Game 3: Bundle up!

dawkinsLet’s just call it a brief diversion from the Broncos for a couple of hours. That’s the way it is with the folks in Colorado even when the Rockies are making a run in the playoffs. The truth is the entire state of Colorado pretty much shuts down whenever the Broncos play, and they are known to take hardcore sports participation to a degree that Philadelphians… well, don’t. But that’s just the way it is when the county due north of Denver is home to more than 60 people who were in the last Olympics.

Hell, Brian Dawkins and the Broncos play the Patriots here on Sunday afternoon to give folks time to get over to the ballpark in relative warmer weather.

That’s because a “front,” as they like to say out there, is moving in quickly and that means temperatures are going to drop to a high of 30 degrees as quickly as it takes for a room to get dark after flipping a switch. Saturday night’s game should be breezy, and snowy and bone-chilling cold, though OK for a ballgame. After all, if they deemed the weather good enough to start Game 5 of last October’s World Series, a little cold shouldn’t bother anyone.

But that happens out here all year round. In fact, I remember a time a few years ago when it was a comfortable and sunny August day with temperatures in Estes Park in the mid-80s. But after a short drive up Trail Ridge Road we had to pull over because it was snowing and hailing too hard to negotiate those tricky mountain roads.

That was August.

This was July of 2007 in the relative low altitude of Denver:

So if you’re going to Denver and can’t get tickets for the game (it’s sold out, I presume), go check out the El Chapultepec, a bar a block or two away from Coors on 1962 Market Street. It’s one of those holdovers from the pre-gentrification Denver where Kerouac and Cassady along with Sinatra and Bono have been seen having a few while eating authentic Mexican food from paper plates and listening to jazz from the stage. The music is what really drives folks in, they say.

El Chapultepec is a little trendier than it used to be, but it doesn’t look like it from the outside.

See how close it is to Coors:

map to El Chapultepec

Other than that, my wife has stopped in the Chop House for a pre-Coors lunch. She still talks about the salad she ate there four years ago.

For those looking for the old Denver of the Beats, there are tours to take.

Or, if you want to really see the mountains, drive the 60 miles up to Estes Park to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a Swiss-inspired little town where the elk out-number the people. Plus, Stephen King stayed at the stately Stanley Hotel for inspiration for The Shining.

Better yet, stay indoors out of the cold weather and find a warm spot and watch Pedro dial it up. That’s what I’m going to do.

It’s when, not if for Phillies

Last season the Colorado Rockies finished the season by winning 14 of their final 15 games. Carrying that hot streak into the playoffs, the Rockies won seven more in a row to land in the World Series. The crazy part about that was the Rockies were in fourth place with 12 games remaining in the season and third place at game No. 161. Had they gone 13 for 15, it would not have worked out.

Certainly the Rockies’ hot streak through the last two weeks of the season and into the playoffs was one of the greatest closing runs ever. Six times they won by two runs or less, including a pair of extra-inning affairs.

In the understatement of all time, things just clicked for Colorado.

Meanwhile, things certainly are clicking for the Phillies these days, too. With five games remaining in the season, the Phillies can one-up the Rockies great closing run by winning 15 of their final 16 games. But unlike the Rockies, it doesn’t seem as if the Phillies are going to need the all-or-nothing surge. Instead, the Phillies fans aren’t thinking about “if,” the big question is, “when.”

As in, “When are they going to clinch?”

Yes, going 10 for 11 during the season’s final fortnight has a crazy way of putting things into better focus. After all, it wasn’t even three weeks ago when the Phillies left Washington, D.C. after a crippling 9-7 loss to the hapless Nationals that put their playoff hopes teetering on the balance. The slightest slip up at Shea Stadium against the Mets could have sent things spiraling out of control. A week later, after dropping a three-game series to the Marlins at the Bank, the margin for error got even tighter. Trailing the Mets by 3½ games with 16 to go seemed like too big of a mountain to scale.

Instead, 11 games later we’re sitting here wondering “when,” not “if.”

