No. 3: Los Angeles Dodgers
Although not close geographically and never having played in the same division, the Dodgers and Phillies epic battles date back to the 1970s. At the time, the Dodgers featured a potent lineup that included Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Dusty Baker, Davey Lopes, and Reggie Smith. Add Jerry Reuss, Tommy John and Don Sutton on the mound and the Dodgers were a formidable opponent.
The Phillies, despite having a strong roster in their own right, fell in four games in the NLCS to the Dodgers in both 1977 and 1978.
Philadelphia would finally get their revenge in 1983 when the “Wheeze Kids” lead by Schmidt, Carlton, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan, and Gary Matthews took down the Dodgers in the NLCS. The big blow of the series came off the bat of Matthews in the first inning of Game 4.
With Philadelphia ahead 2-1 in the series, Matthews put the Phillies up 3-0 with a long home run. That was enough for Steve Carlton, and they cruised to a 7-2 win to take the series, 3-1. A loss at home and a return to Los Angeles for Game 5 could have ended completely differently for the Phillies.
Although the teams wouldn’t appear against each other in the playoffs until 2008, the rivalry again heated up. In the 2008 NLCS, the big blow came off the bat of Matt Stairs, who had just arrived on the scene in Philadelphia in August of that year. His pinch-hit home run deep into the right-field seats off Jonathan Broxton in Game 4 with the score tied.
A Phillies loss would have put the series even at two with Game 5 in Los Angeles. The whole story could have been different had it not been for Stairs’ home run. The Phillies took down the Dodgers again in 2009 to advance to their second straight World Series.
While the Dodgers have a clear advantage in terms of talent at the moment, a Phillies return to prominence soon and another postseason showdown against the Dodgers isn’t out of the question.