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The Perfect Underdog

Posted by Corey Seidman, Sun, October 24, 2010 12:42 AM | Comments: 198
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April-thru-September are about talent. We were direct witnesses of that in 2010, when the Phillies used a 25-man roster of superstars, revelations, and underachievers to overcome a mid-season swoon. As the injuries mounted, we took solace in the fact that this team was too talented not to regress to its true ability, its true record, its true destiny.

But October is not about talent. Talent helps. But October is about timing. It’s about blown calls and bloop hits and pressure-caused errors. Its about timely hitting and the ability to catch unluckily-placed line drives.

The 2010 Phillies were more talented than the 2010 Giants, but you already knew that. The Phillies had H2O, after all.

When this series started, the adoration of H2O was neglected by the simple fact that the Giants were the one team that was capable of taming the massive beast that was the Phillies three-man rotation.

The Giants don’t hit anyway. It didn’t matter if they were facing Roy Halladay or Roy Oswalt or Joe Blanton, San Francisco was a team built on pitching and singles-hitting. They needed a certain sequence of events to take place in order to win this series, and that sequence began immediately. Once it picked up steam, that was it.

I kid you not, before the NLCS, I said to my director at Comcast SportsNet – who happens to be an absolute die-hard, lifelong Giants fan – that all it would take was a random two-run homer from Cody Ross to change the complexion of this series.

I didn’t foresee Ross turning into a six-game superstar, but I did foresee a player of his caliber running into a homer and staking the Giants to a 2-0 lead that would not be relinquished. The Giants could not have beaten a Phillies team receiving production from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino. But they could beat a struggling offense that they led from start-to-finish.

This is an empty feeling. It is empty because the better team did not win, as it did last October when the Phillies fell short to Damaso Marte and the Yankees.

The Giants were The Perfect Underdog – a team that faced less pressure despite having equal rotational talent. They benefited from strong performances from their studs and a bevy of couldn’t-be-placed-better-if-they-tried singles. The hitting was timely and the bullpen was strong. Javier Lopez was the MVP of the NLCS in my book, as he shut down the Phillies in six consecutive games – all in crucial situations. Utley and Howard faced Lopez twelve times and went 1-for-12.

This empty feeling is reminiscent of the way things used to feel in the early 2000s when the Phillies were good but not good enough. Specifically, this feels to me like the infamous Billy Wagner game of 2005 or the blown 8-2 eighth inning Braves game of 2007. You remember feelings like these because you know that you never want to feel them again.

It’s gonna suck waking up tomorrow and thinking about this immediately. But take solace in the fact that the Phillies will remain an elite team for several more years. Which brings us to the other pressing issue – the slow realization that Jayson Werth is gone.

Werth had a strong second half and an awesome postseason. Despite his RISP woes, his 2010 season was extremely impressive from an analytical standpoint, as he hit well home and away, vs. righties and lefties, vs. good pitching and bad pitching. As the weeks wore on, he only made himself more open-market money.

Werth will get a deal in the neighborhood of six years, $110MM. He was a tremendous threat in this lineup – a patient, calm, powerful righthanded bat that balanced the lineup and seemed to play his best baseball when Howard and Utley were NOT playing their best baseball.

I won’t expand any further on Werth right now because the issue at-hand is not his impending departure, but the Phillies disappointing end to the 2010 season. I wasn’t ready for this to end, and I know you weren’t either.

But that’s baseball. There is a reason no National League team has won three consecutive pennants in 66 years. You need the right factors to be on your side. Factors like timing and umpiring and batting average on balls in play luck. This year, the Giants had all three.

And that’s why The Perfect Underdog faces Cliff Lee in Game One of the World Series while we are left to wonder why Ryan Howard didn’t swing.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Dom Brown playing next season will all depend on how ho does in spring training. If he is slow getting out of the gate so far as his hitting goes, no doubt he will start the season at AAA. What BA did he wind up with this year, .216? Would be great to sign Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford but he is a lefty and being a free agent, will demand the big bucks.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ed Walther

    I totally agree with the article. the giants were just very lucky with their hits, and once their hitters got confident, they started really outdoing the phillies by far. all we can do now is look towards next year and hope that roy hallady will finally get a trip to the world series in red pinstripes.

