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Millions of Phillies fans being talked off the ledge after going down to SF Giants

BY TOM SCHALATA
After years of blaming Billy Penn for cursing the City of Brotherly Love's sports teams, the 2008 Phillies team proved that lifting the tall building moratorium in the city was not the problem.

For those not familiar with Philly history, the city of Philadelphia had a decades old ordinance that forbade the building of any structure taller than Billy Penn's hat atop city hall. However, once that ban was lifted, Philly sports teams went into a 23-year championship drought. That is until the Phils beat Tampa Bay in the '08 World Series.

Now, two years later, several million Phillies fans were recently spotted on the ledge of the 57-story, 975-foot Comcast Building in Philadelphia. As the 14th tallest building in the country faces the danger of toppling over, the Fightin' Phils face elimination at the hands of the Giants.

You have to hand it to the Giants, they deserve to be up 3-1. Their pitching, for the most part, has held up, and the Phillies hitting has been equally anemic.

Just like the Phillies, the last few years, luck has been on their side. The Phils good fortune started with the Mets end-of-season collapse a few years ago. This year, luck seems to favor the Giants. Namely "Pat Who?" Burrell, Cody Ross and the rest.

San Fransisco has played the Phillies well. They deserve a lot of credit, but in an effort to talk some of those Phillies fans down off the ledge, let's focus on a little of that luck, just for our own piece of mind.

Among the many questionable calls, and questionable strike zones imposed by the umpires, two plays in Game 4 standout.

I tried to find the game's play-by-play on somebody's website, in order to fill in the details, but like many of the Phillies' bats, I came up empty.

The first play was a foul ball hit to Ryan Howard down the first base line. The Giants had a runner on first. The ball hit the line a few feet in front of the bag, and Howard fielded it in foul territory. The first base umpire called it a fair ball. As reported by the play-by-play announcers, (I am not certain if it was Tim McCarver) the home plate umpire usually makes that call.

The ruling should be, if the ball fails to cross the bag in fair territory it is a foul ball. As a result, Howard's only play was at first, and the runner moved to second on a "foul ball." I honestly can't remember if the Giants scored later that inning or not, but it was a bad call none-the-less!

The obviously big blunder came an inning or so later, when Jimmy Rollins was caught stealing with Carlos Ruiz at the plate.

McCarver, Mitch Williams, Davey Lopes, Jimmy Rollins and everyone on that 57th floor ledge saw that it was a balk. Although the replays concentrated more on the balk move than the actual steal, I am not convinced that Rollins was out. To me, he looked like he beat the tag, bad hammy and all. But that's just me.

I am not crying sour grapes. The Giants are up 3-1 for a reason. Actually, for several reasons. But if the Phils are going to make a third straight World Series appearance, luck needs to find some red pinstripes. They need to borrow a page from those dreaded Yankees, who proved that they are not dead, yet.

If you need more convincing that the Phils can comeback from a 3-1 deficit, six teams have done it: 1985 Royals, 1986 Red Sox, 1996 Braves, 2003 Marlins, 2004 Red Sox and the 2007 Red Sox. In the last example, Phillies' Ben Fransisco was a member of that 2007 Cleveland Indians team that blew their lead against Boston.

With a win tonight, and a chance to go back to Philly for possible Games 6 and 7, evacuation plans may begin on that 57th floor of the Comcast Building. In the meantime, paramedics are standing by. Play Ball!

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