They just go home. They leave early and fight traffic. They put the crippling defeats out of their minds by skipping work to play in the sun. They just forget about it as they frolic in the grass with cool drinks and lots of pretty friends.
Loss? Nah, they don’t deal with it at all in Los Angeles. Who has the time?
In Philadelphia we know loss all too well. It’s in our DNA. It’s intense… no wait, that’s wrong. It’s intensity.
Each morning we all wake up before the dawn just as the rage has regrouped so we can wipe the bitter-tasting bile that has encrusted the corners of our mouths with the outer black sleeve of our spittle-coated MotorHead t-shirts. Then we drag our sorry asses off the couch where we collapsed just 45 minutes earlier and instinctively thrust a middle finger at the rest of the world.
The day begins in Philadelphia. The fury must be unleashed. We lose again.
But there is always a fleeting moment – one that usually occurs in the time it takes to get from one knee to a standing position after unfolding oneself from the couch – when stock is taken. A moment, as fast as a flap of a hummingbird’s wing, enters our twisted and angry heads:
World weary. Saddened by my years on the road. Seen a lot. Done a lot. Loss? Yeah, I know loss. I know loss with its friends sorrow, fury and death. Yes, loss and me are like this… we’re partners as we walk on the dusty trail of life.
But something happened in Los Angeles. Beneath that tiney, porcupine-like exterior, glimpses into our souls were exposed. There was warmth, fear, insecurity…
Yes, victory. The Phillies are going to the World Series. They will play these games in the prime of the night beginning on Wednesday in a city like Tampa or Boston – places that it’s easy to look down at our sad, wretched lives of angry and failed dreams. In Boston and/or Tampa, with their white, sandy beaches, gourmet restaurants, unimpeded gentrification, high-brow universities and sunshiny skies not all that different than in Los Angeles where for 364 days God gives them the gift of perfect weather and climate. That 365th day it might get cloudy.
So when we show up to these cities en masse to watch the local nine fight for our civic pride, they see us coming. We stick out with that crippled walk of defeat, clenched jaws of stress and disgust, fists balled up and middle fingers erect. When we take the exit ramp off the boulevard of broken dreams to enter these happy, little towns, the local authorities are ready. They’ve been tipped off ahead of time and are prepared to set up a dragnet at a moment’s notice.
But what hurts worse isn’t the condescending attitudes or the arrogance in which those people flit through life so carefree and cheery. That we can handle just fine with our jealousy and resentment, thank you very much. No, instead we’re put off by words and hackery. Our dander rises with mockery and stereotypes.
Hey, we know who we are and we accept what others might think and believe, too. We’re cool with it – it doesn’t define us, but sure, if folks want to take the easy way out who are we to blame them? But the insulting part is that they just don’t even try any more.
Boo Santa. Cheer injuries. Snowballs at the Cowboys. Batteries for J.D. Drew. Cheesesteaks. Cracked bells. Anger and passion. Rocky Balboa.
C’mon man, doesn’t anybody want to work anymore? Doesn’t anyone want to learn the truth? Isn’t anyone tired of the hypocrisy and the complacency?
Worse, with some folks from our town now coming to grips with the prospect of winning, they just might attempt to hack it up and fire back at the places that scorn us with their cheap, tired newspaper stories. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the city rip is OK, just like that inanity of politicians betting cheesesteaks against lobsters based on the outcome of a game.
Can we stop this before it starts? Do we owe the citizens of the Tampa Bay area a rip job just because of the notion that the sports team that represents them might beat the one that represents us? Do we have to generate some faux anger with the folks of New England who follow a baseball team that plays in an outdated stadium with high-priced talent?
I have a better idea…
Let’s stop it before it starts. Let’s be better for a change. Let’s act like true winners now that it just might fit us for a change. Let’s not be like Tampa or Boston or Los Angeles.
Let’s just be a town with a winning baseball team trying to win the World Series.
"Winning is hard. Nothing about winning comes easy," Charlie Manuel said. "... believe me, there's a price you pay for winning, too."
That price can sometimes mean dignity, self-respect and the ability to think clearly.
Just because we’re good for once doesn’t mean we get to hack it up, too. Let’s stay good.
While we’re talking the World Series, here are some facts and figures about the Phillies courtesy of CSN producer, Neal Slotkin:
Making sixth World Series appearance in franchise history – first since 1993
Phillies now 4-0 in NLCS closeout games
0-4 vs teams currently in AL East :
IF TB wins, Phillies will have played all 5 current teams from the AL East in a World Series:
1915 – lost to Red Sox 4-1
1950 – lost to Yankees 4-0
1983 – lost to Orioles 4-1
1993 – lost to Blue Jays 4-2
If TB wins: Phillies 5-10 all-time vs Tampa (2-4 at Tropicana Field)
World Series Experience: (5 players – 3 hitters, 2 pitchers)
So Taguchi: 3-15 (.200 BA, 1 RBI) – Only Phillie with a World Series hit
Eric Bruntlett: appeared in 2005 WS w/HOU, never batted
Pedro Feliz: 0-5 in 3 games with Giants in 2002
Brad Lidge: 0-2, 4.91 ERA in 3 games (3.2 IP) with HOU in 2005
Allowed 4 hits, 2 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 6 K
Scott Eyre: 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 3 games for Giants in 2002 Allowed 5 hits, 1 R, 0 ER in 3 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
Other Player Notes
Cole Hamels: 6th Youngest starter to win LCS Clinching game Becomes fourth Phillies player named NLCS MVP:
Cole Hamels – 2008
Curt Schilling – 1993
Gary Matthews – 1983
Manny Trillo - 1980
3-0 this postseason, 3 playoff wins is 2nd in franchise history (Carlton 6)
Jimmy Rollins: 3 career leadoff homers in postseason, most all-time Only player in MLB history with 2 leadoff home runs in same postseason NLCS: .143 BA (3-21), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 8 K
Jayson Werth: 13 K – most among any player in 2008 playoffs (Rollins tied for 2nd with 4 other players with 10)
Shane Victorino: Leads all players with 13 postseason RBIs
Yeah, that’s right … the winner of tonight’s game will go to the World Series.
