Cole Hamels

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.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Phillies hitters were 'tight as bleep' until Jimmy Rollins calmed things in 2008 NLDS clincher

Phillies hitters were 'tight as bleep' until Jimmy Rollins calmed things in 2008 NLDS clincher

The Phillies had a powerhouse offense in 2008. They ranked first in home runs (214), second in runs (4.93 per game) and third in OPS (.770) in the National League that season.

But through the first three games of the NL Division Series that fall, they'd hit just .234 and scored only nine runs. They had won two of those first three games against the Milwaukee Brewers on the strength of their pitchers, who'd held the Brewers to a .198 batting average and seven runs, and a couple of quick-strike big hits, one being Shane Victorino's grand slam against a fatigued CC Sabathia in Game 2.

Looking back, there was some noticeable anxiety around the Phillies before Game 4 of the series, which will be re-aired Thursday night on NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Brewers had won Game 3 in their home park. Another win in Game 4 would make it a whole new series where anything could happen in a winner-take-all Game 5.

In a hallway outside the clubhouse at Miller Park that October day in 2008, a Phillies team official captured the team's anxiety.

"Our hitters are tight as (bleep)," the guy said.

He was right. Phillies hitters needed to relax.

Enter the human chill pill, Jimmy Rollins.

The man who would eventually become the Phillies' all-time hits leader, led off the game with a full-count home run against Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan. Miller Park, previously pulsating with excitement, got so quiet you could almost hear a collective exhale in the Phillies' dugout.

"I can't tell you how big that was to put an early number on the board,'' general manager Pat Gillick said after the game.

The Phillies went on to win the game, 6-2, and the series, three games to one, to earn a spot in the NL Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After the game, a champagne-soaked Rollins basked in the victory and charted a course forward.

"This is one step in the right direction," he said. "We don't think we should be looking at anything less than a World Series. And that's a World Series win. We're geared to win."

Power fueled the Phillies' clinching win in Game 4 of that 2008 NLDS. All six of their runs came on four homers. (They had hit just one homer in the first three games.) In addition to Rollins, the Phillies got a homer from Jayson Werth and a pair of them from Pat Burrell.

Burrell's first homer was a game-changer. It came with two outs in the third inning after the Brewers and Suppan walked Ryan Howard intentionally with a runner on second and first base open. Howard led the majors with 48 homers and 146 RBIs that season so walking him was standard play. Burrell made the Brewers pay for the move and his three-run shot gave the Phils a 4-0 lead. Werth immediately followed with a haymaker solo homer and the Phils went up 5-0. Burrell homered again in the eighth to complete his four-RBI day.

Burrell was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft and 2008 was his last season with the club. Though rising stars like Howard, Rollins, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels got much of the attention on the '08 club, Burrell was an important complementary player and he went out in style, riding down Broad Street as a World Series champion.

"I couldn't be more thrilled," he said in the clubhouse after his two-homer day in Milwaukee all those years ago.

Another important complementary piece, Joe Blanton, pitched six innings of one-run ball that day for the victory. His contributions, and Burrell's, would continue in the weeks to come. The Phillies punched their ticket to the NLCS with their Game 4 NLDS win in Milwaukee and it all started with Jimmy Rollins' chill-pill leadoff homer.

"That series got our postseason going in '08," Rollins said years later. "We lost the night before and the stadium was so loud with the roof closed and those boom-boom sticks. We didn't want Game 5. We didn't want to face CC Sabathia. Being down 1-0 in the first inning wasn't in their plans."

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Phillies had 2 massive extra advantages in 2008 NLDS vs. Brewers

Phillies had 2 massive extra advantages in 2008 NLDS vs. Brewers

You need a lot to break right to win a championship in any sport but particularly in baseball, where we routinely see the best team fail to win it all. It doesn't matter how you've performed in the preceding six months and 162 games, any team is susceptible to a bad week in October.

The 2008 Phillies were not the favorite to win the World Series when that postseason began. They had won 92 games with a prolific offense. The Cubs won 97, and in the AL, the Red Sox, Rays and Angels all won 95-plus.

The teams with the two best records in baseball that year (Angels at 100-62, Cubs at 97-64), were dispatched quickly in the playoffs, with the Cubs suffering a sweep to the Dodgers in the NLDS and the Angels going down in four games to the Red Sox in the ALDS.

Who knows how much differently the 2008 playoffs would have gone for the Phillies if they drew the Cubs or Dodgers in the NLDS, or the Red Sox instead of the Rays in the World Series. It obviously doesn't matter because reality > hypotheticals, but that 2008 postseason was a good example of timing being everything.

The 2008 Phillies were a better team than the 2008 Brewers, but they also had two huge benefits in that series beyond home-field advantage. Those benefits were the Brewers' top two starting pitchers.

CC Sabathia was the blockbuster trade acquisition in '08. The Brewers acquired him on July 7, three weeks before the deadline, and he dominated for more than two months. In 17 starts with Milwaukee, Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Ridiculously, he pitched seven complete games with three shutouts in those 17 starts.

But by the time the postseason began, Sabathia was spent. His start against the Phillies in Game 2 of the NLDS was his fifth straight start on short rest. Four days earlier, Sabathia had thrown 122 pitches in a complete game.

It was clear pretty early in that game that Sabathia was not the pitcher he was down the stretch, and Phillies fans will never forget the second inning. (We will explore the famous nine-pitch Brett Myers walk and Shane Victorino grand slam in more depth Tuesday.)

The other advantage the Phillies had was that the Brewers' rock that year, Ben Sheets, found out at the end of the regular season that he needed Tommy John surgery and would be unable to pitch in the playoffs. Sheets, who had a 3.24 ERA in 128 starts from 2004-08 and was a four-time All-Star, never ended up making a postseason start. 

Had he been healthy, Sheets would have started Game 1 for the Brewers ahead of Sabathia. Instead, that Game 1 start went to Yovani Gallardo, who had torn his ACL on May 1 and was unable to return until the final week of the regular season. 

Gallardo went on to have a decent 12-year career but he wasn't ready for that big moment in enemy territory in '08. The Phillies scored three runs off of him (unearned because of a Rickie Weeks error), and that was plenty of run support for Cole Hamels.

The Phillies clearly benefitted from the Brewers' starting pitching situation that October, but that doesn't discredit the business they took care of. In the NLDS, Prince Fielder went 1 for 14 (.071). Ryan Braun, who would go on to become a career Phillie-killer, had just an OK series, reaching base in five of 17 plate appearances and going hitless with runners in scoring position until his final at-bat of the series, an RBI single with the Phillies up five runs in their Game 4 clincher.

The Brewers hit just .206/.271/.254 as a team in that series with one home run against the Phils.

The re-airs of the Phillies' entire 2008 playoff run begin tonight on NBC Sports Philadelphia. The NLDS runs this week from Monday-Thursday, followed by the NLCS next week and the World Series the week after.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies