Phillies win, exit Manny

L.A.'s giddy affair with Ramirez set to end as Philadelphia dispatches the Dodgers in five games.

By King Kaufman
Published October 16, 2008 11:00AM (EDT)

And so much for Mannymania in Los Angeles. The Philadelphia Phillies made quick work of the Dodgers after Manny Ramirez carried them into the playoffs as the second hottest team in the National League, hotter than everybody but the Phillies.

Philadelphia's 5-1 win in Game 5 Wednesday was the completion of a complete butt-kicking, something that's going around. The Tampa Bay Rays lead the Boston Red Sox 3-1 in the American League Championship Series, the Rays having won three straight, the last two by lopsided scores.

Three of the four divisional-round series went four games, the other a three-game sweep. This is getting to be a distressing trend in postseason baseball. In the last four years there have been 25 completed series, and only three of them have gone the distance to a winner-take-all seventh or fifth game. There have been 12 sweeps, and 10 other series in which the loser won only once.

Not that the Phillies or their fans have anything to be depressed about. They'll get a full week to digest the team's first pennant since 1993. The World Series opens Wednesday night in either Boston or St. Petersburg.

Similar long layoffs have not been kind to the last two World Series losers, the Colorado Rockies last year and the Detroit Tigers in 2006. It might be a break for the Phillies if the Rays took care of the Red Sox Thursday night so the layoffs would be roughly even. Except that the Rays look like the tougher opponent.

If the Phillies can hold on to whatever it was they had against the Dodgers, they'll be fine. Except for the game started by Jamie Moyer, the Phils cleaned the Dodgers' clocks, pounding the pitching, shutting down the hitting -- Manny excepted -- and seemingly taking advantage of every opportunity the Dodgers gave them.

On Wednesday they got a pair of two-out RBI singles from Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell to turn a 1-0 game into 3-0 in the third inning, and then made hay on Rafael Furcal's defensive meltdown in the fifth to score two more. Furcal made two errors on one play, three in the inning. With Cole Hamels turning in his second stellar start of the series -- he was named MVP -- it was all over.

The love affair between Manny Ramirez and Dodgers fans, that is.

With the Dodgers eliminated, Manny becomes a free agent. It's possible he'll re-sign. The Dodgers are on the shortlist of teams that could afford Ramirez and he's said he'd like to come back. But it'll never be the same.

There will be debates about whether he'll be worth the obscene figure on the contract, and that'll mean long conversations about his advancing age and many faults. Oh, Dodger fans know about Manny's past. They've fallen for him fully aware of those old indiscretions.

But new love is only new once. Scales will start falling from eyes. Fears of summer doldrums and mysterious knee ailments will arise. Scott Boras will start talking in the press and it'll be the morning after.

Love can survive the morning after, but it'll never be so giddy and new again, a trip to the moon on gossamer dreads.

The Phillies move on to try to win their city's first major-sport championship since 1983, their own first since 1980 and second ever. The Dodgers? They figure to go back to being what they were a few weeks ago, the least mediocre team in a terrible division, though one with a solid core of young talent. And maybe Manny Ramirez.

But if not, they'll always have those 61 games.

King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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