October 2008

Where Are We Going?

We’re ready to go and ready to play ball.

Only problem, we don’t know where we are going and who we will be playing.  That will be decided in the ALCS Game 7 tonight in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Phillies players have the day off today.  Tomorrow around noon, they will leave for Boston or St. Petersburg.

Packing? Baseball gear was packed after yesterday’s workout.  Personal stuff?  Two piles need to be prepared:

1. Golf shirts, shorts, bathing suite, sandals.
2. Long sleeve shirts, sweaters, chapstick, gloves (other than baseball).

Mid-week forecasts
**Boston, 58 Tuesday, followed by 50 on Wednesday and 49 on Thursday.
**St. Pete, 85, 83 and dropping way down to 81 on Thursday.

Parks
Dome vs. a baseball shrine. 

Rays play in Tropicana Field, a domed stadium in downtown St. Pete.  Sort of resembles a tilted cupcake.  Artificial playing surface, something the Phillies haven’t played on in quite a while.  First named Florida Suncoast Dome, then ThunderDome. Tropicana Dole Beverages bought the naming rights in 1996.

Fenway Park has been around for ages, I mean ages.  First game was played there in 1912.  Famed for the green monster wall in left field.  Good old Mother Nature grass and dirt field.  Dugout and clubhouse resemble thimbles. 

Charlie is hoping to put his troops through workouts on both Monday and Tuesday wherever we will be.

Phillies Record
We’re 2-4 at Tropicana Field; 6-11 at Fenway. 

 

Another afternoon workout at Citizens Bank Park.  Charlie Manuel has rejoined the team.  He’s giving everyone the day off tomorrow.  Monday, we head for enemy territory, either flying north (Boston) or south (Tampa Bay).

It doesn’t matter who we play. What matters is that we are in the World Series.  If you reach the WS, the worst thing that can happen is you lose.  Even then, you will be remembered.  Those that don’t reach the big dance, are forgotten.  We’ve been there.

It all boils down to a new best-of-seven season.

Cole Carlton
How’s that for a name?

Cole Hamels is 3-0 in the postseason this October.  Carlton is Steve Carlton, best known as Lefty.  Guess you knew that.

In 1980, Lefty was also 3-0 in the postseason, winning one game against Houston and two against Kansas City.

Cole has a chance to win more games in one Phillies postseason.  Of course, he has a slight advantage over Lefty
in that there are three series these days.

Overall, Lefty is 6-5 in his postseason career with the Phillies.

More History
First Phillies team to reach the World Series was the 1915 club.

We won the first game and then the Boston Red Sox took the next four games, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 5-4.  Woodrow Wilson became the first President to throw out the ceremonial first ball for Game 2 at Baker Bowl.

What do the 1915 and 2008 Phillies have in common?  Both led the league in home runs: 58 in 1915, 214 this year.

Trivia Answer
Which pitcher holds the Phillies record for most World Series appearances?

6 Larry Andersen (1983, 1993)
5 Ron Reed (1980, 1983)
4 Tug McGraw (1980)
4 Roger Mason (1993)

Jim was the first to post the correct answer.  Steve was second and questioned if he shouldn’t get credit for spelling LA’s name right.  Heck, there are times when LA can’t spell it right, so don’t feel bad Jim.  We’re in a festive mood these days.  So, let’s have TWO winners.  Just need Jim and Steve to contact me.

DH?
The Phillies will be able to use a designated hitter in World Series games played in American League cities.

Everyone loves to manage.  Here’s your chance.  Who should be the Phillies DH?

 

Players were back in uniform and worked out at Citizens Bank Park for nearly a couple of hours this afternoon. 

Kyle Kendrick, Greg Golson, Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy, all of whom went to the Florida Instructional League in Clearwater, FL, to keep their skills fresh, have rejoined the team.

The Phillies have until 10 a.m. on Tuesday to file their World Series roster with MLB.

The team will work out again on Saturday afternoon and then have a day off on Sunday.

