…your declarations no longer make us laugh. You're to be taken seriously, because you've backed up everything you said.
OK, Pat Burrell. Dumb people may have referred to you as “once terrifying, now vaguely pathetic,” but that was a while ago. Those people have been chastened, and never want to see you at the plate against us again. You're every bit the Met killer you once were.
For the vast majority of our existence, the Phillies were the team that should matter more than they did, the rival that wasn't and possibly never would be. In the last couple of years they've finally mattered standings-wise, but not competition-wise: We knew they'd revert to Philliedom, to punching the clock in their curiously listless way while their fans chanted for the Eagles. Somewhere along the line Aaron Rowand and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins — great baseball players, ferocious competitors and stand-up guys all — changed that clubhouse. Their Philies are very real, and this series' two black eyes, bloody nose and final knockout blow were the last bit of proof anyone could need.
For the series, Rollins went 9 for 19, 5 runs scored, 2 HRs, 3 RBIs. Utley was 5 for 15, 2 runs scored, 1 HR and 3 RBI. Burrell was 5 for 15, 4 runs scored, 3 HR and 7 RBI. And Howard was 9 for 18, 3 runs scored, 2 HR and 4 RBI. Goodness. That's an absolute beatdown.
As yesterday's game roared along (an absolute classic, though I get the feeling it won't be repeated on SNY), I suggested to an equally nervous Emily that maybe the Mets and Phils should just declare whoever won the Champion of the Universe and then go home until February. Should either or both of us make the playoffs (and after these last four days, that conditional is not just baseball superstition), it's hard to believe there will be a game this thrilling — or exhausting. Apologies that this is late, but I went to bed at 8:30 and didn't stir until 7. A baseball apocalypse will do that to you.
Once Wagner gave up the home run to Pat the Bat, I knew we were going to lose. Whether it was fatigue or just a bad day at the office, Billy didn't seem to have it and it was painfully apparent this wasn't the day he was going to get a six-out save. (That's not a second-guess, by the way — if not Wagner, who? There are no good answers for Willie right now.) The Phillies did everything right all series. They played with an amazing, un-Phillielike intensity, and they got all the breaks — as teams playing at that level will and should.
At least the Mets' twin comebacks — fueled by a maturing-before-our-eyes David Wright — took some of the sting away. Yes, yesterday and the three days before that hurt like hell. But once El Duque fell behind 5-0, I think a lot us figured the Mets would throw in the towel, take their beating and slink off to Atlanta saying philosophical things. Instead they came out of the coffin all nails and teeth, throwing punches and roundhouse kicks and biting and clawing, and if not for some terrible luck for Aaron Sele we might now be celebrating our escape and saying that hey, for all that we're still four games up.
Didn't happen. We're two games up with another tormenter still to confront and no shortage of fears. OK then. Jimmy Rollins, my cap is tipped to you and your teammates. It's a pennant race again, with a month of anxiety and exhiliration ahead. Proportions — and final outcome — to be determined.