The Week That Was in Baseball: October 19-25, 2009
Yankees vs. Phillies: A Slugfest That's Sure to Happen Toweling Off Manny Ramirez
Divorce McCourt, Chapter Two
Is Albert Pujols a New Man (Again)?

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The Philadelphia Phillies won their seventh NL pennant and their first in back-to-back fashion; the last team to win two straight NL flags was the 1995-96 Atlanta Braves. The New York Yankees, in contrast, have a little more postseason experience, but you probably already knew that; this is the franchise’s 40th trip to the World Series.

The Sure Bet
Who is TGG picking to win the World Series between the Yankees and Phillies? Try the over. After all, you have two power-laden teams full of left-handed bats squaring off against not-so-dominant starting rotations and shaky bullpens in two ballparks that gave up more homers than any other major league facility this year. If the over/under is anywhere in the single digits, think high.

Cardiac Days
Through baseball’s first 25 postseason games, 11 of them have been decided in the eighth inning or later. That doesn’t include the Detroit-Minnesota tie-breaker playoff, which is officially considered a regular season contest and ended in extra innings. By contrast, the historic 1986 postseason—headlined with
Bill Buckner’s fielding infamous blunder and Dave Henderson’s late-inning heroics—featured six games out of 20 that were decided after the seventh inning.

Sweet Sixteen
Andy Pettitte established an all-time record by notching his 16th postseason victory in the Yankees’ clinching of the ALCS over Los Angeles of Anaheim. All but one of Pettitte’s wins have come in Yankee pinstripes; he won a NLDS game for the Houston Astros in 2005.

Hit to be Tied
Numerous postseason records were tied in Game Five of the NLCS, which gave Philadelphia its second straight NL flag.
Ryan Howard knocked in a run for the ninth straight game, tying an all-time playoff mark; Chase Utley reached base for the 25th straight postseason contest, tying another record; and the Phillies’ 10-4 rout of the Dodgers elicited seven home runs, matching two other nine-inning postseason games: Game Three of the 1989 World Series between Oakland and San Francisco, and the fourth game of the 2006 NLCS between St. Louis and the New York Mets.

Chase Addendum
As mentioned above, Chase Utley has reached base in 25 straight postseason games—but that doesn’t exactly mean he’s been hot; during this stretch, he’s batting only .256—with as many walks (23) as hits.

It's Raining Home Runs in Section 103
Of those seven home runs hit in Game Five of the NLCS at Philadelphia, three landed in an area of the Citizens Bank Park bleachers separated by a mere three rows and two seats.

Leave Him Home!
Jonathan Broxton’s blown save in Game Four of the NLCS—which put Philadelphia in a three-games-to-one driver’s seat—only compounded the reputation and reality of the Dodger closer’s Jekyll-and-Hyde routine in regards to his 2009 home-and-away pitching performance. Including the postseason, Broxton was sick at Dodger Stadium; he blew just one save opportunity, struck out 76 batters in 49.1 innings and opposing hitters batted below .100. On the road, Broxton was, well, sickly. He blew six save opps, walked 21 batters in 33.1 innings and produced a rotten 5.94 ERA.

Reborn in October
At the start of the postseason, many experts believed that Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge would be a dangerous liability for the Phillies. Proving that predicting anything in October is just as dangerous, Lidge has converted all three of his save opportunities so far in the playoffs, allowing no runs on a single hit in four innings—while the closers for all other participating postseason teams have blown six of 15 opps.

Caught Dancing in the Dark
On the eve of the Dodgers’ departure from the NLCS, manager Joe Torre couldn’t help but take in a Bruce Springsteen concert at The Spectrum in Philadelphia as The Boss (that’s Springsteen, not George Steinbrenner) put on a series of gigs to usher in the end of the 42-year old arena. In turn, observant concertgoers couldn’t help but out Torre from the crowd, as numerous Tweets fueled the rumor-go-round and Torre’s face eventually showed up on the arena screen to a chorus of boos and “Beat L.A.” chants.