Funeral Service
Charlie Manuel’s mother, June, was laid to rest this morning in Buena Vista, Va.  Among those attending the services were David Montgomery, Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro Jr., Mike Arbuckle and Greg Casterioto.

Monday Schedule
The Phillies will leave for Boston or Tampa Bay mid-day on Monday.

Should the Rays win that series, Charlie hopes to have the team work out on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field twice, after arriving on Monday and again on Tuesday. 

If the team is going to Boston, a workout will be held at Fenway Park on Tuesday.  MLB requires that both teams work out prior to Games 1 and 3.

Hotst-totsy
World Series tickets and Phillies merchandise are the hot items right now.  People are coming out of hibernation seeking tickets.  Unfortunately, the cupboard is bare.  One fan offered to trade 1964 World Series tickets for 2008 tickets.  No, we didn’t win it in 1964 but we did print tickets because we thought we were going to be the NL champs.

National League Champion Phillies t-shirts and caps are available at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park; Monday-Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Official merchandise can also be purchased online at phillies.com or by calling 1-877-GO PHILS if you live in Pocatello, ID, and can’t drive to Philly.

How’s that for a friendly commercial?

A Reminder
You can catch more Phillies fever views from two other blogs on this site, Shane Victorino and the Phillies Ballgirls.

Trivia Question
Which pitcher holds the Phillies record for most World Series appearances?

Winner will receive an autographed baseball from the record-holder.  First person to post the correct answer will be declared the winner.

 

 

NL Champs!

Well, by now everyone knows the outcome of last night’s game.  So, other than Robin Roberts viewpoint, I’ll try to provide material that is different from what has been written and said.

4:53 p.m., Cole stepped out of the Phillies dugout and headed for right field to begin his usual loosening exercises.  When he does that at Citizens Bank Park, the fans response with applause.  Naturally, yesterday, there was silence.  Can you imagine the noise when he makes his first World Series start at home? 

5:03 p.m., Cole begins throwing in the bullpen.

5:13 p.m., Cole begins walk to the dugout and gets high fives from his teammate relievers heading to their perch.

5:16 p.m., Dodger Stadium PA announcement asking fans to cheer for the benefit of FOX telecast.  Have to report the noise level didn’t come close to our fans.  Can’t imagine how loud it will be for the big dance.

5:35 p.m., Cole threw his first pitch with the big scoreboard in right field indicating 1 run for the Phillies in their first at-bat.  J-Roll’s lead off homer set the tone just as it did in the Milwaukee clincher.

8:37 p.m., Ruiz catches pop-up from Nomar Garciaparra and the Phillies are the National League champions! 

Prior to that inning, a video of Nomar’s walk-off homer against the Phillies in August was shown on Dodger Vision in left field.  Idea was to rally the crowd.  This time, Nomar made the walk-off out setting off a Phillies celebration.

In the clubhouse, Cole was honored as the NLCS MVP.  He joins Manny Trillo (1980), Gary Matthews (1983) and Curt Schilling (1993) as Phillies who have won that award.

Bill Giles, NL president emeritus, got to present the wooden trophy named after his dad to Dave Montgomery and we were officially declared the NL champs. 

I didn’t make it into the clubhouse, which is a very small one.  Didn’t want to get doused with sticky, stinky stuff for a five-hour, cross-country ride. Smelling like a brewery was something I wanted to avoid.

Club officials and player families were allowed on the field in front of the Phillies’ first base dugout, a very nice gesture by the Dodgers.  Phillies fans in attendance made their way down to behind the dugout creating a love-in in LA, while fans were going bonkers back home.

One-by-one the players came out with bubbly stuff and saluted the fans.   The celebration was awesome but everyone knew, there is more work to be done.

Four buses finally made their way to the LA International Airport, later than planned, but nobody complained.  We took off in a Delta charter around 3 a.m. and landed at 7:28 a.m. (both EDT).

