Wednesday, October 27, 2010

World Series Apathy

2008 Chachi #84
I have vivid memories of watching most of the World Series games from the early '80s through the early '90s.  I didn't miss a pitch, and I often stayed up way past my bedtime in order to watch every inning of every game, every year.  But then something happened after the 1994 season - I started to lose interest.  Part of it was due to the emotional fall-out from the baseball strike and part of it was because the Phillies were just so bad during those years, and I wasn't personally invested in the teams playing in the Fall Classic.  This reached its nadir with the 1998 World Series, as I barely watched any of the games.  I have similar feelings about this year's World Series, but for different reasons.  Under different circumstances, in a year in which the NL representative hadn't broken my heart by steam rolling over the Phillies, I might have been intrigued by a Giants-Rangers match-up.  But given the circumstances, I'm barely paying attention to Game 1 as I type this.

2010 Topps Heritage #306
Since 1995, here are my personal bottom five World Series, in descending order, that left me completely disinterested.  (No disrespect to any of these teams or their fans is intended by this ranking.  I'm sure a lot of people were completely bored with the last two World Series match-ups in 2008 and 2009.)

5.  2010 - Giants vs. Rangers
I'm rooting for the Rangers here, but it's not like I'll lose sleep if the Giants win.  I'd like to see Cliff Lee do well and I'd like to see Pat Burrell strike out looking to end the series, with the go-ahead run on first base.  (Wait, that already happened this year.)

2007 Topps #280
 4.  2007 - Red Sox swept the Rockies, 4-0
Nothing against Red Sox Nation, but this series bored me.  The Sox had broken the "curse" just three years earlier in exhilarating fashion and the Rockies had manhandled the Phillies in the NLDS.  After scratching and clawing to get into the Postseason, the quick exit by the Phillies left me deflated and I found myself wanting the Rockies to fail.  Thankfully, they did, but I didn't watch much of their dismantling by the Sox.

3.  2003 - Marlins over the Yankees, 4-2
With their sixth World Series appearance in an eight-year span, the Yankees were flat out annoying by this point.  As a baseball fan, I could appreciate their return to the Fall Classic in 1996.  By 2003, as a card-carrying Yankee-Hater, I had had enough.  I also wasn't a big fan of the Marlins, as I'm not really fond of any of the other NL East teams.  This was also the first year of the "This Time It Counts" campaign in which the league winning the All-Star Game was awarded home field advantage.  The whole series seemed like a contrived, hyped Fox-Fest and I don't recall staying up to watch the end of many of these games.  I had to look up the details of this series, as I honestly couldn't remember anything spectacular about it.

1998 Topps #434
2.  1998 - Yankees swept the Padres, 4-0
This World Series marked the first (and probably only) time I barely watched any of the games.  I had recently moved to a new city for a new job.  I was out of town (Charlotte? Atlanta?) for a new hire training, staying in a hotel room with a co-worker I barely knew, during the duration of the series.  Roomie was not a baseball fan, and we ended up watching mostly what he wanted to watch.  In retrospect, I could have just gone down to the hotel bar to watch the games, but I just didn't have the energy.  Apparently, neither did the Padres.

2000 Topps #223
1.  2000 - Yankees over the Mets, 4-1
This was the most over-hyped, over-analyzed, over-everything World Series in the history of the game.  For a Phillies fan, or as a non-New York fan for that matter, this was like asking someone would you rather be mauled by a brown bear or a black bear.  The games were actually a little interesting, but when you vehemently want neither team to win, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.  As evidence of how muddled my knowledge of Yankees and Mets recent Postseason history truly is, I could have sworn this was the year former-Phillie Todd Pratt hit his dramatic walk-off home run to win a game for the Mets in the NLCS.  Turns out that actually happened in Game 4 of the 1999 NLDS against the Diamondbacks.

Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 Chachi #70 NLCS Game 6/Ryan Howard

Giants 3, Phillies 2
NLCS Game 6 - Saturday Night, October 23rd in Philadelphia

This one was tough. 

I've adopted renowned psychiatrist's Elisabeth Kübler-Ross' five stages of grief model to try to make sense of this loss and to prepare myself for the offseason.  In her research, Dr. Kübler-Ross claims these five stages don't necessarily need to occur in order, nor is each stage limited to just one turn.  The stages could occur rapid-fire, or one stage could linger longer than another stage.  This was helpful to know, as I believe I bounced around between the Shock, Anger, Bargaining and Pain stages several times throughout Game 6.  She describes this as a "roller coaster" effect in her research, and my notes below document my progress through the stages.

Wait . . . what?  Ryan Howard just struck out looking to end the NLCS?  Looking?  What do you mean we haven't been able to score since the first inning?  Where's the offense?  How is it possible that Chase Utley's double in the first inning was the first time the Phillies had a first inning hit all series?  How does Jimmy Rollins not score on Howard's double in the fifth?  But Ryan Madson has been pitching so well . . . I can't believe he hung that meatball to that meatball.  Is it really over?

The Giants are celebrating on our field.  Pat Burrell looks as happy as he did when the Phillies won in 2008.  This is awful.

