So we're settled now, it's Philadelphia, in a repeat of last year's NLCS.
1. When NLCS teams have met in consecutive years, the result
is usually is an identical outcome. In 1991/1992, the Braves beat the Pirates four games to three both times; in 1977/1978, the Dodgers beat the Phillies three games to one both times. The Phillies took us in five last year, and the wound is still open and festering and as ready for salt as the rim of a margarita glass. For those of you who want to see what Chavez Ravine looks like on a Friday, I'd buy some Game 2 tickets, not Game 6 tickets. UPDATE: Timothy corrected me by reminding me of 2004/2005, in which the Cards took the Astros in seven in 2004, but the 'Stros came back the following year and took St. Louis in six. Thanks Timothy. You know, I heard this point on ESPN radio's post-game show following the Phillies' victory, and still went home to check it, and still missed it. Nice catch.
2. Matt Stairs is still a Phillie. Remember Stairs? The 40-year-old whose 2008 NLCS Game 4 two-run home run broke our back last year? Well, he's back this year, with a lower batting average (.194 this year relative to .252 last year) but a largely similar OPS (.735 vs. last year's .751). He's still a big burly beer-softball guy who can be dangerous as a pinch hitter. And if the Dodgers decide to try and take the Stairs, I hope we don't get winded.
3. Cliff Lee is on fire this postseason. Since he came over to the Phillies, Lee has done nothing more than go 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in the regular season, and then dominated the Rockies in Game 1 (CG 9 IP, 1 ER, 5 Ks and a hit from the plate to boot) and was pretty strong in Game 4 (7.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 Ks). He pitched 113 pitches in Game 1 and 117 last night. At this trajectory, Lee will be able to go 121 pitches if he gets another start!
4. Brad Lidge has his groove back again, and Charlie Manuel isn't afraid to use him. All the talk prior to the postseason was how Brad Lidge was a mess. 11 blown saves and a 7.21 ERA. Entrances that made Irwin scream "You're Killing Me, Bradley!" But this postseason, in four games and three Philly victories, he's got two saves and no blown saves. He's the bomb! I mean, sure, he walked two in earning his first save (one inning of relief), and he only pitched to one batter last night (striking out Troy Tulowitzki to clinch the series; Lidge entered the game only after Ryan Madson blew the eighth inning and Scott Eyre had trouble getting the side out in the ninth). But the history will record two saves! Lidge will be solid for the NLCS.
5. Aquaman is rooting for us, which can't be a good sign. How else to explain this (finally, appropriately colored!) poll (see lower right corner):
Not to disparage Ariel, King Triton, Kevin Costner's Mariner character from Waterworld, and Namor. But when your fan base of support partially depends upon a guy who runs around in a scaly orange top and green spandex pants, and is so hard up for storylines that they've got to sever his left hand--that's a problem. Unless, of course, Arm Fall Off Boy is a Phillies fan. Then, we might be in luck.
Stairs photo: Associated Press