It was as dramatic a victory as there could be in a postseason game without a home run. Needless to say it immediately conjured remembrances Matt Stairs’ home run to beat the Dodgers and Jonathan Broxton in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS, too. That homer, off course, was the seminal moment of the 2008 postseason where we finally realized that, yes, the Phillies were going to go to the World Series and win it.
Those old feelings surfaced again last night as Jimmy Rollins circled the bases only to be tackled by Ryan Howard and the rest of the team when Chooch finally made it to home plate.
Unlike last year it’s much easier to put the Game 4 heroics in perspective because there is a frame of reference. We’ve seen this all before, which caused some of us to be less stunned than when Stairs hit his homer. Oh, it was dramatic alright, because, really, how many times does a team get to win such an important game?
Once in a lifetime, maybe, if the team is especially lucky or good? But never in back-to-back years in the same game of the championship series against the same pitcher, right?
Well, obviously these are not your father’s Phillies. Or you grandfather’s Phillies. There simply is no precedent for what we’re watching with this team.
Oh sure, in 1980 the Phillies had some pretty crazy comebacks. Take Game 5 of the NLCS, for instance. Back then the series was just a best-of-five so when Nolan Ryan took a three-run lead into the top of the eighth at the Astrodome, it didn’t look so good for the Phillies.
But Larry Bowa hit a single to open the inning. Bob Boone followed with another before Greg Gross beat out a bunt to load the bases. When Pete Rose walked to force home a run, the Astros turned to Joe Sambito and Ken Forsch to try and stave off more damage.
Actually, Tug McGraw was four outs away in the eighth before the Astros rallied. It took a two-out double from Garry Maddox in the 10th to finally send the Phillies to the World Series.
OK, so maybe there is a precedent, but not one with an exclamation point or a moment that folks will talk about forever and ever. Make that two moments now. Stairs and Rollins linked by generations by stories fathers and grandfathers will pass down.
Indeed, that is unprecedented.
So the next thought that came after wrapping my head around what had just happened on the field when Rollins laced his game-winner into the gap, was, “OK, how are they going to blow this? Are the Phillies going to cough up three straight to the Dodgers or go belly up against the Angels or Yankees in the World Series?
“Would something like that just render the glory of Game 4 useless?”
Well, yeah… but it’s not going to happen. The days of epic failures and catchphrases like “1964!” are long buried in the attic of hazy memories like a sweater that doesn’t fit and has gone out of style.
The Phillies are going to the World Series again. They might even win it…
What, are you surprised?