Wow, it's already the League Championship Series. If this were the NBA, tonight would be Game 2 of the first round. Instead it's Cole Hamels throwing when Derek Lowe isn't, and it's probably true the other way around. So sit back, relax, then stop. Jumpertime. * * *Top 9th2310:58 — Why, yes it will. DeWitt's whiff causes Ruiz to throw him out, but no drama in the 2-3 put out make this game end two minutes before your local nightly news. Well, damn. I feel really lost now. I need guidance. It always goes several innings, and in this case it went the trim 8½. It's kind of like Steven Wright said. "Well, I'm still alive. Now what am I going to do?" Hmm. Since the WNBA season is already over, maybe I'm just going to have to do Friday night's St. Petersburg-Boston game. Until then, everyone, stay drunk-but-not-too-drunk enough. 10:57 — Oh my. Will the game end before 11? 10:55 — Towels, I say! TOWELS! (If every stadium doles out white hankies, isn't everyone technically on the same team?) The fans show how much they want Casey Blake to strike out by waving hankies in the air. Hell, all they need is to just picture him in an Indians uniform, and that'll do it. But instead Blake will drive a fly ball near the center field warning track, and that's two outs the stressful way. 10:53 — That almost took me back to Astros-Cardinals. Matt Kemp's fly ball wasn't fly-y enough, and that's one out. 10:53 — Pat Burrell, you've done enough. Eric Bruntlett will field for you. And Brad Lidge — he loves these NLCSes, I hear — will try to close it out. Bottom 8th2310:49 — Utley and Howard? Hell, they've already done their part. They'll just make outs instead. 10:46 — Victorino HAWAIIAN ISLANDS the ball into second for a simple groundout. It seems like we give extra weight to people from Alaska and Hawai'i, just because they've only been a state for the last fiftysomething years. Ooh, Fairbanks! How exotic! 10:46 — Hong-Chih Kuo, you get to pitch now. He's had four elbow surgeries, two of them of the Tommy John variety, Joe Buck says. That's what we call an addiction. Top 8th10:44 — James Loney won't be tying this game anytime soon. Naw, instead he'll just ground out and yank Martin back to the dugout to get his glove, but it will take a while for him to get back, because Martin will slide feet first into the ground every ten steps. Also: hot damn, are we gonna get through eight innings by 11 p.m.? 10:41 — Martin grounds to Feliz. Literally. Into Pedro Feliz. It wicks off his foot and Martin's got a base hit, maybe more ... wait, he slid safely into ten feet in front of first base. So I guess he's only 80 feet away from second. 10:40 — Manny lines out to third base, but it still energizes the clubhouse in a way that Juan Pierre could not. 10:37 — No more Cole Hamels for you. Come back in three games. Ryan Madson has the ball now. McCarver says Madson might have the best change-up on the Phillies, McCarver says, then confirms it when Ethier whiffs out on the change. But wasn't Hamels the guy who threw the "All World Change" in the scouting report? Maybe that was Derek Lowe. I better not speculate here. Bottom 7th2310:33 — DeWitt furthers the salivation of Joe Buck by starting the double play, and letting other people finish the double play. 10:32 — And now to bunt. Of course they'll bunt! Except McCarver thinks maybe they shouldn't. But they do. And it doesn't work. So they're sad. I'm glad we were able to all agree on this move. (By the way: Did an old school man like McCarver just suggest not to bunt with a man on first and no outs? He must have read a baseball blog sometime in the last three months. Maybe not, but we better get a urine sample, just in case.) 10:30 — Now Maddux takes the mound, whose secret to winning is that he guilts umpires into respect for strikes. Or, in this case, allows infield hits but not doubles or home runs like mortal men. Seventh Inning Stretch Halftime Entertainment I know Ken Mattingly was bitter for not being able to fly to the moon after being grounded for Apollo 13 ... but he really hit a low point in this video: Click to viewTop 7th10:23 — I just thought of this. How sad is it that on a team with Greg Maddux and Jeff Kent, neither of them are starters? Next thing you're gonna tell me Nomar Garciaparra and Andruw Jones aren't in the starting lineup either. 