“Things happen. Sometimes you get the breaks, sometimes you don’t,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “You’d be surprised. When you’re going good, somebody will hit a screaming foul ball. It goes foul by about six inches. What happens if he hits it on the line or something?”

Certainly Manuel isn’t losing much sleep over things like balls that land centimeters on one side of the line these days. Everything is working out for his club these days – every move is the right one, like when September call up Greg Golson entered Monday’s game as a pinch runner only to go from first to third before a pitch had been thrown.

In the ninth, with lights out closer Brad Lidge unavailable after a full weekend of closing out games in Miami, Brian McCann’s long fly ball to left field off Ryan Madson just missed being a two-run home run by inches. Rather than cutting deep into the Phillies’ lead, McCann’s hit was a simple double – nothing more than a chance for the Braves to pad their left-on-base totals.

So with five games to go in the regular season, the Phillies can seal things up before the weekend. Another victory over the Braves on Tuesday coupled with a loss by the Brewers ensures a Game 163 playoff game even if the Phillies lose their final four games. Better yet, two more victories ought to be enough to sew up the NL East and most likely send the Dodgers to Philly next week for the NLDS.

But if the Mets fold up again and the Brewers slip past them for the wild card (the Mets lead is one game with six to go), then the Phillies get to host Milwaukee again.

No matter the scenario, the Phillies are sitting pretty. Two more does the trick…

It not a matter of if, but when.

***
Speaking of which, it seems as if the Mets’ pitching is in full self-destruct mode as the games become more important. On Monday night, the fans at Shea were masquerading as empty, orange seats after an early battle against the Cubs turned into a laugher when pitcher Jason Marquis slugged a grand slam to break open the game as if it were a 10-pound bass.

So that’s the way it is, huh? Are the Mets nothing more than a dead fish waiting to be carved up?

Maybe so.

Either way, the Mets are not getting too far ahead of themselves like they did last year when it appeared it was simply a matter of “when,” not “if.” Because of that, the team installed extra seats near the dugouts to handle the overflow crowd and high-rollers in need of tickets for the playoffs — a plan that became foolhardy when the Phillies caught them on the last day of the season.

This year the Mets aren’t acting so quickly on the extra seats. With six more games to go and a wild-card berth looking more like the best post-season possibility, the club will wait to install those seats.

In the meantime, manager Jerry Manuel is looking to infuse his with the proverbial shot in the arm(s). Though it seems tenuous at best, starting pitcher John Maine could come off the disabled list in time to work out of the bullpen.

The best bet for the Mets, however, looks to be the notion that the Brewers are an even bigger dead fish with no more fits and flops left in them for one last push.

In the meantime, the Phillies could have the luxury of resting a few arms before learning who their first-round opponent will be.

***
The Philly scribes now have all angles of the J.A. Happ-as-Marty Bystrom bit covered. At least we do after Rich Hofmann chatted up the always loquacious Dallas Green for the latest update on the premise.

Big D’s big quote in Rich’s story?

“Marty did one hell of a job,” he said. “We don’t win without him – that’s for sure. We’d probably still win without Happ but we wouldn’t have won without Marty. He was 5-0, he started two games for us in the playoffs and the World Series. He was a hell of a pitcher, he really was, for a kid. He just got himself all messed up afterward. He got a sore arm.

“He never really got, I mean, that was Marty’s shining light, that September,” Green said. “Hopefully J.A. will get a little more than that.”

My favorite part of the other Bystrom story by that other guy was when it retired pitcher revealed that he did not know he was going to pitch in the decisive Game 5 of the NLCS until after the Phillies won Game 4. That meant all Bystrom could do was go home and take a nap before attempting to pitch the Phillies into the World Series.

“I hadn’t pitched in nine or 10 days and Dallas came up to after Game 4 and said, ‘You got the ball tomorrow, kid,’” Bystrom said. “I said, ‘I’m ready.’”

I guess Rich’s story is better… at least it’s shorter.

