When the term “rivarly” comes to mind, the Philadelphia Phillies think of the New York Mets while the Los Angeles Dodgers think of the San Francisco Giants. The truth is, the Phillies and Dodgers have bad blood between each other, and it goes beyond Tommy Lasorda beating up the Phillie Phanatic. Their historical meetings in the National League Championship Series are the roots of a Phillies/Dodgers rivalry.
In 1977, the Phillies and Dodgers first met during the League Championship Series. That year, the Phillies won 101 games, a franchise best. The Phillies took the first game of the series, 7-5, but the Dodgers answered with three consecutive wins. Dusty Baker was named the Most Valuable Player, but it was game three that stirred controversy.
The Phillies had a comfortable 5-3 lead headed into 9th inning before a huge turn of events. Davy Lopes hit a ground ball that deflected off Mike Schmidt. Larry Bowa bare handed the ball in mid-air. In the same motion, he fired to first. Lopes was ruled safe, although the replay clearly showed that Lopes was out. Instead of ending the game, the tying run scored. Bill Russell’s RBI single scored Lopes. The Dodgers won the game and eventually the series. October 7, 1977 will forever be known as “Black Friday.”
1978’s NLCS featured a rematch. Once again, the Dodgers won the series, 3-1. Steve Carlton was unavailable until game three because he pitched the National League East clinching game a few days before the NLCS. Game three was the only game that the Phillies won. For the second year in a row, Russell drove in the game winning run.
In 1983, the Dodgers dominated the Phillies in the regular season, winning 11 of 12 against their cross-country rivals. However, the Phillies won the games that mattered most, winning the NLCS in four games. Carlton shutout the Dodgers to open the series. The lone run came on Mike Schmidt’s home run. After losing the second game of the series, the Phillies rebounded and won the final two games. Gary Matthews crushed three home runs during the series, earning the NLCS MVP.
In each of these series, the team that won the NLCS lost the World Series. That changed in 2008.
In game one, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell’s sixth inning home runs off Derek Lowe led to a victory. Brett Myers drove in three runs during game two. In game four, Shane Victorino, still furious about a fastball that almost nailed him in the head, homered in the eighth inning to tie the game at five. Matt Stairs had no problem sending Jonathan Broxton’s fastball “deep into the night.” Stairs’ game winning homer gave the Phillies a 7-5 win. Cole Hamels, the NLCS MVP, shut down the Dodgers en route to a 5-1, clinching victory.
This series will feature many familiar faces. Former Dodgers Davy Lopes, Chan Ho Park and Jayson Werth are against their former team, much like Larry Bowa, Mariano Duncan, Jim Thome, Vicente Padilla, and Randy Wolf.
As the saying goes, history repeats itself. Will Matt Stairs be the new Bill Russell? Will Cliff Lee’s unavailablility until game three prove to be costly like Steve Carlton in 1978? The umpires have missed several calls throughout the postseason; will there be another missed call as big as “Black Friday?” These two teams can’t look at the past. They are looking to build their own legacy, and the Phillies hope it’s the same as 2008. As Jimmy Rollins said: “it’s going to be one of those epic series.”