Game 5 Diary: The Roller Coaster

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So I realized a little too late (7:57 p.m. to be exact) that a Game 5 preview would be a little ridiculous. Instead, I committed myself to a running diary of a game that brought back terrifying flashbacks for all Cubs fans. Here’s what transpired: 

8:07 p.m. ET:  Just had the following conversation in an attempt to get the T.V. switched from “Backyardigans” to Game 5 with my 3-year old daughter:

Me: “Ok, baby, it’s time to watch sports.”
Her: “But I’m watching this.
Me: “But it’s my turn…?”
Her: “Well, watch it on your computer.”
Me: “Fine…” (thinking)… “No, we need to change it.”

Good start. I ended up changing it when she ran to the bathroom.

8:13: Joe Buck brings me back from commercial to introduce me to the starting line-ups for the Phillies. So I’ve already missed a half inning. Great. At least I got back to get this nugget from our buddy Tim McCarver: First pitch strikes are important to being a successful pitcher. Also, oxygen is important for breathing.

8:13: And the Yankees scored already?! I don’t think I’m going to make it through this. If I have to watch the Yankees with their 27th Championship, all of which have come since my Cubs won their last one, well… let’s just say it won’t end well.

 8:15: Victorino hit by a pitch! Right after giving up a base hit to Rollins… Can we get a fight already? How about at least the benches clearing at least? How many important guys from each team do we need to plunk before we get some fistacuffs? Maybe we need some drunk Philly fans to stir things up. I hope Cliff Lee hits A-Rod right in the temple. I really do.

8:17: Chase Utley! World Series MVP regardless. Any time you single-handedly keep your team in a series, you deserve to win the MVP. So much for that throw a strike on the first pitch theory, T-Mac. (Ya, McCarver stole Tracy McGrady’s nickname. Old T-Mac has been out of comission for like, a decade. You don’t get to hold onto nickname rights if you don’t play.)

8:22: A.J. Burnett just threw two pitches to Jason Werth for strikes that were in the same spot as Ryan Howard’s ball four. Gotta love these umpires.

8:25: Teixeira seems to make a terriffic diving stop in every inning of this World Series. Though it looked like that ball was going to hit Ryan Howard and could’ve been a double play. Go figure.

8:36: Man, Cliff Lee looks good. I still don’t understand why Charlie Manuel didn’t pitch him last night (Game 4) against a guy who is always good (Sabathia), leaving him the option to pitch your best pitcher in Game 7 (if needed), then pitching Blanton opposite the bi-polar Burnett in Game 5. But hey, that’s coming from a guy who would have taken Mark Prior out after 7 innings back in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Wait, why am I bringing that up?

8:41 p.m. After watching Molina’s at-bat last half inning, I just realized that the Yankees line-up is extra depleated tonight since Burnett and Posada are fighting like junior high girls.

8:43 p.m.: Apparently Victorino’s right hand will be tonight’s “Brett Farve just has fun out there” Overused-Storyline-of-the-Night.” Good to know.

 8:46 p.m.: Just stole a quick look at the Monday Night Football game in time to see Micheal Turner score a touchdown. (Is that allowed? I don’t know the rules to a running diary.) Super. I need Marques Colston and Mike Peterson to combine for 50 points tonight to win my fantasy matchup this week.

8:49 p.m. So not only can he barely take off his glove, but Victorino also is struggling throwing a baseball after getting drilled by a 95 mph fastball right on his knuckle. Who woulda thought? Also, Jeter is going to exploit that fact on the bases. You know, since he’s 0-2 so far.

8:55 p.m.: A-Rod stepping up to the plate with Tex on first and 2 out…. Hit him! Hit him in his head! Start a fight! It’s your only chance in this series!

8:55 p.m.: Just a simple fly-out to Victorino. And here I’ve been told all this time that Charlie Manuel was a tough guy.

9:06 p.m.: We have our first meeting on the mound! It’s the bottom of the 3rd inning. Over under on visits from catchers/coaches/hot dog vendors is 16.5. I’ll take the over.

