October 8, 2022

It's Red October, my favorite/most hated time of year!

First of all, I can't stand Alex Rodriquez, who was doing color commentary with Michael Kay during the first game of the Phillies-Cardinals wild card series.

And obviously I don't enjoy it when the guys in the announcers booth treat the Phillies as a mere minor impediment on the path to the impending Cardinals coronation. So it was with some glee that I watched them rendered speechless by the Phillies comeback at the top of the 9th inning.

It started as a tense pitching duel between the Phillies's Zach Wheeler and the excellent Cardinals bullpen. No runs scored, 8th inning. As David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote:

Playoff baseball is like watching a loved one defuse a bomb. It is not something that you enjoy. It is something that you endure. Every pitch is a tick on a timer that is counting down to some unknown number, every swing a snip at a tangle of multicolored wires, any one of which is liable to make the season explode. It is the type of thing that should be regulated by an international governing body. Except, this is the kind of psychological torture to which you willingly submit.

Eleven years might have been enough to make you forget about all of that. But by the seventh inning of the Phillies’ wild-card opener against the Cardinals, they had you wondering how you’d ever thought October baseball could be fun.

Yep. Shortly after that, my dinner arrived.

What else could I have done? I was wearing my lucky Phillies shirt, the same one I wore the night they clinched the wild card spot, right? The cloud of impending doom that any lifelong Philadelphia sports fan recognized was starting to cast a shadow.

And then, the angels landed in the outfield. (The original version, not this unbearably hokey remake.)

At the top of the 9th, the Phils methodically found every single hole in the Cardinals defense and punched their way through. Singles, walks, a forced run scored by Alec Bohm being hit by a pitch. A Sosa run scored by a beautiful slide that made it just past the razor's edge. And so on.

The Fightin' Phils won, 6-3.

October baseball at its best. (Amato called to take credit for the win, since he watched it, too. I told him no, it was my lucky Phillies shirt.)

“You play 27 outs, right?” Hoskins said. “I don’t know what the number is on how many times we’ve come back, but there’s just a ton of belief in the dugout. We’ve done it all year. It isn’t anything new to us. We just have to continue to believe. That’s what we did today.”

It was fun. It was exhausting. It was postseason baseball, and after 11 long years, the Phillies made it worth the wait.

Tonight, we get to live (and die) through it all over again. The agony, and hopefully the ecstasy. Go Phils!

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