The Commish Online                                                                                
2008 Playoffs
Phillies in Phive
October 30, 2008

It wasn’t exactly Kirk Gibson and Dennis Eckersley.  Joe Carter and Mitch Williams it was not.  Heck, it wasn’t even Luis Gonzalez singling off Mariano Rivera.  On a grand scale, the 2008 World Series lacked the high drama of years past, but the Philadelphia Phillies made their fans proud by fully earning the championship in what played out as a series that became stranger by the day.

Beginning in the dome known as Tropicana Field, cowbells and catwalks made the event feel more like an Arena Football game than the Fall Classic.  The games played as expected, however, with Cole Hamels winning his game and the Rays bouncing back in Game 2 as they have all season long.  When the series returned to Philadelphia, it felt more like baseball… until the showers and wind chill made the players look more like contestants for the Winter X-Games. 
Still, while the series ended in just five games, the contests themselves were close.  Three games were decided by one run and Game 4 was the only one worthy of succumbing to channel flipping, thanks to a 10-2 final score.  Game 5, played over a span of three days, brought the best out in the teams, however.  Hamels was solid again, and Scott Kazmir rebounded after a shaky first inning to keep the Rays in the game.  Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, practically nonexistent in the middle of the lineup all series long, finally made their presence known as the rain came down Monday night.  B.J. Upton provided the stellar baserunning, but the Phillies received a full team contribution on Wednesday night to complete the game and the World Series, giving Charlie Manuel and his players a much deserved championship.

It was nice to see players like Rocco Baldelli overcome adversity and find success (hitting a seemingly impossible home run on a good Ryan Madson pitch), and even though Baldelli, Carl Crawford, and the rest of the Tampa Bay players will have to wait at least another year, it is hard not to be happy for everyone on the Phillies’ roster.  Good for Geoff Jenkins and his “leadoff” double Wednesday night.  Good for Matt Stairs and his small but important contributions.  Good for guys like Feliz, Victorino, and others who make the difference between good clubs and championship clubs.  Good for the last two MVPs, Rollins and Howard, contributing when it mattered most and earning a ring.  Good for Chase Utley who always seems to make the play you need when the game is on the line.  Good for Brad Lidge who won’t have to put up with the media questioning his ability to win under pressure anymore.  Good for Charlie Manuel for keeping this team on the straight and narrow.  Good for the Phillies.

Philadelphia’s fans have not always been the most well-liked across the country, but there is no denying the likeability of the players.  Watching the postgame interviews, it became quite apparent that the team is full of a group of men that are really easy to root for.  Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and everyone else that had a microphone thrust in their faces last night all said the right things without sounding phony.  There was a genuine appreciation for the game and its fans that made the rain, bad ratings, and everything else seem secondary.  With teams like the Phillies winning championships, baseball is in good hands.