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.
While a lot of this morning’s Home Run Derby analysis is either focusing on Nelson Cruz’ welcome-to-the-public-eye performance, or Chris Berman’s incredibly-aged shtick, perhaps a little bit more love should be given to the new Prince King of the home runs. Keep in mind Fielder beat out overwhelming crowd favorite Albert Pujols, 2006 Derby champ Ryan Howard and the hot-swinging Cruz to capture the crown. In the final round, Fielder hit six bombs to Cruz’ five, and demonstrated a swing that’s capable of hitting the ball a country mile — provided a country mile measures 503 feet (we checked, it does).
Just in case you missed any of Fielder’s performance, there’s video; although, I don’t expect it to last that long. Who knows? Maybe MLB will turn a blind eye to the free advertising. Doubtful, but you never know.
No, the Texas slugger isn’t participating in tonight’s Home Run Derby, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy his incredible 28-homer round from last year. The funny thing is, because totals don’t carry over to the final round, and because Hamilton couldn’t reproduce his first round magic, he wound up losing to Justin Morneau.
The MLB’s All Star celebration is about a week away, and with that comes the obligatory marketing push. Commercials, print ads, ESPN spots; you name it, advertising-wise, and the MLB is probably using it to get the word out about the baseball party in St. Louis. One such method — the Fox commercial — is being met with some less-than-enthusiastic response, especially from our friends at Major League Jerk. Hef thinks the above commercial is perhaps the Worst Commercial Ever; and while I can see the reason for this sentiment, I’m leaning more towards “this is just silly” side.
I’m not sure, but I think I even like the magnet idea, although, the cheese factor is certainly there. In light of all the steroid crap, do baseball fans still get this excited over an exhibition game with unnecessary meaning tacked on?
The above picture depicts the aftermath of what happens to a wall when a Ryan Howard-hit baseball makes contact with it. Notice the baseball seams? Yeah, I think it’s safe to say the Phillies first baseman has respectable upper-body strength. The Zo Zone (via Can’t Stop The Bleeding) has more:
Ryan Howard just ripped a foul ball into the Bright House Field press box. The ball cruised between Phillies baseball communications folks Greg Casterioto and Kevin Gregg. Howard hit the ball so ridiculously hard that it put a hole in the drywall in the back of the press box, a good 20 feet behind the open window it sailed through.
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.
As we head to Philadelphia for the middle game, the series is tied 1-1 after the Rays pulled even with a 4-2 win last night. Once again, it was Philly’s anemic hitting with people on base. They left 26 on base last night and as a team, they are 1-28 with runners in scoring position. That’s not the recipe for World Series success.
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.