Game 3: Tipping and Ripping
Oh, those Phillies! Tuesday night, as part of the superfun new JoeBlogs Chat, I did a little poll. You can’t actually do polls on Chat yet, and there are still some technical details to be worked out (mainly getting the Chat for you Android users!) but we had a good time, and I was still able to pose this choice:
Two choices on the Phillies:
A. Team of Destiny!!!
B. Nah, destiny doesn’t exist. They are just playing well.
It will not surprise you, I suspect, to know that the majority of JoeBlogs people — 63% to be exact — chose option B, because while this is a community that can be romantic about baseball, it’s also a community that largely doesn’t believe in voodoo, momentum or the magical powers of grit.
All that said: Oh, those Phillies.
I don’t think what happened Tuesday night was entirely unexpected. On both the podcast with Molly Knight and Ellen Adair and the PosCast, which just came out, we found ourselves discussing what could happen if the Phillies score early.
Step 1: The Phillies score early.
Step 2: The crowd goes bananas.
Step 3: The Phillies score more.
Step 4: The crowd goes double bananas.
Step 5: The Phillies score more …
And so on — it’s like a mathematical equation. Homefield advantage in baseball can be a difficult one to quantify, but the love fans have for this shaggy, oddball, carefree, it’s-always-sunny-in-Philadelphia team is overwhelming, and the players so obviously luxuriate in that love. It’s a small sample size, sure, but October is about small sample sizes, and the Phillies are 6-0 at home, and they’re averaging seven runs a game. They have hit SEVENTEEN home runs in those six games. Something’s happening.
Bryce Harper is obviously at the center of what’s happening — his blast in the first inning off Astros starter Lance McCullers (we’ll get back to Lance) turned the stadium inside out, turned all of Eastern Pennsylvania inside out, and while logically we understand, sure, the Astros could have come back after that, I think most people immediately had the exact same thought: OK, this one’s over.
Then, next inning Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh hit homers off McCullers.
And the thought: Yeah, it’s definitely over.
And then in the fifth, Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins hit back-to-back homers off McCullers.
And the thought — well, there were two thoughts.
Thought 1: Does somebody want to wake up Dusty Baker?
Thought 2: Holy cow, is this SERIES over?
The Series is certainly not over. The Astros start Cristian Javier tonight, and that guy can be utterly unhittable (batters hit .170 against him in the regular season and are hitting .100 against him in the playoffs) and it was wise old Earl Weaver, I believe, who said that “momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher.” Of course, it was also wise old Earl Weaver who said “@%@^% #% &@% &#^% )!@($^ #*(#(!,” so we can’t always count on his words.
But, the question lingers in the air just the same.