Saturday, October 31, 2009

1993 Triple Play #129 Equipment

Starting this evening and throughout the first week of November, The Phillies Room will be temporarily closed for routine equipment maintenance and systems upgrades. Although the timing of this closure is questionable and somewhat regrettable, it is nevertheless unavoidable. We will be taking copious notes throughout the remainder of the World Series and our regularly scheduled postings will return next weekend. Rest assured, dear readers and fellow bloggers, 2009 Chachi World Series cards will be produced and shared upon our return.

In the interim, and as part of our ongoing effort to share Phillies baseball cards with the blogosphere, our IT department will be posting a single baseball card at the conclusion of each World Series game. The baseball card posted will reflect the outcome of the game and, by extension, my mood following each game. When the Phillies win, one of my favorite Phillies cards from my collection will appear. In the unlikely event of a Phillies loss, the woeful occurrence will be shamed with one of my least favorite Phillies cards.

Finally, the 2010 Chachi poll (see sidebar) is nearing its close. If you haven’t voted already, please consider voicing your opinion on this important decision.

Go Phils!

Yankees at Phillies: October 31st through November 2nd

Saturday 7:57, Sunday 8:20 & Monday 7:57

Back Home: Jimmy Rollins wasn't impressed with the ambiance of new Yankee Stadium. He was surprised at how low key the crowd seemed, noting they only momentarily came to life following a home run and then they calmed back down. A reporter asked him if the atmosphere this year was a little more akin to a World Series than last year. Jimmy, without hesitation, replied, "When we get to Philly, it will." The Phils return for three at home and hopefully there will be no need for a return train trip to New York.
Happy Halloween!: A year ago today, Philadelphia hosted the 2008 World Champions' parade down Broad Street.
Yankees Probables: Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett
Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee

Friday, October 30, 2009

2007 Chachi #12 Greg Dobbs

Other Game 2 thoughts . . .

Worked out OK in '08: The Phils won Game 1 of the World Series last year and lost Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Rays. They came home to sweep the Rays, taking the World Series in five games.

Golden Sombrero: Ryan Howard did not enjoy Game 2. The Big Piece went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and tipped his cap to A.J. Burnett following the game: "He had his curveball working today. It was a nasty pitch - nasty." The top four guys in the line-up combined to go 1 for 13 against the A.J. Burnett-Mariano Rivera tandem.

Get Well Soon: Greg Dobbs and Tyler Walker (not on the Postseason roster) were sent home from New York with the flu. Dobbs was slated to DH last night, but Matt Stairs got the start instead.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

2009 Chachi #80 World Series Game 2/Pedro Martinez

World Series Game 2 - October 29, 2009
Yankees 3, Phillies 1

Exactly one year after the Phillies won Game 5B of the 2008 World Series, they dropped Game 2 of the 2009 World Series to the Yankees, 3-1. If you had told me going into these first two games the Phils would split before heading back to Philly for three, I would have been happy with that outcome. Still, it would have been nice to head home with a 2-0 series lead.

Pedro Martinez was back in the Bronx - the location of a few infamous incidents he'd probably prefer to forget. He and Yankees starter A.J. Burnett threw a lot of pitches early, but after 5 innings each pitcher had allowed only a run a piece.

The Phils struck first in the 2nd inning. Raul Ibañez doubled to left and came around to score when a sharp grounder from Matt Stairs eluded Alex Rodriguez' glove for a single. The Yanks tied things up in the 4th when Mark Teixeira hit a Pedro Martinez change-up for a solo home run to right-center. In the 6th, Pedro struck out Teixeria and A-Rod before Hideki Matsui lofted a home run into the short porch in right giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. By this point, A.J. Burnett had settled in and the Phillies' offense wasn't able to get anything going.

Entering the 7th, Pedro had allowed just four hits and struck out eight. He gave up a few singles to start the 7th, and his night was done. Chan Ho Park entered the game and promptly allowed an inherited runner to score, making it 3-1 Yankees. All in all, Pedro pitched a good ballgame but A.J. Burnett pitched better, and a sweep in New York was not to be. Although he allowed a few base runners, Mariano Rivera entered in the 8th for a 2-inning save and shut the door on the Phils.

The series shifts to Philadelphia for a Halloween night Game 3. Hakuna Matata.

2007 Phillies Team Issue #10 Karim Garcia

Who are you, Karim Garcia?

Go Pedro and Go Phils!

2009 Phillies Fan Appreciation Day Postcards Cliff Lee

Other Game 1 thoughts . . .

Clifton Phifer Lee is Nasty: Cliff Lee threw the first World Series complete game since Greg Maddux did it against the Indians in the 1995 World Series. In the 8th inning, he snagged a sharp grounder from Robinson Cano . . . behind his back. Cool as a cucumber, he now has the seventh best ERA (0.54) of any pitcher in Postseason history and he holds the ERA mark for pitchers throwing over 30 innings. The Yankees are a very good team, and he went through them like they were a struggling Little League team. (I think it was Darren Daulton on the Postgame show who made the Little League analogy.) Which makes me wonder - is this the best Phillies pitching performance in the franchise's history, considering the stakes and the stage?

History: Chase Utley's two home runs off CC Sabathia marked just the second time in World Series history a left-handed batter has hit two homers in a game off a left-handed pitcher. The other guy to do it? Babe Ruth in Game 4 of the 1928 World Series. That's right - Babe Ruth. Chase's walk in the first extended his streak of reaching safely in Postseason games to 26 games, breaking the record of 25 straight games set by Boog Powell between 1966 and 1971.

