Not signed yet is Ryan Howard, who asked for $18 million in arbitration; he set a record (for a player who won) with his successful request for $10 million last season. If he wins — or, really, even if he gets close to it — he’ll be one of the highest paid players in baseball.
Not signed by the Phillies at all is reserve outfielder So Taguchi, who inked a minor-league deal with the Cubs. We’ll miss you, So, and your incredibly wide-open eyes.
Got an e-mail from the Baseball Hall of Fame announcing the opening of their annual World Series exhibit on Monday. Included in the display will be Ryan Howard’s bat used during Game 4 of the World Series, Carlos Ruiz’s batting helmet from his game-winning hit in Game 3, the bat Joe Blanton used to hit his home run in Game 4, and the cap Brad Lidge wore during Game 5.
Finally! Carlos Ruiz’s batting helmet has made the Hall of Fame, as it deserves. There really should be a special Hall of Fame exhibit where fans can beat up whoever made Toyota’s “Saved by Zero” commercial.
Yes, we’re all really excited around here for tonight’s Game 5 1/2, which will hopefully be the final 3 innings of this year’s World Series. But around the country? Well, nobody’s really paying attention.
Not all of this is the fault of either the Phillies or Rays. The national media decided this series wasn’t important to cover before it even started, the games are starting at almost 9 p.m., the coverage on Fox can only possibly detract from the game. But it’s not just that; Rays-Phillies just isn’t just the prime time matchup people wanted. A friend of mine from college said the rain delay discussion was the most exciting part of this year’s World Series so far.
The Phillies are only three outs away from winning the World Series, and nobody outside Philadelphia is paying attention.
Some people might not like that idea, but the more I think about it the more perfect I realize it is. Philadelphia sports fans haven’t won a title in 25 years. But instead of becoming viewed as a fan base of lovable losers — like Boston pre-2004 or the Cubs now — Philadelphia fans are known as boorish and hate-filled, frequently vilified by columnists too lazy to come up with something other than an incident when fans threw snowballs at Santa. Yes, Philadelphia fans frequently have to listen to criticism due to an event that happened before man had walked on the moon.
But right now, nobody in the country cares about Philadelphia fans. Nobody’s paying attention to us for what could be our finest hour. All the Phillies have to do is outscore the Rays over three innings and the Phillies win the World Series.
Spread this meme around: The Phillies are getting screwed by Bud Selig, Major League Baseball and everyone else who’s scared of a World Series without Manny Ramirez and Boston. (See: Rays 9, Sox 1, earlier today.) Okay, maybe not, but how else do you explain the announcers openly rooting for the Dodgers? And how do you explain the called third strike to Chase Utley (at right), which was “just a bit outside.”
The Phillies remained up a run ’til the Dodgers got 2 in the bottom of the 5th; the Phillies got the first two men on in the top of the 6th but then Charlie Manuel bunted with Shane Victorino. The Phillies ended up only getting a run. Chad Durbin gave up a homer to Casey Blake and a double to Juan Pierre. Now Scott Eyre is in, and Tim McCarver is saying that if you grow up in a small town you are not likely to enjoy curtain calls.
Now Ryan Howard threw the ball away, and the Phillies are down 2 runs. It’s like my idea of Hell. Ugh.
Man, that was easy yesterday. The Phillies didn’t even really get any hits (they had 4) and they still won. Hm? Oh, no, I’ve blanked the top of the ninth inning out of my mind, so I’m just assuming that went smoothly, too.
The real hero of yesterday’s game was Ryan Howard, who walked three times and delighted fans with his poem about a Subway sandwich. I just visited the Mmm… Hall of Fame last month; it’s a pretty nice place. I don’t know if the Big Philly Cheesesteak really qualifies for it, though.
Never. A. Doubt. Last night, our Fightin’ Phils clinched at least a tie for the the NL East title with an 8-4 victory over the Washington Nationals and a Mets’ loss to Florida. (Thanks, guys!) Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer and Chase Utley hit a bases-loaded double to life the Phils.