Fans and media met the team at the airport and also at Citizens Bank Park which was cool.  Fans are gobbling up Phillies shirts and caps.  For the first four hours of the Majestic Clubhouse Store at the Park, sales averaged $10,000 per hour.

Players were given the day off today.  They’ll work out at the Park on Friday and Saturday afternoons.  Sunday will be another day off and we leave for the AL city sometime on Monday.  More on that later.

Charlie wasn’t on the team charter.  He and his fiancé were on a private plane taking them to Virginia for his mother’s viewing this evening and her funeral on tomorrow morning.  Services for Shane’s grandmother in Hawaii will take place after the World Series.

Robin’s Nest
Hall of Famer Robin Roberts provides his views after Game 5:

“The baseball season has become a marathon.  Years ago, all you had to do was win your league and you were in the World Series.  Now, you have to win two other series, before you get to the finals.  It’s a lot of baseball, and it sure is fun to watch.

“Cole has definitely been the star of the playoffs for the Phillies.  To pitch so well under all the postseason pressure is something special.  Cole mentioned that his NLCS MVP award was a team award, and in many ways he’s right.  But, if they have to give someone the prize, he was the right choice.

“The Tampa Bay Rays are hot, but they haven’t made the World Series yet.  I believe they will win the ALCS.  They have had a wonderful season.  I live in Tampa, and have watched them become a good team.  If they do get into the Series, don’t worry, I’ll be rooting for the Phils.  I’m too old to lose any friends.”

 

Game 5

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Werth, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Victorino, cf
Feltz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Hamels, p

Driver’s Seat
Yes, we and the Tampa Bay Rays are in the driver’s seat.  History tells us there are teams that have come back from 3-1 deficits, not many, but it can happen.

Tonight’s the biggest game the Phillies have played this year.  Then, the biggest game becomes the next game until all the dates have been crossed off the baseball calendar for 2008.

Chad Billingsley is LA’s strikeout leader.  He’s a power pitcher in the truest sense.  He’s looking for revenge from Game 2 and is a very good young pitcher who is getting better.

Cole has been outstanding in his two postseason starts.

It won’t be easy but that’s been the theme of the entire season for the Phillies.

Inside the Dodgers
Notes on the Dodgers blog…..
**They have won 3 in a row 10 times in 2008.
**17 times, they have won back-to-back games on the road.
**They are 12-7 in their last 19 road games.

Quotes
 “Shane and I have switched roles.  I just try to get on base.  Then Shane does the banging,” kidded Ryan Howard during yesterday’s workout.

“They have so many explosive bats in their lineup that they wear the opposition out, and just when a pitcher thinks he can catch his breath, the Phillies jump on him,” Tracy Ringolsby, FOXsports.com.

This Date
In Phillies history…
1980 Phillies score four in eighth to win WS Game # 2 over KC, 6-4, at the Vet.

Comment Corner
Thanks for the comments yesterday.  I believe the Phanatic will travel with the team if we continue the postseason road.

Special thank you to the Dodgers fan who send condolences to Charlie and Shane from all the LA fans.  Very classy and we appreciate the thought very much.

Heading East
We have another Delta charter flight that will leave LA after the game tonight.  It’ll be a red-eye flight, due to arrive in Philly when the sun is rising. 

 

Climbing the Stairs

Matt Stairs was one of those transactions “acquired for a player to be named later.”  The Phillies were looking for an experienced, left-handed hitter with pop that could come off the bench and win a game somewhere along the baseball trail.  He was acquired just prior to September 1 which meant he would be eligible for the postseason.

That move paid off big time as he capped a 4-run eighth inning that lifted the Phillies to a huge win in Dodger Stadium last night, giving them a commanding 3-1 NLCS edge.

Shane accounted for half of that 4-some with a two-run homer.  He now has 11 postseason RBI, a new club record.  Lenny Dykstra had the old mark (10) in 1993.  Chances are Shane will pad that number before the final 2008 baseball out is recorded.

