Holy Cheesesteaks! The Phillies Are Still Alive!
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The World Series is returning to the Bronx. The Philadelphia Phillies beat the New York Yankees last night 8-6. The Yankees have now won three games in the series. The Phillies have won two. To repeat as champions, all the Phillies have to do is win two straight games at Yankee Stadium. Here's NPR's Mike Pesca.
MIKE PESCA: The Phillies put up three runs in the first inning Monday night, three more in the third, and played the kind of power baseball that prompted Alex Rodriguez to compare them to an American League club. That, by the way, is a compliment.
After the game, everyone wanted to know: What was the difference? What changes did the Phillies make this time? Their shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, said there was one major change: He and teammate Jason Werth decided to modify their iTunes mix.
Mr. JIMMY ROLLINS (Shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies): We changed our music, you know? And I think that was a good thing. You know, J-Dub, you know, was asking me, who J.R., what's up with the music? I'm like, man, it was too much New York. We had Jay-Z in here, then we had Jay-Z on the field, and then we're playing New York. So we changed the music.
PESCA: Rollins likes to laugh and to make his teammates laugh and to make his teammates laugh and to strategically draw attention to himself and away from lower-key Phillies. Well, maybe it's strategic.
Well, we're - it's a lot of people saying don't give the other team bulletin board material. You seem to have the exact 180-degree opposite approach to that. Why?
Mr. ROLLINS: You know, it's not their bulletin that you're putting a target on. It's yours. You're writing it up there so everybody in your clubhouse can read it and believe it.
PESCA: Rollins' double-play partner Chase Utley couldn't be more temperamentally different. Last night, Utley joined Reggie Jackson as the only player who was ever to hit a total of five homeruns in a single World Series. Utley hit a pair homers this game, just as he had in game one, which was the other Phillies win this series. Utley did not think of his homeruns as moments in history or grand statements of defiance. He thought of them this way.
Mr. CHASE UTLEY (Profession Baseball Player, Philadelphia Phillies): The first time around, it was a fastball. That was the first pitch. The second homerun was a fastball, as well.
PESCA: And while Joe Buck on Fox and 45,000 screaming Phillies fans were blown away by the blast�
(Soundbite of World Series game broadcast)
(Soundbite of bat hitting a baseball)
Mr. JOE BUCK (Baseball Announcer, Fox Network): And a fly ball into right, back at the wall. Utley goes deep, 3-1, Philadelphia.
PESCA: Utley was asked about the emotional charge that hit must have given his teammates.
Mr. UTLEY: I felt like they were pretty excited at that point.
PESCA: It's not just that the polite-but-airtight Utley is among worst quotes in baseball, though he is that. It could very well be that Utley truly is unimpressed by his own accomplishments, and that's why he describes his all-but-unprecedented feats in the same tone a dairy farmer might use when talking about one of his cows giving an extra quart of milk that morning. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel knows that in Utley, he has a great player, a player who he all but describes as his favorite.
Mr. CHARLIE MANUEL (Manager, Philadelphia Phillies): He's a pleasure just to be around, and he's definitely a pleasure to manage. And I mean that, and I cannot say enough about him, because that's what I think about him. And, you know, I don't want to embarrass him or nothing like that, but sometime I'd tell our players, I'd say just play with Chase. Because, you know, like, if you play with Chase, you got a chance to be a pretty good player.
PESCA: In the sports-crazed cities of New York and Philadelphia, every loss is a choke and every win is a huge momentum shift. The fan rides the roller coaster, so he or she expects the player to be going through the same convulsions. In fact, players are on a different ride. They try to retain intensity, while at the same time, stave off anxiety. The Phillies mesh as characters. The problem for them is the Yankees do, too. And for all the intangibles, as the series heads back to New York, it's still better to have what the Yankees possess: a 3-2 series lead.
Mike Pesca, NPR News, Philadelphia.
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