Written By: Paul Jolovitz – Every sport has a postseason. In our four professional majors, there are different keys to winning. In hockey, the goalie must be great. In the NBA, you gotta play the halfcourt game, and defense is the largest key. In the NFL, qb’s + defense = Lombardi.
In baseball, however, it is different, much different. Why? Pitching is still pitching, right? Well, no.
In football, the starters play in the regular season, and nothing changes in the playoffs. Ditto in basketball and hockey. Benches may shorten at key times, but all of the healthy contributors usually play.
October baseball is like a space liftoff, however. As a team exits the regular season atmosphere and enters the rarefied air of the postseason, the fifth starter is dropped like a used fuel cell, and the fourth hangs on to be used when needed. A marathon of 162 gives way to sprints of 5 and hopefully 7 games. Give me three aces, and I’ll give you a seat at the final table of the World Series of Poker, baseball style. Add an effective bullpen and a closer, and you might be showing me the money, baby.
There are teams built for the regular season, and teams built for the postseason. The Phillies are the latter. Joe Blanton is a solid fourth starter. Kyle Kendrick has been up and down all season. Jamie Moyer was effective prior to being injured.
Winning the World Series should be the only goal of any baseball franchise. In 2010, Ruben Amaro has proven it to be the case in Philadelphia in how he has built our Phillies, in spades (Roy Halladay),and hearts (Cole Hamels), and diamonds (Roy Oswalt). Three starters, a bullpen, and clutch hitting. If a rejuvenated Brad Lidge can team up with Ryan Madson to close games, then the Phillies are, by far, the best team in the majors as October awaits.
The Yankees? CC Sabathia is great. Andy Pettitte must be healthy. AJ Burnett has not been in 2010 what he was last year. And the bridge to Mariano Rivera has teetered as well.
Tampa? After David Price, there are many Robins, but no Batman. The same goes for Texas and Minnesota.
Wait, Jolly, what about the National League?
Atlanta has Tim Hudson, Cincinnati has no true ace, and San Diego’s Mat Latos has been awful this month. Colorado has Ubaldo Jimenez, and little else.
The San Francisco Giants are the other team that is built for the postseason. With Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, as well as a good closer in Brian Wilson, they can scare a team in a short series.
The Phillies are well built for the regular season, and the addition of Roy Oswalt has made them nearly perfectly built for October. Cole Hamels has shined in the postseason. Roy Halladay awaits his turn.
If they can clinch an invite to the dance, the final episode may be on Broad Street, with the best fans in America.