Tag Archives: MLB Playoffs 2008

The World Series Saga of Coach K

fh000005Last Monday was my birthday. I had a very simple plan. I would drive to Philadelphia Sunday night, watch my hometown team win a world series on TV, and spend some time with my family, then drive to New York to recruit from Tuesday to Thursday, and return to Boston Thursday night to begin my Halloween celebrations.  That all changed when my Father bought 3 tickets to game 5 of the World Series. Monday night. On my 24th birthday, with Cole Hamels on the mound, and on the verge of clinching the first championship in the city of brotherly love since the 76ers won it all the year before I was born. It was the best birthday present I have ever received. I knew it was going to be a great experience. Little did I know at the time that it would be historic.

It was cold, really cold, but clear at the start of the game. Everything was going according to plan, with the Phillies scoring early, and Hamels looking dominant. It began drizzling during the 3rd inning. Then the light drizzle changed to a heavy slurpee-like half frozen rain. There I was sitting in the upper deck, exposed to the wind, and freezing my ass off despite my brand new Phillies hat with the fleece ear flaps. alg_ruizlidge

 Here we are, my father (who saw the Phils lose to the Blue Jays in ’93,) my older brother, and myself, sitting there wondering if the gods just didn’t want Philly to win a championship. The game continues despite an infield resembling fudge. The game reaches the end of the 5th inning, after multiple cups of $6 hot chocolate, with the Phillies leading 2-1. It’s an official game, and we are all wondering if they will call it, and end the World Series for the first time ever, with a rain shortened clinching game. We begin to realize that it would be an empty, tainted, and ultimately unfulfilling way to win a championship. For this reason, we actually aren’t all that upset when Tampa scores in the top of the 6th, and they decide to enter a rain delay.

Usually, when a game has a rain delay, you leave your seat, grab a beer and a hot dog, and wait for 45 minutes to an hour while the fast moving summer shower passes. This rain delay was a little different. First of all, it lasted 46 ½ hours. Yeah, almost two days went by while the rain/snow/snot continued to fall. During this time, I drove to new York, worked two full days, went out in NYC, drove back to Philly, and went to ¾ of the 76ers season opening game against the Raptors  (Sammy D and Elton Brand looked great by the way.)

With 6:32 remaining in the 4th quarter of that game, which started at 6:00 PM Wednesday night, we left the cozy confines of our 5th row floor seats, and headed back to Citizens Bank Park, where the game picked up right where it left off. The teams had some interesting questions to answer. Who would lead off the game for the Phillies with Hamels’ spot due up? Who would pitch for either team? Did the record long rain delay hurt or help either team’s momentum? In the end it was an exciting game. The teams traded runs for 2 ½ innings until it was the top of the 9th, with the Phillies up by 1 and Brad ‘Lights out’ Lidge on the mound. As much as I love Cole Hamels, I really think that Lidge’s perfection in the closers role makes him the team’s playoff MVP. But I digress. The point of the story is that Lidge continued his perfect season to its ultimate conclusion with a strikeout of Eric Hinske to end the World Series. As Ryan Howard tackled Lidge, and Chase Utley joined the pile along with the rest of the team, a wave of euphoria settled in. For all of you Sox fans reading this, remember what it felt like in ’04 when Boston won its first ring (they clinched on my birthday that year coincidentally). Now imagine if game 4 of that series had lasted FORTY EIGHT HOURS. Just think what a sweet feeling of relief and elation everyone in that stadium felt. 

fh0000031

Since last Wednesday I have been asked several times what I did to celebrate after the game. Instead of hanging out amidst the rioting streets of downtown Philly like I did in Kenmore square a few years ago, I hopped in my car and drove 2 hours back to the hotel I was staying in just north of New York City. There I proceeded to drink scotch at the hotel bar, hit on the hot bartender while I watched sportscenter highlights of the game, and make friends with some Phillies fans that happened to be staying at the same hotel. After taking several free shots, bought by said Phillies fans upon hearing where I had just driven from, I proceeded to crash heavily in my hotel room. I woke up the next day on 4 hours sleep, visited 3 high schools, recruited lacrosse players and students, then drove back to Boston.

Hopefully, this story can help to erase some of the indifference that Red Sox fans have been expressing with regards to the World Series. If you ask me, you are all just spoiled, and sour that the Sox didn’t win again. Wake up baseball fans, an historic and entertaining series just took place. An AL East rival, who knocked your beloved Red Sox out of the playoffs, just lost. Time to man up, and admit that baseball is a great sport, even when a city other than Boston is having championship parades.

Take it easy,

Coach K

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball

If a tree fell on the Phillies, would anyone care?