9:08 p.m.: Jayson Werth with a single to extend the Philly lead to 4-1, followed by Ibanez making it 5-1. Looks like Joe Blanton could have won this game. Charlie Manuel really screwed up. No one can tell me otherwise.

 9:20 p.m.: Molina visits Robertson twice in two minutes. That makes four visits this inning. We are totally going over 16.5.

9:21 p.m.: Another nugget of pure genius from new T-Mac: “Somewhere in a multi-run inning, there’s a walk.” Next inning, I’m hoping for, ‘when you strike guys out, you don’t give up a lot of hits.’

9:23 p.m.: Decent job by Robertson to only allow one run. The one advantage of Burnett being bounced for the Yanks? Posada can replace Molina’s corpse at the plate.

9:24 p.m.: Breaking news: Shane Victorino hurt his right hand when he got hit by a pitch. He’s tough, and playing hurt. I know, shocking. Glad to help.

9:26 p.m.: Answer I wish Rich Dugga gave to “Do you like what you have seen out of Cliff Lee?”

‘Absolutely not. They scored a run. We’re already planning to shove bamboo shoots underneath his fingernails after the game.”

9:29 p.m.: Cliff Lee works another hitless inning. Which is perpetually confusing for me, since I missed the top of the first (and all of New York’s hits). I keep thinking, ‘Cliff Lee is going to throw a no-hitter tonight.’ Weird.

9:34 p.m.: Highlights from Joe Girardi’s interview: A.J. Burnett’s stuff wasn’t good. He likes it when his team hits the ball hard. Switch hitters are good for your line-up.

Glad to hear what it takes to manage a team with a $210 Million payroll.

9:38 p.m.: Back to back perfect half innings, meaning we are dangerously close to the “Middle Inning Blues,” a theory of mine where both teams go on cruise control until we hit about the seventh or eighth inning. Generally doesn’t happen in the postseason, but since it’s basically Thanksgiving, I’m guessing a few of the players could be confused.

9:41 p.m.: Just like clockwork: Posada bats for Molina. T-Mac thinks pinch hitting Jorge now could “buy him an extra at-bat.” I think it actually buys you two, since Molina doesn’t have to bat. He’s so bad, sometimes they award two outs when he comes to the plate.

9:45 p.m.: No chance Jeter falls into the M.I.B.s. Base hit, runners at first and third, one out. Time to see what Cliff Lee is made of.

9:47 p.m. Bone-head play by Howard, as he not only fails to get a double play, but also lets Hinske score. Absolutely inexcusable. That may come back to haunt the Phillies when they call upon their bullpen. No problem for Lee though, as he gets a soft fly-out by Teixeira to end the inning.

9:52 p.m.: Posada gets in on the action by running up to the mound for a chat. That’s 6 meetings by my count already (and just one mid-inning pitching change. Egads.) Good thing he did, or else there’s no way Brett Gardner breaks his ribs on the left-center wall. Great catch. Seriously, Posada went to the mound for that pitch?

9:56 p.m.: It’s not even 10:00 p.m., and we only have 4 innings left? Excellent.

9:57 p.m.: (Realizing I totally just jinxed this game, and we’re going ’til 1 a.m. at least)…. Damnit!

10:03 p.m.: Interesting thought: who pitches Game 6 for the Phillies? Pedro? Happ? Goodness, that’s scary. Any way Cliff Lee can go back-to-back?

10:06 p.m.: Cliff Lee still cruising through 6 innings. But he just threw pitch number 91, and if I am Charlie Manuel, I think I have to pull him. If you have any chance of getting something from him in the possible Game 7 (which would be on 3 actual days of rest), he has to be done now. And you have to show your team you’re thinking about getting to that Game 7, that you think you can still win the whole thing. So he’s gotta be done here. Though I would definitely take a shot of something hard first.

10:10 p.m.: Of course, Lee bats for himself. Looks like Charlie is betting on Pedro/Hamels/Blanton/Happ to win him the next two games. A.K.A. the 2009 Poo-Poo Playoff Platter of Pitchers. I hate baseball.