PSA: Already had your fill of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver? Phillies flagship radio station 1210 AM has syncronized its radio broadcast to match up to Fox's broadcast. (It takes them a few outs in the top of the 1st to sync it, but they get there.) On a clear night back in the day, I used to be able to pick up 1210 all the way in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although I do miss the dramatic Fox World Series theme song a little . . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

2009 Chachi #79 World Series Game 1/Cliff Lee & Chase Utley

World Series Game 1 - October 28, 2009
Phillies 6, Yankees 1

It took five games over a span of 59 years, but the Philadelphia Phillies have won their first World Series game against the New York Yankees. Playing in a steady drizzle, the Phillies won behind a gem from their ace Cliff Lee and two home runs from Chase Utley.

Cliff Lee was on tonight. Locating his fastball and keeping the Yankees off-balance with his off-speed pitches, he made it look easy. He struck out the side in the 4th, the heart of the Yankees order no less, giving him seven strikeouts already at that early stage the game. In the end, he finished with a complete game, allowing no earned runs, striking out ten, walking none and scattering six Yankees' hits. (He also made a few cool plays in the field!)

Through the first six, both starting pitchers had allowed just four hits. However, two of the hits allowed by Yankees starter CC Sabathia were solo home runs by Chase Utley. Chase finished off an amazing 9-pitch at-bat in the 3rd by drilling a CC fastball into the right field stands to give the Phils a 1-0 lead. He jumped in his Cadillac again in the 6th with a long home run again to right.

Raul Ibañez added two more runs in the 8th, singling home Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino to make it 4-0 Phils. Shane's RBI-single in the 9th, along with Ryan Howard's RBI-double added the final two Phillies runs. A small bump in the road in the form of a Jimmy Rollins error allowed the Yankees to score their lone run in the bottom of the 9th. But that would be the only blemish on Cliff Lee's 122-pitch masterpiece.

Best Highlight: A month and a half shy of his third birthday, our son Doug was in bed prior to the first pitch tonight. I made sure he took his rally towel with him though. I checked in on him during the 7th inning stretch and he was sound asleep, clutching his Phillies rally towel. Perfect.

Phillies at Yankees: October 28th through October 29th

Wednesday & Thursday 7:57

It's On: The 105th World Series starts tonight with the NL Champion Phillies taking on the AL Champion New York Yankees.
There's Only One October: I'm in uncharted territory here in terms of excitement and I'll admit this whole thing seems a little surreal. After so many years of watching bad Phillies teams and saying, "Maybe next year," the Phillies are in the World Series for the second year in a row. Hard to believe.
This is Beyond Baseball: Also for the second year in a row, we'll be happily Joe Buck and Tim McCarver-free for the World Series. Fox will be muted and Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will provide us with the play-by-play on the Phillies radio broadcast.
Phillies Probables: Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez
Yankees Probables: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

1951 Bowman #184 Eddie Sawyer MG

1950 World Series Game 4 - October 7
Yankees 5, Phillies 2

Rookie pitcher Whitey Ford allowed just two unearned runs to a lethargic Phillies offense as the Yankees completed the World Series sweep and won their 13th World Championship. The Phillies countered with rookie starting pitcher Bob Miller who retired just one batter in the 1st inning before being replaced with Jim Konstanty.

The Phillies scored their only two runs of the game when Yankees left fielder Gene Woodling dropped a 9th inning fly ball from Andy Seminick, allowing Puddin' Head Jones and pinch-runner Ken Johnson to score. Following the sweep, Phillies manager Eddie Sawyer remarked the team "played only fair baseball."

The Phils would have to wait another 26 years until they reached the Postseason again, and their fans would have to wait exactly 30 years for the franchise to win its next World Series game - accomplished in Game 1 of the 1980 World Series.

When the 2009 Phillies take to the new Yankee Stadium field tomorrow night, they'll be looking to do something their beloved counterparts couldn't do 59 years ago. Win.

1951 Bowman #148 Granny Hamner

1950 World Series Game 3 - October 6
Yankees 3, Phillies 2

The Phillies dropped their third straight 1-run game as the 1950 World Series shifted to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Despite having won only three games all season, lefty Ken Heintzelman was selected to start Game 3 for the Whiz Kids. He pitched into the 8th inning, allowing one earned run. Unfortunately, and before it was fashionable to call it a "walk-off," Yankees second baseman Jerry Coleman drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th with a fly ball hit over the head of outfielder Richie Ashburn. Phillies pitcher Russ Meyer, normally a starter, took the loss in relief.

Granny Hamner showed the first signs of life within the Phillies' line-up, going 3 for 4 with a double and a run scored. However it was Granny's glove that was a crucial factor in this loss and not his bat. The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the 8th when the Phillies shortstop couldn't handle an easy ground ball, allowing Jerry Coleman to score the tying run. Had Granny been able to make the play, the Phillies would have been out of the inning, maintaining a 1-run lead. As it was, the crucial error led to a 3-0 Yankees lead in the series.

Random Aside: In reading about the 1950 World Series, I'm seeing Jerry Coleman's name all over the place. On a Yankees team dominated by big-name players such as DiMaggio, Berra, Mize, Ford, Rizzuto and Bauer, it's Jerry Coleman whose name comes up time and time again in the game summaries.

Monday, October 26, 2009

1951 Bowman #186 Richie Ashburn

1950 World Series Game 2 - October 5
Yankees 2, Phillies 1

The Phillies dropped another close one, as Joe DiMaggio hit a solo home run off Robin Roberts in the top of the 10th to break a 1-1 tie and give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the 1950 World Series. Roberts scattered ten hits over his 10 innings of work, walking three and striking out five.

