What would the baseball postseason be without some good ole controversy to get the fans worked up into a lather? Not one worth watching, I say. And as if one cue, we now have the Mariano Rivera spitball incident, courtesy of an Angels in the Outfield crew. One of the ringleaders of the Rivera outcry, a writer over at the SBNation outlet for Angles baseball, goes by the “Rev Halofan” handle, completing my weak pun attempt.
The issue, which was well documented over at Halos Heaven, has to do with Mariano Rivera spitting in the vicinity of the baseball after completing his warm up tosses. Granted, the video looks suspect — there’s even a conspiracy theory to go along with it — but consider the level of downright “I do not give one damn” attitude you’d have to even consider pulling such a stunt on live TV during the ALCS.
Of course, if you are buying into the idea that Fox is in cahoots with the Yankees and the cut away to Mike Scioscia was to hide Rivera’s dastardly deed, it’s easier to believe the best closer in the history of Major League Baseball is a cheater.
Wouldn’t the wiser idea be if someone of Rivera’s stature and experience was going to cheat, he’d be a lot more, oh I don’t know, subtle about it? Even if the conspiracy theory about Fox protecting the Yankees is correct, if there was an iota of suspicion that had merit, there are enough Yankee detractors in the mainstream media to go at Rivera full bore. So far, there’s only been predictable speculation.
Yes, this blog has had a slight love affair with Ryan Howard in the last couple of weeks and so it did our heart proud to see him produce last night after taking a modicum of criticism for his post season play. Before Game 5, Howard had just five total hits during the Phillies postseason run. After the game was over, his hit total was almost doubled has Howard tallied three hits in four at-bats.
He also had an RBI, a run and a walk; however, Howard’s best stat of the night might have been his zero strikeouts.
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.
I was recently taken to task for suggesting Ryan Howard was every bit as valuable as the other National League MVP candidates. While I still feel he deserves consideration for his regular season contributions, Howard has been anything but valuable during the Phillies postseason run. In 27 at-bats, the Phillies clean-up man has only five hits, zero home runs and just two RBI. He’s also struck out seven times, something that shouldn’t surprise considering his lack of discipline at the plate.
Obama’s on the Phillies bandwagon, so make room. The Presidential hopeful announced his fanhood’s candidacy for Philadelphia last Saturday, while maintaining his White Sox fan standing. Obama’s move is similar to Sarah Palin’s puck-dropping ceremony as the candidates try to attract voters using Philadelphia sports.
And yours isn’t. He was responsible for giving the Phillies a 3-1 lead over the favored Dodgers and you aren’t. His two run bomb gave the Phillies a 7-5 lead and yours did not. That’s why Matt Stairs is the king of all he surveys this morning and you, unfortunately, are not.
That was an incredibly satisfying game. Watching Hamels and Lowe duel it out was a pleasure, but then watching the Phillies’ offense do what it does best — hit key home runs — in the sixth inning was even more so. The bullpen fell in line perfectly, making this an excellent start to the NLCS.
In this afternoon’s Game 2, the Dodgers send Chad Billingsley out against Brett Myers. Game time is 4:35/3:35 Central.
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.