The 2008 World Series was the one hundred sixth year overall, and the one hundred fourth played, of the modern World Series which began in 1903. Many in the City of Brotherly Love had been struggling for a title for twenty-five years. Many believed that a curse had been placed upon them – the statue of William Penn was no longer the highest point until 2007, when Penn’s statue was added to the top of the Comcast Center. Only when the founder was on top again could the city be on top again.
(The 2008 World Series logo. Photo courtesy of http://www.sportslogos.net)
2008 World Series
Philadelphia Phillies (NL) over Tampa Bay Rays (AL), 4-1
Managers: Charlie Manuel (Philadelphia); Joe Maddon (Tampa Bay)
Hall of Famers*
Philadelphia: Pat Gillick (executive)
Tampa Bay: None
* – as of 2016
Series MVP: Cole Hamels, P (Philadelphia)
During 2008, I turned 21 years old. I was a junior in college. I remember where I was on November 4. My dorm roommate and I went downtown with our floor buddies after history was made. On that night, the world watched as Barack Obama became the first African-American elected to the presidency. In what was undoubtedly a painful concession speech, losing candidate John McCain, the last of a dying breed, commended the man “who will now be my President.” After eight years of controversy under George W. Bush, Obama swept into the White House under his mantra of “the audacity of hope.”
(Barack Obama takes the stage after winning the general election on November 4, 2008. Photo courtesy of CBS News.)
Several months before that, Michael Phelps set a record with winning eight gold medals in a single Olympics. Part of this was due to a spectacular finish in the 4×100 freestyle relay race, where teammate Jason Lezak came back from a full length back to catch France’s anchor Alain Bernard. It was one of the most excited swimming races people had ever witnessed. Lezak set a world record with a 46.06 split time on the final leg.
(The 2008 4×100 freestyle relay race helped Michael Phelps win eight golds in Beijing. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
(Michael Phelps poses with his eight gold medals won in Beijing. Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.)
On the diamond, several great players hung it up. Mike Mussina of the Yankees became one of the few pitchers to win 20 games in his final season. After years of close misses, it would be the only 20-win season of Mussina’s career.
(In his final season – and the final season at the old Yankee Stadium – Mike Mussina won 20 games. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.)
Speaking of finales, it would be the final season of the original Yankee Stadium, with a new manager in tow. Former catcher Joe Girardi was named as manager of the Yankees, after they were unable to negotiate with Joe Torre (he would join the Los Angeles Dodgers). Despite this, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years, ending their streak of thirteen straight appearances. But they’d be back the next year.
(The Yankees hire Joe Girardi as manager. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Several records fell: Ken Griffey, Jr. joined the 600 home run club, and would later be sent to the White Sox in an attempt to get to the Fall Classic; John Smoltz got his 3,000th strikeout, and Randy Johnson, back in Arizona, struck out Mike Cameron on June 3 for strikeout #4,673, second on the all-time list; Greg Maddux won his 350th game, and would finish his career this year with 355 wins, combining his stats with San Diego and the Dodgers. Frank Thomas, in his final season, tied Ted Williams and Willie McCovey with 521 home runs. Tom Glavine returned to Atlanta, winning his final two career games, finishing with 305 total. All three were first-ballot inductees in the Hall of Fame. The Boston Red Sox set a record by selling out their 456th consecutive home game on September 8. They also celebrated their second title by doing the same thing they did in April 2005: they hung the championship banner over the Green Monster. The Red Sox would take the Wild Card that year, and Jon Lester, after coming back from lymphoma, no-hit the Kansas City Royals 7-0 on May 19. Second-year second baseman Dustin Pedroia won the MVP Award, a Silver Slugger, and a Gold Glove. First baseman Kevin Youkilis set a Major League record by going 237 games without an error. In Anaheim, Francisco Rodriguez set a record with 62 saves in a single season, breaking Bobby Thigpen’s record set in 1990.
(The Red Sox unfurl their 2007 championship banner. Photo courtesy of http://www.slowtrav.com)
(On May 19, John Lester no-hit the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
But in the AL East, a new story was emerging. After a decade of losing, Tampa Bay changed their name (from “Devil Rays” to just “Rays”) and their uniforms, moving to a Columbia blue and shade of teal. Led by Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria at third base (no relation to actress Eva Longoria), the changes began wholesale, as manager Joe Maddon led them from a last place finish in 2007 to the division title in 2008. The Red Sox and Rays began a new rivalry this year.
