Monday, October 01, 2007
I like David Aldridge's piece about Charlie Manuel. I've always been a big fan of his and believed that the Phillies were better off with the reins in Manuel's hands than anyone else's. Manuel's calm, steady approach and Moneyball-esque strategy on the field are important reasons why the Phillies have had win totals in the upper-80s and were playoff contenders these last three seasons. I believe completely that Pat Gillick intended to fire him at the end of the season and replace him with Davey Lopes for 2008 until the Phillies surged. Now Charlie will get another season, or more.
Phil Sheridan looks at the losers up I-95 in Shea Stadium. I had forgotten that Billy Wagner was a Met and beating his team makes this all the sweeter until I read Sheridan's article. Sounds like the Mets are going to be a mess this off-season.
Todd Zolecki talks a little bit about Jimmy Rollins, who certainly has the momentum to be the 2007 NL MVP. I'm rather skeptical J.Roll was the NL MVP based on the numbers - he did lead the NL in outs with 527, he finished well behind Matt Holliday in Runs Created, 149 to 135, and he wasn't the best defensive shortstop in the league - but J.Roll was the critical cog in the Phillies machine down the stretch, a key bat and the team's emotional leader. J.Roll was been amazing at the plate: thirty home runs, twenty triples, thirty-eight doubles, forty-one steals in forty-seven tries, 139 runs scored, 94 RBI, there is probably nobody in baseball with his unique blend of speed and power at the plate. This season was J.Roll's best in the bigs and I'd have no problem with giving him the nod over Holliday based on emotion alone. Oh, and while J.Roll isn't the best NL shortstop, he plays a much tougher position than Holliday. That has to count for something.
I bet that J.Roll will come out ahead of Holliday and will take the NL MVP, although I wonder if Chase Utley and Ryan Howard might split the Phillies vote. J.Roll has some big advantages here: he plays in a major, East Coast market close to New York and he was a hero in a close, well-televised playoff race. Momentum is there, as opposed to Holliday and the Rockies, who largely flew under the radar of the national media in their race for the playoffs.
By the way, give the Rockies credit for quite a run for the playoffs: they've won 13 of 14 games. Aside from a 4-2 loss to the Diamondbacks on Sept. 28, the Rockies haven't lost in nearly two weeks. Part of me wants to see the Rockies win because they look like a weaker team on paper than the pitching-heavy Padres, but then I think you also have to worry about how strong the Rockies are finishing.
Here is what the Mets fans are saying. First The Eddie Kranepool Society talks about the Mets collapse. The anger is obvious, though restrained. The Musings and Prophecies of Metstradamus was pretty petulant and juvenile about the Mets loss. A lot of pathetic, sour-loser whining about the Phillies. Don't whine or make snide comments about the team that beat your team, big guy. It just makes the Phillies triumph all the sweeter.
ESPN's Page 2 has a nice litany of reasons why the Mets blew their lead.
Baseball Prospectus' Nate Silver has a nice article at SI.com about the biggest chokes in baseball history. He ranks the '64 Phillies at #13, and puts the Mets collapse at #5. Silver notes that the Mets had a 99.8% probability of winning the N.L. East on Sept. 12, when they held their 7-game lead. The '51 Dodgers - Giants pennant race ranks #1, which I can see. The '95 Mariners - Angels race, has been pretty underrated by writers and historians, ranks #4. Maybe because the Angels won the '02 World Series and erased some of the stain. According to BP, the odds against the Angels losing in '95 were 8,332-to-1, far bigger than the Mets 500-to-1 choke in '07 or the Dodgers 382-to-1 choke in '51. By the way, the Phillies were 25-to-1 to blow it in 1964, which is pretty minor comparatively.
Tomorrow: NLDS preview.