Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chamomiles Davis, my thoughts exactly

I kept the celebration restrained so as not to wake up my eight-month-old son. And in considering that I realized something: This championship is for him. And for every Philly son and daughter 25 and under who have spent their entire lives watching other cities have parade after parade, wondering "When will it be our turn?"

I'm 35, which makes me old enough to remember (vaguely) the excitement of the Phillies winning the 1980 World Series. What I remember with greater clarity, however, are the more recent spate of disappointments: the slider to Joe Carter; the Flyers' being swept at the hands of the Red Wing juggernaut; the elevation of hope when the Sixers took Game 1 in L.A. but then dropped the next four; the last five minutes in Jacksonville. A kick to the balls every four years, giving us just enough time to recuperate from the last one.

My sister was born in November 1983, five months after the Sixers swept the Lakers for the O'Brien Trophy. Last night marked the first time since she was born that a Philly team had won anything significant. At least I was alive when the city got two Stanley Cups, a World Series championship and an NBA title. Yes, I was a teenybopper when most of that happened, but still I was there.

As I read through the increasing number of half-drunk, half-ecstatic comments written here and elsewhere over the last 14 hours, I couldn't help but notice how many 23-, 24- and 25-year-olds are represented among them. For those men and women, this championship bears a significance that us older fans can appreciate but not truly understand. This one is their first -- ever -- in a lifetime.

For my son's sake, I hope he'll have plenty more to celebrate by the time he's old enough to really enjoy them. In the meantime: Sleep tight, little man. You're among winners.

-- Chamomiles Davis, on The 700 Level

EXACTLY.

We are the champions

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2008 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS




That about sums it up

In Philadelphia, folks are used to seeing the sky fall on their greatest sports parades.

Just usually, it's not quite this literally.

In Philadelphia, a place I confess I've lived most of my life, they know stuff happens in sports. They just wonder why it's mostly bad stuff. Especially when things seem way too good -- by which we mean way too non-Philadelphian -- to be true.

So Game 5 of the 2008 World Series fits right in. It's so utterly Philadelphian, they should place a DVD of it in William Penn's hand, way up there on top of City Hall.

...

So this is now more than a mere sporting event, friends. It's a life-altering event for an entire community. Do these people get their parade and release their demons? Or does one horrendously ill-timed act of nature drive them deeper into the Cuckoo's Nest?

It will all be played out on a soggy October baseball field. Only in Philadelphia.

-- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

Complete euphoria, or worst nightmare awaits all Philadelphians (10/29/2008)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This picture says it all

World Series postponed, again

MLB Press Release:

PHILADELPHIA - Game Five of the 2008 World Series will not resume tonight due to inclement weather. Game Five is now tentatively scheduled to resume on Wednesday evening at 8:37 p.m. (ET), weather permitting.

Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said: "While obviously we want to finish Game Five as soon as possible, the forecast for today does not allow for us to continue the game this evening. We are closely monitoring tomorrow's forecast and will continue to monitor the weather on an hourly basis. We will advise fans as soon as we are able to make any final decisions with respect to tomorrow's schedule."
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20081028&content_id=3650889&vkey=pr_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Monday, October 27, 2008

More to come...

I'll have a Sunday roundup done tomorrow. Now it is time to watch Game 5 of the World Series. Can the Cole Hamels and the rest of the Phillies end 100 seasons of losing and bring Philadelphia not only their first championship since 1983 but just their 2nd World Series title in 126 years? It starts now.

Oh what a night

I know this is two days late but I had to say something about the evening/night in sports on Saturday, October 25th, 2008.

Wow.

Just wow.

As a sports fan that has never seen any of my favorite teams win a title (Penn State football, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers), the past 6 months have been pretty damn sweet. And yet, that elusive championship is yet to be wrangled. But perhaps that is all about to end.

The Phillies are ONE WIN AWAY thanks to a dynamic pitching performance last night by Joe Blanton and some power hitting (finally) from Ryan Howard and Co. But let's put last night on the back burner (that'll be a separate post in a bit). Let's turn the clock back to Saturday evening (~4pm).

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

The team flying lowest on the radar are the Philadelphia Flyers. The season is so very young; as of Saturday only 7 games had been played, with the 8th a showdown with the Devils starting at 4pm. The start time was actually moved up to accommodate fans that wanted to watch the Phillies World Series game later that night. The Flyers had started the season 0-3-3 before vanquishing the Devils the night before 6-3. The home-and-home continued Saturday. The Flyers got on the board first. About 10 minutes into the game Mike Knuble netted the puck for a 1-0 lead, where the score would remain through one period. Unfortunately only 27 seconds into period two the Devils Zach Parise tied the game at 1. About 9 minutes later Scott Hartnell put the Flyers back on top, 2-1. The Devils would answer. With under 2 minutes remaining in the second, Brion Gionta tied the game at 2 on the Power Play. The teams would not score in the 3rd, sending the game to OT. With a little less than 2 minutes left before a shootout would decide the winner, Flyers center Jeff Carter tipped home a shot past Martin Brodeur, giving the Flyers a much needed 3-2 win. The Flyers started of the festivities with a win; 1 for 1. Now, on to sports experience two.

(AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

That would be the Big Ten football matchup, Penn State at Ohio State. It has been well published that the Nittany Lions have never beaten the Buckeyes in Columbus since joining the Big Ten. Their last win at the Horseshoe (Columbus Stadium) was in 1978. The game was hyped beyond belief for a game that takes place every year. Penn State (#3 BCS) vs Ohio State (#9 BCS) would turn out to be a defensive showdown. Neither team scored in the 1st quarter and at the half each tem had only mustered a field goal. Things wouldn't get much better for either offense. The PSU d-line and linebackers played the best they had all season. They were stuffing Beanie Wells and trapping super frosh Terrelle Pryor. The Buckeyes did manage to take the lead, 6-3, after three quarters of play. Kevin Kelly, who is having a great year, missed a 45-yarder that could have tied the game at the end of the 3rd. Little happened until there was less than 7 minutes remaining in the game. On 3rd and 1 from midfield, Pryor went for the QB sneak. However, he did not go right up the middle, following his blockers. Instead he tried to take it outside for a big play. He was met behind the line by PSU Safety Mark Rubin. While he went to tackle Pryor, Rubin's hand smacked the ball loose. The players scrambled for a few seconds to get a handle on the ball. PSU DE Maurice Evans pushed Wells away and a few players failed to grab it. Finally 2 or 3 Penn State players surrounded it. After the pile cleared, PSU LB Navorro Bowman emerged with the ball. This play changed the game. With starting QB Daryll Clark sidelined with a mild concussion, Pat Devlin took the reins. He didn't disappoint. His only attempted pass was incomplete. But it drew a pass interference penalty on Ohio State; altosy as good as a completion. The Nittany Lions would finally get a TD on 3rd and goal on a Devlin sneak. 10-6, Penn State with less than 6 minutes to play. The PSU defense did their job and forced the Buckeyes to punt. Devlin again led the Nittany Lion offense down the field and inside the 30 before Kelly booted a FG to expand the lead to 7, 13-6 Penn State with about 1 minute to go. Ohio State needed a TD to force OT. After a touchback, Pryor lead the Buckeyes downfield and were in Penn State territory with about 30 seconds to play. At this time Pryor launched a pass towards the end zone. The camera finally made it to the ball location and Penn State fans breathed a sigh of relief as they saw CB Lydell Sargeant in position for the pick. He mad the play and effectively ended Ohio State's hopes. Penn State was victorious. 9-0.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Phew. As if Flyers and Penn State wins weren't enough, there was also a little matter of Game 3 of the World Series. It was the first World Series game in Philadelphia since 1993. And it was delayed for 91 minutes. The first pitch, by ageless Jamie Moyer, was after 10pm Eastern. It was a cool, rain-soaked night in Philadelphia. Whoever won game 3 of the World Series would hold a 2 games to 1 lead. Over 2/3rds of game 3 winners went on to win the Series. Though each game is important, 1 and 3 seem to matter most. Unlike his previous postseason starts, Moyer was on fire. He made it through 6.1 innings and left with the Phillies leading 4-2. Unfortunately an early shoddy call and later a Carlos Ruiz throwing error would prohibit the 45 year old from notching his first World Series victory. The score was 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th. Defensive replacement Eric Bruntlett was at bat. An errant pitch from Rays pitcher J.P. Howell plunked Bruntlett in the thigh. The winning run was on base. Unfortunately the Phillies had been struggling for the 3rd consecutive game with runners on base. A few pitches later things got even more interesting. A wild pitch by Grant Balfour and throwing error by Dioner Navarro meant Bruntlett was at 3rd with no men out. Rays Manager Joe Maddon called for two consecutive intentional walks - to Shane Victorino and pinch hitter Greg Dobbs - to load the bases. He also brought in RF Ben Zobrist to play right behind 2nd base. That's right, 5 infielders. Their hope was Ruiz would ground into a double play and they could extend this game. On a 2-2 pitch from Balfour, Ruiz hit a dribble down the 3rd base line. It was close to the foul line but out of fear of it staying fair, Rays 3B Evan Longoria picked it up and threw home to tray and catch the streaking Bruntlett. The throw was nowhere close. Bruntlett slid in safe. Game over. Phillies win and are up 2 games to 1.

Oh what a night. The sports day that started at 4pm on Saturday didn't officially end until 1:47am Sunday. And there was more to come. Much, much more.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth celebrates his 2-run home run in the 8th inning Sunday night of Game 4 of the World Series.

ONE. WIN. AWAY.

