Oct 15

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: NLCS Game #1: Phillies at Dodgers

Game #1: Philadelphia at Los Angeles.

Game #1: Philadelphia at Los Angeles.

The Phillies didn’t exactly sprint into October, but they are here and they know what’s at stake. And, even before the first pitch, they know it will be tougher this season.

It is always tougher to repeat, and the Phillies aren’t boasting of slicing through the Dodgers in five games as they did last autumn.

“Believe me, we came back here to win,” said Philllies manager Charlie Manuel. “I have more determination probably than I had last year, and I mean that from the fact that that’s how much I want it, and I think I know how much our players want it.”

The Phillies are trying to become the first repeat champions since Joe Torre’s Yankees won three straight, 1998-2000.

“When you repeat, you basically have to go through a tougher season to get there,” said Torre, now manager of the Dodgers. “You’ve got a bull’s-eye on your back. Everyone seems to put on their Sunday best to play you. You always get the best pitchers matching up.”

In at match-up of lefthanders, Clayton Kershaw starts for the Dodgers against Cole Hamels.

Kershaw lost twice to the Phillies this season, but he said he’ll still attempt to be aggressive.

Kershaw was 0-2 against the Phillies in the regular season, but he plans an aggressive approach.

“I’m not trying to sit up there and walk people or try and pitch around someone else,” Kershaw said. “You can’t go out there with that mindset. They’ve got a great lineup. But the pitcher’s job is just to go right after them with your best stuff.”

Oct 12

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #4 and the Jets.

Let’s face it folks, the Mets’ real rival are the Phillies, not the Yankees, and fans of Flushing could get an in-your-face reminder of what separates Philadelphia and New York, and it isn’t the Jersey Turnpike.

The Phillies can wrap up their NLDS with Colorado tonight and move on to the next round against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cliff Lee, the pitcher the Phillies weren’t afraid to pursue while the Mets waited for John Maine and Oliver Perez to get healthy, and Mike Pelfrey to get his head on straight, can wrap it up tonight.

After the playoffs, move on over to the Monday Night game and let’s talk about the Jets and Dolphins.

Oct 09

Pedro wants the ball ….

I’m not second-guessing the Mets’ decision not to bring back Pedro Martinez. I thought it was time to move on also. However, in light of the collapse of the Mets pitching staff, Martinez’s success with the Phillies shows they might have made a mistake.

Martinez finds himself in position where he could get the ball in the pivotal Game 3 of the Phillies’ NLDS at Colorado tomorrow.

The decision will be announced between Martinez, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ. Martinez thinks it will be him.

“I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s my turn,” Martinez said. “I’m supposed to get some action in there. And I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to help this team. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do that.”

Martinez was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA this season in a couple of months with the Phillies. If used the right way, meaning as a back end of the rotation starter, he could be valuable, and his numbers will get him a job if he wants to pitch again.

Did the Mets make a mistake?

Oct 09

Put up or shut up ….

The Mets have always been an organization that has placed a lot of premium on talking and hoping for the best. We don’t often see times when they take charge in determining their destiny. Even Johan Santana, they admit, was because the market came back to them.

We have now learned the train wreck that was the 2009 season was the fault of coaches Sandy Alomar Sr. and Luis Alicea, both with limited responsibilities. It wasn’t as if they controlled a pitching staff that walked over 600 hitters or an offense that hit less than 100 homers.

Mets ownership is saying Omar Minaya has the resources to spend in the free-agent market and the nine-lived general manager is saying he will make trades despite a thin farm system.

The Mets have their new stadium, they have their showplace, which was filled for the most part this summer. But, it won’t be long before Citi Field won’t be a magnet anymore. It happened in Camden Yards and Jacobs Field. Eventually, thirty brands of microbrew, BBQ and clam chowder aren’t a draw anymore. Fans will soon learn it is easier to go to a local pub for those things than pay the price to drive out to Queens.

The Braves improved this year as did the Marlins, and we know the Phillies will be aggressive. If the Mets don’t dramatically improve, they could be looking up for a number of seasons to come. This offseason has the potential to shape the Mets for the next several seasons. If they prove to be all talk and fizzle again, we’ll be faced with another rebuilding phase.

Oct 08

Talkin’ Baseball: The Playoffs continue.

No real surprises last night in the first day of the Division Series. The Yankees, Phillies and Dodgers all won as the home teams rolled. Of the three losing teams, I see only the Cardinals of rebounding to take their series.

Obviously, the defending world champs aren’t a media darling. They have another afternoon game today. Cole Hamels is starting and could give the Phillies a chokehold in their series with the Rockies.