But I do want to talk about this delightful notion that Charlie Manuel rearranged his lineup with the absolute precision and strategy that will make it an unstoppable advancing horde, roaring across the country. Now, I wouldn’t question Charlie’s strategy. His instincts are just that; they are organic thoughts that pop out of his gut like coiled springs and burrow into his brain. Also, it is good to separate two of our big left-handed bats to avoid a LOOGY.
And when you get down to it, what do you really expect from me, anyway? Opinions? News?
"“Manuel certainly deserves kudos for making this long-overdue swap.”–Dan Rosenhenck, New York Times"
Well, at least I don’t compliment him and insult him in the same sentence. If it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea, but if everyone (or just Dan Rosenheck and his finely tuned baseball instincts) had already considered this notion while the man who should have thought of it first was taking his sweet time arriving at it, then maybe you ought to hold back on a few of those kudos, Danno.
Look, I’m not a guy whose going to doubt Charlie’s thinking. It comes from his gut, which in baseball is the most valuable muscle. He’s rearranged the lineup to look more like a DNA strand and in Game 2, it paid off. Of course, when you consider that the guy with the biggest hit, J-Roll, was 1-for-11 in the post season prior to his little almost grand slam that for some reason wasn’t interfered with by a fan (Way to go, guys!).
Just a quick sidebar to totally refute myself, but do you know Jimmy’s numbers against Matt Cain? He’s 6-for-to lifetime with three triples. Triples! Who has three triples against the same guy in only 10 at bats?! Insanity.
And no one look that up and report back here to tell me that “Actually, ‘Gassin’ Gus Hermowitz once hit three triples off the same pitcher in 1908 in game two of a triple-header in Secaucus, NJ,” because even if its happend 1000 times before, its a solid feat.
But for whatever reason (And I’m back to my original point here), Rob Neyer really went crazy on this lineup adjustment and was most likely foaming at the mouth out sheer ecstasy as he typed:
"“Boom. The Phillies’ lineup, already a wonderful mélange of left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters and switch-hitters, is now perfectly alternating, without a single instance of consecutive left- or right-handed hitters.”"
I don’t know what exploded at the beginning of that sentence, but I do admire Neyer’s dedication to finishing his thought before being evacuated from whatever building he was in at the time.
Maybe it stems from watching this team all season that I find any concept involving them labeled as “perfect” to be laughable, even if you rationalize it away to a particular facet of the team, rather than the whole. It makes us better, and more specifically, tougher to pitch to, but like Neyer indicates, would this have happened if Game 1 had gone the other way?
I think this series hinges on engagement of the Phillies offense. If it chooses to exist (as it has chosen not to several times this year and post season), we win. The Giants, even when the lineup is firing on all cylinders, do not score loads of runs. They score just enough to sneak by while one of their godly arms steps out there and carves up the opposition. How many strikeouts combined are in this NLCS already? 42? Everybody’s got their pitching in horrifying order.
That makes this lineup pretty key. Kind of the key.
So with the scrutiny I’m putting on it, I’d love it to be “perfect,” but given the streakiness of 2010, I’m ever so weary to label it that. Let’s call it an improvement and hope Cody Ross gets swallowed by a whale.
Hey A.J. Burnett, its me, your coach. Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kick your ass off the back of the truck instead of letting you start a playoff game.
"“I haven’t pitched in a long time, so I haven’t struggled in a long time.”"
Once more, your Burnett-logic proves indisputable. Well done.
*Burnett nods agreeably, then gives up three runs in mid-conversation*