More to come later...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Big Ten Showdown Prediction

Penn State and Ohio State will be taking the field in under 5 hours so I better put up a prediction.

The statistics clearly indicate that Penn State has a decisive edge. However, based on history and the fact that statistics can be misleading have brought people back o the Buckeye bandwagon. No one seems to think this Nittany Lion team is for real. For the third time this season people are saying they haven't been tested. Their first test was supposed to be Illinois. Then the second was Wisconsin. If Penn State beats Ohio State will they still not be tested? Ridiculous.

I expect a close game through the first 18 minutes. By the middle of the second quarter look for Penn State to have a 7 point lead and they won't look back from there.

PENN STATE 31, OHIO STATE 17

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baseball Primer: A Guide to Baseball for the common Tampa Bay Rays fan

I am completely serious. This is an item on Tampa Bay Online. Wow. The comments make it even better.

Posted by ( borat ) on 10/22/2008 at 04:35 pm.

This is embarrasasing. Pelase take this down.

GO PHILLIES! WE KNOW OUR BASEBALL!

Phillies hold on for World Series Game 1 win

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Phillies players warm up for Game 1 of the 2008 World Series.

They got what everyone said they needed: a game 1 win. After all, 10 out of the last 11 World Series winners have taken game 1. However, besides history, the biggest reason Philadelphia needed this game more than Tampa Bay was due to the drop off in pitching.

Tampa Bay is relatively steady. They have 3 good, young pitchers in Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Matt Garza. Andy Sonnanstine is their 4th. On the flip side, the Phillies have the best starting pitcher in the playoffs, World Series game 1 winner and NLCS MVP Cole Hamels, but suffer a significant drop off after him. Which Brett Myers will show up tonight? Can Jamie Moyer revert to regular season form on Saturday? Can Joe Blanton stay perfect as a Phillie on Sunday? About the only certainty is Hamels. And if the Phillies lost with him on the mound, the outlook was bleak.

(Ron Cortes/Philly.com)
Starting pitcher Cole Hamels gave Philadelphia another dominant performance, in which he picked up his 4th win of the postseason.

But they won. With King Cole on the mound. The nerve-racking 3-2 victory is in the books; no one can take it away. The Phillies lead the best-of-seven World Series 1-0. As has become a staple in the playoffs, it is because of the pitching. Good luck with the inconsistent offense. The Phillies stranded 11 players. They were 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position. A 3-2 game should have been more like a 6-2 game. But it wasn't. You deal with it. And they did.

Chase Utley gave the Phillies an early 2-0 lead on a 2-run shot to right field in the 1st inning. Jayson Werth had drawn a walk right before Utley went deep. The final run for the Phillies - the game winner - came off the bat of light-hitting catcher Carlos Ruiz. His RBI ground out in the 4th scored Shane Victorino and gave Hamels and the bullpen just what they needed.

(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Chase Utley belts a 2-2 pitch from Rays starting pitcher Scott Kazmir deep to right field for a 2-run home run in the 1st inning last night.

The relief consisted of just 2 men: Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. What more could you want? Madson mowed down the 8th. He struck out one and was reaching 96-97 MPH on most of his fastballs. Then the rock solid closer Lidge did what he is supposed to do: seal the deal. He did. 1-2-3. Lidge struck out two and controlled the bottom of the 9th. Game over, Phillies win.

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino scores on Carlos Ruiz's RBI ground out in the 4th inning Wednesday.

(Yong Kim/Philly.com)
Phillies closer Brad Lidge celebrates after he got Carl Crawford to foul out to end Game 1 of the 2008 World Series.

Up next is the aforementioned Brett Myers facing off against James Shields in game 2 of the World Series tonight on FOX. First pitch is scheduled for 8:29pm.

And remember, Why Can't Us?

Why Can't Us?

Something is sweeping through Phillies Nation and it isn't the feeling of being up 1-0 in the World Series. No, it's a grammatically incorrect motto.

Exactly. Why can't us? This Philly phenomenon started the morning after the Phillies clinched the National league pennant for only the 6th time in their 126-year history. A caller from Delaware was on XM Radios' Baseball This Morning: Playoff Edition and voiced his excitement over the Phillies. During his comments he stated

Boston did it. The White Sox did it. Why can't us? Why can't us.
And English teachers everywhere cringe. However, this little quote has taken off in popularity, thanks in part to The 700 Level. They have planted the new 2008 Phillies slogan on all kinds of gear. Not only has it made an already crazed fan base more, um, well, interesting (I guess?), it is benefiting others as well. All proceeds from the "Why Can't Us?" stuff go to the ALS Association (Philadelphia Chapter). Many of you will note that this is the choice charity of The Fightins.

The "Why Can't Us?" quip has spread like wild fire. For instance, Dan Levy of The 700 Level got an email on Friday that ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said it on SportsCenter.






