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Witnessing the Comeback: My Game 4 Story

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, October 20, 2009 02:40 PM | Comments: 44
Analysis, Opinion, Posts

Philadelphia Phillies players celebrate after Carlos Ruiz (51) scored the wining run in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship baseball series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 5-4 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Come up with all of the adjectives you’d like for Game 4 of the NLCS, because they all fit here.  Yesterday, yet another chapter was etched into the Phillies annals, this time by a scuffling star.

Cliff Lee made his mark on this series, and Ryan Howard is doing his best Lou Gehrig impersonation, so Jimmy Rollins did not want to be left out.  And all you can say is wow.

On a personal level, I was fortunate enough to attend last night’s game by a stroke of luck.  Here’s how the story goes:

Around 4 p.m. on Monday, I receievd a call from a friend saying his father could not go, so a seat opened up.  Reluctant at first – don’t ask me why – I said sure, why not, thinking better of it.  Turned out to be a great call. I’d been to at least a dozen games this year in some capacity, so why stop now?

After taking the Broad Street Line down to Pattison Avenue, we ventured through the sea of humanity, through the block party preceding the third base gate, and into a packed house. Before entering, we stopped and took it all in, and encountered nothing but the highest spirits from Phillies fans.

Once inside, we grabbed a Yards beer and headed to our seats.  Section 330, not a bad view.  This was turning out to be a hell of a night so far.  Although the biting chill in the air was evident, just being there gave me a warm feeling – at first anyway.

Fast-forward to the first inning, with rally towels in full motion, Ryan Howard opened things up with a line drive shot into the right field seats.  Nothing could go wrong on this October evening.  Joe Blanton decided to shut the Dodgers down for three straight innings, providing the energy that kept Citizens Bank Park brightly lit.

Then came trouble, and you could cut the tension with a knife, excuse the lame adage.  Blanton gave up two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth, and one more in the sixth inning to put the Dodgers on top.  The boo birds didn’t show up, but it was more shock and fear that this was slipping away.  The negativity wasn’t as prevalent as I’ve witnessed in years past, but at that point, the crowd had all of that previously stored energy sucked out of them.

Almost instantly, it became colder in there.  It felt 20 degrees cooler and I felt frostbitten, and unsure of what was next to come.  We scurried for some hot chocolate and got back to the seats before missing a pitch.  I didn’t miss one pitch the entire evening.

With the score at 4-2 L.A, time was clearly running out.  Shane Victorino quickly got the ball rolling in the Phillies favor in the bottom of the sixth inning.  He tripled into the left field corner, only the second triple to left field in that ballpark all season, by the way, and with it the crowd was back.  Everyone had a feeling of, “can we do this again,” although there was still a great deal of complacency floating around.  Victorino then scored to make it 4-3, but the Phillies would strand a runner in scoring position.  The roller coaster continued.

Chan Ho Park came in and locked it down in the seventh.  The bullpen looked great on this night, and everyone in my section was bustling about it.  Then in the eighth, with the Phillies at bat, George Sherill came in.  I’ll admit, he had me worried, just by being such a tough lefty.  The rally in that inning came short as well.  Once again, more air sucked out of the stadium.  That’s when it happened.

No, not the craziest ending I’ve ever witnessed with my own two eyes.  Before that, people started leaving!  A woman and her two kids in front of me bickered during the bottom of the eighth about staying.  She wanted to leave, citing the cold as her out, and the kids clearly wanted to stay.  The elder boy said, and I quote, “you can’t leave a one-run game in the ninth inning in the playoffs!”  The mother said something along the lines of “too bad”, and off they went, never to observe the spectacular finish.  Basically the whole row to my left had up and gone by the time the Phillies got to bat.

For the most part, however, the stadium stayed filled, save those few who could no longer brave the frost.  And they made the right choice.

Jon Broxton came on and Phillies fans ooh’ed and aah’ed his every 100 m.p.h. fastball as it popped up on the screen.  Dude even threw a 93 m.p.h. slider to Jayson Werth, who somehow fouled it off.  I turned to my friend on my right and just shook my head.  Uh-oh, I thought.  But I thought wrong.

Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins waves to spectators after his game winning two-run double off of Los Angeles Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton during the ninth inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship baseball series Monday, Oct. 19, 2009, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 5-4 to take a 3-1 lead in the series. Rollins' head is covered in shaving cream. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)Raul Ibanez started off the ninth with a ground out, and it felt like a gut punch.  Then, Matt Stairs was announced and there became this quick jolt of optimism.  Stairs owns Broxton after his mammoth blast last season, so why not again?  They pitched around Stairs; I’ve never seen pitchers so afraid of a guy who hit below .200 on the season, but he continues to get respect from everyone, it’s amazing.  Carlos Ruiz was then hit by a pitch, and for an instant fans were pissed, but then quickly realized, we’ve got a shot here.

Greg Dobbs came on to pinch hit and nearly flared one into left field, but it died and Casey Blake snared it for out number two.  I stood hunched over, looking for warmth, but at the same time wondering if Young James could stand tall and figure something out.  To that point, he looked God awful in the series, except for the leadoff single.  I figured a pop up or a roll-over ground out to second base.  My head kept telling me it was too good to be true, but my heart was saying, these are the Phillies, and anything is possible.  I turned to my friend and said, “I have zero faith in J-Roll right now.”  My apologies.

J-Roll blasted that middle-in fastball into the gap, and all hell broke loose.  I swear you could feel the foundation swaying as 40,000-plus jumped, hugged, and screamed in unison.  Being a Phillies fan since childhood, there haven’t been many special feelings overall.  I recall going to Game 5 of the 1993 World Series when Curt Schilling pitched a complete game shutout, but I don’t remember it being as loud as it was last night.

As J-Roll was mobbed by his teammates, I thought of how Harry would have called that final play.  When I got to the car, I flipped on the radio just in time to hear Scott Franzke’s emotion-filled ending, and it sent chills to every part of my body.  He captured the moment brilliantly, and HK would have been proud.

My friends will tell you I’m as even keeled as it gets.  I’m not one to show much emotion, and especially with the Phillies.  As someone who writes about the team daily, I try to keep my fandom from skewing my viewpoints.  However, as Carlos Ruiz rounded third base, I felt that I was outside of myself for a few moments.  It’s not often that a baseball team can have that effect, but the Phillies have some sort of gravitation pull to them.  They take a hold of you and won’t let go until the very last out.

On Monday night, they did just that.  As the Phillies Phaitful capped that amazing night by singing “High Hopes”, I knew that we once again witnessed something special.

Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1714 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 hotstove

    O what a night TBS blasting the Blues Brothers winning song I like that after the game they do that.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Little Engine That Could

    “not the craziest game you ever witnessed”……..cmon but it was damn close to being one of the greatest…and it was crazy!

    10 minutes after the game was complete mayhem in the stands and then leaving on the concourse…everyone high fiving, chanting beat L-A in unison, just pandemonium. I was there, and it was one of the greatest games I have ever attended. Ranks up there with me when we clinched the last game in 2007.

    I was thinking, what would it be like to win back to back…nothing could beat Last years World Series right?! I am wrong, this year is so much more, its different, special in every way, with everything that has happened, the passing of Harry, injuries, and the Fightin’s always coming back in dramatic fashion. Its JUST AS GOOD, and most likely BETTER than last year soo far.

    You gotta beat the best to earn respect…bring on the Yanks! WOOOOO!!!

     
  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Little Engine: What I meant by that statement was — it WAS the craziest game I had ever seen, but what was more insane was that people were actually leaving a one run game in the 9th.

     
  • Posts: 0 Georgie

    Really great post Pat, made me feel like I was there. Leslie Gudel said that from the pressbox you could actually feel the building vibrating when Carlos crossed the plate. What an amazing group of guys this team is, we are SO fortunate to be their fans. And you know what? I think the media is finally beginning to realize what a special team this is too, and what an awesome WS it would be between the Yanks and the Phils.

    Charlie gave a half hour press conf/clinic today on MLBN on the intricacies of coaching and managing ballplayers, it was truly fascinating, I’m not kidding. This man loves the game more than anyone I can think of, and he loves his players, and respects them too, which I think is a big reason they play for him the way they do. Charlie said he could get just as much enjoyment from managing a rookie team right now as he does from managing in the big league. He prides himself in getting to know each player inside and out, and how to put them in a position to succeed. If they replay it you guys should try to catch it, Charlie comes across as so lovable.

     
  • Posts: 1376 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Georgie: Thanks.

    I dont always agree with what Charlie does in game situations, but the guy really loves the game, there is no denying it.

    To be there was just incredible. I could have gone on longer, but it was already a rambling post. I’ll certainly never forget it.

     
  • Posts: 578 Brian Michael

    Avatar of Brian Michael

    I wonder which kind of game people prefer, something like Game 3 or Game 4?

