Thursday, October 30, 2008

Congratulations to the Phillies

I have got to hand it to the Phillies. They certainly came to play right out of the gate and won this series, to bring serious sport euphoria to the city of Philadelphia. I do however feel that the story of the Series was more that the Rays lost the series rather than the Phillies winning it. Through poor defensive play, lack of clutch hitting and lack of aggression on the base paths, the Rays did not play their game. Despite pitching performances that kept them in the games, the Rays just could not break through against Philadelphia pitching, which is a credit to the excellent preparation and scouting work that their franchise had done to prepare for the series. I really feel that the lesser team won this series and really, with four of five games being decided by two or fewer runs (Three one-run games), the Rays mistakes that led to a run or not scoring did come back to cost them the series. The best example in my view was the defense of Akinori Iwamura. This is a player that is a serious contender for winning a gold glove and throughout the series, he committed 4-5 errors or misplays by himself. Take some of those back and we could be in Tampa right now.

The Phillies certainly did play as well as they are capable. Cole Hamels looked great in both games and the other starters did what they needed to to keep their games close, two eventually being won by the Phillies. Their offense did what it usually does -- hitting lots of long fly balls. I will give credit to the Phillies, they played their strengths perfectly in this series and Charlie Manuel's use of their bullpen was excellent.

Overall though, this was a memorable series for Major League Baseball, with one of the lowest ratings in the history of the World Series. The play was sloppy and there was a 46-hour rain delay. The Rays made it to the Series after a season in which they had the worst record in baseball. The Phillies won the Series despite being forecasted to not even make the playoffs on September 1st. It was a fantastic season for Major League Baseball for story lines and pennant chases and the World Series was the perfect culminating event for some of the best stories of the year. Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies on their first World Championship since 1980.

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