The Phillies resume their bid for a World Series championship that was put on hold, and it looks like it will resume tonight at 8:37, in the bottom of the 6th inning, with technically Cole Hamels coming up. The weather in the Philadelphia area is sunny right now, and should be clear, but cold and windy at game time.
Let’s look at some of the scenarios that the Phillies have had to ponder for a couple days. With the pitcher spot due up, the Phillies will obviously use a pinch hitter to lead off the game. The Rays have their right-hander Balfour on the mound, who is a fastball pitcher who throws above 95 on the radar gun regularly. Because the Rays don’t have to make a pitching change until the Phillies announce their pinch hitter, the Phillies have to bring out a lefty, which would be Dobbs, Stairs, or Jenkins. In a tie game, which could go extras, you probably want to keep Dobbs on the bench, which leaves either Jenkins or Stairs as your options. Stairs hits fastball pitchers very well, and might do well against a fastball throwing right-hander. However, this is all assuming the Rays would leave Balfour in, and not bring out a lefty in Howell or Price. The Rays pitcher spot is due up 4th in the top of the 7th, so they probably would want Balfour to finish the bottom of the 6th, so they can use a pinch hitter if need be in the top of the 7th, if the pitcher’s spot in the order does indeed come up.
We also need to look at what the Phillies will do in the top of the 7th. The Phillies will face Navarro, Baldelli, and Bartlett. Navarro is a switch hitter, and then Badelli and Bartlett are right-handers. Normally, this is a role that Durbin would come into. However, Durbin has been shaky so far in the playoffs. You could also bring Madson in, and expect to get more than an inning out of him, but may not want to waste Madson in the 6th or 7th, especially since you may need him if the game is still tied later. The optimal situation is for Durbin to pitch the 7th, and then still have Madson, Romero, Eyre, and Lidge for the later innings. Also, if you go extras, you may need to go to Happ, since Happ can go multiple innings.
Normally, these pinch hitting decisions, and bullpen decisions are made within minutes on the bench in the course of the game, but we have had two days to ponder, analyze, and break down what decisions the Phillies will make. Let’s hope they make the correct ones.
This layoff has been tough on the Philadelphia fans, who have been waiting forever for this game, and hopefully a win to happen. It feels like this type of stuff only happens in Philadelphia. This article from Jayson Stark sums up perfectly the psyche of Philadelphia fans these past couple days.
Let's face it, this season involves a whole lot of celebrating...hopping from holiday open houses, where the booze is plentiful and the Christmas cookies magically land in hand and then travel mouth to hip...Or the holiday party at the office which basically amounts to the entire month of December...food filling the aisles and the break room...it is almost as though you have landed in a Harry & David catalog with all of the temptations that abound. Then there are those cookies for Santa, which must magically disappear, washed down with eggnog, only to resurface as your second chin come January. Nor let us forget the bubbly that goes down so easily as we ring in the New Year, and after enough champagne, even the stale fruitcake and smashed candy canes seem to make it into many a toneless tummy.
So, how do we prevent ourselves from resembling jolly, old St. Nick and still indulge in sugarplums and the like? Quite simply, we get ourselves moving...not all that hard, or new an idea, however we must jump to action and simply do it...we need to get outside and walk or run...perhaps, actually make use of that gym membership we have been paying for all year, and have rarely employed since we ditched our New Year's resolutions. Maybe it's spinning class or power yoga that puts a smile on our faces and gets our hearts pumping...Whatever the case, kick-ass cardio is in order to keep the body cocktail dress ready!
Some suggestions...Register for your local Turkey Trot or Kris Kringle 5k...and if the snowflakes start piling up, get out there and cross-country ski or go snowshoeing...both of which equal some serious burn! Head to your health club and have your body composition taken. Then set a goal for yourself, that by New Year's arrival, you will be leaner. Taking the time to set a measurable goal, such as improving your overall body composition, is likely to provide you with much more motivation which makes attaining the desired results much more probable.
When we set goals such as increasing our lean muscle mass, or being able to run a 5k without stopping, we give ourselves something to work towards, something to be proud of achieving. By investing this kind of time and thought into keeping ourselves healthy, we are almost guaranteed to avoid the holiday heft! In fact, we may never have to worry about our weight again, because in reaching our goals, we also make the decision to adapt a healthy lifestyle...the real aim of all this rambling anyway!
