Tag Archives: World Series

Utley Powers the Phils to New York

The 2009 World Series could have ended tonight. As the Phillies found their backs against a proverbial wall, Chase Utley hit two baseballs over a literal wall. That gives him five home runs in the series, tying Reggie Jackson’s record.

Cliff Lee pitched as a mere mortal on this night, surrendering 5 runs in 7+ innings. That being said, suspect defense behind him was responsible for allowing three of those runs.

  • After Chase Utley tied the MLB record for home runs in a World Series with a blast to rightfield, Ryan Howard stepped to the plate and tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a World Series. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Ryan also misplayed a ground ball that directly led to a Yankee run. Not the best night from the Big Piece. Hopefully he rebounds in New York.
  • Shane Victorino was hit in the right hand by a pitch in the first inning. While x-rays were negative, swelling might be a problem. Charlie pulled Shane out of the game before the 8th inning, which was a move I was not a fan of (I’m usually supportive of Charlie’s moves).
  • I am growing to really dislike Jorge Posada.
  • The strike zone got small and erratic again.
  • Little known fact: Johnny Damon is not capable of making an out in the 9th inning of a ballgame. If he happens to be retired in the 9th global warming will suddenly be reversed, leading to another ice age (sort of like a visit from the Coors Love Train). Al Gore has a group of scientists working on a strategy to harness this ice age inducing power.

I developed a headache over the final two innings of this game. The relaxing and carefree feel of the game disappeared, and I began to wonder if something really bad was going to happen (I didn’t lose hope, I thought they were going to win, but I was still nervous).

The Phillies live to play another day.

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The World Series Shifts to Philly

The game tonight was dominated by pitching once again. This time the Yankees got the better performance. After their 3-1 win the series is now tied 1-1. Pedro pitched very well, but once again he received little support from the offense.

A few thoughts:

  • I like the strike zone that home plate umpire Jeff Nelson called tonight. He gave pitchers strikes on the corners. I’d much rather see a game that features many strikeouts than a game with many walks.  A-Rod struck out 3 times, but he was upstaged by Ryan Howard’s 4 strikeout night.
  • Charlie Manuel will be second-guessed for leaving Pedro in the game in the 7th inning. I support his decision. He had thrown 99 pitches through 6 innings, and he looked sharp in the bottom of the 6th. The hits he gave up in the 7th were not on bad pitches.
  • The Phillies are a patient team at the plate. Tonight I think it cost them. Burnett threw many first pitch fastballs right down the middle and no one jumped on it. After he got ahead in the count he went to breaking balls, which were hard to handle. Next time against Burnett I expect to see some first pitch swinging.
  • We’ve now seen a strange double play turned by the Phillies in both games of this series. This time the umpires did not get the call correct, though it was an extremely tough call. I doubt Ryan Howard knew if he short-hopped the ball or caught it in the 7th.
  • Mariano Rivera looks hittable to me. I realize he is arguably the best closer in the history of the game (especially in the postseason), but he is 39. I do not abandon all hope when he takes the mound.

Now everyone makes the trek down 95 for Game 3 in Philly. I have no idea what to expect from Cole. I’m hoping he continues the good pitching trend, for I think Petitte will be solid. Truthfully I’d feel better with Happ starting.

Cole Hamels, if you’re reading this, the year is 2008. That’s right, 2008.

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Prelude to the 2009 World Series

The 2009 World Series will begin in thirty minutes. I feel like I’m 12 years old again. Last year I enjoyed the Phillies march through the postseason immensely (almost to the point of feeling guilty about it). I thought this year I would be more accustomed to it and that it would have a lesser effect on me. I was wrong. This postseason has been great; I’m savoring ever moment.

When the playoffs started I wanted a Phillies vs Yankees World Series, and now it is here.

The Yankees

In sports I am slow to hate a franchise. In fact, there are only a handful of teams I truly despise. My problem is that I love history and I respect individuals, neither of those is conducive to blind hatred.

