Tag Archives: Dodgers

The Pundit is starting to get a familiar feeling, especially after the surprising Cardinals victory…

Take a trip down Memory Lane with me for a second. (Editor’s note: Which I’m fairly certain is in Florida somewhere. Maybe Palm Beach.) I want you to go back to the NLDS,  Phillies vs. Brewers. I think that was a series we all were fairly confident the Phils would win. It wasn’t a guarantee, but it would have been surprising, and pretty friggin’ disappointing, had we lost it. Problem was, even if we won, we were still going to have to face the Cubs – oh, those formidable Cubs – if we wanted to get to the World Series. (Editor’s note: Lions and tigers and…cubs. Oh, brother).

And then a funny, unexpected thing happened: the Dodgers beat them.

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Quick Quips from the Day in Sports

– Donovan McNabb is a big fan of President Elect Barack Obama, according to an article on ESPN.com.

“It reminded me of, obviously, when Martin Luther King spoke and the messages that he spoke about,” McNabb said Wednesday. “As a man, if you teared up, it was acceptable because it was that deep.”

The story fails to mention that, only a few minutes before Senator McCain conceded, McNabb had been vomiting profusely. Thanks to T.O. for that scoop. (Editor’s note: And, the sound of crickets). Don’t mean to downplay a big day in the life of Mr. McNabb, African-Americans, and our United States of America – but hey, when T.O. calls…

– Apparently, the Dodgers are making Manny Ramirez a huge offer to stay in LA.

The Dodgers on Tuesday night offered Ramirez a contract with the highest average salary in Dodgers history, and the second-highest average salary among current players, Colletti told reporters Wednesday… That means that the average salary offered to Ramirez was somewhere between $22.9 million and $27.5 million per year.

Most likely, the Dodgers offered Ramirez a two-year contract worth just over $50 million. Colletti said the Dodgers also offered an option year, but declined to specify the exact length of contract.

If somebody asked me if I wanted to play baseball for them for 2 years and get paid about $50 million to do so, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t need to think too hard about my answer. Wouldn’t really be too tough of a decision for this guy. (Editor’s note: I’m fairly certain that The Pundit would wet himself in glee over a contract worth 40 G’s, a company Escort and limited health benefits).

– As is to be expected at this point in the College Football season, with a multitude of highly ranking teams losing and controversy starting to rear its snarling head, the old Playoff vs. BCS argument is coming to the forefront once more. Certain coaches, like Joe Paterno and Pete Carroll, are all about the playoff system, while others, mostly the ones who aren’t protected by national prestige and complete job security, “support” the BCS. Surely, the BCS has its strengths: every week, every high profile match-up takes on a playoff atmosphere. No game can be taken for granted, and no opponent can be taken lightly. Still, who wouldn’t like to see the top four, or even eight teams battle it out on the field? Wait, wait, what’s that you’re saying? You’re saying you’ve already heard these arguments, time and time again? Wait, this argument isn’t newsworthy anymore, it’s just rubbish being thrown around because it sparks the same old heated argument, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over? You already know that a playoff isn’t happening anytime soon, and have resigned yourself to just enjoy some great football, even if the system for determining the National Champion always leaves a bit to be desired? Yeaaaaaahhhhhh…moving on.

– Allen Iverson is a Piston, and will actually play for the Pistons soon. He is excited about the prospect of putting out a duel rap album with Rasheed Wallace, and can’t wait to join the destructive riots in Detroit if he is able to lead the Pistons to an NBA Championship. (Editor’s note: Oh, that’s just chock full of stereotypes right there. For the record, The Pundit has routinely claimed that Allen Iverson is one of his favorite athletes – and this is how he shows his support. You’re an asshole, Pundit).

– The Raiders have waived cornerback DeAngelo Hall in another strange move by the Silver and Black.

“I’ve never been in a situation where you cut one of the best players,” said safety Gibril Wilson, another of the team’s offseason acquisitions. “That’s strange to me. It’s almost like we’re throwing in the towel.”