But we have the best record in baseball!  We're supposed to go to the World Series again!  I have tickets to Game 6!  That closer's jet-black pirate lumberjack beard looks ridiculous!  How dare you drill Utley in the back and then have the gall - the GALL - to shout something in his general direction, Mr. "Knocked Out in the Third Inning" Sanchez!  Swing the bat, Ryan!  Swing the ratz-a-fratzin' bat!  AAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!

They've got to be playing hurt, right?  I mean, there's no way this offense could have 55 strikeouts in the series or go just 8 for 45 with runners in scoring position.  If we just had one more inning to try again.  If Carlos Ruiz' liner was just a few inches to the left of Aubrey Huff's glove and if Shane Victorino hadn't wandered so far off second base, we could have avoided that double play to end the eighth and it would have resulted in a huge rally.  I call do-over.

This blows.

It's only a game.  The Big 3 will be back in 2011.  We're probably going to lose Jayson Werth to free agency, but the rest of the line-up will be back.  At least we're not the Cubs.  We'll be fine.  It would have been awesome to go to World Series Game 6, but now there's $300 towards my 2011 partial season ticket plan in my account.  Not to mention I'll actually get some sleep this week.  Is anyone on the East Coast actually going to watch this World Series?  Whatever.  Spring Training's not that far away.  Maybe we can sign Cliff Lee.

And repeat.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 Phillies Team Issue Phillie Phanatic

Pitchers and catchers will report to Clearwater, Florida in mid-February.

I'll report back to this blog in a few days.

Let's go Rangers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giants at Phillies: October 23 through October 24th

NLCS Games 6 and 7
Saturday and Sunday 7:57

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter
Mini Black #228
What's What:  The Phillies need to win two in a row to defeat the Giants in the NLCS and advance to the World Series for the third year in a row.  Much has been made of this feat, as they would become the first National League team to pull this off since the 1942-1944 St. Louis Cardinals.  They'd face the Texas Rangers in their first World Series and the Yankees will be watching from home.  Tensions will be high in my household this weekend.

Message for the Phillies:  Just win.

Updated Prediction:  Phillies in 7.

Giants Probables: Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain
Phillies Probables: Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels

Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 Chachi #69 NLCS Game 5/Halladay, Lidge & Ruiz

Phillies 4, Giants 2
NLCS Game 5 - Thursday Night, October 21st in San Francisco

If the Phillies go on to win Game 6 and Game 7 of the NLCS and advance to the World Series, it would be easy to look back at the third inning of last night's game as the moment when everything turned around for the team.  Before discussing the third inning though, we need to revisit the bottom of the second, when Roy Halladay apparently pulled his groin throwing a fastball to Cody Ross.  Halladay informed Rich Dubee and Charlie Manuel after the inning that something wasn't right, and he also informed them he would not be coming out of the game.  He gutted his way through six innings, allowing six hits and just the two Giants runs in the biggest start of his career.

Back to the third inning - Raul Ibañez singled and Carlos Ruiz was hit with a Tim Lincecum changeup to put the first two runners on with Halladay coming up.  Halladay bunted the first pitch he saw for a foul ball.  Except the home plate umpire didn't call it foul and Giants' third baseman Pablo Sandoval couldn't find the bag after catcher Buster Posey fired the ball down to him.  Ibañez was safe at third and Sandoval threw over to first to retire a confused Halladay.  Next, Shane Victorino slapped a grounder to first baseman Aubrey Huff, who booted the ball into the outfield for a crucial two-run error.  Placido Polanco brought home Victorino with an RBI-single and all of the sudden it was 3-1, Phillies.  The Giants, who had played nearly flawless baseball through the first four games of the series, were starting to show a few chinks in their armor.

The Giants countered in the fourth with back-to-back doubles from Pat Burrell and Cody Ross.  Ross, however, was cut down at third with a perfect throw from Jayson Werth when Ross tried to advance on a fly ball to left.  Things were going right for the Phillies.  It was 3-2, Phillies, until Werth added a solo home run in the ninth to give Brad Lidge a little wiggle room.

Following Halladay's departure after six innings, the Phillies' bullpen was exceptional.  Needing just 37 pitches to retire the Giants in the final three innings, Jose Contreras, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Lidge allowed just one hit while striking out five.  Madson was particularly impressive, striking out the side (the heart of the order no less) in the eighth.

So now what?  The Phils come back home for the weekend with Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels ready to prolong the season.  Being down three games to two isn't an enviable position, but because of last night's win, and Halladay's gutsy performance, there's now at least a glimmer of hope.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2010 Topps Factory Set Phillies Team Bonus #PHI5 Jayson Werth

It's not over yet.

Game 6, Saturday.

Go Phils!

2010 Chachi #68 NLCS Game 4/Carlos Ruiz

Giants 6, Phillies 5
NLCS Game 4 - Wednesday Night, October 20th in San Francisco

Composing these game summary posts and creating a Chachi card to commemorate the game is much easier and certainly much funner when the Phillies win.  I'd love to write about the bat-around in the fifth inning that saw the team score four times.  That was fun to watch.  I'd much rather center a game summary post around the back-to-back doubles from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth in the eighth that tied the game at five-all.  And more than anything, I'd love to have this post celebrating an extra inning win featuring a key go-ahead Phillies' run followed by a shut-down inning from Brad Lidge or starting pitcher/left fielder/relief pitcher Roy Oswalt.

