Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: Philadelphia Phillies

MLB play-offs braindump #7 – Weekend edition

I managed to watch all of Friday’s Dodgers/Phillies game, and certainly picked a good one. A really absorbing contest, a very much the proverbial pitchers duel. Pedro Martinez, for the Phillies, and Vicente Padilla, for the Dodgers, were outstanding. A real masterclass. Martinez gave nothing away, while Padilla had just the one bad pitch. Unfortunately for him Ryan Howard got on it for a solo home run. I caught Padilla pitching for Texas earlier this season, and while not brilliant, I thought he looked reasonable enough. However, I would never have guessed at the time that he’d be pitching so well, in the play-offs, and for the Dodgers too.

The Dodgers managed to fight back, and eventually won 2-1. So, we’re 1-1 in that series and if this game is anything to go by, we’re in for some very close-run games.

The Dodgers won essentially on Phillies mistakes, following misfields, and a walk with the bases full. Meanwhile, in an absolute epic last night the Yankees beat the Angels in the thirteenth inning, again after a fielding error.

There have been hour upon hour of top-draw play in the play-offs, but still the recurring theme is teams losing games after errors. I guess when things are that close, and teams so well matched, it is more likely that one terrible mistake will change a game, rather than one moment of genius. It really feels like in each game it is a case of who is going to blink first. And the Yankees, in particular, don’t look like blinking.

MLB play-offs braindump #6 – Phillies/Dodgers Game One

And so, after a little break, the play-offs resume. Last night the Phillies beat the Dodgers 8-6 in the first game of a seven-game series. The Dodgers can’t be happy, at not only losing, but failing to make the most of home advantage. However, there is clearly still a long way to go.

I do fear, though, that the small wager I placed on the Dodgers winning the World Series prior to the game hasn’t helped matters. The Dodgers were listed as the outsiders of the four teams left, which I wasn’t so sure about, so a flutter was in order. They are now duly cursed by my anti-tipping skills.

For the World Series I think I’d like to see a ‘Freeway Series’ between the Angels and Dodgers. As a Mets fan this seems the most satisfactory solution, considering the alternatives, and some sort of Southern Californian ‘derby’ sounds like it could be a lot of fun. But I won’t be betting the house on it just yet.

I caught some of last night’s game this morning, listening to the archived audio. I think listening to baseball on the radio can really accentuate the poetry of the sport. There is also the rich stream of facts, figures and anecdotes provided throughout. I often feel I’m learning a lot more about the game when I listen to the radio, than when I watch the television (this is the case for most sports, cricket comes to mind right away).

And I doubt many are better than one of the legendary broadcasters in baseball, Vin Scully. He’s been commentating on games for over 50 years, yet he doesn’t miss a step. He set the scene so well, with talk of the ‘gloaming’ and ‘leaden grey sky’, while also calling the game to perfection.

The television coverage of the play-offs has been far from perfect. Radio offers a worthy alternative. Particularly with Vin Scully in the seat.

MLB play-offs braindump #5 – Five things I’ve learned about post-season baseball this week

And then there were four. Later this week we’ll have the Angels vs Yankees and Phillies vs Dodgers in best-of-seven series for a place in the big one, the World Series. The Red Sox, Rockies, Twins and Cardinals have all gone home, season over.

But what have I learned from the first round of play-offs?

1. The best teams went through

I think it is safe to say that the strongest teams went through. There might have been bad calls from umpires and huge mistakes that you just can’t legislate for, but all in all, there were no unlucky losers. There have been close games, but three sides were swept three games to none, and the other side, the Rockies, only won the one game. You’ve got to be ruthless at this stage, and the best teams were. Could the Red Sox, Rockies, Twins and Cardinals have done better than one win between them? I think we all the answer to that one.

2. It’s not all about heroics

There have undoubtedly been some good performances, but the game-changing acts have generally been self-destructive ones. Running errors, dropped catches, poor pitching. Which brings me on to…

3. You need a good closer

How many games have swung in the final inning? The teams that have won have had steady, reliable pitching in the ninth inning. When the closer has had a meltdown, his team has lost. Unless you somehow manage to rack up a massive lead beforehand, you’ve got to be strong in the later innings.

4. I don’t like the TBS coverage

I’m a creature of habit. I don’t like change. I’m no baseball media expert, but TBS coverage just isn’t the same somehow.