1 Comment

Filed under Baseball

Three and a Half Innings to Winter and Other Detritus

Last night the 2008 Baseball Season officially came to a close with the only 3-1/2 inning World Series game ever. It is now winter. Close the windows, turn on the heat and pack in for the next 111 days (or so, I’ll have an exact count when the schedule is announced). A few things to consider while you miserably picture the long, Soxless months ahead:

The end of the baseball season last night was as it should have been three days ago. The Phillies won 4-3 (2-1) in a game that lasted about 50 hours. The heroes were the unexpected and the expected. Geoff Jenkins led of the second half with a double and came around to score his first run since August 11th. Chase Utley made the big play in the field that the star was supposed to make (that fake to first then throw home play was sick. Seriously, he faked out the camera, the runner at first and Bartlett at third). That is the play that changed the game, he was not going to get Iwamura, but the fake, like every good fake, got somebody to make a mistake. Carlos Ruiz also made a great catch and tag. Pat Burrell hit a double in what will likely be his last at bat in that uniform. And then Brad Lidge, who converted every save opportunity he was given this season (47-47) made plenty of people nervous, but did what he always does. Ryan Howard’s tackle of Lidge and Ruiz after the final out was awesome. Congrats to the Phillies and the entire city of Philadelphia. 

There is nobody who I am happier for in the aftermath of last night’s game than the ageless Jaime Moyer. He was born and raised in Philly, was old enough in 1980 to have been at the last parade through the city to celebrate a World Series Championship, and last night, he seemed to be in that rare heaven reserved for kids who dream of bringing their hometown team a title. He deserves it. The fans were relatively sedate, the police out in force and the city is still standing. It was great to see.

Something that many Phillies fans can now tell you is that it’s all right to cry in certain situations. I spent a wonderful late night on October 27, 2004 (if you don’t know, you don’t get it) with tears in my eyes and hugging strangers in the street. So please, get off of Paul Pierce. The other night (as we have gotten used to around here) the Celtics put on a great show in raising Banner 17. It was scheduled down to the minute; where everyone would stand, who would do what, and who would say what. All except for the speech by our Captain. It was the one genuine moment of emotion on a night when emotion was the goal. Yes, it was selfish, and sounded more like a retirement speech. Yes, he did fail to thank his teammates and the fans (both of whom he has thanked at every other opportunity). It was not embarrassing (especially after he went out and scored 27, dominated Lebron, and showed why he was the captain). It was genuine, and at the end, as he thanked his Mom and Red, I couldn’t help but get a little teary-eyed myself. So sue me. 

Never Forget

Never Forget

One final thought before I bundle myself up and make some soup. Over the Monster had a great rundown on the Captain Question the other day. It laid out for all to see how Tek stands up with the other catchers in the offensive categories. It puts out the same plan that I preferred a week ago (resigning Tek and bringing in someone who may replace him in the future – Salty?) and also gives an interesting read on Dusty Brown (not Dusty Pete) who is the highest upside catching prospect in the Sox system. The one stat  that I am interested in is the pitching staff’s ERA with him behind the plate, and their ERA with Kevin Cash back there (3.67 for the Captain. 5.71 for Cash – not including the Wakefield factor). This is where his value is, where he really shines, and if everything else is average (which it balances out to be) then this information is what puts him over the top. So, stop hating on Tek, and let the Sox make their decision. (Please, Theo, no Pudge Rodriguez. We’ve already had the real Pudge, and this one isn’t even a shadow of what he was).

111 Days.

Done.

1 Comment

Filed under Baseball

What Now, Bud?

Update (1:17 PM): The MotherShip’s Karl Ravech is reporting that the final 3-1/2  Innings of game 5 have been postponed until tomorrow (Wednesday) night. Play will resume at 10:37 PM Mountain time. It is snowing in Philadelphia.

 

Last night around midnight, Bud Selig looked like someone had just shit in his cereal (even more so than usual). He had just suspended game 5 of the World Series in the bottom of the 6th. Never has there been a World Series game shortened by rain. There was no way that Bud would have let it end without a 9 inning decision, and he said that if there had not been a tie score (it was 2-2 with the Phillies coming up in the 6th, and the Rays had just tied the score in the top of the inning) it would have gone to rain delay. It would have stayed that way for days if necessary. However, the score was tied and the game was suspended for the first time ever. This decision was made based on the fact that the weather had gone from very nice October baseball conditions to a monsoon in the matter of a few innings. They will try to resume the game tonight, but the forecast calls for cold (29 Degree windchill), precipitation (snow?) and generally unfavorable conditions. Should be very interesting.