     
  • Posts: 0 Kate

    Bringing it from the other thread:

    Remember being in third place and two games over .500 on July 21st.

    Remember the Ballad of Wilson Valdez.

    Remember Doc Halladay’s perfect game.

    Remember “Left Fielder ROY OSWALT!”

    Remember our torrid race over the West Coast and Coors Field.

    Remember September.

    Remember sweeping the Braves when it was needed.

    Remember our last Fan Appreciation Day of 2010.

    Remember clinching at Citizens Bank South.

    Remember sweeping the Reds and Doc Halladay’s no-hitter and striking Rolen out for the last out.

    Remember bringing it home.

    Remember 2010 with a crooked smile.

     
  • Posts: 0 Sweet Dee

    Best of luck to both the Giants and Rangers. Breaks my heart to see the end of the 2010 Phillies. Here’s to April. <3

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    WE FUC*ING LOST

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    Brown is the #1 prospect in baseball. The phillies line up looked old pathetic and stale for long stretches this year.
    How could they not inject a young guy even if he hits .175 in spring training? He starts 155 next year and stats are irrelevant.
    If they signed Werth which seems impossible. Youd move Brown to LF. But hes playing every day. Hes our future and our 1 opening day starter who is certain to be under 30.

    Whats 0 rbi in a 6 game national league championship series worth? about 125 million

    And the better team won. WTF is this a cowboys blog?
    The Giants were better. Period

     
  • Posts: 0 Corey Seidman

    Great stuff, Kate

     
  • Posts: 0 PhillyPhan331

    Valdez??? What did he do other than play some games at a defensive postition during the season, and hit 230 all year long!Any minor leaguer coulda did that. I remember the ballad of the double play every game! Chalie Manuel saying he was the MVP was a smack in the face to Roy Halladay, Bocock coulda done just as well or better. Love your outlook, but I KNOW THAT THIS TEAM , THIS SEASON WAS A WASTE, anything less thanatitle was underachieving, and Im pissed!!! Most of everything else ya said, I will remember

     
  • Posts: 0 bostonkate

    I want to be ryan howard for halloween. Very simple costume. Throw on a baseball uniform and stand there and do nothing!

    Meh. I’ll move on eventually. That being said, I’m excited to see my favorite player, josh hamilton, play in the ws, and for that I’m grateful.

    Great post corey.

     
  • Posts: 0 max808

    BOO HOO>

    GO GIANTS!

     
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Phillies need a shot of youth in the lineup and maybe Dom Brown can provide it. They need shoring up in the bullpen and at the closer position. ANd, if possible, they need a solid power-hitting right handed outfielder. And they need Ryan Howard back. He simply has lost a lot and I hope it is not the beginning of the end for this big hitter. He has lost his edge.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Hats off to the Giants. They played like champions.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    One good thing. We will start the 2011 season with an excellent starting pitching staff.

     
  • Posts: 0 loopie

    Lets face it folks,I just saw Ryan’s comments on comcast’s he said it was a ball why swing.He will be in in puna cana or some where next week with his eagles cheerleading gf and 25M while we go back to work wondering why we spend so much time investing in heartache with this team.

    The Phillies are the best sports team in our great city.

    They need some big changes but they should be able to be the yankees of the 2010- 2015′s if they don’t F it up.

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from waldorf

    Lots of time to discuss 0 RBIs contract and the off season moves.
    Its gonna be more active than some think.

    Id love to re-sign Werth even if it meant trading one of the “marquee” players.

    Had a great fun time on here all year. Thanks to everyone.
    Its a pretty fun site to take part in.

