The phrase, “Expectations Have Never Been Higher” is starting to become cliché around these parts.
The season that culminated in the Philadelphia Phillies World Series Championship in 2008 was magical. Cole Hamels was rock steady. Brad Lidge pitched the closer role with the precision of a diamond cutter. The offensive explosion was thunderous. Millions of fans showed up at the parade in Philadelphia to celebrate a brutally long championship drought.
2009 saw the Philadelphia Phillies first flirtation with Roy Halladay, only to scoop up Cliff Lee at the deadline instead. From there, the Phillies sailed into their second World Series in as many years. Though Brad Lidge plummeted back to earth with a resounding thud that year, along with most of the rest of the bullpen, those expectations were a second-in-a-row World Series Championship. It was not to be as the New York Yankees played strong, the Phillies suffered a power-outage (except for Chase Utley), and it didn’t happen the way the Phillies’ fans nor the organization expected. Adding insult to injury, Cliff Lee was allowed to depart Philadelphia after that season over the agonizing screams of fans everywhere.
Ryan Howard and the rest of the Phillies bats awoke last night to put Philadelphia one win away from winning baseball’s world championship. Howard’s struggles were beginning to be the fodder for blogs and newspapers alike. After last night performance — two home runs and five RBI — he has his team one win away from biggest prize in baseball and people are starting to remember what it is they liked about the Phillies slugger.
Even though no one apparently saw Saturday’s rain delayed, late night baseball fun, the signs of Howard’s awakening were apparent after he hit his first World Series home run in the sixth inning of Game 3.
If Saturday night was an awakening, last night was the eruption; and because of Howard’s bat heroics (not to mention Joe Blanton and Jayson Werth), the city of Philadelphia is one win away from their first non-Arena Football championship since Doctor J and his 83 Sixers.
Game 5 is tonight and we get a repeat of Game 1′s starting pitchers when Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir go at it again. With Hamels on the mound, you have to like Philly’s chances of ending the Series tonight.
With a heap of thanks going to Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge, the Phillies won Game 1 of the World Series last night, 3-2. Hamels was masterful, pitching seven strong innings and limiting the Rays to only five hits, striking out five in the process.
Utley started things off with a two-run homer in the first, giving the Phils the early advantage. Because of Hamels’ pitching, they only needed to add one more run to secure the win, which they did at the top of the fourth. One area of concern could be the lack of additional scoring by the Phils, who had 11 left on base, whereas the Rays only had three. Considering the fact the Phils won, I’m not sure how much will be made about their scoring woes; although, if they continue to leave men stranded, it will surely come back to haunt them.
Game 2 is tonight with James Shields going for the Rays and Brett Myers going for the Phillies.
Advantage Tampa Bay.
In bonus news, America is now owed a free taco from Taco Bell, courtesy of Jason Bartlett. The free tacos will be available on October 28th, between the hours of 2pm and 6pm local time.
Here we are folks: the Cowbells versus the Liberty Bells. The Raysheads versus the Why Can’t Us crowd. Mohawks versus … well, the Phillies didn’t do any special haircuts for the postseason, but you get the idea. The Fall Classic is here as the Tampa Bay Rays try to give the Philadelphia Phillies all the devil they can handle.
The City of Brotherly Love is a mere four games away from their first World Series title in 28 years, thanks to the pitching of Cole Hamels, the bat of Jimmy Rollins, and the shoddy fifth inning of infield play from Rafael Furcal. Hamels was masterful as he struck out five while giving up only five hits in seven innings. His two-game performance against the Dodgers earned him the NLCS MVP award.
Now the Phillies can rest, wait and set their pitching rotation while the run-up to the World Series continues. They will, of course, be facing the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays when the Fall Classic begins on October 22.
The NLCS starts tonight as the Dodgers and the Phillies square off. Only a trip the World Series is at stake. Most seem to be favoring Los Angeles in hopes of seeing Manny and Joe go against the Boston Red Sox, the other presumed favorite. In fact, thanks to Tim McCarver and Manny Ramirez, the Phillies have been all but forgotten.
Well, folks, it’s that time where we look back at some of the sports memories of year. Yes, the impending New Year is a great time for best of lists and the like. Because the sporting world is becoming so much more encompassing than when I was younger, there are an absolute plethora of plays to choose from. So instead of giving a comprehensive list with the claim of “Best ___ of the Year,” I thought I’d give you a collection of some great pwnage-style plays that helped make the 2007 sports year so enjoyable, most of which will be accompanied by the appropriate YouTube selection.
