As we all know, for many years dating back all the way to Brooklyn, the Giants have always been our number one rival. And many of you probably have a disdain for the Yankees too, even though we’ve only met in interleague play twice and haven’t played them in a World Series in 30 years. But as of recent times, or at least in my lifetime, the Phillies have been a thorn to my side, especially as of late. Both the Dodgers and Phillies have had some great battles, facing each other 5 times in the NLCS, the most of any Dodger NL playoff opponent, the Dodgers taking the pennant in 1977 and 1978, and the Phillies winning the last 3 meetings, in 1983, and most recently, in 2008 and 2009.
We’ve all heard of the great battles between the Reds and Dodgers in the 70’s, as both teams combined won 9 NL West Titles ( Only 2 divisions back then ) , but the Phillies had some good teams too. But in ’77 and ’78, the Boys in Blue had Philly’s number in the post season, and both times had a classic game. In ’77, with the Best of 5 NLCS tied at 1 and the Phillies leading 5-3 in the 9th at old Veterans Stadium, with 2 out, the Dodgers would mount a rally, highlighted by a Manny Mota double off Gene Garber with 2 strikes, then capped off by a go-ahead single by Bill Russel, plating current Dodger 1B coach Davey Lopes and giving the Blue a 6-5 win and a 2 games to 1 lead in the series which the Dodgers would win the next day. That game is still remembered in Philly as Black Friday.
The following year the 2 teams would meet again in the NLCS, and with another World Series berth on the line and the Blue up 2 games to 1 in the series, Game 4 at Dodger Stadium would go into extra’s, and with the aid of a Gary Maddox error, Bill Russel would once again come up big, singling home Ron Cey with the winning run and sending the Blue to another World Series berth.
As for me, to bad I was only 4 years old at the time and never could appreciate this. A lot of great players on both teams took part, you know, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Bob Boone, Greg Luzinsky, Tug McGraw, and who could forget the record setting infield of Garvey, Lopes, Russel, and Cey.
Fast forward to 1983. Both Philly and the Dodgers had won a WS title since their last meeting, and heading into this round, the Dodgers, having won 11 of 12 from the Phillies during the regular season, we’re highly confident heading into this series. As an 8 year old kid 2 years removed from my first taste of Dodger baseball in the 1981 WS , I too was extremely confident ( as well as excited) The Phillies, with veterans, some from the great Reds teams of the 70’s ( Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan) we’re a team full of veterans and we’re dubbed the Wheeze Kids, an contrast from their 1950 team nicknamed the Whiz Kids. In spite taking 11 of 12 in the regular season, the Dodger offense went into a funk ( Sound new ? ), scoring only 8 runs in the best of 5, bowing out in 4 games. Steve Carlton would win the opener and the clincher for the Phils, and Gary Matthews, known as The Sarge, just tormented Dodger pitching throughout the series. It was a bad year for L.A. teams that matched up against Philly. 5 months prior, the 76ERS had swept the Lakers in the NBA Finals, and now the Phillies had battered our Boys in Blue, and twice in a 5 month period, I was subjected to watching a team from Philly celebrate a Championship. ( HEY, THAT’S A LOT TO TAKE WHEN YOU’RE 8 YEARS OLD !!!!)
OK, 25 years later, we meet again. Thanks to some guy named MANNY, the Blue would go on a late season run all the way to the 2008 NLCS. Down 2 games to 1 heading into Game 4, things had already heated up between both teams as Phillies pitcher Brett Myers would rattle the Blue in game 2, going 3 for 3 with his bat, while also being accused of intentionally throwing inside to our hitters. Retaliation would come in game 3 as Hiroki Kuroda would return the favor to the Cryin’ Hawaiian, oops, I mean, the Flyin’ Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, a one time Dodger prospect who to this day still gets a lot of love from the Dodger Faithful. The Dodgers got on 85 year old Jamie Moyer early and cruise to a 7-2 victory. So now Game 4 is pivotal. The Blue enter the top of the 8th with a 5-3 lead. 6 more outs and we tie the series. But it was not meant to be. After Victorino tied the game with a 2 run blast, with two outs and Broxton on in relief, Matt Stairs , pinch hitting, would launch a towering shot high into the RF pavillion, deflating both the Blue and it’s faithful and in all intents and purposes, putting a nail in the Dodgers coffin. Cole Hammels would shut it down in game 5, as the Phillies would go on to the WS and eventually win it all. Though it was a fun ride, AGAIN, I was subjected to watching the Phillies celebrate. And if it couldn’t get much worse for me, that lovely October moment in ’08 would be the third time in a 6 month period where I was subjected to watching to opposition celebrate something big against my team ( April ’08, Memphis over UCLA in the Final Four, June ’08, the Celtics over the Lakers in the Finals )
OK, 2009, our Boys in Blue finish with the best record in the NL. After coming off a 3 game sweep of the Cardinals, this years Dodgers are confident that they can take down Philly. Even Philly’s all time best athlete is pulling for the Blue….
And like the previous year, it was not meant to be. And like the previous year, Game 4 would AGAIN prove to be the turning point. And AGAIN, the names Broxton and Stairs would play a major role. Except it wasn’t what Stairs did, it’s what Broxton couldn’t do. THROW A STRIKE to Matt Stairs. You know what, i’m not even gonna talk about Game 4 of the ’09 NLCS, why bring up old wounds , right ?
But that’s just it. While we will always have the Giants as our chief rivals to continually exchange heartbreaks, the Dodgers and Phillies have done their best as well. And as for me, one day, and I mean, one day, and that day will come, I will see the Dodgers celebrate a WS berth in front of the Phightins and their cheesteak eatin’ Phans.
Rubber match tonight at CBP. Dodger offense has been looking up lately and if they can pull it off tonight, this would be the 4th straight series the Blue will have won. Kuroda on the mound against Cole Hammels.
Matt Kemp… MVP !!! MVP !!! And there was actually talk of trading him ? The Bison is on fire !!! The last 3 seasons and this season as well I’ve predicted he would go 30/30 but on his current pace , 17 hr’s, 50 rbi’s, 40/40 doesnt seem out of the question
Andre Ethier…. Some are wondering about his power numbers but I’m still confident it will come and he’ll get his 30 plus HR’s.
OK…IT’S TIME FOR DODGER BASEBALL !!!!