Hello. And thanks for inviting me to blog about the Phillies-Brewers battle from a Philly fan's point of view. I promise to do no research, yet deliver the boorish commentary the national media would have you expect from a Philly fan. Please post your comments below and I promise to wing some D cells or dump a warm pint of Yuengling on your head.
Before I jump into the creamy filling of this battle, stick with me as I establish my creds as a Philly fan:
- I can trace my Phillies fandom back four generations. In fact, I would have been able to go even to a fifth generation, but that old geezer was a fan of that other team, the Philadelphia Athletics.
- I stand by a team with over 10,000 loses -- more than any other major sports franchise.
- I can recall listening on the radio as Mike Schmidt hit his 500th home run (amazed that the great Harry Kalas screwed up the call by forgetting to go with his trademarked "That ball's outta here!" which was to be the title of the ensuing video package).
- In 1984, as a 12-year-old playing Little League, I intentionally switched from the leagues Orioles team to the Phillies team simply because the real Orioles beat the real Phillies in the 1983 World Series. I also disowned my best friend Anthony for failing to make the jump with me (look where that got you now, Anthony, you pothead!)
- I still hold as some of my most prized possessions (lower than my children, just higher than pets) pictures of my brother and me posing with Phillies during their Camera Night event in 1981. The public was allowed onto the playing field of Veteran's Stadium (look out for the rat-chewed holes!) and meet and greet with the likes of Pete Rose, Gary Maddox, etc. I still remember seeing coach Herm Starrette hit on my mom.
So, on to modern business ...
I'll resist the urge to provide a detailed retrospective of the Phillies's 2008 season. I'll only say this about that: The season was filled with constant ups and downs. Utley starts hot and then fades (is he hurt?) Howard plays like a man twice his age, but then turns it on for the September push (MVP-worthy? Not sure.) Myers loses all confidence in his fastball and drops deep into the minors (no irony in calling him an Iron Pig). And Rollins falls from his 2007 MVP season and torments Phillies fans with idiotic comments.
But at the end of the drama, they picked the right time to surge, as if a replay from September 2007. It was just 12 months ago that they came on strong to overtake a collapsing Mets team. In fact, the Phillies' surge was amazing to watch. It would have garnered more national recognition had not the Rockies put in an even more amazing late season push.
So now that the Phillies made it to the playoffs again, what will be different for them this year? A few thoughts:
- The core of the current Phillies had never been to the playoffs prior to 2007. Now that they've gotten that monkey off their backs, they come in with a little more confidence. In fact, the might even come off with that "been here, done that" swagger that some Yankees teams used to exude. Those personally I hope to see some of the dirt dawg mentality that we lost when we didn't sign Aaron Rowand. He brought some heart to the team that we never replaced.
- While I don't want to harp on it too much, the Phillies know they can beat the Brewers because they just recently beat them four times in a row. Granted, they never faced CC during that series. But still ... if you beat a team harshly enough to get the manager fired, that has to do good things for your confidence. After sleeping with a platoon of Playboy bunnies some heavenly night, you're going to feel more confident picking up the local bar skank, right? (Don't be offended: you are both the Bunnies and the skank in this analogy.)
- My playoff beard will be much improved. Having never had a reason to attempt such a thing prior to last year, I made the rookie mistake of ceasing my shaving habits on the last day of the season. The Phillies were swept by the Rockies in the blink of an eye. My chin fuzzies never had a fair chance. This season I started to not shave the day we swept your Milwaukee Brewers. This gives my Irish visage a solid two weeks of stubble growth before the first post season pitch.
- To be honest, the Brewers just don't intimidate me like some other teams would. We lost four in a row when we went to Los Angeles (only to take four back when the Dodgers came to Philly). And Joe Torre's playoff seasoning is only going to help them over the next week. So having to fly out there for a couple was worrisome. And obviously, facing the Cubs is going to be tough for every team this Fall. The streaking Astros concerned me: they are now run by Phllies GM Ed Wade. He knows our players too well (he drafted many of them). And seeing Brad Lidge go back to Houston for playoff games might have unnerved him, despite his incredible year (41 saves in 41 opportunities). No thanks. I'll take the Brewers any day over those squads.
One closing thought: I do not know the thoughts of the average Brewers fan on Geoff Jenkins leaving for Philly. Given the resemblance (both physical and contractual) to Brett Favre, I have to wonder how you will feel if he comes up with a pinch hit home run to beat you. Or if you'll cheer if you see him strike out three times. As an American I expect you Midwestern types to offer him a laurel, and a hearty handshake as he returns. As a Philly fan I expect you to boo his ass and ping him with nine volts.