The Whiz Kids' lone run came on a Richie Ashburn sacrifice fly in the 5th inning, scoring Mike Goliat from third. They squandered runners in scoring position in the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th innings. Allie Reynolds pitched a 10-inning complete game, earning the victory for the Yankees.

Phillies manager Eddie Sawyer observed after the game, "You still can't win without hits and runs."

Game information and quotes for these posts are from the incredibly valuable resource, The Phillies Encyclopedia by Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky.

1951 Bowman #27 Jim Konstanty

1950 World Series Game 1 - October 4
Yankees 1, Phillies 0

Relief ace and 1950 National League MVP Jim Konstanty started Game 1, as Robin Roberts had started three of the Phillies last five regular season games. (I imagine this would be comparable to Brad Lidge starting Game 1 of the 2009 World Series. Could you picture that?) Without starting a game, Konstanty compiled a 16-7 record and a 2.66 ERA in 1950, while saving 22 games.

In Game 1 at Philadelphia's Shibe Park, Konstanty pitched eight strong innings, allowing just a lone 4th inning run to the Yankees. Yankees starting pitcher Vic Raschi (21-8 in the regular season) allowed just two 5th inning singles to Puddin' Head Jones and Andy Seminick, and that was the extent of the Phillies offense for the day.

Other Game 1 notes: Game time was 1pm, and no one was exhausted at work the next day. (Unlike what will most likely be the case this coming Thursday morning.) The Phillies were without star starting pitcher Curt Simmons for this series. Simmons was called into active U.S. military duty on September 10th. He used his 10-day pass from the Army to attend the World Series games as a spectator only.

1951 Bowman #3 Robin Roberts

The last and only other time the Phillies and Yankees faced each other in the World Series was in 1950. The Whiz Kids advanced to the 1950 World Series by defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field on the final day of the season. The Phillies' starting pitcher in that game was Robin Roberts, who in the heat of the pennant race had started four of the Phillies' previous eight games. (Take that, CC.)

On October 1, 1950, entering the final game of the season, the Phils' lead over the Dodgers was down to just one game. A win, and the Phillies would advance to the World Series for the first time since 1915. A loss, and a tie-breaking game to determine the National League championship would be required. And of course, the Phillies wouldn't make it easy.

Heading into the bottom of the 9th that day, the score was tied 1-1. In easily what is one of the most famous outfield assists in Phillies history, Richie Ashburn threw out Cal Abrams at the plate to preserve the tie and send the game into extra innings. In the top of the 10th, with Whitey at first and Eddie Waitkus at second, Dick Sisler hit a 3-run home run against Don Newcombe to give the Phils a 4-1 lead. Roberts pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th, and it was on to the World Series.

Of course, the 2009 Phillies hope to fare better than the 1950 Phillies against the Yankees.

2009 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions #106 Ryan Howard

Bring on the Yankees. Ryan Howard is waiting.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

1970 Topps #90 Tim McCarver

While watching ALCS Game 5 and catching up with some of my favorite baseball card blogs, I came across something horrifying. Tim McCarver has released a CD featuring his personal renditions of Songs from the Great American Songbook. To make matters worse, Amazon is currently running a special which gives buyers a discount when Tim McCarver's new CD is purchased together with Chris Wheeler's new book.

Before any friends or family reading this blog get any crazy ideas, let me make this clear: Please don't buy this CD for me for Christmas, even as a gag gift. Seriously. Don't do it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

2009 Chachi #78 Ryan Howard HL

Ryan Howard's .333 batting average, 2 home runs and 8 RBIs earned him the 2009 NLCS MVP honors. Since the League Championship series began in 1969, Ryan became just the third player to win Rookie of the Year honors, regular season Most Valuable Player honors and be named an LCS MVP. Albert Pujols and Fred Lynn are the only other players to pull off that feat.

Ryan joins a list of four other Phillies NLCS MVPs:
1980 - Manny Trillo

2009 Chachi #64 Strikeout Leaders - Cole Hamels & Joe Blanton

He's only pitched in parts of four seasons so far, but when Cole Hamels reaches 95 strikeouts in 2010, he'll crack the list of all-time Top 10 Phillies strikeout leaders. Granted, his 800+ strikeouts will still be slightly behind Steve Carlton's Phillies mark of 3,031, but his total will still be fairly impressive. This is the third year in a row Cole has led this category for the Phillies, although his leading total of 168 is the lowest leading total since Eric Milton's 161 strikeouts in 2004.

The rest of the 2009 Phillies Top 10 in strikeouts: Joe Blanton (163), J.A. Happ (119), Jamie Moyer (94), Ryan Madson (78), Cliff Lee (74), Chan Ho Park (73), Chad Durbin (62), Brad Lidge (61) and Brett Myers (50).

Friday, October 23, 2009

2009 Chachi #63 Victory Leaders - Blanton, Happ & Moyer

With the team's success this year, it's hard to believe no pitcher had more than 12 wins in 2009. After the trio featured on this team leader card, the rest of the Top 10 Phillies victory leaders were: Cole Hamels (10), Cliff Lee (7), Clay Condrey (6), Ryan Madson (5), Pedro Martinez (5) and Brett Myers (4). Tied for tenth on the team with 3 wins this year were Kyle Kendrick, Rodrigo Lopez and Chan Ho Park. Nothing against Rodrigo, but talk about getting lost in the shuffle after the Pedro and Cliff Lee acquisitions!

