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Saturday, September 27, 2008


Back-to-Back Division Titles

Ryan Howard

Chase Utley

Jimmy Rollins

Phillies Apparel

Forget the rain. Forget the Mets. Forget the Brewers.

An amazing grab of a ground ball up the middle by Jimmy Rollins ignited a double-play with a toss to Chase Utley then Ryan Howard to give the Philadelphia Phillies the 2008 National League East title. Only a Brad Lidge slider for a strikeout might have been more appropriate.

Some observations from the couch:
• Jayson Werth may never know how close he came to being part of the lore of the segment of Philadelphia fans that reside in Negadelphia. Pulling up to avoid the right field fence allowing a run to score in the top of the fifth with his impression of Ricky Watters’ alligator arm performance, Werth knocked a home run in the bottom of the inning to stay out of a potentially ignominious spot in Philadelphia sports history.
• Philadelphia held it’s collective breath when Shane Victorino collided with Rollins, and laid on the ground with his glove over his face. Speed kills in sports, and the Flyin’ Hawaiian proved it by scoring from first later in the game. He played an awesome centerfield all year.
• Tug McGraw will always be the beloved closer in Phillies history, but 41 saves in 41 opportunities for Brad Lidge may have been the key to this season.
• I can’t quite call Jamie Moyer the ace, but I’m also not sure I’m more comfortable with anybody else on the mound. There were a few games this season I thought his age was finally showing, but the guy always bounced back. Brett Myers reminded everybody why he was in the minors for a stint this season in his last couple starts. Cole Hamels is still the ace, but he seems scared to death of pitching “too much.”
• Did anyone else notice Arlen Specter watching the game from behind the plate in a suit? Let’s see, John McCain almost skipped the debate to stay in Washington, but Specter made the Phillies game? (McCain made it in time to lie.) It’s almost as funny as reading that Sarah Palin was booed in a local bar Friday night.

I got Comcast SportsNet on in the background. There’s plenty of talk about the subdued celebration and the extra day of rest. I think the extra day is what really matters.

Whose the Phillies MVP? Even with his second half struggles, I would have said Chase Utley through about mid-August. His power numbers were rivaling those of Ryan Howard, and his ability to make contact at bat and play better defense made him the choice. But he just never caught fire for an extended time after the All-Star Game. After Howard’s “Mr. September” performance, there’s just no other choice in my mind. It’s Howard.

Who do we root for tomorrow? I actually thought the Phils were locked into playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Comcast has said its up in the air. As much fun as it is to say the Mets choked again, the reality seems to be that injuries cost them the division. As long as the Phils avoid the Cubs, I’ll take a limping Mets team in the playoffs.

Post your comments on the Philadelphia Phillies winning the NL East!

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