The Raiders waived Hall on Wednesday, bringing a disappointing end to a short tenure in Oakland. The Raiders sent a second-round draft pick in 2008 and a fifth-rounder next season to Atlanta in March to acquire Hall, who immediately was given a seven-year contract.

At this time, Oakland has not shown any indication that they will cut Al Davis. However, Mr. Davis has expressed interest in hiring Matt Millen for an advisory role.

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To win, you gotta have chin

On Saturday night, I met up with Jacobs and Hoffman, two contributors to the site, at Fox and Hound to catch the Penn State game. I was fairly surprised by what I saw when I arrived – Penn State was trailing Michigan 17-7 at the 12 minute mark of the second quarter.

“What the hell is going on here?” I asked.

Jacobs didn’t hesitate to answer my question. “Fucking Michigan is running up and down on us. Let’s get the hell out of here, go to a different bar. I can’t stand all of these damn Michigan fans. Look at all of them over there! Where do they come from?”

Sure enough, an entire section of the bar was entirely decked in blue and maize. Disgusting. Apparently, they had been hooting and hollering for the entire game; in fact, one delightfully obnoxious bar patron had even brought his cowbell, and was whacking that thing unmercifully every time Michigan did anything positive. (Editor’s note: Yeah, I’m just gonna stay away from that one). It was too much for Jacobs, a diehard State fan and a rather passionate dude. But I wasn’t about to be phased by some stupid cowbell.

“Dude, trust me – when Penn State comes back and wins this game, it will be awesome to watch all of these Michigan fans leave the bar dejected and distraught,” I said. “You’ll see – when Appalachian State beat Michigan last year, I was at this bar. Watching all of the Michigan fans sadly stream out of here, dreams broken, while all the fans of other teams heckled them, was truly priceless. As annoying as it now, it will be sooooo worth it later.”

Now, I know how harsh, and unbelievably cruel, that sounds. But there was a deeper point I was trying to make – a real winner always has to take the best punch his/her opponent can throw, get back up, and punch back harder. To win, you gotta have chin.

Chin has been all over the MLB playoffs. In game one, the Dodgers jumped on Cole Hamels early, scoring two runs and quieting the uproarious Philadelphia crowd. But the Phillies calmed down, shook out the cobwebs from the Dodger haymaker, and Chase Utley and Pat Burrell each hit home runs to seal the Philly win. Game 4 was another example – for most of the game, no matter what the Phils did, the Dodgers had an answer. They led 5-3, and you could sense that series momentum was shifting in their favor. But the Phillies weren’t done fighting yet, and when Shane Victorino tied the game with his rope to right, the Dodgers started to sway. And then Matt Stairs hit them with a left that they never saw coming, and they dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. No matter how much, or how hard the Dodgers swung, they couldn’t knock the Phils down, and they certainly couldn’t handle the counter punch. It was of little surprise that the Phillies sealed the deal in game 5 – the Dodgers were sporting a glass jaw.

To win, you gotta have chin.

The ALCS was a dissertation on chin. The Rays had the Red Sox down for the count, leading them 7-0 in the seventh inning in game 5, with a 3-1 series lead, after pasting them in the two games before. Honestly, the Red Sox looked unconcious before they hit the mat. And yet, somehow, someway, the came back to win that game. Uh-oh. And when they won game 6, you couldn’t help but wonder if the Red Sox had absorbed the very best punch that the Rays had (and, truthfully, it was one hell of a punch), and were going to win this series. And yet, the Rays had one last trick up their sleeve (Matt Garza), and were able to take a few crushing blows of their own, pulling out the game 7 win. That the Rays were able to regroup after seemingly losing all of the momentum in the series that they had signed, sealed and delivered, they showed me something. Resiliance. Fight. Chin.

To win, you gotta have chin.

