2008 Phandom 25

The 2008 Phandom 25: Chooch!

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.

***

5. Chooch’s chop
Date: October 25, 2008

Bases loaded. No outs. Ninth inning. Tie game. Game three of the World Series. Carlos Ruiz stood in the box, the biggest at bat of his life facing him.

A chop.

It just worked.

Eric Bruntlett slid in past Evan Longoria’s high throw, winning the game for the Phillies over the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4. The Phils took a 2-1 lead in the series, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Bruntlett set up the rally after getting hit by a Chad Bradford pitch. JP Howell relieved him, but uncorked a wild pitch that sent Bruntlett to second. Dioner Navarro then tossed a wild throw into the outfield, and Bruntlett hurried to third. With the winning run 90 feet away, Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to walk the bases loaded and employ a five-man infield. But Carlos Ruiz beat the strategy. It ended a lengthy night, started by a three-hour rain delay. By the time the game ended, at 1:30 a.m., it was time to call it quits — even the celebrations felt hungover.

It should’ve never happened that way. The Phillies held a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning, thanks to three home runs and a groundout RBI. Ruiz, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard supplied the power, pushing the Phils very close to a 2-1 advantage without much of a fight. But starter Jamie Moyer got hosed. A Carl Crawford bunt attempt was expertly and beautifully played by a diving Moyer, and yet Crawford was incorrectly called safe on the play. It led to two groundout runs, pulling the Rays within one. Even worse, they scored the tying run off Ryan Madson in the eighth, thanks to an infield hit, two steals and a wild throw.

The Phillies had outplayed Tampa Bay all game. There was no way it could end poorly.

It didn’t. Ruiz channeled his inner Chooch, getting just enough of the bat on the ball to put it in play, creating a tough moment for Longoria, a still very green player participating in his first World Series. Ruiz played like a champion all series, swatting balls, handling the staff like gold. His little squib was the kind of play that typified the 2008 series — it sure wasn’t pretty, but it was clutch, and it got the job done.

Like the 2008 Phillies campaign, it just worked.

The video: Chooch wins it

From the comments:

Keith: RUIZ. our best hitter

Jeffrey: Three cheers for Jamie Moyer!

Dave: Ive never seen a WP on an IBB before….

NEPA: NEEDED A 9 MAN INFIELD I GUESS.

Joel: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

YEAH PHILLIES!!!!!!

RUIZ is Da Man!

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