More "Why Can't Us?" at The 700 Level

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mission Under Control

From The 700 Level:

By Jason Hutt; Taken at NASA's Johnson Space Center in the Space Shuttle Mission Control Center

Monday, October 20, 2008

Legends of the Fall



2008 WORLD SERIES SCHEDULE
GAME 1, Wednesday, October 22nd: Philadelphia (Hamels) at Tampa Bay (Shields)
GAME 2, Thursday, October 23rd: Philadelphia (Myers) at Tampa Bay (Kazmir)
GAME 3, Saturday, October 25th: Tampa Bay (Garza) at Philadelphia (Moyer)
GAME 4, Sunday, October 26th: Tampa Bay (Sonnanstine) at Philadelphia (Blanton)
GAME 5*, Monday, October 27th: Tampa Bay (Shields) at Philadelphia (Hamels)
GAME 6*, Wednesday, October 29th: Philadelphia (Myers) at Tampa Bay (Kazmir)
GAME 7*, Thursday, October 30th: Philadelphia (Hamels) at Tampa Bay (Garza)

All games start at 8pm and are on FOX.

*if necessary

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Exorcism of the Wolverines

The theme is the same this week but the intensity has been heightened. Penn State is the better team in every facet of the game. WAY BETTER. This "Spread HD" is hot and Daryll Clark runs it to perfection. The Michigan Wolverines have an above average defense. That's it. The offensive skill players are taking a long time to adapt to Rich Rodriquez's spread offense. At 2-4, and coming off of a loss to MAC opponent Toledo at The (not-so) Big House, Michigan is scrambling for an identity. Gone are the likes of Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, and Mario Manningham. In are Steven Threet, Sam McGuffie, and Montavious Odoms.

This is mismatch of epic proportions. Penn State should walk away with this one, on paper. However football can be as much physical as it can be mental. Will the Penn State players start out tense and anxious, knowing that these Wolverines have beaten them on 9 straight occasions over the last 12 years? Will they continue to avoid the costly turnovers? Will Penn State capitalize on the INTs and fumbles sure to come out of the hands of the Threet/Sheridan QB duo?

This Penn State team goes with the cliches. And for good reason. They are true. This team doesn't look ahead; they focus on the game at hand. That won't change this week and Penn State will take care of business in front of the white-clad homecoming crowd.

PENN STATE 38, MICHIGAN 17

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2008 MLB Predictions, Revisited

Way back on March 31st I put forth my baseball predictions for all the world to see. Now, almost 7 months later, I am here to check on how I fared. The awards won't be out for another month or so but division and wild card winners have been decided for over 2 weeks. How close was I? Can evaluate baseball talent at all?

DIVISION

PREDICTION

ACTUAL

AL East

Boston Red Sox

Tampa Bay Rays

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

Chicago White Sox

AL West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

AL Wild Card

Cleveland Indians

Boston Red Sox

NL East

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card

Philadelphia Phillies

Milwaukee Brewers


That's an "eh" performance. Overall I got 5 of the 8 teams to make the playoffs right. I vastly overrated the Tigers and Indians. In my defense, I did say I would not be surprised if the White Sox and Twins were competitive and in the hunt all year. The Marlins and Astros were also undervalued by me. I also said the Mets had the best chance to choke and they did. I had the Brewers 2nd in the NL Central. Same goes for the Diamondbacks in the NL West. I had the Rays improving this year, up to 3rd, but not winning the division.

Overall not a bad performance. Unfortunately I don't think I'll hit on many - if any - pf my award winners.


2008 National League Champions: In Pictures

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)


(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)


(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


(AP Photo/Yong Kim, Pool)


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Stay Classy, L.A.

Philadelphia has been known as a horrid place for visiting teams and their fans for probably close to 30 years now. At times it seems justified. I have been verbally berated by Eagles fans when I went to games at the Vet against the Dolphins (twice), the Redskins, the Patriots, and the Panthers. Words don't bother me so much; I'm a big boy, I can handle it. The only problem is the oldest I ever was at an Eagles game was 12. You usually don't call anyone under the age of, oh I don't know, 16-18 an "asshole"or "prick" or say "fuck you". Classy.

For every jackass Philly fan you find, I'll show you 50 that are nothing like that. Philly fans are fashioned with a bad stereotype thanks to the media. They bring up the age-old story of fans booing Santa. How many of you actually know the truth behind that story? In reality, Philly fans are just so passionate and knowledgeable of their teams that they come off as overbearing and intense. Guilty. But that doesn't make us evil.

Los Angeles is kind the stark opposite of Philadelphia. It is Hollywood in all of its "glory". L.A. fans are more laid back and casual about their teams. They are never perceived as being some of the most beligerent and classless fans in the nation. Well maybe it is time that changed.

I'm not going to get into a full blown "he said, she said" post. I'll just direct you to the evidence. Philly blog The 700 Level and Phillies blog The Fightins chronicle the despicable acts of Dodger fans and the loathesome writing of L.A. Times writer T.J. Simers over the last 3 games.