    I was at Game 3, but I felt like I was at Game 4 just watching from home. It was absolute pandemonium in the crowd last night and I was just imaging hugging and high-fiving anyone within arm’s reach. Excitement isn’t even close to describing it.

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Game 3 … please..

     
  • Posts: 0 Johnny Fire

    I am so proud to be a Phillies fan. We are witnesses to the best run in Philly sports history and it couldn’t happen to a better group of guys. There are some teams who build with giant, misshaped puzzle pieces (Yankees), others who try and fail to make it work with a no-budget, woe-is-me attitude (A’s, Marlins, etc.) and then there are teams like the Phillies who build from within (Howard, Rollins, Utley, Ruiz), add a few missing pieces (Lee, Francisco, Victorino, Werth, etc.) and then, the key, HOLD ON to these guys for this magical run.

    Remember when fans wanted to go year-to-year with Howard? Remember how pissed we were when Rollins called us front-runners? These guys are the best. The very best and we are lucky to root for them. I feel bad for fans of the rest of the league who don’t have the honor and the privilege to watch Phillies baseball every day.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Game 4 was relaxed… from beginning to end. The crowd was cheerful and spirited (I spent more money on beer than I ever have at the ballpark). I imagine that last night’s game was a bit more tense… people glued to their seats in anticipation of what we all hoped would happen (and eventually did). There wasn’t as much to cheer for throughout last night’s game but the final cheer was louder and more rewarding than any single hit or homerun from game 3. The shellacking that we gave the Dodgers on Sunday night was fun but game 4 was epic. Give me a choice and I would probably say game 4 because I’m a baseball guy… but my wife would say game 3 and she’s the boss so we would end up at game 3.

     
  • Posts: 578 Brian Michael

    Avatar of Brian Michael

    I thought this was an interesting stat from the nlcs thus far…

    avg / obp / slg
    LAD – .233 / .286 / .318
    PHI – .224 / .336 / .448

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I’ll be at Game 5…I hope its more like Game 3…cause there’s gonna be so much pandemonium and celebrating anyway if they win it. But if it’s like Game 4 that’s ok too. I just want a WIN!!!!

    Brian….you’re right….watching (and listening….Franske!!) at home did feel like actually being there….and I was watching by myself at home..I can only imagine if I watched it with friends or in a bar somewhere…

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew

    Id rather win 12-0
    One of these per year is enough.

     
  • Posts: 0 j reed

    I don’t want to anger the baseball gods…so i’ll qualify this with IF…IF we go on to the WS and IF we play the Yanks …imagine IF Howard breaks Gehrig’s RBI record tomorrow and that’s how we roll into Yankees stadium.

     
  • Posts: 0 DanC

    I was there and was wearing Dodger Blue. I got sick to my stomach literally. I can not believe the faith of these Philadelphia fans who all around me never said it was over. They did not hear or see me smile when the ninth rolled in. Then like a mystical will to win the Phillies came through. I still can not believe it. If we can’t pull off a major miracle I pray the Phillies make the yankees wear their ass for a hat. The only team that I have seen with my own eyes besides Blue of course who could do that. Until then lets play #5 and see what happens.

     
  • Posts: 0 bigbobster

    Remember that great top 100 Phillies list done by Tim? I think Jimmy Rollins just climbed up a few notches. I’m in still in shock that he was able to hit a 98.9 mph fast ball (according to Buster Olney at ESPN) with two out in the ninth. That man is a champion. Of course, they still have to win this series.

     
  • Posts: 0 B-money

    Hey Pat:
    I was at Game 5 of the ’93 series too….maybe it’s my expanded knowledge of baseball, maybe it’s my appreciation for what winning means, maybe it’s just me getting older….but this trumped it. No question.

     
  • Posts: 0 mike

    startin’ already with the NY hatin’ nonsense! even if the phillies win 10 ws vs. new york , Philly will still be the home ignorant fans and a 3rd class crappy
    crime ridden city

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Game 4 for me.
    I was at game 3. As great as it was, we left as Durbin was coming in, that game was over.
    Everyone loves winning but coming from behind with such intense drama is something you can tell your grandkids.
    Mike, quick crawl back into your hole… your smelling up the joint!

     
  • Posts: 0 J

    Game 3 was a better game to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed the complete lack of nausea knowing from the jump that the game was ours.

    But Game 4 was a better game to experience. I wouldn’t trade watching that ball split the outfielders in the gap, and then being able to see nothing over a sea people jumping up and down – completely losing their shit, high fiving everyone in sight, hugging your friends, family, total strangers – for anything.