10:22 — Here's Jeff Kent, a.k.a the Hall of Fame Living Legend Of Sports Jeff Kent ... off the bench to pinch hit. He strikes out. Hall of Fame stuff right there. 10:21 — As DeWitt steps up, Old Man Maddux gets warmed up on the backup mound. It's only common sense that you can only Park your Chan Ho for so long before you start to chafe. Bottom 6th2310:17 — As Park gets out of Phily's big inning, get ready for — you guessed it — Frank Stallone ... 's brother's movie's theme song. 10:15 — Werth flies out. Clicky click. 10:11 — Philly's sure visualizing playing the Red Sox in the World Series by pretending Derek Lowe is a shitty closer for the Red Sox. What an imagination! Pat Burrell blasts a solo home run for the lead and a share of Philadelphia's daily "We've Always Loved This Athlete" award. (Also receiving votes: Donovan McNabb.) For his insubordination, Torre is taking the baseball from Lowe and putting in Chan Ho Park. Nothing in that sentence makes sense. 10:10 — Dude, Howard, you keep seeing players to the right, and yet you continue to hit it that way. Try another part of the field. kthx. 10:07 — Some serious Utlage is occurring in Pennsylvania. He corks a home run to right field, which in turn ties the game, which in turn makes Ned Coletti trade the Skee-Ball machine for Mike Lamb. 10:05 — Ham And Pineapple Victorino's speed causes Rafael Furcal to rush the throw — they said it, it's gotta be the reason — and the relay to first sails in Olbermann's Mom territory, allowing Victorino to prance to second on the goof. Slapdash Political Advertisement Fact Check So wait ... if McCain offers no tax relief for the middle class, and Obama claims to provide three times as much tax relief for the middle class than McCain would, then ... never mind. I thought I had something there. Top 6th10:01 — Casey Blake's hands of fate end the sixth for LA. 10:00 — Kemp's GIDP kills the inning, but you know what was better? The one that clinched the division series. Tim said so! It will be the bellwether by which all other double plays are measured. This one — which was only OK — was not good enough to be shown again and again. 9:58 — The sixth inning? Before 10 p.m.? These guys must have a curfew. Bottom 5th209:55 — Here come the waving towels. Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a veteran pitcher more than towels. AHH, THEY'RE NOT ABSORBENT! Jimmy Rollins battles a little but ultimately just flies out to end the "something." 9:52 — How rude, changing the signs while leaving Rafael Furcal out of the conversation! 9:51 — What you might call this is "something." Hamels doubles the number of baserunners running the base by hitting it over second base. 9:50 — Why is Derek Lowe upset about Carlos Ruiz getting on base? Well, hell, who wouldn't be? 9:48 — What the hell's a Jayson Werth? Exactly one groundout this inning. Top 5th9:44 — Russell Martin didn't really want that inning to get out of hand with "runs" and "2-out rallies" and all that jazz. So he just strikes out. 9:43 — Did you know: Manny Ramirez took a 10-78 team and helped them win 74 straight games just by. Being. In. The. Dodgers. Clubhouse? He's just that calming of a presence! Also he petitioned Joe Torre for a Skee-Ball game. Ramirez singles to center. 9:42 — THEY CAN WIND UP TO MANNY! Great strategy! 9:40 — Slightly ... awkward. After Furcal got out, Joe Buck turns to Tim and says "How ya doin?" McCarver, almost taken aback, says "... ... ... Great!" I guess they didn't get a chance to make small talk before the broadcast. Gotta sneak it in sometime. Meanwhile, Andre Ethier strikes out with little resistance. Bottom 4th209:36 — That inning ended quickly, in case you noticed. 9:35 — Whoa. McCarver just casually mentioned Jeff Kent and Joe Torre having "Hall of Famer" on the bench. How do you slip a borderline argument through like that? Next time I watch a Tigers game I really want to hear Mario Impemba nonchalantly talk about "Cy Young candidate" Kyle Farnsworth. 