Francisco's big moment, Phillies hand cramps

Good evening from Game 1, staged in an overpriced, taxpayer-thieving, Bronx parkland-destroying, Disney-fied facsimile of the real Yankee Stadium.  The rain stopped several hours ago, and it's not a bad night for postseason baseball. A few pregame notes:

Ben Francisco watched the Phillies celebrate their World Series championship on television last year, and yearned for the same experience. 

“I thought to myself, ‘I want to be there next year,’” said Francisco, who became a Phillie in July as part of the Cliff Lee trade, and earned a starting assignment in left field because of the designated hitter rule.  Raul Ibanez was the DH.

“At the beginning of this season, I thought I would get there with Cleveland,” he said.  “Then I got to traded, and the dream lived.”

Manager Charlie Manuel said that he did not know if Francisco would DH tomorrow, or if lefthanders Matt Stairs or Greg Dobbs would start against righthander A.J. Burnett.

Burnett has never faced Dobbs or Francisco; Stairs is 1 for 3, with two strikeouts, against him.

“I don’t know yet,” Manuel said.  “What if Francisco gets about three or four hits tonight.”

Manuel decided to use Francisco in left because Ibanez continues to deal with the groin and abdominal injuries that slowed him during the second half of the regular season.

“He had an injury this year, and I think right now Francisco moves a little better,” Manuel said.

Phillies broadcaster Gary Matthews said that he had been invited to Thanksgiving dinner at the White House, and planned to attend.  Matthews is a longtime friend of President Obama.

Major League Baseball required each player on the Phillies and Yankees to sign 864 baseballs before the World Series.  The Phillies spent three hours on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park completing the task.

The Houston Astros have asked and been granted permission to speak with Phils minor league coach—and former Yankees third-base coach—Bobby Meacham for a position on their major league staff.