Tomorrow the city of champions (self-attributed) will pay a visit to the city of pitching (bitterly self-attributed). It will be sold as a World Series preview, but it doesn’t have to be that to be an interesting series. Since starting the season 2-10, the Red Sox have been the best team in the American League. The Phillies have spent the majority of the season atop the National League standings and currently own the best record in all of baseball. The Sox are one of the few teams that haven’t been swallowed up by the league-wide shortage in runs. The Phillies rotation has Jayson Stark thumbing through the annals of baseball reference once a week to look up some new stat. The series will have the attention of the city. I wouldn’t be surprised if the regular season attendance record was broken once, twice, or even all three days for this series. Some thoughts, in no particular order:
The Phillies should be thankful Roy Halladay isn’t pitching. Big Roy has Omar Daal-ian career numbers against the Sox, and if my memory serves me, was knocked around in Boston last year. It’s not like you’d sit Halladay if these teams met in the World Series, but missing his spot in the rotation for this match-up isn’t the end of the world. Considering its current makeup, this may be the best alignment for the Phillies staff against the Red Sox.
I already read one article in the paper today making villains out of Boston fans. Coming from us, that’s akin to calling your identical twin the ugliest person in the world. Right now people in Philadelphia are jealous of the titles Boston is winning, and in baseball they are jealous of the Red Sox offense. If you asked people if they’d rather the Phillies hit like Boston but were tied in the division instead of 5 games ahead with their current list of mashers, most would take the offense. This little glimpse at a high-scoring team will pull at the heartstrings for Phillies fans and make them dream of 2007-2008.
Every time Boston comes to town it should be a reminder that we probably give coaches way too much credit for the wins and way too much blame for the losses. Terry Francona was hated in this town to near Rich Kotite levels. A baseball fan in Philadelphia wouldn’t have trusted “Tito” to pump their gas. It was an uproarious error of the greatest magnitude here when Boston brought Francona in to manage their big budget roster. Enjoy mediocrity, we said, right before the Sox ended their historic drought. Then they won another to eliminate the fluke factor. I think a lot of people have forgotten about Francona now, just like they’ve forgotten they used to loathe Charlie Manuel, but just something to think about.
Here’s something that just popped into my mind. Will Adrian Gonzalez look scarier in a Red Sox uniform? We’ve seen Gonzalez in the past. For me, he’s a little bit like the Greg Maddux of hitting. Oh, another line drive. I don’t think anyone quakes when Gonzalez comes to the plate, but then you look up, and he’s killing you. Maybe that was a result of him playing in San Diego, though. Out there, you could get cute with him, and the games against the Padres certainly didn’t feel this significant. Is Gonzalez still a silent assassin, or will there be a couple of at-bats in this series where some classic Philly pessimism portends doom as he comes to the plate?
I’m excited for the series. Two great pitching match-ups and one very sketchy one. One thing I might be looking forward to the most is that if the Phillies can win, regardless of how pretty it is, it should shut people up for a while. If you beat the Red Sox in a series hopefully it won’t be populated with “buts.” Of course, if the Phillies lose the series, brace yourself, because it’ll probably get pretty ugly, unless they lose every game 9-8, then it’ll be dancing in the streets.
Quiz of the Day: 50 Largest U.S. Cities Minefield. Category: New York and 49 Other Cities. My Score: 27/50.
Read the directions. I bombed this one. Badly. Not because I didn’t read the directions, but because I decided to try to get cute for no reason. Shame. A golden opportunity to beat me. An academic lay-up. Happy Monday.
I’m headed out to play golf this afternoon (Fore in the Fescue!). Who knows how that will go. Hopefully, I can break 90. Talk amongst yourselves.