9:33 — Know what would make baseball video games better? If there was a button where you could have the pitcher talk to the catcher for a meeting on the mound. That'd RULE! Howard forces the shifted DeWitt to barehand the ground ball and throw him out. Does any Phillie with actual speed want to try and give these in-between ground balls a shot? 9:31 — There's footage of Lowe kind of holding his right thumb after grounding out. Oh, I'm sure it won't affect him. Hey, there's a pitch that hits in front of home plate. He's probably fine. See? He got Utley out. Commercial Break Oh boy, Fox is bringing us another TV show, Fringe, about a genius man nobody in his world understands but the viewers. Where do they derive these innovative ideas? I hope they never run out of one-syllable words to name these shows! Top 4th9:26 — DeWitt sacrificed himself — his OWN LIFE! — to bring Kemp home on a fly ball for a single point. Derek Lowe speeds the game up by trickling a ground ball to first so he can pitch again. He likes pitching. 9:23 — Everybody in Casey Blake's hometown of Indianola, Iowa is watching this game. Tim McCarver took a census before the game. So a small town in Iowa just saw Blake ground out to short, then flipped back to CSI. Kemp went to third on the play, in case ya care. 9:21 — That's WAY TOO scary. Tim McCarver and I had the same first thought when Matt Kemp's double landed just fair and bounced into the stands: Jason Bay's eerily-similar double in Game 4 of the ALDS. Know what this means? Either I could do his job, or he could do mine. Bottom 3rd109:16 — I already dislike the mouse-click sound anytime someone makes an out. Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino all ground out to the right-hand side of the infield, causing Fox to furiously click away. At least Victorino also ran over Derek Lowe before he was tagged out, causing a tangle of arms and pine tar, forming a rolling cloud of dust, picking up every cartoon character that laid in its tracks. Commercial Break Brooke Shields is having sex with random men just to get free submarine sandwiches from Domino's. That's what I think she said. Top 3rd9:12 — Bears repeating: James Loney had as many RBI in the NLDS as the entire Cubs team had (five). But with a couple of his homeboys on base, he strikes out, keeping his RBI total in this game steady to zero. Which is also equal to the number of RBI the Cubs have in the NLCS. Things just stay so consistent! 9:10 — Russell Martin, just by looking really, really well, gets to walk to first base now. 9:07 — McCarver notes how Ramirez is a great two-strike hitter. Interesting! With a 1-2 count, Ramirez pops to short. See, most other batters would just pop that up, but not as far away from home plate. 9:05 — A brilliant strategy by Tim for the Phillies: pitch to Manny Ramirez while in the windup. Because that means nobody is on base. Some would call that not so much a strategy of pitching to Manny, but a strategy of pitching to Andre Ethier, who just reached base on a ground ball that crossed up Ryan Howard, rendering McCarver's last bit of advice completely useless. Commercials Oh COME ON. I'm not even watching TBS and I'm still seeing Frank Caliendo. This is a conspiracy. There's no other explanation. Bottom 2nd109:01 — Carlos Ruiz bangs a ground ball into "Derek Jeter backhand" territory, but Furcal instead makes the play that normal humans make, which is just sidestep to the ball and throw it regularly to throw out the lumbering catcher. So I guess you can walk batters after all and get away with it. 8:59 — Lowe walks Pedro Feliz. BUT I THOUGHT YOU CAN'T DO THAT! Derek Lowe: what a maroon. 