But the images fresh in my mind are Carlos Ruiz getting thrown out at the plate in the fifth, Joe Blanton uncorking two wild pitches in the first, Blanton and Chad Durbin allowing lead-off walks to start the fifth and sixth innings, Chase Utley constantly hanging his head and looking as if someone had just shot his horse, and finally, Juan Uribe prancing around as his sacrifice fly to left scored Aubrey Huff with the winning run.  (And it hurts too that Pat Burrell is having so much fun at the expense of his former team.)

I'm not going to lie here - I'm grumpy.  I have a cold, I'm tired, and the Phillies are on the brink of calling it a season.  With those symptoms, a Doctor is definitely needed.

The Silent Treatment:  It's been well documented that I mute the TV and listen to the Phillies' radio broadcast during the regular season and especially during the Postseason.  (Joe Buck free since '07!)  But here's another little idiosyncrasy - when the Giants came to bat from the sixth inning on tonight, I muted the radio broadcast too.  That's right, I sat in silence and stared at my TV screen.  Seemed less stressful that way.  So I have yet to hear the audio of Juan Uribe's sac fly in the ninth, and I hope to never hear it.  (By the way, just by pure accident, I recently saw the last out of the 2009 World Series for the first time.  I had turned off the TV right before the final out was recorded last November.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010 Chachi #67 NLCS Game 3/Shane Victorino

Giants 3, Phillies 0
NLCS Game 3 - Tuesday Afternoon, October 19th in San Francisco

Crap, Part II.

Today's NLCS Game 3 was far more frustrating than enjoyable.  The Phils mustered just three singles (Carlos Ruiz in the third, Ryan Howard in the fourth, Jimmy Rollins in the ninth) on the way to being shut out by Matt Cain, Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson.  They had runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, fifth, and seventh innings, but left all of them stranded.  The offense looked awful.

Cole Hamels threw a decent ballgame as the Giants really didn't hit many balls hard off him all afternoon.  He was perfect through three innings, but surrendered RBI singles to Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in the fourth.  The Giants scored an unearned* run in the fifth when Chase Utley botched a Freddy Sanchez liner, allowing their third and final run to cross the plate.  (*This was later changed to a hit, which seems like a blatant case of home-team scoring.)  Hamels threw six innings while allowing just four hits (five, officially) while striking out eight.

This was the first time the Phillies had been shut out in a Postseason game since Game 5 of the 1983 World Series when the Orioles' Scott McGregor pitched a five-hit shutout.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.  Game 4 can't come soon enough.

2010 Chachi #66 NLCS Game 2/Roy Oswalt & Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 6, Giants 1
NLCS Game 2 - Sunday Night, October 17th in Philadelphia

Roy Oswalt pitched a gem in Game 2, and Jimmy Rollins found his swing (temporarily) as the Phillies tied up the NLCS at one game a piece.  Sunday night's game is already old news following the deflating loss in Game 3 this afternoon, so I'll keep the summary simple.  Three things stood out for me in Game 2:

1.  Oswalt is awesome.  He pitched eight dominant innings, limiting the Giants to three hits and a run while striking out nine.  (Damn you, Cody Ross.)  With the Phillies holding a slim 2-1 lead, he led off the seventh with a single.   He was sacrificed over to second by Shane Victorino and he came around to score on a Placido Polanco base hit when he blew past third base coach Sam Perlozzo's stop sign and slid safely home.  It was a play that could have gone so very wrong, but it went right for the Phils and the gutsy play energized the home crowd.  And it woke me up a little.

2.  The Phillies got lucky in the first and manufactured a run in the fifth.  They scored their first run in the first inning without the benefit of a hit off Giants' starter Jonathan Sanchez - walk, error, walk, walk.  In the fifth, Victorino reached on a lead-off double, moved to third on Chase Utley's sacrifice fly and came home on Polanco's sacrifice fly.  This run turned out to be the winning run in the ballgame.

3.  I got one of my wishes, and Rollins hit a ball out of the infield, batting from his much weaker left side no less.  Rollins' clutch, two-out, bases-loaded double in the seventh cleared the bases and made the game comfortable for the Phils.

And there you have it.  The series was tied up at 1-1, both teams boarded flights to San Francisco and all was right with the world.  Until they started playing again on Tuesday afternoon . . .

Phillies at Giants: October 19th through October 21st

NLCS Games 3, 4 and 5
Tuesday 4:19, Wednesday and Thursday 7:57

What's What:  The series is tied at one game a piece after the Giants and Phillies split at Citizens Bank Park.  It's now a best of five series and the Phillies need to take two out of three in San Francisco.  Three out of three would be awesome, but I don't want to appear greedy.