Much of it began on June 5 at Fenway. After several close shaves over the years, the Red Sox finally snapped. Rays pitcher James Shields hit Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp in the leg with a pitch. Crisp charged the mound, and unlike most baseball fights, tried to get a swing in. It looked like Crisp even made contact as the benches cleared and an actual fight occurred. Eight players combined would be suspended – Shields for six games and Crisp for seven. It drew parallels to the Braves-Padres fight in 1984. After a triumphant come-from-behind win at Tropicana Field (“The Trop”) in September, the Rays would go on to win their first division title.
(The infamous Red Sox-Rays brawl on June 5. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
(Red Sox batter Coco Crisp throws a punch at Rays pitcher James Shields. Photo courtesy of http://www.boston.com)
For the first time in over a century, both Chicago teams were in the playoffs in the same season. The Chicago Cubs rode manager Lou Piniella to the best record in the National League. They had a memorable game where they were forced to play a neutral site game at Miller Park against Houston following rains from Hurricane Ike. In that game, Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano threw a no-hitter, the first of his career.
(Carlos Zambrano celebrates his no-hitter. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Many felt that the Cubs were finally destined to break their drought. After all, the baseball gods wouldn’t have a team go a full century without winning, right? They clinched the division title on September 20, beating their rival Cardinals 5-4. They also clinched home field advantage in the NL playoffs.
That was because the AL won the All-Star game for the tenth straight time, not including the tie in 2002. The final All-Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium ended in the fifteenth when J.D. Drew of the Boston Red Sox homered en route to game MVP honors (it would prove to be his only All-Star game appearance). The AL won when Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins slid in ahead of the tag to win 4-3.
(Justin Morneau of the Twins scores the winning run in the 15th inning of the All-Star Game. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
The Twins were taken down to the wire by the Chicago White Sox. It would culminate in a one-game playoff for the AL Central title. It was scoreless until the bottom of the seventh when Jim Thome homered to make it 1-0, proving to be the only run of the game. The White Sox ended up winning the division, in the final tiebreaker decided by a coin flip.
(Jim Thome gives the White Sox the lead in the one-game playoff in 2008. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
In the NL West, new Dodger manager Joe Torre led the Dodgers to their first division title in four seasons, albeit at 84-78. They also acquired Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox at the trade deadline. Perceived to be unhappy, even after joining the 500 home run club with Boston earlier in the year, Ramirez joined the Dodgers and helped them tremendously down the stretch.
In the NL East, Philadelphia won the division for the second straight year at 92-70. Their rivals in Queens were on the cusp of the wild card, up by 3.5 with seven to play. But again, they collapsed, missing out on the wild card on the final day of the season. It would be a cruel farewell to Shea Stadium; both New York teams would get new stadiums in 2009. Taking their place were the Milwaukee Brewers, who made the playoffs for the first time in the NL and the first time overall since 1982. They had also acquired CC Sabathia from Cleveland in a mid-season trade. Had New York won the wild card, they would have played the Cubs. But because of the rule that the top seed doesn’t play the wild card if they’re from the same division, the Cubs would open against the Dodgers.
It would be the wrong matchup for the Cubs. It actually started well for them, as Mark DeRosa hit a two-run shot to the opposite field. It stayed 2-0 into the top of the fifth inning. The Dodgers loaded the bases for first baseman James Loney. One strike away from getting out of the inning, Ryan Dempster left it slightly low. Loney lifted it over the fence for a grand slam to make it 4-2. Nobody knew it at the time, but it completely demoralized the Cubs. They wouldn’t score for the rest of the game, while the Dodgers got solo home runs from Manny and Russell Martin en route to a 7-2 first game victory.
(James Loney hits a grand slam to break Cubs hearts. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
In Game 2, a five-run second inning by the Dodgers, compounded by four Cubs errors, led Los Angeles to a 10-3 victory headed back home. In one of the most shocking upsets in postseason history, the Dodgers completed the sweep when Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda won 3-1 to clinch the NLDS. It was their first postseason win in twenty years.
(The Dodgers sweep the Cubs in their home ballpark in the 2008 NLDS. Photo courtesy of losangeles.cbslocal.com)
In the other NLDS, Philadelphia and Milwaukee went head-to-head. Cole Hamels pitched the opener for Philadelphia, and the Phillies won 3-1, and Brad Lidge, attempting to right old ghosts, got the save. He had been perfect in 41 save chances in the regular season. Lidge didn’t make it easy, allowing a run in the ninth and putting the tying run at second base, but it ended up working out.