The price of success

RockiesHere’s a question:

Did it matter that the Rockies had eight days off before facing the Red Sox in the World Series? Did it matter a little, a lot or not at all? Oh sure, the Rockies players will say that the vacation in between the NLCS and the World Series didn’t matter because they got beat by a better team, but that doesn’t really answer the question, does it?

Did it make a bit of difference?

Rockies’ manager Clint Hurdle told the Fox sideline boy after his team was broomed out of the World Series that there was no way to quantify how an eight-day layoff affected his team and kind of threw aside the question in order to give the Red Sox credit for winning the series.

But Hurdle did not say that the layoff didn’t have an effect on his team. Why not? Because it did.

Since Cactus League games began during the end of February, the Rockies played nearly every day. In fact, the Rockies, like every other Major League team played 162 regular-season games in 180 days, plus a wild-card playoff the day after the season, plus three games of the NLDS against the Phillies with just two days off, plus four games of the NLCS with just one day off.

That’s 170 games and the longest break some of the players on the team got was the three days for the All-Star Break. Though three days doesn’t seem like much to some, that break is like an oasis in the middle of a desert to guys who are used to going to work every single day of the week. And it’s not just baseball either. Research shows that runners and endurance athletes start to lose some fitness in as little as 48 hours of inactivity.

Some rest is good to help the body recover, but imagine taking eight days off after playing every game for a month as if it were do-or-die only to be given eight days off before being told to go out there to play in the biggest set of games in your life.

Good luck.

Worse it’s kind of rude… the Rockies got all worked up and became the biggest story in baseball by winning 21 of 22 games. But then, because the Indians nor Red Sox could figure things out, Hurdle and the guys were left to wait. It was like… vasocongestion. Yeah, that’s what it was. After a heroic and historic run, the Rockies could never shake the lingering sensation of heaviness, aching, or discomfort when the Series finally came around like an old man trying to figure out what to order in a deli.

It just wasn’t fair.

With the aid of hindsight, there’s no question that the Rockies this season and the Tigers in 2006 were penalized for doing their jobs too efficiently. I’m not saying the Tigers or the Rockies would have beaten the Cardinals or the Red Sox to win the World Series, but the fact that both clubs breezed through their respective league playoffs so easily proved to be a determent while the winners of the last two World Series were aided by playing seven-game series in the league championships.

The Tigers in ’06 and the Rockies in ’07 were penalized for being too successful.

How can this be fixed? Is there anything Bud Selig and his gang can do to make it so teams that win with ease can have a fair shot in the World Series? I don’t know. It seems as if the baseball playoffs are full of imperfections and everyone seems to appreciate the quirkiness for it. In other words, the Rockies and Tigers just have to take their beatings and enjoy them.

But how about this:

In the instance where a team like the Rockies and Tigers rip through the league championship only to wait a week or more for their future opponent to take care of business, allow the team that’s waiting for it all to be sorted out to get home-field advantage in the World Series. I don’t know if it will solve anything, but it’s better than giving the home-field advantage to the league that wins a meaningless, midseason exhibition that features players that will be at a Sandals resort when the playoffs roll around.

No, having the last at-bat in the first two games of the Series won’t be significant – after all, it didn’t help the Tigers too much last year – but at least it’s a gesture or a reward. It might not be much, but if a team has to sit around like the rest of us and listen to those dudes from Fox, they ought to get something out of it.

***
The latest issue of The New Yorker features a very riveting story on Scott Boras and Alex Rodriguez. It’s written by Ben McGrath and is another sprawling, erudite pieces that the magazine always seems to run, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort.

The Extortionist: Scott Boras, the Yankees’ bête noire, has changed baseball forever.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Peter Gammons calls out Boras and A-Rod for the timing of the announcement that they had chosen to opt out of the deal with the Yankees:

Snowy Series?

Paul ByrdSo we can all thank Paul Byrd for giving us a Colorado-Cleveland World Series. Really? Colorado will play Cleveland in the World Series in nighttime games scheduled in late October? Wow. Does anyone want to bet that the first-pitch temperatures never make it above 50 degrees? Better yet, will there be snowflakes falling during all the games or just the ones in Denver?