2010 Chachi Update:  I still need to find a few spare moments to create card #66 in this year's Chachi set for NLCS Game 2.  I'd like to feature the stars of the game, Roy Oswalt and Jimmy Rollins, on the card.  Any ideas for the tagline to use for the card?  Roy O. and J. Roll Deliver Victory?  Phils Take Game 2 Behind Roy & Jimmy?  I Would Have Rather Had Tickets for Game 2?

2010 Topps #372
Work It:  A busy work schedule has curtailed my ability to post more regularly during the NLCS.  However, I was successful in scheduling just one meeting today, from 10 until 2.  Shortly after the meeting ends, I will politely excuse myself as I deal with the cold/stomach virus/hangnail/headache I've recently contracted.  In my office, this illness is unofficially referred to as Red Phever.  Red Phever can only be cured by disconnecting from work and focusing on a Phillies' baseball game.  You can look it up.

King Cole and Big Brown: Cole Hamels hopes to build upon his NLDS Game 3 shutout and shut down the Giants' offense.  Ryan Howard hopes to find his power stroke and connect for his first home run of the Postseason.  (Although Howard's hitting .429 in the NLCS with two doubles, he has yet to drive in a run.)

Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay
Giants Probables: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 Topps Chrome #116 Jimmy Rollins

I have to get up crazy early tomorrow morning, so the Chachi card for NLCS Game 2 will need to wait a few days.  It's 1-1 in the 5th inning as I write this, and I have a few wishes:

- I wish Jimmy Rollins would start hitting the ball out of the infield.
- I wish the Phillies would score 10 runs in the final four innings of the game.
- I wish Ryan Howard would find his home run stroke.
- I wish I could get into my time machine, go back to August 22nd, and convince the Phillies to claim Cody Ross off waivers before the Giants did.

2010 Chachi #65 NLCS Game 1/Raul Ibañez & Ryan Howard

Giants 4, Phillies 3
NLCS Game 1 - Saturday Night, October 16th in Philadelphia


Cody Ross, Tim Lincecum and Pat Burrell defeated the Phillies last night in Game 1 of the NLCS, 4-3.  It was a gorgeous night for October baseball, and Jenna and I enjoyed viewed the game from Section 210 down the first base line.  All seemed well through the first two innings, as Roy Halladay cruised through the first seven batters in the Giants' line-up.  And then Cody Ross (ex-Marlin, Phillie-killer Cody Ross) homered to left.  Carlos "Choochtober" Ruiz matched Ross' solo shot with one of his own in the bottom of the third.  But in the fifth, Ross once agin sent another solo home run into the left field bleachers, to seemingly the same exact spot.

The game was still in reach for the Phillies, but Lincecum was easily shutting down the line-up.  When it was all done, he had out duelled Halladay, pitching seven strong innings while allowing three runs on six hits while striking out eight.  Halladay coughed up another two runs in the sixth.  Our old friend Pat the Bat did us in when he hit a "double" to the man who replaced him, Raul Ibañez.  (Burrell should have been called out on strikes on the pitch before his double, but Halladay didn't get the call.)  Ibañez, who should have been able to catch the ball, jumped when he didn't need to jump and the ball squirted away allowing the Giants' to score their third run.  Juan Uribe singled to bring home pinch-runner Nate Schierholtz one batter later, and it was 4-1 Giants.

Jayson Werth's two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth provided some momentary excitement at the ballpark, but the Phils would fall one run short of tying it up.  They just weren't able to put anything together against the bullpen duo of Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson.  Wilson, he of the bizarre, dyed-black lumberjack beard, recorded his four-out save with four strikeouts of the punchless Phils.  (I was hoping for a repeat of Wilson's performance in the April 28th game.)  In total, the Phils struck out 13 times - led by Ryan Howard's and Jimmy Rollins' three strikeouts a piece.
Nice program, small scorecard

The loss was the Phillies' first Game 1 loss in a Postseason series since they lost to the Rockies in the 2007 NLDS.  I'm hoping the outcome of this series is much better than the outcome of that series.  I'm not going to spout back the depressing NLCS records of teams that lost Game 1 or recount the "odds" of the Phillies coming back to take this series.  I'll be repeating the following in my head throughout the day today:  It's one game.  It's a best of seven series.  The Phils need to win tonight.  Go Phils!

No Score:  I wanted to keep score last night, but I was daunted by the super small scorecard provided as an insert to the NLCS program.  I'll bring my own next time.

Cat Calls:  Cat calls broke out in the stands whenever Lincecum came to the plate.  It started as one guy near our section and it soon went viral, as you could hear the whistles echoing throughout the stadium throughout his at-bats.  It was a moment of much needed levity during an otherwise angst-ridden game.

Best Sign:  A group of fans in left field unfurled this sign in the bottom of the first inning - "Pat . . . Elvis Roots for the Phillies."  Elvis, of course, is Burrell's bulldog who rode with Burrell during the 2008 World Series parade down Broad Street.  Elvis was a frequent visitor to the Phillies' locker room during Burrell's tenure as a Phillie.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Giants at Phillies: October 16th through October 17th

NLCS Games 1 and 2
Saturday 7:57 and Sunday 8:19

Why not just go with 8:00 and 8:20?  Seems silly.