From The 700 Level
Fan Report: Wearing Red in Dodger Stadium
Finally Some Distatse in the NLCS
In the Belly of the Early Departing Beast
Dodgers Gear Banned in L.A. Bar
Instead of 7th, Dodgers Fans Leaving Before the First Inning Tonight
Fan Report: At the NLCS Clincher

From The Fightins
TJ Simers: A Douchebag Until the Very End

If you don't feel like reading the article on Simers, I'll leave you this quote from his article in today's paper.
SEVERAL DODGERS fans e-mailed complaining about the fan experience in the stadium for Game 4.

"I am not sure I will take my son to another Dodger game any time soon," wrote Ken Gowey. "It makes me absolutely ashamed to be a Dodger fan."

I was afraid of this, knowing some folks born in Philly have probably moved here and become Dodgers fans over the years.

The thing is, you just can't take the Angryville out of them, which obviously explains all the problems in Dodger Stadium.
What!?!? Did he really just say the only way L.A. fans are being assholes is because they had to be originally from Philadelphia and are now Dodgers fans? Wow. Just wow. The Angryville remark is from his pre-NLCS column run in the Philadelphia newspapers.

Simers article ends with this gem.
TODAY'S LAST word comes from Norm Pangracs:

"After the fifth inning I called the number the Dodgers said to call if anyone is causing trouble during the game. I was surprised to get a recorded voice. I thought for sure a live person would answer. I left a message: 'There's a group from Philadelphia making me very uncomfortable. They're the Philadelphia Phillies.' "
Stay classy, Simers and the rest of L.A. While you are finding something else to write about (won't be football, now will it?) or getting yet another plastic surgery, we'll be living it up as the National League representatives in the World Series. Suck on that.

Vote Beaver Stadium as the best place to watch college football

USA Today is running an article on the "10 great places to stand and cheer college football". They, of course, have a poll to allow the readers to voice their opinion and name the best. Beaver Stadium is a choice. Go and vote for The Beav!

World Series Bound

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Your 2008 National League Champions!

The Phillies finished off the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, 5-1, in game 5 of the 2008 NLCS. With the win Philadelphia advances to the World Series, their first since 1993 and 6th all-time.

Jimmy Rollins got the game started with a lead off home run, his second of the post season, against Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley. The Phillies would add two more in the third to take a 3-0 lead. After Cole Hamles struck out, Rollins walked and stole second. Following a Jayson Werth strike out, Chase Utley walked. Ryan Howard then singled to right, scoring Rollins and movinh Utley to third. Pat ("The Bait") Burrell copied Howard with a single, scoring Utley and moving Howard to 3rd. The Phillies would add their final two runs in the fifth, with a little help from Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal.

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins hits a lead off home run, his second of the post season, off of Dodgers starting pitcher Chad Billingsley.

With Utley on 2nd and Howard on 1st, with one out, Burrell hit a gorunder to Furcal. Furcal misplayed it with his glove and then booted the ball. Utley headed for home. He scored safely because Furcal's throw home was way off target, his second error in 10 seconds. On the throwing error Howard and Burrell advanced a base. A sure-fire double play ball resulted in a run and two runners in scoring position. Furcal's blunders were not over. After Shane Victorino was intentionally walked and Pedro Feliz struck out, catcher Carlos Ruiz grounded to Furcal. Furcal rushed his throw to 1st and it bounced in the dirt in front of 1B James Loney, allowing Ruiz to reach safely and Howard to score. The inning would finally end with the Phillies leading 5-0. The only other scoring came in the bottom of the 6th. Free agent LF Manny Ramirez homered to right off of Hamels.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Phillies second baseman Chase Utley scores in Wednesday night's NLCS game 5 after a throwing error by Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, one of his three errors in the inning.

Hamels got through 7 innings, allowing 5 hits and 1 run while walking 3 and striking out 5. He was choosen as the NLCS MVP. Ryan Madson worked a strong 8th, allowing one hit and that was it. Up 4, Manuel decided to hand the ball to closer Brad Lidge to shut the door on the Dodgers season and catapult the Phillies to the World Series for the first time in 15 years. Lidge allowed a single to Loney before getting Casey Blake and Matt Kemp to fly out to center. Carlos Ruiz ended the game on a Nomar Garciaparra pop out in foul territory. Game over. 2008 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, Pool)
Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels was named NLCS MVP for his superb work in games 1 and 5.

What an amazing series. These current Phillies have written themselves in to Philadelphia sports lore; they will always be remembered. But how good will it be? Will they be remembered like the 1993 team or like the 1980 team? It's up to them to decide. They can become the biggest icons this city has had in 25 years. And that will last forever. Four more wins, boys. FOUR MORE.

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino holds the Warren Giles Trophy, which is annually awarded to the National League champions.

