Taking a look at the L.A. Dodgers' roster would leave many in awe.
So many big names on the Dodgers.
The arms, for instance, that L.A. trotted out there in Game One of the NLCS would make any team envious.
Derek Lowe, Chan Ho Park, and Greg Maddux—a trio of former 18-game winners—worked the first seven innings.
Granted, Park hasn't really been that great for almost a decade, and Maddux is on his last legs. But still, there were some pretty big names there.
Skipper Joe Torre has won four World Series titles before as a big-league manager and is in the postseason for the 13th straight year.
And of course, they've got Manny Ramirez, certainly the hottest batter in all of baseball ever since the end of July, hitting third in the lineup.
Say what you want about Ramirez's attitude, but the former World Series MVP can sure hit. Doubles, homers, whatever the Dodgers have needed, Ramirez has delivered.
In fact, Ramirez did just that in the very first inning Thursday, doubling home a run off Cole Hamels to give his team a great start.
Yes, a collection of stars with the aforementioned crew, and there are others who aren't even in the spotlight at the present time.
Former N.L. MVP Jeff Kent, who pinch-hit for Park in the seventh inning, isn't even a starter at second base these days. Ditto Nomar Garciaparra, ex-batting champ. And Andruw Jones isn't even on the postseason roster.
Indeed, there are those who say the Dodgers will make it to the World Series this year, with Manny, with Torre, with the way they finished September when they beat out the Arizona Diamondbacks for the N.L. West title.
And of course, there are those who say it's fate, Manny perhaps going up against his old team.
With many baseball fans in North America wanting to see a Dodgers-Red Sox Fall Classic, with Manny going back to Boston and perhaps shooting for another World Series MVP or the Red Sox's Jason Bay continuing his clutch hitting, the other two teams still alive in this year's postseason surely have something to say.
On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Phillies certainly did their part, spotting the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS opener at Citizens Bank Park before rallying for a 3-2 triumph.
A hustling Shane Victorino reached on a two-base error, leading off the sixth before Chase Utley tied things up with a two-run bomb.
Pat Burrell then took Lowe deep, and the Dodgers were done, as nine of the final 10 L.A. batters were retired in the last three innings of the ballgame.
So, don't count on a Dodger-Red Sox World Series just yet. The Phillies have a 1-0 series lead over the Dodgers with Game Two happening less than 24 hours later, while the Tampa Bay Rays host Boston on Friday night.
Yes, the Dodgers have a great collection of talent. But the Phillies aren't a group of no-namers either.
Burrell, who clubbed two homers in the final game of the NLDS to finish off the Milwaukee Brewers, is 5-for-7 with three dingers.
Utley, like Burrell, hit 33 bombs during the season. After a miserable division series (.133), Utley's two-run blast in the NLCS opener may be a sign of big things to come. We shall see.
And despite Ryan Howard's yearly declining batting average (he hit .251 average this year) and large number of strikeouts (199), the first baseman still hit 48 home runs to lead the Phillies. Surely he'll be heard from at some point during the NLCS.
Hamels, one of the best young pitchers in the game, will pitch again in the series. Judging by the way he has pitched in the postseason so far this year (2-0, 17 K's in 15 innings), the Dodgers will be in tough in Game Five—assuming the series lasts that long.
So, despite the Dodgers' star-studded roster, don't bet the farm on the N.L. West champs getting to the promised land...yet.
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