Sooooooo- a quick shout out to all the "Experts" who picked the Phillies in 4 or the Phillies in 5 or even the Phillies in 6. I know they are a fantastic team. I know that they should be the favorites going into the series. I know that this is a great example of why sports are such entertaining theater. HOWEVER, if the Phillies are going to win, they are going to have to win three straight. Is that possible? Of course it is! I watched my Cubs blow a 3-1 lead in 2003 having Zambrano, Prior and Wood all take losses against the most annoying team of all time (Juan Pierre, Jeff Conine, Josh Beckett, Carl Pavano, Pudge Rodriguez, and Ugueth Urbina getting kissed by Ozzie Guillen. Ugh- what an awful team!) So the Giants could still lose this series. However, they have already proven to the "Experts" that they are a force that cannot be overlooked.
Last night's game was such a fun baseball game. Quite possibly more fun than the one I attended the day before. The Giants took the early lead, the Phillies came back with a 4 spot to take a 4-2 lead, then the Giants fought back to regain a 5-4 lead, before the Phillies tied it then the Giants won in walk-off fashion. That is what playoff baseball is all about! Multiple lead changes. The drama of an underachieving potential stud (Pablo Sandoval) coming through in the clutch. A rookie catcher (Buster Posey) going 4-5 and making a phenomenal play at the plate. This game was an absolute gem.
I've argued with friends that chemistry in the clubhouse can, at times, over come talent in another clubhouse. I don't think this is groundbreaking information until I have someone argue with me for hours about how talent always wins out. Look at the NCAA basketball tournament. The best team rarely wins the championship! I'd take last year's Kansas or Kentucky teams over Duke, but who won the championship? That's right- Coach K's Blue Devils. The same thing applies in all sports. If your team has a close clubhouse, your teammates can help put you in the right mind-frame to perform at high levels that will help you overcome a more talented yet less focused favorite.
One more quick thought about the game last night. Was Charlie Manuel wrong to bring in Roy Oswalt in the 9th after he had just pitched a few days earlier? NO. 1,000 times NO. He was completely right to make that move. Going back to the 2003 Marlins, they brought Josh Beckett in for relief a number of times during the playoffs because he was their horse. The Phillies have multiple horses and wanted to use one (Oswalt) last night for an inning or two. These is nothing wrong with that decision and anyone who thinks Charlie Manuel doesn't know what he's doing has probably just listened to one of his press conferences. But most people can recognize that you don't go to the World Series two years in a row by making horrible decisions. I think it was the right move, even if it didn't work out.
The Giants are a hungry team that have been a lot of fun to watch. I hope the Cubs are taking notes and developing some good young players from within. The Giants homegrown pitching staff, Buster Posey, and even the Panda have been fun to watch during the postseason and that kind of environment could be possible in Chicago as well (Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, etc.)
I can't wait to see if the Giants can close it out during another phenomenal pitching match up tonight.