FUN FACTS: The Phillies are 86-0 when leading after 8 innings (includes regular season and post season). ... Greg Maddux, who pitched 2 innings in last nights game and allowed 2 unearned runs, also pitched the last time the Phillies won the N.L. pennant, game 6 of the 1993 NLCS for the Atlanta Braves. ... Ryan Howard finally woke up in the last game of the NLCS. Howard went 3 for 4 with a walk in 5 plate appearnces. He had 1 RBI and also scored a run.

And the PHILLIES win the pennant!



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Braylon Edwards has shifted loyalties


For those of you that can't find it, LOOK AT THE LOGO ON HIS SHIRT. Braylon Edwards, Michigan alum and proud!

There are rumors out there that Edwards lost a bet to Joe Jurevicious. I am interested in hearing if that is the case or he just can't stand Rich Rodriguez.

Phillies rally in 8th, hold on for NLCS Game 4 win

Wow. If When the Phillies move on to the World Series for the first time since 1993, the top of the 8th in NLCS Game 4 will be replayed for years to come.

After giving up a single to Ryan Howard to start the 8th, Dodgers manager Joe Torre chose to replace reliever Hong-Chih Kuo with Cory Wade. This is significant because Kuo had stymied the Phillies for all but Howard's lead off single. Kuo pitched masterfully in the 7th, striking out Jayson Werth and Chase Utley. Torre decided to remove Kuo after Howard's single in the 8th to play the percentages. Kuo is a lefty and Pat Burrell was coming to the plate, a righty. Lefty to a righty is a no-no in baseball protocol. So Torre took the ball from Kuo and handed it to rookie Cory Wade, a righty. Smart move, at first. Wade got Burrell to pop out to 2nd and the Dodgers were now 5 outs from evening the 2008 NLCS at 2 games. The Flyin' Hawaiian had other plans.

Shane Victorino has undoubtedly been the Phillies postseason MVP. He has been masterful and energetic, exciting and clutch. When he stepped to bat last night versus Wade something was in the air. Victorino is a switch hitter so whoever Torre through out there he was able to counter. Torre stuck with Wade. Mistake. Victorino drilled a pitch down the first-base line. It was long enough. It was high enough. Home run, game tied 5-5. Wade would get Pedro Feliz to line out before facing Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has been hitting better of late. Ruiz singled on the first pitch from Wade. Torre had seen enough; time for the closer. Enter Jonathan Broxton, an imposing man standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing in at 290 pounds. And his stuff can be electric. And also a bit unpredictable.

Associated Press

Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino celebrates his game-tying 2-run home run in the 8th inning of game 4 of the 2008 NLCS.



Phillies manager Charlie Manuel sent up a pinch hitter for pitcher Ryan Madson. His choice? 17-year veteran Matt Stairs, acquired from the Blue Jays by Pat Gillick in August. The Phillies are Stairs' 11th team. This was an obvious decision by Manuel; Broxton was a righty, Stair batted left. Good match up. This was only Stairs' 7th postseason game and 13th postseason at-bat ever. He had 0 runs and 0 RBIs in the postseason. Until last night.

Stairs worked Broxton. After throwing a 1st pitch strike Broxton got in a hole, throwing 3 straight balls. With the count 3-1, Stairs waited for the fastball. And he got it on the 5th pitch of the at-bat. Without hesitation Stairs unloaded on the ball. Suddenly the Phillies had the lead, 7-5.

(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Phillies pinch hitter Matt Stairs belts this pitch deep to right field, giving the Phillies a 7-5 lead in the top of the 8th inning of Monday's game 4 of the 2008 NLCS.


Matt Stairs is congratulated by his teammates as he enters the dugout after his 8th inning home run.


J.C. Romero would get the 2 batters he face in the bottom of the 8th out but it wasn't without a little drama. He walked Rafael Furcal, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Andre Ethier. Fortunately for Romero and the Phillies, Ethier grounded into a double play. Next up, Manny Ramirez.

The Phillies have been a perfect 79-0 this season with a lead during the 8th inning (74-0 regular season, 5-0 postseason) thanks in large part to Madson, Romero, and closer Brad Lidge. Manuel turned to Lidge for his first 4-out save of the year. And it would start with Ramirez. Things would get a bit shaky. Ramirez drilled a 3-2 pitch to center field for a double. With 2 outs and a man in scoring position, the Dodgers could tie the game with one swing of the bat. Lidge would strik out the next batter, catcher Russell Martin, on 3 pitches. Despite the strike out, technically the 3rd out of the inning, the 8th wouldn't end. Lidge's slider got away from Ruiz and Martin easily made it to 1st while Ramirez trotted to 3rd. Crap. The next batter was first baseman James Loney, who was having a great day at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a single, double, and a walk. He has the power to put the Dodgers back in front and shift the pressure back to Philadelphia. Loney tried. Boy did he try. After a first-pitch ball, Loney fouled off 4 straight pitches. On the 6th pitch of the at-bat Loney flied out to Eric Bruntlett, who was a defensive replacement for Burrell. Inning over. One more to go.