How they got here:  The NL East Champion Phillies swept the Reds in the NLDS, 3 games to none.  They pitched brilliantly, but didn't hit much.  The NL West Champion Giants defeated the Braves in the NLDS, 4 games to one.  They pitched brilliantly, but didn't hit much. 

Roster Moves:  The Phils dropped Phillies Room favorite Greg Dobbs from the NLCS roster and added pitcher Kyle Kendrick, opting to go with 11 pitchers for the potential 7-game series.  Dobbs was one of five Phillies, along with Ross Gload, Brian Schneider, Joe Blanton and Antonio Bastardo to be on the NLDS roster, but not appear in a game.

2010 Topps Legendary Lineage #LL1
Other Stuff:  The last time these two teams faced each other, in mid-August, they were actually both battling for the NL Wild Card.  Since then, the Giants overcame a 3½ game deficit to knock the Padres out of the Postseason completely and the Phillies quickly erased the two games separating them with the Braves.

1975 Topps #PR1
The Phils and Giants have never faced each other in the Postseason, although they came very close in 1993, when the Giants finished just one game behind the Braves in the NL West.

First Pitch:  Former Giant (1972-1975) and Phillie (1975-1986) Garry Maddox will throw out the first pitch prior to Game 1.  Maddox was traded from the Giants to the Phillies in May 1975 for Willie Montanez.  Maddox was featured with the Giants in the 1975 Topps set, so I've presented here the 1975 Topps Traded card that should have been.  I've used a picture from the Phillies' 1976 Yearbook for this card.

Cool Idea:  Over at Capewood's Collections, you can track the baseball cards of all the key players from the Phillies' play-off teams, position by position.  Matt's doing the same for his Giants over at A Giant Blog.

Prediction:  So my plan this week to post the remaining 2010 Chachi cards (up to this point) fizzled.  Maybe I'll catch up during the Phillies' off days between the NLCS and World Series?  Phillies over the Giants in 5.

This is going to be fun.  Go Phils!

Giants Probables: Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez
Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt

Monday, October 11, 2010

2010 Chachi #64 Phillies NLDS Clincher HL

I knew all the so-called experts were picking the Phillies to roll over the Reds in the NLDS, and that worried me a little.  I was concerned about the best offense in the National League being able to find pitches to hit against the Phillies' Big 3.  Little did I know at the time that the Phillies' pitching would limit the Reds to just 11 hits and 4 runs during the 3-game sweep.  The mighty Reds hit a combined .124 in the series, which is a huge testament to the strength of the Phillies' staff.  Here's how it breaks down, as the Phillies swept a Postseason series for the first time in their history:

Reds vs. Roy Halladay & Cole Hamels - 5 for 58 (.087 average) with no runs scored and 17 strikeouts
Reds vs. Roy Oswalt - 5 for 21 (.238 average) with three earned runs and five strikeouts
Reds vs. Phillies bullpen - 1 for 10 (.100 average) with no runs scored and two strikeouts

I've decided not to worry about the lack of Phillies' offense (he types
tentatively).  As a team, the Phils hit .212 over the three games with just one home run and three doubles.  The lack of offense was almost a forgotten story given the pitching dominance of Halladay and Hamels, coupled with the Reds' defensive meltdown in Game 2.  However, in order for the Phillies to succeed against the Braves or Giants and advance to the World Series, the bats need to come to life.

Tweet of the Night:  Courtesy of Todd Zolecki - Phillies allowed just 11 hits in the series to set a Division Series record. Yankees allowed 13 hits in a sweep vs. Texas in 1998 ALDS.

Just Imagine:  How about a Phillies-Rangers World Series Game 1 match-up of Halladay against Cliff Lee? I know I'm getting ahead of myself here, but wouldn't that be cool?

This Week:  The Phillies Room will be resting for the NLCS.  We'll have daily work-outs and there will be the mandatory Q&A sessions with the ever-present media.  We may even have a few intra-squad games just to keep everyone fresh.  When the mood strikes, time permitting, I still want to post the remaining 2010 Chachi cards that haven't been publicly displayed yet.  (I know everyone's waiting for the Brian Bocock card.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

2010 Chachi #63 NLDS Game 3/Cole Hamels

Phillies 2, Reds 0
NLDS Game 3 - Sunday Night, October 10th in Cincinnati

It took the Phillies 34 years, but they finally avenged the Reds' sweep in the 1976 NLCS.  Cole Hamels' brilliant pitching performance led the Phils over the Reds, 2-0, and punched the team's ticket for their third straight NLCS.  Hamels limited the Reds to just five hits while striking out nine and walking none on the way to his first career Postseason shutout.  At one point, Hamels set down ten in a row until Ramon Hernandez' 2-out double in the seventh. 

How brilliant was Hamels?  I was nervous only twice this game, which may be my personal all-time low for a Phillies' Postseason game. 

I was a little nervous in the first when Hamels allowed a lead-off single to Drew Stubbs.  Brandon Phillips then launched a deep fly ball to center that seemed destined for at least a triple and it appeared as if the game would be tied.  However, Shane Victorino tracked the ball down for the out and the nerves subsided.  And I was nervous again the ninth when Phillips led off with a single and probable NL MVP Joey Votto stepped up to the plate.  Hamels, whose pitch count had already passed the century mark, induced a double play ball to second and the threat was over.  I found it somewhat fitting that former Phillie Scott Rolen struck out for the final out of the game.