     
  • Posts: 0 bob s.

    Do you think maybe the METS fans just might be new Dodger fans…..Whatever happened to all of those nasty, foul, Philly hating MET fans that used to spend a lot of time on this Phillies website the past two years. SUFFER METS FANS, we Phillies fans do not feel for you at all.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brian Sr. of CO

    Manny Ramirez is such a classless fool. How can anyone cheer for him?

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=jp-mannyshower102009&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

     
  • Posts: 0 Keith

    Manny is a joke and a waste. Enough of him, let’s go Phillies!

     
  • Posts: 0 Harry Kalas

    Ah, those silly, silly Yank fans. They seem to forget those steriod rings. This edition of the Bronx Bombers is no better or worse than the 1919 Sox. The most “tainted” dynasty of all-time since the “Steel Curtain” yens.

     
  • Posts: 0 ray

    Brian he is a classless fool but he makes for great comedy. As long as he’s not on our team

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    that shit will never be a real winner – we may disagree on some strategy or what kinds of chances to take and when to take them – but, we all agree that our group of Phillies are a classy bunch. Manager on down, classy guys – we are a pretty fortunate bunch to be a part of this history.
    Go Phils!

     
  • Posts: 0 Jimmy Rollins

    No faith in me?! And you are the head of this website devoted to being a Phillies fan? Have you watched me hit in the playoffs at all?! All I do is hit closers and continue to dominate in the ninth inning (4 for 6 overall this postseason). EFF YOU! Some fan you are!

    This is for everyone that DID have faith in me!

     
  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Boy the Angels are being cast out of heavan tonight.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    If Arod is staying this hot, I see a tough series. And he does not appear to be slowing down any.
    Ryan needs to stay Superman for the remainder of the playoffs. And Lee, what a performance, this man has risen strongly to the occasion. I like our chances – Phils are just too damn good

     
  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    What is everyones thoughts on facing the Yanks. Do you think we could actually beat them? I love the phillies, I feel like we could beat anyone if everyone performs. If we face the Yankees in the WS, do we have a chance? honestly. With the mistakes that we make sometimes, with hamels not being up to form and how hot the Yanks are. Can we beat them?

     
  • Posts: 0 Keith

    of course we can.

     
  • Posts: 0 Tim Rich

    Friday, May 22 PHI 7 @ NYY 3
    Saturday, May 23 PHI 4 @ NYY 5
    Sunday, May 24 PHI 4 @ NYY 3

    Yes, we can beat them. We’ve already won a series from them in New York this year. The only loss came on a 3 run Lidge blown save in the 9th, which so far doesn’t look like something he’ll be repeating for the rest of the season.

     
  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    3-1 is tough to come back on, so it looks like a Phils-Yanks WS. Biggest concern is that A-Rod is now hot. Dodgers really don’t have a right handed batting power threat anymore (Manny can always run into a fastball, but looks overmatched even against lefties). If we can avoid having to pitch to A-Rod, we’ve got a great shot. Matching up by position, we have a big advantage at 2nd base and the corner outfield spots. Howard gets the nod at first, especially on his current tear (and Tex’s slump). The only big Yanks advantages are 3rd base, catcher (although I’d take Chooch for D and clutch hiting in Oct), and depending on the roster, DH (DH Ibanez, Francisco in Left for Sab/ Petite, Stairs DH for Burnett?). Starting pitching is close (great aces and the rest), but Phils have 4 starters, Yanks only three. Mariano gets the nod at closer, but Lidge/Eyre has been effective. If we get decent weather for a Pedro start, I like the Phils in 6. A good start tonight by Hamels would be a nice confidence booster for the ws.

     
  • Posts: 0 Robert Kofsky

    Let’s send Manny to the SHOWERS one last time!

     
  • Posts: 0 SpankyYankee

    Get original we’ll ya where do you think the shave cream in the face came from….would have looked better and more original if you stuffed a cheese steak in J-Blow’s face and Red-October Rock-Tober …a movie and a another saying brought to you buy THEEEEEEEEEE Yankess….come up with something new….gotta admit if its gonna be Yankees and Phillies WOW we all on both sides should cherish every pitch…I’m a baseball fan first and I’ll tellya I hope that the third base Umpire is NOT in the W/S rooster…way too many bad calls ..even at second base too luckly for those idiots none ot the 3 bad calls affected the game….I’m rooting for you guys tonight …..because you’re the better team on paper and in the field…..lets keep it on the EAST COAST!…go Philles …but just for today }

     
  • Posts: 0 JoePhil

    Nice article. I too noticed people leaving, however, in retrospect, I dont think it was as bad as I thought. We left our seats in the nosebleed section at the bottom of the 8th. We decided to walk around the concourse and walk towards the exit knowing we were going to stick our noses in and watch the final outs. It appears that everyone else had the same idea as the concourse level walkways were at least 6 or 7 people deep. We ended up at the harry the k’s front railing and saw history unfold. The high fives were flying. It was truly classic. Thank you J-Roll.

