Thursday, November 05, 2009


What a fun day to be a Yankees fan, and a terrible one to be among the Phillies faithful. It was terrible for the Phils because you just knew right from the getgo that the team had no chance to win Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday night. As soon as the first inning, when Pedro was throwing fastballs that were registering a bare 84 miles per hour on the gun, you had to know. Most major league hitters are going to pound on any clown throwing 84-mph cheese up there, but when you're facing a lineup like the Yankees', the whole notion is an absolute joke. They were all over P-Mart from his first pitch to his merciful last in just the 4th inning, and thanks to Charlie Manuel's continued insistence on leaving his pitchers in for too long and for too many bad pitches, the Phils were out of it by the time they finally got Pedro out of the game in the 4th. But as soon as Pedro came out in the first with guns ablazing with 84 mph fastballs, this game was as good as done.

There are so many reasons the Phillies lost this series. Ultimately, they simply could not compete with the Yankees, who overmatched them about as badly as the Phillies themselves outmatched everyone else in the National League in this postseason. As much as I hate to admit it, this was not a close series in my book. It was about as bad of a blowout as the Yankees did to the Angels a couple of weeks back. Sure, like with the Angels, the Yanks lost Game 5 on the road to extend the series to six and come back home to New York, but as with the ALCS, once things got back to Yankee Stadium, the best team in America quickly retook control of the series, on the back of Andy Pettitte, who got the incredible sixth series-clinching victory of his illustrious career, mostly with the Yankees.

Just like I said here how the Phillies had an advantage both in starting pitching and on offense against every team in the National League and both of its postseason opponents in the NLDS and NLCS, the same proved to be true for the Yankees over the Phillies in this series. On the offensive side of the ball, I think the two lineups are fairly comparable, with the Yankees probably retaining a slight edge as far as their five or six "big boppers" at the top of the lineup. The biggest difference in the lineups to me is that the Yankees, as an American League team with a designated hitter, have that one extra big hitter -- I'm talking a 30 HR, 100 RBI type -- who in this case happens to be Hideki Matsui. I'm not just mentioning him because he utterly destroyed the Phillies in the World Series in nabbing his first ever World Series MVP award. I'm saying if you compare the lineups, both teams have a couple of poor hitters at the bottom of their rotation who are mostly in there for their defensive prowess on a team that simply does not need any more offensive firepower, but otherwise the biggest real difference is that the Yankees go one more man deep among the big hitters they can put at the top of their lineup. Sure the Phillies get the benefit of the same DH rule when they play World Series games in their American League opponent's park, but how can you even compare when the Yankees throw Godzilla's bat into that already stacked lineup, while the Phils are adding in Ben Francisco's, or Matt Stairs'? You can't, because there is just no comparison, and ironically that DH position ends up being one of the big items to tip the scale in the Yankees' favor in this series. The fact that the Yanks so thoroughly handled the Phillies throughout this series, even with A-Rod, Teixeira, Cano and Posada basically hitting like shit is really a testament to just how strong their lineup as a whole is when compared to the competition.

Then, moving on to the pitching, once again the Yanks just had a clear advantage in this World Series. Even though CC Sabathia failed to record a win in his two starts against the Phils, he pitched well enough both times, the second time for his team to secure the late victory off of Phillies idiot Brad Lidge in the 9th inning of Game 4 in Philadelphia. Even though AJ Burnett was hideous on three days rest the in Game 5 loss to the Phillies, he pitched extremely well in Game 2, outlasting a valiant attempt from Pedro Martinez to get his Yankees back into the series after the Phils' surprising Game 1 win. And even though Andy Pettitte pitched on three days rest for the first time in over three years in Game 6, the man was able to put together enough good innings to leave his team in a position to win when they needed to to put this series away. And meanwhile, on the Phillies' side of the ball, the story was pretty much totally reversed. Heading into the postseason I had viewed the Phils' likely rotation of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Pedro Martinez and J. Happ as among the best baseball has to offer this season on one team. However, in practice, once the Yankees posed some actual competition to the skill level on the Phillies' team, Hamels sucked balls every time he went out there, Happ didn't even start a game in the entire postseason for some reason I will never ever ever understand, and when he did pitch in the Series it was constantly Charlie Manuel inserting him into games with guys on 2nd and 3rd, nobody out in the middle of a key inning, a situation which Happ was totally and completely unfamiliar with prior to this postseason. And Pedro, well, it looks like the oil well finally ran dry for the old man here during the World Series. After looking great in a dominating start in LA against the Dodgers in the NLCS, Pedro could not find that form in Game 2 of the World Series facing the Yankees' huge bats, and by the time Game 6 rolled around, even on five days rest, Pedro was worthless. As anyone who watched this series knows, in the end the Phillies simply had nobody on their entire team -- other than Cliff Lee of course -- who could stop the Yankees. Ever. In any inning. Period. Whether it was Hamels, Pedro, Blanton, Happ, Chan Ho Park, Scott Eyre, Ryan Madsen, Brad Lidge or anyone else, in the end the Phils simply could not keep those huge Yankee hitters off the basepaths, and when you combine that with the Yankee pitchers success against most of the Phils' lineup not named Chase Utley or Jayson Werth in this series, it's not hard to see why the Phils weren't even close in this matchup.

