The Right Place At The Right Time

The Right Place At The Right Time

For the better part of eight innings yesterday I sat in section 504, high above the grass at Citi Field. Shortly after Matt Stairs scored in the top of the eighth, however, I thought it'd be a good idea to walk around the ball park, check out different sight lines, and maybe grab a burger from Shake Shack.

As much as I dislike the Mets, I don't really have anything overtly negative to say about their park. There's plenty of space to move around the building, concessions never seem too far away, the beer man (and more specifically the lemonade man) was fun, friendly, and entertaining in his work; there were places to stand behind most sections, and there were Phillies fans everywhere. I kind of liked it. But it wasn't perfect. The view outside the park was not of a beautiful bay as in San Francisco, or an amazing bridge as in Pittsburgh, or even a wonderfully ugly sign as in Philadelphia, but rather a dump of sorts for automobile parts. I also felt like the upper level, section 504 specifically, felt really high above the playing field making it hard to gauge the trajectory and power differences between a legit home run and a routine long fly out. Whether it is in fact higher than other parks, I have no idea. It just seemed that way to me.

Anyway, back to the black-and-white milkshake part. After stopping at different spots around the park and watching the bottom of the eighth and parts of the top of the ninth, we stumbled upon a Shake Shack in the lower center field area with almost no line. A burger and shake seemed in order.

We got our single shack with a shake and perched up at one of the tables in the concourse with no view of the field but there is a very nice screen, surrounded in advertising for people to keep abreast of the action while they wait in lines and/or take a break from their seats to chow down. There was also a similar screen on the upper level behind home plate. It's a nice touch.

So I was enjoying a burger and watching the bottom of the ninth on this big screen, praying that Brad Lidge wouldn't give me worse heart burn than my meal.

So Pagan gets on while we're still in line, then Castillo got on, scoring Pagan while we stood at the tables. At that point, it seemed as if Lidge had allowed things to get serious enough to warrant my total attention. I literally told my special lady friend that "I have to go watch this for real" and walked the 20 feet over to stand behind the center field bleachers. Not two minutes later, with Murphy getting on, did Jeff Francoeur line one directly up the middle and Eric Bruntlett found himself in the exact right place at the exact right time. The rest is history.

Don't fool yourselves. Eric Bruntlett is still Eric Bruntlett. But now he'll be remembered for that amazingly quirky play he made that happens once a century or so -- a game ending unassisted triple play.

And boy, I would have felt like a total punk of a fan if I had missed that one. Ended up at the perfect vantage point in center to watch it happen. Nice little Sunday.

The trip was capped off with the guilty pleasure of tuning in to WFAN on the drive back down the Jersey Turnpike listening to what sounded like Omar Minaya's eulogy. One grieving fan, after noting the hardship upon hardship that his Mets have gone through this season, said that Bruntlett's triple play was the icing on the cake.

The Shake Shack milkshake was pretty sweet too.

Canada wins World Cup, rallying to beat Europe 2-1

Canada wins World Cup, rallying to beat Europe 2-1

TORONTO -- Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal with 43.1 seconds left and Canada beat Team Europe 2-1 on Thursday night to win the World Cup of Hockey.

The Canadians won the best-of-three finals 2-0.

Patrice Bergeron tied it with a power-play goal with 2:53 left in the third, and Marchand won it with a shot from the slot.

Canada has won 16 straight games, including two Olympic gold medals, since losing to the U.S. in the 2010 Olympics.

Carey Price made 32 saves for the Canadians, who started slow before ending the tournament with a furious rally that fired up a once-quiet crowd.

Zdeno Chara scored early for Europe, and Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves for the eight-nation team.

Sidney Crosby was named MVP of the tournament with three goals and a World Cup-high 10 points.

After getting that award, he was presented with a silver World Cup of Hockey trophy and he skated with it around the ice just months after hosting the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career.

He set up the tying goal, passing the puck off the boards to Brent Burns, whose shot just inside the blue line was redirected by Bergeron's raised stick.

Crosby was stewing after each of the first two periods.

When the game was over, he was sporting an ear-to-ear smile.

The Canadians closed the game in impressive fashion after a lackluster start.

In front of an unenthusiastic crowd and a lot of empty seats in the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canadians started flat and the Europeans made them pay for their apparent apathy.

