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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Phils Advance; ALCS, NLCS Picks

Clutch hitting by the Phillies sent them to the NLCS from second straight year. Better yet, the critical hitting came from the guys the Phillies need it to come from. After a walk by Chase Utley with Shane Victorino already on base, Ryan Howard slammed a two-out double to tie the game in the ninth at 4-4. Before fans got over the fact that Howard’s hit looked like a go ahead home run off the bat, Jason Werth sent Howard home with the eventual game winning hit.

To top it off, Charlie Manuel brought Brad Lidge in with two men on to get the final out . . . and he got it.

Of course all of this came after the Phillies led for most of the game after another incredible performance by Cliff Lee almost went for naught. An error by Jimmy Rollins in the eighth thwarted a potential inning ending double play and ended Lee’s night with two outs. Ryan Madson came in and promptly gave up back-to-back hits giving Colorado their only lead of the game.

It’s tough to question Manuel these days, but I’m guessing I wasn’t the only guy in Philadelphia doing it last night. I still think Lee has to stay in at that point.

For once, Philadelphia fans calling this one of the greatest games ever actually have a good argument. Before the Angels did it on Saturday, no team had ever rallied from two runs down with two outs in the ninth for a series clinching win, according to ESPN radio.

ALCS and NLCS picks. I went 3-1 with picks in the opening round of the playoffs, even calling the Yankees sweep and the Angels “upsetting” Boston. Plus I had the Phillies “eking” out a win. No, it didn’t go 5 games, but if that series doesn’t qualify as eking out a win, I don’t know what does. Only the Cardinals and Matt Holliday came up small for me.

Now that the championship series are here, it’s time for some official picks. I’m sticking with my original prediction, and making the Yankees my American League pick to make the World Series. And with the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright at home watching the NLCS with the rest of us, I’m picking the Phils to represent the National League once again. I will not pick a number of games, but I’m thinking the Phils take it in 5.

A couple other thoughts. Is it just me or does the champagne splash party in the winning locker room after Division Series seem a bit contrived? They really haven’t won anything at that point. Also, I know it’s a broken record, but if the Phillies-Rockies series hadn’t been delayed a game – and turned out as it did – baseball would be idle for four days during the playoffs. As it is, they’re idle for three straight. If they worked at it, the television networks couldn’t screw it up much more. I hoped they enjoyed the ratings on Monday morning at 2 AM for Game 3 of the Phillies-Rockies. UPDATE: Apparently they did work at it. The good news is baseball will actually only be idle far two days, but in a continued effort to prove that fairness is not a factor in scheduling, the Phillies play Thursday night, while the ALCS - with both teams having been off longer than the Phils - starts Friday night. As an added bonus, the Phillies actually play Game 2 right before the Yanks and Angels play Game 1. I generally hate to play into the Philadelphia mentality that we’re always getting the shaft, but it’s hard to argue against it this time.

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