Raise your hand if you think the 76ers stink… My goal was to finally add my first basketball post tonight. The plan was to watch the 76ers battle the Celtics and offer insight. Unfortunately, the 76ers didn’t know they were supposed to play tonight. Therefore, I only had a few thoughts. Quickly, here they are:
- The 76ers look really, really good (as far as uniforms go)
- The 76ers look really, really bad (as far as playing goes)
- The Wachovia Center floor is outstanding. It reminds me of a better time.
- The Center was empty tonight. Even the bats in the arena decided to stay away.
That was all I could muster. It was unbearable to watch. I found myself so bored that I was reading up on how “part of Kate Gosselin still loves Jon,” Kirstie Alley’s new reality show, and why my fantasy football team stinks. All while downing eight Halloween-sized bags of Skittles. (The rainbow tastes so good that it’s worth the tooth aches I inevitably suffer hours later.) Plan B: Game 6 of the World Series.
The hoopla that now surrounds the Philadelphia Phillies occurs every time a team on the verge of elimination responds with a victory. It’s natural and unavoidable. Only a seasoned sports fan doesn’t get sucked in. Consider me “unsucked.” (OK, maybe not the greatest choice of words, but I just watched Samuel Dalembert play 24 minutes worth of NBA basketball. This usually makes my brain hurt as I run through the 19,000 different scenarios as to why he’s in the NBA, and the only one I can ever come up with is, “he’s 6’11.” Buuuut I digress.) How many times have we seen a team down 3-0 or 3-1, win the first elimination game only to fall in the next? It happens all the time. While not handing over the Commissioner’s Trophy in Philadelphia was a big relief, I’m not willing to throw all my marbles on the Pedro Martinez bandwagon. Especially when I have nightmares of Charlie Manuel convincing himself that 162 pitches doesn’t mean Pedro is done. And no, I do not sleep a lot. Even though I’m not captaining the Pedro bandwagon, I’m hopeful the Phils can extend the series one more game. My hope derives from the less than intimidating arm of Andy Pettitte on three days rest, the recent arrival of the Phillies offense, and the Yankees struggling bullpen (excluding Mariano Rivera).
Andy Pettitte is 37 years old. Relatively speaking, that is pretty old to be making playoff starts on only three days of rest. Granted, Pettitte is an absolute user, I mean gamer. (Sorry about that.) He’s been here before, the stage isn’t too big for him, and you know he’ll at least keep New York in the game. We all know this. I have nothing new to offer. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy watching the end of nerve-racking playoff games with friends. On Monday night, my friend Dustin and I watched anxiously as the Yankees continued to score runs in the late innings. Instead of focusing on the looming disaster, we made 492 jokes about walking the first two batters of the 9th inning and inserting Eric Bruntlett into the game at second to turn an unassisted triple play. It clearly would have been the best move in the situation, only Charlie missed it and allowed Madson to struggle.
If Jimmy Rollins is getting on base the Phillies are almost always in good shape. This has been the case for the past handful of years. Rollins is the catalyst. Anyone who watches the Phillies knows this. What’s interesting is how this hasn’t applied to the World Series. With the exception of game four, Rollins has been on base at least twice in every game. He’s not hitting exceptionally well but he’s getting walks. In game five, the Phillies finally managed to take advantage of Rollins’ efforts by putting up runs in larger chunks and receiving contributions throughout the lineup. The offense is finally showing signs of life. On Monday night (Game 5), the Phillies scored multiple runs in three different innings. In the previous four games combined, they scored multiple runs in only three different innings. Big innings kick start the offense. It would also greatly aid the Phillies offense if Shane Victorino and Howard started to contribute. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees walked Utley to pitch to Howard. When did you think you’d ever read that? Utley is on the verge of breaking the World Series home run record while Howard is hoping to avoid the dubious strikeout record. These guys really are champions.
The Phillies have tagged the Yankee bullpen with a run in every game except for game two. The reason? Mariano Rivera was brought in for a six out save. This is why it’s vitally important for the Phillies to chase Pettitte and get 2-3 innings to face the bullpen. After not pitching on Monday, Rivera is likely available for another six out save. If the Phillies can stay within striking distance and chase Pettitte, they should have their opportunities against the Yankee bullpen.
With the Yankee offense clicking and Alex Rodriguez finding his groove, the Phillies will need to score runs. Hopefully, a combination of Pettitte’s insufficiently rested arm, the Phillies offense, and innings against the New York bullpen will produce a game seven on Thursday night. If not, my search for answers in the, “Why is Dalembert an NBA player?” mystery will resume one day earlier than I originally hoped.
(Whew, only six minutes to spare.)