Sunday, October 26, 2008

World Series Diary: Game 3, Phillies-Rays

Small moments from what was going on during my NBA fantasy league draft prep (what, you think I'm going all hardcore in my bandwagon fan ways?)...

> As the Rays are announced, the Phillies played some odd children's novelty song about fish. I have no idea why.

> The game starts an hour and a half late, just so I don't have to miss anything from putting my kids to bed. Thanks, MLB!

> Jennifer, the girl who buys huge talking cameras from Circuit City? Let's just say that HD does no favors.

> In the bottom of the second, Carlos Ruiz goes yard in his effort to make sure that the pitcher doesn't lead off the next inning. Nice job, Carlos!

> You know, some year, both leagues of baseball are going to actually play by the same rules. And when they do... well, watching Jamie Moyer and Matt Garza "hit" isn't terribly entertaining.

> At least early, Moyer is getting the calls and looking like his regular season self. When he strikes out BJ Upton to end the third, five million Philly Fan males in their mid '40s and up, all across this nation, pumped their fists hard enough to pull something.

> I like David Bowie too, but doesn't Lincoln know that "Major Tom" never returns to his family, and that this might not be the thing I want from my new vehicle?

> The Rays really don't look, as a pitching staff, like they have a lot of experience holding base stealers in line. A possible drawback for AL teams... but then Garza-Navarro throws out Jimmy Rollins at second with relative ease. Curious.

> If Samsung really wants to sell me a cell phone based on a fake movie with two women... um, have the women kiss each other already. You're welcome.

> When Moyer brushes someone off the plate, do they ever charge the mound? I'm thinking no, because the ball never gets there fast enough to appear malevolent...

> Joe Buck seemed wildly amused by Philly Fan chanting "Eva" at Evan Longoria. Clearly, it doesn't take much to amuse Joe Buck.

> On a 3-1 count to Carl Crawford with 2 out and no on one in the fourth, Moyer continued to work quickly despite falling behind... and got Crawford to fly out weakly to left. That's confidence.

> How much would you have to be paid, Dear Reader, to watch "Role Models"? I'm betting it's less than "Frank TV." But similar, right?

For me, the bidding starts at... $40.

> New Joss Whedon series! Woo hoo! Eliza Dushku and Amy Acker! I can't wait until Fox screws Whedon over and cancels the series before it has a chance to do well...

> People talk about the running game, but in the bottom of the third, a caught stealing cost the Phillies a run. Worth remembering, if only because so many people seem to regard stolen bases as a panacea.

> Shane Victorino called out on strikes in the fourth, and Fox shows it as a strike on their pitch graphing thing. Which doesn't, it seem, have any adjustment for the height of the hitter. If that's a strike to Shane, he can forget about patience for the rest of this game.

> Through five, Moyer is damn near magical -- getting calls to expand the zone, jamming the lefties with 80 mph "heat", keeping every player off balance, and bringing a tear to the eye of everyone but the presumably existent Rays fans. Seriously, who doesn't love Jamie Moyer?

> Leaving off the fifth, Carlos Ruiz draws a walk. This, after a homer earlier. The Rays do know that Ruiz is a .220 hitter, right?

> At the end of five, it's 2-1 Phillies... and it feels like it could easily be 4-0. The Rays' run was borderline luck, the Phils ran themselves out of a run, and if Ryan Howard could ever make contact with a man on third... anyway. Deep breaths.

> What Moyer did to the Rays' lefties tonight was just textbook. In the sixth, he had Upton going back to the bag as he came home, while freezing Carlos Pena at the plate. Just nails.

> The final out of the sixth is Longoria hitting it a ton to left, but it doesn't carry at all, and Burrell settles under it in the warning track for the final out of the sixth. Moyer's reaction on the Fox cameras was priceless; no fist pump, nothing but a blink and a look down as the inning ends. Just another game, you see... and then he turns and extends his tongue like Gene Simmons, in the same look of relief that you might see from a Little Leaguer.

Again, I ask... who doesn't love Jamie Moyer?

> In the bottom if the inning, Chase Utley shows the Rays how to hit a home run by absolutely mashing one to right. 3-1 for the home team... and then Ryan Howard jumps into the Fox announcing booth to tell Joe Buck that he's a flaming idiot, as he mashes a hanging curve from Garza. Nearly the same place as Utley's ball, and it's 4-1.

> I know that a lot of people like "House." But every time I look at him, I just see the secondary comic lead from "Black Adder." Does anyone else have this problem?

> Moyer gets the ball in the seventh, and Crawford greets him with a great bunt. Jamie makes a fantastic play, but the umpire blows the call. Ouch. The Phillies get men up as Moyer works to Navarro, who eventually doubles on a 1-2 count, but Crawford doesn't score. Manuel leaves Moyer in to face Gross as all of Philadelphia starts gripping hard. He rips a ball to first, where Howard makes a great play to get the out at first... and that's all for Jamie.

> Chad Durbin comes in and gets a weak grounder from Jason Bartlett on the first pitch, but it's a run as Navarro scores. 4-3 Phillies.

> Final line for Moyer: 6.1 IP, 5 hits, 3 ER, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts. And if the umpire gets the call right, he's probably still working, with the chance to finish 7. He can win, he can't lose. And we can all love him unconditionally, and not live in mortal terror of him working in a Game 7. (OK, that's a lie. All Game Sevens are mortal terror.)

> Scott Eyre in for Durbin after a bad walk to Aybar. He gets ahead of Iwamura, then misses all the way to a full count. And that is what playoff baseball is... just maddening. Eyre then blows Iwamura away to end the inning.

