Thursday, September 29, 2011

Records All Around

All hail the regular season champs.

The Phils recorded their franchise record 102nd win last night, a dramatic 4-3 victory in 13 innings against a desperate Atlanta club fighting for its playoff life. The victory culminated a three-game sweep of the Braves, dropping them out of the NLDS on the final day of the season and lining up the St. Louis Cardinals as the Phils opponent. The Cards recently took three of four from the Phils at Citizens Bank Park, but all agree that was when the locals were not at their best.

Let's hope so.

The victory also made Charlie Manuel the Phillies' all-team leader in wins by a manager, a fitting cap to the team's fifth straight divisional championship.

The night was marked by drama around the majors as the Rays overcame a 7 run deficit to defeat the Yankees and beat out the free-falling Red Sox, who lost out on post-season play on the last day of the season in what will go down as an historic collapse. Couldn't happen to a more smug fan base! The previously long-suffering but eternally insufferable Red Sox fans can have an entire off-season to contemplate the many ways in which their vaunted team choked.

A lot of individual Phillies ended the season with some pretty lousy offensive numbers, including Chase Utley, who failed to reach .260, Placido Polanco, who failed to reach .280 (both numbers are far below their career averages), Ryan Howard, who failed to reach .255, and so on. Shane Victorino ended the season in quite a slump. Raul Ibanez ended his as he started: erratically. Jimmy ended his season on a tear. It's hard to imagine he will play here again if he's seeking a big pay-day at the end of the post-season. Only Chooch and Hunter Pence shone.

There's no secret this club is built around pitching. There is also no secret the offense can suddenly go hide for days at a time. The key to their post-season will be strong starting pitching and a much-needed rebound by the set-up portion of their bullpen. If the offense can stay focused, the Phils should go deep into the playoffs. If not, a quick exit is not out of the question.

* * * * * * * *

Jose Reyes doesn't strike me as the kind of ballplayer who knows let alone gives a damn about baseball history so I'm sure he wasn't aware of how Ted Williams finished his quest for a .400 batting average in 1941 by playing both games of a doubleheader. Williams entered the games hitting .3996, which would have rounded off to .400. His manager offered to give him the games off to ensure his achieving the mark. Not Williams. He played, saying he didn't deserve to hit .400 if he sat out those games. He went 6 for 8 including a home run to finish at .406.

Reyes was trying to lead the league in batting entering yesterday's final game. In his first AB, he bunted for a single and then headed for the dugout, the runway, the showers and eternal contempt.

Maybe his agent should let him in on some baseball history. On second thought, his agent probably encouraged him to duck the rest of the game.

You aren't a champion in the real sense of the word, Jose.

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