The more we concentrate on taking care of ourselves, the more we will realize how overrated overindulging is. All of the Bouche de Noel in the world cannot compare to a rock hard core and a fierce pair of lungs...Remember, while the holidays loom near, summer is always coming...always on its way! So, we must not fool ourselves into thinking that those winter sweaters and coats are something to hide beneath or that they offer any kind of respite. Eventually, they must come off and our very stripped down selves must step forward. How much easier that unveiling will be, if we never give that winter weight a place to settle!
Philadelphia native and Penn grad, Ed Stefanski took over the Sixers last winter and changed the culture of a losing team. He got rid of fan favorite, sharp-shooter Kyle Korver and told head coach Maurice Cheeks to play an upbeat style of offense and defense with his young team. The team responded well, becoming one of the hottest teams to end the season, gaining a playoff birth in their first “Iversonless” season. They drew the hard-nose veteran team of the Pistons in the first round. They surprised the Pistons taking the series to 6 games before losing.
Fast forward to this off season, the Sixers have a good amount of cap room, but do not seem to have a enough to sign the top prize of the class, Elton Brand. In a surprising move that came from left field, Stefanski unloads Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth and a protected first rounder for a conditional second rounder, then he signs Elton Brand. He also resigned young stars in Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams. With the buzz created from last year’s turn-around and the signing of Brand, Stefanski was able to lure key veteran bench contributors in Kareem Rush, Donyell Marshall, Royal Ivey, and the return of Theo Ratliff. The Sixers also drafted freakish athlete Marreese Speights, who should see some playing time, since Jason Smith is out for the season.
The predicted starting line-up for the season opener is:
Iggy has moved from small forward to shooting guard. Although A.I. 2.0 is better suited to play the 3, the Sixers had to open a spot for standout rookie of last year Thaddeus Young who really thrived in the new Stefanski-style offense. Most of last season, Young played out of position at power forward. If Iggy and Young can improve their outside game this year, they will both be very difficult to stop. Andre Miller had his best year statistically last year, and will continue to be a great court general. His assist numbers should improve with the ability to run a frequent pick and roll with Elton Brand. Brand has averaged 20 and 10 over his career. Although he may not reach those numbers (we are predicting 17 and 9) he will open up the offense, like we have not seen on the Sixers in a long time. Last year during the playoffs, the Pistons swarmed and embarrassed Iguodala every time he drove to the basket. This year it will be difficult for defending teams to give help defense in the paint without the threat of kicking it to Brand for a dunk or a ten-footer. The Haitian Sensation, Sammy D, should be able to mostly concentrate on D and rebounding this year. Brand will take a good amount of offensive pressure off of Sam. This should open him up for a few easy dunks a game and not too many shots. Look for Sam to be in the leaders of field goal percentage this year.
The Sixers have their best bench since Iverson and Larry Brown led them to the NBA finals. 6th man candidate Lou Williams just knows how to score. He really does not have a position. He is too small for the 2 and cannot handle the ball and lead the team well enough for the 1. Look for him to continue to grow as a point guard as he is going to be the PG of the future. Although he will not start, he will rack up a good amount of minutes. We also have former starter Willie Green coming off the bench who can also have a scorers touch. With Brand in the middle and the eventual double team coming ever time he gets the ball, not having a good outside shooting team can really hurt production. Stefanski addressed this by signing Rush and Marshall who have career 3 point percentages of 36.0 and 34.8, respectively. These two coming off the bench should give the Sixers the outside option they will desperately need. We all know what Theo Ratliff can do. Although he is not as athletic as he was with his first stint with the Sixers, he can sniff out block shots like a bloodhound. Royal Ivey also is a great defender and can shut down the opponents PG, when Miller is getting a breather. Ivey and Ratliff know their roles as defensive specialists.
The Sixers have vastly improved from last year, but so has the Eastern conference in general. Former playoff teams, the Bulls and Heat had the first two picks in the draft, and should return to form with possible playoff births. The Sixers opening day opponent, the Raptors traded for Jermaine O’Neal. If healthy, having Chris Bosh and O’Neal should be a great 1-2 punch for Toronto. The defending champs lost James Posey, which will hurt them, but they still have the big 3. The Cavs seems to be suffering from what the Sixers used to struggle with, which is finding a great second option to their super-star. The Cavs had made multiple deals over the past few years to try and get a Pippen to their Jordan. This years attempt was former Bucks PG Mo Williams. The 5th year PG from Alabama averaged 17 ppg last year. Orlando will still be in the playoff picture with their young team developing and getting more experience together. The Wizards if their key players can stay healthy, they have Agent 0 back this year. Atlanta has a good 1-5 and if Josh Smith continues to grow, they could surprise some people this year. They should battle the Bulls for the last playoff spot in the East.
