charlie manuel

Highlights from the must-watch 2008 Phillies Zoom reunion

Highlights from the must-watch 2008 Phillies Zoom reunion

If you're a Phillies fan, and really if you're a baseball fan, you have to watch this. Nine members of the 2008 Phillies roster/coaching staff reunited to tell stories about that era and most specifically the World Series run.

Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Scott Eyre, Charlie Manuel and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer gathered on a Zoom call hosted by Brad Lidge and presented by Citizens Bank. The result was 45 minutes of laughs and some stories that haven't been shared publicly.

Some of the highlights were:

Parade hijinks and the World Series Game 5 afterparty at Burrell's

The inside story of Chase Utley's famous parade speech

• Everything Jayson Werth said

• A tall tale from Charlie

• Snacks in the bullpen bathroom

• A Billmeyer story about So Taguchi

You can relive the Phillies' 2008 World Series parade when it re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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Phillies win it all: Reliving one of the best nights in Philly sports history

The night Ryan Howard powered the Phillies to heaven's doorstep

A Phillies World Series walk-off win that was worth the long wait

The lessons that led to Cole Hamels' dominant 2008 playoff run

Time and again, Utley gave the Phils playoff breathing room they needed

Ready to relive one of the greatest nights in Philly sports history?

Ready to relive one of the greatest nights in Philly sports history?

We've reached our destination.

What an incredible ride it was.

(Even the second time around from the living room couch.)

On Friday night, we here at NBC Sports Philadelphia will complete our journey through one of the best times in the city's rich sports history with the re-airing of the Phillies' 2008 World Series-clinching 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

As a public service — and for the sake of time — we're even trimming out that pesky 46-hour rain delay.

At the time, that famous rain delay in the middle of the sixth inning with the score tied, 2-2, was a major inconvenience.

But all these years later, it seems to have enhanced the memory of Game 5.

So, what's your favorite memory from that night?

Or should we say: What's your favorite memory from those nights?

Was it Geoff Jenkins' pinch-hit double to start off the resumption of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning?

Was it Chase Utley's heads-up, run-saving, defensive gem in the top of the seventh?

Was it Pat Burrell's last hit as a Phillie, a double that eventually turned into the winning run in the bottom of the seventh?

Was it Brad Lidge falling to his knees, looking to the heavens and embracing Carlos Ruiz as the crowd erupted in delight?

Was it Harry Kalas shouting, "The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball?

Or was it Charlie Manuel raising the World Series trophy?

"Hey, this is for Philadelphia!" he told the delirious crowd. "This is for our fans."

Cole Hamels remembers it all.

"It was unbelievable," he told us recently. "Everything worked out perfectly. Lidge stayed perfect for a season. You don't really see that. Burrell gets one of the biggest, best hits you'll ever see. 

"And to do it in Philly. That was so special.

"There aren't enough words to describe how special it is to be able to play in a sports town like Philly and be able to win.

"I'm so lucky to be able to play the game of baseball and win a World Series in Philadelphia."

Manuel wasn't the only one to raise a trophy that night 12 years ago. Hamels was crowned World Series MVP. Heck, he was the MVP of the Phillies' entire postseason run. The Phillies went 11-3 in that postseason. Hamels started five games and the Phillies won all of them. In 35 innings of work, he allowed just seven runs for a glistening ERA of 1.80. 

Of all the innings that Hamels worked in that postseason, none was more taxing than the sixth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. The left-hander pitched through driving rain in that inning and gave up the tying run. Giving up just one run in those impossible pitching conditions was a win in itself.

"It was crazy," Hamels recalled. "I tell people the story. If the other team knew that all I could throw was a fastball, I think I would have gotten killed. Because, truthfully, I couldn't grip the curveball. It was slipping. And the changeup, I was almost suffocating it because it was slipping and I didn't want to hang a changeup, which I ended up doing twice in that inning to Carlos Pena and (Evan) Longoria. I hung those pitches when I could have easily gotten them out. 

"I only had a fastball and Chooch knew it and he's calling them all over the place and I just had to focus the most I've ever focused on the mound. It was exhausting. When the game was called after that inning, I was exhausted because I had to focus so much on being perfect with gripping the fastball and throwing a changeup and those other pitches just enough to make them think I had those pitches, but I knew I couldn't locate them. I was just lucky enough to throw them for strikes.

"When it's raining so much and you can't hide the baseball from the weather and it's soaked, what are you supposed to do? That was the most I've ever focused in a game."

The seventh inning of Game 5 was unforgettable. Utley cut down the potential go-ahead run at the plate with a defensive play that is still talked about all these years later and Burrell doubled to set up Pedro Feliz for the hit that put the Phillies ahead for good.

J.C. Romero and Lidge closed it out.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and everyone on their feet at Citizens Bank Park, Lidge was one strike away from nailing down the title when Ruiz visited him at the mound. Lidge wanted to throw a slider to Eric Hinske. 

