Philadelphia Phillies: Topsy-Turvy Series Ends Upside Down

There’s an old song that sums it up:

After you go, I can catch up on my reading.
And after you’re gone I’ll have a lot more time for sleeping.
And when you’re gone, it looks like things are gonna be a lot easier…

You might know the rest, but if you don’t, the punch line is:

I’m bluer than blue.

And blue doesn’t have the same zest as pinstriped red.

Sooner or later, I knew I’d have to quit my nail-biting manicures, start addressing the cellulite that now conforms to my seat in section 145, and stop postponing an appointment to get my roots colored a shade that’s cooler than gray (and I’m still thinking pinstriped red).

But for the Phillies, I would have annoyed the eyes of others until after Game Seven. Fortunately my face never flushes red, even when I’m blue.

And when I’m down, I like to sing. It’s not pretty but it gives me a warm feeling that doesn’t offend people like peeing in my pants.

The last note of the season was just like any other: one team won and one team lost. That doesn’t make the Phils losers—it just makes them the team that didn’t come out on top, even though that’s where I prefer it.

I’m sorry. Was I thinking out loud?

But when you lose in the Big Apple, Yankee fans start roostering.

Roostering? You know what that is. It’s acting like a big cock with a little brain.

My fellow Phil’s fans, don’t take it personally. Remember, there’s always next year. And I have no regrets over this one. I just heard a girl sing, “Life’s like an hourglass glued to the table…,” and I’m not wishing back a single grain of sand.

I loved every second of this season and every heart-wrenching moment of the 4-2 series loss even as great records were tied, dubious one’s broken, and a team that continues to dominate the MLB gouges its way through history like a greedy derivatives trader.

But that’s baseball. Of 105 World Series seasons, New York’s amassed wealth has only tacked 27 years to their championship wall. I feel like there’s hope for the middle class yet. At least I’m hoping someone in Congress is rooting for me the way people were cheering for the Phillies.

My poor Phillies… I imagine losing Game Six feels like you’re on stage and you forgot your next bit, which wouldn’t be important except the punch line is the segway to your next joke, which is what you’re feeling like now.

Not that I know how that goes.

For this series it was obvious; the Phils forgot something. For most of the last five games, the thrill of Phillie pitching was missing. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. addressed that concern before the postseason but the deals he swung weren’t enough to make up for a staff that couldn’t find the melody it sang in 2008.

Game Six was a reminder that some days are diamonds, some days are dissonant. Pedro Martinez looked strong in the first inning, struggled in the second, and crumbled in the third before sucking it up for the fourth. Our bullpen relapsed to inconsistency in the fifth to help Yankee momentum pull ahead by more runs than the Phillies would even score.

And the bats lost their snap.

The lineup had pitches to hit but watched them smack Posada’s glove like a middle-aged woman thinking of the ass of a certain center fielder.

Not that I have any experience with that metaphor. But Game Six wasn’t a mixed metaphor of anything. It was literally a loss.

Chase Utley had hit into only five double plays all season but racked up his second in this series Wednesday night. The Phils had runners on base in every inning, but ran up the stat for runners stranded faster than runs scored.

I don’t know how Kate Hudson snagged Alex Rodriguez because we couldn’t get him to chase a breaking ball dressed in a short skirt. But our Big Sexy, Ryan Howard, finished his season in the eighth by striking out on three tries like an email asking Jayson Werth for a kiss.

Not that I’d know how that feels.

Hideki Matsui was like a Pokemon nemesis. When the series began, I didn’t know how to spell his name. Now it’s tattooed in my mind. In Game Two he hit a home run on a pitch just off the ground like he was Happy Gilmore. Then in Game Six he was buying RBI two-fers like a frat boy at a cheap happy hour. And he was overindulging.

For Matsui, impairing the Phillies started with the first hit. He lit up Brett Myers, absolutely had his way with Pedro Martinez, and eventually wore down Cliff Lee and Ryan Madson.

When Charlie Manuel decided to pitch to Matsui for the third time in Game Six and pushed JA Happ to the mound like a reluctant youngster on the first day of Kindergarten, I was thinking the skipper should have just positioned the outfielders in the stands.

Instead, Matsui spun a double to ring up two more RBI to make the stadium as high as a drunk in a martini bath. As he stood on second, wincing from his bad knees, I think I saw him slur the words, “Dōmo arigatō.”

That’s Japanese for, “Thank you very much.” Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Come back soon.

