Friday, October 23, 2009

The Phillies - Your 2009 NL Champs!

Keeping true to my custom of waiting to comment on the news, I want to share a few thoughts on the Phillies winning the 2009 National League Pennant - I have avoided talking too much about it because there are so many more worthwhile places to read commentary - The Good Phight, Beerleaguer, PhilliesNation, WSBGM's, and The Fightins'. Each of those have their strengths and the resources to make the day-to-day following of the Phillies very enjoyable.

The being said, let me go Peter King on everyone. Ten things I think I think....ok, that is retarded, anyway, here goes...

1. The entire series against the Dodgers had a feel of 'we will beat you completely into submission'. Final scores of 8-6, 11-0, and finally 10-4 tend to lend itself to this kind of feeling, I would believe. Even the 5-4 comeback in Game 4 had that feeling, albeit in a much different way.

2. It was amazing to see/hear/read the metaphorical fellatio that was being performed by the media on the Dodgers and Joe Torre. Look at where it got them. To borrow the cliche, this is why they play the games. To have all of this done previously, you would have sworn LA was already going to the World Series. I have no doubt that the Phillies heard all the same things and was motivated by such disrespect and decided to kick ass a second year in a row.

3. The so-called 'vaunted bullpen' of LA had an ERA of 6.00 - that's amazing. 14 runs given up in 21 innings. George Sherrill (also known around these parts of central Maryland as 'Flat Breezy') looked like a deer caught in the headlights whenever he came to pitch - which tells me it is a lot easier to be the LOOGY and closer for a crappy team in Baltimore than it is to be the specialist under the harsh lights of playoff time. Jonathan Broxton, no matter what anyone says or claims, was FRIGHTENED by the prospect of facing Matt Stairs again - Stair didn't even see a strike. Few batters later J-Roll hits his historic double, and the Phillies have a commanding 3-1 series lead.

4. Ryan Howard's performance during this entire postseason has been a treat. His discipline has been outstanding and he has truly become a leader on the team - his quote from Game 4 of the Colorado series: 'Get me to the plate, boys', is the stuff of legends. He completely deserved his NLCS MVP. Hopefully, we see more of this delight during the World Series - he has three career World Series home runs.

5. I don't know what has gotten into Cole Hamels. He was absolutely a monster in 2008, but a lot of 2009 has been overshadowed by his attitude and poorer results. Three starts in the playoffs this year and while he got the win in Game 1 against LA (an argument if there ever was one about the uselessness of the 'win' stat), he had absolutely none of the domination that we have seen in the past, particularly in the 2008 postseason. All of a sudden, I am wondering about his issues as we move on to the World Series - will he be able to pitch effectively for even six innings?

6. Turning to something more positive - Cliff Lee has shown the world why the Phillies went out and got him. So his September was so-so? Thank God it is October. Indians fans are going to want to puke their guts out many times over if they see a Game 1-4-7 potential matchup of Lee and C.C. Sabathia. Lee's performance so far is even exceding Cole Hamels' 2008 October, and that is difficult to do!

7. Chooooooooch!! Carlos Ruiz is showing again his propensity as a red-light player. The homer he hit in Game 1 at LA was a back-breaker that was (to use another cliche) a tone-setter. Much is made of Ruiz's ability to handle the pitching staff, but would anyone really want to trust Paul Bako to do this? Didn't think so. Panamania rules, and no doubt he will feature prominently as a 'surprise' contributor in the World Series.

8. The outfield trio of Ibanez, Victorino, and Werth all came up big and believe it or not, Jayson Werth holds the Phillies' career record for most postseason home runs. Shane Victorino continues to piss off the entirety of Dodger fandom (and Met fandom too!). Raul Ibanez has eased himself right on into the Phillies postseason gravy train with timely hitting and a big three run homer in the 8th inning of Game 1 against LA.

9. The one who deserves a lot of credit (and cash) is Charlie Manuel. He thoroughly outmanaged his overrated counterpart. Other than the disastrous 8th inning of Game 2 in LA, he had the hand of Midas. Much has been made of his sometimes questionable in-game decisions, but as my father has said repeatedly for the past 2 years, he is the right manager for this ballclub. Baseball, more than any other sport, is less about X's and O's and more about...wait for it...managing. Whether it is personalities, people, or situations, the head guy in baseball is so very aptly named a manager, rather than 'coach'. The Phillies and us (the fans) are blessed to have Cholly as the manager. I just couldn't see anyone else (especially not Larry Bowa) leading the Phillies to the Promised Land in potentially consecutive seasons.

10. I want the Phillies to play the Yankees in the World Series. It would literally be the only time when the country would be rooting for them (except for the Dodger and Yankee fans, TJ Simers, and the guys who run and comment at Amazin' Avenue). Beating the Yankees would be a complete validation of last year and would insert them into the history books as a dynastic type of franchise, if not an outright dynasty. I truly believe it can be done. The Phillies have lost only 5 postseason games in the past two years, which is hard to believe. Go Phillies!!! Beat whoever it is they play starting next Wednesday!

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