It’s the reason that Rocky is Philly’s favorite sports hero: the man never gave up. He never stayed down. He not only took your best shot, he wanted it. He wanted you to give him all you had, and then he wanted to give you just a bit more. He wasn’t the most talented or hyped fighter, but he could take anything you had in your arsenal, and fight on. Rocky wasn’t real, but the spirit and essence of his character most certainly is, and its what the Phillies are going to have to rely on against a dangerous Rays team.

To win, you gotta have chin.

Oh, I almost forgot: Penn State ended up beating Michigan, 46-17. Since my arrival at the bar, Penn State scored 39 unanswered points. Apparently, your Pundit is good luck. (Editor’s note: Doesn’t change the fact that he never gets lucky – ZING!). After every touchdown, following the traditional “WE ARE – PENN STATE!” chant, a chorus of us would ask one other question.

“CAN WE PLEASE GET SOME MORE COWBELL?”

Nobody on the Michigan side ever answered our pleas. They knew they were defeated. They knew that to win, you gotta have chin.

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A Game Four For the Ages

There isn’t much I can say to really do last night justice: it was tormenting, it was exhilarating, it was exhausting, and it most certainly was awesome. Here are some of my notes from the game that certainly will always be remembered by Phillies’ fans:

– Manny Ramirez is absolutely unbelievable. Seriously, the best postseason hitter I have ever seen. Big Papi’s curse-crushing performance was superb, but Manny is better. You can’t pitch to him. It’s ridiculous.

– While neither bullpen was very good, the boys in the pen for the Phils did just enough to close this one out. I have to be honest, I didn’t agree with using Lidge for the four-out save, though it worked. I was worried that he was going to give up a hit against Manny (which he did), and possibly either get shaken or throw a lot of pitches in the eighth and have a less effective arm in the ninth. Plus, I think there is something about coming out for the ninth inning that is lost when you go into the dugout after the eighth – you come running out, adrenaline pumping, knowing you’ve got three to go and the game is over. Sitting in the dugout, you’re hanging around, you’ve already thrown a bit, the adrenaline decreases. But what do I know? Lidge did his job, and we all leave happy. Charlie Manuel, the visionary.

– How perfect was it that Shane Victorino tied the game? “Sugar Shane,” “The Flying Hawaiian,” “Hit Me In The Ribs Victorino” had to be the one guy that LA fans absolutely didn’t want to see do something positive; his rope into the bullpen must have broken their hearts.

– Matt Stairs, that home run was one of the most majestic, beautiful, wonderful, surreal home runs I have ever witnessed. Take away the context of the shot, and it was still the perfect swing. As soon as his bat struck the ball, I swear a bolt of electricity shot through the city of Philadelphia, because I was on my feet well before the camera showed the ball landing squarely in the shattered hopes and dreams of Dodgers fan everywhere. We were going absolutely nuts at the Pundit Palace. Matt Stairs has hit a fair share of home runs in the fair share of years he has played this game, but I promise you, he has never hit a home run like that. A spectacular moment.

– This team is just special. You simply can’t quit on them – every time I’ve been a bit down on them this year, or I felt momentum slipping from their grasp, they do something that leaves me speechless. They just know that they’re going to somehow pull it off. In Philly, I’ve been saying that there’s something in the air. Well, in LA, the only thing up in the air is the smog and probably the acting careers of half of the waiters and waitresses in the city, so the Phillies had to bring their own magic. And when Chase Utley made his diving double play, and when Shane roped a homer into right, and when Carlos Ruiz hit what seemed to be an innocent little single, and when Matt Stairs enthralled a city 3000 miles away with a swing that I’ve watched about 25 times today and will never forget, that magic made itself known.

– This is the game we have been waiting to see Cole Hamels pitch. He’s been filthy in his first two postseason starts – game five is his opportunity to not only firmly entrench himself as our stopper, but to establish himself as a big-game pitcher on the national scene. I’m confident he’ll deliver.

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Quick hits from the Eagles and Phillies

Eagles

– Juqua Parker, you are the man! Defensive player of the week, if you ask this Pundit. Obviously, the late interception and return for a touchdown sealed the game, but Parker also had a big sack and made an excellent play on a reverse that set the Niners back and forced a third and 18. That long down led to an interception by Mr. Mikell. Good job Mr. Parker – this team needed a spark today, and you provided it.