Over the years I formed a dislike for the Yankees. That dislike was a result of George Steinbrenner, the Yankees large payroll, and the fact that the Red Sox were the biggest rival (as a young fan I enjoyed reading about the history of Boston baseball, and I hoped to see the Curse of the Bambino broken). That dislike for the Yankees is dissipating, maybe this series will renew it?

When I look at the past I love the Yankees. Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Ford, Munson, and Jackson. Stories of records and historic ballgames, pictures of Yankee Stadium, and roots that can be traced back to the infancy of the American League. I love the history, the pride, the commitment to excellence.

When I look at the current roster I respect most of the players. Derek Jeter may be overrated defensively, but he is a good leader and a very good ballplayer. I’ve always been an Alex Rodriguez fan, and I must admit I am happy he has had a good postseason (though I hope he cools off now). Mark Teixeira is a player I have always liked. There isn’t anyone on the roster I really dislike (maybe that will change in a few days).

I should also state that New York is a great city. As someone who identifies with Philadelphia, I feel no animosity toward New York.

The Yankees spent a lot of money heading into this season. The free agents and new ballpark cost money that most other clubs can only dream about. And I don’t like that about baseball.

I’m proud that the Phillies have developed many of their own prospects and signed the discards of other teams. For this reason the trade for Cliff Lee caused me some duress this season. I love the deal, but it saddens me to see an acquisition fueled by economic hardship.

My Thoughts on the Series

This is the first time I remember following a Phillies team that truly convinced me that they can win any ballgame. Instead of feeling impending doom while I watch them play, I feel expectation. Something good is going to happen.

That being said my feet are anchored firmly on the ground. My heart tells me the Phillies will remain hot and win this series. I really think they can will. My head just smiles and looks at numbers and match ups, then tells me the Yankees should be favored.

Here is a quick breakdown of the team with the advantage as I see it:

Starting Pitching: Yankees. Sabathia, Burnett, and Petitte are a solid 1, 2, 3. Lee is good for the Phillies, but Martinez and Hamels are concerns. The Yankees will be more patient against Martinez than the Dodgers were, plus he got numerous long outs at Dodger Stadium that would be souvenirs at New Yankee Stadium. Hamels is an enigma. He could throw a complete game shut out or get rocked for 10 runs in the first and I wouldn’t be surprised.

Middle Relief: Push. I see this as very even, especially when Happ and Blanton are in the pen.

Closer: Yankees. Lidge blew two saves against the Yankees this season. Not comforting.

Catcher: Yankees. Posada is probably my least favorite Yankee, but he swings a better bat than Ruiz (even though Ruiz is Mr Choochtober). If the Phillies run all over Posada the balance might swing over to the Phillies favor. Ruiz is a much better defensive catcher.

Firstbase: Push. This is a tough call. Howard is very hot right now, so as a Phillies fan I would be inclined to give him the edge. Add to this the fact that Teixeira has had a poor postseason. But Tex plays better defense and is a switch hitter. Howard has bad numbers against lefties. I suspect Howard will see lefties and many bad pitches this series. In my mind it is a push.

Secondbase: Phillies. Chase Utley is the man.

Shortstop: Push. Another tough one. Jimmy is much better defensively. Jeter had better offensive numbers. If you offered me the ability to pick whichever one I wanted for this series I would go with J-Roll, but I’m biased.

Thirdbase: Yankees. No discussion here.

Leftfield: Push. Once again I am inclined to lean the Phillies direction and go with Raul, but Damon had a solid year. Both parks in this series are well-suited for Damon. Raul has been cold. The Phillies will use Ben Francisco in left for the first game and DH Raul, I suspect Raul will play the field in Game 2 with Stairs as DH.

Centerfield: Phillies. I’ll take Shane over Melky any day of the week.

Rightfield: Phillies. I’ll take Werth over Swisher any day of the week.

Designated Hitter: Yankees. The designated hitter is an abomination (how about that, I used the word abomination twice on this blog this month). I hate the DH rule. Just in case you haven’t picked up on my feelings toward the DH, I don’t like it.