It would be nice to get another insurance run plated. Utley got things going in the top of the 9th with a single. Howard stepped to the plate and grounded into a fielder's choice to second base, rendering Utley out. The same thing happened to Bruntlett during the next at-bat. With Shane Victorino up, and down in the count 0-2, Bruntlett attempted to steal second on the next pitch. The Dodgers nailed him on an out pitch, inning over. No insurance runs. Lidge back to the mound to close out game 4 and secure a 3-1 Phillies lead in the series.

Things went surprisingly easy for Lidge in the bottom of the 9th. Pinch hitter Nomar Garciaparra flied out to center on his 2nd pitch, Casey Blake struck out on 3 pitches, and pinch hitter Jeff Kent lined out hard to third baseman Pedro Feliz. Game over. 7-5 Phillies. 3-1 series lead.

Brad Lidge went 1-2-3 in the 9th inning to save the win for Philadelphia.

Cole Hamels will face off against Chad Billingsley in Wednesday's game 5 in Los Angeles. A Phillies win sends them to the World Series for the first time in 15 years.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Penn State destroys Wisconsin, "still untested"

It appears I underestimated Penn State and overestimated Wisconsin. My prediction of Penn State 31, Wisconsin 14 was not even close. How about 48-7? Good guys, of course. The Nittany Lions controlled the entire game in "hostile" Camp Randall last night. As has been the case in many of PSU's games this season the starters didn't last the whole game.

QB Daryll Clark went 16 of 25 for 244 yards with a TD and INT. After his INT he was visibly distraught and angry with himself; you could tell he wanted to come out on the next drive to redeem himself. It wouldn't happen. With less than 10 minutes to go in the 4th and a commanding 34 point lead at the time, Clark's day was over; it was Pat Devlin's turn.

On the ground Evan "Rolls" Royster (check out his fans at Beaver Stadium named Blue "Royster" Cult) rushed 14 times for 60 yards and scored an easy TD on an option play in which Clark was leveled by Wisconsin's DeAndre Levy. RB Stephfon Green had 7 attempts for a meager 15 yards. Clark also added 6 rushes for a paltry 12 yards but did score on the ground on 2 occasions.

Eight different players caught passes from Clark or Devlin. WR Deon Butler lead the way with 3 for 70 yards and a TD. WR Jordan Norwood, back from a hamstring injury after missing 2 games, had 3 catches for 59 yards. WR Derrick Williams had 4 for 26 yards but his biggest play came in the return game. After the PSU 'D' made Wisconsin go three-and-out again, Williams took the punt 63 yards to the house to give Penn State a commanding 17-0 lead, one which they never relinquished.

Aaron Maybin is a beast. He had at least 2 sacks and caused 2 fumbles, one of which Penn State recovered. He is a dominant pass rushing DE, one that belongs on the All-Big Ten team. If he keeps this up he could be an All-American. The defense overall played a sound game and kept their opponent concealed and out of the end zone on all but one occasion, much like last week versus Purdue. CB Lydell Sargeant had a wonderful game, picking of a pass from both Wisconsin QBs (Allan Evridge and Dustin Sherer). The defensive line got a lot of pressure all night, lead by Maybin, and the linebackers were able to stuff the Badgers dynamic RB trio of P.J. Hill (15 carries for 58 yards), John Clay (1o for 43), and Zach Brown (1 for 11). They had some trouble containing Evridge on scrambles and designed runs, but this may be because they weren't practicing contain nor had a LB or safety spy (like they most likely will against Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State). Evridge scrambled for Wisconsin's only TD all night.

After the game was over and Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge had been convinced this Penn State team was for real, ESPN studio analyst Mark May disagreed. May went on record to say that Penn State has yet to be tested in 7 games. Funny, he picked Wisconsin to win the game and yet, when Penn State blows them out, they still haven't been tested? OK.

Moving away from the douche that is Mark May, Penn State head home for their annual homecoming game against hated Big Ten rival Michigan... who lost to Toledo yesterday. Yeah. The Wolverines are 2-4 and are struggling without the likes of Lloyd Carr, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Mario Manningham, Shawn Crable, and Chad Henne. New Head Coach Rich Rodriguez is painfully installing his offensive system and is basically giving up on this season for a head start on the next one. How will the Michigan faithful respond to that? Penn State hasn't beaten Michigan since November 16th, 1996 (29-17 in Ann Arbor). Michigan has won the last 9 meetings.