Our predicted 1-8 in the East is:
1. Celtics, 2. Cavs, 3. Sixers, 4. Magic, 5. Pistons, 6. Raptors, 7. Wizard, 8. Hawks
The citizens of Philadelphia were pumped last night. There was something in the air... we all thought our 25 year championship winless streak was going to come to an end. Every bar in the Greater Delaware Valley was packed full of red shirts. Then the rain came and suspended the game in the bottom of the 6th. So, lets say we play tonight, what happens? Who leads off the game in the bottom of the 6th, as the pitcher's spot is up? The Rays have not announced who will be pitching yet, but I am guessing it will be a left-hander, possibly David Price. If this is the case, we need to use So Taguchi as a pinch hitter against the left hander, as you have to keep Bruntlett to replace Burrell in the field, and Coste, in case of an injury to Ruiz. As for pitching, the Phils should act like Hamels left in the 6th Inning and just like this is another game going into the 7th inning with the pitcher lasting 6 innings. They still have good options with Durbin, Eyre, Madson, and Romero pitching. We may see J.A. Happ in extra innings if needed.
Unfortunately, we do not know if Mother Nature is going to cooperate. Today's forecast calls for rain all day, then stopping around game time, but for the temperature to be in the 30's, and windy. Tomorrow isn't supposed to be much better, so it will be interesting to see how MLB approaches this.
Although this is not a must win for the Phillies, the last thing we want to do it give some momentum to the Rays and have to travel back to the dump of a city that is Tampa.
Well we’ve waiting a long time to say these words, so here goes. The Phillies can win the World Series with a win tonight in Game 5 of the World Series. Our Philadelphia Phillies have a chance to be the last team standing in baseball, and win the first championship this city has seen since 1983. There is some business to be taken care of however before we win anything, and as a Philadelphia fan, we have seen worse things happen to our sports teams. So everyone get your rally towels out and get ready to help our boys win Game 5.
The Phillies will send their ace, Cole Hamels to the mound tonight for Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park. Hamels will be opposed by the Rays Game 1 starter, Scott Kazmir. Hamels is undefeated this postseason, and hopefully that will continue tonight. The Rays batters have been kept off-balance all series with tremendous pitching from everyone on our staff. Hamels has to continue to keep runners off base, so if he does give up a long ball, it is only a solo shot, just like Blanton was able to do Sunday night. The key to this game is just staying out of trouble, as the offense appears as if it may have turned the corner in the Game 4 win.
Speaking of the offense, it was a great sign to see the Phillies put up double digits in Game 4, as Howard, Rollins, and Werth were getting great at-bats and seeing the ball well. The Phillies definitely feel more comfortable in our ballpark. This is the last game of the series in Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies really want to continue the offensive explosion from last night. Hitting is contagious, especially with this Phillies team. The Phillies went through stretches during the regular season where they didn’t hit, and everyone slumped at once. They also went through stretches where almost everybody hit, and they would put up a lot of runs every game. Let’s hope the offensive momentum in Game 4 will carry over to this Game 5.
We can’t ask for a better scenario. A game to win the World Series, at home, with our ace on the mound. The time to win is now. You don’t want to go back to Tampa Bay, even with a lead in the series, because anything can happen, and the Rays are a very good team, especially at home. We need to close the Rays out tonight, and have the biggest celebration ever afterwards.
Even the players know how big this is. Ryan Howard said after the game if the Phillies win Game 5, "It will be absolute bedlam. It will be one of the craziest places on earth. It’s kind of scary to imagine." Jimmy Rollins agreed, "A championship is the only way to fully reverse that thought of how the Phillies are portrayed. If we get that game, I believe we will be happy, the city will be happy, there will be a big parade."
Game 5 is Monday night at 8:00 EDT. Hamels vs. Kazmir. Phillies lead series 3-1.
