And so it begins!
The immovable object meets the unstoppable force, setting up a seven game series that epitomizes baseball, especially playoff baseball.
Joe Torre and The Los Angeles Dodgers will host Charlie Manuel and The Philadelphia Phillies in not only a National League showdown, not only a rematch of last year’s NLCS, but meeting number five all-time between these storied clubs.
And make no mistake, this game has just about every storyline you can think of.
The league-leading and often deadly Dodgers’ bullpen combination of George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton pitted against the league leader in runs scored and homeruns: the Philadelphia Phillies.
The defending champions vs. the unrelenting challengers, and the two teams, no question, dominated in the NLDS; now that’s baseball!
The Dodgers flip the roles this year by earning home field advantage, something they feel will give them a leg up against the Phillies. However, the Phillies had success at Dodger stadium this year and are actually better on the road than at home.
The Dodgers, however, did not forget about last year.
One of the problems with the Dodgers last year was their misread of the Phillies hitting, causing them to pitch outside quite often, hoping the Phils would chase more than they would hit; this strategy proved costly when everything was said and done.
The Dodgers truly believe they have learned from their mistakes and believe they have what it takes to take down the ‘Goliath’ ala David and pursue an intriguing possibility of Torre facing his old team (Yankees’) in the World Series.
The Phillies believe their forward momentum is too difficult for any team to control, that they are still the top team in the National League, and the best team in this series; in their mind not even the almighty Yankees stand a chance.
This is what separates the fall classic and October baseball as a whole from the regular season:
The ability to overcome the adversities of an otherwise lengthy season.
Dealing with hitting slumps and shaky performances from your starting rotations.
Warding off the demons of blowing more saves than you desire to do so.
Rising above the intimidation of some other team relegating you to playing golf in Florida rather than suiting up for the postseason.
In October, baseball becomes the indelible vision we see on our television screens, the unmistaken resonance of each and every playoff game, and the resounding familiarity we hear with each and every game-changing play—for Dodgers and Phillies’ fans, this is all much more amplified.
In less than eight hours the city of Los Angeles will be watching as their beloved Dodgers begin their quest towards the World Series, and in the City of Brotherly Love, the Philadelphia faithful will be—in unison—engrossed as their Champions try to thwart the Dodgers for a second straight year, and everyone in between will be riding a climatic wave of anticipation, hope, and perhaps a bit of angst that will don the colors of Crimson and Blue.
This is October baseball.
Please visit my Phillies column for a team by team analysis and Game One preview!