In the second game, Milwaukee staked CC Sabathia to an early lead, although he was pitching on three days’ rest. It would prove disastrous, as he would be rocked for five runs in the second inning, including a memorable at-bat from his opposing number, Brett Myers. Myers fell behind 1-2 but kept staying alive and worked out a walk. Later in the inning, Shane Victorino hit a grand slam, and after that, Myers settled down and won the game 5-2.
(Shane Victorino blasts a grand slam off CC Sabathia in NLDS Game 2. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Milwaukee stayed alive by earning a 4-1 win in the first postseason game in Miller Park. Salomon Torres got the save, although it wasn’t easy. The bases were loaded and nobody was out. The next batter grounded into a double play, but a run was taken off the board because the umpire ruled that Victorino didn’t slide and called interference as a result. Milwaukee was still alive but Philadelphia still had the lead.
But any thoughts of a Milwaukee comeback ended in the top of the first of Game 4. Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run on a full count, and in the third inning, Pat Burrell (three-run) and Jayson Werth (solo) hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning. Burrell added another solo shot, giving Joe Blanton all the runs he needed. The Phillies won their first postseason series in fifteen years.
(The Phillies clinch the NLDS in Game 4. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
In the opening game of the NLCS, Manny Ramirez narrowly missed a home run in the first inning off of Cole Hamels, setting instead for an RBI double. In the fourth, L.A. made it 2-0 when Blake DeWitt drove in Matt Kemp with a sacrifice fly. But in the sixth, Chase Utley tied the game with a two-run homer, and two batters later, Pat Burrell followed with a home run of his own. That would be enough for Hamels, and Lidge got the save again.
In Game 2, Los Angeles took a second-inning lead, but Brett Myers capped a surprisingly good day at the plate, going 3-for-3. In the second and third innings, the Phillies batted around both times, scoring four runs each time. The Dodgers cut it to 8-5 in the fourth when Ramirez home run, but later in the game, Shane Victorino robbed Casey Blake of extra bases that could have tied the score. Lidge earned his second save of the Series, continuing his perfect season. Dodger starter Chad Billingsley was not only ineffective, but was criticized by teammates for failing to retaliate when Myers came inside.
In Game 3, Hiroki Kuroda made sure to retaliate, and although the Phillies didn’t like it, it proved to be somewhat effective, as the Dodgers earned a 7-2 victory to get back in it. Rafael Furcal hit his first home run for the Dodgers since May 5 in a five-run second inning, and Jamie Moyer was done after only 1.1 innings. Game 3 set a Dodger Stadium record with 56,800 in attendance.
In Game 4, Derek Lowe went for the Dodgers on three days’ rest. Philadelphia got two in the first, while Los Angeles countered with a run back. After the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead, rookie Clayton Kershaw surrendered the lead in the sixth. Casey Blake helped the Dodgers retake the lead with a home run, and an error later in the inning by first baseman Ryan Howard allowed another run to score. A terrific double play by Chase Utley got the Phillies out of the inning. It was still 5-3 into the top of the eighth with Cory Wade on the mound for the Dodgers. But a clutch home run by Victorino tied the game, and after allowing a single to catcher Carlos Ruiz, Wade was relieved by closer Jonathan Broxton. Longtime veteran Matt Stairs came on to pinch hit and rocked his first career postseason home run deep into the right field bleachers, a 7-5 score. The Dodgers couldn’t recover, and Lidge got his third save of the series. The Phillies were one win away from the pennant.
(Matt Stairs hits a clutch home run to win Game 4 for the Phillies. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
In hindsight, it was a moment where nobody on the Dodgers could recover. Another first inning home run by Jimmy Rollins opened the floodgates, and by the third inning, Chad Billingsley was gone. The final score was 5-1 Phillies, with Cole Hamels winning his second game of the series. It was the Phillies’ first pennant since 1993.
(Harry Kalas makes the pennant winning call for the Phillies in Game 5 of the NLCS. Video courtesy of mlb.com)
The AL playoffs saw Tampa Bay open its first playoff series with a 6-4 win over the White Sox. “Big Game James,” James Shields was excellent, and rookie Evan Longoria went 3-for-3 with two home runs. After Gary Gaetti, he became the second player in postseason history to homer in his first two at-bats. In Game 2, despite an early 2-0 lead, Mark Buehrle couldn’t hold the lead, as Akinori Iwamura homered and Tampa Bay soon was one win away from the ALCS with a 6-2 victory. Chicago staved off elimination in Game 3, winning 5-3 behind lefty John Danks. But in Game 4, Andy Sonnanstine pushed the Rays into the next round, with another 6-2 victory. It would be Ken Griffey Jr.’s last postseason appearance; he would retire two years later.
