Game 1 Tonight

As most of you know, Game 1 of the 2008 Fall Classic begins tonight, we are about two and a half to three hours away from the first pitch and I would like to give you my predictions for the 2008 World Series with the help of

Game 1:
Phillies 4 – Rays 2  W-Hamels L-Kazmir
Cole Hamels is stellar for the Phillies going all nine for the complete game victory. Hamels struck out 9 on 121 pitches and showed no signs of sluggishness due to their week layoff after the NLCS. Led by homers by Jayson Werth and NL MVP candidate Ryan Howard the Phillies jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 5. Aki Iwamura came up big with a two-run shot in the bottom of the 8th to cut the lead in half, but it proved too little too late. Kazmir only lasted 4.1 innings surrendering 4 runs on 7 hits, but striking out 7 in the process. The Tampa bullpen, combined of J.P. Howell, Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour held the Phillies hitless for the remainder of the game.
Game 2:
Phillies 5 – Rays 11 W-Shields L-Myers
The Tampa offense exploded in Game 2, striking for 11 runs in the victory and tying the series up at one apiece going to the city of brotherly love. The Phillies struck first with a 2 RBI triple by catcher Carlos Ruiz, in the 2nd, and an RBI double by Chase Utley in the 3rd gave the Phillies a 3-0 advantage. But the Rays struck for four runs in the 3rd, capped off with an RBI single to give the Rays a 4-3 lead. In the next inning the Rays struck for two more with a 2-run shot by Carlos Pena to straightaway center, to extend the lead to 6-3. The Phillies cut the lead to 6-5, with one in the 6th and one in the 7th, but it proved no match as the Rays answered with five in the bottom of the 7th, to take an 11-5 lead by which they would win by. Carlos Pena was the clear cut player of the game driving in 5 runs for the Tampa offense. Phillies starter Brett Myers only lasted 2+ innings surrendering 4 runs on 5 hits.
Game 3:
Rays 3 – Phillies 8  W-Moyer L-Garza
The Phillies take a 2-1 series lead with an 8-3 victory in their first home World Series game since 1993. The Rays jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the 2nd with RBI singles by SS Jason Bartlett and pitcher Matt Garza. The Phillies, though, stormed right back with 3 in the bottom half, capped off with a 2 RBI double by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The Rays tied it at 3-3 with another RBI single by shortstop Jason Bartlett in the top of the 4th. The Phillies regained the advantage with an bases loaded walk to Ryan Howard in the bottom half. The Phillies finished off the Rays with a 4-run 5th, lead by a 3-run homer by right fielder Jayson Werth. Garza, the ALCS MVP, lasted only 4 innings, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and walking a stunning 6. His counterpart, Phillies 45-year old lefty Jamie Moyer was the opposite. Moyer lasted 8 innings giving up only 3 runs and striking out 7. 
Game 4:
Rays 7 – Phillies 1  W-Sonnanstine L-Blanton
The Rays tied the series up again, this time at two apiece with a 7-1 victory in Game 4. The Rays struck for 7 unanswered runs through the first 7. Led by long balls from Carlos Pena (his 2nd of the series), rookie Evan Longoria (7th of the postseason), and catcher Dioner Navarro the Rays took control of Game 4 right from the start. Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine went 7 innings, allowing no runs on 4 hits and striking out 6. The Phillies only run came on an RBI single by Shane Victorino in the 8th. 
Game 5:
Rays 5 – Phillies 1  W-Kazmir L-Hamels
In the rematch of the Game 1 starters, Scott Kazmir got his revenge as the Rays won 5-1, giving the a 3-2 series lead going back to the Trop. The Rays jumped on Hamels for 2 in the 2nd with and 2-run homer by right fielder Rocco Baldelli. Chase Utley cut the Rays lead to 3-1, with a solo homer in the bottom of the 8th, but the Rays struck right back with 2 in the top of the 9th off Hamels, who went the hole 9 for the 2nd consecutive game, started with a solo shot by 3rd baseman Evan Longoria who hit his record tying 8th home run of the postseason. Kazmir was masterful, allowing no runs on 2 hits and striking out 11 through 5, due to his nagging injuries. The Rays bullpen was superb following Kazmir, surrendering only one hit, the homer by Utley. Hamels struck out 11 as well, despite the loss, and 120+ pitches again.
Game 6:
Phillies 7 – Rays 1  W-Myers L-Shields
Brett Myers made up for his lackluster start in Game 2, by pitching a complete game in Game 6, to send the World Series to a decisive game 7 for the first time since 2002. The Phillies exploded right off the bat with 5 runs in the top of the 1st, started by Pat Burrell getting hit by a pitch with bases loaded. Feliz lead the Phils with 3 RBI’s, while only Rays run came by way of a Carlos Pena homer, his 3rd of the series. Myers struck out 13 Tampa batters, while throwing 116 pitches in his complete game victory. His counterpart, James Shields, didn’t even make it out of the first last 2/3 of an inning surrendering 5 runs on 4 hits.
Game 7:
Phillies 0 – Rays 5  W-Garza L-Moyer
Garza, starting his 2nd consecutive Game 7, came up big for his 2nd consecutive Game 7. Garza went 7 strong, allowing only 2 hits and no runs. Wheeler came on for a 1-2-3 8th, and Grant Balfour struck out the side in the 9th to seal the first World Series title in Rays history. The Rays took the early lead and never looked back with an RBI single by Carl Crawford in the bottom of the 1st. Rocco Baldelli couldn’t have been more clutch in Game 7, smacking two home runs, giving him 3 in the series and winning him World Series MVP. 
So there you have it, Rays take it in 7, Baldelli wins MVP, and the “Cheesesteak of Suffering” continues in Philly as the fans of Philadelphia have to wait another year for that elusive world title in a major sport. Well, look at the bright side Philadelphia…you won the AFL title, Go Soul!

