Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Philadelphia Phillies, 2008 World Shenanigans Champions

Let's cut through the crap. I had a handful of teams I was rooting for this baseball post-season. I wanted the Brewers, then the Dodgers, and finally the Rays, lots of October 2008 losers. On the other hand, I have a couple of close Philly fans, and I know they've suffered through a lot of non-championship years, so I've always felt for their pain, and I'm happy for them now. But this three and-a-half innings of baseball was complete crap at home. I watched Bud Selig and company's post-rainout presser Monday night, and I thought they did the best they could've in those circumstances. If you call off the game and it doesn't rain, you piss off and inconvenience a ton of people. So the continuation of the game didn't happen last night, causing this thing to linger for 48 hours, and people did a lot of talking about it. And I listened.

I spent some time in the car today and yesterday. All the local and national sports talk guys were talking about two things: one was calling the game off after the Rays tied it in the sixth Monday night gave the Rays the advantage. They're down three games to one, they're down 2-0 when the weather gets ugly, and they manage to scrape together a couple of runs and tie the thing. Selig claimed Monday night that no team would've ever won the game by the beyond-five-innings, rain delay/game over rule that occasionally happens in the regular season. That seemed to miff a lot of folks. Baseball people didn't seem to realize that that rule had been changed a couple of years ago to prevent such an occurrence in the post-season. I think it's a good rule; you don't want a championship determined by a rainout.

Forty-eight hours, though is a lot of time for people to talk, a lot of time for people to read, and a lot of time for people to think. This is what I think:

1) First and foremost, hats off to the Phillies for coming out of the gates swinging, and congratulations to them for winning it all. I don't want to take anything away from them; it's the league and the umpiring that I question.

2) The other thing the talk radios spent much of the past two days talking about was the strike zone in this series, how it changed, and how outright inconsistent it was. I didn't see but half of this series, and the part(s) I did see somewhat resemble those claims.

3) Having said that, I was curious how tonight's game at the plate would be called, simultaneously not altogether convinced that there was some home cooking simmering on the Citizens Bank Park stove. Now, having watched those innings of tonight's game, I am.

4) It is indisputable that the strike zone was dissimilarly called for each club in this evening's contest. In my mind the strike zone has always been above the knees to the bottom of the letters on the chest, and of course, from one side of the plate to the other. Each ump calls his game different than the next, but never have I seen an ump call strikes and balls so differently between the tops and the bottoms of innings in one game. If the pitches delivered to Tampa tonight were low and inside, they were (for the most part) strikes. Low and inside for the Phillies? Balls. Same with the outside corner. Strikes when the Phillies were pitching; balls when the Rays were.

5) By the time the top of the eighth and ninth innings were around, Tampa knew they had to protect the plate, and perhaps swung at some pitches they otherwise wouldn't've. Sure, they answered the bottom-of-the-sixth run with a solo homer, and they put guys on base once or twice to try and counter Philly's fourth run, but they could not. Perhaps the argument ends there: "they could not."

It seems to me, though, that some secret hovering force in the closets of Major League Baseball felt bad for putting Philadelphia in the situation of letting the game get knotted up in the sixth on Monday. It seemed to me that if these fans saw their club lose tonight, and saw the series go back to Florida, it might be tilted in Tampa's favor to really get back in this thing. And finally, it seems to me that there was a bit of a tender heart for the city that has so long suffered a championship drought.

Therefore, I find it no coincidence that the strike zone was a bit McCain for the batting home team, Obama for the visitors. In the end, I wanted Tampa to win because that would mean good things could happen for small-market baseball clubs. Shucks, the fact that the Rays had this much success this year and made it to the Series means good things can happen for small ball. I just expected a more even playing field for most specifically tonight's resumption/conclusion of game five. From what I witnessed, that did not occur.

It was certainly possible that Tampa wins tonight's contest, and go home to the Trop only to get destroyed in game six. Once the bottom of the sixth was underway, however, that possibility faded into the chilly Philly air.

Again, congrats are in order to the Phillies and their fans. Shame, however, should be cast upon tonight's home-plate umpire.


Dylan said...

This comment is a bit off topic, so I'll give you my two-cents of topicality.
Go Rays!
Damn, that was quick.
I searched the internet's Merriam-webster for the definition of apologism. I thought it might be synonomous with something final.. or perhaps an unarguable conclusion of sorts. Its not. Its kinda wierd. Weird like not a word at all.
So simply, when you whittle out a 1500 word apologism for the puffiest, suckiest GM in the NFL, replies are in order.(Maybe apologista, would be good?)
Now, I can kinda understand why DKC is receiving his HOG blackball, but TLR?
TLR is the Bill Brasky of the internetons. He stands seven foot somethin' and has all your girlfriends/wives on speed-dial.
Brasky is right. Run Carl outta here. Now.


PS From the Carl/LJ department....
Isn't it awesome that our star running back, who displays his vision of a vagina during moments of glory. Can't get the owner of one to talk to him at a bar?

Dylan said...

Oh yeah, it does seem that the powers wanted to wrap this season up A.S.A.P.
They probably thought a Ray's W.C. an Obama presidency, Democratic House and Senate(the 60+ supermajority kind), a effin blue map and the extinction of a moder-day cult....would be too much for the country.
Hell Yizzle!
Big Dog Sec. of State
Lady Dog Pres. of U.S. Senate

blairjjohnson said...

That's odd. I find it right here.

Kevin said...

You are right about the strike zone. I also appreciate your comments about small market teams. I am a KC Royals fan and the Rays success takes away for ever David and Dan Glass crying the small market blues as an excuse for the continued losing.