We’ve got three interminably long days off before what looks to be an immensely entertaining NLCS against the Phillies. I know, I know – the dates are predetermined and it just seems longer because neither NL series went the distance. I get it. But it doesn’t mean I’m happy about waiting! We’ll start with the team breakdowns tomorrow, so let’s take a look at what we know, and what we’d like to know.
* Hey, what a bizarre TV schedule. Judging by the first comment on our last thread, Angelenos aren’t too thrilled about the 1pm Friday start time.
are u FREAKING KIDDING ME??????? a 1:00 WEST COAST START TIME FRIDAY? That HAS TO BE WRONG, all of LA will miss the game. Everyone is at work or school. THATS A JOKE!
Well said. To be fair, East coasters aren’t that thrilled about it either, because people are still at work at 4pm, and even if they just work until 5pm (which many people still have to work past), by the time they get home, that’s 2/3 of the game they’ve missed. Or an inning and a half, if the pace is anything like last night’s Red Sox/Angels game. Now I understand that FOX would rather keep the (probable) Red Sox/Rays series in prime time at a 7:30pm EST start, that doesn’t bother me. But what I don’t get is why NLCS Game 2 has to be shoehorned into this awkward early time slot less than a day after Game 1, which starts at 5pm PST the day before.
You’ve only got two series going on here. Why not have them alternate nights on weeknights and then double up for 4pm and 7:30pm EST on weekends? This time for Game 2 sounds like it’s going to anger Dodger and Phillie fans alike. And as Peter King, of all people, notes in his Monday Morning Quarterback column,
First two games of the Sox-Angels series ended at 1:25 and 1:29 a.m., respectively. There’s some East Coast love.
But the most important question remains: does the brutality of having to stomach Joe Buck and Tim McCarver make up for not having to suffer through any more TBS FrankTV ads?
* Hello, schitzophrenia! The Dodgers and Phillies split their 8 games this year, which at first glance makes you think, “oh, this will be a pretty even series.” Negative! As you may or may not remember, all 8 games came in the span of 14 days… and ended in four-game sweeps by the home team, first in LA and then in Philly. The second sweep came as the first half of the brutal eight-game losing streak that nearly ended the season, and let’s revisit that beautiful time in MSTI history.
Man, what a brutal game. Between Kershaw giving up 3 runs in the first, the offense being completely non-existent, and the bullpen being all too happy to allow further damage, this was one of the most depressing games I’ve ever seen. No drama, no hope – although Citizens Bank Park is phenomenal – and an afternoon spent directly in the baking sun.
That, friends, is just a cavalcade of awful. Special bonus points of suck awarded to Casey Blake for doing just about the worst possible thing you could do with a bases loaded, no outs situation in the top of the 10th: grounding into a 5-2 double play. It’s not even that he didn’t do anything positive, it’s that he did the worst kind of negative action he could have, short of a triple play. A sac fly gets a run home. A double play to short or second probably gets a run home. A strikeout or a popup doesn’t get a run home, but it doesn’t accrue two outs and lose the lead runner, too.
That would be the total in which the Dodgers were outscored in Philadelphia this weekend. What an embarrassment. This team doesn’t really deserve to make the playoffs – not that it ever really did – but Arizona did their best to help us out. If there was a half decent team in this division like all the others, by all rights the Dodgers would be 11 games out of first place and we wouldn’t have traded excellent prospects for guys like Casey Blake. There’s really nothing good you can take away from this series at all. The pitchers didn’t pitch (decent starts from Kuroda and Billingsley aside), the defense looked terrible at best and lazy at worst, and the offense.. my god, the offense. Who goes into Citizens Bank Park and has the offense disappear?
