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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Phillies' Fans Shouldn't Despair

Phillies' fans shouldn't despair despite last night's loss in Game 1 of the NLCS -- for a variety of reasons.

1. Give the Giants credit, a lot of credit, as they fought their way through the traffic jam that was the NL West late in the season, kept their cool, and kept finding a way to make things happen, even despite a position-player lineup more laden with cast-offs than built with All-Stars and with having the guy who was their best position player at the season's outset -- Pablo Sandoval -- sitting on the bench. Give GM Brian Sabean and Manager Bruce Bochy a ton of credit for being able to put together lineups despite not having the marquis players that the three other teams in the post-season have. And that makes the Giants much more dangerous and very formidable -- these guys have something to prove, and they've gotten off to a good start proving it.

2. Cody Ross kills the Phillies. Joe Buck of FOX told the story last night that the Marlins had put Ross on waivers late in the season, and the Giants only picked Ross up to prevent the Padres, who at the time had a better record than the Giants and, therefore, came after them in the waiver selection process, from picking him up because they were desperately looking for hitting. The Giants really didn't intend to play Ross much, but he grew on them, and last night he seized the bright lights on the big stage with two home runs. I cannot recall specifics, but Ross was a tough out at worst and a very good hitter at best for the Marlins when they played the Phillies. This is what the post-season is all about -- guys like Ross who step up and grab the headlines when the bright lights are focused on anyone but the likes of him at the time the game starts.

3. As an interesting aside, is it a safe bet to say that last night's game marked the only time in the history of baseball that the #8 hitters in each lineup homered in their first at-bats? (Carlos Ruiz went yard for the Phillies in his first time up to tie the game at 1).

4. Series aren't made or broken in 1 game. Now, it may be the case that the Yankees take three straight from the Rangers in the ALCS, but you might have thought that the Rangers were damaged beyond repair after blowing a 5-run lead in Game 1, only to come back and take Game 2 7-2. The Phillies' defeat was far less devastating than that, and they're at home tonight before a friendly crowd.

5. Phillies' fans (at least some of them) will remember the 1983 World Series, when they took Game 1 from the Orioles and got all giddy that the Orioles (with their great pitching) might not have been all that they were cracked up to be and that the Wheeze Kids (who featured future Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Tony Perez at the very end of their careers and also Pete Rose, who was close to the end) might have another championship in them for the Schmidt-Carlton era Phillies. Well, the giddiness turned into despair about a week later, when the Orioles won four straight and the World Series. Moral of the story: take one game at a time. Second moral of the story: it's not time to get anxious until it's really time to get anxious. Now, I'm sure that the pundits on TV will bandy about stats that suddenly make the winner of Game 1 the favorite to win the series, and the Phillies will have to deal with all of that. It's the job of both managers to keep their teams level throughout the series.

6. For what's it's worth, the home plate up, Darryl Cousins, had a tiny strike zone last night for both pitchers. If you're a starting pitcher, it's probably not comforting to have as the home plate ump in one of the biggest games of your career wearing glasses (just kidding). All that said, he pinched both pitchers, and didn't make a difference in the game (even if some Phils' fans will argue mightily that he missed a called third on a Giants' hitter that would have prevented a 2-run rally in the middle of the game that enabled the Giants to score their third and fourth runs). Bottom line: Cousins missed (or didn't miss) an equal number of calls for both teams last night, and that's baseball, so hitters and pitchers alike just have to deal with it.

7. Bruch Bochy made a great call in that inning by pinch-hitting Nate Schierholz for Pat Burrell (who must have done cartwheels over his performance against his old team last night). Schierholz scored from second on a hit to center; had Burrell been the runner, the third-base coach would have stopped him at third.

Hats off to the Giants, who came into an energized ballpark full of loud fans and took care of business in Game 1. It's now up to the Phillies to turn this back into a series that people will remember for it's drama and back-and-forth, and not for its failure to score enough runs despite being the (heavy) favorites.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to Game 1, and I must say I was sorely disappointed with the home crowd. Except for a few points in the game, the crowd was basically silent. In the 7th and 8th innings, when the Phillies had a chance of rallying--men on base, even--the whole crowd should have been on its feet making the stadium shudder with noise. It was the NLCS with a trip to the World Series on the line! Instead, you could hear the umpire call strikes from the field. It reminded me of the Cubs NLDS games against the Dodgers a few years ago where in the first inning Wrigley Field was wild and noisy and vibrating from all the excitement--until the Dodgers put up a few runs early, and then it turned eerily quiet, and every good Cubs fan knew another chance to end the curse had flown over the left field bleachers like so many Dodgers' home runs.

3:23 PM  

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