Self-fulfilling prophecy? It’s possible when the oracle of Philadelphia is on your team.
The same spring training day Jimmy Rollins proclaimed that the Phillies will “win probably 100 games,” he knew the National League Championships were in his team’s future.
“There isn’t a team in the National League that’s better than us,” declared the reigning National League MVP.
He was right, and tonight’s NLCS Game Five made it official.
With the dominant starting pitcher Cole Hamels on the mound, the Phillies controlled every aspect of the game. Rollins lived up to his reputation as the team’s spark plug by leading the game off with a home run. Later, the Phils managed to score four more runs—two of the runs, gifts from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The only Dodgers’ answer was from the face of their playoff run, Manny Ramirez. He, along with his teammates, learned firsthand that one man, no matter how unbelievably effective, cannot carry an entire team to the World Series.
Philadelphia learned the same lesson, but their class was taught conversely. They, too, realized it takes more than one man, as every person with “Phillies” emblazoned on their chest had a hand in winning the National League.
The big names on the team—Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Pat Burrell—contributed, but did not hold the team up the entire time. Players who don’t usually stand in the spotlight had moments when they commanded the stage—some more than the players flaunting coveted titles and awards.
Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs were the heroes of Game Four. When the top of the lineup couldn’t produce, the bottom of the lineup was able to carry the team.
The offense showed up in various forms; this was not the team that depends entirely on the home run, as many people like to assume.
Last year, the bullpen was the Achilles' heel of the Phillies. Undeniably, this year’s pitching staff contained the most consistent players and is the main reason the team is preparing for the World Series.
NLCS MVP Cole Hamels was the composed ace on the mound. Brad Lidge showed the world that he has been reborn and still owns the nickname, “Lights Out.” The unsung hero, however, is Ryan Madson. With an ERA of 0.00, the moment he got the call, many Philadelphia fans let out a collective sigh of relief.
Those sighs exist because of the moments that made fans’ hearts beat at an unhealthy pace. The team has left more runners on base than what should be acceptable. Defensive hiccups have made appearances in every series. Even good ol’ dependable Jamie Moyer wasn’t able to provide one quality start during the postseason.
While the Phillies are not flawless, their strengths outweigh their shortcomings—now we see the result.
Early this month, as Rollins reflected upon his 100-win prediction, the team’s 99th win earned them the N.L. pennant. According to the Phillies' visionary shortstop, the Phillies are not done winning.
“103 would be great," revealed the Gold Glover.
National League champion Phillies—it has a good sound to it, doesn’t it? World Series champion Phillies sounds even better. Now the team waits to see who their next opponent is, the Boston Red Sox or the Tampa Bay Rays. Regardless, the Phils have not lost sight of the big prize.
“We’re going to the World Series,” Howard exclaimed following the game. “So, uh, let’s get ready.”
Yes. Let’s, uh, go Phillies!
Seven wins down, four to go.
Non-baseball baseball notes
Ouch, my eyes!: What? No goggles for the N.L. Champs? Is there a conspiracy to ruin the eyesight of these players?
Thank goodness, no more Kirk Gibson: Au revoir, Kirk Gibson home run against the Oakland A’s replays! That clip rubs salt in wounds that will never heal in my Bay Area heart. Goodbye L.A., let me keep those painful memories repressed.
Oh, Fox interviewers: Chris Myers asked Victorino how he thinks the Phils would fare against the Marlins. He then corrected himself, saying he meant the Rays, following his retraction with a lame excuse, “The champagne is getting to me.”
Victorino mic’ed up: Is there a better choice than the fast-talking, cliché using, “you know” repeating Victorino? Too bad we couldn’t just listen to him instead of the Fox commentators.
Not that I love being right...: There's no reason to lie, I actually enjoy being right. Check out the comment I left 12 days ago on the MLB Community Leader's 2008 Awards and Predictions. I'll kick my feet up on the table as you peruse the comments. I guess Rollins isn't the only augur around these parts.