Six outs.  That’s what the Dodgers needed from their bullpen, which ranked second to the Phillies in ERA (3.33 to 3.19) during the season.  LA had used all three lefties when Charley picked Stairs to bat against Broxton.  Power against power.  Stairs worked a 3-1 count and then belted one half-way up the right field bleachers, silencing a record Dodger Stadium crowd. 

The quietness was not the same in Suite 218 where Gillick, Amaro, Arbuckle, Green, Noworyta watched the game with their wives.  High fives and cheers dominatged.

Now, six outs were needed by the Phillies pen.  It wasn’t easy but J. C. got two and Brad the last four.  Lidge has 8 LCS saves.  Only Dennis Eckersley (11) as more.

Robin’s Nest
Hall of Famer Robin Roberts offers his views of Game 4:
“What a game.  I tell you this year’s Phillies team is a really complete team.  All 25 members contribute to their wins and that was really evident last night.

“When I played, Leo Durocher of the NY Giants, always had a couple of pinch hitters available at the end of the game who could hit home runs, a right-handed hitter named Hoffman and a lefty named Taylor.  Durocher figured he could steal 4 of 5 games in a season with those type of hitters on the bench.

“Matt is an example of a game-changing pinch-hitter.  His homer is one of the most memorable in Phillies history.  Matter of fact, I can’t think of a more memorable pinch homer.  If anybody can name a greater one, let me know.

“When Shane came to bat in that same inning, the Dodger fans were quite vocal.  The silence as he ran around the bases was deafening.

“A day off today and a chance to advance to the World Series tomorrow.  It is a long season and it’s great to be playing well at this time.  The Phillies don’t need to play another home game to advance.  Home or away, it doesn’t matter.  We just want them in a World Series.”

Different Paths
The Phillies will work out for 90 minutes this afternoon at Dodger Stadium.  Charley felt there were too many potential distractions and he wanted to keep the team focused.

Joe Torre, on the other hand, closed the doors after the loss last night and told his team to stay away from baseball today.  Idea was to get away from the game for a day.

 

 

Lineup Change

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Werth, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Victorino, cf
Dobbs, 3b
Ruiz, c
Blanton, p

Game 3
Usually, opposing hitters will try to work Moyer and not swing early.  The Dodgers took a different approach last night.  They were aggressive early in the count and got that early big lead.  We are now 3-12 in game 3 of postseason play.  Game 4: 5-7 (3-2 in NLCS).

Jamie looked like he would get out of the first with just 2 runs but his pitch to DeWitt was up in the zone and the rookie tripled in 3 runs.

Kuroda has pitched great against the Phillies and that includes last night.

The game had some extra excitement when Kuroda threw a pitcher over Shane’s head.  Shane was right, don’t throw at the head.  Both benches and bullpens emptied.  The usual finger-pointing and yapping but nothing more.  Gave the media something to write and talk about.

Shane took the high road after the game and dismissed the incident.

Great news, Shane’s blog has moved into the No. 2 spot in popularity on mlb.com:
http://mlblogs.mlblogs.com/

Robin’s Nest
Hall of Famer Robin Roberts provides his views on Game 3:
“There’s an old baseball saying that it’s better to be blown away than to lose by one run.  Whoever said that, wasn’t a pitcher.

“I felt Dodger Stadium was the ultimate pitcher’s park at night.  Maybe that’s the way it used to be, or maybe a 5:30 game doesn’t qualify as a night game.

“The Dodgers had a big game last night. Baseball is a game played almost every day.  The only score that matters is Phillies 2, Dodgers 1; Blanton vs. Lowe tonight.

“The knockdown show was overblown as usual.  Boys will be boys and no punches were thrown.”

Kerfeld’s Korner
Scouting report on Derek Lowe from Charley Kerfeld, special assistant to Pat Gillick:
“He’s a great competitor and is making a start on three days rest.  He’ll try to even the score.  In Game 1, he got beat on two pitches.

“Sinkerballers usually get more action on the pitch when they are tired.  It will be something to watch.  His sinker is one of the 3, 4 best in the majors.  Make him elevate the sinker.  Rest is the same: 86-92 on his fast ball; downer slider at 78-83, but his out pitch is the sinker and he’ll throw it on any count.”