(The Rays advance to the ALCS in their first postseason appearance. Photo courtesy of mlb.com)
The Red Sox and Angels renewed their rivalry. Once again, Boston seemed to have the edge, getting a home run from Jason Bay (acquired in the Ramirez trade), and Jon Lester beat future Red Sox pitcher John Lackey 4-1. Jonathan Papelbon earned the save.
Game 2 was a back and forth affair. Boston was up 5-1 at one point, but after Justin Masterson allowed a sacrifice fly to Mark Teixeira, the Angels had tied the score. Jonathan Papelbon was forced to enter in the eighth, and was charged with a blown save. In the top of the ninth, J.D. Drew’s two-run home run gave the Red Sox the lead. Papelbon held his nerve, and Boston was up 2-0 headed home.
(J.D. Drew is congratulated after homering off of Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
In Game 3, the Angels finally snapped an eleven-game postseason losing streak to the Red Sox, taking the third game 5-4 on an Erick Aybar single in the top of the twelfth inning. In Game 4, the same starters from Game 1 faced off. In the bottom of the fifth, Angels infielder Howie Kendrick bobbled a potential double play ball, allowing Dustin Pedroia to drive in two later in the inning. But down to their final six outs, the Angels rallied, after a passed ball and a single by Torii Hunter to tie the game. In the top of the ninth, the Angels almost took the lead. They had Kendry Morales on third base, when Erick Aybar missed a suicide squeeze bunt. Morales was tagged out, and Aybar couldn’t come through. The game moved to the bottom of the ninth, where Jason Bay stood on second base. Light-hitting infield Jed Lowrie came to bat. He pulled a single to right field. The throw was pretty good, but Bay scored ahead of it, and the Red Sox were back in the ALCS.
(A single by Jed Lowrie sent the Red Sox to the ALCS for the second straight year. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
This was said to be the newer, better rivalry in the AL East. In the opener, Daisuke Matsuzaka took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and a Lowrie sacrifice fly and Youkilis double gave Boston all the runs they needed. The final was 2-0, with Papelbon getting the save.
(Dice-K won the first game of the ALCS. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Game 2 saw an ALCS record set with seven home runs. Beckett and Scott Kazmir were both ineffective and it would come down to a sacrifice fly from B.J. Upton in the twelfth inning to win the game for the Rays, 9-8.
(Baserunner Fernando Perez scores the winning run in Game 2. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.)
Moving to Boston, Jon Lester was hit hard in Game 3, allowing four home runs. The Rays won, 9-1. It got even worse in Game 4, as Wakefield was rocked hard 13-4, and again the Red Sox were facing elimination.
Heading into Game 5, things were looking pretty glum. Upton homered in the first, as did Longoria in the third, and Matsuzaka left early. It got worse as an Upton double made it 7-0 with the Red Sox nine outs away from elimination. Even for the Red Sox, who were known for their rallies, this seemed too much.
Then they put runners on second and third against reliever Grant Balfour. Dustin Pedroia got them on the board with a single, and then David Ortiz cemented his legend with a mammoth three-run home run. Suddenly, the Red Sox were back in it at 7-4. Of all the great Big Papi postseason moments, this was one of the most underrated.
(David Ortiz hits a three-run shot to make it 7-4 in the seventh. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
The comeback continued in the bottom of the eighth inning. With a man on, J.D. Drew rocked a two-run shot off of Dan Wheeler. Later in the inning, Coco Crisp drove in outfielder Mark Kotsay with a single, although Crisp was thrown out trying to go to second. It was now 7-7.
The Rays were kept off the board in the top of the ninth. Reliever J.P. Howell retired the first two batters before Youkilis grounded to third. Longoria threw the ball away, allowing Youkilis to go to second. J.D. Drew followed with a ground-rule double to complete the rally. Unbelievably, the Red Sox were still alive and wouldn’t lose the pennant at home. IT remains the largest postseason deficit overcome to win by a team facing elimination.
(Kevin Youkilis and teammates celebrate after winning Game 5 of the ALCS. Photo courtesy of http://www.boston.cbslocal.com)
The series was shockingly headed back to Tampa. For the ninth straight time, the Red Sox won a do-or-die game in the ALCS, backed by Jason Varitek’s first hit of the series, a solo home run that broke a 2-2 tie. The Red Sox added another run to help Josh Beckett win 4-2 and force another Game 7.