– Gotta hand the 49ers this – they had a great game plan for attacking the Eagles defense, one that worked for 3 quarters. They ran the ball well, used their hot reads, and did enough shifting to keep the Eagles off-balance. Excellent utilization of the TE’s, which appears to be the one position which the Birds continually have difficulty defending against.

– The defense did a solid job of keeping the Niners out of the endzone. Early in the game, after a long Allen Rossum punt return, the D kept San Fran out of the endzone. Another TD came on the field goal block at the end of the half. So really, the Eagles defense, when the Niners had to use the whole field, gave up 16 points, and they played huge in the 4th quarter. A good, though certainly not great, effort by the defense.

– A couple of really nice catches by Hank Baskett in the first half, including his spectacular touchdown reception. He has the natural ability to make some plays, but he is either inconsistent or the Eagles don’t construct enough of the game plan with him in mind, because his contributions this year have been sparse at best.

– Why, oh why, is any field goal attempt longer than 40 yards such an ordeal anymore? I was truly concerned that the block and touchdown return at the end of the first half was going to be the play that tilted the game in the Niners direction, and it almost was. I mean, Akers and this unit used to be automatic. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: bring back the beard, David. We need it!

– I don’t know if it was just me, but in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the Eagles just looked flat. Emotionless. No heart. In the 1st and 4th quarters, they were sharp, precise, and passionate. This inconsistency in both emotion and execution really frightens me. You can get away with playing two good quarters against the 49ers, but not in the NFC East games.

– Correll Buckhalter, you are quickly becoming my favorite Eagle. You leave it on the field, and you never give an inch.

– Donovan McNabb had a solid game, save for the interception down by the endzone, which really wasn’t his fault. L.J. Smith loafed that route, and should have ran in front of Patrick Willis. As my old football coach used to say when he was enraged at a player, “THAT WAS A PISS POOR EFFORT. PISS POOR!”

– It was nice to see the Eagles utilizing more screen passes. I’ve felt as though they’ve gotten away from the screens a bit in the past weeks, and it has traditionally been a very effective play for Andy Reid. Keeps the defense on their toes, and allows the backs or TE’s to make plays in space. Actually, the Niners used the screen extremely well against the Eagles D. Mike Martz can draw himself up some offense.

– Frank Gore is a really impressive back. He is so hard to get to the ground, and when he gets that momentum going, look out – he’s gonna knock you in the teeth. That being said, he’s pretty nimble too. When healthy, he’s a top 5 back in this league.

– Alright! The Cowboys just lost to the Cardinals on a blocked punt for a touchdown in overtime. And the Skins lost on a last second field goal against the Rams. Niiiiiiiiiice.

– Dude, DeSean Jackson got lit up on a punt return. I mean, the guy clotheslined him. It looked like one of the overly dramatic and completely infeasible hits you’ll see in the movies. DeSean Jackson – you got JACKED UP!

Phillies

– I suppose I have to address the beanball aspect of this game to start. Can’t blame Shane for being pissed about having a ball thrown at his head, though I can’t blame the Dodgers for throwing at him, especially after Manny Being Manny had one thrown behind him in game two, and Russell Martin had one whizzed above his head tonight. That’s baseball, and it certainly took this series to a new height in terms of intensity. Plus, Shane’s gyrations were friggin’ priceless.

– Not sure what’s going on with Jamie Moyer in the postseason, but his first two innings pretty much put this game out of reach. Hard to be down on a guy who was so vital to our success during the season, but he really killed us tonight.

– Good to see Ryan Howard getting his swing back on track. Look for him to absolutely crush one in the next game or so. Got to get Jimmy rolling, though – he sets the table.

– Bullpen did a pretty good job of not letting this game get too far out of hand. Hopefully, this won’t tax our arms for the next game or so. That could be the truly dangerous aspect of this loss.