Of course Cleveland hasn’t won anything yet. Though they lead the ALCS, 3-1, with the next game scheduled for Thursday night in Cleveland, it seems pretty academic. Then again, most people thought the same thing when the Red Sox went down 3-0 after losing by 14 runs to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. Look what happened then… yeah. It didn’t work out too well for the Yankees, did it?

Anyway, the interesting part about the Indians is what they did to get to the precipice of the World Series. During and after the 2002 season, the Indians got rid of Charlie Manuel as the manager despite the fact that he guided the team to the AL Central title in 2001. Then they allowed Jim Thome to walk away via free agency and used that money they saved to built around “system guys” like Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta on offense, as well as C.C. Sabathia, Jake Westbrook, Rafael Betancourt and Fausto Carmona on the mound.

This core group mixed with Phillies castoffs like Byrd, Jason Michaels, David Dellucci, Aaron Fultz and Kenny Lofton with a under-40 manager in Eric Wedge, appears set to knock off both the Yankees and the Red Sox in the playoffs.

And all it took was getting rid of Manuel and Thome?

That probably wasn’t the entire case. After all, Indians’ fans really wanted Thome to re-sign with the team instead of going off to Philadelphia for six-years and $85 million. But then again, Thome’s departure (obviously) didn’t hurt too badly, either.

But, it could be argued that for the Indians it was Thome and Charlie – no. But Byrd, Michaels, Dellucci, Fultz and Lofton – yes.

Incidentally, those “yes” guys were all players Ed Wade brought in (except for Dellucci) to help the Phillies get to the playoffs… was Ed Wade on the right path here in Philadelphia?

bath So we’re looking at a Colorado-Cleveland World Series… I wonder what the folks at Fox think about that? Do they have the modern-day, TV execs’ version of smallpox and whiskey to thwart the Indians and get the big-market Red Sox to the World Series. Maybe when the World Series begins the Rockies will actually lose a game and make it interesting.

More importantly, what’s the difference between the Red Sox and Yankees these days anyway?

***
Speaking of ballplayers getting and wanting six-year deals worth $85 million, I just talked to a “source” about Aaron Rowand (because talking to sources is actually better than talking to the man himself… after all, it’s better to be “well-sourced” than, you know, anything else) and it seems as if the free-agent centerfielder has lessened his demands a bit. According to the “source,” Rowand does not want six-years and $84 million as a well-sourced “sources” indicated. Instead, the Phillies likely will offer fewer years and money, but will trump all deals with a “One Free Backrub” coupon.

Also, according to the “source,” Rowand wants all the brown M&Ms removed from the pre-game, clubhouse spread.

There will also be incentives for an All-Star appearance, home runs and fences run into and all that jazz, but apparently the backrub coupon is the deal breaker.

Stop yelling at me!

Todd HeltonWho is Dane Cook and why is he yelling at me on my TV? And why does he sound like he has a mouthful of chestnuts? And why does it look like he spends four hours making his hair look so meticulously messy?

Worse, why is MLB using Dane Cook to sell me on baseball? I’m already watching and because the games start so late, I’m also ready to fall asleep. Putting that loud, chestnut-eating guy on between innings to yell at me about how exciting baseball is is really, really annoying.

But give MLB credit for one thing – it made me want to (kind of) find out who Dane Cook is. Apparently he’s a comic. Perhaps he’s even a comic with no material that has swiped jokes from Emo Philips, Joe Rogan and Demetri Martin. But more than that he is a humorless comedian, which is worse than being a trickless magician. David Blaine is a trickless magician, as was pointed out by the adroit Chris Rock. This is an odd thing because, as Jerry Seinfeld once observed, magicians base their entire act on making YOU look stupid.

”Hey, here’s a quarter… now it’s gone and you’re a jerk!”

