A Couple of Notes on the NLCS

All I have to say is “Wow!”  Let us all just sit back, for a second, and take in what we have been witnessing in these past two postseasons.  If it were another team, somewhere else, we might see posts on BSB about it.  But, it is our team.  This is spectacular.  Let us not lose the perspective that this may only happen once in a lifetime–if you’re lucky.  This team combines just about everything you would want in a team for which you are rooting on a daily basis.  Win or lose this year, we are witnessing something special.  Think about the components of this team:

  • A never-say-die attitude that makes them so much better when the game/season is on the line.
  • An affable, but underappreciated manager who is a true baseball “lifer” and seems to be enjoying this ride as much as anyone.  As Doogan mentioned the other day, he really is a guy that you want to succeed.  And, they’re not doing it “despite” him or even “for” him; this team succeeds “because” of Charlie Manuel.
  • An incredible work ethic, personified by its best players.  The old sports adage that says that a good team is one where their best players are also their hardest workers.  Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are absolute workaholics.  It’s well-documented that Utley is among the most prepared hitters in baseball.  His film study routine rivals Peyton Manning’s.  And, think about Ryan Howard.  He was the MVP in 2007 and the runner-up in 2008.  He has earned himself back-to-back record-setting arbitration contracts.  His offensive prowess, alone, will make him more money than he can fathom spending in his lifetime.  And, then last October, he leads his team to a World Series championship.  So, what does he do to celebrate this offseason?  He is already a World Champion, an MVP, and a ridiculously wealthy man.  He has the best power numbers to start a career of anyone who has ever played.  But, instead of saying “I’ve made it; I’m at the top of my profession,” he decides to use the offseason to improve the only two things anyone has ever questioned about his game–his weight and his defense.  That is the sign of a true professional.
  • And, not only do we fans want to see the best players working the hardest, but we also need an attitude.  This team has that, too.  Other teams hate Shane Victorino, and for all the right reasons.  Jimmy Rollins has the ultimate “F-you” attitude.  Even Utley, who is quiet and seemingly mild-mannered, has an intensity that manifests itself when he is challenged.  Plus, you throw the wild-card of Pedro Martinez into the mix, and this team has the perfect combination of “good guys” and “hell-raisers” to be both professional and unintimidated, at the same time.
  • They have character.  The only guy who has even aroused any steroid discussion is injured relief pitcher, J.C. Romero–who was never caught for anything related to steroids.  He was suspended for taking something on the banned substances list, but it was not anything that is even remotely linked to a steroid of any kind.  This team is clean.  And, they are just good.
  • And, finally, they have fun, and they really band together.  Most of the team is home-grown, from the farm system.  Again, as Doogan, mentioned, I thought the same thing about Howard talking about Ruiz running faster than he’s seen since Rookie Ball in Clearwater.  These guys have been together every step of the way.  They are not hired mercenaries.  They are brothers.  Even Chan-Ho Park has said that on all the teams he has even been on since coming to the States from Korea, he has never actually felt like a part of the team…until now.  He felt like he belonged from Day One.

So, now, we are one win away from a World Series date, probably with the notorious Bronx Bombers.  The “Best Team that Money Can Buy,” the team with, by far, the largest steroid cloud over the past decade.  The team that fired their manager after TWELVE consecutive playoff appearances.  The team that spent a half-a-billion dollars this offseason.  This could be a lot of fun…if we get there.

Yes, both series are 3-1, but let us not get ahead of ourselves.  And, let us look at a couple notes about the NLCS, and possibly, moving forward.  These are just random notes about a lot of things Phillies-related:

  • Okay, I really do not understand the fact that Pedro looks like he will be the Game Six starter.  Maybe it’s not a final decision because, obviously, the Phillies are hoping there won’t a Game Six, but it makes absolutely no sense to throw Pedro and not Cliff Lee.  We all know that anything can happen in a Game Seven, so you have to do everything in your power to avoid one.  And, Lee, having pitched Sunday, would be on regular rest for Friday’s Game Six.  PLUS (and this is a big one), IF the Phillies do win this NLCS, the World Series starts on Wednesday night.  This means that if Lee pitches Friday in Game Six, he will be ready, on regular rest for Game One.  But, if the Phils throw Pedro and lost, and need Lee on Saturday for Game Seven, he won’t be ready until Game Two on Thursday.  Again, I haven’t found anything from the Phillies brass saying that it won’t be Lee, so I hope that they see the logic as well.  Plus, wouldn’t you rather have Lee in a Game Six, when saving the bullpen is important and then throw Pedro in a Game Seven when it’s “all-hands-on-deck?”  I know I would.  But, let’s not think about any games back in LA (unless it’s in Anaheim), especially a Game Seven.
  • I think it’s funny that the Dodgers are going with Vicente Padilla in Game Five.  Is Torre desperate?  And, if so, is Vicente Padilla really the answer to desperation?
  • How good has Carlos Ruiz been?  To get that kind of production out of the bottom of the lineup, with this STACKED order, is invaluable.
  • All through these playoffs, I have heard all the pundits talking about Brad Lidge, and I have never, ever bought into the “Lidge is Back” theory…until Monday night.  I did not see what the “experts” were seeing.  Yes, he was three-for-three in save opportunities, but I thought all three were shaky…until Monday.  His performance, albeit against just two hitters, was STARKLY reminiscent of the 2008 version.  Both hitters were fooled by slider and unable to hit fastballs.  He looked dominant.
  • I am sick of Phillies fans complaining about the “bias” of the national announcers.  And, I am just as sick of non-Phillies fans feeling they have to defend Chip Caray and Ron Darling.  They are not biased, they are just really, really bad.  I know I said this before, but I thought Brian Anderson and Joe Simpson were terrific in the first round, am I crazy?
  • But, this is pretty funny.  Apparently, MLB.com posted a “Dodgers Tie Series” headline a bit early.
  • If you are a Phillies fan, and you haven’t read this article, by the best baseball writer on the planet, then you need to.
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4 Responses to A Couple of Notes on the NLCS

  1. Alexi says:

    I have wanted to Phillies to get beat this postseason (don’t really know why, probably just bitterness), but your post makes me reconsider. I’ll be behind them in full to take down the Yankees if that’s how it plays out.

    ps – Buck Martinez is a great color man (the O’s team of Gary Thorne and Martinez is quite good for such a lousy team). McCarver and Buck – worst annoucing combo in the history of sport. And the best baseball writer on the planet? Clearly Joe Posnanski.

  2. WaTers says:

    All season when I think of the phillies “attitude” and “character” which you talked about above- all I could think about was this…


    The look Rollins gives during the last two balls is awesome.

  3. Doogan says:

    Leaving Brett Myers off the roster definitely raised the “character” level, as well. And count me still in the “skeptical” camp about Lidge.

  4. BTGuard says:

    Thanks for sharing such a fastidious thought, paragraph is fastidious, thats why i have read it

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