Thursday, October 15, 2009
I never give up hope. If I've learned one thing as a Philadelphia sports fan over the years, it's that as long as there's time left for something dramatic to happen, it can and very often will.
And I never gave up hope on Monday night. Not completely. But after the bottom of the 8th inning, when the Rockies put up three runs to take a 4-2 lead, even I, Optimist Prime, prepared myself for a Game 5 that would somehow be even more intense than Games 3 and 4. I was already in a text conversation with my friend Matt, who had tickets to Game 5 in Philly for Tuesday night:
"What we feared would happen last night happened tonight. Looks like you're going to the ballgame tomorrow night."
"I can't go. Gotta teach."
"You gonna sell it?"
"That's the plan."
But that wasn't the plan. Not for the Phightin Phils. Two strikes, two outs in the ninth, down two? No problem. Sure, I'd been sitting at the bar with my friend Tim silently praying and thinking of all of the amazing two-out rallies this team had put up in the past. But I was figuring out how soon I could get home from work Tuesday night so that my drawn-out heart attack could resume.
Then Utley walked. And then Ryan Howard rocked a game-tying double to deep left. And then, I thought, "This is awesome. Now I have to prepare for extra innings." But again, this was not part of the plan. Jayson Werth, redeeming himself for an ugly strikeout earlier in the game with runners on, drove a single to right center, and as suddenly as possible, the Phillies were winning. Un. Believable.
And so, heading into Game 1 of the NLCS rematch against the Dodgers, let me just say this: I expected the division. We should have beaten the Rockies, but that is with all due respect to them. They were a very good team, especially at home, and we needed to play our best ball to beat them. So, kudos to the Rockies. And big kudos to the Phils, the Road Warriors, rising above freezing temperatures in a place not friendly--in terms of record--to visitors.
It goes without saying that we can beat the Dodgers. But I don't expect to, not in the way I expected to repeat in the East. If the Rockies are a very good team, the Dodgers are certainly near the "great" category. And so, this series is going to be exciting, and could obviously go either way. And as such, combined with the fact that--in case you forgot--we did win it all last year, I'll be somewhat okay if we can't beat LA again. In my mind, the series hinges on the performance of one man. It's not Cliff Lee. It's not Ryan Madson. It's not even Brad Lidge. It's Cole Hamels. If Cole can be even 80 percent of what he was last year, we win.
The call here is that he does. Phillies in six.
I'd like to personally thank Miller Lite. Not for the unique brewing process in which hops are added three times. But for the fact that I had been wondering what greatness tastes like. Now I know.
Anyone notice the Olive Garden commercial with the frat guy from Road Trip? I can't find it online, but you know who I'm talking about. Every time I see it, I want to yell, "Psi! Chi! Psi! Chi Chi!"
If you haven't seen this yet, this is literally one of the most amazing things I've ever heard. They're naming it the call of the year. Might be the greatest call of all time. Check it out.