     
  • Posts: 0 Joe

    What upsets me the most is that the giants are completely inferior to the talent that this phil’s team had. to lose to a loser is what hurts me the most. for our big guys to sleep on the job. for this ball club, after so many bad teams, to lose to now, unacceptable. the only solace i have is knowing that the rangers will win the world series and we will be in the playoffs next year.

     
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    I think you are pretty much right on in this post, Corey. It seems like the baseball gods looked down upon the Giants in this series as they could do no wrong. They did just enough offensively to support their good pitching and had good luck and umpiring go their way. Lots of bloop singles and ground balls that found the holes for the Giants and lots of ground balls hit at Giant infielders by the Phils. Turns out that Ross” home run in game one against Halladay and Uribe’s dinger to win this game were their two biggest hits of the series.

    Hard to say if the Giants were a better team than the Phillies for the whole season or for the regular season but have to give that to them for this NLCS as they won. I hate to talk about injuries as an excuse for losing but you would have to think that recent injuries affected the hitting of Rollins, Utley, Howard and to some extent, Polanco. Victorino, Ibanez and Ruiz have no excuse although Ruiz had gotten hit on the elbow by a pitch some time ago. The NLCS is over now but I would have liked to have seen how things would have come out had all these players not had recent injuries and therefore had not been affected by them. I would think that you would have to have your hitting mechanics and timing fined tuned to face these good Giant pitchers to be successful.

    Heres saying that the perfect underdog’s luck is going to run out when they reach the WS and play the Rangers. Will not be going up against an anemic offense playing Texas.

     
  • Posts: 0 David, the Mets fan from Queens

    Howard pulled a Carlos Beltran, except in game 6.

    The Phillies’ offense was absent for most of the NLCS–timely pitching and hitting is the name of game.

    We’ll see you next year, Phils.

     
  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Our problems that we had all year RISP reared its ugly head. Compounded by excellent pitching by the Giants made matters worse. Truth we always had this problem however they where masked by the amount of Long balls we hit. A team of i feel Super Stars where shut down. Also we just didnt have that luck that special little something we had in the past. The Giants seem to have that this year. The Magic was there a little but not like before not enough. We werent getting the calls or the bloop singles or the seen eye singles. Jayson will be gone next year changing the dynamics of this team. I may be wrong but i feel Dom Brown isnt ready yet or he may not be the answer. I also do not like a 40 yo who is obviously on a downward trend He still has his moments but it just isnt enough. This hurts really bad and it sucks that we where beaten by an inferior team.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    werth will probably go down as one of the greatest phillies free agent pickups of all time.

     
  • Giants were the better team. Utley is the new Nomar. Pathetic year. Nothing to be proud of. The Phillies played down to lesser teams all year.

    Pathetic.

     
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    I agree with you, bacardipr05. Brown only hit in the low .200s this second half of the season with a good number of strikeouts; cannot see where that indicates he is ready to play full time.

    Ibanez hit decent what, a little bit more than the last two months of the season? Terrible at the plate for close to the first four months. Then failed again for the most part in the playoffs. Phillies need to either trade him or release him like they did Geoff Jenkins who I thought they should have kept for a while yet.

    This loss reminds me of the elimination to Colorado back in 2007. Going to be hard for a while for this to sink in. Too many peaks and valleys during this long season; too many players in prolonged slumps, injuries and their affects taking their toll on players.

     
  • Posts: 0 cheryl

    Leaving CBP tonight was so bittersweet.
    I knew I probably, realistically, watched my favorite baseball player play his last game as a Philadelphia Phillie. I was indifferent to baseball for quite some time after the last baseball strike but slowly made my way back to the game, due in part to this new outfielder that just seemed to spark the Phils. I loved the way he hit the ball, the way he ran the bases and the way he just made me watch him. I watched him mature into an everyday player.
    I watched him interact with the fans in RF before and during games. Jayson Werth made baseball fun for me, again. Wherever he plays next year, I will sad that it won’t be for my hometown Phillies but I will always be a Jayson Werth fan.

