Euphoria doesn’t really say it. Satisfaction does.
Sometimes, the outcome is unjust to the team you pull for. And sometimes, it’s emphatically just. Those two sentences are not meant as an insult to the Philadelphia Phillies, the best team in the NL during the regular season. Philadelphia played hard, as hard as all of us expect a champion to play. Yet, as has already been pointed out by multiple others, the better team on the field was the St Louis Cardinals, from the fourth inning of Game 2 on until the final 4-3 put out of Game 5.
St Louis held the best team in the NL to a .154 batting average and 6 runs over the last 3+ games. St Louis would have won this thing in four if not for Ben Francisco’s lightning bolt that landed in the Phillies bullpen.
The men in that clubhouse should take a large measure of satisfaction in a job well done. They earned it.
Now that the Cardinals have advanced into the NLCS for the tenth time in franchise history, it’s time to look ahead to the next foe. Milwaukee. The Brewers do not have the heralded pitching staff Philadelphia has, but they are no less dangerous. For one, their lineup is better. For another, their top 3 starters (Gallardo, Grienke, Marcum) are every bit as good as the Cardinal top 3. And most importantly, they have the best home record in the NL and hold home field advantage in this series.
Them’s the facts. Then there’s the history between these teams, the simmering feud, the un-tucking of shirts and T-Plush, the 1982 World Series. All that baggage will be front and center during this series. The Brewers are the upstarts, another team built for a championship run, a franchise that knows this is their last best chance to win with this roster. Always sitting in the Cardinals prodigious shadow, they want nothing more than to best their southern nemesis and become the only team to qualify for a World Series while representing each league.
The next series will look and sound a lot like the just completed one. Stockpile your fridge and clean your BBQ grill – it’s going to be another rollercoaster ride.