Oct 152010
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel

October 15:

Phillies news and stories from around the web…

Oswalt gets Game 2 nod

October 15 Camden Courier-Post:

“There was little suspense when Phillies manager Charlie Manuel announced his pitching rotation for the NLCS.

The only question was whether Roy Oswalt or Cole Hamels would start Game 2.

Manuel decided to stick with Oswalt in Game 2 at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday, and Hamels in Game 3 in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon. It was the same order as the NLDS against Cincinnati.

As expected, Roy Halladay will start Game 1 Saturday.

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How the Phillies became kings of the hill

October 15 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Paul Hagen:

“THE PHILLIES roared into the postseason four seasons ago riding a tide of giddy first-time enthusiasm, twirling rally towels, adrenaline from having nipped the collapsing Mets at the wire and the testosterone swagger that comes with bludgeoning opponents into submission for most of the season.

Three straight losses to the Rockies later, after batting .172 as a team, they were packing their bags and getting ready for a long, empty winter.

Ruben Amaro Jr. is the general manager now. He was an assistant to Pat Gillick then.

“It was clear after having had the opportunity to be in postseason play that the bottom line is you can be the greatest hitting team on the planet. And great pitching still always beats up great hitting. That’s just the way it’s worked,” Amaro said yesterday during a brief break from his preparations for the National League Championship Series against San Francisco that opens tomorrow night at The Bank.

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Phillies shrug off role of favorites

October 15 Philadelphia Daily News:

“ONE OF THE chief strengths the Phillies have exhibited over the past three seasons is their unique ability to ignore dynamics like the one they currently face.

Yesterday, as Raul Ibanez sat behind a microphone in front of a gathering of media, he illustrated this characteristic by connecting the tip of his forefinger and the tip of his thumb to form a small circle.

The point was simple: This is the extent of my world. This is where my focus lies.

It is a message that manager Charlie Manuel has repeated throughout his six seasons as manager, and it is a message that has been burnished by the front office’s ability to surround him with players who either share that focus or, at the very least, buy into it.

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Phils’ core five driven to prove people wrong

October 15 Philadelphia Daily News:

“CHARLIE MANUEL knew Chase Utley’s defensive skills were limited. Manuel didn’t like it.

As a top lieutenant in the Phillies system, Manuel had seen Utley play for 2 years. Now, as manager, Manuel told Utley that Utley needed to improve his defense if he wanted to remain a starter.

“Fine,” Utley said. “I’ll earn it.”

That was 2005, Manuel’s first year in charge. Back then, Utley was the top prospect among a slew of flawed young talents.

Six years later, Utley, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz hold the record for most consecutive playoff games started as a five-man unit, at 33. Jayson Werth has started 32 of those 33.

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Giants say their Big Three just as good

October 15 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“As in life, timing is everything in baseball.

For the San Francisco Giants’ talented, young starting pitchers – Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain – the time may be right to bring down the favored Phillies in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series that begins Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

After the Giants finished off Atlanta on Monday in the NL division series, the most frequently asked question by the media in their joyous locker room was: Can your Big Three match up against the Phillies’ Big Three of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels? The answer was, “Absolutely.”

“We know our strength is our pitching,” catcher Buster Posey, a contender for NL rookie of the year, said Monday after the Giants punched their ticket to the NLCS. “We’ve heard a lot of talk about how good the Phillies pitching is, and we have the guys to match up with them.”

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Blanton joins rotation for NLCS

October 15 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Finally, the state secrets were unveiled.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel announced Thursday that (surprise) Roy Halladay will start Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Roy Oswalt will start Game 2, followed by Cole Hamels in Game 3.

For Game 4, Manuel said he plans to start Joe Blanton instead of using everyone else on short rest.

“We wanted to set it up the way we had it,” Manuel said. “The first three guys, if it goes seven games, can pitch two games. We figure on the fourth day that Joe would fit in that slot.”

So, if the Phillies are trailing when Game 4 comes around, will Blanton still start?

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Victorino appreciates his rise to stardom

October 15 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Maybe Shane Victorino’s best ability is to fit in. He, after all, was the one who replaced Bobby Abreu in right field. Then, he succeeded Aaron Rowand in center following the 2007 season, when the Phillies played their first playoff games in 14 years.

“I never looked at it that way,” Victorino said.

No, but Victorino’s precipitous rise is not lost on the always talkative centerfielder. Twice selected in the Rule 5 draft, he has started 33 straight postseason games. In that span, he’s hitting .276 with six home runs and 26 RBIs. He made his mark during the first two rounds of the playoffs in 2009 by hitting .361.

He became more than a replacement.

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Good series could erase an off-year

October 15 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“A difficult regular season has turned into a frustrating start to the postseason for Jimmy Rollins.

Limited to a career-low 88 games by injuries to his right calf and hamstring, Rollins batted a career-low .243 with a career-low 17 stolen bases, a career-low 48 runs scored, and a career-low 41 RBIs.

Get the point?

In keeping with that theme, Rollins batted .091 (1 for 11) during the Phillies’ three-game division series sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. It was the worst single-series batting average of the shortstop’s career.

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Charlie Manuel espouses the philosophy of Ric Flair

October 15 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez:

“If he hadn’t dedicated his life to baseball, Charlie Manuel would have made an excellent pro wrestler. Vince McMahon, the WWE patriarch, likes to refer to his employees as sports entertainers. That description fits Manuel perfectly.

The man has both charisma and guts. One minute he’s making you laugh with homespun witticisms, the next he’s challenging ornery radio hosts to “stop by” his office to scrap. Give him a steel chair and a different type of uniform and he’d make Hulk Hogan tap out for sure.

Manuel talked about the Phillies on Thursday and said all the right, complimentary things about his guys. He said he likes his players, likes how they enjoy competing against the best, likes everything about them, actually.

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For Phils, it’s been all about pitching

October 15 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford:

“Everyone is talking about pitching, and as the Phillies begin the league championship series against the Giants on Saturday night, you can’t really blame them.

The hype machine for the opening matchup of Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum is working overtime, with music blaring, balloons flying, and breathless hyperbole that this is the greatest pitching duel in baseball playoff history since . . . since . . . well, what could possibly compare?

I don’t know, maybe Cliff Lee vs. CC Sabathia in Game 1 of the World Series last season. Cole Hamels vs. Derek Lowe to start the National League Championship Series the previous year. Those were great matchups, and – this just in – teams that get this far tend to have very good starting pitching. So, finding a compelling matchup at the beginning of this series is great for business – and Halladay’s no-hitter in the division series adds to the mystique – but it isn’t that surprising.

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Phillies Fans Refuse to Let Rain Ruin a Rally

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October 15

New York Times


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“The city has crowned few champions, and to find a dynasty you must excavate back to the days of Connie Mack. The current Phillies, winners of one World Series, two pennants and four division titles in four years, stand out against the city’s other sports accomplishments. There are only these Phillies, the Broad Street Bullies (the Flyers, winners of the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cups), a few one-and-done champions, and decades of bitterness.

No wonder hundreds of fans braved a steady autumn rain Thursday for a pep rally at the Citizens Bank Building, across the street from Philadelphia City Hall and its statue of William Penn, the city’s founder. Philadelphia is still adjusting to the idea of rooting for a perennial contender: after one playoff series, water in the city fountains has been dyed red (actually bismuth pink), and banners of Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins line Market Street.”

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