Rays in the World Series? Who da thunk it?

I haven’t written in a while, and wow a lots gone down since Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Phillies successfully dismantled the Dodgers in five games. I gotta say, I was pulling for my boy Joe Torre and his Dodgers, even though there entire roster is basically the ’03 Red Sox, but I guess Philly was just the better team. Cole Hamels was DIRTY in Game 5, to seal the deal and win NLCS MVP. I like there chances but the rest of their rotation has to pitch better, because the pitching they’ll face in the World Series is enough to hold their offense, which has been electric, so far through this postseason. That takes me to the ALCS. Probably the most roller coaster-type series I’ve ever witnessed. Honestly, when the Rays went up three games to one, I was on cloud nine. I didn’t care one bit that they had come back from 3-1, three times before, I felt Game 5 was a lock, and it was…until that dreadful 7th inning. Personally, I wasn’t overly concerned when Ortiz hit that 3-run jack to make it a 3-run game. I still (foolishly) thought they had it in the bag. Nope. Three runs in the 8th tied it at 7, and this almost caused me to slam my fist through the TV screen. Being the avid Red Sox hater that I am, I can’t tolerate this ridiculous and improbable Red Sox comebacks anymore. It was cute the first time, now its annoying on a level you can’t begin to imagine. And as J.D. Drew ripped that ball over Gabe Gross’ head in right to give the Red Sox the 8-7 win, two things floated through my mind. One, that I was in awe that the Red Sox won, as I stared with my mouth agape at the TV screen, and two, that awful feeling that the Red Sox were gonna pull off this improbable upset AGAIN. Then Game 6 came around Saturday night, as I panicked as I turned on TBS at 8 o’clock expecting the Rays and Sox, but instead getting the Steve Harvey Show. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. The technical difficulties at TBS headquarters in Atlanta caused everyone to miss the first 20 minutes of Game 6, including a B.J. Upton home run. When Jason Bartlett hit that solo homer  to tie the game at 2, I was positive the Rays were gonna come through, but once again I was wrong. When Varitek stepped up to the plate and Chip Caray muttered the words, “Varitek has been hitless so far in the ALCS…” I knew that Varitek was gonna do something that was gonna cause me misery. Sure enough, Caray jinxed it, Varitek pulled a ball over the right-centerfield wall to give the Sox a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish, causing a dramatic Game 7. As the final out of Game 6 was recorded, my dad turned to me and said, “Red Sox win tomorrow, 11-1, 4 runs in the top of the 1st.” I was praying my dad was going to be wrong, but having watched this same script over, and over again I knew in my heart that was going to be the outcome. Especially after a heartbreaking and infuriating Jets loss to the pathetic Oakland Raiders, I was positive my misery would continue with another Boston pennant. After staring at the TV screen when Pedroia hit that solo homer in the first I knew my dreams were squelched, but (thankfully) Matt Garza proved me wrong. With Longoria’s double down the right field line, which stayed in play by about two inches, avoiding a ground-rule double and Pena being held at 3rd, gave the Rays life and a tie at one. I felt a little better now, especially with Garza only allowing one hit to this point. When Rocco Baldelli came up in the next inning with runners on 1st and 2nd, I was feeling something big. Especially since Baldelli, like the man on the mound Jon Lester, had battled numerous injuries, especially on vertebrae issue he suffered in his back which many thought would leave him unable to play again. As he ripped one through the hole between 2nd and 3rd, I jumped for joy as Willy Aybar crossed the plate to give the Rays a one-run lead. Then, Aybar a few innings later smacked a monstrous shot to left to extend the lead to 3-1. Garza came out for the 8th, which I was almost positive wasn’t gonna happen, I was infuriated by the next two events. One, that Jason Bartlett made an downright awful error to lead off the inning and two, that Maddon took Garza out of the game. What? He gave up a ground ball that was muffed and you take him out? What’s up with that? Then the locomotive of relievers summoned by Maddon, ending with David Price. Price was the first player chosen in the 2007 MLB Draft out of Vanderbilt and in his first full pro season went 14-1 in the Tampa Bay minor league system going from low Single A all the way up to AAA. Price’s two sliders to J.D. Drew in the 8th were some of the nastiest pitchers I’ve seen. I was enthralled when Maddon left Price in to pitch the 9th, because I was sure that he was gonna bring in Balfour, especially after some of the decisions he had made earlier in the series. Price came on for the 9th, and rookie Jed Lowrie grounded a ball to 2nd, Iwamura stepped on the bag and then it was pandemonium at the Trop. I give a lot of credit to Iwamura though, not only for just taking it and stepping on the bag and not forcing a throw, but holding onto the ball for dear life after recording the out. If you watch the replay of the end, it was like he had no idea with what to do with the ball, put in his back pocket, put it in his glove, hold it in his hand, it was quite amusing. Rightfully, Matt Garza was given the MVP of the ALCS, for his unbelievably clutch performance in Game 7. That was one of the best games I’ve ever seen, maybe it was because the Rays won, but that certainly helped the cause. You gotta love, Dick Vitale, probably the longest season ticket holder in Rays (and Devil Rays) history jumping up and down after the Rays victory. Just priceless stuff. The World Series begins tomorrow, with lefty Cole Hamels for the Phillies and lefty Scott Kazmir for the Rays. Personally, I like the Rays because of their youth and their will to hang in against the proven Red Sox. I’m calling Tampa in 6. Good luck to both teams, and thank God not another Red Sox parade in October.