10:13 p.m.: Here comes the Yankee’s pitching coach (don’t know his name, nor do I care. I hate the Yankees.) Seven down, 10 more to go.

10:19 p.m.: Quick football check: 28-14 Saints. Need only 40 points in the second half to win. I’m sure we can pull this off.

10:21 p.m.: Home plate umpire Dana Demuth has my favorite called-third-strike move ever: the karate-style, toss an imaginary clay pigeon in the air, then catching it without looking. Glad I just got to see it while Posada was picking his nose.

10:33 p.m.: Another bomb by Chase Utley. That’s five for this World Series. In 4 2/3 games. Plus he’s got that greaser’s, slicked back hairstyle. M.V.P.

10:36 p.m.: Meanwhile, in the famine department, Ryan Howard just struck out for his record-tying 12th straight time. Again, if he was a Yankee (or A-Rod), he would be getting absolutely killed by the media. Incredible the amnesty a World Series ring brings to guys.

10:39 p.m.: See you Wednesday in the Big Apple. 8-2 Philly. The only thing in questions left to answer are: how many more mound visits do we see, and how many more Victorino’s hand references do we get?

10:43 p.m.: Can’t believe it took me four minutes to think about the obvious psychological beating Yankees fans are going to be taking for the next 48 hours as they think about 2004… ‘We were up 3-0 in that Series, but only 3-1 in this one. We couldn’t pitch around a left-handed slugger back then, either.’ This fact alone makes my night.

10:47 p.m.: I’m speechless. Cliff Lee is done for the postseason. Phillies chances to repeat were just cut in half. Not to mention, I’m having 2003 NLCS flashbacks already……..

10:50 p.m.: Infield hit (nearly a short-stop error) and a double, with A-Rod coming up to bat. All Cubs fans watching right now are rocking back and forth like crack-heads jonesing for a fix….

10:51 p.m.: The wheels are definitely loose. Double by Rodriguez. Apparently Dusty Baker is celebrating Halloween two days late, in a Charlie Manuel costume. That change came 3 batters too late. Hold on, I need to go throw up……

10:54 p.m.: So bringing in Chan Ho Park with a 4 run lead is safer than Park with a 6-run lead? I’m shaking. I cannot handle this. There’s a 56% chance this at-bat ends in a home run.

11:02 p.m.: (Huge exhale…………..)

11:10 p.m.: The Phillies go quietly. Not a good sign.

11:10 p.m.: Due up for the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth: Posada, Matsui, Jeter. I can think of like 8 big postseason hits between those guys. And they’re going to face Ryan Madson. And maybe Brad Lidge. This can’t end well. Can it??

11:13 p.m.: Here we go. I predict Brad Lidge coming in to face Mark Teixeira with the bases loaded and 1 out. (Can I try any harder to reverse jinx this game?)

11:15 p.m.: Double for Posada on a 3-1 grapefruit from Madson. Brett Myers is warming, with no sign of Brad Lidge. So much for that confidence in him, Charlie.

11:17 p.m.: Base hit Matsui. First and third, no one out, Jeter up to bat. Meeting at the mound with Madson. I’ve officially moved into numbed paranoia state, circa 2003. I hate baseball.

11:21 p.m.: Huge double play! Epic fail from Jeter. Might have been the happiest moment of my life, typing that last sentence…. Epic fail from Jeter.

11:22 p.m.: This crowd and Madson just went from, ‘Oh, f—‘ to ‘F— you’ with that double play.  Complete change in noise level and body language.

11:24 p.m.: Damon with a base hit, Tex is the tying run. I will now strangle myself with my “Cubs: 2008 NL Central Champions” T-Shirt.

11:26 p.m.: Strikeout. Game 6, here we come. Good thing Mark Teixeira didn’t realize that if you just wait, Madson will throw you a ball to crush out over the plate (like he just did for Damon). I don’t think I will be able to watch…. But at least the Yankees haven’t won number 27…. yet.

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