Toward the end, gripped by the team's ineptitude, absolutely underwater, the Flyers' coaching staff took the players into the locker room a couple of hours before the fourth game of the series in Ottawa and attempted to install a new system.
It wasn't a tweak . . . it was a whole new deal, not something they had never seen because other teams used the system, but something they had not done any real blackboard work or on-ice work preparing. It was early evening, they were getting ready to let the fans into the building, and the Flyers were trying to reinvent the wheel.
The players smelled panic. The Flyers did not score that night. The team mutinied on coach Bill Barber after the series ended. Barber was fired.
The point of the story, as the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays prepare for tonight's Game 3 of the World Series, is simple enough:
Major surgery is not the answer. Extensive batting order gymnastics would be a mistake. A tweak would be appropriate, nothing more. After all, despite 1-for-28, despite everything, the series is tied at a game apiece.
"I think it's a matter of the guys relaxing, and definitely we've got to cut down on our swings some," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. " . . . Looks to me like we're trying to hit the ball out of the yard."
At the same time, Manuel probably should do something - tinker with the batting order, at the very least. One change could be the flip-flopping of Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino between the No. 2 and No. 6 spots in the order. Manuel has done it a lot, often simply by feel.
A better tweak, though, might be to split up his two big lefties, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
He did it 33 times this season - 22 times after Aug. 15, 13 times in September. It would be accepted by everyone as no big deal. It would give the lineup a slightly different look and give everybody something to talk about. It also would address the emergence of lefty David Price out of the Rays' bullpen, at least a little.
"Yeah, I think about that," Manuel said yesterday, before the Phillies worked out at Citizens Bank Park. "And you're right, when you come to it, [in Game 2] Price . . . the length that he went [2 1/3 innings] definitely got my attention. He went down through our lineup and back around again."
The numbers say that there is essentially no scoring difference between the games when Utley and Howard hit third and fourth and the games when they were split up. The change would be largely cosmetic, except that it might make Rays manager Joe Maddon at least think about a different role for Price in a big spot if the Phillies were set up Utley-righty-Howard. Then again, the Phils did score two runs off Price, so maybe some of the aura is gone there.
Anyway, cosmetic can help here. It is good to change things up in the middle of a playoff series. Basketball teams alter the defensive assignments. Hockey teams juggle the lines. Baseball teams massage the batting order. It is what you do when you lose, just because.
Sometimes, Manuel is a stat guy. Sometimes, he is a "just because" guy. Knowing how he has operated in the past, he might change his mind and then change it again after breakfast this morning.
Anyway, talking about splitting up Utley and Howard, Manuel spent some time laying this at the feet of the righthanded hitters, too.
"If you sit there and think, the right-hand hitters have to get [Price], too," he said. "We have big righthand hitters standing in there, too. They're the ones that have to take the slack off the left-hand hitters . . .
"Howard and Utley, when I split them up, sometimes it works. I'm not saying that I want to do that, but also it's up to our righthand hitters to step up and hit those lefthand pitchers.
"They get paid, too," Manuel said.
Will he do it? Don't know. Will it matter? Don't know. Can it hurt? Don't think so. *
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