The Eagles were not very sharp in this game in the first half. Brian Westbrook was able to run the ball effectively, but the Eagles weren’t running enough, and McNabb was uncharacteristically erratic missing passes that he can usually make in his sleep. Late in the 2nd quarter, the Eagles offense finally got going. It was McNabb who did it with his feet, and took off on a couple runs. When the Eagles got down to the goaline, McNabb went in for a rushing touchdown. Westbrook would take over in the 2nd half, and ended the game with 22 carries for 167 yards, and 2 TDs. I would have liked to see the Eagles go to Westbrook earlier in the game, as he is their best playmaker.
The defense was good as they usually are. They keyed in on stopping Michael Turner, and they were able to do just that. Turner only rushed for 58 yards, and did not have a touchdown. The Eagles defense swarmed around Turner all game, and rarely let him get any room to run. The defense also created some turnovers, getting two interceptions, one each by Samuel and Sheppard, and recovering a fumble.
The important thing is that the Eagles got the victory, and Westbrook looked good coming off his injury. If the Eagles are able to run the ball like they did on Sunday, that will bode well for the rest of the season. The Eagles get to 4-3 on the season, and will play the Seahawks next Sunday.
Three wins in a row might be asking too much, especially against a very good Rays team, but the Phillies need to win 2 out of 3 at home, which starts with a win in Game 3. Jamie Moyer takes the mound for the Phillies against Matt Garza for the Rays. It’s no secret Moyer has struggled in two starts this postseason, but he still is a wily veteran who has won big games as a member of the Phillies. It will be interesting to see what the umpire’s strike zone is for Moyer, as Moyer can hit the corners, which he doesn’t always get the calls on. The Phillies pitchers have been able to keep the power hitters on the Rays off-balance all series, and Moyer needs to continue to do just that.
I think the Phillies will benefit with coming home, and guys like Rollins, and Howard will feel more comfortable in their own ballpark with Phillies fans going crazy waving rally towels. The Phillies are getting runners on base. It isn’t as if the Phillies are not hitting in this series, they are getting many runners on base, and at some point, they will start knocking those runners in. This offense is too good to continue to struggle the way they have in the first two games.
The Phillies are used to winning games with their offense, however, the pitching has carried the Phillies through the first two games. Coming into this series, the Rays probably had a better starting pitching staff that went four deep, while the Phillies probably have the better offensive team. Well it is time for the Phillies to start proving that they are the better offensive team in their own ballpark.
The goal as the road team in a best of seven playoff series where the format is 2-3-2 is to win one of the first two games. The Phillies did that. The next goal is to win two out of three games at home, and then one out of the last two. The Phillies need to win Game 3 in order to put pressure on the Rays to win Game 4. The Rays are a good team, and the Phillies need to keep the lead in this series. That starts with a good performance by every player in Game 3.
Game 3 is Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. EDT, weather permitting. Moyer vs. Garza. Series tied 1-1.
College Picks – Overall Record: (1-5)
Colorado (+24.5) at Missouri: Missouri will win this game, but not by 24+. Missouri has been exposed in 2 straight losses, and Colorado has won a couple games on the road this season. Take Colorado.
Notre Dame (-10.5) at Washington: Washington hasn’t won a game this year, and there is a reason why. Notre Dame is a lot better than last season, and will win this game easily, even on the road.
Pro Picks – Overall Record: (3-2-1)
Buccaneers (+2) at Cowboys: The Cowboys are imploding, and the Bucs should be able to continue the Cowboys downward spiral. Take the Bucs on the road.
Bills (-1) at Dolphins: The Bills are underrated, and the Dolphins are overrated. Should make for an easy win for the Bills in this one.
Guest Picks – Overall Record: (3-3)
Jack Flack’s Picks – Overall Record: (2-2)
USC (-16.5) at Arizona: The Trojans are coming into form at just the right time. They got their loss out of the way early in the season, thus leaving them in contention for the BCS Title. They may not win by 69 like a week ago, but they’ll surely cover.
Virginia (+12) at Georgia Tech: The Cavaliers come in winners of 3 straight and have proven they’re better than most give them credit for. Georgia Tech is a solid squad, but they’ve had trouble scoring points. 12 points is too many. Ride the Cavs.
Willard’s Picks – Overall Record: (1-1)
Jaguars (-7) vs. Browns: Jags are coming off a bye week, and the Browns returned to earth last week in their game against Washington. Take the Jags at home.
