THERE WILL BE some fiction mixed in with fact in this journal. When I can figure out the difference, I will let you know.
The Phils beat the Dodgers, 3-2, in Game 1 of the NLCS with one big inning - the sixth, when they scored all three of their runs. Chase Utley's postseason issues ended with that two-run skyball homer. And Pat Burrell, 4 days after playing hero in Milwaukee, did it again with the game-winning homer. He got the last word on the field, talking to Fox's Ken Rosenthal before heading into the clubhouse.
It's about an hour before first pitch when, while strolling Ashburn Alley, I stumble over a soccer ball. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Mia Hamm chasing after the ball. Mia and Nomar. I thought Nomar was still in
Boston, had retired or both. The
soccer ball reminded me Nomar was on the Dodgers' bench. Mia was quite nice.
Fox had Harry Kalas voice-over the Phillies' lineup during its opening. Larry Bowa, who got a very loud cheer when introduced before the game, did the same for the Dodgers.
Very disappointed I had to miss Bill O'Reilly last night. It is nice to know Edward R. Murrow lives on at Fox News.
Very nice touch
Moments before the Phillies took the field, a "Beat LA'' chant started up among the perfectly choreographed towel wavers. Suddenly, it was the old Boston Garden or the Spectrum. Where were Kareem, Magic and Worthy? Probably winning another championship.
It was, however, kind of hard to stare at those two AIG signs under the third tier in right. Hope their corporate executives enjoy their next junket - to
Spare a few billion
Loved the perch Marcus Hayes, Ed Barkowitz and I had high above leftfield, even if Burrell was a rumor below us and the foul pole blotted out the Center City skyline. Yes, I did have a great view of the Turf Club, in case you were concerned.
Press box cash
Barkowitz did some quick math on the auxiliary press box seats and figures the Phillies would have gotten $10,000 (seat price and concessions) during the regular season for the
approximately 240 seats that
normally would have been sold. Triple it for the NLCS.
This Spin alone is no doubt worth the 10 grand, but maybe not all that extra cash the Phillies would have gotten for NLCS tickets out there.
Usain Bolt running 100 meters or Manny jogging 90 feet while admiring his screaming, 420-foot double off the top of the railing in center? Hayes, who was in Beijing, said Bolt wins by 10 meters.
By the way, Manny's double had to go 60 feet longer than
Burrell's home run and 50 feet farther than Utley's. He just hit it to the wrong place. Anywhere else, maybe they're still playing.
"I thought Manny Ramirez's ball might have a chance to get out,'' Phils manager Charlie Manuel said.
Definitely a chance, but it got there so fast and was so far away from the dugout, it had to be hard to follow.
Faster than Bolt
Had a great view of Rafael Furcal's throw to first from the hole to get Carlos Ruiz to end the second. Might have taken a second to cross the diamond. It never went above or below first baseman James Loney's glove.
Crowd was not the same after Manny's rocket. It was almost like it was the first time they realized two teams were playing.
Secret not revealed
When somebody asked Brett Myers the secret to Charlie Manuel's success in handling pitchers, Myers said: "I don't know. I guess that's why it's a secret.''
Through three innings, Cole Hamels threw 55 pitches, yet gave up just one run. There would be no complete game on this night, but he was keeping the Phillies in the game.
Every Phils' out save one through three was a groundout from the great groundball pitcher, Derek Lowe.
Felt like we were closer to third during the Ryan Howard shift than Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake was. He was three steps to the right of second base. Howard kept hitting the ball where all the people were.
Actual threat before
the real thing
Hamels was at 84 pitches through five, but the Phillies'
offense was generating nothing, no runners in scoring position. With Ruiz and then Hamels due up with two outs, there was no hint of anything brewing. Then, line single, line single, 3-2 to Jimmy Rollins, crowd crazed for the first time in 90 minutes. Flyout to Manny, but the stage was set for Lowe to get lit up in the sixth.
"Sometimes, you get some misguided pitches and they stay up instead of where they are supposed to be,'' Dodgers manager Joe Torre suggested.
When to pinch-hit
I was thinking the Phils might have pinch-hit for Hamels in the fifth. I was wrong. I was thinking Hamels should have been sent up to bunt in the seventh. He was pitching great at the time, but the result for the Phils could hardly have turned out much better. We do know he could not have done any worse than So Taguchi.
You have to wonder if Taguchi's lame bunt popout was his
final act as a Phil. The crowd, still up after the three-run sixth, took no time to turn on So. He was impolitely booed back to the dugout. This crowd loves players who can execute a bunt and is quite uncomplimentary toward those who can't.
Even while giving up a hit that Pedro Feliz might have caught, Ryan Madson needed 10 pitches to get the Dodgers in the eighth.
As Brad Lidge walks in from the bullpen to close the game, the press box announcer says: "Lidge will bat fifth, Bruntlett will bat ninth." I'm thinking Lidge best not bat at all. He does not.
Exactly 5 minutes, 13 pitches and two long flyballs to Shane Victorino in center later, the deed is done.
And incredibly, a night playoff game took just 2 hours, 36 minutes, which must be some kind of modern-day record. *
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