Sunday, October 16, 2022

Division Series Update: Immense Joy and Creeping Terror


I think I've talked at length on here about how ridiculous it is sometimes being a Philadelphia sports fan. It's different from being the usual kind of long suffering sports fan, because sometimes you do win, and when you do win you expect to keep winning, and never do. It's like the world's weirdest psychological conditioning. Like, consistently getting punished for believing good things were going to happen, and then keeping expectations so low that when good things do happen, you're in disbelief.

I did not think the Phillies would beat the Cardinals. And I certainly did not think the Phillies would beat the Braves. And here we are. Phils are going to the NLCS. In 2011, they had the team that SHOULD have gone to the NLCS, they didn't, and now THIS TEAM, with Bryce Harper not at 100%, Nick Castellanos hitting essentially when he feels like it, and only a slight improvement on the whole bullpen issue, is within 4 games of a World Series. 

I'm overjoyed. I'm so glad people like Brandon Marsh, Alec Bohm, Jose Alvarado and, yes, Bryce Harper, can be postseason performers for this Phillies team. It just was never a possibility because the narrative of this season was driven by teams like the Braves and Cardinals, and Dodgers honestly. And now the Phillies are going to an NLCS. 

...and the Dodgers aren't.

I...I think that in expanding the playoffs years ago, the MLB made it possible for underdog teams to have more of a stake in the playoffs. You know, for years it was just 'well the two best teams in each league play each other and the winner goes to a World Series', and then when other divisions came up and it became possible for multiple teams to be really good in divisions, it became 'well we can't leave these guys out', forgetting that October momentum is like any other month's momentum, and a 100-win team could go cold going into a seventh month. So this is why so many upsets happen, because now that the postseason is so expanded, those fluke teams have as much of a chance as the titans.

Which is why the Padres took down the Dodgers, something they had trouble doing all season. 

I said it after they took down the Mets, all the Padres needed were great starts from Musgrove, Darvish and Snell, and production from their lineup. Trent Grisham has been hot all postseason, Austin Nola had a great night last night, Machado and Soto have been holding things down, and there seems like so many opportunities for this team to succeed. And them coming to life late last night, blowing up Tommy Kahnle and completing the arc they'd been working on for 2 years...perfect.

A Padres-Phillies NLCS is gonna be a lot of fun. The Nola Brothers are gonna do battle. Harper and Soto are gonna square off. Machado is gonna play the team he could have gone to on two separate occasions. It's gonna be INSANE. And...again...I don't think the Phillies are gonna win. Mostly because I think that's my strategy here. 

Now...yesterday wasn't all roses, y'all...

Because the Astros are going to yet another ALCS, and have the potential to ruin all the fun vibes the NLCS is planning on setting up. I am 100% sick of the Astros just being amazing every year, holding momentum through the whole season and beating all the fun and worthy teams. It's like the Patriots all over again except I actually like Dusty Baker. The Astros waited 18 innings to score a run, and then did it IN SEATTLE, to punish the Mariners for actually having hope, which was CRUEL. That was MEAN AS HELL and they did it anyway because they're the Astros. Pathetic.

Anyway they're going onto the ALCS, and...if the Yankees make it, they'll have to do that schtick again, and if the Guardians make it they have a pretty good chance too. I badly want someone else to win an ALCS. This is worse than the Cardinals in the mid-2010s, cause at least the Cardinals didn't cheat in 2011. I just want, ONE TIME, a consequence to befall this team. That's it. And then maybe someone else can make a World Series. 

Look, at this point I kinda want the Guardians to win anyway, because at least they will provide some variety from the usual 'Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS' thing we always do. Plus, the Guardians are scrappy as hell and a can kill a team with contact ball. The Yankees had their long-balls last night, and the Guardians won it with contact hitting. It was infuriating to watch, but from a baseball standpoint it was great. Oscar Gonzalez, Steven Kwan and Will Brennan taking down AARON JUDGE, GIANCARLO STANTON AND ANTHONY RIZZO would be...huge. And at this point, I'm honest enough about this Yankee season that I can be alright with it. 

Still, we should mourn the fallen:

The Braves proved that 2021 was not a fluke, and came back better and stronger than they were last year, ensuring they'll be competing for a long time. They may have lost this year, but they'll definitely be back next year, and with a lot of the same characters.

The Mariners were the feel-good story of the year, finally breaking a 21-year playoff drought and letting young stars like Julio Rodriguez, Cal Raleigh, Logan Gilbert and George Kirby fuel the narrative. I just wished that they would have had anything to get past Houston, but they could definitely be back next year.

And the Dodgers, ironically like the 2001 Mariners, were an unstoppable regular season force that looked unsinkable, and thereby sunk. I think the Dodgers did a lot right this year, and that their lineup was still impressive as hell [Trayce Thompson came back POWERFUL]. But the injuries, and some bullpen issues, sunk this team, and hopefully they'll learn from it.

Yanks-Guardians is today, and the Guardians could clinch. I'd prefer they didn't.

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