Bullpen gives Dodgers edge in NLCS rematch
On the eve of the second annual National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and the Phillies, a fiercely insistent crowd assembled around Manny Ramirez's locker. It should be difficult to take him seriously, as his braided dreads strongly suggest the "Star Wars" heroine, Princess Leia. But once again, deadline circumstances have rendered the media horde oblivious to both humor and irony.
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For the record, Ramirez says that the Dodgers are better than they were last year.
The Phillies, he adds, are also better.
If that's the case, he was asked, then who's the better team?
"I think the team that scores more runs."
To Ramirez's ever-lasting credit, he seems to be in on the joke. I'd like to think he knows this much: that the idea of baseball players "working out" on a rainy Wednesday in October is almost as absurd as the idea of his locker as a shrine on the path to enlightenment.
Nevertheless, in my quest to enlighten you, dear reader, I'll note that only one of these teams is better — substantially better, I think — than it was last year. That would be the Dodgers. If you're handicapping the rematch of last year's NLCS, the advantage belongs to L.A.
Yes, the Phillies added an ace in Cliff Lee. Then again, Cole Hamels isn't what he was. A team that just got through Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright can't be too frightened of Lee and Hamels. What's more, a couple of Brad Lidge saves in the division series aren't enough to erase the presumption against Philadelphia's bullpen.