8:57 — Jayson Werth takes a count to 3-0, and Lowe begins to sweat like Ted Striker. Joe Buck alludes to how pitchers cannot, CANNOT walk batters in this park. It's true! It's a house rule. He looked it up. Fortunately, Werth blows the good count and grounds into a double play. 8:54 — If Pat Burrell didn't play baseball and didn't work out, he'd be Ian Gomez. But he does play ball, and quite well in this at bat, lacing it to left. McCarver notes Ramirez's good play in left, holding Burrell to a single. Also holding Burrell to a single: some kind of 20-kg metal cube that's been embedded in his shins since birth. Top 2nd8:50 — This was the inning to take a piss, although if you're already pissing a half hour in, please consult a doctor. Casey Blake struck out on a high, high strike, Blake DeWitt knicked the ball into the outfield for no bases, and Derek Lowe — I didn't see Ken Rosenthal "knock on wood" when he said he was never on the DL for his career — also strikes out harmlessly. Bottom 1st108:44 — Chase Utley's hit did not cause the rest of his lineup to hit with abandon. More to the point, Ryan Howard hit right into the shift — what a fool! it was in front of him all the time! — and we're done with one. 8:43 — McCarver explains the "back door slider," confirming my theory that it makes no sense for a pitch to be called that and be farther away from someone's ass than a regular-type slider. 8:39 — Tim McCarver seems to have acknowledged the errant placement of the arrows. Here's a dramatization: 8:39 — Did anyone else just see a couple random yellow arrows land on Derek Lowe's scouting report? 8:37 — Harry Kalas brings the world a starting lineup, which gives me a new idea for the playoffs. FOX should simulcast the games on FX or FSN, but with the home team's announcer doing the call instead of Joe Buck. It's all about choice. Top 1st8:34 — Fly ball to right? You're soaking in it! Matt Kemp's third out strands a couple of his brahs on base. 8:31 — Hey, there's no rush. Let's walk James Loney after getting into a 1-2 count. Then let's throw the ball high enough that Calvert DeForest couldn't catch it. 8:28 — Russell Martin can't hit that shit if he had a cricket bat, and Hamels's face is already a healthy shade of bright red, like a tomato. C'mon, Cole, it's only been four batters. You can't already have Beet Face, can you? 8:26 — Hmm. This Manny Ramirez guy might be on to something. Ramirez blasts a double that hits off the glass-kinda-thing above the wall, which counts as a double. Hell, I half-thought they were going to break out the postseason review cameras in a bold attempt to make George Will's eyes well up with sadness. But it won't be. Manny gets a double and the Dodgers got themselves a quick run off Cole Hamels. 8:25 — McCarver's key for the Phillies: RUN THE BASES WITH ABANDON. Wouldn't running with a wedding band on kind of bog people down? 8:25 — After a rather tame attempt by Rafael Furcal to get on base, Andre Either belts a line drive 'tween left and center, so he gets a double for that. 8:23 — Right on cue, 60 seconds after they said it'd be, our first pitch. 8:13 — Jeanne Zelasko said it, so I'm inclined to believe her: "Game 1 is coming your way next!" The scheduled start time isn't for nine minutes, though. I have to admit, I love these publicly announced times when they think the actual first pitch is (8:22 p.m.), thereby forgoing all the pregame montages, predictions, and Applebee's commercials. There was a time when people would just start it at 8 p.m. and people would have to sit through it. This is just proof that in some — some — ways, we have advanced as a society. Pre-Game Babble You know how columnists and sportscasters love throwing out small sample stats which could dictate the outcome of short series like this one? Well here's one for ya'. The Phillies are 3-0 when I live blog them. I even did a regular season matchup between these two, and Pedro Feliz hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning. Therefore, look for the exact same thing to happen tonight. But relax, AJ. Before you go pinning me down for the rest of the NLCS, remember that it's still probably inevitable that we'll have a Dodgers-Red Sox World Series, and a nation will pry quotes about Manny Ramirez from everyone up to two degrees separated from either team. Don't fight it. Why even get out of bed? Because bingo's calling, that's one reason.