Last year’s NLCS was the worst match-up a Phillies fan could have ever dreamed. Cardinals vs. Giants. The two teams that had knocked the Phils out of the playoffs the previous two seasons. That was as bad as it gets.
This year isn’t a whole lot better.
By virtue of Adam Wainwright’s bludgeoning of the Pirates last night in Game 5 of their NLDS against Pittsburgh, the St. Louis Cardinals, those Midwest Assassins, are moving on to their third straight NLCS.
Check out this stat. The Cardinals are 8-1 in deciding games since 2011, having beaten the Phillies, Rangers, Braves, Nationals and now the Pirates in that time. Those boys are making enemies in a lot of cities, and they just don’t care.
Up next, the Los Angeles Dodgers. And heaven help me, I have absolutely no idea who to root for in this one. Once again, Phillies fans are left to choose the better of two evils.
Don’t we get enough of this around election time?
If I weren’t a Phils fan, the choice would be obvious. The Cardinals are an organization that does everything right. Everything they do should be copied by every other National League team. As I’ve said numerous times, the Phillies, right now, should be hiring ALL THE CARDINALS. Raid their front office, their minor league system, even their janitorial staff.
Get everyone who had “St. Louis Cardinals” on their resume last year and give them a million dollars. Because there is no one in baseball that is doing smarter, better or more successfully.
No, my hatred of the Cardinals isn’t based on anything rational. It’s based on pure spite. They ripped our hearts out in 2011, destroyed the career of Roy Halladay, and now the baseball gods seem to be rewarding them for their efforts.
Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Of course, then there are the Dodgers, who have basically purchased themselves a shot at the pennant. Their $220 million payroll is ridiculous. Although, to be fair, what seemed like a ridiculous trade with the Red Sox last year, in which L.A. acquired all of Boston’s over-priced and overrated talent, has worked out OK for them. Adrian Gonzalez is still a stud, Carl Crawford wasn’t a human wasteland (although is still way overpriced) and Josh Beckett was still a dumpster fire this year. That’s two out of three. They also bought Zack Grienke this year, who has been terrific.
But they’re a big market team. And while Philadelphia fans can now appreciate the virtues of being a big market team, it still doesn’t make the Dodgers any more likeable.
And never forget, they employ Brian Wilson to pitch baseball games for them. This is reason enough to despise them.
However, the one reason Phils fans could perhaps root for the Dodgers this year is out of a small, tiny, miniscule sense of guilt.
Dudes, we absolutely ripped the hearts out of the Dodgers in 2008 and 2009. We smothered them with a pillow those two years, especially in that soul-crushing Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS, the Jimmy Rollins walk-off. It was wonderful for us, but yeah, borderline mean to them.
Perhaps the baseball angels are evening things out for L.A. and they’ll finally get over the hump this year. You know that those nightmare NLCS’s still haunt them.
Although, perhaps in ’08 and ’09, the Phils were just getting even for 1977 and ’78. In that case, what WE did to them was just payback. That means you can feel free to root against the Dodgers with your hearts full.
Here’s the point. I don’t know what to think. There’s no one to root for here. For the second year in a row, the NLCS features two completely and totally unlovable teams, at least as far as Phillies fans are concerned.
From a pure baseball sense, these ARE the two best teams in the National League. It’s only just that they’re playing for the pennant. And, this series should be a doozy. It’s likely to go seven games. MLB officials probably couldn’t be happier, even though Pittsburgh was the best “story” of the postseason. Dodgers-Cardinals just reeks of baseball tradition and big market TV markets.
But while I can appreciate the brilliance and grit of the Cardinals and the sheer assemblage of talent of the Dodgers, neither team gives me the warm fuzzies.
I’ll be watching this series, of that there is no doubt. But I know at the end of the day, the result is not going to make me smile.
Of course, there is one bright spot. No Braves.