After nearly 48 hours of second-guessing regarding the circumstances under which Game Five was played and halted, speculation as to how the Rays could sustain their stay of execution to overcome a 3-1 series deficit, and unanswered questions about travel days and the amount of rest Cole Hamels might need before taking the hill again, the Phillies brought the World Series to an abrupt end on Wednesday night. Once play resumed, they outscored the Rays over the remaining 3½ innings to claim the second World Championship of their 126-year history.Utley's play was the big one last night, worthy of World Series lore. He stopped Akinori Iwamura's up-the-middle single before it could leave the infield, and after pump-faking to first base as Jason Barrett barreled around third, he threw a perfect peg to Carlos Ruiz that beat Bartlett by a mile, preserving a 3-3 tie.
...Yesterday morning, on my weekly radio hit for WWZN-Boston's "The Young Guns" show [linked here, complete with an overly generous helping of "uhhhs" and "you knows" reflecting the caffeine's slower-than-anticipated effect on my synapses], I was asked what it was that people missed about the Phillies this year, given that four teams (the Angels, Cubs, Rays, and Red Sox) won more games. Obviously, they weren't hurt by having to face only one of those teams in the postseason, but they shouldn't have been underestimated by anyone. They did have the game's third-best run differential (+119), a nascent ace who was the best pitcher of the postseason (Cole Hamels), a bullpen tailor-made for October game-shortening, and a blend of power and speed among a strong, productive supporting cast surrounding the NL's previous two MVPs and a guy who out-WARP'd them both over the past three years:Player 2006 2007 2008 TotalNone of those three players had a dominant series at the plate, but they did have their moments. Rollins was in a 9-for-47 post-season funk before he led off Game Three with a single and scored the first run; he collected three hits and scored three runs in the Phillies' 10-2 rout the following night. Howard, after being controlled by a steady stream of breaking pitches and unfavorable matchups (for him), took advantage of Maddon's faith in struggling Andy Sonnanstine and broke Game Four open with a three-run shot, then added another off of lefty Trever Miller later in the game. Utley only collected three hits in the series, but two were home runs, and his defensive wizardry brought to mind a combination of Graig Nettles' clutch acrobatics in the 1978 World Series and Derek Jeter's field presence in the 2001 postseason, at least as far as this writer is concerned.
Chase Utley 8.3 10.4 10.6 29.3
Jimmy Rollins 8.2 11.2 7.4 26.8
Ryan Howard 9.7 7.7 5.4 22.8
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