– Boy, Russell Martin really took his lumps today, huh? Gets hit twice in the game, and has a fastball go above his head. Get out the ice packs.

– Highlight of the broadcast: the cameraman focusing on Ryan Seacrest as he was playing with his Blackberry, followed by Joe Buck deadpanning, “Somebody tell him the score.”

– The Dodgers absolutely had to win this game. They took care of business, simple as that. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can up their intensity to match the Dodgers tomorrow

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A day of contrasts – some thoughts about the Eagles and Phillies on Sunday

Sunday was a strange day, full of angst and bliss. The Eagles and Phillies started and stopped at almost the precise same moment, and the results were completely contrasted. Was Sunday indicative of two franchises headed in opposite directions? Or just a truly strange day? (Editor’s note: He never actually addresses these questions in the following post. Quite frankly, The Pundit truly is wondering himself, especially given the Eagles past two games).

Eagles

Ugggggghhhhhh. This one was painful. Over 200 yards rushing. An offense that slowly went the way of the buffalo as the game progressed. (Editor’s note: Really, American “buffalo” are actually bison. They are only distant relatives of the real buffalo, those being the water buffalo and the African buffalo. The more you know…)

– Chris Cooley killed them over the middle all game long, bringing up painful memories of Jason Witten in week two. I’ll grant that TE’s are reemerging in the NFL as effective weapons, but 8 receptions for 109 yards? No good.

– Call me crazy, but if you give up over 200 rushing yards, you’re probably going to lose. Just a hunch

– The Eagles looked unstoppable on their first drive. Whaaaaa happened? Um, the play calling went stale. Now, I’m not a huge fan of insulting the play calling, because if certain players don’t handle certain responsibilities, the perfect call won’t work. That’s football. Plus, a lot of research and film study goes into game planning in the NFL; these guys tend to know how they want to attack the defense. But I noticed something on Sunday, and I think it’s a trend – the plays that Andy Reid scripts for the beginning of the game are always diverse and effective, but as the defense adjusts, the Eagles offense tends to stay the same. I don’t know if Andy Reid simply isn’t a great adjustment coach, or if he’s so damn stubborn he refuses to stray from the game plan. Either way, the various formations, play designs and players utilized need to remain consistently diverse, because the Eagles really don’t have the personnel to get stale. They have play makers who are effective in space, namely McNabb, Westbrook and DeSean Jackson. However, force them into traditional roles, and they become less potent. Stir it up, big ol’ Andy. Stir it up.

– Seriously, the Eagles have to score touchdowns when they get the ball near the goal line. Field goals are like a beer goggles rendezvous – you take them, but you really wish you had done better.

– Seriously, David Akers, you need to grow back the beard. You are like the Samson of beards – without it, you lose your powers. Do it for us, David.

– The Redskins outplayed the Eagles in every phase of the game. They are a pretty good team. The Eagles certainly could have played much better. These are the facts. Draw your own conclusions.

Phillies

I’m not going to say too much here, except that I’ve got a feeling. I don’t even want to reveal what that feeling is, for fear that no matter what I say, I’ll jinx us somehow. The Dodgers are hot right now, but the Phillies have shown a very mature poise. The starting pitching has been a revelation. The bats have done just enough. It was nice to see Pat the Bat find his groove again with two very picturesque home runs on Sunday. Way to take care of business, fellas. I’ve got a feeling, and I’m going to leave it at that.

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Waking up with The Pundit

Quick grab-bag of links this morning.

Storylines in the National League as we come down the stretch.

Phillies complete a clutch sweep of the Dodgers, and here come the Mets!

Your daily Eagles fix here – who’s staying and going on the Birds’ roster?

Interesting article on the Redeem Team by Jason Whitlock. I’m not sure I agree with all of his points, but it’s certainly worth a look.

Oh, this will be good. Be sure to have the Phillies game against the Cubs on after the top of the 7th Thursday night, that’s all I’m saying.

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