Unlike the last two times Canada trailed briefly to the U.S. and Russia, it could not come back against Europe quickly.

It looked as if it wasn't going to be Canada's night when John Tavares had a wide-open net to shoot into, but hit the right post from the bottom of the right circle. Earlier in the same shift, the New York Islanders forward missed the net on a one-timer opportunity.

Canada averaged 4.4 goals over the first five games of the tournament, giving Price plenty of support. It didn't score as much in the final game of the tournament, but two goals were enough to win thanks to Price.

Chara, a Slovakian and Boston Bruins defenseman, scored from the left circle with a wrist shot through traffic two teammates created in front of the net off a short, soft pass from Andrej Sekera in the slot.

Crosby was part of a scrum at the end of the first period in which his helmet was knocked off near Europe's net at the end of the first period. After the horn sounded to end the second, Crosby lingered on the ice to shot at Swiss defenseman Roman Josi.

Crosby was clearly frustrated, playing with a pair of Boston Bruins, Marchand and Bergeron, who had combined for 22 points through the first five games.

Europe outshot the Canadians 12-8 after the first period and 27-21 after the second.

The Canadians had three power plays over the first two periods and failed to take advantage, falling to 2 for 17 with an extra skater. On one of their power plays, they needed Price to make stops on breakaways.

Canada had a man advantage again early in the third period, but only got one shot on Halak, a Slovak and Islanders standout, on the possibly pivotal power play.

Crosby had a chance to score with 7-plus minutes left, but Halak kicked the shot away with his right skate.

Europe seemed as if it had a chance to score late when Drew Doughty was called for high-sticking with just under 2 minutes left, but Canada was the team that took advantage when Marchand got the puck into open space and beat Halak with a shot to win the first World Cup since 2004.

Instant Replay: Braves 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Braves 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Jeremy Hellickson’s final start of the season — and possibly his final one with the Phillies — was cut short by a sprained right knee Thursday night (see story).

Hellickson left the game against the Atlanta Braves after 3 1/3 innings.

The Phillies ended up losing, 5-2, in their final game at Turner Field. The Braves swept the three-game series. The Phillies have lost six of their last seven and are 70-89.

The Phillies went 82-91 over 20 years of visiting Turner Field. The Braves will move into a new stadium next season.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson gave up just one hit and no runs in his 3 1/3 innings. He walked none.

The right-hander finished the season 12-10 in a career-high 32 starts. He tied a career high with 189 innings. His final ERA of 3.71 was his best since he recorded a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts for Tampa Bay in 2012.

Hellickson is eligible for free agency this winter. The Phillies would like to get draft-pick compensation if Hellickson signs elsewhere, but they must extend him a $17 million qualifying offer for 2017 and he must reject the offer in order for the club to get that pick.

Atlanta’s Josh Collmenter pitched seven innings and held the Phillies to one run. He gave up six hits, walked none and struck out four.

Bullpen report
Struggling Jeanmar Gomez entered a tie game in the bottom of the eighth inning. He gave up a walk and a tie-breaking double as the Braves took the lead. The Braves scored three more times against Gomez in the frame to put the game away.

At the plate
Odubel Herrera’s RBI single in the third inning gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It was the Phillies’ 600th run of the season. They were the last team in the majors to get there.

Aaron Altherr cut the Braves' lead to three with a two-out RBI single in the ninth.

Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson tied the game at 1-1 with a solo homer against Colton Murray in the sixth.

Swanson walked and scored the go-ahead run on Matt Kemp’s double against Gomez in the bottom of the eighth.

Up next
The Phillies return home Friday night for the final three-game series of the season. They will play the New York Mets, who are battling for the National League wild card. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday night — RHP Alec Asher (2-0, 1.66) vs. RHP Robert Gsellman (3-2, 2.56)

Saturday afternoon — RHP Phil Klein (0-0, 12.15) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (14-8, 3.42)

Sunday afternoon — RHP Jerad Eickhoff (11-14, 3.72) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60)

Sunday afternoon’s season finale starts at 3:05 p.m. The team will make a special on-field presentation to Ryan Howard at 2:30.

Howard did not play Thursday night. He is expected to start all three games against the Mets. The Phillies will not pick up Howard’s contract option for 2017 and he will become a free agent.

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