Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rounding third should never be this unpleasant

Last night's Phillies game against the Houston Astros was as triumphant as the final class presentation of Bill S. Preston, Esq. & and "Ted" Theodore Logan which allowed Ted to stay in Cali and form the Wyld Stallyns. ("SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!") I don't think I've ever seen the boys in red play such inspired ball in the bottom of the ninth after looking all but asleep against Shawn Chacon & Co. in the previous 8.

A guy who I had never heard of, Chris Snelling, got things going with a bang. Burrell followed up his efforts with an inconceivable bomb to right to tie the score at 3. Following a pesky Gieoaeff Jenkins walk, Pedro Feliz scorched a Velvarde fastball down the left field foul-line.

Freeze this moment.

If you have closely watched the Phils over the last year and a half, you come to expect certain things. Myers is an asshole, Utley is a gamer, Howard is streaky, Victorino is squirrely, Hamels is a heart-throb, Romero is the best player of all, and Rollins does a little shuffle/bat kick/tap thing with his cleat after getting brushed back when he hits lefty. Above all of these certains, however, is the consistently poor job done by Phils third base coach Steve Smith. While attending my first game of the season, I openly disparaged his efforts to Tall Man and others within earshot. Hopefully, after last night, the Phils will go to Criagslist for a potential replacement because his judgment is as sound as one who passes gas in the middle of a set of sit-ups.

With the ball trickling up the line, heady veteran Jenkins watched its trajectory, speed, and angle, along with the actions and pursuit of the Astros left fielder. After getting halfway to third from second, he put his head down and entered endgame mode.

This is where Steve fucking Smith throws up the stop sign. Keep in mind that there is one out and a catcher is coming up next followed by the pitcher's spot. Jenkins has been chugging hard off contact. The game is already tied- if we were still down one this is the right call. If you get thrown out here, we at least go to extras where Romero could potentially pitch eight perfect innings. You gotta send him here. Luckily, heady vet Jenkins declined Smith's advice and ended up scoring on a bang-bang play to win the game.

Two things to take from this event:

1) Steve Smith is always wrong
2) Always go balls deep, especially when it means beating last year's save champ in the bottom of the ninth on Jackie Robinson Day-- for who else so emblazoned images of snatching victory of the jaws of defeat in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds?

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