(Jason Varitek rounds third after his go-ahead home run in ALCS Game 6. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
But Game 7 was a different story. Dustin Pedroia hit a solo home run in the first off of Matt Garza, but Boston wouldn’t score after that. RBI hits from Longoria and Rocco Baldelli and a Willy Aybar home run gave the Rays a 3-1 lead in the ninth. David Price, the #1 pick the previous year, earned his first postseason save by getting Jed Lowrie to ground out into a fielder’s choice to Akinori Iwamura at second base. The Rays had won their first pennant.
(The Rays celebrate their first pennant. Photo courtesy of mlb.com)
So, we had two teams that weren’t the popular choice to make the Series opening at Tampa’s Tropicana Field. The first game saw Hamels against Shields. In the first inning, Hamels was helped by Chase Utley’s two-run home run in the top of the first. It could have been more in the second, as the Phillies loaded the bases, but Upton nailed Victorino at the plate to end the inning.
(Chase Utley’s Game 1 home run gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead early. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
In the fourth inning, Carlos Ruiz drove in Shane Victorino to make it 3-0 Phillies. It would prove to be the winning run, as Carl Crawford homered to start a rally. It was the Rays’ first run in their World Series history.
(Carl Crawford homers to get the Rays on the board. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Tampa Bay got back within a run when Akinori Iwamura doubled in Jason Bartlett. Relieving Hamels, Ryan Madson pitched a perfect eighth, and Phillies closer Brad Lidge earned the save, extending his perfect season. The Phillies had drawn first blood.
In Game 2, Tampa Bay evened the series with a strong performance by their ace, James Shield, “Big Game James.” Consecutive groundouts by Pena and Longoria got two runs home in the first inning, and Tampa Bay added another run in the second inning. Were it not for a strong throw by Jayson Werth, Rocco Baldelli would have scored and it would have been 4-0.
(Trying to score in the second inning of Game 2, Rocco Baldelli is thrown out at home plate. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Tampa Bay did in fact make it 4-0 on a squeeze bunt in the fourth inning, before an Eric Bruntlett home run got the Phillies on the board in the eighth. Philadelphia got another run in the ninth, but it wouldn’t be enough, as Tampa Bay won 4-2. Big Game James pitched the Rays to a series-evening victory.
The next three games shifted to Philadelphia, the first Series games played at the new Citizen’s Bank Park. Delayed by 91 minutes by rain (which would become a common theme of the series), Chase Utley grounded out to score Jimmy Rollins in the first inning. The Rays tied it in the second when Carl Crawford doubled, stole third base, and Gabe Gross drove him in with a sacrifice fly. Rays starter Matt Garza, the ALCS MVP, pitched well, but left trailing 4-1, after Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth.
(Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit back-to-back home runs in Game 3. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
But the Rays rallied, scoring twice in the seventh to make it 4-3, and then a throwing error tied the score in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the ninth, Eric Bruntlett led off and was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch and a throwing error put him on third. Pitcher J.P. Howell walked the next two batters intentionally, and outfielder Ben Zobrist was brought in to be a fifth infielder. Catcher Carlos Ruiz was up. He hit a dinky 45-foot ground ball to third. Longoria charged. The throw was late and went over the catcher’s head. Bruntlett raced home, and the Phillies won 5-4 without hitting a ball out of the infield in the final inning.
(Carlos Ruiz wins Game 3 with a 45-foot infield single. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Philadelphia looked to seize the momentum, and put their foot on the gas pedal and never let up. Breaking out of a big slump, Ryan Howard had two home runs and five RBI, and pitcher Joe Blanton helped his own cause, swatting a home run of his own. Jayson Werth added one more for the Phillies, who looked to be in the driver’s seat with a dominant 10-2 victory. For the first time since 1980, they were on the precipice of the title.
(Ryan Howard had two home runs and five RBI in Game 4. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
(Pitcher Joe Blanton homers for Philadelphia in Game 4. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
Back in 1925, the seventh game between Washington and Pittsburgh wasn’t suspended despite hard rains. It would set a precedent for Game 5 in 2008. Through five innings, what would have been an official game, the Phillies led 2-1. In the top of the sixth, the Rays tied the game on a Pena single. And then the rains came – and wouldn’t stop. Under current rules, the game would be forced to be suspended and played from where it last left off – like saving a video game or a paper. It had never happened before in history. No more ties this time. Not in the World Series.