Coaching: Phillies. Charlie usually makes solid decisions and Davey Lopes is the best coach in baseball. When it comes to strategy I feel Charlie will use substitutions better than Girardi.

So there you have it. 5-4-4 to the Yankees, and I think the starting pitching is a major factor.

My Heart Says: Phillies in 5 games
My Head Says: Yankees in 6 games

Right now my heart and head are not speaking to each other.

It’s time for baseball.

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Thoughts on the World Series

Today at noon there will be a parade in Philadelphia. Thousands of happy people will be there. Members of the Philadelphia Phillies organization will be cruising down Broad Street on floats. I am not able to be there (though I was seriously tempted to skip the assignment I am working on to free up the time to go), but I have many memories from the World Series.

Does Anyone Remember the Melody Line of the National Anthem? I did not like any of the five versions of the National Anthem that were sung before the World Series games. First off, there is no place for harmony and improvisation in the anthem. Bad idea. Just sing the song like it was written. In fact, they should have played the Olympic recording of the anthem before one of the games . . . that would have been a nice touch.

Speaking of Songs. It might be very unpatriotic of me, but I do not like God Bless America being sung in the middle of the 7th inning. What happens to this new “tradition” if Toronto makes the World Series? Why did MLB decide not to sing it (or at least not televise it if it was sung) in Game 5?

Tug was on the Mound. Before Game 3 Tim McGraw was on the field for a first pitch ceremony. He walked out to the mound with a child who was throwing a first pitch. While he was standing beside the mound he sprinkled some of his father’s ashes on it. So Tug was on the mound when both Phillies World Series titles were won.

Two Wins on One Day. I’m not sure if this has happened before or not, but the Phils picked up two world Series wins on the same day. Game 3 was delayed at the start, causing it to run well past midnight. So the win was secured early in the morning. That night the Phils made quick work of the Rays in Game 4. Now that’s a good day.

Two Sides to Every Hitter. It seemed the Phillies had a happy side and a sinister side at the plate. Sort of like that Southwest commercial.

All it took to bring out the sinister side was a runner on second or third base. I’ve never seen a team struggle more with runners in scoring position. Thankfully in the 6th and 7th innings of Game 5 the Phillies came up with big hits that assured the RISP woes would be forgotten.

Players that Distinguished Themselves. Several players distinguished themselves over the course of the series. Cole Hamels was named the WS MVP for good reason. He stepped up and proved he deserves to be considered an ace. With King Cole on the mound it felt like the Phillies could not lose in the postseason. Carlos Ruiz hit .375 in the series and played well. His biggest hit was a little bouncing ball in the infield in Game 3, but it was just enough to score Eric Bruntlett form third. Jamie Moyer pitched well in Game 3 (better than the boxscore indicates, for an umpire’s mistake cost him two earned runs). Jamie is from Souderton, PA. He attended the WS parade for the 1980 Phils. He’s 45 years old. He’s gritty. And he also was suffering from severe gastronomical distress the day before his start. Joe Blanton was acquired mid-season by the Phils. He pitched Game 4, and he pitched well. In addition to that he also hit a home run, which is amazing considering his history of futility at the plate. Chase Utley had a rough series. He hit a paltry .167. However, he hit a huge home run in his first at bat of the series and made several excellent defensive plays. The shining moment came in Game 5 when he threw out Jason Bartlett (the potential tying run) at home plate in the 8th inning. Brad Lidge just kept on getting outs. He saved the final game, giving him 7 saves during the postseason.

And that’s not all of the players that distinguished themselves. Almost everyone on the postseason roster contributed something during the postseason. . .

Now You See it, Now You Don’t. The umpires had a shaky World Series. There were numerous blown calls and an everchanging strikezone. It’s tough out there for an umpire. But all is forgiven in Philadelphia. . .

Wave the Flag. One of my favorite images from the World Series win is the Phanatic running out onto the field and waving a Phillies flag at the end of Game 5. I don’t have a good picture of it, but here is a low resolution shot of the green guy celebrating.

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Phillies Win!

I’m just smiling and soaking it in right now. The Phillies are World Champions.

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