* Will there be any changes to the roster? Part of the intrigue of composing the NLDS roster was the uncertainty over whether Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent could hold up. Well, Furcal proved himself about as well as you could have hoped for. Not only did he play every inning at shortstop, he was productive, tying for second on the team in hits behind Manny. So just in case you forgot, Rafael Furcal > inanimate carbon rod > Angel Berroa. With Furcal seemingly dependable, and with Nomar and Kent backing up short and second and Berroa at both, is there really a need for Pablo Ozuna? Well, of course not. There’s never a need for Pablo Ozuna. So who to replace him with? Well, if healthy, the answer is obvious – lefty killer Hong-Chih Kuo. Although he is throwing off flat ground, there’s as of yet been no word on whether he’ll be healthy enough to go or not. If he’s not, I expect there won’t be any changes to the roster, unless Torre decides he really can’t live another series without Scott Proctor.
* Guys who love playing the Phillies: Mostly everyone! James Loney, Matt Kemp, Manny Ramirez, Russell Martin, Andre Ethier, and Jeff Kent all have OPS’d over .800 against the Phillies this year among Dodgers with more than ten at-bats against them. And remember, that includes the brutal four games where no one hit that we just discussed.
On the pitching side, man do I hope Kuo can in fact be used, because he owns the Phillies. He pitched five scoreless one-hit innings against them in 2008, and in fact he’s allowed just two hits in 8.1 career innings. This is especially important when you realize that the monstrous Ryan Howard is hitting just .224 against lefties this year, so to not have Kuo would be a huge blow. Hiroki Kuroda was also pretty great against Philly this year, allowing just four hits and two runs in thirteen innings.
* Guys who hate playing the Phillies: Casey Blake hit just .200/.242/.300 against the Phillies this year, and as bad as that is, it still blows away Nomar’s putrid .083/.120/.208 performance, which is 2 hits in 24 at-bats.
Fortunately, two of the four worst pitchers against Philly this year aren’t on the roster (Brad Penny and Jason Johnson), and the other two of those four are expected to only compete to start Game 4 at best, Clayton Kershaw and Greg Maddux. Unfortunately, the Dodger ERA of 5.48 against Philly was the highest of any opponent they saw this year.
* Welcome back, old friends. Two of the Phillies outfielders are former Dodgers, center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth. Victorino was a 1999 draft pick of the Dodgers who was lost to the Phillies in the 2004 Rule V draft, and Werth was constantly injured in his two years in LA, 2004 and 2005, plus a 2006 that was completely lost to injury. The Phillies also have the ageless Rudy Seanez, who did not make the NLDS roster, and their first base coach is Dodgers legend Davey Lopes, plus Chase Utley is a UCLA alum who was drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in 1997.
The Dodgers will have no ex-Phillies on the active roster, although coaches Larry Bowa, Mariano Duncan, and Ken Howell all played in Philly (Bowa managed there, as well) and injured backup catcher Gary Bennett played in parts of six season for the Phils.
Update: according to the always useful official team blog Inside the Dodgers, I missed two other Phillies coaches with Dodgers ties: manager Charlie Manuel, who apparently had 18 at-bats as a Dodger in 1974-75, and Milt Thompson, who had 51 at-bats in for LA in 1996. Who knew?
* Have we really reached the point where people don’t know that Mike Scioscia was a Dodgers catcher before he was an Angels manager? You know, nothing makes a blogger happier than seeing another blog link to his work. So when I saw an incoming link from something called Women Like Sports, I thought, “great! Chicks dig it.” (As opposed to the most excellent Chixdiggit!) So you can imagine my disappointment when I read the paragraph that contained the link back here…
I’ll follow what I call the “lesser” teams to root for SoCal against all other teams if one of my aforementioned teams are not playing, especially in a playoff position. For example, you’ll see me cheer on the Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Clippers, Chivas USA, and the Anaheim Ducks. This is ONLY if they are not playing my real L.A. teams or even certain Florida teams in playoff situations but this is not set in stone.
Really? I get a link for the Anaheim Angels? Who aren’t even called that anymore? Forget whether you actually realize that Mike Scioscia had a career before the Angels (and god help us all if that’s actually the case of Angels fans), are there not enough dudes in Dodger hats just at the very top of this page? There’s eight by my count, including each of the cartoon Scioscias.
It’s a dark day in MSTI-land.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness