hit the side of a barn with his bat....making Blanton a better choice pitcher in a designated hitter AL game.

Conclusion:

Phillies need their "A" game, no doubt. We need the stars to align and have Rollins, Utley, Howard to play better than they have been playing for the last couple of weeks. I know there's a lot of talk about Phils being rusty, but in my opinion, five days rest is going to help the Phillies more than hurt them, especially the pitchers and bullpen - and whatever ailments have been plaguing Utley and Rollins all season.

I think there's a lot of talk about the Rays being championship caliber for not backing down versus the Red Sox and winning in 7. To me, they should have wrapped it up in 5 games and their bullpen should not have blown game five and lost game six if they were champions. Yes, they won game seven, hats off to the Rays. But that was a game which was just one hit away from being a Red Sox win, trust me. A win is a win is a win, but I still shake my head and think we were closer than the pundits think to a Red Sox vs Phillies finale.

This playoff series the Phillies have had multiple people step up in key games to get a victory, but we really haven't had a consistent threat from the "Big 3" (Rollins, Utley, Howard). Shane has been gangbusters for the Phillies and I think everyone can agree is the #2 MVP of the playoffs right behind Cole Hamels. I think that, ultimately, is what will doom the Phillies this World Series - that the Phillies won't get consistent offensive production. If they can get to the 7th inning with a lead, I like our chances to win, even on the road.

My gut says Tampa in 6 games, only based on what I have read and how the Phillies have looked during the playoffs. As a Phillies fan, I hate to say it, but Tampa from what I read and watched, just have looked like a more well rounded team.

My heart says Phils can win in 6 if they take 1 in Tampa (preferably in the first two games), win 2 of 3 in Philly and then win in Tampa for game 6 (expect that Cole Hamels will be pitching game 1 & 5, and Brett Meyers game 2 & 6 if we are up).

I think one thing everyone needs to know is that "anything can happen" here. You can read all the pundits and critics tell us various reasons why Tampa or Philly can win. I think if Phillies had homefield advantage, i'd go with Phillies in 6 with my gut call. But they don't, and if they don't win 1 of the first two in Tampa, I just don't see the Phillies coming back from that to win.

Of course I hope that my gut is wrong and the Phillies bats come alive. If that happens, the Phillies win because we will have enough pitching to win these games.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Phillies category from October 2008.

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