    Thank you, Jayson

     
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Let us all keep our fingers crossed, cheryl, that the Phillies will bring Jayson back.

     
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Do not know how many of you feel but I think that the Phillies “lost” this series more so than the Giants won it.

     
  • Posts: 0 lurkinggrue

    I was at the game tonight. I’m still digesting the loss and the end of the season; a lot of thoughts and emotions to process. I wanted to post to say how proud I was of all of our fans today. We took what J-Roll said (“Let ‘em have it) to heart, and screamed our lungs out all night long, till the bitter end. We wanted to be the tenth man, and to give our team the best possible chance to win. I believe it was the fans who got into Sanchez’s head and drove him out of the game early. How I wish that it had been enough! But I take some consolation in knowing that we gave it all that we had.

     
  • Posts: 0 Not Kate

    Remember being in third place in the NL East with a top 5 highest payroll in the MLB.

    Remember Jimmy Rollins pretty much doing nothing except for that one home run.

    Remember Doc having the perfect game when the Phillies scored one run off of an error/ misplayed ball.

    Remember interleague play and that game against the Twins.

    Remember May, June, July and August.

    Remember getting swept by the Astros, Yep the astros.

    Remember “Maybe we’ll score a run.”day.

    Remember not scoring a run in a 3 game series in New York.

    Remember the Giants dancing on our field.

    Remember the Giants dancing on our field.

     
  • I guess I’d feel worse if I weren’t under such heavy sedation.

     
  • Posts: 0 ksuplowboy

    My question is for Shane Victorino after all the years you have played and practiced, why haven’t you learned how to run bases. 2 on 1 out and the batter hits a ball down the right field line and you break on contact. Little leaguers are told to watch out for the line drives and see it go through, Ibanez saw it you didn’t. This year you have been a bonehead on the bases how do you justify your stupidity with your 5 million dollar salary. Ryan Howard I used to tell my little leaguers when it’s 3 and 2 you have to swing at anything thats close. I geuss that big salary got inthe way of your swing.

     
  • Posts: 0 jt

    even if howard swung he’d of prolly swung and missed i like howard lot but he’s been doing alot of that…i feel disappointed because of the talent this team has compared to the giants and we were outplayed…as stated about luck does play a factor like chooch line drive in the 8th inning remember the same thing happened to gload in san fran?thats just a sign destiny was on the giants side this time the past 2 years them balls are down the line for the phils but hey we’ve been to 3 straight nlcs and went to 2 straight world series alot of teams dream of that happening and their was a time when we dreamed of it too now we expect that.

     
  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Howard is gonna be here for 6 more years… he better not stare at those pitches anymore.

     
  • Posts: 0 jt

    ryan lost alot of weight too and it seems like since he lost weight his power goin down…go gain that weight back and get your power back we aren’t paying him $20 million a year to hit singles and get on base his job his to hit that home run which he did nothing of in playoff.

     
  • Posts: 0 loupossehl

    test

     
  • Posts: 0 loupossehl

    xxxxxxxxxxxx
    x x
    x x
    x RISP x
    x x
    x R.I.P. x
    x 2010 x
    x x
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     
  • Posts: 0 loupossehl

    (It was supposed to be a tombstone.)

     
  • Posts: 0 Philly Texan

    What a gut punch.

    Tonight was a must-win for the Giants. They weren’t going to win game 7 with a Hamels-Cain matchup at CBP and out of the shadows. And give them credit, they came up big. They got the run they needed.

    Phils had tons of chances, but as has been the case all 9 games of the postseason, they couldn’t come up with a big hit.

    No shame on Howard. He had a pretty tough at bat there against Wilson. Worked the count. Wilson made a really good pitch. Cutter right on the outside corner. Even if he’d swung, I doubt Howard could do anything with that pitch. Biggest pitch of his life and Wilson made a perfect one.