(The tarp covers the field as Game 5 is suspended for a day and a half. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)
The rains continued for another day, before it was finally able to be completed on October 29, two days after it began. Pinch hitting for Cole Hamels, Geoff Jenkins doubled and Rollins bunted him over. Jayson Werth drove him in. But in the top of the seventh, a Rocco Baldelli home run tied the score 3-3.
(Rocco Baldelli hits a home run to tie the score in the seventh inning. Photo courtesy of Reuters.)
Later in the inning, Jason Bartlett was on second with two outs. Iwamura singled on a weakly hit ground ball to second. Chase Utley could have had a play at first base to end the inning. But he didn’t throw to first. Bartlett gambled. Utley fired home instead, and Ruiz made the tag, ending the inning and keeping the score tied. Utley’s heads-up play likely saved the series for the Phillies. It was the back-breaker for Tampa Bay.
(Chase Utley’s clutch defensive play likely saved the Series for the Phillies. Video courtesy of YouTube.)
In the bottom of the seventh, Pat Burrell led off with a double for Philadelphia. Eric Bruntlett came in to pinch run. Shane Victorino moved him to third with a groundout. Third baseman Pedro Feliz followed with a single to give Philadelphia a 4-3 lead. It would prove to be the winning run in the Series.
(Pedro Feliz drives in the Series-winning run in Game 5. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
Philadelphia also had help in the eighth inning, on a clutch 6-4-3 double play. J.C. Romero held the lead, and after Philadelphia didn’t score in the eighth, Tampa Bay came up for their last chance.
Evan Longoria popped up to Utley at second. Then Dioner Navarro singled. Pinch runner Fernando Perez proceeded to steal second. The tying run was in scoring position with one out. But Ben Zobrist lined out to Victorino in right field. Pinch hitter Eric Hinske was the last hope for the Rays. On the 0-2 pitch, Lidge came low. Swung on and missed! The Phillies had won their first title in 28 years, after having their dreams suspended by rain for two days.
(The victorious Phillies lift the Commissioner’s Trophy. Photo courtesy of New York Times.)
This was Philadelphia’s first championship in any sport since 1983, when the 76ers won the NBA title. Rumor had it that once the statue of William Penn was highest in the city, Philadelphia would win again (it happened the previous year). For the Phillies, it was their first title since 1980, their second overall, and most recent to date as of 2016.
In 2007, the Phillies had become the first team in North American professional sports team to lose 10,000 games.
This was the first and only pennant for the Rays in their history. James Shields got their only win to date in Game 2. It was their first winning season in franchise history.
Game 4 is referenced in the 2012 film Silver Linings Playbook, where Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) convinces Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) she is that Pat Jr.’s (Bradley Cooper) good luck charm, after mentioning Ryan Howard’s two home runs.
In the 2007 offseason, Philadelphia pitcher Brett Myers set up a great practical joke on fellow pitcher Kyle Kendrick, then a rookie. Myers convinced the front office, manager Charlie Manuel, reporters, and even Kendrick’s wife to play along. The prank said that Kendrick would be traded to Japan for a fake pitcher named Kobayashi Iwamura (a combination of Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura and competitive hot dog eater Kobayashi). Once he found out the joke, Kendrick was asked how he’d get back at Myers. He replied, “I don’t think I can. That was too good.”
For all of the Phillies’ superstars, only GM Pat Gillick is in the Hall of Fame, being inducted in 2011.
Brad Lidge redeemed himself from 2005, finishing his perfect season – 48 saves in 48 tries.
Series MVP Cole Hamels received a no-decision in Game 5 because of the delay. If he had won, he would have been the first pitcher in one postseason to win five games. J.C. Romero got the win, one of two wins he got in the series.
Game 5 was the first suspended game in World Series history.
Philadelphia was back on top. It seemed to be ready to continue. But in the Bronx, the “Big Four” had one last title in them, in a matchup along the New Jersey Turnpike.
References and Sources
New York Times
New York Daily News.
St. Petersburg Times.
The Tenth Inning (Ken Burns)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell film)
2008 World Series: The Official Film (MLB Productions)
The Complete World Series (Eric Enders)
The Baseball Hall of Shame (Bruce Nash, Allan Zullo)
Are We Winning? Fathers and Sons in the New Golden Age of Baseball (Will Leitch)
The Underground Baseball Encyclopedia (Robert Schnakenberg)
Living on the Black (John Feinstein)
The Baseball Codes (Jason Turbow, Michael Duca)