Whew, after 20 years, it feels great to be back in the NLCS. And what a scene it was at the Ravine last Saturday, not only knocking the Cubs out of post-season play, but just dominating the Cubs in their 3 game sweep. Mr. Worthy, there’s another BIG GAME JAMES here in L.A. in James Loney, who had a huge series with 6 RBI’S, 4 coming off his 5th inning grand slam in game 1 and the other 2 coming in the 1st inning of game 3 with his 2-out double . As for me being at the Ravine, it was 20 years of waiting, but man it was worth it !!!! Though I missed the opening introduction of the players and the anthem, thanks to L.A.’s notorious traffic, once I got to my seat, it was on !!!! From the time Dodger greats Don Newcombe and Duke Snider threw out the ceremonial first pitch, it was on !!!! The atmosphere is definately different then during the regular season, with everyone on the edge of their seats from the first pitch on, the crowd getting on their feet and waving their rally towels each time Kuroda had 2 strikes on Cubbie hitters, the atmostphere was just electric. Now if only I can be so fortunate to have tickets for any of the NLCS games… ( Perhaps someone in the FO who may be reading this can hook me up ? Well, I can wish, right ? )
Now, on to the NLCS and our next opponent, the Philadelphia Phillies. The Dodgers and Phillies are no strangers to each other when it comes to post season play, having met 3 times from 1977-1983 , with the Blue coming on top in 2 of the 3 meetings. In those 3 meetings, it was a best of 5 format. Here’s what went down in each of those 3 meetings.
The Dodgers and Phills would split the first 2 games at Chavez Ravine, game 2 being highlighted by a grand slam by Dusty Baker . Game 3 would forever be known in Philly as ” Black Friday “, with the Phillies leading 5-3 in the top of the 9th, 2 out, no one on, and Vic Davalillo would drop down a bunt single. The next hitter, Manny Mota, would have a 2-strike count against him only to drive Gene Garber’s next pitch to the left field wall, where Philly left-fielder Greg Luzinski, the Big Bull, would trap Mota’s fly against the wall, and on Luzinski’s wild relay , Davalillo would score and Mota would end up at 3rd. The next batter, current day Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes, would hit a rocket off Mike Schmidt, which current day Dodgers third base coach and former Phillie SS Larry Bowa would retrieve and throw to first, only to have Lopes beat it out, as Mota would score the tying run. After a stolen base by Lopes, Bill Russell laced a single up the middle, scoring Lopes with the go-ahead run, and the Blue would prevail, 6-5. The next day, Tommy John would pitch a complete game and the Dodgers would go on to the World Series against the Yankees.
The 1978 NLCS didn’t quite have the drama of 1977, as the Dodgers again would beat the Phillies in 4 games. In the bottom of the 9th at Dodger Stadium in Game 4, the Dodgers would be aided by some shoddy defense by Phillies center fielder Garry Maddox, and Bill Russell would once again come through, singling home Ron Cey for the winning run of the series off Phillie closer Tug McGraw, sending the Blue Crew back to the World Series against the Evil Empire.
5 years had passed since they last met, with each team having won a World Series title of their own. This time around, 3/4 of the famous longest running infield were gone, with Lopes, Cey , and Garvey having moved on, leaving only Bill Russell left from that group of the 70’s, leading that ever so promising infield of Pedro Guerrero at 3rd, Stave Sax at 2nd, and Greg Brock at 1st. ( Wasn’t it Guerrero who said, ” Lord, don’t hit the ball to me because I might not catch it. And don’t hit the ball to Saxie becuse he might throw it away ” ? ). Shoddy infield or not, the Dodgers found a way to win the NL West. The Dodgers had also beat Philly 11 of 12 during the regular season. But as we all know, the post-season is a new season, and the Phillies, led by future HOFers Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, would keep the Blue under control this time, as the Phillies would win this series in 4, Fernando getting the lone win for the Blue Crew. Gary Matthews , the sarge, also had a huge series as well.
So, another post-season chapter will be born between the Dodgers and Phillies. Some great names came out of those epic clashes, Garvey, Cey, Lopes, Baker, Valenzuela, Russell, Schmidt, McGraw, Carlton. And now it’s time for some new faces to make some history. Manny, Lowe, Bills, Kemp, Loney, our new ” Big Game James “, and for the Phills, Rollins, Utley, Howard, Burrell. Perhaps sometime in this series, we could see a matchup of 2 pitchers with over 80 years of age combined do battle in Maddux and Moyer. This should be fun. GO DODGERS !!!!!