    THat was a microcosm of the whole series. Phils were right there to win it, but in the big spots, the Giants made the plays.

    Still a hell of a season. Sucks to end this way. But the postseason really is a crapshoot.

    See y’all in the offseason.

     
  • Posts: 0 ActuallyChilled

    Tough to see… the Phillies of 2010 were an interesting story. Everyone has such a hard time seeing the glory, that never comes… perhaps this was the best theoretically to wear a Phillies Uniform in one year.
    There was always a certain sense of drive, passion, determination, responsibility, freedom, and enjoyment that was sort of lost from the energy of the team the whole year. New guys like the Roy’s were supposed to provide that extra edge, but it looked the the rest of the team was just scared of losing instead of hungry for winning the whole time. The offense lost punch, its main characters lost their stride. When you have Chase Utley seeming to regress in ability (hopefully he rebounds) you have a lot of leadership that’s all of a sudden lacking. Other guys have to step it up on the offensive side of things.
    Its interesting because, you think, how much better can a team get on paper? What kinds of changes would be made? Sometimes its also good just to sit with how it is…
    Will be interesting to see how 2011 moves.
    I don’t think the Giants will beat the Rangers. I haven’t been watching too much AL stuff, but from seeing the way the Giants celebrated, there was so much ego-puffing, pride, and classless energy from a lot of the guys… not everyone… I know its a competitive thing… but I don’t see it happening for them, karma will slap them in the last second. On the other hand, they played better hands down, more than the tentative Phils… which I hate to say, but there just wasn’t any fire. Would it ever light? Who knows. At least Giants/Rangers have that intense fire going both ways, will make a good series.
    go Phils 11! Just wanna pass a good word to the future.. always moving, always moving..

     
  • Posts: 0 Greg

    So…what types of moves would everyone like to see?

    For one, I know I’d love Werth to be signed, but it’s highly unlikely. I have a feeling a Platoon with Benny Fresh and Dom is in the future. I have a feeling Valdez gets a Major league contract with us, too. Sweeney will probably be gone, so a third baseman/Utility power-hitting Righty off the bench will probably be an acquisition. Contreras may be offered a contract, Bastardo will be our LOOGY. Hmm…what else?

     
  • Posts: 0 robnj2011

    Maybe Ryan didn’t swing because he knew he would have missed. Or maybe he had to catch a flight to Tennessee to stand on the Eagles sideline. He looks pathetic at the plate. Utley’s not much better.

    But, despite the weak hitting, how do you win when the pitching staff has three or four pitchers the manager is scared to death to use?

     
  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Let us hope that Ibanez is not in the plans for starting for the Phils next year.

    Does everyone think that the Phils had the offense, in its current anemic state, to defeat Texas had they made the WS? Very unlikely. Better to lose to an NL team in the NLCS instead of losing to an AL team in the WS. Hard to realize that right now…I know.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    We may have more talent but the Giants played better than we did. Thats why I’m not angry. This type of tight series plays to the Giants strengths and our weaknesses. Despite having the best record in baseball, there are things we don’t do well, and they were on full display during the series. For myself, while I watched a woodpecker take down a whole tree, I learned a little about the game of baseball during the series. That would be that for all the big lumber and stud starting pitching, sooner or later, if you’re gonna win it all, you’ll play a team that will force you to play the game right.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 brooks

    I cant think straight yet, hoping my hangover is just a portion of the nightmare that was last nights game.
    My thoughts are not together yet but Kate, great post. Actually Chilled, well put.
    Does anyone know when/if the Phils are coming to CBP today to gather their stuff?
    Regarding the series coming up, other than my interest in seeing what Cliff Lee does in the WS, seeing Vlad go bezerk on the Giants pitching – I really have no interest in watching the WS. I dont know how the Giants won, to me the Phillies lost this.
    And finally Cheryl, my seats this year were mostly right behind Jayson. I mean within feet. He pissed me off with his terrible slump with RISP, his rage against a fan and yet he was engaging, always pumped and you could tell he plays this game with passion. I believe Jayson will be gone and I too will miss the dufus a lot.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you see an almost perfectly moulded combination of power, speed and hitting play so poorly and not take advantage of so many opportunities.