Titans (-4) vs. Colts: Titans can run + Colts can’t stop the run = Little playing time for Peyton Manning. Colts are also without Joseph Addai, Titans win this one at home.
Well no one said it would be easy. The Phillies dropped Game 2 of the World Series, as the Rays evened up the series at one game a piece. Even though we would have liked to be up 2-0, we took care of business, took back home field, and won 1 out of 2 in a building that is tough on the road teams.
The Phillies again were very inconsistent offensively, getting runners on base, and into scoring position, but not being able to get anybody home. The Phillies left runners on 2nd and 3rd with less than two outs multiple times in Game 2, just as they had in Game 1.
Jimmy Rollins cannot get going at the plate, and unfortunately, this team goes as Rollins goes. Rollins went 0-5 for the 2nd straight game, making him 0-10 in the series. Utley, Burrell, and Feliz were also hitless in Game 2. Just as the Phillies took an early lead in Game 1, the Rays converted on a Jayson Werth error to record two RBI groundouts in the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead. The Rays would also record an RBI bunt groundout, and an RBI single in the game. Brett Myers pitched well, going 7 innings, allowing 4 runs, 3 of them earned.
The Phillies finally got on the board in the top of the 8th inning on an Eric Bruntlett solo home run. We had runners on base all game, and couldn’t get the big hit, and when Bruntlett comes in and provides a big hit, no one was on base. The Phillies got another in the 9th to make it 4-2 on a sharp hit by Werth, scoring Ruiz from 2nd. This put the tying runner at the plate with Utley and Howard coming up. Utley struck out on three pitches, and Howard grounded out.
Bottom line, the Phillies goal in the first two games of this World Series was to go into Tampa Bay and win 1 of 2. The Phillies have done just that, so there is a reason to be confident going into game 3 in Philadelphia.
Brett Myers takes the mound in Game 2 for the Phillies tonight, and will face the Rays James Shields. I am very interested in seeing which Brett Myers comes out to pitch this game. Myers has looked good most of the 2nd half of the season, and can hopefully continue that tonight. Myers should feed off of a good start from Cole Hamels in Game 1. Unfortunately, Myers does not have great numbers on the road this season, and will be facing a pitcher in Shields, who is a very good pitcher at home.
The Phillies pitching staff won Game 1, and the offense will need to pick it up the rest of the series, starting with Game 2. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for reigning MVP Jimmy Rollins to get on base tonight. Facing a right-handed pitcher, Shane Victorino will probably be batting in the 2-hole tonight, with Werth batting 6th. It will be interesting to see who the Phillies use as their DH, and who they use as their extra man tonight. Pat Burrell could be the DH, which would allow him to play the whole game without having to come out as a defensive replacement. Manuel could also go with Dobbs or Stairs as the DH, as Stairs has a lot of DH experience, and would still allow Dobbs to still come into the game late as a pinch hitter. Dobbs, however, gives you the best offensive lineup, and giving Dobbs as many at-bats as possible is what the Phillies need to do, especially when they struggled offensively in Game 1.
This is another big game for the Phillies. By winning Game 1, it basically makes Game 2 a must-win for the Rays, and you know the Phillies will be seeing the Rays at their best tonight. If Myers has a strong start, and we get more offensive production in Game 2, the Phillies could be leaving Tampa Bay with a 2-0 series lead. We would all feel a lot more comfortable with Moyer pitching in Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead.
The Phillies won Game 1 of the World Series last night 3-2 in Tampa Bay against the Rays, leaving them three wins shy of winning the World Series. I have never been alive to say the words, the Phillies won game 1 of the World Series, so this is extremely exciting for any Phillies fan, young and old.
The Phillies, who were supposed to be the cold team coming into this series having sat around for a whole week warmed up real quickly with a Chase Utley 2-run home run as the 3rd batter of the game. The Phillies got another run in the top of the 4th inning to make it 3-0 on an RBI groundout by Carlos Ruiz.
The Rays would not go quietly however, and answered with a run each in the 4th and 5th innings to make it a tight 3-2 game. The Rays wouldn’t get a hit the rest of the game. The Phillies took a 1-0 series lead led by the stellar pitching from mostly Cole Hamels, and then Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Hamels went 7 innings once again, and allowed 2 earned runs, striking out 5. He got out of a few jams, and induced two huge double plays, both from B.J. Upton, in key situations. Madson, who has looked unhittable this postseason got through the 8th, and Lidge mowed down the Rays in the 9th to record the save.
