Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Prepare The William Penn Jersey!

Around midnight, satiated by victory, I stirred myself to go through my collection of vintages, then put a bottle of La Grande Dame, by Veuve Clicquot, into the ‘fridge. You see, the Philadelphia Phillies are a mere game from the Pennant.

Now, yesterday afternoon, before Game 4 of the Phillies Dodgers NLCS, I spoke to my youngest brother about the pending game. I remarked that I was feeling a real inexplicable trepidation about the Phillies following their uncompetitive loss in Game Three. He was unsympathetic- pointing out the root cause. “You’ve seen them play all year,” he replied drolly, “you’ve seen them play.”

Still, I guess the one nice thing about an approach to scoring runs consisting of standing around waiting for some guy to launch one is that, indeed, the Phillies are blessed with a plethora of guys who can, in fact, launch baseball outs of ball parks. They can sort of survive months and months of key core players- Rollins, Burrell, Howard, etc.- hitting .150 because they get lots and lots of baseball’s single most determinant factor- the home run with guys on base.

Oddly- outside of their lead-off guy- they have lots of guys who have legit OBP. Other than Ruiz and Rollins, there is no regular who doesn’t hit for some average and/or walks. They get a lot of total at-bats where there is someone loitering on first base- and a ton of hitters who can deposit mistakes into the nether regions of the night. There was a lot of blather last night about the “Phillies don’t quit” and that the “Phillies keep coming”- but really, combine players on base with lots of guys who can hit the ball out of the ball park, and you have a recipe to be in and then win a lot of games you shouldn’t on paper.

Last night was certainly one of those games: indifferent starting pitching, shaky middle relief, down multiple runs late- but guys loitered on base late (Howard is hitting .188 in the series but still scored two runs last night because he loiters on the base paths) and the Phillies produced a pair of guys who could go yard.

There has been good karma too. Readers of Frank Helps You Think It All Out know I have no problem with Charlie Manual. His ability to get guys to play for him every night, week after week, year after year- and manage a roster over the 162-game marathon easily overshadows his absolute bizarre in-game strategic decisions. Victorino bunting? In actuality Charlie, Shane is their number one RBI guy right now- and he gives himself up to get Feliz an RBI opportunity against an RH? An opportunity only gotten after Charlie has to burn a move by removing Dobbs? Heck, I’d rather have Dobbs in there hitting off an LHP anyway.

But the karma comes in the form of Joe Torre- who is doing a terrible job managing the Dodgers this week. I’ll let Greg Doyel re-hash the blunders- but Joe is making Charlie look almost smart.

Bottom line- I went into last night’s game thinking, to win the series, the Phillies had to win a game that Dodgers’ ace Lowe started one more time to get this done. They did last night- and consequently, I think they’re probably home.