A win today at 4 pm over the Nats (on FOX) would give the Phillies a second straight division title. A Mets loss would do the same. So would a win or a Mets loss on Sunday.
The Phillies won 90 games for only the 12th time in their 126-year history. The Phils haven’t won consecutive division titles since the 1980 World Series win and the first half of the strike-shortened 1981 season. (The only other time the Philadelphia National League baseball club strung together division crowns was when it won three in a row from 76-78. The Phils have won the NL East eight times since baseball began divisional play in 1969.)
The Mets are now actually a game back in the Wild Card as well, as the Brewers won last night. Everything’s kind of going right for the Phillies right now; there’s even a dude on Arizona with more strikeouts than Ryan Howard. But if the Mets miss the playoffs! Ha, ha–Oh, let’s not count our eggs before they’re hatched (and all in one basket). Now go win a second straight division title, Phillies. For the first time in my life. Uncle Cholly, we never doubted you.
After Brad Lidge struck out Gregor Blanco to put the Phillies into first place last night, it finally dawned on me: The Phillies actually have a shot at the postseason again.
That’s unprecedented — for me, at least. The Phillies haven’t made the playoffs in consecutive seasons my entire life. Last year’s shocking run to the NL East title always kind of seemed like a fluke. Sure, the Phillies were good, but coming back from 7 down with 17 games to play was a once-in-a-lifetime sports moment. It was like 1993, a year when everything fell into place (or all the players were on the best performance enhancing drugs, take your pick). The Phillies finished last the year before and next-to-last the year after.
For most of my life, they’ve been awful, out of it by mid-June, a team where no-names compete in front of empty seats for the second half of the season. The Phillies haven’t been that team since 2001, though, posting winning records every year but one (80-81 in 2002). Their players are stars and future Hall of Famers (well, Chase Utley at least). This year, they’re (jinx alert!) a near-lock for the playoffs all of a sudden. They should be good for the next several years, if they can get some pitching.
It’s taken nearly a decade for this to sink in, but the Phillies are good. Let’s try to enjoy the next 11 games — and hopefully a bunch more. The Mets are a half-game back in the division, the Brewers are a full one back in the Wild Card. Nobody can score enough runs to put the Phillies away. They can conceivably win every game they play.
Ryan Howard hit a pair of homers last night as the Phillies cruised to a 12-2 win over the Nationals. Yes, the Fightins could have used some of those runs in the first two games of the series — when they scored only 1 — but, hey, what are you going to do?
Above, Howard’s first homer, an absolute bomb to right-center field. It was the first homer to go into the upper deck at Washington’s new baseball park (aka the video game stadium). Hit Tracker says the homer went 441 feet.
Now that the bobblehead doesn’t guarantee huge attendance like it once did, teams have to branch out with their giveaways. Philly Edge points us to the Reading Phillies giveaway tonight, which it calls “Best. Giveaway. Ever.”: A Ryan Howard snow globe. Is he wearing a Santa hat?
I’m not sure why Howard is batting with a french fry there.
Cheer Ryan Howard
On Monday, I suggested on Angelo Cataldi’s WIP radio talk show that Philadelphia fans should give Ryan Howard a standing ovation every time he comes to the plate. Those cheers would tell Howard that we understand the struggle, that we are with him, and that he still is the same hero in our eyes who won MVP and Rookie of the Year in successive seasons.
On Tuesday, I read that Pat Burrell attributes his success this year to confidence. From my own experience, I can attest that state of mind or confidence are crucial factors in success.
Obviously, Howard has been a big disappointment this year to the fans and to himself (”Manuel sits Howard against Big Unit, guarding progress,” May 7). However, there’s a good chance that a standing ovation and cheers could give him a shot in the arm and the confidence to shake out of his slump.
U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter
Yes, apparently ol’ Arlen is following in the footsteps of Post Game Live panelist/Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and weighing in on the sports topics of the day. He’s actually involved in all the facets of sports: Spygate, the NFL Network and Comcast, Ryan Howard’s feelings. Aww, let’s all be nice to Ry-Ho so he hits some dingers.