Thursday, October 30, 2008
Fifty years ago, the Giants moved to
The Phillies had been to the Series a couple of years before we moved here in 1995, but they were already in a downward spiral by the time we arrived, finishing third in 1995 & dead last the following year. From ’95 thru ’97, they never once even won 70 games. Finishing last in ‘95 allowed them to pick second in the next major league draft & they selected J.D. Drew, who then refused to sign with a team that dreadful, choosing instead to play with an Independent League ballclub, sort of the ultimate ignominy for a sports franchise. As a consolation, the Phils got the first draft pick again the following year & selected Pat “The Bat” Burrell, who had been the MVP of the College World Series with the
Considering that the Phils are one of the most power-oriented teams in baseball, it is worth noting that they won three of the four games in this year’s series by just one run. J.C. Romero, one of the keys to baseball’s best bullpen, became the first Puerto Rican pitcher in history to win two World Series games. The MVP was Cole Hamels who made five superb starts in the post-season and became the third youngest pitcher ever to win a World Series game (the two ahead of him are Ray Sadeki of the 1964 Cardinals – Sadeki would later be traded to the Giants for Orlando Cepeda in the most infamous deal of that team’s history – and an old-time Boston hurler by the name of Babe Ruth). The closer, Brad Lidge, on his knees in the photo above, had a season in which he was perfect, never once blowing a save. The team’s record with a lead after eight innings was 80-0 for the year. Basically, that’s impossible. But it also means that 23 times in 2008, they won when they did not have a lead after eight innings – that’s also close to impossible. And yet, as anyone watching this series could see, this was a team that often was its own worst enemy, leaving runner after runner on base. The Phillies stranded 16 men on base last night, the Rays just five, the last one being pinch runner (and Creeley-Ashbery-Hejinian reader) Fernando Perez.
All of which is to say that last night’s victory reached about as far back into my psyche as a baseball game can. The last half inning (which Bill Mohr reminds me was the top, not the bottom, of the ninth) was the first time ever I can remember my whole family watching a baseball game on the telly together. That was as satisfying as it gets.