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The Game of Ifs

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This one hurt...........bad.
 
The last two winners of the World Series met last night at Citizens Bank Park. And at the end of the four hour and six minute train wreck that I had the misfortune of attending, only one team was left standing...........
 
It was not the Phillies.
 
You could say that the Boston Red Sox, while having an offense that is probably inferior to the home squad, got the job done when it counted. That's what champions do....................
 
Wait a minute! That's US!  Or at least it's supposed to be. With the exception of a stellar pitching performance by Joe Blanton and a once again flawless performance by the bullpen, familiar face Kyle Kendrick arrived just in time from Lehigh to open the floodgates for the Red Sox.  The call-up of Kendrick is questionable.  His numbers don't exactly scream "promotion".  Maybe perhaps the Phillies are showcasing him for a possible trade.  If that's the case, no team would want him anyway after last night, and we lost to boot. Nobody wins there.  The ONLY saving grace of last night was the Mets.  God bless the Mets because nobody else will. If you don't believe me, take a few minutes and look up "debacle" in the dictionary and you will see a picture of Luis Castillo. And Castillo is a three time Gold Glove Winner...........
 
Despite the many gaffes on behalf of our world champs last night, this game was actually winnable.  As you know in sports, you have to make your own breaks. And the Phillies did anything but that last night.  Let's break it down as we play:
 
 
                                                                              The Game of Ifs
   
 
IF- The Tampa Bay Rays easily have their way with the Red Sox, then why the HELL can't we?:  Maybe it's the curse of Terry Francona. Maybe it's just the fact that Boston is flat out better than the Phillies. Maybe it's a matchup problem. One thing that is certain is the Phillies record against Boston since Francona took over as their skipper in 2004: 3-13. Pretty damn ugly if I say so myself. It's not like the Red Sox blow out the Phillies every game (unless Kendrick is pitching). While the Phils pitching can hold Boston to 3-4 runs per game, they hold us to around 1-2 runs per game.  Phillies fans should be very thankful that Tampa Bay knocked off the Red Sox in last years ALCS because honestly, things may have been really different on Halloween last year (ie-Broad Street may have been empty).  I happened to bump into Larry Andersen the weekend prior to the World Series last year, and he told me he was very glad the Phils were playing Tampa and not the Red Sox.   
 
IF- J.D. Drew was properly called out on strikes prior to his moonshot on the next pitch- If Francona is the ex-girlfriend who puts pictures on Facebook of all his conquests just to piss you off, J.D. Drew is the ex-wife who never goes away.  Drew, a marginal player throughout his career with occasional flashes of brilliance, constantly reminds you of the eternal scars he has caused you even YEARS after the initial stone was thrown.  As if Phillies fans aren't bitter enough, Drew is always there to remind you that he stuck it to you back in 1998, and he's still sticking it to you now.  It couldn't have been Philly killer Mike Lowell or even Nick Green, it had to be Drew. Typical. 
 
IF- Pedro Feliz got the lead out and beat out his ground ball to Kevin Youkilis- To this day, I don't understand why players don't run out ground balls.  Nobody is going to mistake Feliz for Carl Lewis, but come on Pedro, leg it out!  That wasn't the only mishap on this play. Which brings us to what could have happened:
 
IF- Shane Victorino advanced to third after Youkilis threw to first- Victorino's baseball instincts (or lack thereof) are beyond maddening as each day passes. If I had a dollar for every time he fouled out with runners on, I would be in an exotic country and not writing this piece.  In addition to Youkilis' off-throw, Ortiz hasn't played first base since the 2007 World Series. Chase Utley ends up at third base on that play, and Victorino is twice as fast as Utley. What's his excuse?  Hindsight is always 20/20, but Carlos Ruiz's ground ball next at bat could have plated another run..........
 
IF- The Red Sox had a pitcher who threw less than 93 mph and the Phillies didn't strike out 20 times in this game-  I don't know how Justin Masterson's ERA  going into last night's game was 4.09 because the Phillies made him look like Tom Seaver.  As a matter of fact, EVERY pitcher the Sox had last night not only looked like Seaver, they also threw an average of 95 mph. Unreal. The Phillies struck out a franchise record 20 times. This broke their record held by the 1991 squad at the hands of David Cone during the last game of that season (I was at that game too..............). I know it's a little of an exaggeration, but after watching Boston's pitchers, it's hard to believe how they lose many games at all.
 
IF- The Phillies could hit with runners on base- The game would have been over in either the 9th, 10th,11th, or 12th inning. And that doesn't even count the bottom of the 13th.  This is a problem that occasionally rears its ugly head with the Phillies, but to their credit they end up pulling out wins. Not this time. A team like Boston will make you pay for it and they did.  Add to the mix that Eric Bruntlett can't bunt worth a crap, and our bench is really, really, weak.
 
IF- The umpiring crew reviewed Greg Dobbs' long foul ball- From where I sat, the ball looked foul. The fans in that section didn't exactly jump for joy when the ball landed, either.  Nonetheless, why are we going to have instant replay if the umpire won't even grant Charlie Manuel's request? Dobbs couldn't hit water with a paddle this year, and that could have been the break he needed to get himself out of his slump.
 
Of course, we could go over these scenarios time and time again as to why the Phillies didn't pull this one out. Bottom line is, the Red Sox did the things they needed to do to win and the Phillies didn't.  And when Sunday comes to a close, I really hope we don't have to see Boston again until next Spring.  I have faith in my squad, but I see the Red Sox going very, very deep into October.
 
To make myself feel better, I just imagine what it's like to be a fly on the wall in the visitors clubhouse at Yankee Stadium last night...............