Before the League Championship Series' got underway, I posed a simple question: "Who do you like?" which I ultimately changed to "Who do you hate less?"
By process of elimination, the Philadelphia Phillies were an easy pick, at least for me. But the more I watch them, the more I actually like them. And no, I won't be abandoning my A's anytime soon. Not now, not ever.
But there are some likeable things about the Phillies, and it starts with a list of reasons to not dislike them. In no particular order:
- They are not in ESPN's Fave Five.
- They do not play in New York or Los Angeles.
- They have not had a star player linked to steroids (yet).
- They do not have a Jeter or a Manny or a Scioscia on their team.
- They have not clinched a division, pennant, or World Series at the Oakland Coliseum.
Now let's look at a few of the things they do have:
- Oakland-born, and last night's hitting hero, Jimmy Rollins
- Joe Blanton and Matt Stairs
- A laid-back-as-can-be superstar in Ryan Howard
- Chase Utley, damn it!!
- A very good chance to repeat as World Champions
That last point is remarkable because, really, who could possibly see this coming? AN sure didn't. In fact, Philadelphia was the Phorgotten Ones in a poll put out last season. Now here they are on the cusp of another title.
Last night's back-from-the-dead victory is the stuff from which champions are made, or in this case, re-made. The word "resiliency" has often been tossed around in discussions about Charlie Manuel's squad, but it's not just hype. Ever since their unlikely run to the 2007 NL East title (and subsequent playoff sweep to Colorado) the Phillies have become October's darlings, having yet to lose consecutive playoff games in five series' and counting.
Yet the last team to win back-to-back championships in such obscurity may have been the 1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays who, incidentally, beat the Phillies in the '93 Series to make it two in a row. Other teams since 1970 to capture the crown in consecutive years are the 1998-2000 Yankees, 1977-78 Yankees, 1975-76 Reds, and the 1972-74 A's. With every one of those teams except Oakland, no eyebrows were raised at their accomplishments. In fact the A's are often overlooked when pitted against the other mini-dynasties of the 70's.
Here's hoping history will be kinder to Philadelphia should they manage to win five more games this season. Why? Well, because the Phillies are a likable bunch, that's why.
If only because they've given me no reason to hate them.