October 28, 2022
Face it, the Phils were fortunate
Face it, the Phils were fortunate to face St. Louis, with suspect pitching, and not the Brewers and their stud starters and lock-down bullpen, in the Wild Card round. They were even more fortunate to face Atlanta in the Divisional Round, instead of the Mets and their starting staff. Two vastly overrated and overhyped media darling teams that became pushovers, in the first two rounds. The Phils were simply the better team in each of those matchups, and it showed. It would not have been so easy against Milwaukee or New York.
San Diego was another story. A very good team, much better than Atlanta or St. Louis. But a flawed team, without Tatis. And, they had just beaten their arch rival, the Dodgers. You had to expect a bit of a letdown. [If (when?) the Eagles beat the Cowboys in the NFL playoffs, it would feel like the Super Bowl. Job done. Even the Super Bowl would not have quite the same feel.] I think the Padres had that sense of accomplishment, and they underestimated the Phillies.
Houston is without doubt the best team in baseball this year. They just swept a very good (but seriously flawed) Yankee team. (Who among us – Phillies fans, at least – was not rooting for that series to go seven games, so the Phils would face a tired opponent without their best rotation? I for one hoped the Yankees would win four straight, and we could exact revenge for 1950 and 2009.)
That said, I like our chances here. Houston won a lot of games in a weak Division. They have a few holes. Verlander looked bad against Seattle. Not only do the Phils have Nola (hopefully, not the “Nightmare Nola” we saw against San Diego…) and Wheeler, but the Ranger has been just as effective. Stott and Bohm have been sleepers, down in the lineup. And if all else fails, Phils can bash their way to wins in a slugfest – Harper, Schwarbs, Hoskins.
I’m not on the Rob Thomson bandwagon. I wanted to see Joe Maddon manage the Phillies. For the most part I have disagreed with his in-game decisions, particularly pulling Wheeler early and not pulling Nola early, and his bizarre usage of the bullpen. But I remember screaming at the TV in much the same fashion with Charlie Manuel. Somehow things worked out, which is why they are managing and I am a semi-retired environmental lawyer managing teams only in Out of the Park Baseball and my fantasy league.
Hoping to see one of the games in Philly. My son suggested Game Five tickets, and I reminded him there might not be a Game Five. Not sure what my thinking was there, but it is hard not to feel giddy, after absolutely smoking St. Louis, Atlanta, and San Diego. We were there for Game Three with the Bravos, and it was madness, wall of sound, strangers hugging strangers, guys in the mens room loudly singing the mock-chop chant, “High Hopes”, epic stuff, awesome.
If the Phillies manage to win one (or both!) of the games in Texas, the Bank will be even more electric on Monday – Halloween. I am not sure the Astros are ready for that. Even if the Phils are down two games to nothing, the fans will be combative. I don’t think the Astro hitters will be able to hear to tub banging from the bullpen, tipping pitches. It’s amazing that the Bank with 46,000 fans can sound louder than the Vet with 66,000. Of course those 46,000 are much closer to the field of play.
One of the few advantages of advanced age is the ability to look back on more than sixty years of rooting for this team. Across now five generations of my family. (My Grandad was originally more of an A’s fan, when they were in Philly; but we count him, too.) Good times and bad times. Pirate doubleheaders. I want to order those hats that say “Phamily” for me and my three sons. And little ones for the grandkids. Let’s do this!