Other starting pitcher and victory stuff:
- The Phillies haven't had a 20-game winner since Steve Carlton won 23 games in 1982.
- Recently, the Phils have had their share of years when the team leader in this category had 12 or fewer wins, including: Brett Myers in 2006 (12), Randy Wolf in 2000 (11) and Curt Schilling in 1996 (9). The '96 Phillies were a very bad team.
- The Phillies used 12 starting pitchers in 2009, compared with just 7 in 2008.

2009 Chachi #62 Stolen Base Leaders - Jimmy Rollins & Shane Victorino

All credit goes to Phillies coach Davey Lopes for improving the team's running game over the past several years. For the fifth year in a row, Jimmy Rollins stole over 30 bases. Additionally, Jimmy joined Chase Utley (23) and Jayson Werth (20) in the 20-20 club (at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases) - the first time more than one Phillie has reached those marks in the same season. Four of Jayson's stolen bases came in the same game back in May.

Also swiping bases this year, rounding out the Top 10: Ryan Howard (8), Raul Ibañez (4), Carlos Ruiz (3) and Eric Bruntlett (2). Greg Dobbs, Ben Francisco and the speedy Cole Hamels all had exactly one stolen base.

2009 Chachi #59 Batting Leaders - Shane Victorino & Chase Utley

The long lay-off until the start of the 2009 World Series will give me an opportunity to post the remaining 2009 Chachi Team Leader cards.

To qualify for a season's batting championship, a player needs 502 or more plate appearances. Unfortunately, this rules out Paul Hoover (3 for 4 with a .750 average) and Andy Tracy (5 for 12 with a .417 average) for the Phillies' 2009 batting title. A situation could arise where a player has less than 502 plate appearances but still wins the batting championship. However, those rules involve too much math and this situation doesn't apply to the Phillies this year.

Shane Victorino takes the honors this year with his .292 average, followed by Chase Utley (.282), Ryan Howard (.279), Raul Ibañez (.272), Jayson Werth (.268), Pedro Feliz (.266) and Jimmy Rollins (.250). This is the second season in a row the Phils haven't had someone crack the .300 plateau. Shane dropped below .300 after September 15th and Chase hadn't been above the mark since September 2nd.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

2009 Chachi #77 National League Champs HL

Other Game 5 thoughts . . .

First Pitch: Prior to Game 5, the only two managers to guide the Phillies to World Championships took the field. Charlie Manuel caught the ceremonial first pitch thrown by Dallas Green. The Phils have always maintained a reverent connection to their past and this was just a very cool moment.

Going to Disneyland: It appears more and more likely Game 1 of the World Series will be played in the Bronx. If that’s the case, Charlie Manuel and his coaching staff can at least look forward to a visit to Anaheim for the 2010 All-Star Game on July 13th. (Although the Angels just took the Game 5 lead in the 8th.)

Thank you Ruben: Ed Wade laid the foundation, Pat Gillick made a few repairs, but current general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made all the right moves to help the Phillies return to the World Series in 2009. His offseason signing of Raul Ibañez was key in fortifying an already potent line-up, despite Raul’s mid-season decline. Ruben pulled the trigger on the Cliff Lee trade, bringing the team a legitimate World Series Game 1 starter, made all the more necessary by Cole Hamels' recent struggles. Finally, he brought in Pedro Martinez. It was still a little surreal seeing Pedro (in a Phillies uniform) spray champagne all over the field and into the stands following last night’s victory. But he stabilized the rotation when they needed it the most and who’s not looking forward to seeing him start a World Series game against the Yankees? (Probably the Yankees.)

2009 Chachi #76 NLCS Game 5/Jayson Werth

NLCS Game 5 - October 21, 2009
Phillies 10, Dodgers 4

One of the best songs from the Beatles' farewell album Let It Be is the hopeful rocker, "I've Got A Feeling." Well tonight I had a feeling, a hopeful feeling, and I watched my first ever Phillies Postseason game completely and totally relaxed. No standing in front of the TV. No pacing the living room floor. I just watched the game, while listening to the Phillies radio broadcast, and I enjoyed myself. (We originally had tickets to tonight's game, but that's a happy story for another day.)

Cole Hamels pitched like 2009 Cole Hamels tonight and not 2008 Cole Hamels. Andre Ethier homered in the 1st to give the Dodgers the early lead. In the bottom of the 1st, Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla worked around Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, walking both, only to allow a 3-run home run to the clutch Jayson Werth. Both teams traded home runs in the 2nd - James Loney for the Dodgers and the free-swinging Pedro Feliz for the Phils, and it was 4-2 Phillies after two.

Raul Ibañez' RBI-double to right in the 4th scored Jayson Werth and chased Padilla from the game. Later in the inning, after a very patient at-bat, Shane Victorino was hit with the bases loaded to give the Phils a 6-2 lead. Cole Hamels' night was done shortly after allowing a solo homer to Orlando Hudson in the top of the 5th. At this point, the game was over two hours old and still just in the 5th inning. But it didn't matter. I was still smiling.

At 10:40pm EST, Shane Victorino's 2-run home run made it 8-3 Phillies and the Dodgers' 2009 season all but ended. Jayson Werth would add a final bomb in the 7th and the Dodgers would make a little noise in the 8th, but I bet at this point the Phillies traveling secretary was on the phone cancelling the team's chartered flight to Los Angeles.

While Cole Hamels has yet to recapture his 2008 mojo, the much-maligned Phillies bullpen seems to have found its groove. Chad Durbin shut the Dodgers down in the middle innings, Chan Ho Park pitched a scoreless 7th, and Ryan Madson stranded the bases loaded in the 8th. Brad Lidge entered in the 9th to close it out, and close it out he did. After two quick outs, Ronnie Belliard lifted a fly ball to Shane Victorino who caught the ball for the final out.

