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Commentary: It's The Best Time Of Year

NLCSOctober 6, 2008, and the Phillies are still playing baseball.

Like that? Yeah, I do, too.

They’ll start Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park, the 45,000-plus screaming fans (are you one of them?) waving towels and generally acting insane. FOX’s cameras will be all over the place, and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver (for my money, still tops nationally) will be calling the action.

All the eyes of the world will be focused on the Phillies and Dodgers. The storylines — while not eye-popping — are plentiful. For the Phils, it’s about proving themselves as a burgeoning dynasty. Are Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Brett Myers worthy of a world championship? Can Pat Burrell come out a winner in potentially his final season as a Phillie? Will the city break its 25-year drought? For the Dodgers, it’s about vengeance. Is Joe Torre really the magic potion needed to go all the way? Can Manny Ramirez go out as the best player of his time? Are the young Dodgers ready for the spotlight?

There’s a lot to digest with this series, and certainly, it’ll be fun. These two teams are very evenly matched. They boast great pitching staffs, inexperienced but potent offenses, and a heck of a lot of tenacity and grit. They could make a very entertaining NLCS.

Today we reflect on, so far, a fantastic season that isn’t quite finished. No, just as there were stories to be told after the division win, there are still stories out there. The celebration after yesterday’s division series win? A little bit more subdued. Yes, I cheered and called my family members, but was it a release? Was it vindication? Elation? Nah. A little was missing — there is more to do.

Tomorrow I will start a seven-part preview of the NLCS with a heavy look at the opponent. Meanwhile, we’ll count down to Thursday’s game one with the usual news and features.

This is certainly the best time of the season. The leaves are turning bright oranges, reds and yellows. Up here in New England, the chilly air turns days into excursions, nights into warm escapes. The air smells fresh and natural. The atmosphere is ripe for change. It’s the perfect time. And what do you know, we can still cheer on the Phils.

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