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Shane Victorino tries to get to Ryan Vogelsong after he is hit
Competition has a way of bringing out the best and worst in players. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies last year in the NLCS, on their way to their first World Series victory since 1954.
The Phillies and many in the baseball world figured they were destined for the World Series, until they were over matched by the Giants' stellar pitching and some timely hitting, primarily from NLCS MVP, Cody Ross.
The Phillies and Giants have had several physical and verbal altercations this season already. The Giants do not feel that the Phillies respect them and Philadelphia believes the Giants took something last year that was rightfully theirs.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was critical of Bruce Bochy's all-star selections and also questioned his use of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in that game.
Bochy pitched both Halladay and Lee, but not his stars Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. I give this argument very little credence as Halladay and Lee had better numbers than Lincecum and Cain and therefore, deserved to pitch.
Manuel also has not given the Giants pitching any respect, instead saying that his hitters and their approach was the problem.
Three additional incidents have added fuel to this rivalry. In last years NLCS Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley, who flipped the ball back to Sanchez. Sanchez took offense and the two got into a shouting match, as the benches emptied.
Reliever Jeremy Affeldt came in and shut down the rally and the Giants went on to win a crucial playoff game.
This year, we have seen Jimmy Rollins steal a base with the Phillies leading the Giants 8-2 in the 6th inning. This violated is one of those unwritten baseball rules about showing up your opponent.
That led Ramon Ramirez to hit batter Shane Victorino with the very next pitch. He headed towards the mound but was cut off by the umpire. Victorino made contact with the umpire several times and was ultimately suspended.
Giants' catcher Eli Whiteside wrestled Placido Polanco to the ground after Polanco came running towards him. Meanwhile, Victorino got away from those trying to restrain him and rushed back into the fray. Punches were thrown and it was an ugly situation.
Noted Philadelphia radio personality Tony Bruno tweeted a racial slur about Ramirez being an illegal alien. He took it off right away, but the damage was done. The ironic thing is that Bruno was a regular on the Giants' flagship station KNBR radio. His segment at KNBR was immediately discontinued.
If these two meet in the playoffs, we can expect an extremely hard fought, exciting series. Neither team will back down and Philadelphia will be trying to avenge their NLCS defeat to the Giants in 2010.