Can you believe it? The Philadelphia Phillies are heading to the World Series for the second straight year. The on-field celebration following the game was decidedly low-key. As Jayson Werth mentioned after the game, there's still four more games to win. Or as Ryan Howard put it, "One more step, and we got action."  I'm still smiling.

Go Phils!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2009 Upper Deck #432 Phillies Team Leaders

It's simple, really. If the Phillies win tonight, they won't return to Dodger Stadium until August 10, 2010. If they win tonight, they return to the World Series for the seventh time in franchise history, in search of their third World Championship. They would play to defend their 2008 title and try to do something no National League team has done since the Big Red Machine in 1975 and 1976.

A win tonight punches a ticket for either the Bronx or Disneyland, depending on the outcome of the ALCS.

Bring it on.

Go Phils!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2009 Chachi #66 Leading Firemen - Brad Lidge & Ryan Madson

Entering the Postseason, one of the Phillies' weakest links was the back end of their bullpen. Specifically, fans were nervous about the recent reinstatement of Brad Lidge as the team's closer. Brad's struggles throughout the regular season have been well documented - 11 blown saves with an 0-8 record, a 7.21 ERA and batters hitting .301 against him. However, as most of the play-off teams have seen their closers falter, Brad has saved three games this Postseason and he was the winning pitcher in last night's unbelievable victory. In four appearances, he has yet to allow a run.

Throughout all his regular season hardships, manager Charlie Manuel never lost confidence in the man who was perfect last year. I'll be the first to admit I lost confidence in him, so it's probably a good thing Charlie's in charge of the team and not me.

Team Save Leaders: Brad managed to save 31 games throughout the regular season, followed by Ryan Madson's 10 saves. Chad Durbin (2) and Clay Condrey (1) also recorded saves for the Phils in 2009.

2009 O-Pee-Chee Face of the Franchise #FF19 Jimmy Rollins

Other Game 4 thoughts . . .

It's difficult to actually remember anything else that happened in Game 4, other than Jimmy Rollins' double and Chooch's slide at home to win the ballgame. Matt Stairs drawing the four-pitch walk to start the rally was huge last night, and one has to wonder if the memory of his dramatic Game 4 home run from last year was still lingering in Jonathan Broxton's head.

This is undeniably fun. I'm trying my best to take this all in, because who knows when the Phillies will return to this level. You hope it happens every year, but there are no guarantees in baseball. I've waited my whole life to root for a Phillies team this good, and writing this little blog is at least one way I hope to remember this season and this year.

Very Superstitious: Phillies beat writer Scott Labuer passed along a cool little tidbit from last night's 9th inning rally in his blog. The Phillies bullpen, a superstitious bunch, made sure they were all sitting in the "same seats" as they were for last year's NLCS Game 4 when Matt Stairs hit his dramatic game-winning home run in L.A. I wonder where they told Chan Ho Park to sit?

History: Ryan Howard tied Lou Gehrig for the record of consecutive Postseason games with an RBI (8 games) with his 1st inning home run. The homer also tied Mike Schmidt for tops in franchise history with 6. Chase Utley has reached base in 24 consecutive Postseason games, one shy of Boog Powell's record.

Quote of the Night: From Phillies play-by-play announcer Scott Franzke, describing the on-field celebration following the victory, "Madness! This is madness!"

2009 Chachi #75 NLCS Game 4/Jimmy Rollins & Carlos Ruiz

NLCS Game 4 - October 19, 2009
Phillies 5, Dodgers 4

Are you kidding me? Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-out, 2-run walk-off double in the bottom of the 9th to win Game 4 and give the Phils a 3-1 lead in the NLCS.

A two-run home run from Ryan Howard in the 1st inning continued his torrid streak and gave the Phils an early lead. Phillies starter Joe Blanton was cruising until the 4th, when the Dodgers tied it up 2-2.

As Joe Blanton began to falter, Dodgers starter Randy Wolf was beginning to settle in. Following Ryan Howard's 1st inning home run, Wolf retired the next 12 Phillies in order. Matt Kemp hit a solo home run in 5th, and the Dodgers tacked on another run in the 6th to make it 4-2.

The Phils added a run in the 6th when Shane Victorino tripled to left and came around to score on a Chase Utley single. The team threatened in the 8th, but stranded two more base runners.  Brad Lidge held the Dodgers scoreless in the top of the 9th and the Phils were down a run with three outs to go. Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton needed three outs to tie the series at two games a piece, and guarantee the NLCS would return to Los Angeles.

With one out in the bottom of the 9th, pinch-hitter Matt Stairs drew a four-pitch walk and Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch. Broxton jammed pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs, coaxing a weak line drive to third for the second out of the inning. At this point, the Dodgers bullpen had not allowed a hit since Chase Utley's 6th inning RBI-single. Jimmy Rollins, who had struggled at the plate in the NLCS, was the team's final hope.

With the count at 1-1, Jimmy drilled a 99mph Broxton fastball to the gap in right. Pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett scored from second to tie it. Carlos Ruiz scored from first to win it. And with a win Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Phillies will head to the 2009 World Series.

Monday, October 19, 2009

2010 Chachi Prototype #CL2 Cliff Lee

Other Game 3 thoughts . . .

Jenna's favorite sign: We've grown accustomed to the various Cliff Lee signs appearing throughout Citizens Bank Park over the past few months - UnbeLEEvable, We BeLEEve, etc. But Jenna spotted the most creative sign to date on TV last night - City of Brother Lee Love. We approve.