    This series reminds me so much of last years world series against the Yankees, the Giants did not play great baseball, they didn’t massively out-pitch the Phils and just like last year it came down to really good hitters looking under-prepared.

    Our bats can wrack up stats through 162 games hitting fastballs and feasting on bad pitches, once again we see our best bats unable to hit off-speed pitches and fail to make the best of fastballs and the get-over pitches.

    Great season, very poor way to end it losing to a team who didn’t outplay us as the Phils looked to be just going through the motions.

     
  • Posts: 0 NJ

    ^Just to add.

    I said before the series it wouldn’t be decided by great pitching or hitting, it would come down to which team advanced its runners and made productive outs.

    The Giants didn’t have a single really good offensive performance, Cody Ross’s homers didn’t exactly drive in a dozen runs… They won on being able to move the guys they got on base and score cheap runs while the Phils were once again looking for homers and extra base hits into the outfield and the Giants pitching took advantage of that rather than attack or hitters with consistently nasty pitches.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    NJ – The Giants outplayed us. Friend and respected poster, lets call it like it is. Lets not minimize the Giants execution during the series. The Giants just “win ugly”.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 Delgriffth

    Need a more balanced line up plain and simple. with brown replacing werth it becomes even more left handed. watching bochy parade the lefties at this lineup was painful. RAJ’s most important move this off season will be finding a way somehow to move ibanez and his $11 mil. then acquiring a righty replacement. IMO the yanks and now the giants exposed this lineup. they cant consistently hit lefty pitching. they arent patient enough and they dont shorten swings for the off speed stuff. i think utley needs to be moved to the 2 hole. polanco to the 3. not ideal i know, not sure polly has the pop for the three hole, but you must break up those lefties. a solid righty bat off the bench would also be nice.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Giants ABSOLUTELY outplayed us. And they had hunger and fire right from the start.

    I think the Phillies came into this series resting on their laurels a bit…thinking that they would win. THAT set the tone early.

    I’m not saying that they didn’t try…cause I really feel that they did. But they didn’t try IN THE RIGHT WAY based on who the opponent was. I think they felt that they could try on their terms…and …in this series that wasn’t…SHOULDN’T have been the game plan.

    “Woodpecker take down a whole tree”

    EXCELLENT analogy. Little by little you saw the Giants just pecking away at the Phillies…pecking away at their pitchers, their hitters, their whole game. They pecked away at their entire psyche.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ted Bell

    RAJ has his work cut out for him this winter. In the postseason, it really gets magnified just how dysfunctional this lineup is. Scoring the second highest number of runs in the NL this year is a meaningless stat once you realize that the team scored three runs or less in close to half of it’s games this year. Amaro’s problem is that almost everyone is locked in to contracts that cannot be moved, and an old team (in baseball terms) ages another year.

    The good news is that with the big three in the rotation, they should contend almost be default.

    By the way, I think they would have been embarrassed by Texas almost as badly as the Yankees were.

    I’m Ted Bell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Joe MAC

    I agree with most posts, that OUR Phillies lost this series more than the Giants won this series. In last nights game, how many times did we have RISP with NO Outs, 1 out and with 2 outs??? Ya dont win Series and advance with stretch’s like that and that was the WHOLE NLCS. PERIOD… Its gonna be a long OFF season but one that OUR situation needs and needs badly. We are starting to get old as everyone has said and some youth would be a welcomed addition. Youthful Outfield help, LF specifically. Lidge has been great but His time has passed. And Our bench—–What Bench??? No hits, with RISP= Giants advance and play in WS.. It sucks but its all truth people.

     
  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Texas wins this series in 5 games. The way this postseason unfolded NOBODY was beating them.

     
 
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