Friday, October 31, 2008

2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies

Move over 1980 Phillies, You've got company!

2008 World Champions

Boy that sounds great, And the Phillies earned it. They beat four worthy opponents
. First they won the NL East by holding off the Mets and 08 Free Agent Signee Johan Santana. Then they took on the Milwaukee Brewers and their hired gun CC Sabathia dismissing him in the 4th inning of game 2 of the NLDS. Manny Ramirez was on fire but couldn't carry the entire Dodgers squad when faced with a team effort from the Phils who got contributions from everyone in the 5 game NLCS. And Finally the Tampa Bay Rays who won more games then anyone in 2008 (105 including the Post Season).

The 08 Series may look lopsided, but 3 of the five games were one run games and Tampa Bay's win was by 2 runs. The Rays proved to be adept at playing small ball and getting runs when no run seemed possible. At the outset the Tampa Bay also pitched well in clutch situations, but eventually the Phils offense got to the Rays bullpen. Ultimately this was the difference in the series. The Phils batters did a good job of extending at-bats and forcing the Tampa Bay Pitchers to go deeper into counts. In the end this meant the Phillies batters getting more opportunties to see the Rays relievers. Oddly the deciding game may have been game 2 which Tampa actually won, of course they had to come up with 3.1/3 innngs of relief to do so and 78 more pitches to finish the game. Think about that The winning team threw 78 more pitches in that game alone - thats like throwing an extra 5 innings.

Yes it may seem like there is ample rest because so much time exists between games - especially in this series - which had time to rest within a game, however the Rays relief staff never recovered from game 2. After that with the exception of David Price pitching the final defensive inning of the Rays season in game 5, every time a Rays reliever, who had made a prior series appearance, appeared on the mound they either gave up a run or allowed an inherited runner to score. Howell and Balfour in game 3, Wheeler and Miller in game 4, and Balfour and Bradford in game 5.

This does not dimish what the Rays have accomplished as a team this season - As mentioned above they won 105 games total, this outpaced everyone including the Phillies who won 103. They are a good young ballclub: they have a fine rotation, they can run and they can hit. The defense looked a little sloppy during the World Series but I believe that may have been an anomaly - There may have also been some poor decisions made by players and some questionable moves made by Joe Maddon - both of which may be due to the pressure and the bright lights of the post season.

That being said, I leave a cautionary note to the 2008 Devil Rays and that is 1986 Mets. They won and everybody thought that Gooden and Strawberry would return to the fall classic repeatedly because they made what they were so young (21 and 24) and talented and they made it look easy. It is NEVER easy. Gooden would never play in another World Series, Strawberry would have to wait 10 years until he was a member of the 96 Yankees.

Enough of the Rays. The Phillies won this World Series and, as I noted above, the victory was well deserved. They got contributions from up and down the line up, the bench, the starting 4 and the bullpen. At some point each of the studs came up with at least one important hit (Utley, Howard, Burrell, Rollins). The remainder of the lineup all contributed big hits as well (Ruiz, Victorino, Feliz, Werth). While not always perfect the Phillies got fine play out of their defense and the infield exectuted several key
double plays. Eric Bruntlett and Geoff Jenkins were both key players off the bench - and who can forget Matt Stairs Homer in the NLCS that got the Phils into the Series. All four members of the rotation (Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Blanton) had quality starts and came up with clutch outs. And of course, The bullpen anchored by Brad Lidge simply said was outstading - Hat Tip J C Romero, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin - Future Phils Trivia - J C Romero was the winning pitcher in 2 games of the 2008 World Series.

2008 World Champions

Can't say it enough.

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a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions