Oct 18

TALKIN’ BASEBALL: NLCS Game #3; Phillies send Lee to mound.

After an afternoon of football, it’s time to return to baseball and tonight’s NLCS Game #3 between the Phillies and Dodgers. The Phillies were on the cusp of taking a commanding 2-0 series lead, but their bullpen collapsed.

LEE: Hot pitcher faces Dodgers.

LEE: Hot pitcher faces Dodgers.

Tonight, the Phillies will send Cliff Lee to the mound. He’s been nearly untouchable in his first two playoff starts against Colorado. He went the distance in Game 1 of the Division Series, beating the Rockies, 5-1. He gave up one earned run in the Game 4 clincher.

“He’s a guy that’s a gamer and that’s what I love about him,” said outfielder Shane Victorino. “It’s definitely a nice position to be in to have him getting the ball in Game 3.”

That the Phillies bullpen gave it up in Game 2 wasn’t a surprise. Neither that the Dodgers rallied. They’ve had 43 come-from-behind wins, including 23 in their last at-bat.

“We’ve been doing it all year, it seems like. We’re relentless. We never give up,” Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. “We go out there and compete, play through 27 outs, and whatever happens, happens. But we never keep our heads down.”

Oct 16

It’s about heart ….

In watching the Phillies play, I would think Mets fans would fall in love with this team if they played in Citi Field. They show the heart and hustle and spunk Mets fans demand from their team, but haven’t received in a long time.

The Phillies make things happen, and as powerful as they are, it isn’t always with the long ball. In that regard, they and the Angels are the playoff teams having the grit Mets fans desire for their team.

The Yankees?

The Yankees are the Yankees, they’ll always be good because they can’t accept losing. Mets fans would love that mentality from their management. But, the Yankees, and their fans, also carry a sense of entitlement with them that is annoying.

I believe, that after the disappointment of the 2006 season, the Mets carried with them a sense of expectations of winning. That’s good, but the reality was they overestimated themselves and believed they were better than they were, which isn’t good.

Hopefully, and I have my doubts, the Mets learned from the 2009 train wreck. If they believe that just being healthy will put them over the top, they are mistaken. This team has talent, but not enough. It lacks the pitching, the fundamental base, and all too often, the heart of a champion.

There were far too many times this season when they mailed it in.

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?