LiveBlog: Phils/Dodgers, NLCS Game 5

10:39 p.m.: Too much in my head right now. Will get back to you tomorrow. PHILS RULE!

10:38 p.m.: Catch that pop-up, son, and here we go to the World Series!

10:35 p.m.: NOMAH!

10:34 p.m.: Victorino just plays him some centerfield. Two outs.

10:32 p.m.: C’mon Brad, get ‘er done. There’s an out, flyball to Victorino.

10:25 p.m.: Bottom 9, here comes Lidge.

10:24 p.m.: Ryan Howard’s swing is back. And it is sweet.

10:19 p.m.: We are an inning away.

10:04 p.m.: Blog break.

10:02 p.m.: Has everybody/anybody noticed Tim Allen in the 1st row behind home plate? I wonder if his agent called him: “Timmy, bubbeleh, I’m getting you some TV time. Here’s tickets to the Dodgers game.”

9:59 p.m.: I’m always freaked out when these DirecTV commercials have the same actor, just like 25 years later, “breaking the fourth wall” while re-enacting a scene from their movie. Craig T. Nelson’s “hair” just isn’t convincing.

9:55 p.m.: Shut up, Kent. It was a strike. You’re old and you suck and nobody likes you.

9:52 p.m.: Leaving Hamels in here with 1st and 2nd, 2 outs and Kent up in the bottom of the 7th. Hope you know what you’re doing, Uncle Cholly.

9:45 p.m.: Shane Victorino’s defense is still awesome. Great catch, thanks to great speed and instincts.

9:44 p.m.: Oh, by the way, Cole Hamels has been awesome.

9:43 p.m.: Shane Victorino’s defense is awesome.

9:42 p.m.: Eric Bruntlett’s beard is awesome.

9:38 p.m.: Read somebody writing today about how the Fox computer-generated strike zone is “showing up” the umpires and how lousy and inconsistent they are. I can’t wait for the day when umpiring is a computerized science.

9:36 p.m.: Here they are:

ShutUpTimMcCarver.com

BobFinnan.com/TimMcCarver/

9:33 p.m.: McCarver comparing a Presidential debate to a debate over balls and strikes between a ballplayer and an umpire. Meant to be slightly tongue-in-cheek, I’m sure, but just lame and stupid and unnecessary. Where is that IHateTimMcCarver Web site anyway?

9:33 p.m.: They’re replaying Rafael Furcal’s three errors, all in one inning. Wow.

9:32 p.m.: Oh, guess the debate is over. I’ll read a transcript tomorrow morning or something.

9:31 p.m.: Martin still in the game, behind the plate. Wonder if the ump will hold a grudge – he should.

9:29 p.m.: TOSS HIM! Russell Martin is arguing balls and strikes! That’s against the rules, son! He’s got to be ejected, umpire! I call Shenanigans!

9:26 p.m.: Big deal, Manny homers. He’s another one playing for a contract. It’s only a solo bomb. 5-1.

9:24 p.m.: Subjective journalism alerts: FOX desperately wanted L.A. to win this game. Tim McCarver is terrifically stupid. I loved how early on, one of the pitchers was about to throw, and McCarver says something like “here you’ve GOT to throw a curveball,” and the guy throws a 92 MPH fastball.

9:23 p.m.: Pat Burrell, playing for a new fat contract, makes a really good running catch. Phils up 5-0 in the bottom of the 6th. Is this some kind of weird dream?

One game away!

UPDATED THOUGHT: How the heck DO you pitch to Manny Ramirez???

After the Phillies’ thrilling victory over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLCS, I had a bunch of thoughts:

–Pat Gillick did make some really smart moves. Shane Victorino? Taken in the Rule 5 draft a few years back from – you guessed it – the Dodgers. Matt Stairs? They got him for a crappy lefthanded reliever in a deal that nobody noticed about a month ago.

–Shane Victorino continues to earn my platonic love by being Mr. Clutch. Good power for a little guy. He’s like Lenny Dykstra (circa 1993) without the disgusting chewing tobacco and steroids.

–Game 5 is on against the 3rd and final Presidential debate. Guess I’ll be missing out on the politics. However, I’m sure that CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CNBC, and whoever else will replay it. Or I’ll just YouTube the highlights.

–Hamels vs. Billingsley in Game 5. My man Cole is already a
legend; this could cement it.

–Holy Crap, it was 15 years ago that I stood in my college dorm room, wondering why Mitch Williams was still in the game, with that sick-to-my-stomach feeling that Joe Carter was going to take him downtown.

–IF we win, who would I rather play in the World Series? Even without Manny, Boston is a juggernaut, but they’ve looked kinda weak against Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay has a lot of great young talent, but would they be able to withstand the pressure of the World Series? TB’s manager, Joe Maddon, is supposed to be some kind of genius, so that might not be an issue.

Boston is an interesting story because former Phils manager Terry Francona is their skipper. The only other real Phils/Sox connection is Paul Byrd, who resides in Boston’s bullpen as a long reliever. J.C. Romero was a Red Sox, but that’s not much to build a rivalry.