The offense did their job of getting on base, however, could not convert the baserunners into runs. The Phillies set a World Series record for futility by going 0-13 with runners in scoring position, the worst ever in World Series history. On offense, Jayson Werth, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, and Pedro Feliz all had 2 hits each for the Phillies. Those were the only 8 hits the Phillies had all game. Give credit to Werth, Utley, and Victorino for really doing good work on the base paths, and stealing 3 total bases, and disrupting the Rays pitchers multiple times.
Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins combined to go 0-9 with five strikeouts. This team really struggles when their lead-off man Jimmy Rollins does not get on base. Rollins will need to step it up this series for the Phillies to succeed.
The Phillies will need to do some things better if they want to win this series, but guess what? A win is a win in the World Series, so none of the bad things really matter anymore. The goal is to win 4 games anyway possible, and the Phillies are up 1-0, with 3 wins to go until the biggest celebration Philadelphia has ever seen.
The Phillies should play Pat Burrell at DH for tonight’s game in Tampa Bay…… not because he is a defensive liability in left field, because I don’t believe he is, but because we need his bat in the late stages of these important games.
Let’s look back at Game 1. The Phillies have a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning, trying to get some insurance runs. Jayson Werth in on 2nd base, and Chase Utley is on 1st. They pull off a double steal to put them each at 3rd and 2nd base. Unfortunately, Eric Bruntlett is at the plate in this big situation, as he came in the game in the 7th inning for Pat Burrell, for defensive purposes. The whole point of the DH is to have an offensive lineup with minimal defensive liabilities. If the Phillies feel as if Burrell is a defensive liability in the latter stages of a game, then put him at DH. This will allow him to stay in the entire game, focus on hitting, and we don’t have to worry about having Bruntlett at the plate in a big situation, like Game 1. We need all the Burrell at-bat’s we can get in this series, and we don’t want a close game, or an extra inning game where Burrell is on the bench because he was taken out. If anybody deserves to be in the game the entire game, it is Burrell, who has come up big this season, and is the longest tenured Phillie.
Greg Dobbs is an able left-fielder, and has started games in left field, so he is no more a liability than Eric Bruntlett out there. Let's be honest here, if you can run and throw, you can play left field. I'm not trying to say it is easy to play the position, but Dobbs can do the job. Dobbs should be in left field, with Burrell as the DH in Game 2 if the Phillies want to maximize their offensive lineup the entire game.
Next time you feel the urge to skip out on that run you said you were going to do, hold yourself accountable. Make it a part of your day, anon-negotiable part of your day. Put it on your calendar, note it in your blackberry, make it an official appointment that you must keep.
Go one step further and sign yourself up for a race and tell your family,your friends, your colleagues about it. This will likely make you more committed to following through, training properly and completing the race successfully
On a side note, Philly’s own, Jayson Stark is the man.
Cole Hamels in Game 1: The fully rested Phillies have set up their rotation exactly how they like it. Their ace--and NLCS MVP--will get the ball in the opener. The first game of any series is always important, but that gets cranked up a notch for the Phils in game 1 because it’s the only game in which the Phillies will have the pitching advantage. Myers, Moyer, and Blanton don’t measure up to the like of James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine and ALCS MVP Matt Garza. A loss in game one will create a massive hole in Philly’s title hopes.
Greg Dobbs: As has already been mentioned on this site, Greg Dobbs will play a big role. He is, by far, the best bat the Phillies have on their bench. And with an extra hitter in the line-up thanks to the DH, Dobbs should have his name written into the starting line-up a few times in this series. Dobbs hits .311 against right-handers this year, and deserves every opportunity to play, whether it’s as the DH or starting at third.
Shaking the Lay-Off: The Phillies needed only 5 games to get past the Dodgers. It saved us fans from getting too stressed out. But was it too easy? It will be a full week off when the Phils take the field on Wednesday night. History doesn’t favor such a long lay off. The last two World Series losers each had at least 6 days off. The Phils need to get off to a good start and prove that the rest isn’t rust.