Without further adieu, here’s my collection of some pwnage that stood out during this past year.
Boise State Beats Oklahoma
What better way to get the New Year started than with a great college football bowl game that seems to prove some of these smaller schools can play with the big boys? Who can forget the incredible Statue of Liberty extra-point play that cemented the win for Boise State? Of course, it’s also hard to forget Chris Myers spoiling Ian Johnson’s proposal to his girlfriend, Chrissy Popadics by running his mouth beforehand. Nice going Myers. Here are the highlights of the great game, complete with the Statue of Liberty and that sick lateral that saved Boise’s bacon.
Lebron Destroys Detroit
During the NBA Playoffs, there is usually at least one performance that captivates the sports watching nation. David Stern’s spineless handling of Phoenix/San Antonio series notwithstanding, the game that stood out this past year was game 5 of the Detroit/Cleveland conference final match-up.
As many NBA fans understand, players make their fame in crunch time, and boy, did Lebron ever take that lesson to heart. In the fifth game of the series, Lebron decided to put his personal stamp on the playoffs by scoring 48 points and single-handedly leading his team over the Pistons.
To do so, King James scored Cleveland’s final 25 points… and 29 of its final 30. If that isn’t taking a game over, I don’t know what is. The crowning jewel of Lebron’s performance was one of the most ridiculous, in-traffic, one-handed dunks I’ve ever seen. As the above picture indicates, James was head-high when he threw the upcoming dunk down. Goodness. While Cleveland went on to lose in the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, Lebron did his best to let everyone know the path to the finals goes through Cleveland… at least for now.
Baron Davis Destroys Andre Kirilenko
Speaking of incredible playoff dunks, Baron Davis decided he’d add to the cavalcade by absolutely hammering one down over the AK-47 himself, Andre Kirilenko. Perhaps AK shouldn’t have rotated over…
Trevor Ariza: Dunk of the Year?
Sorry for all the dunk clips (they do make for some of the best Pwnage entries though), but I have to ask: Is Trevor Ariza’s dunk over Grant Hill during the recent Christmas Day Lakers/Suns match-up the best of year? If not, it’s going to be hard to outdo it, even with Lebron and Baron Davis’ offerings.
My goodness Trevor. Don’t hurt anybody up there.
OK, for my MLB pick, I had to resort to someone who’s opinion I respect a lot more than my own when it comes to all things baseball: Sooze from Babes Love Baseball. While I’m certainly not a baseball hater, my knowledge and recall isn’t anything close to some of the other experts out there. Thanks to Sooze’s help, I think we have a great play for our Yearly Pwnage recap:
The Phillies triple-play against the Cincinnati Reds in April of 2007. The triple play was the first one of the 2007 MLB Season and the first one for the Phils since 1999. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an embeddable video of the play, but MLB.com does have a streaming version on the link I provided above.
Sigh, when will MLB and the NFL get over themselves in regards to YouTube and allowing embeds? Folks, it only helps make your product MORE POPULAR… but I digress.
The bold says it all. Everyone remembers the game-ending play provided by Trinity University and all those insane laterals that eventually resulted in them getting into the end zone and the win column. Any words I offer can’t do this play any justice, so I’ll just zip it and let you enjoy the play.
Words fail me.
OK, before I make this post an even larger scroll monster, I’ll leave you with my pwnage/play of the year, courtesy of Stevie Johnson, the University of Kentucky football team and the UofL Cardinal defensive secondary. I’m guessing the Cardinal fans wanted Bobby Petrino back after this particular game was over.
I don’t remember much of what happened the rest of the evening after all that…
Unfortunately, one of my favorite plays of the year–Randy Moss’ elbow catch–doesn’t have a proper video detailing just how awesome it really was, so I’ll have to let KSK back me up on this. I haven’t seen an elbow make such a definitive play since Karl Malone used his to blast Isiah Thomas for abusing John Stockton in light of Thomas getting snubbed from the original Dream Team.
Anyway, I hope you all have a stupendous New Year’s Eve celebration and a successful 2008. Intentional Foul will be back next year, so don’t miss out on our shenanigans. Happy New Year, folks. Be safe.