NLDS 2010: Like A Man Possessed, Can Anyone Stop the Phillies?
This three game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds wasn’t so much of a series as a statement. Like a man on a mission the Phillies, along with 25-year-old postseason veteran Cole Hamels, finished off the NLDS sweep and head back home to await their opponent.
The Phillies allowed the fans of Cincinnati to view just one home game after a 15-year wait without one. Not only did Reds fans wait 15 years for the team to get back into the playoffs, they were then forced to watch their team get no hits, blow a lead in game two, and get shut out in game three to cap it off.
This Phillies team is on a mission. They showed up to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati with their bags packed, ready to return home to Philadelphia. A sign of extreme confidence from a team, who if they would have lost, would have had to unpack and stay another night in Cincinnati. Obviously, Hamels wanted to return to Philadelphia as he pitched like a man who was double parked. The 2008 World Series MVP went a complete game not giving up any runs while striking out nine Reds batters.
At one point, I made the comment that if this Phillies team were to play the 2008 Phillies team in a playoff series, the 2008 Phillies team would have gotten smoked. Little did we know in 2008 that the best of times for Phillies fans was ahead. Names like Eric Bruntlett, Geoff Jenkins, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton all made huge impacts in 2008 but are either no longer on the team or won’t play a factor at all.
What can you say that hasn’t already been said about Roy Halladay? The future National League CY Young award winner waited his whole career for October 6th and didn’t disappoint, as he became just the second pitcher in major league baseball history to pitch a postseason no hitter.
After the game, he tipped his cap to the fans, did a few interviews, and then got back to work doing his postgame work outs. Just business as usual for the Phillies ace who said during a December press conference that he wanted to come to Philadelphia to pitch in the postseason. Making history is one way to make your postseason debut.
Not only did Halladay turn down several interview requests from major media figures but showed up to the ballpark on Thursday morning at 10 am. It was also his son’s birthday. Halladay’s work ethic has seemingly brushed off on a lot of the Phillies players and one of them has been Cole Hamels.
Hamels came into camp in shape and has matured a lot from the Cole Hamels that showed up in 2009. That Cole Hamels was out of shape and still soaking in 2008 instead of focusing in on 2009, and it showed with his results on the field. The Cole Hamels that was on the mound Sunday night in Cincinnati however was a Cole Hamels who is trying to back up what he said to fans during the 2008 World Series Parade. “I want to go down that street again, and again, and again."
A funny thing has happened to a city that was once considered cursed. People walk around with a confidence in a team that has either never been there or hasn’t been in quite a while. The days of being worried about matchups are seemingly over. The days of being down late in ball games and knowing the game is over are over. The days of being disappointed by a team’s promises are over. This Phillies team has done nothing but instill faith in a city that has never had it from any of its other pro sports teams.
This Phillies teams has mended the broken hearts of Eagles fans who came so close in 2004 but fell just three points short. This Phillies team is making the Patrick Kane goal easier to accept with every pitch. This Phillies team has changed the mindset of an entire city that had started to believe it would always be the bride’s maid and never the bride.
Philadelphia will never be New York. We will never get the national recognition that New York does and will always be looked down upon by those who live in the big apple. But the Phillies have a chance to push their way into the national spot light with their postseason success. The Phillies became just the fourth team in National League history to play in four straight post seasons and if they can reach the World Series they would become the first National League team to reach three straight World Series since the 42-45 St. Louis Cardinals.
The word Dynasty is being talked about, and when I brought it up to a recent Yankees fan, they laughed. Spoiled with 27 championships, many of which they never saw, they said “call me when you win more than two rings.” But what defines success?
In 2007, success for the Phillies was just making the postseason and for many teams success is just that, a postseason berth. You get to display a flag for clinching a division title, and it’s not the easiest thing to make four straight postseasons. Many Yankees fans forget that, in 2008, they didn’t make the playoffs, but with a bolstered staff, they did indeed make it back to the Fall Classic and win No. 27.
The Yankees are a dynasty all to themselves and to compete with the Yankees when talking about Dynasty is like a midget competing with Dwight Howard in a dunk off. But when looking at the rest of the 28 teams in MLB the Phillies recent run of post season success might be classified as just that. It's hard to get on top, but it’s even harder to stay there yet this Phillies team has managed to do just that.
While most teams fold under the bright lights that October baseball brings, it appears like this Phillies team shines under them. Bobby Cox and the Atlanta Braves are about to once again disappoint a fan base in Atlanta by making the playoffs and getting eliminated in the first round. If they are able to come back and win the next two games against the San Francisco Giants, I ask you Phillies fans, do they scare you? Do the Braves scare you more than the Giants or vice versa?
Call it confidence, call it being foolishly cocky, but neither scares me. The days of being scared of other teams is over, and it’s thanks to the team that plays in Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are headed to their third straight National League Championship Series, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will soon be writing about how they are awaiting to see who their opponent will be for their third straight World Series. Like the Blues Brothers, this team appears like they are on a mission from God, and I can’t see anyone stopping them...can you?
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