You gotta love the playoffs. It's a cliche that everything is magnified, and in this case, the cliche fails to do reality justice. It's not that these games are under a magnifying glass - they're under an electron microscope, where houseflies are morphed into multi-eyed dragons.
Two nights ago, following a Phillies loss in Game 2, all the talk was about how the middle of the Phillies order wasn't producing, and how the Phillies might be doomed because of it. Twinsty-four hours, two Utley/Howard hits (albeit back-to-back home runs), and a Phils win later, the story was about how the middle of the Rays order wasn't producing, and how the Rays might be dommed because of it. And suddenly the Rays were in a "must-win" game. But, if the Phils would've lost Game 3 after blowing a 4-1 lead, Game 4 would've been their must-win game.
Of course, after a 10-2 loss to the Phils in last night's Game 4, the Rays really are facing a must-win game, and they will for every game the rest of their season. But it's worth noting what the perception will be if the Phils don't win Monday night's game. Games 6 and 7 would both be on the road with pitching match-ups that would likely make the Phils into underdogs. Today's elation would turn into tomorrow's agony.
Tonight's game might not be a must-win for Philly, but it's close. In reality they all are. Such is the power of the microscope.
Patience and Power
Friday I chastised the Phils for playing bad baseball, in particular for their inability to drive runners home from third base with one out or less. That didn't change over the weekend. In both games they failed to take advantage of Rays starting pitchers propensity to put batters on base.
But they've won both games, mostly because they're hitting the snot out of the ball in "The Bank". They've hit seven home runs over those two games, and that's more than double what the Rays have hit all series. They've also created a ton of opportunities by drawing walks. They're up to 20 for the series right now, a rate that's about 50% higher than the regular season.
All of which seemingly validates the sabremetric theories that I was questioning on Friday. So, um, the lesson it that this site is for entertainment purposes only. Any education you try to gleen from it you do at your own risk. OK?
Top Reasons to Root for Philly - #5 and #4
#5 - Your country was born there. And, to be honest, I'm not sure it could have been born anyplace else. Where else was it going to happen? Boston? Everyone knew what side of the fence those malcontents were on. New York? Only if it was gonna make some money. Baltimore or Virginia? Too genteel.
For this kind of topic, you need candid discourse, and that's where Philly thrives. You know where you stand, at all times, with almost every citizen you meet in Philly. If you want to candidly discuss an unpopular topic, like benching a quarterback, or bombing one of your own city's blocks, or, um, committing treason, Philly is where you go. You can be sure of one thing: one way or the other, you're going to get an answer.
#4 - Philly Cheesesteaks. Some of you might question whether this should rank higher than the formation of our great country. Those people have never had a real Philly Cheesesteak.
I Gotta Ask
Is there anyplace in the Twin Cities where Phils fans are gathering to watch these games? The Voice of Reason and I are looking to find a group with which to commiserate or celebtrate, whatever the case may be. If you know of one, I'd appreciate a comment below.