Game 1 in the Books

Last night Game 1 of the NLCS came and went with the Phillies winning 3-2. I, unfortunately, did not see much of the game because I finishing up celebrating (or for those who know the holiday not so celebrating) the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, most famous due to Jewish ballplayers Sandy Koufax and Shawn Green not playing on the day, because it is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Once again though, Manny was ridiculous, wasting no time driving in runs, with his first at bat he ripped a double to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Blake DeWitt later got a sac fly which extended the lead to 2-0 Dodgers. At this point, I’m waiting for the flood gates to open as the Dodgers would continue to pound Cole Hamels, just like the Rockies did in Game 1 of the NLDS last season, but that was to no avail. In (what I believe was) the 6th inning, after an error allowed the speedy Shane Victorino to reach base, Chase Utley, FINALLY, came through for the Phils as he smoked a two-run homer into the rightfield seats to tie the game at two. What did I say? I told you if he got going the Phillies were going places. Two batters later, Pat Burrell continued being clutch for the Phillies as he ripped a line-drive over the left field fence to give the Phillies at 3-2 lead they would never relinquish. Hamels pitched fantastic and Brad Lidge shut the door in the 9th. Game 2, I believe is under way right now, with it being the middle of the 1st with no score. Chad Billinglsey, who pitched great in Game 2 of the LDS against the Cubs, for the Dodgers and revived Phillies pitcher Brett Myers, who earlier this year was sent down to AAA Leigh Valley. Great start for Myers, 13 pitches in the top half of the first, striking out All-Stars Russell Martin and Manny Ramirez in the process. Game 1 of the ALCS starts tonight between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox. James Shields, who won Game 1 of the LDS against the ChiSox, takes the mound for the Rays, and 5+ inning wonder Daisuke Matsuzaka will get the ball for the Red Sox. I like the Rays in the series, mainly because of their undying determination and youth. They have a group of phenominal hitters, which was prevalent before this year, and their pitching has really been excellent between Shields, Kazmir, and Garza. Their bullpen has been good so far with the emergence of Australian righthander Grant Balfour. As long as Pedroia and Beckett continue to struggle I like Tampa’s chances. On a side note, I read on that a 12-year old from Florida was given in-school suspension because he got a mohawk in honor of the Rays players who decided to have mohawks or what they are now called as “rayhawks”. What is the world coming to? Let the kid wear his hair the way he wants to wear his hair. The apocolypse isn’t coming if you let this kid wear a mohawk in class. This kid is moving to St. Petersburg (where Tropicana Field actually is, it’s not in Tampa) and hopefully they will accept it at his new school. Way to go kid, for sticking up for whats right. Rayhawks.