Déjà vu: The performance of Dodgers' starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda mirrored that of Jamie Moyer in NLCS Game 3 last year. Both pitchers lasted just an inning and a third, allowing six runs on six hits. Fortunately, no one threw at Shane Victorino's head last night. It was nice to see Jamie in the dugout last night. He had spent much of the NLDS in the hospital battling a blood infection stemming from his surgery for torn tendons in his groin. (Chances are you've had a better October than Jamie.)

But Cliff Lee won't cover his head with a towel: Last night's shutout of the Dodgers was the Phillies first Postseason shutout since Curt Schilling blanked the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series.

Vote!: The 1974 Topps design is currently leading the 1983 Topps design in the 2010 Chachi set design poll. Only 18 short days to go . . .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

2009 Chachi #74 NLCS Game 3/Ryan Howard

NLCS Game 3 - October 18, 2009
Phillies 11, Dodgers 0

That's more like it! Answering my earlier plea for a stress-free game, the Phils scored early and often to take Game 3 of the NLCS over the Dodgers. It certainly helped that Cliff Lee was nearly unhittable.

The ace of the staff, in complete control throughout the night, pitched eight shutout innings. He allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out ten. I hope Cole Hamels was taking good notes from the dugout.

The offensive damage:
- Ryan Howard's 2-run triple in the 1st started the night off right.
- Jayson Werth followed with a 2-run home run in the 1st and the Phils were up, 4-0.
- Jimmy Rollins' RBI-double in the 2nd and Ryan Howard's RBI-ground out made it 6-0 after two.
- Pedro Feliz finally got into the swing of things with an RBI-triple in the 5th.
- Carlos Ruiz continued his torrid NLCS with two more hits including a double to drive in Pedro Feliz in the 5th, making it 8-0.
- Shane Victorino went 2 for 3 with a 3-run home run in the 8th to cap the night's scoring.
- Every player in the starting line-up scored at least once.

Let's do it again tomorrow night!

Dodgers at Phillies: October 18th through October 21st

Sunday, Monday & Wednesday 8:07

What's what: The best-of-seven NLCS is tied at one game a piece. The Phils have their work cut out for them as the Dodgers boast the NL's second best regular season road record. (The Phillies owned the best road record in the NL.) My heart would love a three game sweep, but my brain would be happy with taking two out of three and wrapping it up back in Los Angeles.
Sunday night forecast: 42 degrees with a 60% chance of rain for game time. Just slightly different than the weather both teams experienced in Los Angeles.
Sunday night's first pitch: Former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton, who has been providing pre and post-game analysis on the local Comcast channel, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Dutch has apparently decided to take a break from exploring different dimensions to offer his insights into the Phillies Postseason run.
Dodgers Probables: Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf, TBA
Phillies Probables: Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton, TBA

Saturday, October 17, 2009

2009 Chachi #60 Home Run Leaders - Ryan Howard & Jayson Werth

How about it Phillies? How about scoring early and often tomorrow night and making it a relaxing game? I have a busy day at work on Monday, and I could use a stress-free, early to bed night. I've had it with this one-run game business. Let's bust things wide open and make the bullpen a complete non-factor.

Go Phils!

Team Home Run Leaders: Ryan Howard's 45 home runs this year were good enough for third place in the NL behind Albert Pujols (47) and Prince Fielder (46). Jayson Werth's 36 homers placed him 7th on the NL leaderboard. Rounding out the top 10 for the Phillies: Raul Ibañez (34), Chase Utley (31), Jimmy Rollins (21), Pedro Feliz (12), Shane Victorino (10), and Carlos Ruiz (9). Greg Dobbs, Ben Francisco and Matt Stairs all tied for 9th place on the team with 5.

2008 Upper Deck Goudey #255 Chase Utley

A gray card for a gray day . . . It's cold, dreary and raining in the Northeast today.

I can't keep from wondering how yesterday's game would have turned out if Chase Utley had been able to make a clean throw to first in the 8th inning instead of air-mailing it into the Phillies' dugout. The game would have still been tied up, but the bullpen would have probably had an easier time getting out of the inning. We'll never know.

Charlie Manuel doesn't seem worried about Chase's defensive lapses, so I won't worry either: "He can correct that. Chase is better than that. Those mistakes that you make like that, that happens sometimes. Two days in a row, he's made one. I know it plays a part in a game, and so does he. But at the same time, I've got a lot of faith in him. He's the one guy in the world that will work on it and correct it - it's Chase Utley. Sometimes that's just the way the game goes."

National Chicle?: This card appears to be loosely based on the 1936 National Chicle Fine Pen design. It's a short-print from the 2008 Upper Deck Goudey set, and it represents another option for Upper Deck's upcoming 2010 releases since they've lost their license to include Major League logos on their baseball cards.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Chachi #73 NLCS Game 2/Pedro Martinez

NLCS Game 2 - October 16, 2009
Dodgers 2, Phillies 1

Pedro Martinez pitched a masterful seven innings this afternoon, but shoddy 8th inning defense and a bases loaded walk gave the Dodgers a draining Game 2 victory.

In his seven shutout innings of work, Pedro allowed only two hits, walked none and threw just 87 pitches. He turned the game over to the bullpen in the 8th. It took five Phillie relievers to record three outs in the inning and before it was over, the Dodgers had taken a 2-1 lead. The 8th inning train wreck was made possible by Chan Ho Park's failed attempt to field a sacrifice bunt, a wildly errant throw from Chase Utley on an apparent double play and a bases loaded walk by J.A. Happ.