Keeping the Rays in the Yard: The Phillies hit more home runs than any other team in the National League. But it’s the Rays who have used the long ball to get here. Tampa has pounded out 22 home runs this postseason compared to only 10 for Philly. Add in the Citizens Bank Park effect, and this series could turn into a slugfest. The Phils can play homer ball with the best of ‘em, but it’s probably a better idea to try and keep the Rays on this side of the wall.
Ryan Howard: Through 9 postseason games, Ryan Howard is hitting only .258 with 3 RBI. Even though Howard did go 6 for 12 with 4 runs scored in the final three games against the Dodgers, the MVP candidate will need to increase his productivity if he wants to hoist hardware. The Phils got this far without a whole lot of help from their first baseman, but the World Series is a whole different ball game.
A World Series title is within reach. A few hits here. A few runs there. It’s a simple formula: Win four games before you lose four games. Philly’s 25 years without a title could change if the Phils follow the keys to victory.
The Tampa Bay Rays are our opponent in the World Series. Now that Charlie has picked our 4-man rotation, he will keep it the same as the Dodgers series. The one thing left to decide is the DH, as 4 games out of 7, we will need to use a DH. The Rays only have one left-handed starter, in Scott Kazmir. He will definitely pitch Game 1 or 2. How this hurts the Phils, is that we really do not have a solid right-handed bat off the bench. Chris Coste is the best player at the plate, however, needs to stay on the bench in case of injury to Ruiz. Due to this fact, we believe that Charlie should make Pat Burrell the DH for all games in Tampa, and play Dobbs out in left. Greg Dobbs has started in left field 3 times this season, and 4 times in right field, so he has the outfield experience. Dobbs has to be a defensive upgrade, not a huge upgrade, but we will no longer have to put Bruntlett out there in the bottom of the 7th/8th inning and possibly lose Burrell's bat in extra inning. Also, with Dobbs pinch hitting every day, it allows for Bruntlett to pinch hit when you need a right handed bat, and you would still have Jenkins and Stairs from the left side. There are a couple other scenarios the Phillies could choose to go with, such as Ryan Howard at DH, and Dobbs playing 1st base. However, we fell as if Dobbs playing left field, with Pat Burrell at DH gives the Phillies the optimal offensive and defensive lineup. The Phils lineup would look like this:
2. Victorino- CF
3. Utley- 2B
4. Howard- 1B
5. Burrell- DH
6. Werth- RF
7. Dobbs- LF
8. Feliz- 3B
9. Ruiz- C
Kotite’s Corner Picks – Overall Record: (2-5-1)
College Picks – Overall Record: (0-4)
Miami (FL) (-3) at Duke: Miami is obviously not the same Miami from 5 years ago. They still should be able to take Duke handily.
Colorado (-2.5) vs. Kansas State: Colorado has already had a couple good wins this year, and should be able to shut down Freeman and the K. State offense. The Buffaloes win at home.
Pro Picks – Overall Record: (2-1-1)
Colts (-1) at Packers: The game is at Green Bay, but the Colts look like they are clicking on cylinders after last weekend. The Packers haven’t looked good for a couple of weeks, Colts win this by at least a field goal.
Bills (+1) vs. Chargers: Bills at home, and coming off a bye to get ready for the Chargers; should be the formula for a straight up win. Take the Bills with a point.
Guest Picks – Overall Record: (3-1)
Jack Flack’s Picks –
Missouri (+4) at Texas: The Longhorns are fresh off their upset of Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry, while Missouri fell flat against Okie State. So why would I pick Mizzou? Because Chase Daniel is better than his performance last week, and because it’s gonna be very hard for the Longhorns to get fired up for a second straight week. If you’re feeling it, may I suggest Mizzou on the money line.
Kentucky (-7.5) vs. Arkansas: Simply put, Kentucky is a much more talented team. They gave Alabama all they could handle 2 weeks ago, and in give return, ‘Bama gave them the confidence that they can play with anybody. Take the ‘Cats.
The year was 1993 when a rag tag bunch of baseball players synchronized their career years to all fall in the same season. Names like Pete Incaviglia, Jim Eisenreich and Mickey Morandini made an appearance on baseball’s grandest stage. Nails, Dutch and Wild Thing led Philadelphia through 6 months of pure joy. And an unlikely trip to the World Series.
