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Donít Take The World Serious
2008-10-21 22:03
by Mike Carminati

My first Phillies playoff experience was a three-game sweep at the hands of the Big Red Machine in the 1976 NLCS. I remember listening to the game on the radio—I don't know if it was broadcast on TV, but I listened on my blue plastic transistor radio with real leatherette case. I sadly switched it off and went outside after the last game, an afternoon one, to wallow in a game of stoopball for one.

The Phils had gotten the first lead in each of the ballgames, but the Reds, seemingly toying with the playoff newcomers, quickly too the lead in and kept it in the first two games. In the third game, the Phils led 6-4 in the middle of the ninth but surrendered the lead, the game, and the series in dramatic fashion. Ron Reed gave up back-to-back homers to George Foster and Johnny Bench, and after two pitching changes, the bases were loaded with two out. Ken Griffey singled down the first base line and just like that, my first playoff experience was kaput and I went to sulk with a tennis ball on the front stoop

That was a disappointment, but the Reds were monolithic, like the Soviet hockey team and Frank Rizzo. The next season, they had an even better team and were playing the Dodgers but the result was the same. I was in attendance when Burt Hooton was rattled by the Vet faithful into surrendering three straight bases-loaded walks. Hooton was pulled but the Phils lost anyway. 1978 was a repeat of 1977.

The Phils finally broke through in 1980. The fact that the team had been around for almost a hundred years and had never won a World Series was not even an issue, not nearly the issue that not winning in 28 years is for this year's club.

1983 was the last gasp of the remnants of that 1976 team with the death knell being rung by some of the same old Big Red Machine mates that did in the original team (Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez). I was entering college at the time and had other priorities not to mention having become used to postseason appearances by the team.

In 1993, I was living in New York after having relocated from Boston. Like much of the country, I was intrigued by the lightning-in-a-bottle Phils, but hadn't been folllwoing them on a daily basis for some time.

That's what makes this one special. I haven't had that childlike feeling of pure joy of following a team on a daily basis since the 1980 team.

That's why it's difficult to listen to my head that says the Phils rotation behind Hamels is suspect. That the offensive had trouble getting more than a couple of players going at a time throughout the playoffs. I think instead that Joe Blanton can keep up the postseason magic, Jamie Moyer's yet-far awful postseason has to end, and Brett Myers can keep up the Babe Ruth two-way-player act. I think all the offensive components worked out the kinks and now can fire as a unit.

Then I think that the Phils were walloped by the AL in interleague play, 11-4, and that the National League was totally outclassed by the junior circuit throughout. The Rays have been forged in the crucible of the AL East, have beaten the world champion Red Sox, and are poised to become one of the stronger young clubs in the game in beating the Phils four games to one.

I instead hope, as a Phils fan and a baseball fan in general, for a close Series. As a Phils fan, since a close series, I think, will go to Phils while a lopsided one means a dominant Ray victory. And as a baseball fan, since seven more intriguing games would have to be preferable to four lopsided ones no matter the result.

So my prediction? Game one is the key. If Hamels is dominant and the Phils win, they will win the Series in seven. If they lose, the Phils are done in five. Either way, I am going to soak it in and hope for the best.

First Ray of Light

So what does the fact that this is the Rays first World Series mean to the possible outcome of the series? Do first-timers exhibit jitters and end up losing? If history means anything, it means nothing at all.

Of the 26 franchises to go to their first World Series, 13, exactly half, won the series and 13 lost. Though the last two newcomers lost (2005 Astros and 2007 Rockies). Here are how each franchise faired in their firs appearance:

FranchiseFirst YrWLTWon?
Boston Red Sox1903530Y
Pittsburgh Pirates1903350N
Oakland Athletics1905140N
San Francisco Giants1905410Y
Chicago White Sox1906420Y
Chicago Cubs1906240N
Detroit Tigers1907041N
Atlanta Braves1914400Y
Philadelphia Phillies1915140N
Los Angeles Dodgers1916140N
Cincinnati Reds1919530Y
Cleveland Indians1920520Y
New York Yankees1921350N
Minnesota Twins1924430Y
St. Louis Cardinals1926430Y
Baltimore Orioles1944240N
New York Mets1969410Y
Kansas City Royals1980240N
Milwaukee Brewers1982340N
San Diego Padres1984140N
Toronto Blue Jays1992420Y
Florida Marlins1997430Y
Arizona Diamondbacks2001430Y
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim2002430Y
Houston Astros2005040N
Colorado Rockies2007040N

Price-y

David Price became the first pitcher in baseball history to record a win and save in a postseason before recording either in his career leading up to that postseason. There have been pitchers who won their first career game in the postseason and ones that recorded their first career save in the postseason, but Price is the first to do both.

Here are the ones that accomplished either of these feats:

Wins:

PitcherCareer WCareer LCareer SvYrTmPost WPost LPost Sv
Josh Kinney0002006SLN100
Francisco Rodriguez0002002ANA510
Odalis Perez0101998ATL100

Saves:

PitcherCareer WCareer LCareer SvYrTmPost WPost LPost Sv
Ryan Speier5202007COL001
Mark Buehrle855302005CHA201
Kevin Millwood401801999ATL211
John Smoltz15711301999ATL111
Greg Maddux20211701998ATL111
Brian Anderson201601997CLE101
Mark Thompson3401995COL001
Ted Wilks17401944SLN011
Comments
2008-10-22 05:11:34
1.   Josh Wilker
"I think instead that . . . Brett Myers can keep up the Babe Ruth two-way-player act"

His performance against the Dodgers had me convinced that he was a hitter, but his lifetime batting stats suggest otherwise. I guess that might be why the Phillies aren't rearranging their rotation to get him at-bats. (Unless I'm misinformed, he'll pitch only in Tampa, in game 2 and, if necessary, game 6.)

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