5. There’s not enough hours in the day

Believe me, in this, ahem, “current economic climate”, I’m very, very happy that I’ve got a job. But because of my pesky job I just haven’t got the time to watch all this wonderful baseball, especially with the time-difference (I live in London). I’m not complaining, though, about this embarrassment of riches. I’m just wondering what I’ll do after the season ends. Aha! Watch other sport, that’s what! Problem solved!

MLB play-offs braindump #4 – quick and dirty edition

The Dodgers beat the Cardinals 5-1 to sweep the series by three games to nothing. The Cardinals haven’t really had a look-in at all this post-season. I expected a closer series and the Cardinals to put up a bit more of a fight. That goes to show how hopeless I am at predicting anything. It also shows that having the best player in baseball, Albert Pujols, isn’t enough to take you to a World Series.

The Dodgers now go to the National League Championship, to face the winner of the Rockies/Phillies series. The third game in that series got snowed (snow!) out last night, so they’ll have had two days rest before resuming this evening.

The Dodgers are going to have had significantly more rest than whoever they face in the Championship series. An advantage? Potentially, but history shows it doesn’t always work out that way. Momentum can be pretty important too.Wild guess? I think the Dodgers should shade it against either the Rockies or Phillies. And if that prediction doesn’t jinx them, nothing will.

MLB play-offs braindump #2

Back due to popular demand (or not)…a second braindump on the baseball play-offs.

Last night was a really good night’s baseball. I’ve experienced each game slightly differently, but enjoyed them all. Proper post-season baseball is well and truly here, and it’s so exciting I’m squealing like a little girl. Metaphorically squealing, anyway.

Rockies beat Phillies, draw level in the series

I caught live the ninth and final inning, seeing the Rockies beat the Phillies 5-4. It was tense stuff, as the Rockies just about protected a slender lead. It was also a good exercise in showing me the value and worth of a good closing pitcher. See, on the face of it, it seems easy. Turn up, pitch the last inning, go home. But a game like last night’s shows just how much pressure that puts on someone. It might not be as physically taxing as being a starting pitcher, sure. But, I have no idea how their heads don’t implode with the pressure and the responsibility, to save a game, and not throw it away.

Ryan Madson was awesome for the Phillies, removing the final three Rockies in just seven pitches, including six strikes. Considering the Phillies bullpen has been a bit of a question-mark, I wasn’t expecting such a dominant display.

His efforts were in vain, however, as his counterpart, Huston Street managed to stop the Phillies scoring, and gave the Rockies the win. So, after two games in Philadelphia, and heading to Colorado, it is one game apiece.

That just goes to show the importance of the second game in a five-game series. The Rockies are now in a strong position – they could win the series in the next two games, both at home. The Phillies have missed the chance to go 2-0 up and wrap the series quickly. It is, as they say, all to play for.

Dramatic Dodgers defeat Cardinals at the death

Corny alliteration ahoy! I saw the condensed game of this, this morning. As tense as the previous game had been to watch live, I wish I’d caught live the ninth inning of this one instead. Although that would have meant me being up at stupid o’clock on a school night.

The Cardinals were 2-1 up, and only needed to get one more Dodger out to win the game. James Loney popped the ball up, and Matt Holliday went to catch it for the Cardinals. Game over. Or not. In the glare of the lights he lost the ball and it fell to the floor. The Dodgers had cheated death. They then went on to score two runs to win 3-2 and go 2-0 up in the series. In that one moment, had the Cardinals thrown away their play-off hopes?

I feel very, very sorry for Matt Holliday. He’s been an asset for the Cardinals all season. He’d scored a home run earlier in the game. He could have been the hero. It’s funny how one single moment can end up defining not just a game, but a whole season, a whole career. I wonder if that will be the case for him?

Angels keep the Red Sox quiet

This morning’s listening has been the first game in the Angels/Red Sox series. I do enjoy listening rather than watching the baseball from time to time. It certainly offers a very different perspective. And some great commercials. I want a shredded beef taco. And it certainly made this morning go a whole lot quicker.

The Angels sounded pretty strong. They continually put runners on base, and eventually made that count. Stopping the Red Sox from getting on the board was pretty impressive too.

OK. Braindump over. Any play-off thoughts? What can we expect next?