Numbers
Phillies career home run leaders for postseason games:
Lenny Dykstra  6
Greg Luzinski  5
Gary Matthews  5
Mike Schmidt  4
Pat Burrell  4

 

Game 3

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Victorino, cf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Werth, rf
Feliz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Moyer, p

Kerfeld’s Korner
Charley Kerfeld, special assistant to the GM, offers his scouting report on Kuroda:
“Kuroda locates his fast ball well; he’s in the 89-94 range.  Fast ball can be a little straight.  He’ll throw his slider to both sides of the plate at 83-86.  His third pitch is a hard split, 87-88.  He isn’t as aggressive as the first two starters.”

When Kuroda was a free agent last winter, we were in the mix early.  But the Japanese right-hander preferred to remain on the west coast.  Hey, we are on the west coast of the Delaware River!

The right-hander has been tough on us this season, allowing 4 hits in 13 innings, a .095 average.

Jamie is facing the Dodgers for the first time this season.  Manny has been a lifetime thorn with 10 homers among 18 hits against Jamie.

Home Advantage
Dodgers and Phillies were both 48-33 in their home ballparks.  We had the best road record in the NL, 44-37, with 4 of those losses coming in Dodger Stadium in August.

Media
44 members of the Philadelphia media corps are in LA for these games, six different newspapers, five TV stations and one radio station.

Facing Big Stars
A lot has been written and said about playing against Manny Ramirez.  John Roach, who writes a blog, provided an interesting story about other super stars we’ve faced in the postseason:
http://mylegendline.blogspot.com/

We're in LA

Kind of a crazy game yesterday.  Two out, no one on base and we wind up with four in the second.  Another 4-spot in the next inning put us in the driver’s seat. 

And, we won without hitting a home run in our “bandbox” as the media likes to call Citizens Bank Park.  The park got a new description in the Pasadena Star this morning, “quirky.”  Explanation, Dodgers have hit two balls to the deepest part of the quirky place and have only a 1-run double to show.

Hey, Manny did his thing to make it close with a ball that just landed in the first row of the left field seats.  Andre Ethier in his blog after game 1 described Utley’s 2-run homer as a pop up.  He didn’t describe Manny’s homer in his blog today.

Can’t say enough about the bullpen, especially Mad Dog Madson and “Lights Out” Lidge. They have been simply outstanding.  Speaking of outstanding, how about the fan support and noise.

Here’s another testimony of the fans’ support.  Game 1 rating in Philly was 23.9 with a 35 share.  In LA, the numbers were 9.4 and 18.

Robin’s Nest
Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts offers his insight into Game 2:
“Not exactly a pitcher’s game but we came out on top.  Brett didn’t seem to have his good fast ball.  But, he hung in there and had some key strikeouts on curves.  How about his hitting?  A pitcher who can hit can really help himself and the team.

“Manny surely is a scary hitter.  He can look bad on a certain pitch and then kill the same-type of pitch with his next swing.  He is a good hitter, I mean a good hitter.  Glad I don’t have to face him.

“Shane is having a great playoff.  He runs, hits and fields, which covers most all of the game.

“My deepest sympathy to Charlie, Shane and their families.  I’m praying for them.”

Westward We Went
Both teams left on charter flights following the game.  The Dodgers arrived first at the LA airport.

We flew on a Delta 767, 280 total passengers.  The cross-country trip of 2,383 miles had us landing at 4:02 a.m., Philly time.  By the time we got to the hotel and the luggage was delivered to the room, it was lights out at 6:36 a.m., again Philly time.  A long day but the win didn’t make it seem long.

Charlie and Shane were both on the flight.  Funeral details on Charlie’s mother and Shane’s grandfather are forthcoming.  Ken Mandel will cover details on this site.