Who wants to be subjected to that? Worse, who wants to see a guy just sitting in a box for a month? He’s just sitting there, in a box, in public. That’s magic? What’s the big deal with that? People do it all the time, but they don’t call it a box – they call it a couch and they’re smart enough to put it in front of a TV. Sometimes people sit in their “box” so long that they actually feel their ass grow.

Top that, David Blaine!

Note: Here’s an idea for a David Blaine’s next trick – sit through Dane Cook’s HBO show. Afterwards, if he chooses, he can hammer six nails into his skull.

So not only is David Blaine trickless, he isn’t even original… which is kind of like Dane Cook.

Anyway, I suppose MLB hired Dane Cook to yell at me because of marketing and demographics and all of that stuff. The thought, I suppose, is that someone like Dane Cook blathering on about baseball with his messy hair on the TV will make younger folks in the key demographic to watch baseball games on Fox or TBS. I wish there was more to it than that, but that’s probably the depth of all of it.

But here’s where it doesn’t work:

Baseball, to that demographic, probably isn’t cool and even a shouting Dane Cook isn’t making it any cooler. Baseball, sadly, is what it is. Making it look “cool” is a lot like putting lipstick on a pig — sure, lipstick makes ladies look pretty, but if a pig wears makeup, it’s just a pig with hues that don’t match its skin color or “season.”

And no one wants to see that.

But if I worked for MLB and they asked me what idea I had in order to pander to the kids of the demographic they want Dane Cook to speak to, do want to know what I’d do?

Well, I’m going to tell you anyway…

Here’s the idea – I’d schedule the games for times where kids could watch them. That means Game 4 of the NLCS (an elimination game) would not start at 10 p.m. Eastern time. Why not? Because even people who don’t figure into the demographic (like me), but still want to watch the game, end up falling asleep on the couch during the fifth inning. When we come to after rolling off the couch and onto the floor with spittle attached to our cheeks, there he is – Dane Cook – shouting at us.

It’s not nice.

Yes, I know there are different time zones and just because something starts at 10 on the east means that it’s 8 in Denver. But you know what? Those kids have school the next day and they are going to fall asleep during the middle innings, too. Like the rest of us, they will get yelled at and, but then they will go off to bed where they will have nightmares about a sloppy, walnut-eating freak screaming at them about Troy Tulowitzki.

In other words, not even rumpled Dane Cook and his mouth full of walnuts is going to make us stay up late to watch baseball, and that’s too bad.

Sorry, that wasn’t funny either.

What also isn’t funny is that baseball fans aren’t getting the chance to watch the Colorado Rockies win every single game they play. For the past month (Sept. 15), the Rockies have played 22 games and they have won 21 times. What’s more incredible is that the Rockies finished the regular season by winning 14 of 15 games, and if they had won just 13 of 15 games, they would not be in the playoffs. Thirteen of 15 is pretty darned good, but it wouldn’t have been good enough to get the Rockies into the playoffs.

Now, though, they’re in the World Series. Apparently Matt Holliday clubbed a three-run home run to help the Rockies sweep the Diamondbacks. At least that’s what the box score indicates… I missed it. I was asleep on the couch all worn out after being yelled at by a better demographic.

The Rockies win again… ho-hum

UbaldoLast night’s plan was to get everyone in the house to bed, finish up some work on my laptop, and then relax in front of the couch to watch Ubaldo Jimenez pitch for the Rockies in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The kid throws hard, and everybody talks about his stuff, but sometimes you don’t get to see the finer details when you are in the press box for a game. Though Ubaldo pitched against the Phillies twice in the past month and I was there to write about it, I didn’t get the chance to appreciate it.

Hey, this is what constitutes as a wild Friday night these days.

Anyway, though I did get a chance to watch most of Ubaldo’s five-inning stint (5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 6 K – 94 pitches, 50 strikes), that was about all I saw. Ubaldo finished up at about 12:30 a.m. EST. By that point I was fighting to stay awake – as I mentioned, it was a wild Friday night – and since the Rockies had a one-run lead, I figured that was enough. So I went to bed.

