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Oct
15
2009
Posted by at 2:42 pm ET 169 Comments

Phillies.Clinch.2009.NLDS

Whew. That was pretty exciting, wasn’t it? I’m still recovering (mentally and physically) from Monday night’s 5-4 comeback win over the Rockies, a victory that sent the Phillies into the NLCS for the second straight year. It’s amazing, really: The Phillies, who have spent most of my life being an absolutely horrid team — my grandfather used to tell that old joke about how they’re the strongest team in the National League, because they’re always holding everyone else up at the bottom — are now in the NLCS! Again! I’m still trying to wrap my head around this.

And, of course, it’s time for a prediction. The obvious answer here is Phillies in 5, because I can’t make lame jokes about how these games are going to finish for more than five games. (For the record, before the postseason I picked the Phillies in 6.)

Game 1
This is the one the Phillies are going to lose, unfortunately. Cole Hamels, who will drive out to the mound on his Camaro, will celebrate his return to the NLCS by giving up a home run to some crappy player, as he seems to have done all season. Let’s say Dodgers, 6-3. The New York Times‘s game recap will mention how we are one step closer to the first ever performance-enhancing drug free World Series. Larry Bowa celebrates the NLCS Game 1 win by calling a reporter over to a side room and sucker-punching him as he enters (this actually happened, when Bowa was a Phillies SS).

Game 2
The Phillies fight back with… oh, let’s say, Pedro Martinez on the mound. After giving up a first-inning three-run homer, Martinez shuts down the Dodgers and the Phillies rally for a 7-4 victory. After Jimmy Rollins hits the go-ahead homer, Shane Victorino celebrates by saying, “Fuck yeah, mofos! I’m gonna be celebrating this crazy fuckin’ win all night!” TBS plays the video three times.

Game 3
The series returns to Philadelphia and Cliff Lee tosses a complete-game shutout and a 4-0 win for the Phillies. TBS’s Chip Caray announces postgame that the Dodgers have taken a 3-0 series lead with their incredible 15-12 victory tonight, thanks to four homers by Jackie Robinson. The Phillies’ newest fan club, the Lee Pack, celebrates.

Game 4
The Phillies coast in this one, 10-5; in other good news for those of us watching at home, George Lopez’s late night talk show is canceled before it begins and the avocado goes extinct.

Game 5
What else? The Phillies win this one, 7-5, on a 2-run homer by Matt Stairs in the bottom of the eighth. Brad Lidge closes out the game and celebrates by calling Rob Neyer into a side room offering him out for continuing to harp on how bad he was all season. (That’s the job of Phillies’ fans!) The Phillies’ new newest fan club, the Hamels Flotilla, celebrates. The Times laments that noted drug-free player Manny Ramirez will not make the World Series; ESPN attempts to hold its own alternate Series after the Yankees are, too, eliminated by a walkoff walk by Bobby Abreu (ALCS stats: 0-0, 20 BBs).

These predictions accurate or your money back. Let’s go Phils!

Each day(-ish) during the postseason, Dan McQuade will write about the Phillies’ chance at a second straight World Series title. You can usually read his thoughts on baseball at Walkoff Walk. He posted part of this as a draft, accidentally, with only about half of it done, at first. He thinks it was funnier then.

Oct
12
2009
Posted by at 2:19 pm ET 35 Comments

stairsstrikezone

Check out the pitch locations of Matt Stairs’ at-bat last night in the eighth inning. He only swung at one of those pitches, a 2-2 pitch, yet pitches that were essentially in the same location were called strikes or balls depending on what the umpire felt like. No wonder Stairs ended up striking out on a pitch out of the zone; what was he going to do, let it go and hope the ump decided that, nah, this time this same pitch will be a ball? (The TBS announcers, naturally, made no mention of the ridiculousness of this strike zone on this at-bat.) The umps were apparently just as tired as we all were watching the game last night, as the strike zone was all over the place.

How does a player (on either team) approach an at-bat when the strike zone is so unpredictable? Sure, players get information on the tendencies of each umpire and know (generally) what each ump’s strike zone is like, but last night was just silly. It’s not that the Phillies got screwed or anything — they won, and even ended up catching a break next inning, of course, when Chase Utley fouled a ball off his leg and somehow ended up beating it out for a single — but the badness of the umpiring throughout the series has really detracted from the enjoyment of the game. Plenty of people have written plenty of columns about the bad umpiring in this year’s playoffs so far. The question is: Is Major League Baseball going to do anything about it?

Each day(-ish) during the postseason, Dan McQuade will write about the Phillies’ chance at a second straight World Series title. You can usually read his thoughts on baseball at Walkoff Walk. He actually called for replay and a computerized strike zone back in July. So ahead of the trends!

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Oct
08
2009
Posted by at 12:40 pm ET 24 Comments

On Shane Victorino’s leadoff double in the seventh inning, two fans actually reached for the ball after the umpire ruled it fair. Did Steve Bartman teach us nothing?

Here’s a good rule, people: If you’re going to a baseball game and you have seats where you might be able to interfere with a ball in play… know that you shouldn’t interfere with a ball in play. That’s really the only rule you need to know when attending a baseball game. I know we all want to be instant celebrities like that little girl who threw the ball back after he dad caught the foul ball, but let’s not hurt the home team in the process, okay?

Everything else about yesterday’s game was awesome.

Each day during the postseason, Dan McQuade will write about the Phillies’ chance at a second straight World Series title. You can usually read his thoughts on baseball at Walkoff Walk. He thinks these people deserve much more scorn than that woman reading Vanity Fair at the game back in July.

Oct
07
2009
Posted by at 11:59 am ET 46 Comments

fightins.diary.1.small

It’s almost as if the Phillies never got a chance to repeat last time. In first place at 34-21 at the time of the 1981 players’ strike, the Phillies never got it going in the second half. The owners were selling the club, the team had no incentive to play well during the second half (since it had already clinched a playoff spot) and some of the players on the Phils were incredibly out of shape when MLB came back from the layoff. Hell, in the middle of the NLDS against Montreal news broke that manager Dallas Green would become general manager of the Cubs after the season.

“The playoff never really piqued the interest of Philly’s fandom,” David Jordan writes in Occasional Glory, “perhaps because the second half of the sundered season never did either.” The mess of the 1981 season meant there was no real repeat attempt for Phils fans to cheer on their team to postseason glory. (This is what it’ll be like if the Arena Football League ever comes back and the Soul make the postseason.)

This year, though, the fans have been into it. Citizens Bank Park has been over capacity all season and the Phils responded with a third consecutive division title. It hasn’t been easy, of course. Brad Lidge had a 7.21 ERA, Jimmy Rollins was hitting .205 on July 1, The Pen was incredibly boring, et cetera. But could you have ever believed a few years ago that this Phillies team, the one without Mike Schmidt, would have the best chance to repeat in the team’s history?

That’s what strange about the whole thing: All of it has happened so fast. Sure, the Phils have been a winning team almost all decade, but there hasn’t been a stretch of postseason near-misses. The Phils got swept out their first trip to the postseason, then won it all on their second try. Last year we all spent the postseason breathing into paper bags and wondering if this was really happened. This year’s gravy, something to really enjoy. And what’s great is the Phils have a really good shot to win it all.

This should be fun.

Each day during the postseason, Dan McQuade will write about the Phillies’ chance at a second straight World Series title. You can usually read his thoughts on baseball at Walkoff Walk.

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