Thursday, October 2, 2008

Something To Cheer About

The economy sucks, it looks like even if the Democrats win the White House things won't get much better, and there's a whole lotta stupid on display in the Veep debate, but at least there's something to cheer about today.

The Philadelphia Phillies may advance beyond the first round of the Major League playoffs this year.

For those not up on the history of this franchise, it's historically been one of the sorriest in baseball. Over the last thirty years or so they've enjoyed some success, but prior to the 1970s the Phils sucked as badly as any team in baseball. Their famous 1964 collapse is a baseball metaphor for implosion at the end of a season. In the book Baseball's Dynasties, Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein rated the fifty worst teams of all time over one, two, three, and four-year periods. The Phillies score prominently in all those lists. Without question, few teams have played more bad ball than they.

So it's always something of a special moment when the Phils are in the postseason. According to this writeup at the official site, the last time they won a post-season series was in 1993. Today they went up 2 - 0 in the National League Division series (NLDS) against the Milwaukee Brewers. They did it partly on the strength of Brett Myers' pitching, which was a disappointment early in the year. Myers also turned in a solid at bat to keep a rally going:

Myers fell in an 0-2 hole in the count, only to take a slider for a ball, and foul a pitch off. He took another slider low to even the count at 2-2 before fouling off another Sabathia offering. Another ball low set the count full and Myers walked on the next pitch.

The nine-pitch at-bat was the apparent turning point, as Sabathia loaded the bases by walking Jimmy Rollins. Victorino batted next and drilled a high breaking ball into the left field stands to give the Phillies a 5-1 lead.

Phillies slam Sabathia, take 2-0 lead in NLDS

Pitchers hit in the National Leagues, but no one expects them to hit well. This would have been a good at bat from just about any position player.

Saturday, former Mariner Jamie Moyer, who has the most wins on the Phillies' staff this season, will get the ball. It might be over by this time Saturday night. And if it is, at least there will be one thing to smile about this fall.

UPDATE (Oct. 5): Saturday's game didn't go according to plan. Moyer made bad pitches early and fell behind 2 - 0. Then he got no run support - the Phillies went one for twelve with runners in scoring position in a 4 - 1 loss.

UPDATE (Oct. 5): It took a game longer than necessary, but the Phils won the NLDS today on the strength of left fielder Pat Burrell's three-run homer.

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