As I’m reading now, the game went on for another two hours when Manny Corpas and his shirtball couldn’t hold the lead in the ninth. In the 11th that wily Willy Tavarez – the guy who challenged Ryan Howard for the Rookie of the Year Award in 2005, drew a bases-loaded walk to send in the winning run.

That’s right: a bases-loaded walk in the 11th gives the Rockies the winning run…

But that was after Tavarez (apparently… I didn’t see it) made a diving catch in the seventh inning to rob Tony Clark of a game-breaking hit.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Rockies will not lose again for the rest of the year. What are they up to now? Nineteen of the last 20? And last night they did it will one extra-base hit in an 11-inning game with a 23-year old rookie on the mound?

Admit it, you didn’t have the Rockies vs. Indians in the World Series when the season began, did you? How about Rockies vs. Red Sox?

***
Curt & Unit Speaking of the Red Sox, the erstwhile Paul Hagen had an interesting tidbit in today’s Daily News in which Curt Schilling admitted that he wouldn’t mind pitching for the Phillies in 2008 IF (and it’s a big IF) the Red Sox did not want him back.

My guess is that Schilling will return to the Red Sox for 2008. I’m not basing that on anything, but if a dude helps pitch a team to the World Series twice in four years, bringing him back for one year to sail off into the sunset is kind of the sporting thing to do.

Then again, it appears as if both the Phillies and Schilling are giving the matter serious thought. Plus, the big-mouthed righty has “reinvented” his repertoire by fine-tuning his changeup and off-speed pitches. Could that fact save some wear-and-tear and give Schilling, 40, a couple more years?

Could he be the loud yin to Jamie Moyer’s thoughtful yang in the Phillies rotation?

Maybe.

***
Meanwhile, it appears as if Jimy Williams might be looking for a gig elsewhere. According to Todd Cougar Zolecki of the Inquirer, the Phillies have reached an agreement with all of the members of the 2007 coaching staff except for Williams.

The team also will not renew conditioning coordinator Scott Hoffman’s contract. Hoffman was the guy who led the team through its pre-batting practice stretching routine. He was also the most ignored man affiliated with the team.

Later: The Chicago Marathon and the trip to the B&N… I promise.

Do or die in Denver

Clint HurdleThe Coloradoans are having fun. As a brief diversion from the Broncos for a couple of hours, the folks in Colorado are chirping about how great their Rockies are. The entire state of Colorado pretty much shuts down whenever the Broncos play, and they are known to take hardcore sports participation to a degree that Philadelphians… well, don’t. But that’s just the way it is when the county due north of Denver is home to more than 60 people who were in the last Olympics.

And yes, they are chirping. They’re chirping like crickets near the lake on a hot summer night. In making some arrangements to pay some visits in Estes Park over the next couple of days, I informed folks that as long as the series was in full throttle I would be busy in Denver.

“So you will be around Saturday night and all day Sunday, huh?”

Yep, they’re really confident about the Rockies chances. Actually, so are the Rockies.

“We believe we’re going to win every game,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve been playing in the loser’s bracket for a month.”

There is some hope for the Phillies fans, though. For instance, the Phillies are 8-2 in their last 10 road games and the Rockies are just 11-7 in games at Coors Field when the wind blows harder than 10 mph. According to the weather forecast,

Still, the Rockies have won 16 of their last 17 games and are 8-3 in the last 11 at Coors. A “front,” as they like to say out there, is moving in and that means temperatures are going to drop 30 degrees as quickly as it takes for a room to get dark after flipping a switch. Saturday night’s game should be breezy, though OK for a ballgame. But if there is a Game 4 on Sunday night it’s likely that the temperatures will be a touch warmer than freezing. There’s even a chance for a few snow flurries, too.

But that happens out there all year round. In fact, I remember a time a few years ago when it was a comfortable and sunny August day with temperatures in Estes in the mid-80s. But after a short drive up Trail Ridge Road we had to pull over because it was snowing and hailing too hard to negotiate those tricky mountain roads.

That was August.

