Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Pennant Race - 10/9

NLCS Preview

As we have previously mentioned, our picks went out the window when the Cubs and White Sox ruined our all Windy City World Series. Outside of the 2000 Subway series, the last time two intrastate rivals met was back in1989 when the A's and Giants battled each other and an earthquake.

So now we have a National League final that was all the rage in the late 1970s. The Dodgers topped the Phillies twice, in 1977 and 1978 (Dodgers coach Larry Bowa was the Phillies shortstop at the time), before losing to our boys in Pinstripes. (The Phillies also made it to the NLCS in 1976, losing to the Reds. We won't talk about that World Series.) Philadelphia exacted some revenge in 1983 when Pete Rose helped lead them to the Series with an NLCS win over LA.

The Phils last played in the World Series, when Mitch Williams was "Wild Thing" and that great teammate, Curt Schilling, wrapped his head in a towel so he didn't have to watch his closer throw away games. Jim Fregosi was at the helm of that team. The Phillies lone World Series title in their 125 year history came in 1980 when the Dallas Green led squad beat the Kansas City Royals in six games.

This team battled back from a slow start and a late season swoon to overtake the Mets for the second straight season. Though it wasn't as dramatic as last year, there were many pundits who felt the Phillies wouldn't be able to catch the Mets again, seemingly forgetting that the Phils have a bunch of winners on their team compared to those players that call Shea home. They also have an underrated manager in Charlie Manuel, who has done a great job of holding things together when it appeared the Phillies might not make the playoffs.

The Phillies were heavy favorites over the Brewers in the NLDS and they easily lived up to those expectations, even battering red hot CC Sabathia in game 2. But now they have their work cut out for them against a Joe Torre led squad that has one of the hottest hitters in baseball in Manny Ramirez.

We won't regurgitate the Joe Torre-Yankees post-2007 saga again, but we will say we're not surprised by the success. We also know that it took Manny Ramirez and also the much less heralded Casey Blake, to make this post-season a reality. That and a big collapse after a strong start by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Manny being Manny, he kicked it into full gear and then some, hitting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI in 53 games since his trade from Boston. Oh, and he had a 1.272 OPS.

Obviously Torre is the story of this impending World Series. A grand, "take that" to the Steinbrenner boys. Dan Graziano has a very good piece in today's Star Ledger on Torre's influence on the Dodgers.

The Torre led team is back in the playoffs for the first time in two years, when the Mets swept them in the first round. The Dodgers also lost the first round in 1995, 1996, and 2004. The last time the Dodgers advanced further was when they won the whole thing back in 1988.

Pitching probables for the series:

Game 1 (10/9) - Derek Lowe vs. Cole Hamels
Game 2 (10/10) - Chad Billingsley vs. Brett Myers
Game 3 (10/12) - Jamie Moyer vs. Hiroki Kuroda
Game 4 (10/13) - Joe Blanton vs. TBD
Game 5 (10/15) - Cole Hamels vs. TBD
Game 6 (10/16) - TBD vs. Brett Myers
Game 7 (10/18) - TBD vs. Jamie Moyer

No comments:

Post a Comment