Inquirer/Macy’s Still Have the Faith.

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Inquirer Not Real Particular about Ad Space these Days.

So, an ad ran in the Inquirer today congratulating the Phillies on their second straight World Series victory.  An embarrassing error for the paper, but in the end, perhaps this was the last day that this ad even has a chance to be relevant.  The question is, if the Phillies happened to pull off the miracle, and come back in the Series…do they run they ad again?   Is it free the second time?  I mean, Macy’s is still getting some publicity this time, perhaps even more than they would from a properly done ad.  Maybe the whole thing was intentional. 

It doesn’t feel good to be talking about errors in the local paper.  Heading into game five you’d like to see the series tied at 2-2.  You’d like to feel like tonight is important for both teams, and not just the Phillies.  If the Yankees are foiled by Cliff Lee again tonight, they still have two chances to lock up the series.  C.C. Sabathia would pitch game seven if it goes that far, and aside from Chase Utley, he’s had the Phils under control.  Maybe they’ll figure out how to pitch around Chase before a possible game seven.  In all likelihood, however, we probably will not get that far.  The longer this series goes, the more we should be reminded what a pleasure last year was.  If the Phillies hadn’t ended the drought in ’08, this series would sting that much more.  The scenario tonight is reminiscent of game 5 in 1993.  The Phillies took a heart-breaking loss in game 4 to fall behind 3-1, and sent their ace to the hill.  Curt Schilling came through with a masterpiece, but we all know how the Series ended.  Three to one holes aren’t the easiest to climb out of, but if the Inquirer thinks it can happen…maybe it can.  The Steps:

1.  Cliff Lee has to answer the bell again.  The Phillies offense will click again.  It might be next April, but it will happen.  They can’t afford to wait, though.  They need 8 or 9 strong innings out of Lee.  The bullpen, cannot be trusted.  There’s no Phillies victory scenario that includes Lee pitching badly, so if he starts getting hit…well, it just can’t happen. 

2.  Pettitte balks at short rest.  Andy looked a little off at the start of game three.  The Phillies couldn’t keep the heat on, and he got into a groove, allowing the Yankees to come back.  There’s a good chance Pedro won’t be as good in game 6, so they’ll need to jump on Pettitte, and stay on him.  Send a message. 

3.  Bullpen miracle.  A game seven would be interesting, if for no other reason than you’d like to see what the Phillies do on the mound.  Does J.A. Happ start?  Does Joe Blanton on short rest?  Do they try to get a couple of pre-meltdown innings out of Cole Hamels, or does Charlie stick with him, loyal guy that he is?  It’d be interesting, but the Phillies best chance to win game seven would probably be to throw some wild mix of four or five pitchers and hope lightning strikes.  Even Cliff Lee on his side day could go an inning or two.  That, and a couple more Utley bombs off Sabathia, and it’s parade time again. 

We’ll start with tonight.  Hopefully Mother Lovin lets us keep our glimmer.

Old Homestead.

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Big Portions at the Ole Homestead. I mean, Big.

So Friday night I ended up at Borgata.  Down in Atlantic City, everyone knows what the Borgata is, right?  Well, it was a last  minute kind of thing.  Haas came up with some free tickets to a Roots concert, and well…I’m not the kind of guy that passes up free concert tickets.  Actually, that’s exactly the kind of guy I am, but the idea of catching the Roots and corralling a big old steak dinner down there seemed intriguing.  Atlantic City….not only always “Turned On”, but a nice little last minute option in a pinch. 

I’ll start with the concert, before moving on to the important part (the beef).  So, Haas had these free tickets, and I didn’t know what to expect.  The last concert I went to was Dave Matthews in 99?  Before that?  I don’t know, probably to see the chorus at my high school when my sister was belting out the tunes.  The point is, I was out of my element.  I mean, what do people even do at concerts?  We arrived fashionably late, after walking off some of dinner.  I was experiencing a mild to moderate case of the meat sweats, but I had everything under control.  So, we’re getting shown to our seats, and the chick ends up taking us to the third row.  Great view of the stage, and also the speakers.  What?  Yeah, it was a hair loud, but the Roots put on a good show.  I did the standard white guy move, which was to stay in my seat, and try to show I was enjoying the music….but not too much.  Crazy musical skills, even I could notice that, they had a guy playing the gosh darn tuba.  It was pretty intense. 

But, getting back to dinner…this Old Homestead knows how to roll.  They don’t mess around with 8 oz petite filets.  There’s several 2 pound+ cuts on the menu.  It was an embarrassment of riches.  I settled in on an 18 oz filet.  That’s one-eight.  I believe Haas ordered something in “The thirties”.  I guess that was counting the bone.  I hope it was.  Flintstones style steak.  Anyway, it made me think as I was finishing the last couple bites.  How much meat can I possibly eat.  I mean, I was full.  Was the ceiling 20 oz?  I felt like I was getting close, and I never really felt that before.  Well played, Old Homestead. 

A nice collection of sides there as well.  I can’t express enough how important it is that a steakhouse have a side option that involves cheese.  Not like cheese broccoli or something.  I’m talking au gratin potatoes, mac and cheese.  They had the baked Mac at Old Homestead.  Pretty tasty, but the best thing about it is the run-off cheese.  It invades the potato, and then you have cheesy potatoes.  It’s there for your pleasure.  Do with it what you will.  Great meal.  Really impressed. 

As for the gambling down at the Borgata…well, not my luckiest day.  No birthday miracle.  I usually try to go in, and hit the Wheel of Fortune slots for a quick dime, and go from there.  But, things just weren’t clicking.  What can I say?  Maybe my luck ran out on the giant steak.

Eagles Allow Philly Fans to Save Some Face.