     
  • Posts: 0 SDO

    Don’t forget to take your ritalin this morning, Spanky.

     
  • Posts: 0 Joe

    I was privileged to have attended game 4. It may have been the greatest game I ever saw. I don’t say that lightly, having been at Game Six of the 1980 Series and Game Five last year. It is an honor to be a fan of this team. I will never understand how people leave any baseball game early. I have been a Phillies fan for over fifty years. My father took me to my first game in 1957 against the New York Giants at Shibe Park. He had three simple rules:

    1) You never show up late

    2) You never leave early, regardless of the score.

    3) You don’t leave your seat once the game has started. If you want something to eat or drink, wait for a vendor. If you need to use the restroom, go before the game starts or hold it until the game is over.

    The man was a genius.

     
  • Posts: 0 beta sigma shag

    I was at both game 3 and 4, in section 331 for mondays game, It was a great moment for me, driviing from Vermont on Saturday I was just hoping for two wins. I did enjoy game 3, it was nice for my wife and I to enjoy a blow out, and an ace of a pitching performace. But being able to experience this Epic game with my wife, I can just not explain, my voice is not yet back fully, but to be able to hug and kiss my soul mate as Chooch slide across home plate has to be the 2nd best experience in my wife, Sorry my wedding day has to be number one. I have driven over 4500 miles this year to watch the phillies, and it was well worth the lack of real sleep and the drive 6.5 hours home after those sunday afternoon games, to witeness one of the true epic moments in Phillies history.
    One more win please, tonight, so I can make the trip back home for game 5.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob Kahn

    I was at geme 3 and we enjoyed the blowout. Watched game 4 from home and I knew exactly what was going on. To be able to share a moment like that with 45,000 people who have exactly the same thoughts that you do is truly a bonding moment. So, when I watch at home I still feel bonded to those at the game.

    Had the pleasure of being at last year’s game with Milwaukee and CC Sabbathia. The Brett Meyers at bat was truly a unique experience. To have everyone cheering Meyers fouling off the pitches was lots of fun.

    Last night was great but I was at Game 3 of the WS last year. Now that was a wild finish!

     
  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    Someone said that the yanks have 3 starters and we have 4. we have 5, Lee, Hamels, Blanton, Happ and Pedro.

     
  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    How about a position by position comparison?
    C? Tough call, Chooch gets it.
    3B – Arod
    ss – another tough call, but you would have to say a locked HOF player, Jeter
    2b – Utley, hands down
    1b – tough call, Texiera is one of the best but Ryan has the nod, convincingly
    rf – swisher/cabrera/hinske or Werth? Right, Jason
    cf – Johnny Damon or Shane? Tough call but Shane
    LF – either of the of mentioned from Yanks or Rauuul – definitely Raul

    So offensively, we have the edge. With SS & 3B going to the Yanks, CF and 1b close but the Phils get the call.

    Pitching – starters –

    Lee
    Hamels
    Blanton
    Happ
    Pedro
    vs
    CC
    Petite
    Burnett
    and I dont know who else starts for the Yanks this year, Mitre?
    Regardless, Blanton, Happ, Pedro all fare higher than Petite and Burnett – the way that Lee has been pitching in the post season, I would say he and CC are tied right now.

    Relief is another story. Chamberlan, Hughes and anyone else aside from Rivera match up well with our relief. The closer I would have to give to the future HOF Rivera .

    Pound for pound, the Phils have the edge!

     
  • Posts: 0 philsbabe

    The Phillies started the shaving cream to the face prank Spanky, NOT the Yankees!! Burnett stole it!

     
  • [...] Gallen over at Phillies Nation had a pretty nice post up about witnessing the dramatic game 4 in person, and it’s definitely worth a [...]

     
  • [...] I sat in Section 330, fortunate enough to score a ticket just prior to game time, the faithful became increasingly ornery as the game passed and the Phillies looked as chilly as [...]

     
 
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