Thanks to Mrs. Moose, I ended up going with keith89 to the season finale at RFK. To my amazement, the game actually meant something as the Phillies still had a shot at the postseason, and for a brief moment it looked like the near impossible might actually happen. The Phillies were up 5-3 while the Cubs, who needed to beat the Astros for the Phillies to force a one-game playoff for the wild card spot, were up 4-3.
When I saw that score pop-up on the scoreboard, I actually started to think about the possibilities. Although I refused to voice the thought to Keith, I actually thought how much I would hate to be an Astros fan at that moment. I thought about how I really wouldn't get any work done after 4:00 PM on Monday because I'd be monitoring the game online before leaving work for home; I thought about how cool it would be to see the Phillies in the playoffs for the first time in 12 years; and I thought about how I wasn't going to actually believe any of it till both games were over.
The wild fantasies ended less than 10 minutes later. In quick succession, the Astros tied the game and then retook the lead for good. They saved me from yet another bout of either Stockholm or Battered Wife Syndrome (take your pick) and I quickly returned to reality. The fact of the matter is that this team had no right going into the playoffs. There's a reason why the baseball season is so long. It's supposed to be a grinder that removes the pretenders from the game's best. It really doesn't matter how many games you miss the wild card by because it's already the booby prize -- a nice one to be sure, wild card teams have already won a number of World Series -- one set aside for the best team that couldn't win its division.
I'm not ready to do a postmortem on the Phillies season just yet, but here are a few things that really struck me while at yesterday's game:
- Ryan Church's 3-run home run the Nationals in the 6th inning. It was an impressive upper deck shot, and given how deep the fences are at RFK, any upper deck shot is impressive. It will be interesting to see how much (if any) the Nationals decide to do anything about the fences in this offseason, especially considering the midseason controversy concerning measurements shown on the walls.
- The Nats fans cheering when the Astros retook the lead. It needs to be stated that there was a large contingency of Phillies fans yesterday, and in addition to cheering the Phillies, a large cheer went up when the scoreboard showed the Cubs had taken the lead. I've gone to more than my share of Phillies' home games where the large amount of cheering by the opposition's fans really rankled me, so I understand why the Nats fans reacted the way they did. It struck one baseball commentator as "partaking of sour grapes," but I think it was a perfectly understandable reaction.
- The Nats fans booing when Rollins extended his hitting streak to 36 games. Now this really was sour grapes. Really. I was at the Phillies-Blue Jays game where Joe Carter got his 2,000th career hit, and not one Phillies fan booed the accomplishment, even though it came less than
threefour years after his momentous blast in the 1993 World Series.
- Frank Robinson phoning in the 9th inning. It honestly looked like Robinson stopped managing the game sometime during the 8th inning. DC fans all around me were markedly angry when he didn't bring in closer Chad Cordero with the team down 5-3 at the top of the inning. It wasn't a save situation, but as one fan in particular shouted, "What the hell are you saving him for?" Indeed. In the last inning of the last game of the season, a two-run deficit is far easier to overcome than a six-run deficit.
Sometime later this month, I'll probably write something about what I think the Phillies need to do for next season, but until then, at least I honestly didn't let myself start believing they were going to play today and saved myself just a bit of heartbreak in the process.
Next up: Firefly and Serenity