Dispicable is a little harsh

I haven’t written since the last week of the regular season, and a lot has happened since then. The Mets preceed to choke again in amazing fashion, leading the Brewers to make there first postseason appearance since the days of Harvey’s Wallbangers in 1982. Amazingly enough, it was the final game at Shea Stadium and the ceremony would be held AFTER the game. After the loss, I was expecting them to get booed out of the stadium, which they essentially were. The Division Series is over also. Speaking of choking, those lovable Cubs from the Windy City did it again. Going out without even a whimper against Joe Torre’s revived Los Angeles Dodgers. The Cubbies got wrecked at Wrigley, and played close in Game 3 in LA, but to no avail. Talk about a smack in the face to the Yankee organization, Torre winning in LA after being insulted with a preposterous offer by the Yankee front office last offseason, and now he’s four wins away from another trip to the fall classic, with a team filled with members of the 2003 Red Sox. Speaking of Windy City failures, the Chicago White Sox are out after falling to the Tampa Bay Rays (I still can’t stop calling them Devil Rays) in four games. I remember in mid-September when people were talking about a Cubs-White Sox World Series. Well, that was a nice idea, but both teams played poorly and won a combined 1 game. Some people were talking about a Freeway Series, another nice idea gone down the crapper. The Angels, who haven’t played a serious game all year, we ousted by the increasingly annoying Red Sox. It’s not even like the Halos played bad, they were just outplayed…again. For the 3rd time in 5 seasons the Angels were sent packing by the BoSox. A controversial call at 3rd base, took all the momentum from them, and eventually the series, in Game 4. Personally, I think Willits was safe.  If that played had been a collision at home plate and Varitek dropped the ball like he did diving to tag Willits, he would have been called safe. The rules should not change for different bases. I guess it would have been better if they let Aybar (who had the game winning hit the night before) swing away. Finally, the Phillies are back in the LCS for the first time since 1993, beating the Brew Crew, 3 games to 1. The Fightin Phils’ were clearly a better team. Sabathia was completely worn out from pitching essentially every other day down the stretch to get Milwaukee to October. Pat Burrell went on a monster streak, and the Phillies put down the Brew Crew easily without major production from MVP candidates and All-Stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. If those guys get going, woah, look out. And lastly, broadcaster Tim McCarver today said that Manny Ramirez acts in his final weeks in Boston were despicable. Look, I’m not gonna go out there and say I condone Man-Ram’s acts, they were childish and stupid, but I’m not going to say he hurt that ball club. In his final month in Beantown, which were essentially his final 3 weeks  there, Manny hit .347, with a .473 on-base percentage, .587 slugging percentage, hit 4 homers and drove in 16. Numbers wise that was the 3rd best month of the season for Manny, and his best in a Red Sox uniform. Yes, he pretty much intentionally took three straight strikes right down the middle against Mariano Rivera, but he was the best offensive player on that Boston team, whether he was trying or not. MANRAM.jpg