As Robbie said, condolences to both families.  The playoffs are very emotion-packed under normal circumstances.  Both Charlie and Shane will make it through because the Phillies family is a very supportive and caring family.

Jenn, a frequent commenter on this blog, pointed out we have two angels watching over us now.

For more emotion, check out the blog by Shane Victorino.

And, MLB.com columnist, Mike Bauman, has a very touching article on this site.  Check it out. 

Today
We worked out from 1-3 this afternoon at Dodger Stadium and the Dodgers followed.  MLB requires team workouts prior to games 1 and 3 of every postseason series.

Jamie Moyer was our rep in the interview room prior to the workout.

Dodgers swept us in a 4-game series in August, winning two games on walk-off hits.  We’ve beaten them 6 straight since.  In postseason history, we are 3-3 in Dodger Stadium.

Finally
When checking into our room at the Langham Hotel, my wife noticed a book on the table.  It contains a directory of hotels in this chain.

The title of the book: 08 80.

Is that an omen?

 

Dobbs at 3B

Today’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Victorino, cf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Werth, rf
Dobbs, 3b
Ruiz, c
Myers, p

Game 1
For five innings, Derek Lowe spent more time on the ground than Punxsutawney Phil.  During that time, he recorded 11 ground ball outs.  In the sixth, he got a couple of pitches up in the zone and they landed in Citizens Bank Park seats.  Chase and Pat’s blasts got the crowd into the game.

Cole did a terrific job in the first inning when the Dodgers had a man on second, one run in and one out.  Only one run scored.  He kept us in the game until the offense came alive and then Mad Dog Madson and “Lights Out” Lidge closed the door.

I thought it was loud during Milwaukee series but passionate Phillies fans really turned up the volume last night.  You will never hear anything like that in many other cities, including LA.

Robin’s Nest
Hall of Famer Robin Roberts provides his insight into Game 1 of the NLCS:
“What a game! Cole has been a strong playoff pitcher.  Lowe was really tough with his sinkers but we got two clutch hits in the sixth and that’s all we needed.  I’m happy for both Chase and Pat. 

“Watching a sinker ball pitcher like Lowe is a lesson in hitting strikes. The sinker is his big pitch and he controls it well.  If the pitch is coming in below the belt, it is a ball. I know, I know a lesson in hitting is easier said than done. 

“Cole, on the other hand, has three pitches he throws whenever he wants.  His arm action on the change up is as good as I’ve ever seen. He and Derek are two different types of pitchers but both are very effective.

“When Charlie replaced Cole in the 8th inning, I’m sure there were people ready to ask why.  That’s Charlie’s decision.  And, it worked out again.

“Game two today.  The best-of-seven seems like a marathon compared to the Milwaukee series.”

Numbers
**We’ve won 6 in a row at Citizens Bank Park and 12 of our last 14.
**Burrell has 7 postseason hits, 4 being homers.
**Lowe was 4-1 against the Phils in his lifetime going into last night, the loss coming in 2001.
**We’re 10-3 in our last 13 NLCS games, after starting 3-11 in the first 14.
**Brad is now the all-time saves leader in NLCS history with 6.

Kerfeld’s Korner
Scouting report on Chad Billingsley from Charley Kerfeld, our Special Assistant to the GM:
“A power-type pitcher who recorded 201 strikeouts this year.  Throws a riding-type fast ball, 89-94; a power curve ball, 77-81, and a hard cutter, 87-89.  Very rarely throws a change up.  Very aggressive young pitcher who is getting better.

ALCS
Kerfeld, Chuck LaMar, Hank King, Gordon Lakey and Jim Fregosi Jr. are scouting the Red Sox-Rays series for us.

Remembering Vuk
Before the gates opened yesterday, LA GM Ned Colletti and first base coach Mariano Duncan visited the Phillies Wall of Fame display in Ashburn Alley.  Both were very close to the late John Vukovich and both wanted to see his plaque.

Duncan was brought to tears when he touched the plaque.

‘What’s happening here?’
Check out Shane Victorino’ s blog.

 

 

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