As published on CrossingBroad.com
The playoffs are finally here. I would say “Red October”, but I don’t want to give these Reds Fans any more confidence than they already (kinda, maybe) are pretending to have. This postseason is different from the previous three for the Phillies. They are no longer the team that was just happy to be there (2007), or the team that got hot at the right time and won the whole thing on the backs of a young World Series MVP (2008), or the team that was poised to get back to the World Series, but would have to knock off the “best team” in baseball and a guy named Godzilla to repeat (2009). These 2010 Philadelphia Phillies are entering the postseason, for the first time in their history, with the best record in baseball and as the prohibitive favorite to win it all.
Everyone from Bridgeport, CT to Vegas pretty much agrees, the Phillies are the team to beat. Even John Smoltz is on the bandwagon. And for good reason. The Phillies’ All-Star lineup is finally healthy and intact.
Charlie Manuel (my candidate for manager of the year), can now, if he so chooses, write it down like this: J. Rollins, SS; P. Polanco, 3B; C. Utley, 2B; R. Howard, 1B; J. Werth, RF; R. Ibanez, LF; S. Victorino, CF; C. Ruiz, C; Cy Young, P. That’s a pretty picture, isn’t it? Especially in a season where it often looked like this.
On the mound the Phillies are downright scary, showing Trip Aces before the flop. But this is no time to talk about gambling. This is a rotation that’s as close as it gets to a sure thing, flashing Roy Halladay in game one, winner of 21 games, perfect game hurler, and early runaway favorite for the NL Cy Young. Then there’s our newest RoyToy, Roy Oswalt in game 2, who has been dominant since joining the Phillies, dominant at Citizens Bank Park, and dominant against the Cincinatti Reds (23-3, 2.81 ERA) for his career. And then comes the resurgent Cole Hamels who is even better against the little red machine (6-0, 1.18 ERA) in his comparatively brief career.
These three will attempt to shutdown the NL’s most potent (on paper) lineup. Everyone agrees that they will. Meanwhile, the Phillies bats will do just what they were built to do, bring nine guys to the plate every inning, eight of which are proven Major League hitters, stars.
But with all this confidence, there is still a sense of quiet unease in my bowels. Maybe that’s the 2 for $3 Sizzlis speaking, but I can feel it. And deep down you can too. I know it.
As Philadelphia fans, we can’t help it. Too many disappointments. Too many visions of Joe Carter, sweeping Red Wings, Lakers, and Patriots OH MY! But don’t worry, B-West can’t fumble this one, Donovan can’t throw three picks on the same play, and Mitch Williams is safely in the press box. Michael Leighton’s legs are still oddly open … but that’s between him and his “health professionals.” After years of playing the underdog, you can trust your gut on this one. The Philles are that good. Have fun, be confident. This is the golden age of Phillies baseball, and it’s only gonna get “funner”. Now let’s just go out there and HIT!