This morning on Mike and Mike, Buster Olney was on the air and he was talking all about what an amazing postseason this was for major league baseball. "Amazing"? Really? Try again, Robert. This was about as bad and as boring of a postseason as there has been in baseball in a long time, and ultimately the World Series did little to change that conclusion. Think about it -- the four LDS matchups saw three 3-game sweeps, and one 4-game win for the Phillies over the Rockies. I don't even remember the last time I saw that happen, but from there it just got worse. In the NLCS, the Phillies lambasted the Dodgers in five games, never trailing in the series and never even giving the impression that it was going to become close at any point. The Yankees had a very similar experience in the ALCS against the Angels, although as I mentioned they allowed their series to go six games, but again, it was not a series that ever saw the Yanks trailing or that anyone who understands the game actually ever thought the Angels were close to winning. The path of these two teams to the World Series here in 2009 was about as bad and as boring as possible. And then, sadly, even the World Series ended up not coming close to living up to the hype that a bunch of morons like me spread about it heading into the Fall Classic. This was supposed to be that amazing, historic series -- on paper -- and it was destined to go seven games, right? Wrong. Sure, again the Phils made it to six games in this Series and to that extent it might be tempting to consider this a close matchup, but it really wasn't that close if you actually watched the games, and from the moment that Game 1 ended, the Yankees took complete control of the series and just never looked back, like any championship team should.

As the Yankees bombed their way past the Phillies to win the 2009 World Series on Wednesday night, I did the obvious and took some time to reflect on what this Phillies team has accomplished over the past year or so. It really is amazing if you think about it. The Phillies are a team that in their 130-year history as a franchise, had only been to the World Series five times before last year, and only won it once, in 1980 when I was a mere babe. Staying up and watching that 1980 championship -- watching the late Tug McGraw strike out Willie Wilson to eliminate the Royals in Game 6 -- became my first real clear sports memory, the first time I can specifically remember a sporting event having a big effect on me and those around me. In Philadelphia, just making it to the finals in any sport has always been enough during my lifetime to make you a statue in front of the art museum and to be remembered forever in the lore and stories of old men on their porches in Northeast Philly, the local mailmen on Cottman Avenue, and the lifelong blue-collar workers down in Manyunk.

But this Phillies team really changed all that, didn't it? Those in Philadelphia know exactly what I'm talking about. These Phillies went all the way through the postseason last year and never even came close to losing any series. They won it all and did so in fairly dominatory fashion, putting an end to a 25-year drought of misery and failure that no other city with teams in all four major professional sports in this country has ever had to endure before. By the time the 2008 Phillies arrived at the World Series, they were there to win and they just clamped their collective foot down on the Rays' necks and never let up until the series was over.

And then they went back. It's never been done before in Philly -- two straight World Series appearances -- and in the eyes of the fans it really legitimizes what happened last year as not being some kind of a "fluke" or an accident. And that's not to say that the team wouldn't always have been remembered for being good, but I mean even that 1993 World Series Phillies team never made it back to another postseason, let alone another Fall Classic. Philadelphia has never before been a city of dynasties, but the 2008-2009 Phillies actually got people talking in the city about the "D" word for the first time in decades. In the end, I have never made any bones here at the blog about the fact that the Yankees were the best team in baseball this year. It became clear to me somewhere in the middle of the summertime, and nothing that happened anywhere in the season or during the postseason gave me any reason to doubt that the Yanks's superior talent would eventually prevail and they would win the 2009 World Series.

In a way, knowing how great this Yankees team was really helps ease the acceptance process for the Phillies fans out there. Despite all the bravado and braggadocio and pride from the Phillies Phaithful this postseason, despite all the bad calls, all the questionable coaching decisions, in the end in this World Series, the best team won. I can admit that -- I have no doubt about it at all, for that matter -- and so should everyone else out there. For now, it's time to put the memories of another incredible Phillies season on the back burner, and time to really focus on NFL football.

Thank you, Phillies, for another fabulous season. Here's to more to come in 2010!

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Blogger DuggleBogey said...

Pitchers are not batteries. Three days isn't an "incomplete charge" so the pitcher can't pitch, and five days worth of "charging" doesn't automatically make a guy pitch better.

Yes, days of rest is one of the small ways a manager can affect a pitching staff, but jeezus, stop with the bullshit "he won't be as good on three-days rest" bullshit that doesn't make sense.

During the season pitchers don't pitch on short rest because they don't want to wear down for a long season. They have the entire off season to recover from the series, three-days rest is just a bullshit excuse one can use when he pitches badly.

6:40 AM  
Blogger Riggstad said...

I don't think I've ever disagreed more.

write up over in Riggs land coming.

10:10 PM  

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