Tuesday, October 26, 2010

End of the Road

So, the baseball season has come to an end for my beloved Philadelphia Phillies. What can I say really....The 2010 NLCS was a case study in the old adage that great pitching prevails over great hitting in the playoffs. Without really dominating in any of the games, the Giants quietly went out and took two of three in Philadelphia, and two of three in San Francisco to return to their first world series since Barry Bonds led them there back in 2002. The pitching was pretty much stellar, with only Jonathan Sanchez getting slammed up hard by the team, and Bruce Bochy's coaching is highly underrated in my view as he managed to find a way to take a team that does not run the bases well, does not steal bases at all, and really has very little offense to speak of, and eke out three out of four wins in one-run games against the team that led the entire major leagues this year in record in one-run games. In a lot of ways, the Giants did to the Phillies this year what the Phillies have done to the Dodgers in the past two NLCS's. Where in the recent past it was Jimmy Rollins leading the time to the amazing 9th-inning walkoff rally, this year in the key Game 4 it was the Giants finding a way to hammer out a run off of Phillies' starting pitcher Roy Oswalt in a rare bullpen appearance.

While the above made the NLCS painful for me to watch in a lot of ways, nonetheless I will confess that I am left with the feeling that the Phillies are still the class of the National League. The Giants' lineup is a joke for a World Series team, and it is quite obvious that they live and die by their pitching staff alone. I mean, if not for Cody Ross -- he of the three regular season home runs and 18 rbis all year -- going absolutely bananas out of nowhere in this series, the Giants would not have scored more than 8 or 9 runs in the 6 game series, and they would not have had a chance even with the Phillies' bats slumping as they did in the series. Ryan Howard struck out 12 times in the NLCS, and had a mind-boggling zero home runs and zero RBIs in the entire series after recording 17 rbis in the 2009 NLCS. Chase Utley, another of the most clutch bats in the postseason over the past four years, was pretty much worthless at the plate in this series. Several times in the series, Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino came to the plate with runners in scoring position or even with the bases loaded, and they failed to come through in the clutch as they have so many times in the recent past. Now to be sure, a lot of this is directly related to the incredible, historic strength of the Giants' starting rotation as I wrote about before this series began. But the Phillies deserve a whole lot of the credit for sucking up the joint in this series, be it at bat, or in the field where they made several uncharacteristic errors from guys like Rollins, Howard, Utley and Victorino -- all basically gold glove-worthy fielders in their own right -- including single-handedly committing three errors in the field in the third inning of the decisive Game 6 to let in both of the runs given up by Roy Oswalt on the day The official records say Oswalt's strong performance was one ER in six innings, but it was clearly zero if you know your ass from first base about scoring a baseball hit.

Anyways, try as I might -- and I freely recognize that this may just be the Philly boy in me shining through -- I just can't shake the feeling that while we might very well be looking at the best pitching staff in the last few generations, we're just not looking at the best team in the NL here in the upcoming World Series. Unlike the ALCS, where I would say it was painfully obvious that the Rangers are in fact the superior team over the overmatched Yankees. I mean, for all the talk of how Cliff Lee has the Yankees' number, and how much of an advantage that gives Texas in a four-game series, the guy pitched exactly one time in the ALCS. Yes, he won his start and utterly shut down the Yanks in Game 3, but the guy barely had a hand in any of the actual games. And those games for the most part were not close. The Rangers thrashed the Yankees in this series. As I heard a caller say on sports radio sometime today, this was a 6-game series that felt an awful lot like a sweep. The Rangers are superior, they were far superior at both hitting and pitching than the Yankees, they made the Yanks look old, and ultimately the Bronx Bombers never had a chance in this series, an outcome which in the end just didn't surprise me much at all.

One thing I will say about the 2010 World Series -- this is yet another victory for the little guy, for the small market team that is not the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies or Mets. Despite all the talk heading into the LCS series, in the end it was not the top-5 payroll Phils or the sick-spending Yankees prevailing to face off in the sport's biggest stage. Instead, we're looking at Texas and San Francisco, not exactly small market teams, but not close to the big spenders on the top end of the spectrum in the major leagues. The Giants' opening day 2010 payroll stood at $97.8 million, good for 10th out of 30 teams in the majors, while the Rangers' team payroll was a paltry $55.2 mil, placing them in 27th out of 30 teams in terms of money spent on their players. So while the Yankees and the Phillies continue to show that money can generally buy some modicum of success over a 162-game regular season, once again baseball has two relatively new and rare participants in the Fall Classic, including the first-ever franchise appearance for a Rangers team that looks to be on a major roll heading into the final series of the season.

Before I go, I would be remiss if I did not mention that fuckass referee in the Packers - Vikings game on Sunday night in NBC, as that dickwad stood right there on national, prime time weekend television and just plain decided to give Brett Favre another come from behind victory by calling Percy Harvin in-bounds on the field with just 48 seconds left in what was at the time a 4-point Packer lead. I mean, this muthafucker is paid to be an NFL referee -- getting these calls right is his whole job -- and this jackfuck stood right there, not two feet away from where the catch occurred, in perfect position, looking right at the play right down on the ground, and called Harvin in bounds. This despite Harvin not being touched or pushed on his way up, and even though Harvin actually got not two, not one, but zero feet in-bounds. Go watch the play if you care to, but I mean this guy's first foot landed mostly in-bounds but on review his heel was clearly touching the out-of-bounds line at the back of the end zone. Then the second foot landed, with the entire foot well onto the white line, so much so that you could even see the white outline in front of the foot because literally the entire foot was that far out of bounds. And then the body landed, also hopelessly on the white well past the back of the end zone. And yet that fucksniffing referee still just up and decided to make the call on the field a touchdown, making it that much harder for replay to overturn the call and keep Favre from another stunning comeback victory at Lambeau Field. As I've written about several times here on the blog, this trend of sports officials interjecting themselves into the game and making sure that they actually affect the outcome instead of just shutting up, sitting back and calling the game correctly. The bottom line is, that referee in Green Bay cannot possibly miss that call from as close as he was and in the perfect position he was in, unless he is predisposed towards taking over the game. That's just the way it is. That referee is an asshole and he should be removed from the game immediately.

OK, /end rant.

Cowboys over the Giants tonight. Tom Coughlin always has a way of surprising you on the downside after a couple of big wins. Bank it.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Cody Ross -- he of the three regular season home runs and 18 rbis all year

Let's try 14 HR and 65 RBIs.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

Real question for me on SNF was how was the Shiancoe TD over ruled?

12:11 PM  
Blogger DuggleBogey said...

Bank it? You're precious.

9:59 PM  

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