And “soon” came back in the fourth. So who do you call when the Asian threat is threatening to hit for the cycle?

Scott Eyre?!

Earlier in the day Scott had chowed his first chocolate Twinkie, unemcumbered by the calories, because the truth is he doesn’t have to look good to face a few batters a game. He’s only got a chip in his elbow and that’s a far cry from the one I have on my shoulder with Charlie’s decision to pitch to the veteran Matsui in the seventh. Why not intentionally walk him?

Because Charlie wanted to walk Jorge Posada, who bats .182 against Eyre and was o’fer in the game to pitch to Robinson Cano. Cano only hit .320 in the regular season and had never faced Eyre and would have loved to find his groove in the series against an ailing lefty.

Somehow Charlie knew that Cano would strike out to end the inning. It’s like he received a tip. I wish those would have started coming sooner.

But they say the series tipped toward the north because Joe Girardi did a great job managing his pitchers.

What? He only had four of them. That’s less complicated than a game of tic-tac-toe. His bullpen could have been filled with plastic GI Joes for all that mattered. Yankee hits just happened to land in the grass while the Phils seemed like they were playing a great game of pinball with theirs.

And $423.5 million worth of quarters buys a win. Game over. It’s an indication that domination isn’t estranged from denominations. It’s proof that you can buy the best baseball team but not everyone can buy into a football team.

But we’re really all just whining because every time they win, we wish they didn’t. But each year they get beat, this debate isn’t crucial.

So let’s debate something more important—my Phillies MVP pick of the series. Allow me to first preempt my choice. I know Chase Utley led the team in series RBI and tied a legend’s record for single-series dingers. I also know Cliff Lee looked as comfortable as an old hat on the mound in Game One and pitched the only two games they won. But the man behind the plate was there for all six: Carlos Ruiz.

He once wished me Happy Birthday on Phanavision in Spanish and I pretended he said, “I’ll make you happy.”

I love it when he talks dirty. But that’s not why I picked him.

Chooch. Shoot. I wish the Phillies could have matched your patience at the plate. He upped his average from .246 in the regular season to .333 in the postseason for the highest average and on-base percentage of any Phillies position player in the 2009 postseason. He was also second only to Chase Utley in my personal favorite stat, slugging percentage, which is a measure of the number of bases you take with each at-bat.

I love a man who takes charge.

He had the team’s only run in Game One, hit the team’s only series triple in Game Six, was second only to Shane Victorino in fewest strikeouts (2), and tied Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth for series walks with five.

But most importantly, he was the only starting position player from either team who earned his way to base every single at-bat for an entire game. And he accomplished that in both Games Three and Six. That feat put him behind only Hideki Matsui for the player to earn his way on base the most times in the World Series.

But in the end, it was the fat lady from Broadway—not Broad Street—who sang the Halleluiah Chorus.

Well, with the season over, all that’s left are trade talks and contract negotiations. So I’m stuck with headlines that just aren’t as interesting—like, “Mariah Carey drops a bombshell.” If she dropped a load right there on the floor I could care less. And Glenn Beck had an emergency appendectomy. I hope they installed it on the end of his nose so he’d look just like his counterpart, Pinocchio.

Hey, that was kind of fun. Who knows, I might find the offseason amusing. But now I have time to work on that next story, reacquaint myself with my family, research this new great wrinkle-buster, and fine tune my fantasies of wearing Jayson Werth as a hat.

But not all was lost. The Philadelphia Phillies were the NL East division champs (again), whipped through the NLDS (again), dominated the NLCS (again), and made the Yankees sweat for six games in their second consecutive World Series appearance.

Not too shabby for a team the New York Post called the Frillies.

And when I started my postseason posts on the greatest Phillies team ever, I never imagined my thoughts would make me the number one humor writer on Bleacher Report—if only for a moment.

Not too shabby for someone who throws like a girl. Maybe next season I’ll turn that hourglass over and start again. Just like the Phillies.

Thanks for reading. I’m touched—I’m really humbled.

I'm even more humbled that a reader cared to send me his Shakespearean revision on the last game of the season. I'll publish it here, with his permission:

"A glooming peace this morning with it brings.
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head.
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things.
Some shall be pardoned, and some punishèd.
For never a series gave more willies
Than that of the Yankees vs Phillies."

Hey, there’s only 97 days until spring training. So until next time, sing loud—it’s a big world with bad cell service.



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