Thursday, October 15, 2009

Phillies vs. Dodgers: Once More With Feeling

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Jimmy Rollins #...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I have really needed this two-day break in the playoffs to catch my breath. The Dodgers/Cardinals, Yankees/Twins and Angels/Red Sox series were each decided in fairly bland three-game sweeps, but the Fightin' Phils really had to live up to that nickname in taking the victory in their series with the Rockies 3 games to 1. The last two games of that series left me wrung out emotionally, what with games going until 2:00 in the morning and leads changing hands right up to the ninth inning.

But the Phils prevailed, and now it's on to LA starting tonight for a best-of-seven series with the Dodgers - a team I have despised from the start of my Phillies fandom. I began following the Phillies as a ten-year-old in 1977. That year, as recounted in Mitchell Nathanson's highly recommended book The Fall of the 1977 Phillies: How a Baseball Team's Collapse Sank a City's Spirit, the Phils won the NL East pennant and went into the playoffs against the Dodgers, and were picked by many sports scribes to triumph and move on to the World Series. It didn't happen, thanks to the team's internal strife and two of the oldest players in the league, Dodgers Vic Davalillo and Manny Mota, who started a two-out ninth-inning rally in Game 3 of that series to overcome a 5-3 Phillies lead. The Dodgers won that game and the next, and the Phillies were eliminated.

A year later, the Phillies again won their division, and again found themselves face to face with the Dodgers. For the second year in a row, the Dodgers stopped the Phillies in four games and again kept them from the World Series. The 11-year-old me decided then and there that I hated the Dodgers.

Last year, when the Phillies and Dodgers met again in the NL playoffs, the roles reversed, and the Phillies finally, thirty years later, saw a measure of revenge. This time, the Phils took the series four games to one, and the 41-year-old me took great relish in seeing them defeat the Dodgers.

And now, the chance exists to fully repay the three-decade debt; to do to the Dodgers what they did to the Phillies in 1977-1978; to, for the second year in a row, stop the Dodgers from going to the World Series. Believe me, I will be rooting a little extra hard for the Phillies to do just that!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]