2010 Topps Heritage #480
Going into this game, I thought it would be key for the Phillies to score first in order to apply even more pressure to the Reds.  They delivered.  Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard each singled in the first.  With two outs, Jayson Werth grounded to shortstop Orlando Cabrera, but Cabrera's wild throw to first allowed Polanco to score an unearned run.  Turns out, that's all Hamels would need, but Chase Utley added a solo home run in the fifth for a little extra insurance.  (Greg Luzinski gets a little bit of company.)

So now what?  The Phils wait.  The Giants and Braves will continue to battle it out to determine which team will face the Phils in the 2010 NLCS beginning Saturday in Philadelphia.  Three wins down, eight to go.

Go Phils!

Phillies at Reds: October 10th through October 11th

NLDS Game 3 & 4 (if necessary)
Sunday 8:07 & Monday 5:07

What's what:  The Phillies have a 2-0 lead in the best of five series.  If needed, and God willing it won't be, the two teams will come back to Philly for a Game 5 on Wednesday night.

1976 Topps #610
The Phillies as a team have done very little to win these first two games against the Reds.  Roy Halladay's no-hitter in Game 1 made the relative lack of offense by the Phillies (other than Shane Victorino) a non-story.  The Phillies had absolutely no business winning Game 2, but the Reds' pitchers' decision to go wild and the Reds' shoddy defense conspired to hand the game over to the home team.

To date, the only Phillies' home run against the Reds in the Postseason came back on October 10, 1976, 34 years ago today, when Greg Luzinski hit a solo 5th inning home run against Pat Zachry in Game 2 of the '76 NLCS at the Vet.  Let's hope The Bull gets some company in that category today.

Same prediction:  Phillies in 3.

Phillies Probables: Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay (probably not necessary)
Reds Probables: Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2010 Chachi #62 NLDS Game 2/Chase Utley

Phillies 7, Reds 4
NLDS Game 2 - Friday Evening, October 8th in Philadelphia

The Phillies somehow won a complete mess of game on Friday night, taking a 2-0 lead in the best of five series with the Reds.  This game could not have been more different than the gem turned in by Roy Halladay just a few nights before.  I should have known immediately it was going to be a rough night when upon taking the first bite of my grilled Italian sausage (with onions and peppers), the sausage broke through the bottom of the roll and left me with a hot pile of what used to be my dinner.  We had seats in Section 145 in center field, and despite the Italian sausage mishap, we thoroughly enjoyed the game.

The first four innings were rough - the Phillies weren't doing a thing offensively against Bronson Arroyo and the Reds had taken advantage of some average pitching from Roy Oswalt.  Heading into the bottom of the 5th, it was 4-0 Reds and Domonic Brown was waiting to pinch hit for Oswalt.  And that's when it started to get interesting for the Phillies.  I'm not going to try to completely summarize here what went down in the Phillies' half of the 5th, 6th and 7th innings and if you're brave enough, please try to follow along with my scorecard below.  At one point in the 7th, I turned to Jenna and said, "I honestly have no idea what's going on."  It was sometimes difficult to determine scoring decisions and it was even more difficult to see what was happening on the field through the occasional, jubilant white-out of waving rally towels.

But here are the highlights (or the lowlights if you're a Reds' fan):
- The Phils scored two unearned runs in the 5th after Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen booted successive ground balls, and Chase Utley atoned for his two earlier errors with a clutch 2-out single.
- Shane Victorino walked with the bases loaded in the 6th after both Carlos Ruiz and Ben Francisco were drilled with pitches.
- And then there's the 7th inning.  The inning began with Reds' phenom Aroldis Chapman hitting 101 on the radar with his first few pitches to Utley.  He then "hit" Utley to put the Phillies' lead-off man on base.
(In his post game interview, Charlie Manuel was asked how bad Utley had been hit.  Without missing a beat, he responded, "Bad enough to take his base.")
- Queue the calliope music:  The Phillies scored the tying and go-ahead runs when right fielder Jay Bruce completely lost a Jimmy Rollins' line drive in the lights.  Phillips botched the relay throw once the ball had been tracked down and that was that.

I had a tough time deciding on a picture for this Chahci card, but I eventually settled on a shot of Utley scoring the tying run while Reds' catcher Ryan Hanigan sums up the feelings of the Reds perfectly:  "Wait . . . what just happened?"

In summary, the game had six errors, only two of the Phillies' seven runs were earned, all eight of the Phillies' hits were singles, they left thirteen men on base . . . and they now have a 2-0 lead in the NLDS.

And the scorecard shows, or at least tries to show, how it happened.  Kind of.  I think.*

*Please see here for more discernable scorecards.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

1971 Topps #598 Rick Wise

Other Game 1 Stuff

The last time the Cincinnati Reds were no-hit? Back on June 23, 1971, when Phillies' pitcher Rick Wise no-hit the Reds and hit two home runs in the process. The Phillies also won that game by a score of 4-0. Pete Rose lined out to third baseman John Vukovich for the final out of the game.