Back to the Wisconsin game. With the victory, Penn State improved to 7-0 for the 11th time under Joe Paterno (first since that disappointing 1999 season). This is only the 2nd home loss in 3 years as head coach of Wisconsin for Bret Bielema. The Badgers hadn't lost back-t0-back home games since 2002 and this was their worst home loss since September 9th, 1989 versus Miami, FL (51-3). In Penn State's last 2 games at Camp Randall, they had scored only 3 points in each contest. They scored 16x that many in this game.

From Sporting News Today on October 12th, 2008.

With the 7-0 start people around the nation are wondering if Penn State could play for their first national title in the history of the BCS and be in the hunt for the first time since 1994. They will more than likely be ranked #3 after losses this week by Oklahoma, Missouri, and LSU. Looking ahead (note to players, please don't do this) leaves many to believe that if Penn State beats Ohio State in 2 weeks, they are bound for Miami on January 8th. Not so fast. I say what about Michigan State in week 12 (November 22)? Luckily the game is in Beaver Stadium.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Shocking Mark May development

ESPN Analyst Mark May has picked WISCONSIN to beat Penn State. I know, hard to believe. As usual, Lou Holtz is in JoePa's corner.

UPDATE: Penn State DOMINATED Wisconsin, 48-7. After the game Mark May said Penn State still hasn't played anyone [difficult]. Stay classy, Mark.

LET'S GO STATE!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Penn State-Wisconsin prediction

PENN STATE 31, WISCONSIN 14

I have faith in this team. There is no doubt in my mind that the Nittany Lions are better. Despite all the hoopla about playing at Camp Randall at 8pm, people fail to realize that the Badgers were overrated coming into the year. Their offense is one-dimensional and their defense is shaky, as seen the last 2 weeks.

Penn State will cruise to a win as long as they A) open up the playbook, none of this predictable run-run-pass crap. Use the zone read plays and fakes and all that good stuff. And don't be afraid to go deep 2 or 3 times! B) is coming to play out of the gate. If PSU jumps to a 10-0 lead the game is over. Wisconsin is a run-first team. Allan Evridge does not have the skills to lead a team back from a huge deficit against strong competition (no, Marshall doesn't count).

Phillies win NLCS game 1

Phillies take game 1 of the 2008 National League Championship Series, 3-2, over the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to some in the media, the Phillies won because of the park and not their skill. The now 5 year old Citizens Bank Park bashing gets louder this time of year. Lest I remind you that the Phillies stadium is average in park-factor, ranking 15th in MLB. Yes, Dodger Stadium is 29th, but the notion that The Bank helps the Phillies more than all the other teams is ludicrous. Why do some writers have to stoop to excuses instead of calling a spade a spade? The Phillies won, plain and simple. Last I checked, the series goes to L.A. for 3 games soon. If the Dodgers are supposed to be the better team then I guess they better prove it then.

In a recent develpoment, Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel will be dealing with some unwanted stress and sadness this evening. Manuel's mother, June, passed away this morning. Uncle Cholly will be managing the game tonight. Deepest sympathies.

Game 2 starts at 4:35pm on FOX. LET'S GO PHILLIES!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Though retired, Sapp still annoying

Warren Sapp retired from the NFL in the spring and yet he still is making headlines. Besides his appearance on this seasons "Dancing with the Stars", Sapp appears headed towards a gig as an analyst for whatever network is stupid enough to hire him. Yesterday, ESPN blogger Tim Graham posted that the former Buccaneers and Raiders defensive lineman believes that the Miami Dolphins "wildcat" formation is "disrespectful to all defenses". What? How is an offensive formation disrespectful? This is just another wrinkle in the ever evolving offensive gameplans. People have called this "wildcat" offense a gimmick. People also called the screen, fake punts and field goals, and, yes, even the forward pass, gimmicks.

But Sapp honestly thinks it is disrespectful? How, exactly? Let's see what he said.

"It's disrespectful. You're taking the best player in the game, the quarterback, and you're putting him out wide, outside the numbers, and you put the running back in the back."

"How the hell you going to throw the ball? I'm not even thinking about throw right now. I'm going to get everybody in the gap. It's just power 'O.' You have the running back with the ball already in his hand."

Besides coming off as incoherent, Sapp looks like an ignorant, well, sap. Apparently he hates change. I don't see why this new offensive formation - originally used at Arkansas with Darren McFadden - is that big a deal. And I definitely don't see how it is disrespectful. If anything the Dolphins are giving the defenses a chance to earn more respect. The first team that is able to successfully stop this new formation will be the envy of the league; whoever figures it out looks like a genius. And someone will figure it out, and soon.

The media hype about "wildcat" is leading people to believe that it is all Miami runs. In reality, they rely on it for a handful of plays a game. The ran it 6 times against New England, with ridiculous results, and 10 times against the Chargers. Even without the "wildcat" plays taken into account, Miami's offense in both games would have been close to 300 yards. The scheme works when used sparingly and at the right moment. Sapp's absurd comment should be red flags for all media networks that he is more of a senile, washed-up, old man than a former football player that knows what he is talking about.