Monday, October 27, 2008

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.


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.

1 comment:

E said...

philly fans did show their class in the hockey game though with that smoke bomb in OT