SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Makings of a Field General

A few nights ago, the Phillies beat the Marlins in Miami, 3-2. The Phillies' bullpen relieved Joe Blanton most ably, and Brad Lidge once again got the save. The Phillies' broadcasters said that the bullpen saved the day and was the game's "most valuable player," but I'd submit that lightly regarded (by fans and those who don't root for the Phillies) catcher Carlos Ruiz was the hero of the night.

Put simply, Ruiz took charge. He picked a runner off first, blocked the plate and tagged a runner out, and made enough mound visits to earn a free trip to anywhere in the continental United States. He kept his pitchers calm, helped Ryan Madson recover and pitch out of an inning, and, well, he looked like a respected veteran who steadied the good ship Philadelphia during intermittently turbulent waters. Ruiz was something to watch -- the master craftsman showing up with his lunch bucket and doing an honest day's work, only to step up and help when the others needed it.

His was quite a performance, and his play in September has been terrific. On that particular night, it was a Hall of Fame show.

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