I don’t think Tampa Bay holds a grudge over the Kevin Stocker-for-Bobby Abreu supreme ripoff trade that the Phillies did with TB years ago, and there’s no real connection other than Rays’ reliever Trever Miller pitching like 10 games for the Phillies 8 years ago.

The networks would probably love a BOS/PHI matchup because of the two major cities involved, but I think the more compelling series (and probably more winnable series for the Phillies) is TB/PHI.

LiveBlog: Phils/Dodgers, NLCS Game 3

10:21 p.m.: Oh well. This was pretty much a “must-win” for L.A., and I didn’t really think this would be an easy series for the Phils. See you tomorrow night for Game 4!

10:20 p.m.: Huge Jonathan Broxton is the Dodgers’ closer. He’s allegedly something like 6’6″, 290 and throws about 99MPH. I had him in one of my fantasy leagues. I’m sure being in the NLCS (and possibly the World Series, though I hope not) will drive up his “price.”

10:17 p.m.: Sharp Aquos, that’s who it is.

10:14 p.m.: I hate that creepy “physicist” guy in the commercials for Sony or Visio or whatever TV manufacturer it is. He looks like Florence Henderson, if she were a tall college professor with that “prematurely white hair” look.

10:09 p.m.: Are you serious? The best celebrities (after Tiger Woods) that L.A. can turn out for this game are Mary Hart and Pat Sajak? I saw Henry “The Fonz” Winkler in a super-box, but I think I read somewhere he’s a Phillies fan. And the guys from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” were uncharacteristically lame in doing the Phillies’ lineup at the beginning of the broadcast. (It was “Mac” and Danny DeVito.)

10:03 p.m.: Not sure if I’ve mentioned it for a while, but I intensely dislike Tim McCarver as a “color commentator.”

10:02 p.m.: Of course, the chances of a comeback this large in the 9th inning must be astronomical.

9:49 p.m.: Never mind. We can’t even throw out Russell Martin stealing a base – and he’s been hit by a pitch like three times tonight. This game is 97% lost cause. I only give the Phils that 3% because there was that one time…(flashback alert)…

It was June 8, 1989. I was experiencing my first bout of major disease (undiagnosed at the time), and had missed the last several months of school. I couldn’t even sit up with my legs over the edge of a chair or couch.

I remember being on the couch in the living room, watching the Phillies give up 10 runs in the first inning to the Pirates. Yep, 10-0 in the 1st. Grandpop Morey was there, and he gave his usual “man, they suck” look. And with my insanely annoying optimism, I said, “you watch, they’ll come back.”

And oddly enough, they did. They won 15-11, after getting 2 runs in the 1st, 3rd and 4th, they got 4 in the 6th and 5 in the 8th to get the W. That was also the game when one of the Pirates broadcasters (Steve Blass?) said there was no way they would lose, and that he’d walk back to Pittsburgh if they did. (And he did it at a later date, as a charity event.)

9:27 p.m.: So we’re maybe starting to chip away at the lead…7-2, men on, no outs. If by some miracle we come back, this series will be ours.

9:26 p.m.: Been busy – bathroom break (reading Hary Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and then doing the cat litter. Yes, it’s a charmed life. 😉

8:50 p.m.: Shane Victorino was absolutely right. You wanna retaliate, just hit me in the arm, the butt, the leg. You go huntin’ my head, and that’s not right.

8:34 p.m.: I swear. One more commercial with Frank Calliendo or the GEICO Cavemen, and I will kill something.

8:28 p.m.: I still feel bad for Jamie Moyer. He just couldn’t get it done tonight, but he’s still aces in my book.

8:25 p.m.: I can’t believe it’s 6-1. It’s not insurmountable, but with Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard not hitting AT ALL, it doesn’t look good. Hope the bullpen can hold the Dodgers.

8:23 p.m.: Screw you, Manny Ramirez. Your beef should be with your wimpy pitchers who don’t retaliate by throwing at the opposing team. I, and so many Red Sox fans, would have loved to see Ryan Howard beat the snot out of you.

ALL TIMES CENTRAL.

“Subjective” Analysis: Phillies vs. Dodgers

Well, I was pretty dead-on with my Phils/Brewers blog. (Whodathunkit?)

So on we go to the National League Championship Series, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers – who incidentally are another of those teams that moved but kept the name, even though the name was used for a geographically-specific reason. (“Dodgers” had something to do with dodging trolleys in Brooklyn, the New Orleans Jazz made sense but not necessarily the Utah Jazz, etc.)

Anyway, here we go:

CATCHER

PHI: Carlos Ruiz/Chris Coste

LA: Russell Martin

ANALYSIS: Martin wins in a runaway landslide crush. He hits, he’s got power, he steals bases, he plays solid defense, and one of his middle names is Coltrane. Our boys lose this one to the DODGERS.