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DeSean and Company...Too Much for NY's Depleted Secondary.

The day started so well for the Philadelphia sports fans.  The Eagles blitzed out of the gate, took advantage of some Giant turnovers, and basically blew the Giants away.  A two-touchdown flurry right before the half sealed the deal, and sent the Eagles past the Giants in the NFC East race.  Hard to believe this is the same team that got man-handled in Oakland, but if there is a signature to the Andy Reid Eagles, it’s that you never know what you are going to get.  For their part, the Giants looked listless.  This isn’t the same team that started 5-0, and it doesn’t look like the same Eli, either.  Terrible game for Eli, who had been dominating Don in the season stat categories, but was clearly out-played on Sunday.  Does Eli have a confidence problem?  I know DeSean Jackson doesn’t.  This guy creates explosions, and the Eagles were back to their quick-strike ways. 

Elsewhere around the league, we are faced with the ever crystallizing realization that Brett Favre and the Vikings may be for real.  Green Bay isn’t a bad team, and they rolled right in there, and even though they let the Packers take a peek…they came out on top.  Favre, for lack of a better description, looks really good.  And, he’s got some help.  We’re only halfway through a season of Favre-perbole.  Brace yourself.  Not much popped on the rest of the schedule.  Baltimore handed Denver its first loss.  It was a bad spot for Denver.  I actually called that in my picks, but it was pretty clear.  Eventually this team was going to lose, and this happened to be the spot.  We’ll see how they bounce back.  Other firsts out there as well, as Tennessee and St. Louis picked up their first wins of the season.  It does put into perspective Detroit’s excellence.  Balls in your court, Tampa. 

You know, of course we can’t wrap up a NFL slate without handing out the worst QB performance of the week award.  I took a look at Eli.  I’ll be honest.  That was putrid.  I took a look at Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Nice 40.2 QB rating there fella.  But, the fact of the matter is, Derek Anderson is one of the founding fathers of this award.  If he performs, you can’t beat him.  Not only that, I’m afraid the Mangini might switch back to Quinn again.  So, it could be a farewell to Derek Anderson, but he goes out with a bang.  6/17, for 76 yards, and 2 picks. QB rating?  10.5.  Can someone explain this guy’s 2007 season to me?

NFL games wrap  up Monday with an important NFC match-up.  The Saints try to stay unbeaten, and the Falcons try to stay in the wild-card picture.  Big showcase game for New Orleans.  Should be a good time.

Yanks Push Phils to Brink…

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Breaking Every Known Record for Mound Visits.

If only the Phillies could score as often as Jorge Posada goes out to the mound.  My, my, my.  That’s just an annoying aside, though.  It doesn’t change the fact that superior pitching and clutch hitting has put the Yankees in a commanding position in this series.  It was a dreary weekend at Citizens Bank Park.   The events started with a rain delay on Saturday, and things never brightened, unless you were in the visiting clubhouse.  It was a two game stretch that highlighted every flaw the Phillies possess, and especially those specific to 2009. 

Pitchers who have lost their Way:

Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge will always have 2008.  That was their year.  If they won the Phillies the Series last year, it looks like they may cost them the big prize in 2009.  Lidge has been teasing fans with good three game stretches all season, and then he would blow one.  Well, Sunday night he blew a big one.  After getting the first two out he couldn’t put away Johnny Damon in the ninth.  Damon battled, had a great at-bat, and produced a single.  A hit-batter, and a couple extra base hits followed.  A tie game turned into curtains. 

As rough as it was to watch Lidge Sunday night, the performance of Hamels has been more maddening.  Hamels has been terrible all year, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when he melted down on Saturday and wasted an early lead, but it is the manner in which he loses that is starting to drive fans crazy.  Gutless, petulant, whiny…these are not characteristics that Philly fans appreciate in their pitchers.  Hamels self-sabotages, and then says everyone’s against him.  Here’s an idea.  Spend the winter working on your curveball.  That way, maybe you can slip it by an American League pitcher. 

Manuel Starting to Mis-Fire.

You know, for a while there Charlie Manuel had the Midas touch.  Or at least the Meineke touch.  It seemed his hunches were always panning out.  Well, the old Chuck Wagon has hit a few bumps in the road.  Any manager that loses a series will be second guessed, but Charlie hasn’t faced that in a while.  Get ready for some heat, because his lining up of the rotation looks like a fail.  He has blindly stuck with Lidge, and now he faces a 3-1 hole.  It’s hindsight.  Sure, but if Manuel was going to get credit when things were going well, he should shoulder some of this.  He’s got the ace lined up for game 5.  Great…

The Strikeouts.

We know the Phillies the strike out.  They adore it.  But, this is remarkable.  I don’t know the numbers, but they’ve been coming in bunches.  Killing a rally, leaving guys stranded.  It’s mostly been the left-side of the line-up.  Howard looks terrible.  Ibanez looks lost, often waving at outside pitches.  Utley owns Sabathia, and hardly has a hit off anyone else.   This is a good Phillies line-up, but on a night when Pedro Feliz of all people goes 3 for 4 with a homer and 2 Rbis…you should get the win.  That’s all bonus.  Where were some of the big guys? 

The end result is that the Phillies are playing a better team.  Better bullpen, better starters in this series, and they’ve gotten some clutch hits as well.  The Yankees were always going to be tough, and you can’t go around doing them favors, like Johnny Damon running free in the ninth.   That totally changed the complexion of the inning,  and while the Phillies showed resilience Sunday, the Yankees matched it.  And, they did so without committing any producing any head-scratching blunders. 

Uphill battle.  Starts with Cliff tomorrow.  Hopefully Cliff Lee isn’t Ron Hextall in the ’87 Cup Finals, but it’s starting to look that way.