We’re Talking ‘Bout the Fightins


Photo: MSNBC.

Just weeks ago, the Phillies were battling for the final wildcard spot in the National League. Now, they find themselves just two wins away from winning the World Series. 

Entering the season, we had some high hopes for this Phillies team, who added All-Stars Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to an already talented roster led by NL MVP Bryce Harper. However, the season did not start as hoped, and change was needed. 

The Phillies fired their manager, Joe Girardi, and promoted bench coach Rob Thompson (Philly Rob) to interim manager. From that point on, the Phils found new life, winning a string of tough series to put them in the driver’s seat for a wildcard spot. They faced some adversity, headlined by Bryce Harper’s broken finger, but Kyle Schwarber and the rest of the team were able to step up to keep the Phillies competitive. 

While the end of the season was a little rough, Philly got some help from some other teams and were able to barely clinch a bid into the playoffs, ending their decade long playoff drought.

Entering the playoffs, expectations were on the floor, as the team had almost no momentum and appeared to have a second round exit at best. Despite this, they had nothing to lose, and they came out of the gates looking dominant, winning back-to-back games against the Cardinals to advance past the wildcard round. Led by aces Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, the Phils had picked up momentum to take on the division rival Braves in the NLDS. 

Having won 101 games along with the division, the Braves were definitely the favorite heading into the series.  Nonetheless, the Phillies were not ready to just give up their season, and they showed a new level of energy to accelerate them past Atlanta in four games. Throughout the series, almost every member of the team was able to step up in some way, and the city of Philadelphia was fully behind the squad. After the series, this team showed the nation they were legit, and they were not done yet. As their team anthem “Dancing on my Own” suggests, the Phils continued to dance, going up against the San Diego Padres in the NLCS. 

Everyone was shocked when the Padres were able to best the star-studded Dodgers roster, but Manny Machado and the team were up to the challenge. This meant that they would have all the momentum in the world to go against this red hot Phillies squad, with both teams harnessing some of that underdog mentality. However, being a  No. 6 seed, the Phillies definitely were still the underdogs in terms of this series. 

Starting off the series, Philly was able to steal game one in San Diego in an effort led by pitcher Zack Wheeler, and home runs by superstars Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper. Game two went to the Padres, which meant that the series was coming to Philly tied up at one apiece. At this point, the script of the series flipped. The atmosphere of Citizens Bank Park propelled the Phillies to win games 4 and 5, which led to a chance to clinch a World Series berth in just five games. The game remained close with the Phillies in the lead, but some inclement weather caused some wild pitches from reliever Seranthony Dominguez, and San Diego found themselves in the lead headed into the eighth inning. JT Realmuto led off the inning with a single, which set up Bryce Harper down a run with one man on base. Harper battled off six pitches, and then on the seventh, he drove a 98 mph sinker 382 feet to left field for one of the best plays in Philadelphia sports history. The Phils would go on to close out the game and clinch their first pennant since 2009, with Bryce Harper being named NLCS MVP. 

On the other side of the bracket, the Houston Astros were simply dominating their competition, as they finished off the Yankees in the ALCS with a sweep. The Astros were baseball’s second best team in the regular season, trailing only the Dodgers, and their team had only improved come playoff time. Their elite pitching is complemented by their batting order performing from top to bottom, making them probably the most complete team in the league. 

At this point, the Phillies sit in a 3-2 deficit with the series heading back to Houston. While their chances do not look great, we have seen this team battle adversity all year, and anything is possible. Either way, this Phillies team is one that will be remembered forever. The National League champs have brought a spark to the city, and has brought baseball spirit back to Philadelphia.