Vicente Padilla pitched incredibly well too, which will teach me to post a baseball card of the opposing pitcher on game day. (Don't expect to see any Randy Wolf cards on Sunday.) He pitched into the 8th and allowed just four Phillies hits. Padilla's only blemish was allowing a solo home run to Ryan Howard in 4th.

Looking on the bright side of things, the team heads back to Philly for three games with the series tied 1-1 and Cliff Lee taking the mound on Sunday night.

2003 Fleer Hardball #123 Vicente Padilla

Jimmy Rollins, on his former teammate, Vicente Padilla: "He definitely can (get rattled), I've been behind him. I don't know what you will get. It depends on how we approach him. If his team scores he becomes more confident. But if we get ahead early we can maybe get in his head and make him throw more pitches. That will work in our benefit."

Get in his head, boys.

Go Phils!

2009 Phillies Team Issue #61 Chan Ho Park

Other NLCS Game 1 thoughts . . .

Chan Ho!: Rangers fans and Dodgers fans alike may be somewhat perplexed as to why Chan Ho Park was deemed worthy of a spot on the Phillies' 25-man NLCS roster, especially after his lackluster tenures with those two aforementioned teams. His performance last night in the bottom of the 7th immediately justified his inclusion on the roster. Rookie reliever Antonio Bastardo began the inning by allowing a double to Phillie-killer Andre Ethier. Enter Chan Ho. He needed just 15 pitches to shut down Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake, in order, squelching the rally and preserving the Phils' precarious 5-4 lead. He hadn't pitched in about a month due to a hamstring injury, but last night his fastball reached 96mph on the Dodgers somewhat generous radar.

All-Time RBI: Ryan Howard's 18 career postseason RBIs now gives him the Phillies all-time lead in that category over Mike Schmidt's 16. Schmitty accumulated his total over 36 games and 140 at-bats. Ryan did it in just 22 games and 83 at-bats. Pretty impressive.

Padilla's Flotilla: The Dodgers' Game 2 starter, former Phillie Vicente Padilla, has faced his former team just once in his career. On June 28, 2008, Vicente (as a Texas Ranger) started and lost an Interleague game in Arlington. He lasted six innings, allowing seven runs, including home runs to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

2009 Chachi #72 NLCS Game 1/Carlos Ruiz & Raul Ibañez

NLCS Game 1 - October 15, 2009
Phillies 8, Dodgers 6

It got a little hairy in the middle innings, but the bullpen and a Raul Ibañez 3-run home run sealed the Game 1 victory for the Phillies in Los Angeles.

The Phils were behind early due to a 2nd inning James Loney solo homer off starter Cole Hamels. However a 5-spot in the top of the 5th, highlighted by a 3-run home run from Carlos Ruiz and a 2-run double from Ryan Howard, put the Phillies up, 5-1. The big inning also knocked out Dodgers' starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who had been cruising up until the 5th. At this point, the team hoped for a shut-down inning from Cole Hamels, but it was not to be. The Dodgers scored three times in the bottom of the 5th to pull within a run. The big blow was a 2-run home run to center from Manny Ramirez. (I'll admit, it stung a little to see former Phillie Jim Thome celebrating wildly in the dugout after this homer.)

Following Cole's early exit in the 6th, the bullpen combination of Chad Durbin, J.A. Happ and especially Chan Ho Park managed to shut down the Dodgers until the 8th inning. Fortunately, Raul Ibañez added his three-run home run in the top of the 8th to give the Phils a 4-run lead at the time. It was Raul's first career Postseason home run and the insurance runs proved to be huge.

Ryan Madson decided to make things interesting in the bottom of the 8th, allowing two runs before inducing a weak grounder to third from Manny Ramirez to end the threat. Brad Lidge allowed a few runners in the 9th, but with Joe Blanton and Scott Eyre warming in the bullpen, he was able to record the final out for his third save of the 2009 playoffs.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

2009 Topps #299 Cole Hamels HL

One year ago today, this happened and then this happened.

I'd like to see it happen again.

Go Phils!

2004 Phillies Reunion

2004 Topps #1 Jim Thome
2004 Topps #59 Vicente Padilla
2004 Topps #222 Randy Wolf
2004 Topps #288 Larry Bowa MG

When the NLCS comes back to Philadelphia on Sunday night, we'll be treated to a mini reunion of four members from the 2003-2004 Phillies. It's only four guys, but these four players made up a large part of the underachieving Phillies teams during those two years. This group helped close Veterans Stadium in 2003 and open Citizens Bank Park in 2004.

Current Dodgers third base coach, and former Phillies great, Larry Bowa managed the Phils from 2001 until his dismissal at the end of the 2004 season. Two of his starting pitchers during his tenure were Randy Wolf (1999-2006) and Vicente Padilla (2000-2005), who now are part of the Dodgers starting rotation. While both pitchers made All-Star teams during their Phillies years, it always seemed as if both were pitching somewhere south of thier actual potential.

Gentleman Jim Thome (2003-2005) was one of the most popular Phillies during the early part of this decade. Since the Dodgers acquired him from the White Sox at the end of August, he's been used exclusively as a left-handed bat off the bench, collecting four hits in 17 pinch-hitting appearances. He's sure to receive a warm ovation if he makes it into a game when the Dodgers visit Philadelphia. I'm guessing the reception won't be as warm for Wolf or Padilla.