In a postgame interview, former manager and current special assistant to the GM Dallas Green revealed he was at Yankee Stadium when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series. How many other people can claim to have personally attended both of these historic games? Pretty cool.

I wonder why the Phillies didn’t wear their alternate home day uniforms? The official start time for the game was 5:07, so I guess this crossed the day-night threshold? The Phils took the field in their traditional home white pinstriped uniforms.

Doug asked me tonight why we root against the Yankees.  The only way I could think to explain this so that he would understand:  "It's because the Yankees use the Dark Side of the Force."  He gets it now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 Chachi #61 NLDS Game 1/Roy Halladay

Phillies 4, Reds 0
NLDS Game 1 - Late Wednesday Afternoon, October 6th in Philadelphia

"Come here, Doug.  You have to watch this.  I want you to remember this."  A father to his son, as the bottom of the 9th inning began.

In his first Postseason start after 13 seasons in the Majors, Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in play-off history.  He was amazing.  He was dominating.  He was . . . unhittable.  Halladay allowed just one baserunner when Jay Bruce drew a walk with two outs in the 5th.  (A few of the balls to Bruce were borderline.)  Halladay joins Yankees' pitcher Don Larsen as the only two pitchers in history to throw a no-hitter in Postseason play.  Larsen of course threw a perfect game against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.  (Sorry, Night Owl.)

Halladay needed just 104 pitches (79 for strikes!) to mow through the Reds' line-up - the best hitting team in the National League.  With two outs in the 9th, Brandon Phillips hit a swinging bunt that rolled slowly up the first base line.  Dropping to his knees, catcher Carlos Ruiz grabbed the ball and threw out Phillips at first to secure history. 
2010 Topps 206 #350

The Phillies jumped on Reds' starter Edinson Volquez early.  Shane Victorino doubled with one out in the 1st, stole third and came home on Chase Utley's sacrifice fly.  They scored their three 2nd inning runs all with two outs.  Ruiz walked, Wilson Valdez singled and Halladay (!) brought home Ruiz with an RBI-single to left that left fielder Johnny Gomes maybe should have caught.  After Jimmy Rollins walked, Victorino drove in Valdez and Halladay with a single to center.  Four runs were more than enough for the Doctor.

And by the way:  With the win, the Phils took a 1-0 lead in the NLDS.

Other Game 1 Stuff:  Placido Polanco was a late scratch with a bad back.  Valdez, who has been invaluable this season, filled in nicely at third.  Prior to the game, Valdez opted to dye his goatee red.  Victorino's 1st inning double was his 34th Postseason hit, moving him past Mike Schmidt for first place on the team's all-time Postseason hits list.  Former reliever Scott Eyre threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game.  I love this team.

Reds at Phillies: October 6th through October 8th

NLDS Games 1 & 2
Wednesday 5:07 & Friday 6:07

How they got here: Reds, NL Central Champions; Phillies, NL East Champions

Reds Postseason Appearances: 1919, 1939, 1940, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990, 1995, 2010

Phillies Postseason Appearances: 1915, 1950, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1993, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010
1976 Topps #407

This is the second time these teams have met in Postseason play, with the Reds sweeping the Phils, 3-0, in the 1976 NLCS.  The '76 Reds would go on to sweep the Yankees in the World Series, 4-0, as the Big Red Machine won their second straight title.

When Roy Halladay throws his first pitch on Wednesday afternoon, it will be the first pitch thrown by a Phillies' pitcher to a Reds' batter in the play-offs since Tom Underwood allowed a ninth inning single to Ken Griffey back on October 12, 1976.  Griffey's single scored Davey Concepcion from third and capped a 3-run inning by the Reds, sending them to a 7-6 victory.  The bottom of the 9th had started with the Phils holding a 6-4 lead.  However, Ron Reed allowed back-to-back home runs to George Foster and Johnny Bench to allow the Reds to tie the game.

Prediction: Phillies in 3. (This is The Phillies Room, after all.  What did you expect?)

Reds Probables: Edison Volquez, Bronson Arroyo
Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2006 Topps #41 Rheal Cormier

Braves 8, Phillies 7
Game 162 - Sunday Afternoon, October 3rd in Atlanta

From 1984 until 1992 and again from 1995 until just a few years ago, I used to tune in to the final Phillies' broadcast and watch the game until the announcers were just about to sign off.  Harry Kalas always ended the broadcast reminding everyone when the next game would be, and at the end of Game 162, he'd say something along the lines of, "The Phillies' next game will be in March 1987 from Clearwater, Florida."  It always seemed to be so far away, but it always gave us a little bit of hope.  Maybe next year . . .

For the past several years, the final game of the regular season has not meant the end of the season for the Phillies and for that, I'm grateful.  This year, the team's 97-65 record means they have the best record in the Majors for the first time in franchise history.  Let me state that again:  For the first time since the franchise came into existence in 1883, the Phillies have finished the season with the best record in baseball.

