• HaroldHecuba: Mike Mussina is EASTERN EUROPEAN, not Italian....

After a fantastic honeymoon in Fiji, where we were cut off from television, internet, and all other forms of media other than the Fiji Times (which doesn’t publish baseball standings), the blushing bride and I returned stateside yesterday. We landed at LAX around 4 p.m. to discover 1. The Phillies were still alive! 2. They were scheduled to play the Dodgers in the NLCS and the first game was to start in an hour! 3. We’d miss the first half of the game traveling from L.A. to Tucson!

What to do? Our flight was oversold, so we volunteered to take the next flight. That gave us time to watch the game in the airport bar, and we scored free roundtrip flight vouchers to boot.

You might be wondering, “what kind of a baseball fan schedules his honeymoon during the playoffs?” But consider: 1. The last thing anybody wants to do after surviving his or her wedding is return to work on Monday. 2. Going to Fiji in the spring and missing the annual spring training baseball weekend with the guys was not an option. (Neither was missing the holidays.) 3. Jimmy Rollins has already predicted a Phillies-Yankees World Series, so I knew the Phils would still be alive when I returned.

Anyways, I’m back. But being away from baseball for over a week and then returning in the middle of October is a bit of a weird experience. Here are some observations from a guy who is jumping into the 2009 playoffs midstream:

1. I can’t believe that in the 1.5 weeks I was gone, the Phils’ bullpen situation seems to have actually gotten murkier. Which is not to say it’s gotten worse. Just less certain. Last postseason, the Phils went almost exclusively with a bullpen rotation of Romero, Madson, Lidge. This postseason Manuel is just making it up as he goes along. He is really grasping at straws, and his lack of a plan is making all us Philly fans a little edgy.

2. When was the last time Manny got a haircut? Did Joe Torre just stop caring about that?

3. What is up with the east coast? Did you guys even have a summer this year? It’s snowing today in Boston and the weather forecast for the Yankees-Angels series is horrid. Is this a global warming thing or what?

4. Vicente Padilla really is an asshole. Don’t you think?

5. When I said that Suz and I got to watch the Phillies-Dodgers game in the airport, I meant we got to watch all but the final three outs. We had to board the plane before the game ended. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a nine inning game played between two teams not named the Red Sox or Yankees could last more than four hours. But this game started at 5:07 and was still going when we boarded our plane at 9:20. I know it didn’t help that Manuel used pretty much his entire bullpen. But it really doesn’t help that commercial breaks during the playoffs are twice as long as those during the regular season. Can we do something about this?

6. Chase Utley is in a funk. He’s made two throwing errors in two games and he hasn’t had an extra-basehit in the NLCS. Granted, it’s only two games. But he’s got this look on his face like something isn’t right. With any other player, I’d chalk it up to a slump or nerves. But with Utley, anytime he’s not playing well I worry he’s hurt. Because, frankly, he almost never struggles and when he does we almost always find out after the fact that he was playing with a broken this or a torn that. It’s a tribute to Utley that we worry for his health whenever he turns in anything less than a Hall of Fame performance.

7. So let me get this straight: While I was gone there was a kid in a balloon and for a whole day people stopped what they were doing to watch this kid float away, only to find out later the kid wasn’t actually in the balloon but was instead hiding in the attic? And we still don’t have healthcare reform? And Rush Limbaugh can’t buy a portion of an NFL team, but he can judge the Miss America pageant? Is that everything? Am I caught up?

8. I bet the Red Sox faithful really wishes Theo would have shelled out the cash for Teixeira. His decision to sign with New York could haunt Boston for years to come. This winter, the pressure to sign Matt Holliday is going to be enormous. Sarah is already starting to obsess over him. And not just because she thinks he’s hot.

9. Tsunami warnings make me glad to live in the desert.

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