Alright, the NLCS field is all set. It is going to be the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants. The uniforms have been washed, the shoes have been shined, let's throw on our Roy Halladay replica jerseys and get to the ballpark.
We're going to be playing some championship baseball in just...five days?!?!?!
(Psst: who's in charge of scheduling around here? Oh right; the networks.)
Anyways, in order to attempt to hold your attention for the next week while we wait for baseball to come around again (seriously, the All-Star break isn't this long), I'd like to present 10 Fun Facts regarding the Philadelphia Phillies, the San Francisco Giants and the National League Championship Series.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants each debuted in 1883 as new members of the National League.
In those days, there was no American League, and the National League's chief rival was the American Association.
In a bit of appropriate foreshadowing, in 1883 the best team in Major League Baseball (the NL and the AA) was the Philadelphia Athletics (no relation), who went 66-32, and the worst team was the Philadelphia Phillies, who went 17-81.
The Phillies star pitcher that year was John Coleman, a 20-year-old who went 12-48 with a 4.87 ERA and allowed 772 hits in 538.1 innings pitched.
Oddly, he never topped 175 innings again after that season.
On one hand, the San Francisco Giants have been to 17 World Series in their history, dating back to 1883, while the Philadelphia Phillies have been to only seven.
On the other hand, the Giants have just five World Series titles to show for their efforts, while the Phillies have two.
Put another way, the Phillies have only lost five World Series while the Giants have lost 12.
The Giants and Phillies were involved in a trade in the mid-1970s that was crucial to the Phillies' run in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1975, the Phillies and Giants swapped Garry Maddox (to the Phils) for Willie Montanez (to the Giants). Maddox went on to win seven Gold Gloves between 1976 and 1982, and played for six Phillies playoff teams, including two World Series.
Montanez, an underrated player, didn't last long in San Fran, and was part of the trade with the Atlanta Braves that brought Darrell Evans to the Giants.
Andy Hansen played for the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies, only he got his timing all mixed up.
Hansen was a Giant from 1944 to 1950, the year the Phillies went to the World Series. He was then drafted away from the Giants in the Rule 5 Draft, and joined the Phillies in 1951 and had to watch as his former team went to the World Series.
In the last 10 years (i.e. since 2001) 11 different teams have appeared in the NLCS (out of possible 16).
Those teams (with number of appearances in parentheses) are:
St. Louis Cardinals (4)
Philadelphia Phillies (3)
Houston Astros (2)
San Francisco Giants (2)
Arizona Diamondbacks (2)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2)
New York Mets
The only teams that have failed to appear in the last decade have been the San Diego Padres, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos.
One of the key acquisitions for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 was Pedro Feliz, a defensive specialist third baseman who'd worn out his welcome in San Francisco. Feliz's defense was outstanding all year and he anchored the hot-corner for the Phillies' World Series championship team.
One of the key acquisitions for the San Francisco Giants in 2010 has been Pat Burrell, who was also on that 2008 team but had worn out his welcome in Philadelphia and was not re-signed when his contract ended after the '08 season. After a horrendous 2009, Burrell was waived 24 games into the season by the Tampa Bay Rays. The Giants got quite the surprise when Burrell's bat came alive, after a year-and-a-half off, in San Fran, and he quickly became one of their offensive leaders.
In 2008, the Detroit Tigers shocked the baseball world by falling to last place in the AL Central despite a lineup which most baseball analysts thought might be the best in baseball.
The shock expressed over the performance of that team has been borne out somewhat in 2010, as a surprising number of players from that team have made the playoffs with other teams.
From the 2008 squad Placido Polanco of the Phillies and Edgar Renteria of the Giants, along with Marcus Thames, Matthew Joyce, and Kyle Farnsworth all made the playoffs with other teams this season.
In 2002, the Philadelphia Phillies took Cole Hamels with the 17th pick in the first round of the MLB Draft. Eight picks later, the San Francisco Giants took Matt Cain with the 25th pick.
The pitchers who went before Hamels and Cain were Bryan Bullington, Christopher Gruler, Adam Loewen, Zack Greinke, Jeff Francis, Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir.
Before Cain but after Hamels, the pitchers taken were Royce Ring, Bobby Brownlie, Jeremy Guthrie and, oddly, Joe Blanton.