This was July in the relative low altitude of Denver:

So if you’re going to Denver and can’t get tickets for the game (it’s sold out), go check out the El Chapultepec, a bar a block or two away from Coors on 1962 Market Street. It’s one of those holdovers from the pre-gentrification Denver where Kerouac and Cassady along with Sinatra and Bono have been seen having a few while eating authentic Mexican food from paper plates and listening to jazz from the stage. The music is what that really drives folks in, they say.

El Chapultepec is a little trendier than it used to be, but it doesn’t look like it from the outside.

See how close it is to Coors:

map to El Chapultepec

Other than that, my wife has stopped in the Chop House for a pre-Coors lunch. She still talks about the salad she ate there two years ago.

For those looking for the old Denver of the Beats, there are tours to take.

Or, if you want to really see the mountains, drive the 60 miles up to Estes to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a Swiss-inspired little town where the elk out-number the people. Plus, Stephen King stayed at the stately Stanley Hotel for inspiration for The Shining.

***
Speaking of horror stories, did everyone see all those bugs swarm onto Joboa Chamberlain in last night’s Indians-Yankees game? Wow. That was almost like something out of Hunter Thompson, only in his case he was fighting off low-flying bats.

There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge.

***
Oh yeah, Ian is ALIVE!

***
I’m on the way to Denver and will make posts here during the game just like in Philly… I’ll check back from Coors.

Long road back

The PhilliesBy now we have heard all about the resiliency of the Phillies. They started the season poorly, winning just one of their first seven games and two of their first nine. As the season progressed the club was plagued with injuries, bad luck and other oddball maladies that often send the average ballclub spiraling down the standings.

Finally, the Phillies looked as if they were ready to fall off the ledge trailing the Mets by seven games with 17 to play before streaking past and into the playoffs.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

It looks as if once the slate was wiped clean the Phillies got off to yet another slow start. That’s just so typical of these Charlie Manuel-managed teams.

But here we are now. Once again the Phillies are in an all-too familiar position with their backs against the wall. This time, though, they seem to be facing the wrong opponent. At this exact moment, the Colorado Rockies might be the best team in baseball. Yes, there have been a few teams that won the World Series by accident, like the 2006 Cardinals. But no team wins 16 of its last 17 games on a lark.

Actually, listening to the Rockies’ Matt Holliday explain it, there really isn’t much to his team’s ridiculous winning streak.

“We just came in and keep playing,” he said. “We don’t really talk about what we have to do – we need to get one, we need to get two, we need to get whatever. Just every day, go out there, play hard, play the game the right way.”

On the other hand, the Phillies know exactly what they have to do… better yet, they know what they cannot do. If the Phillies lose one more game the whole thing comes to a grinding halt. Just like that – poof! – it will be all over.

Or, it could be another one of those crazy comebacks that have defined this team all season long.

The odds are long, though. Of the 84 five-game series in Major League Baseball history, here are the seven teams to overcome a 2-0 deficit followed by their fate later in the post-season:

  • 1981 Dodgers over the Astros – Dodgers won the NLCS in five over the Expos; won the World Series in six games over the Yankees.
  • 1982 Brewers over the Angels – Brewers lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Cardinals.
  • 1984 Padres over the Cubs – Padres lost World Series in five games to the Tigers
  • 1995 Mariners over the Yankees – Mariners lost ALCS to the Indians.
  • 1999 Red Sox over the Indians – Red Sox lost in ALCS to the Yankees.
  • 2001 Yankees over the A’s – Yankees beat Mariners in ALCS in five games; lost to Diamondbacks in World Series in seven.
  • 2003 Red Sox over the A’s – Red Sox lost ALCS in seven games to Yankees.

The 2001 Yankees are the only team to lose the first two games of a five-game series at home before going on to win the series.

***
More to come later… I have a Jamie Moyer story to finish, a radio show to do and some packing for a flight to Denver. After that, this wannabe Coloradoan will give some insights on the area for the east-coast flatlanders heading out for the rest of the series.

***
Last night’s story: Manuel’s Call to Lohse in Game 2 Backfires