Ryan Howard, One Man Platoon, and Other NLCS Thoughts
Ryan Howard brandished his bat at Dodgers' pitcher Randy Wolf in the first inning of game four, and Wolf was undoubtedly intimidated. Ryan has been the most lethal force so far in this postseason, batting .379 with an OPS of 1.25. He has 14 RBIs in only 29 at bats, and by the way, he is batting .291 against lefties.
Randy Wolf was suppose to be another southpaw from the Dodgers' flotilla of lefty pitchers that would neutralize Howard and the Phillies lineup. And just like the other southpaws Ryan has faced this postseason, he demoralized Wolf with a smash into the stands.
Ryan Howard is squashing his tribulations against left handed pitching. He still does worse against lefties than righties, but he has fixed the holes in his swing and he is currently too hot for any pitcher to handle.
Chan Ho Park had another strong outing in last night's game and he is currently the Phillies' most dominant relief pitcher. He's using 4 different pitches with success and displays the control of virtuoso conductor. He can hit 96 on the radar gun and very few balls leave the infield.
He was credited with a loss in game two, yet the two hits he allowed were dribblers with the velocity of a hamster. Utley is debatably more culpable than Park for the loss; his Chuck Knoblauch impression nearly cost the Phillies game one as well.
Park's rise coincides with Madson's fall from grace and who knows which Lidge will show up any given day; there's the Lidge that blows games and the Lidge that nearly blows games. Ultimately, Phillies fans can feel safe with Chan Ho Park in the bullpen. (This entire paragraph may originate from the fact that Chan Ho Park's playoff beard may be the most resplendent Korean facial hair I have ever seen in my life. He looks like a cross between Paul Bunyan and Ken Watanabe. I can only hope to one day grow a beard that is half as full as his.)
I was lucky enough to attend game four and amid the jubilee, it was easy to see that this Phillies team simply refuses to lose. Philadelphia is lucky to have a team that is somehow even more motivated after winning a championship. This team possesses the special "it" factor necessary to win postseason games and potentially multiple championships.
If you have a tough time perceiving the Phillies' hidden quality that keeps them winning, just look across the street at the Eagles. The Eagles always have a talented team yet they don't have the gumption that the Phil's possess. If you ruffle their feathers, sometimes they don't fight back. This attitude leads to inexplicable losses like the one against the Raiders last weekend. This is why the Eagles have to make changes to the roster before they can win a Super Bowl.
The Dodgers are still a lethal team and it would be premature to say this series is over. However, if the Phillies do advance, this team deserves to be recognized for their relentless spirit and unbending will.
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