Nervous? A little. Excited? Sure.
I’ll be honest, I think I’m tapped dry.
Right now, with six hours to go before first pitch, I’m tapped. Got nothing much to write. Could write about how one of the big boys needs to step up tonight, or how the bullpen needs to be close to flawless, or how Charlie Manuel’s managing his been a mixed bag this postseason. Could. But won’t. It just isn’t coming.
Instead I’ll tell you I’m nervous and excited. I think the Phils should and will win tonight. Cole Hamels is good for it — this is the game he wanted to pitch. Nobody else should be on that mound for the first inning of a pennant-clinching game. And I’m confident in the back end of the bullpen that they can finish the deed.
I’m mostly confident in the offense to put up a few runs. Part of me thinks one of the big boys (I’m looking at you, Ryan) will crush a ball that practically gives the Phils the pennant, a la Wilbert Montgomery’s dash in 1981. I can see Howard taking Billingsley into the Chavez Ravine sky. But as much as I want to just shout out that it will happen …
With the Dodgers I see a beatable, but fragile team. Fragile as in — if you don’t handle them well, they could explode. The Phils have to remain focused and formal — no need to get heated, no need to do too much. Just play the game they’ve always played, the game that has won them 98 games already.
Really, if the Phils play their game and don’t make mistakes, they win tonight, they celebrate, they go home, they tune up, they await a flight to Boston or Tampa. That’s it.
Of course, they play baseball games not for that reason, not to prove prediction, but to display talent, emotion, luck and skill. The Phils have had control of all four things throughout this postseason; one more game, and they’ll prove to everyone they have what it takes to win the whole thing.
So I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m trembling. I’m chattering. I want 8:22 to come now. And then I want midnight to come right afterward. Sure, I’d love to peek at the result, to know what’s coming … but they have to play the game, right? And all they have to do … is play their game.