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Jeter passes Gehrig

Last night, in the bottom of the 1st inning, Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig for the most hits all time at Yankee Stadium. Which looking at it, is kind of cool, since that is a record that can be stated will “never be broken”. Although the Yankees went on to lose the game, it is just an amazing feat for the Yankee Captain. The Mets officially completed their track to self-destruction as they fell again to the Nationals last night, 1-0. With a two-run home run by Ryan Howard in the top of the 8th against Atlanta, the Phillies won 8-7, and took a half-game lead over the Mets in the NL East. Although the Mets still lead by a half game in the Wild Card, it does not look pretty in Flushing. They currently hold a 2-0 lead against the Nats in the first inning, but the Phils are up 4-0 in the ATL. The Rays regained full control in the AL East with a 2-1 win last night from a walk-off RBI single by all-star catcher Dioner Navarro. Boston currently leads Tampa, 2-1, in the first. Amazingly, Tampa has the best home record in the American League, despite having an exceptionally low turn out for fans of a first place team. The Red Sox are 1-7 this year at the Trop, the one win coming on Monday night. Last night, Mets Outfielder, and a possible candidate for NL Comeback Player of the Year, Fernando Tatis seperated his shoulder in the 5th inning and is done for the year. Another crushing blow to the Amazin’ Mets who have Damion Easley hurt, thus leading to more playing time for Luis Castillo, which means bad news for the Mets. As the Rays take a 3-2 lead on a Willy Aybar homer, Phil Hughes is making his first start for the Yankees since May.

History to be Made in the Bronx

As we look down the road, into the future, with only two more series to be played in the hallowed grounds of the legendary Yankee Stadium, there is only one optimistic thing to look at. In this case it is Derek Jeter. Yesterday afternoon, Jeter tied Lou Gehrig for the most hits at Yankee Stadium with a home run off Tampa Bay’s highly touted prospect David Price, who was making his major league debut. Jeter needed nine hits to tie Gehrig coming into the homestand, preceded to get 9 hits in 2 days (3 games) and his batting average is back over .300. On the other side of the city, things weren’t so great. As the Mets bullpen had its second collapse in as many days as Luis Ayala surrendered a 3-run homer to Greg Norton to give the Braves a 5-4 lead in the 9th. The Braves won 7-4, and one could only wonder if the Mets are heading down the same path as last season. Time will only tell, but if the Mets do not sweep, or at least win, this upcoming series in Washington against the lowly Nationals, expect mayhem in Flushing. Jerry Manuel is not the genious, that everyone makes him out to be, by making major mistakes in the late innings against Atlanta. Taking out Joe Smith, for Luis Ayala, after he retired the 2 batters he faced in the 8th easily. Then the dumbest of all pinch-hitting for Ryan Church with Fernando Tatis, and then let Luis Castillo bat, who is arguably the worst player on the Mets team. Instead of having Church and let Tatis pinch-hit for Castillo, Manuel did the vice-versa, which was an awful move on his part. Now today, the Brewers fired manager Ned Yost, after getting swept in Philadelphia this weekend. Another dumb move by a desperate organization. Look out for Houston in the postseason, as the Brewers might have aquired CC Sabathia for absolutely no reason if they don’t make the playoffs, basically just giving away their best prospect, Matt LaPorta. Congratulations to Carlos Zambrano who tossed a no-hitter Sunday against the Houston Astros, in a game that was relocated to Milwaukee’s Miller Park due to Hurricane Ike which ravaged the southeast coast of Texas this weekend. It was the 5th no-hitter in the last two years, and the first no-hitter thrown on the road since Randy Johnson’s perfect game in Atlanta four years ago. Jeter will look to pass Gehrig tonight in the Bronx against the White Sox, with Mark Buehrle on the hill. Jeter is a .455 (10-22) lifetime hitter against Buehrle with 3 RBI’s. Alfredo Aceves will make his 2nd major league start for the Yanks. The key game of today, is the Rays and the Red Sox battling in St. Petersburg tonight. Boston has been swept twice in Tampa this year, and are one game behind the Rays in the AL East. It’s a battle of aces with Daisuke Matsuzaka (16-2, 2.97) for Boston and Scott Kazmir (11-6, 2.99) for Tampa. Dice-K is 1-3 liftetime against the Rays, while Kazmir is 6-6 lifetime against the BoSox.

Congrats to the Yanks

On a day, where six games were rained out,
the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees clinched the
International League title by romping the Durham Bulls in
Game 4 of the Finals, 20-2. The Yankees clinched their first
Governors Cup in team history, and will compete in the
Bricktown Showdown on September 16th against the winner of
the Pacific Coast League championship. I would like to
congratulate the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yanks on their
championship, and good luck to them in the