Friday, September 28, 2007


Climbing out of a hole they dug themselves a mere 159 games ago, the Phillies rode a 6-4 victory over John Smoltz and the Atlanta Braves all the way to a tie with the free-falling Mets for first place in the National League East. Unaccustomed as they are to the penthouse suite, the Phils looked mighty comfortable with their new digs.

Hordes of white towel -- not flag!! -- waving fans, a sight not seen in these parts in a very long time, whooped it up as the Phils jumped all over Smoltz in the first inning for four runs and added two more in the third. The usual suspects led the way, beginning with Jimmy Rollins, who stroked Smoltz' first offering of the proceedings up the middle and scored when his partner in speedy crimes Shane Victorino dropped a beautiful bunt down the third base line and Smoltz threw wildly to first. After the usually sure-handed Mark Teixeira booted Chase Utley's hard smash to first allowing Victorino to score, Ryan Howard lined a shot over the night field wall. Smoltz came into Citizens Bank Park on the record as the number one hater in all of baseball of the Phillies' home field's cozy dimensions. He left town with his grip on first place firmly in place though it must be said neither Howard's shot, which was hit so hard it was rising when stopped by a hand or seat, or Burrell's, which cleared the petunias by at least twenty rows at least, was nearly as cheap as the one Jeff Francoeur hit in the ninth off Brett Myers. What's sauce for the goose....

The Phils now control their own destiny. "All" they have to do is sweep the Washington Nationals this weekend in Philadelphia and watch the Mets hit rock bottom and baseball ignominy and the division title along with a large portion of vindication for one James Calvin Rollins will be theirs. The Nationals are no pushovers, just ask the Mets, and have played the role of spoiler well over the few years of their existence. But something tells me this Phillies team is destined to defy all the odds.

We won't have long to wait and learn the outcome.


David said...

Can you believe Smoltz had the gall to insist on remarking that Burrell's homer "wasn't a homer"? No one wants to hear it. I watched Utley hit one over 400 feet to that triangle in center two batter before Burrell and thought, 'let's see if he bothers remembering that if he gives up a 340-foot poke next inning'. Sure enough, the memory is selective. The rest of the Braves weren't much more respectful, claiming that the Phillies didn't win but that they 'beat themselves'. Apparently when you aren't used to losing, you aren't accustomed to the idea of losing gracefully. But as I mentioned last night, there's no small satisfaction in knocking Atlanta out of the picture for good. That was the team I had picked to win the East all along, and really there's no reason why they shouldn't have. That outfit smacks of the kind of Country Club baseball, loaded on paper but short of character, which we saw around here for too many seasons.

As for the Phillies, what more can be said. It's absolutely astounding, and it goes against everything we have come to expect from them. There is a giant book sale up in Seattle tonight and tomorrow which I, as a used book dealer, am compelled to attend, at the risk of missing each of the next two games. As of this writing, I am still torn as to whether or not to go because I follow this team so closely every day for six months, as I do every season, and finally a payoff for this vigilance is is very hard to let the real world get in the way at a time like this!

Tom Goodman said...

Excellent points, per usual, especially regarding the Utley blast. I watched and thought the same thing about it. He smoked that grounder in the first, too. Smoltz isn't one of my favorites,not the least of all for his politics. And, of course, there was the matter of Francoeur's "blast", which the Braves accepted without comment. Apparently, mirrors are in very short supply in their clubhouse. Only Chipper strikes me as being self-aware.

As for your dilemma, it is a thorny one to be sure and I sympathize. I don't suppose a laptop discreetly secreted at whatever table you man could be arranged?

David said...

No tables involved; like Pat Gillick, I'm buying, not selling. I've decided to compromise and go only tomorrow. I'm watching the Phils tonight.

Tom Goodman said...

Go dig out your copy of Roger Angell's Five Seasons and reread "Three for the Tigers." In it, you will rediscover that one of the trio of die-hard Tigers fans sat in the rear of the opera with a radio tuned to the game...and he was doing this in an era that knew nothing of ear buds, iPods or any other such devices. Heck, you could go to the sale wearing a black trench coat and the ear piece and everyone there would just think you were from the CIA!!

Tim said...

Phillies tie-breaker tickets!

Get them before all the Mets fans do!