At least the rain will make it harder for Philly Fans to burn down the city if they win tonight

At least the rain will make it harder for Philly Fans to burn down the city if they win tonight

It should be a different type of atmosphere in the ballpark as they resume the game (maybe) at 8:29 pm tonight (Dammit, I was excited for the new episode of House). The game will be three and a half innings (not two and a half like Ravech, Phillips and Gammons said while freezing in the right field dugout after the game), with the home team batting first and last. It will be a battle of bullpens, as Kazmir was already out of the game, and they can’t run Hamels out there again (he was good, but couldn’t hold on to his lead once it started raining). This is a major advantage for the Phillies as their pen has been sterling while the Rays haven’t had the same type of production since they collapsed in game 5 in Boston. Another result of this is the fact that while the Phils got to go to their nice warm homes after the game last night, the Rays had to drive to Delaware (35 miles) to get another Hotel, as they had checked out and their rooms had been filled. 

I’ve never been involved in a suspended game so I have some questions for those in charge. Will they sing the National Anthem again? Do we need to stretch in the 7th if only one inning has been played that day? Can the Phillies wear their alternate jerseys for the second half of the game? Will Bud be sad until the game is over, or just until it gets to start again? Do we get our free Taco Bell tacos today (Jason Bartlett stole a base last night and won everyone in America a free taco, just like Jacoby did last year but without the obvious plant of Royce Clayton talking about it on a mic in the dugout) or do we have to wait until the game ends?

The real question about the situation is when the game will be played. The aforementioned forecast is horrible and if they can’t play tonight, the game will have to be further pushed back. This will also move back games 6 and 7 in Tampa. In this case( a few days of delay), we could see Hamels again if the Rays are able to win and drive the series to a 7th game (like Tiant in the 75 Series, the Best World Series Ever). Even if the Series this year has little allure to anyone outside of Barack Obama (who bought 30 minutes of ad time and is the only person happy to see it being most popular in Pennsylvania and Florida), this turn of events should keep people interested (at least until the game restarts and people get pissed that House is being Preempted).

Even if the game is not played, there is something else to watch tonight. The Celtics will raise their 17th World Championship banner to the rafters of the Garden (it was always the name. Raising a banner to the rafters of the Fleetcenter just sounds wrong), and starting their season against their next big acquisition (some guy named LeBron). They have been picked by everyone on the MotherShip (ESPN) and SI to waltz through the east again and lose in the Finals. Thats right, Kevin “I’d chop off a pinky to play a regular season game” Garnett, someone is doubting you, and people don’t know if you are hungry to win this year. (The rest of the league just got very afraid.)

Go C’s 

112 days.

Done.

7 Comments

Filed under Baseball

The World Series Gets Interesting.

Last night, while most of us were sleeping, drinking, vomiting or doing some combination of the three, the Phillies took the lead in the World Series, 2 games to 1. It was the latest first pitch in Series history (10:06 pm), it ended at 1:47 am, and it featured a pitcher who had been a pro since before the curly haired boyfriend invented the Curse of the Bambino. By all rights Jaime Moyer should have gotten his first career World Series win, though the Phils bullpen couldn’t hang on to a 4-2 lead. That would have been really cool, but what ended up happening makes me wonder about how Joe Maddon feels about his bullpen (or whether he was asleep when the ninth inning rolled around). 

Going into the bottom of the ninth it was 4 all, and through a series of misadventures (hit by pitch, wild pitch, bad throw by Navarro) Eric Bruntlett was on third with no out and Grant “I’m so crazy that I got kicked out of Australia” Balfour (how bad must it be to be a pitcher whose name is Bal Four)  on the mound. Here’s where Maddon went screwy. He had David Price (who I talked about on Friday) and Dan Wheeler fresh and ready in the pen, both guys who have been known to be able to get a big K when it is needed. So what does he do? He intentionally walks The Flyin’ Hawaiian and Greg Dobbs to load the bases before dealing with Carlos Ruiz. Sure, we get it, he wanted the force at the plate, but he still had a flyball  pitcher on the mound. Ruiz ended up dropping a nubber down the third base line that Longoria couldn’t make the play on, allowing Bruntlett to score and the Phillies to take game 3. 

Joe Maddon is a very good manager. He turned around the attitude of an entire organization and lead them farther than anyone could have ever imagined. But he over thought this one. This was a no win situation, but intentionally walking the bases loaded is over thinking it. Losing this way just screams to me that Joe doesn’t trust his pen, and I wonder if that is leaving the guys out there thinking the same thing. How he handles the pen throughout the rest of this series will be interesting. This leads into the stat of the day: Teams that win game 3 of a World Series after it was tied 1-1 have won 35 out of 50 series. Just something to think about as you watch football before game 4 tonight. (Jackson is out but the Pats still won’t beat the 7 point spread)

Go Pats. 