The memories of those days are still clear in my mind. Maybe a little too clear. It’s been 15 years, and no Phillies moment has replaced that of Mitch Williams jumping high into the air after his strikeout clinched the National League. Fifteen years is a long time. I, for instance, have graduated high school, gone through college, got married, had a child, and turned 30 since the Phillies last Series appearance. Some would say that makes this year all the more sweet. Not to sound ungrateful, but I say 2008 is a long time coming.
This a much more talented team than the one that we fell in love in 1993. And we can only hope that the end result doesn’t leave a bitter taste in our mouths. Here’s wishing the best to our Phightin’ Phils.
The Philadelphia Phillies are going to the World Series.
I will repeat since it sounds so surreal….. THE PHILLIES ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!! The Phillies beat the Dodgers 4 games to 1 in the NLCS to advance to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1993.
Kotite’s Corner would like to extend a congratulations to all the players,and managers of the 2008 Phillies, and to us, the fans, for helping this team all year, and being the best fans of any city in the world.
Jimmy Rollins got the team going with a lead-off home run in Game 5, the same way he hit a lead-off home run in Game 4 of the Milwaukee series. He really is a great catalyst when he is playing well. Shane Victorino has been great in this postseason, making every play in the outfield, and coming up with clutch hits. Victorino already has the Phillies record for RBI’s in a postseason, and he still has more games to play. Chase Utley has been solid all-around, especially against the Dodgers. A lot of questions surrounded Utley, as he struggled in the playoffs last season,and against the Brewers. However, he has come through against the Dodgers,and made two unbelievable diving plays in the field in Games 4 and 5. Ryan Howard, who really struggled in the first three games against the Dodgers,came on big in Games 4 and 5, and had five hits in those two games, and drive in a couple big runs. Pat Burrell has also been solid, with three home runs this postseason, and a very good batting average in both series’thus far. Jayson Werth has played well, and had a big homer in the clinching game against Milwaukee. He is a threat whether he is batting 2nd or 6th. Pedro Feliz has been solid at 3rd base, and made a big play to retire Manny Ramirez in Game 5. Carlos Ruiz is always solid behind the plate, but really picked up his offense against the Dodgers. Ruiz calls great game, and Lidge loves pitching to him in the 9th.
The pitching staff has been amazing and really gotten the Phils here. NLCS MVP Cole Hamels is 3-0 this postseason and has looked like a true ace.Brett Myers is 2-0 and has done a great job in the 2nd spot in the rotation this postseason. He has even shown the ability at the plate. Jamie Moyer has struggled, but most certainly will be counted on in the World Series,and being the veteran that he is, I am confident he will be able to bounce back and contribute however he is asked. Joe Blanton has been solid as the#4 starter, and has still yet to lose as a Phillie, in the regular season,or playoffs.
Just like the starting pitching, the bullpen has been great. Ryan Madson has looked better than he ever has in this postseason, hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun. J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, and Scott Eyre have also done a good job proving a “bridge to Lidge.” Once Brad Lidge enters the game in the 9th (or 8th) it has been Lights Out. Lidge has yet to blow a save all season, and has continued that in the postseason. He even got his first 4out save of the season in Game 4 against the Dodgers.
The bench has been a solid part of this team, and will need to come up in the World Series if asked upon. Greg Dobbs, who gets a lot of starts at3rd, is the best pinch hitter in the game. He is a great asset to have offensively whether he starts at 3rd, or comes off the bench. We all know what Matt Stairs did in Game 4 against the Dodgers, a huge home run, the first postseason home run of his career could not have come at a bettertime. Eric Bruntlett has come in to replace Pat Burrell defensively, and always does well in left field when asked. Geoff Jenkins is a true teammate, always one of the first to congratulate everybody else, and is a veteran who deserves every moment of this. He will be asked to come through in the World Series with some pinch hits.
The managing has been solid. Charlie Manuel continues to keep the players loose, and the players seem to love playing for Manuel. You may argue that it doesn’t take too much to manage a baseball team, but give credit where credit is due. Manuel has made all the right moves in this postseason whether it be pinch hitting, or relief pitching or double switching.
Lots of credit again goes to the Phillies players, managers, and the fans.We are all in this together, enjoying every moment of it. We, as fans,want a championship so badly, and the fans around my age, who have never seen one, are championship starved. This Phillies team is a very likeable team, and extremely fun to watch. The World Series should be exciting.
Congratulations to the 2008 NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies!!!!!
The World Series will start Wednesday, October 22, against either the Rays or the Red Sox.