Obviously, if the Phillies win it’s all over, and in that regard things look pretty good for them. Cole Hamels, the team’s best pitcher, has been close to Koufax-esque during the playoffs. Since the Dodgers countering with Chad Billingsley, a pitcher who struck out four of the first six hitters he faced during Game 2, but then retired just four more hitters for the rest of the game, it appears to be a matchup that favors the Phils. Billingsley damn-near melted down in Game 2 and then he and his teammates began chirping at each other.
But if the Phillies don’t get it done tonight at Chavez Ravine, it gets tougher back in Philadelphia beginning on Friday night. For one, Hiroki Kuroda, the lights out pitcher that has baffled the Phillies in three starts this year, will pitch against Brett Myers. The Phillies’ pitcher wasn’t so sharp despite winning Game 2, and has a gimpy ankle to go along with it.
If there is a need for Game 7 on Saturday, Derek Lowe will make his third start of the series against a Phillies pitcher to be determined. Typically, Saturday will be Jamie Moyer’s turn in the rotation, however, the veteran lefty has lasted just 5 1/3 innings in two starts in the playoffs for an ERA of 13.50.
So there it is – tonight is the night. The Phillies definitely do not want to return to Philadelphia this weekend without the Warren Giles Trophy. Otherwise, it might just slip out of their hands.
Here are tonight’s lineups:
11 – Jimmy Rollins, ss
28 – Jayson Werth, rf
26 – Chase Utley, 2b
6 – Ryan Howard, 1b
5 – Pat Burrell, lf
8 – Shane Victorino, cf
7 – Pedro Feliz, 3b
51 – Carlos Ruiz, c
35 – Cole Hamels, p
15 – Rafael Furcal, ss
16 – Andre Ethier, rf
99 – Manny Ramirez, lf
55 – Russell Martin, c
7 – James Loney, 1b
30 – Casey Blake, 3b
27 – Matt Kemp, cf
33 – Blake DeWitt, 2b
58 – Chad Billingsley, p
I don’t see too many clouds in the sky. That means there is no badly needed rain in the forecast to help salve the wildfires raging nearby in the San Fernando and Simi Valleys.
It seems as if the warm weather caught a few people off guard here at Dodger Stadium. Like the rest of us, the Dodgers staff is also moving slowly in attempt to conserve energy. In fact, they are moving so slowly that the press room drink machine wasn’t set up, nor were the lineups posted.
Then again, Cole Hamels and Ryan Madson just rolled in while I was typing this. However, Cole changed out of his dark suit and into his pre-game warmup gear rather quickly and talked on the phone in the seats behind home plate. The rule is no cell phone in the clubhouse… starting pitchers included.
Nevertheless, I snapped a photo of Hamels yapping on his cell phone with my cell phone. I’m sure the picture is grainy and undecipherable.
Anyway, off to the field to hear what Hiroki Kuroda, Joe Torre, Charlie Manuel and Brett Myers have to say. It’s another big game tonight…
Then again, they all get bigger from here on out.
One friendly dude writing about another friendly dude… that’s almost like looking at a photo taken from a camera phone of guy talking on his cell phone.
Are people excited? Cautiously optimistic? Giddy?
Can they believe that the Phillies are just one game away from going to the World Series?
The mood at the workout at Dodger Stadium was as loose and carefree as if the Phillies were in town for a three-game set in August. Shane Victorino held court for a bit and then took the time to chat about some things in the quiet of the runway between the dugout and the clubhouse.
Meanwhile, the small, antiquated clubhouse was filthy with media types. They were in town from all over just trying to get to the bottom of these Phillies and if they can get to the World Series.
One more win…
How did we get here?
I observed an interesting moment last night while waiting to get into the victorious clubhouse after the game. While fighting my way through the crowd, I heard a familiar voice complaining about manager Joe Torre’s handling of the pitching staff and how James Loney has been the team’s best RBI man all season long.
The voice was so familiar (and loud) that when I turned to look where it was coming from, I crashed right into its source:
It was Meat Head.
Yep, as he walked out of the special seats behind home plate after Game 4, Rob Reiner was playing armchair manager for everyone to hear.
And yes, everyone heard. If only Carroll O’Connor were around to tell him:
“Stifle it, will you…”
So yeah, I ran into Meat Head. Apparently he had seats near Barbara Streisand, who also attended the game.
I didn’t run into Babs (her outfit complete with black beret was like buttah), but I bet she spent the walk back to the car wondering why Jonathan Broxton challenged Matt Stairs with the heat.
More later… back into the bubble.
Why not? The Dodgers are playing well. Better yet, the attendance of 56,800 is the largest crowd in the history of this old joint.
And I was here…
Watching the Phillies not hit – what’s up with that?
After Chris Coste singled to start the eighth, the Phillies went down quietly.
Why don’t we just add this one into the win column for the Dodgers and call it a 2-1 series already. One more win from LA and there will be a Game 6 in Philadelphia on Friday night.
Off to work… check back later to see all the latest.
End of 8: Dodgers 7, Phillies 2