> I dream, in my lifetime, of not hearing someone sing "God Bless America" in the seventh inning stretch.

People, it's a baseball game. And the moment in a baseball game where we get up off our lazy asses and discover just how much our asses have atrophied. It's not a patriotic moment; it's a moment where we celebrate the fact that we are goofing off work and eating crap. We sing a song about that. Not America. Enough.

> I know things have gone badly for America this month, but are we all that excited about a free taco? That's, um, 20 cents of bad food there, people. Move along.

> In the bottom of the seventh, Chad Bradford gets a 1-2-3 inning, as he is wont to do. This one will come down to whether Madson and Lidge can get six outs with no runs. If you like tight games, this is your Series.

> This fall, Jack Bauer will save cute black kids. Why do I suspect that this is the year that the "24" ratings go through the floorboards?

> Upton leads off the eighth inning with an infield hit, and it's Deep Breath time. He should be able to steal a base off Madson, or just distract him enough to make a mistake. And for the second straight hitter, he goes down 2-0... battles back to 2-2 with pure filth... and goes full again. It's a good thing I'm not a Phillies fan, or I'd be a basket case... as Pena whiffs on ball four. Lucky.

> Upton steals second easily on ball one to Longoria. Mr. Upton is going to make a lot of money playing baseball... and he steals third and scores on a bounced throw. Gahhhh.

> Longoria grounds out to second on a play that would have scored Upton from third, not that this will mollify anyone. A blown save for Madson.

> "Four Christmases" with Vince Vaungh and Reese Witherspoon? I'm starting the bidding at... $30. Only because I suspect it'd be short.

> Burger King is trying to rip off "Flight of the Conchords." I can't imagine this will actually work as an ad campaign, but what the hell, it's not Howard Eskin accosting strangers. It's a step up, really.

> J.C. Romero gets Crawford to fly out on the first pitch, and we're to the bottom of the eighth, with the heart of the Phillies lineup

> Is anyone else offended by the idea that steelworkers and roadies can do everything better than, well, the people who already do these jobs? I've been a musician; most roadies, um, kinda suck. Even if they do have walkie-talkie phones. And if firefighters were in Congress, they'd probably just set the damned building on fire. (I know, I know, most of y'all think that's a step up...)

> Bradford walks Werth on four pitches to start the eighth and end his night. It's a damn shame that Werth doesn't run the bases like Upton, really.

> Howell in to face Utley and Howard, with Balfour warming up. Note, for the record, that Maddon probably can't use Electric David Price, due to the 45 pitches he had him throw in Game Two. Hunch Managers can kill you.

> Very, very ballsy... Werth steals second, and just makes it. Navarro with another very good throw, but the Phils are high-percentage base stealers for a reason... and then Utley chases ball four for the whiff, and Werth gets picked off second. Gahhhhhh. Phillies running themselves out of innings tonight, while the Rays run themselves into runs. Howard strikes out looking to end the inning, and it's tied going into the ninth.

> Romero starts the ninth, not Lidge, as Manuel treats this like a game, rather than an opportunity to start experimenting. A 3-pitch strikeout of Navarro starts it. Romero gets neither of the first two calls on Gross, then gets him on a 2-1 roller to Utley. Manuel stays with Romero despite Bartlett's good numbers against lefties, and Ruiz shows off with yet another great block on a 1-2 bouncer. The count goes full as Bartlett holds off on a slider, and Bartlett nearly hurts himself with a foul ball. It's hair pulling time in the stands, but Romero gets the routine grounder to Rollins, and we're to the bottom of the ninth, with the Phils needing a run to win.

> The bidding on "YESMan".... $50. Just because Jim Carrey hasn't been funny for a really, really long time, and repeating the words "Red Bull" that many times might require therapy.

> Bruntlett starts the ninth by getting ahead 2-0. Balfour warming again.. and on a 2-1 pitch, Bruntlett takes one for the team, off the back of the leg. That's it for Howell, and it's Bunt Time for Victorino (to set up Feliz / Dobbs for the Hero Role. Pack a lunch, folks, because this will take five minutes or more...

> Just enough time for Fox to tell us the time! Riveting television!

> Many changes that probably won't matter, and it comes down to Victorino versus Balfour, Bunt Time. Strike one on a nice pitch away... and then the Rays self-destruct with a Balfour wild pitch, a Navarro wild throw, and Bruntlett is on third with no outs. Wow, wow, wow.

> Balfour completes the walk to Victorino. Speaking of which, all hail Shane for getting out of the way of the wild pitch, because that really should have hit him... and if it had, it's just first and second with no outs, rather than the man getting to third.

> Dobbs hits for Feliz, and Maddon is going to walk him and face Ruiz with five infielders. As a Phillies fan, I'm all for this play, in that it gives me a reliever with control issues with no margin for error. Hell, on ball two, Balfour nearly bounced it. It's on Ruiz.

> Stairs on deck to hit for Romero. Ball one, high. Ruiz chases ball two, a high fastball, to even the count. Balfour humps up with a 96 mph fastball to get strike two. He's shaking Navarro off a lot, and Ruiz fights off another 96 mph fastball to foul it off. Ball 2, up and away -- everything up, which is somewhat promising... and at 1:47 am, Ruiz chops a swinging bunt down the line. Longoria bare hands and throws wildly home as Bruntlett scores, and the Phillies win 5-4.

Just your average five and a half hour long ball game, folks, Had 'em all along. See you again tonight...

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