Phillies at Dodgers: October 15th through October 16th

NLCS Games 1 & 2
Thursday 8:07 & Friday 4:07

How they got here: The Phillies, the NL East Champions, defeated the Wild Card Colorado Rockies 3-1 in their NLDS. The Dodgers, the NL West Champions swept the NL Central Champion St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, in their NLDS.
What's happened before: This is the fifth time the Phils and Dodgers have met in a League Championship Series. The Dodgers took the first two meetings in 1977 and 1978, with the Phillies winning the last two meetings in 1983 and 2008.
Personal excitement level: Very, very high.
Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Pedro Martinez
Dodgers Probables: Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 Chachi #71 Phillies NLDS Clincher HL

A few of my favorite quotes from the clinching NLDS Game 4:

Jimmy Rollins: "We have belief and belief goes further than momentum."

Jayson Werth, on the team’s mindset prior to the 9th inning: "I came running off the field with the thought that we were going to win the game, and when I got in the dugout, everybody was on the same page. Everybody was cool, calm and collected, I guess you could say. Everybody knew what we had to do, and we did it."

Ryan Howard, to his teammates, prior to the start of the 9th inning: "Get me to the plate, boys."

Jimmy Rollins, after being reminded no National League team had won back-to-back World Series since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976: "Maybe they’ll call us the Little Red Machine."

Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 Chachi #70 NLDS Game 4/Ryan Howard

NLDS Game 4 - October 12, 2009
Phillies 5, Rockies 4

Can you believe it? The Phillies defeated the Rockies tonight, taking the series 3-1 and advancing to the NLCS for a rematch with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the course of forty minutes over the last two innings of tonight's game, I went from jubilation to utter dejection back to complete jubilation.

Cliff Lee was just short of masterful tonight. Heading into the 8th inning, he held a 2-1 lead courtesy of a 1st inning home run from Shane Victorino and a 6th inning home run from Jayson Werth. The Phils should have scored more, loading the bases twice in the game but failing to come up with a big hit.

Cliff gave way to Ryan Madson with one out in the 8th. A crucial error by Jimmy Rollins and clutch hitting from Jason Giambi and Yorvit Torrealba allowed the Rockies to tie the game and eventually take a 4-2 lead heading to the top of the 9th. I resigned myself to the fact a Game 5 seemed inevitable.

Fortunately, the Phillies decided they didn't want to head back to Philly just yet. In the top of the 9th, a Jimmy Rollins single, a Chase Utley walk and a huge, game-tying off-the-wall double from Ryan Howard and the dejection from just a few minutes before began to dissipate. Jayson Werth's single to drive home Ryan with the go-ahead run completed the transformation. (At this point, Jenna actually had to ask if I was OK.)

Scott Eyre recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the 9th, Brad Lidge struck out Troy Tulowitzki swinging and I could breathe again. Bring on the Dodgers!

2006 Chachi #18 Ryan Madson

I was exhausted at work today, but it was worth it. I was one of the hundreds (thousands?) of Phillies fans in the Delaware Valley who stayed tuned in to the bitter end of Sunday night's/Monday morning's NLDS Game 3, and then reported to work this morning. The game took four hours and six minutes to play, with Raul Ibañez catching the final out at 2:14 AM. I won’t go into the travesty of scheduling a crucial playoff baseball game at this late hour. Others more eloquent than I have opined on the greed and short-sightedness that allows Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig to deem 10:07 EST (on a Sunday night) as an acceptable start time for a Major League baseball game. What's truly a shame here is that this was a great ballgame, and not many Phillies (or East Coast baseball) fans were able to witness it.

Some other random thoughts and observations:
- I like how the Phillies manufactured their runs in this game. Their first run came on Chase Utley’s 1st inning solo home run, but the rest of their runs came from playing station to station baseball.

- Pedro Feliz grounding into a double play to kill the team’s 4th inning rally almost sent me to bed. Almost. His complete lack of patience at the plate (at times) drives me crazy.

- Should the Phils just start intentionally walking the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez? He’s a one-man wrecking crew and he added three more hits and scored three more runs in Game 3.

- Great clutch hitting by Carlos Ruiz to knock in two runs with RBI-singles in the 4th and 6th.

- Great clutch relieving by Ryan Madson to get out of first and third, no out situation in the 7th while allowing only one run to score on a sacrifice fly.

- The Utley incident . . . In the top of the 9th, Chase Utley reached on what appeared to be a foul ball that bounced off his leg. Except the umpires didn't call it that way and Chase never stopped running towards first. Any other baseball player would have probably stopped and a foul ball would have been called. Chase instinctively ran towards 1st and the play was key to the go-ahead 9th inning run the Phillies would eventually score.

- Brad Lidge gets the save. I groaned out loud when Scott Franzke announced Lidge was the only pitcher warming up in the bullpen prior to the bottom of the 9th. He made it interesting, but he got the job done.

2009 Chachi #69 NLDS Game 3/Chase Utley

NLDS Game 3 - October 11, 2009
Phillies 6, Rockies 5

Too sleepy for coherent sentences . . .

Happy Columbus Day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2004 Bowman Heritage #41 Bobby Abreu

Bobby Abreu and the Los Angeles Angels completed an improbable comeback this afternoon to win the first round of the American League playoffs and sweep the Boston Red Sox out of the Postseason. In ascending order of importance, this means the following to me:

1. The Phillies will not face the Red Sox in the World Series and we'll have to wait another year for a rematch of the 1915 Fall Classic.

2. If the Yankees advance to the ALCS, I don't have to have Fox and MLB remind me why the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is classic and Beyond Baseball.

3. If the Twins win tonight (hopefully), the start time for Monday's NLDS Game 4 between the Phils and Rockies will be 5pm at the earliest. If the Yankees win tonight, the game will start at 7pm. Had the Red Sox lost and if the Twins win tonight, Monday's NLDS Game 4 would have been played at 2pm, and I would have had to finagle my way out of yet another afternoon of work.