The Braves defeated the Phils on Sunday afternoon in what was little more than a warm-up for the NLDS.  Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt got in some work, while Danys Baez and Joe Blanton were knocked around a little.  John Mayberry, Jr. and Jayson Werth both hit home runs for the Phils.  The Braves' win coupled with the Padres loss gave them the NL Wild Card.  The Phillies will meet up with the Reds in the NLDS, while the Braves and Giants will get together to decide which two teams will advance to the NLCS.  Go Phils!

#37:  In other, more self-indulgent news, Sunday was my birthday.  To celebrate the day, and to give a small hint as to my current age, I'm featuring a baseball card of Jenna's favorite all-time left-handed relief pitcher, Rheal Cormier.

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 Chachi Ex-Phillies #X8 Scott Eyre

This Chachi card of retired reliever Scott Eyre carries one important message:  Chillax.  Postseason posting to commence shortly.

(Game 162 summary also coming soon.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Chachi #45 Vance Worley

Phillies 7, Braves 0
Game 161 - Saturday Afternoon, October 2nd in Atlanta

The Phillies won the penultimate game of the 2010 regular season, breaking through against the Braves' bullpen and scoring all their runs in the final three innings.  The Braves' loss sets up the intriguing possibility of a 3-way Wild Card tie that could result in the necessity of play-off games on Monday and Tuesday involving the Braves, Padres and Giants.  Those three teams are vying for the remaining two play-off spots.

Five Phillies pitchers combined to shutout the Braves, who only managed three hits against the quintet.  Rookie Vance Worley started things off with five solid innings and he was followed by Antonio Bastardo, Danys Baez, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras.

The Phils started their scoring in the 7th when pinch-runner Brian Bocock came in to score on a Chase Utley single.  Bocock should have been retired on a double play ball, but Braves' third baseman Brooks Conrad threw Placido Polanco's grounder into center field for a huge error.  Six more runs were tacked on by the Phils aided by singles, a wild pitch, another Braves' error, a Wilson Valdez double and a bases loaded walk to John Mayberry, Jr.

A series sweep this afternoon would end the season on a high note and eliminate the Braves from playing further into October.

2010 Topps 206 #178 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 11, Braves 5
Game 160 - Friday Night, October 1st in Atlanta

I've included the following John Lennon quote in the signature line of my e-mail for the past decade:  "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  The line is from Lennon's song "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)," written for his youngest son Sean as a part lullaby, part words of wisdom as Sean heads out into the world.  The message in the quote is simple - despite all your plans and schedules, life happens at its own pace, whether you like it or not. 

Over the past week, Phillies games have gone on as we were busy making other plans - namely, moving my Dad into an apartment where he'll be closer to my sister and me and (for lack of a more appropriate phrase) getting his crap together health-wise.  As such, after a long day of packing, moving and unpacking on Friday, I remember sinking into our couch on Friday night, turning on the game and promptly falling asleep.

The Phils stalled the Braves' play-off chances by taking the first game of a three-game series in definitive fashion.  The game was never even close, as the Braves tacked on three meaningless 9th inning runs against reliever Mike ZagurskiKyle Kendrick was credited with the win, his 11th of the season, and the bullpen got in some warm-up time as they prepare for the Reds (or the Giants or the Padres) in the NLDS.

Jimmy Rollins broke the game open with a grand slam in the 6th inning.  Ryan Howard went 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs and Carlos Ruiz enjoyed a 3-hit night.

One more thing . . . A Paul McCartney line is appropriate to end this post:  "It's getting better all the time."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Phillies at Braves: October 1st through October 3rd

Friday 7:35, Saturday 4:10, Sunday 1:35

Records: Phillies 95-64, 1st Place in NL East (5 games ahead of the Braves); Braves 90-69, 2nd Place in NL East (5 games behind the Phillies).  The Phils have clinched the NL East, and the Braves currently have a game and a half lead over the Padres for the NL Wild Card.

1984 Fleer #182
This is it.  At the beginning of the summer, this Braves' series loomed ominously as the final series of the season.  I had visions of the Phils being three back with just these three games to play and having my stomach tied in knots for the weekend.  Instead, for the Phillies, the games are essentially meaningless.  With the division clinched and home field advantage secured, all that remains is to figure out which team will be flying into Philly to start the NLDS on Wednesday.  Any combination of Braves wins and Padres losses totalling three, and the Phils will play the Reds in the NLDS.  If that doesn't happen, it gets too confusing for me to decipher here, but there's the possibility the Phils could face off against either the Giants or Padres in the NLDS instead.

These are also the final regular season games to be managed by Braves' manager Bobby Cox.  While I don't have a Phillies-themed Bobby Cox baseball card to feature here, I do have this lovely card of Braves' current first base coach, Glenn Hubbard.  This picture appears to have been taken during one of the Phanatic's early '80s birthday celebrations, typically held on a Sunday, and typically featuring a circus-like atmosphere.

Phillies Probables: Kyle Kendrick, TBD (maybe Cole Hamels), TBD (maybe Vance Worley)
Braves Probables: Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson

Charlie Manuel has already announced that Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt will not pitch again during the regular season.