Ruiz didn't want Lidge's backdoor slider or his get-me-over slider. He wanted the hard, biting slider, the unhittable one that would corkscrew into the dirt. 

"Give me the good one," Ruiz told Lidge. 

Lidge's pitch torpedoed into the dirt and Ruiz, as usual, blocked it as Hinske flailed at air.

Lidge completed a perfect season — 48 for 48 in save chances — and fell to his knees. He looked skyward and shouted, "Oh, my God, we just won the World Series!" He hugged Ruiz then was piled upon by euphoric teammates.

"My heart was going 100 mph," Lidge said later that night. "This is the greatest moment of my life." 

It was a great moment for all Phillies fans.

Relive it one more time Friday night.

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The lessons that led to Cole Hamels' dominant 2008 playoff run

The lessons that led to Cole Hamels' dominant 2008 playoff run

On Monday night, NBC Sports Philadelphia will begin re-airing the Phillies’ magical 2008 postseason run, all 14 games, culminating with the club’s World Series clincher against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Grab a chair. Find the remote. It’s going to be great.

Before our trip down Memory Lane commences, it’s fair to remind everyone that none of this happens without a 24-year-old kid named Cole Hamels.

Yeah, Jimmy, Chase and Ryan were vital cogs in Charlie Manuel’s victory machine from 2007 to 2011. And guys named Lidge, Madson, Victorino, Werth, Ruiz, Burrell and Stairs — oh, yeah, that Stairs guy — were crucial to the cause, as well.

But Kid Cole was The Man during that October run. The Phillies received some outstanding pitching up and down the staff that month, but Hamels was a cut above. He started five games and the Phillies won all of them. In 35 innings of work, he allowed just seven runs for a glistening ERA of 1.80. He was named MVP of the National League Championship Series and World Series.

Hamels benefited from confidence and momentum in that postseason. 

“I had that belief that I was very good and each and every game I was pitching, I felt better and better and better and everything worked out,” he told us a few weeks ago.

The momentum and confidence that Hamels enjoyed was rooted in his first start that postseason: On October 1, in front of 45,929 crazies at Citizens Bank Park, Hamels neutralized the heavy-hitting Milwaukee Brewers in a 3-1 victory in Game 1 of the NL Division Series. Hamels pitched eight shutout innings, scattered two hits, walked one and struck out nine. That’s what you call a tone-setter and you can watch it again Monday night.

The gem against the Brewers was Hamels’ second postseason start. He’d lost Game 1 of the NLDS to Colorado the year before. He walked three batters in the second inning of that game and gave up three runs. The Phils were a quick out in that postseason and the Game 1 loss stuck with Hamels for a year, until he took the mound against Milwaukee that day.

“I got my butt kicked the year before against Colorado and I’m like, ‘Gosh, I don’t want to have another one of those,'" Hamels said. “Game 1 is so important to get things going off right. There were a lot of nerves going in because I didn’t want to repeat ’07. But at the same time, I had to trust myself. Throw that first pitch, get that called first strike and (the nerves) go out the window and you, all of a sudden, calm down.

Hamels had faced the Brewers twice that regular season. They had roughed him up early in the season and he came back to beat them in September.

The Brewers thought they had a good scouting report on Hamels coming into the NLDS. Hamels was a lefty who could locate a plus fastball and dazzle with a great changeup — he didn’t add the cutter until later in his career — and everyone knew that. But on this day, Hamels had something extra up his sleeve: a sharp curveball. It was the difference maker that day and the pitch that helped his postseason — and the team’s on the whole — get off on a strong foot.

“He’d been mostly fastball-changeup against us,” Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy said after that game. “He mixed in that curveball for strikes today and that got us off his other two pitches. This was the best I’ve seen him.”

Hamels has always had a love-hate relationship with his curveball.

On that day, he loved it.

And the Brewers, of course, hated it.

“The curveball always has been a pitch that’s either here … or there,” said Hamels, pretending to toss the latter away like an old apple core. “I had the feel of it that day and if I know I have the feel of my curveball I know hands-down I can win because I have three pitches and they’re all plus.”

Hamels threw 101 pitches through eight innings that day and, with a 3-0 lead, could have pursued a shutout.

“Charlie looked at me like, ‘You want to finish?’ “ the pitcher recalled. “I was like, ‘No. We have Lidge.”

Brad Lidge, who had gone 41 for 41 in save chances during the regular season, survived a bumpy ninth for the save as the Phils opened the best-of-five series with a win.

After stumbling in the first round of the postseason the year before, Hamels knew this postseason would be different. That’s why he deferred to Lidge in the ninth.

“I wanted to save myself for the next series because I knew we were going to the next round,” he said.

Confident guy.

See why (once again) Monday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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