By Bill Campbell
Most baseball fans will remember the 2010 NLDS for the superb pitching of Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. Cincinnati third baseman Scott Rolen, who had a miserable series, commented after Halladay’s great no-hitter that he wouldn’t have believed he would ever have been anxious to face Roy Oswalt. And we have yet to see Oswalt at his best – at least in the post-season. But Rolen, who looked like he didn’t want to see anybody, made a good point.
Many will also remember the 2010 NLDS because of a player named Brooks Conrad of the Atlanta Braves who had trouble catching the ball. Old-timers still talk about Bill Buchner’s miscue of many years ago but Conrad’s day was one for the ages. He tied a major league record of three errors in one game. He simply couldn’t catch the ball. With the Braves within one out of taking control of the series from San Francisco, Conrad’s third error on a ground ball by Buster Posey went right through his legs to give the Giants a 3-2 win. The Braves then punched their travel ticket to Philadelphia and this big series with the Phillies which begins here on Saturday.
Due to injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado, Atlanta manager Bobby Cox had to play Conrad, a guy who had made eight errors in his last seven games dating back to the regular season. But three in one game is rather hard to do. After complete silence enveloped the ballpark, Atlanta first baseman Derrek Lee finally walked over to Conrad and patted him on the back in consolation. It will be a long winter for Brooks Conrad.
The Braves had to use rookie reliever Craig Kimbrel as a closer in the ninth because its stalwart saver, Billy Wagner, was not available. He had been removed from the roster before the game with a pulled muscle. Had Wagner been available, all this tragedy involving Conrad might have been avoided and Bobby Cox might still be managing against the Phillies on Saturday. Both Cox and Wagner had announced their retirement at season’s end, which turned out to be last Sunday, the final game for both.
It’s been said forever that pitching is seventy-five percent of the game and pitching seems to have been the feature story in most of the post-season games. And while we wait to see what Eagle coach Andy Reid will do about his quarterback situation for this Sunday’s game with the Atlanta Falcons, what better way to spend the weekend time than watching Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum, two of the game’s best pitchers? This will be the first time the Phillies and Giants have ever faced each other in the post-season and the Giants have not won a World Series since they moved to San Francisco in 1958. While we are familiar with the Phillies’ pitching, spear-headed by their three aces, it should be pointed out that the Giants 3.36 ERA led the major leagues this past season, as did their 1,331 strike-outs and their 236 batting average against opposing hitters. And their 1.78 ERA was the best ever for the crucial month of September. The Phils and the Giants have split six games during the season. It should be an interesting sports weekend in South Philadelphia.