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FIRST BASE

PHI: Ryan Howard

LA: James Loney

ANALYSIS: Loney is a really good young player, but isn’t in the same league as Howard right now. PHILLIES get this one.

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SECOND BASE

PHI: Chase Utley

LA: Blake DeWitt (Jeff Kent?)

ANALYSIS: Even if you could somehow fuse Blake DeWitt and Jeff Kent together, you wouldn’t have half of Chase Utley. PHILLIES. (Of course, you’d have Bleff DeKent.)

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THIRD BASE

PHI: Pedro Feliz

LA: Casey Blake

ANALYSIS: Blake is a slightly better hitter, and I mean SLIGHTLY. Feliz is a much better defender. I’m feeling objective, so I’ll call this one a TIE. (Even though the Feliz/Greg Dobbs package is probably superior.)

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SHORTSTOP

PHI: Jimmy Rollins

LA: Rafael Furcal/Angel Berroa

ANALYSIS: If Furcal is at the top of his game, this is close. But he’s coming off a major injury, and I’m feeling subjective. I predict a PHILLIES win in this category for Jimmy, The Great Prognosticator.

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LEFT FIELD

PHI: Pat Burrell

LA: Manny Ramirez

ANALYSIS: Pat, I truly thank you for the two-homer day you had that helped defeat the Brewers. But I owned Manny Ramirez (fantasy-wise), and you, sir, are no Manny Ramirez. DODGERS get this one because Manny, in L.A., only batted .396 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in 53 games. Oh, and his OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) was over 1200, which is just plain sick.

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CENTER FIELD

PHI: Shane Victorino

LA: Matt Kemp

ANALYSIS: I root for Victorino. In fantasy, I own Kemp. And in reality, Kemp has more power and is probably a better hitter in general. Slight edge here to the DODGERS.

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RIGHT FIELD

PHI: Jayson Werth

LA: Andre Ethier

ANALYSIS: Werth showed off some big power with a couple homers in the NLDS, but Ethier is another great young Dodger outfielder who took his game up like 57 notches this year. He doesn’t run like Werth, but his on-base is an excellent .375. Another slight edge to the DODGERS.

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STARTING PITCHER

PHI: Cole Hamels/Brett Myers/Jamie Moyer/Joe Blanton

LA: Derek Lowe/Chad Billingsley/Hiroki Kuroda/Greg Maddux?

ANALYSIS: The Phillies’ starters did an unbelievable job (Hamels), a very good job (Myers), a solid job (Moyer), and an excellent job (Blanton) against the Brewers. The Dodgers’ starting pitching is a mixed bag: Lowe is the wily veteran who’s been there and back; Billingsley is the young power pitcher who was prone to walks as recently as last season (and kind of this season, with 80 BB); and Kuroda is the Japanese import (makes him sound like a car) who put up very solid numbers and is the kind of guy who kills the Phillies. I don’t know if Maddux is available, on the roster, or already back home in San Diego. If he’s there and somehow pitches, I’m sure he’ll shut down the Phillies with his mind-bending wizardry. Or they’ll pound him for seven runs.

All in all, I give a slight edge to the PHILLIES here.

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RELIEF PITCHER

PHI: Brad Lidge/Ryan Madson/J.C. Romero/Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey/J.A. Happ/Scott Eyre

LA: Takashi Saito/Jonathan Broxton/Joe Beimel/Cory Wade/Scott Proctor/Hong-Chih Kuo/Clayton Kershaw

ANALYSIS: Each team has some really good talent in the bullpen. And although Lidge is just plain dominant, he’s almost matched by the Saito/Broxton combination (Broxton should be an elite closer in a year or two). The Dodgers have some very good ERAs in Saito, (2.49), Beimel (2.02), Wade (2.27), Kuo (2.14) and some great strikeout arms in Saito (60K/47IP), Broxton (88K/69IP), Kuo (96K/80IP), and Kershaw (100K/107IP). Strikeout arms against a Phillies squad that likes to strike out = edge to the DODGERS. I just trust those last few names more than I trust Durbin/Condrey/Happ.

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BENCH

PHI: Greg Dobbs/Matt Stairs/Geoff Jenkins/Eric Bruntlett/So Taguchi/Coste (see Catchers above)

LA: Angel Berroa/Andruw Jones/Nomar Garciaparra/Delwyn Young/Chin-Lung Hu/Mark Sweeney

ANALYSIS: Seriously, this LA bench might be the worst bench in the history of benches – despite having (or because of?) huge names like Andruw and Nomar. PHILLIES in a runaway victory. If I’m Joe Torre, I pray every night that my lineup stays healthy.

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MANAGER

PHI: Charlie Manuel

LA: Joe Torre

ANALYSIS: Torre, hands-down. Both of these guys are loved by their teams, but Torre knows how to run a game and probably of more importance, has been to 674 World Series with the Yankees. DODGERS get the nod here.

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FINAL SCORE: Dodgers 5, Phillies 4, one tie.

Yikes, this will be a close one.