114 Days.

Done

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball

Random Thoughts While Biting Through My Own Leg to Escape The Boredom

Nothing is really going on these days. The NBA hasn’t started yet. The Bruins lost to a team that is worse than them, who hadn’t won in a week, and who they need to beat if they are going to make people around here watch them. The Patriots refuse to listen to my idea that they should play every day if they are real men and won’t be on again until Sunday. This World Series is severely boring (nobody gets hits with runners in scoring position, the Rays scored three times on outs last night and the Phillies haven’t even really shown up yet) and the big headline is that there are 21 years of age difference between the starters (Moyer, 45 vs Matt “I am always spitting because I can’t get the taste of Longoria’s balls out of my mouth” Garza, 24) in game three tomorrow. Seriously, can’t anyone do anything to entertain me?  

I will say that just like in 2002 there is one interesting story to watch (other than the whole world championship thing). A rookie relief pitcher has become one of the great stories of these playoffs. Back then it was K-Rod (or F-Rod) who has gone on to become a good but vastly overrated closer with the most misleading record in MLB history (62 Saves, none more than 3 outs, rarely entering a game with runners on base). Now it is David Price. This kid was the top pick in the draft last year out of Vanderbilt and is now dominating on the biggest stage possible after not even a whole season in the Minors. Last night he was in for 2-1/3 innings and other than one first pitch fastball (rookie mistake), he was nasty. That is not to mention the fact that in three appearances against the Sox he had an ERA of exactly Zero. While it’s not the splash that K-Rod made in 2002 (winning 5 games) it is mighty impressive and does make me fear him like i once feared Phil Hughes (Ha!). It will be interesting to see what this kid does in a full Major League season as a starter. 

In other news, Joba Chamberlain was arrested for DUI after a Sox fan heckled him at a strip club in Nebraska. Derek Lowe wants to come back to Boston (which is not a bad idea. He’ll come back for short money, short years and has thrown 200 innings every season since he stopped being a closer, in addition to winning 14 games last year) and the Herald’s Inside Track is openly lobbying for this boozehound to return. But the Best news of all is that Bud Selig is clearly reading Get Out of My Ballpark. He has spoken of intentions to shorten the post season by having fewer off days. Sweet. 

Done

         


1 Comment

Filed under Baseball

Why You Should Root For the Phillies.

The 2008 World series is upon us and (barring anybody developing time travel, going back in time and handcuffing Matt Garza to a radiator) the Boston Red Sox will not be participants. This leaves the average baseball fan with a decision to make, whether they are going to watch the games or not. Phillies or Rays?

I am here to tell you that the Phillies are the right choice (and not just because they won game 1 last night). They are a better team with better baseball pedigree. They have a better bullpen. They have better nicknames (the Flyin’ Hawaiian is better than anything the Rays could ever come up with). Most importantly, their home is on dry land. 

“What does that mean?” You ask. Where exactly is Tampa Bay? It’s not the city of Tampa. It’s not where the ballpark (or artificial universe created to look like a ballpark but isn’t quite right) is. That is St. Petersburg (Communists). Tampa Bay is a body of water on which no baseball (or football, or hockey) game will ever be played. Philadelphia is a city, on land, which had an important part in the founding of our country. Tampa is known as Trampa. ‘Nuff Ced.

That alone is not why you should root for the Phillies, though it is a reason to hate any team from Tampa Bay (even though the Lightning have the world’s greatest hockey mullet coaching them). You should root for the Phillies because you know how their fans feel. Think back if you can to the fall of 2001. The City of Boston (and all of New England) hadn’t celebrated a championship in 15 years. Many of us (myself included) couldn’t remember the ’86 Celtics, who had given us our last championship, or what being the best felt like. Oh, I remember game 6 of the World Series that year, but not the feeling of being wholly invested in a team and seeing them win and celebrating like I had actually done something to help (The 2004 Sox won because I refused to change for four days during the ALCS, don’t argue, you’re welcome). Now think of how the fans of Philadelphia feel. It’s been 25 years. They have not won anything since 1983 (Sixers) and the Phightin Phils have only ever won one world series in their long (since 1890) and often painful (over 10,000 losses) history. That was in 1980. I have many friends who have never seen Philadelphia celebrate. So root for the Phillies if not so that you can see another city made happy and whole by a title, then so they will stop bitching and calling us jerks for winning all the time.

Times 1000

Times 1000

(Also, as a side note, think of the riots. These are the fans that have become famous for throwing batteries during regular season games, booing Santa, and rioting when their teams lose. The over/under on flipped cars is 82, arrests is 138, and deaths is 19. Seriously, people will be celebrating for weeks. It’s gonna be like two people who haven’t gotten laid in a long time getting together. Screw constantly for a while but once it is over and they look around, everything has gone to shit. Think European soccer riots, but with the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”)

So do this for the fans of Philadelphia, who have stuck around for 25 years of heartbreak. 

Go Phillies. 

Done.

5 Comments

Filed under Baseball