World Series Post-Mortem and Notes

Now that it's sunk in that the Phillies didn't repeat as World Series Champions, it's time to take a final look back at the Fall Classic and clean out the old notepad.

For 371 days, over thousands of miles - from spring training in Clearwater, Florida, to 18 cities across the majors, even on an afternoon in May at the White House - they were hailed as champions of baseball. It was an impressive reign, filled with star-making performances and countless memories.

And it ended so abruptly.

It came to a close Wednesday night in the South Bronx. The Phillies passed the crown to the New York Yankees, 7-3, in Game Six of the World Series, and when it was over, many of them lingered in the dugout and gazed at their vanquishers, who were celebrating with "We Are The Champions" blaring in the background.

"I watched it," said tortured closer Brad Lidge, the reality only starting to set in inside a quiet clubhouse. "It makes you remember how last year we were able to do the same thing ourselves. We came really close this year, and I think every one of us feels like we have the capability to do it again next year."

Said shortstop Jimmy Rollins, "Never look back. It'll still feel good to win it every other year."

Even after being dethroned, the Phillies didn't lose their swagger.

Before the Series opened, the defending champs talked of destiny and the makings of a dynasty. They were 18-5 over the past two postseasons, and they walked and talked with all the confidence of a team that believed it would become only the third National League club in the last 100 years to win back-to-back World Series.

Rollins, their resident Nostradamus, even guaranteed they would defeat the Yankees - and in only five games.

But the postseason kings of the past year were trumped by kings of the postseason. These weren't the same Yankees that won four titles in five years from 1996 through 2000, but they still had Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and incomparable closer Mariano Rivera.

And they still knew how to win.

Jeter batted .407 (11-for-27) in the series, while Posada picked up one hit in every game but the clincher. Pettitte won Game Three in Philadelphia, then came back on three days rest and gave the Yankees 5 2/3 strong innings Wednesday night. And Rivera retired 16 batters in four games, bailing out an unreliable bullpen.

The Phillies, meanwhile, were doomed by the Game Three meltdown of 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels, Lidge's ninth-inning collapse in Game Four, and the sudden slump of Ryan Howard, who went 4-for-23 (.174) with one home run and set a World Series record with 13 strikeouts.

"We got outplayed," Cliff Lee said. "They beat us. We got this far, and we were unable to finish it off. This is not the way we wanted to end it, but there's no reason why we shouldn't be back here next year."

Meanwhile...

  • Chase Utley notched his second multi-homer game of the World Series in Game Five and tied Reggie Jackson's mark for the most homers in a World Series. Jackson hit five homers in six games in the 1977 Series. "I used to say Kirby Puckett was my favorite player," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "The only thing Kirby might have on Chase is he's more flamboyant because he smiles a lot, and Chase is a little bit different. But Chase Utley is a pleasure to be around and a pleasure to manage. I don't want to embarrass him or nothing, but sometimes I tell our players, 'Just play with Chase' because if you play with Chase, you've got a chance to be a pretty good player."
  • Cliff Lee allowed five runs in seven innings in Game 5 but earned the victory, his fourth in the postseason. Lee has worked at least seven innings in all five of his playoff starts. He's also the second Phillies pitcher to win two games in one World Series, joining Steve Carlton (1980). Lee's postseason ERA stands at 1.56.
  • Ryan Howard connected for his first home run of the World Series in the sixth inning of Game Six. But Howard also struck out in the eighth, setting a record for most strikeouts in a Series with 13. Howard finished the postseason with 17 RBI, tying the all-time record for an NL player. San Francisco's Rich Aurilia and Florida's Ivan Rodriguez each had 17 RBI in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
  • Shane Victorino bounded up the dugout steps, wearing a glove on his left hand and gripping a bat with his right, and walked toward the batting cage. "Ready to roll," he said. As long as Victorino's right index finger remained attached, he wouldn't have missed Game Six of the World Series on Wednesday night at new Yankee Stadium. And with the Phillies needing to win to extend their season, he took his usual spot in center field. Victorino didn't even have to convince manager Charlie Manuel. The swelling in his finger, bruised but not broken by an A.J. Burnett fastball in the first inning of Game Five on Monday night, had subsided enough that he no longer had difficulty swinging the bat or throwing a ball. But Victorino appeared to have trouble throwing in the third inning when Hideki Matsui laced a two-run single to center field. Victorino also misplayed a line drive by Derek Jeter, breaking back before racing in and having the ball fall in front of him.


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