Now Playing at TGG
Check out Ed Attanasio's interview with former Baltimore slugger Jim Gentile in the latest TGG installment of They Were There.

Also Now Playing at TGG
TGG's year-end review of the regular season is now live, breaking down the best, worst, most surprising and most disappointing performances from each major league team.

A Non-Story That's All Wet
With their 1999 season literally on the line, the New York Mets crowded one against another on the dugout railing to root on their mates against Atlanta Braves and force a Game Seven of the NLCS—all while two other (and apparently disgruntled) Met players, Rickey Henderson and Bobby Bonilla, we’re more concerned about playing cards in the team’s clubhouse. This past week, more noise was made of Manny Ramirez’s ninth-inning shower at Philadelphia, all while the Dodgers tried—and failed—to hold onto a slim lead that gave the Phillies the Game Four win and control of the NLCS.

Bloggers and the media had a field day, criticizing Ramirez—who had been removed from the game—for not hanging out in the dugout to support his team. Perhaps so, but even his Dodger teammates didn’t seem to think the act was egregious, saying that substituted position players often head for the showers late in a game, even if it’s down to the wire. Ramirez has done far worse deeds when on the field, as exhibited in his last days as a Boston Red Sock in 2008. This was much ado about nothing.

This Week at Court With the McCourts
Most disgruntled husbands don’t get the opportunity to fire their estranged wives, but in the latest salvo of what appears to be fast evolving into a titanic family power struggle, Dodger owner Frank McCourt gave the pink slip to his wife Jamie as the team’s CEO. Mrs. Dodger, of course, says that Mr. Dodger can’t fire her; she claims to own half the team, a contention Mr. Dodger and his lawyers disagree. Stay tuned for next week’s episode of “As the Dodgers Turn.”

More Elbow Room
After last year, Albert Pujols decided he would have minor surgery performed on a right elbow that had become so bothersome, he couldn’t extend his arm completely. It appeared that the procedure freed Pujols for at least the first three months of the 2009 season, when he hit 30 homers in 78 games. But the power gradually slipped away in the season’s second half, and he failed to park one over the outfield wall in the Cardinals’ final 24 games of the year, including the postseason. Still, he led the majors with 47 long balls and will likely be rewarded with his second consecutive NL MVP award.

This past week, Pujols went back under the knife—but again, without addressing the core problem of a torn ligament which, if directly dealt with, would require recovery time of nine months or longer. Bone spurs and loose bone chips were removed, and Pujols is expected to be fully ready for spring training. What’s just as important, according to team doctors, is that Pujols will likely not have to deal with another postseason surgery like those of the past two years following the 2010 campaign.

Go Go, Johjima
Some Japanese imports meet with success in America—see Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui—and then there are players like Kenji Johjima, the Seattle catcher who announced this past week that he’s headed back to Japan after a four-year tenure in the majors that started off well but fell into instant and unbreakable decline. The 33-year old grew so frustrated with his diminishing role—a state of affairs due in part to a series of injuries—that he’s even turning his back on $16 million he was contracted to earn if he stayed in Seattle through 2011. Johjima’s departure leaves the Mariners with only Adam Moore—he of six career major league appearances—as the only catcher on the roster who’ll be ready for spring training.

Wrong New Yorkers, Boys
Here’s a phrase that’s worth a thousand punch lines: Early this past week, StubHub was advertising tickets for New York Mets playoff games.

A Tad Presumptuous, Boys
A web page on offered apparel celebrating the Yankees’ AL pennant—before the series-clinching Game Six.

Coming Soon: Expanded Instant Replay
If the umpires working the postseason are considered MLB’s best, God help us.

Take the TGG All-Time Hit Quiz
How well do you know your knowledge when it comes to baseball’s all-time hit leaders? Here’s 22 questions that will test your trivia know-how.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.