All Philadelphia Phillies fans have watched this movie before, yet this time it feels different.
The 2022 World Series team had all the elements of a successful postseason roster: power hitters, a solid pitching rotation, and a bullpen all under the watchful management of Rob Thomson.
The 2023 edition of the Philadelphia Phillies (Thomson’s Version) is new. They’re heavily favored to win the NLCS but there’s a vibe to this team that is…very not 2022. There’s momentum, an attitude, and just an overall feeling this year, this TEAM…they can win it all.
Why the vibes are different this red october
The Arizona Diamondbacks have about the same odds of beating the Phillies for the pennant as Travis Kelce to not be dating Taylor Swift (they are so it’s that low).
As the kids say, the vibes are immaculate even if they are different. Cue Callum Scott’s “Dancing On My Own” once again.
The locker room videos are a creature all on their own. There are dozens of videos circulating after each round of the players whipping around their long hair and their burly beards as they douse each other in beer and champagne, smoke cigars, and wear shirts with custom catchphrases (Atta Boy Harper anyone?).
Need we say more on the matter?
Want more proof? The ringleader of these mad celebrations is backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, who was handing out (and taking) tequila shots after Philadelphia made the postseason. The team’s massage therapist rings a profanity-engraved bell after each win, as she did on a seemingly endless loop in one of those celebrations while smoking a cigar. Trea Turner turned on the jets after receiving standing ovations. Kyle Schwarber still doesn’t look like he knows what to do with two beers.
There’s a camaraderie among this team. They all have personalities that feed and mesh with each other. In a sport obsessed with statistics, these boys are just having FUN playing baseball. It doesn’t hurt that statistically, they’re doing phenomenal.
The Phillies have a scary lineup
Thomson has managed a terrifying (for their opponents) good lineup and a pitching staff that shut down one of the best offenses in the history of the game in the Atlanta Braves. Some of the highlights from the NLDS were their 11 dingers in the series and a team ERA of 1.80. They have aces in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola and add Ranger Suárez to what is a dangerous trio. Their bullpen is reliable and well-stocked with guys like José Alvarado and Craig Kimbrel.
Do you want hitters? They’ve got them. Bryce Harper had three homers in the series. Turner had two (while going 8-for-17). Nick Castellanos had four—two each in Games 3 and 4. He made his name one for the record books as the first player in postseason history with multiple home runs in back-to-back games. Not a shabby way to end the NLDS.
Now the Diamondbacks are a little bit like Philadelphia, they’re hot right now and on a similar momentum. 22 years since the last World Series appearance will do that to a team. Their .877 OPS is actually higher than the Phillies and their team ERA is 2.20. They had to fight to make the postseason and they’re not going to back down.
Not without a fight anyhow.
No room for complacency
Despite the vibes and good feelings, the Phillies know they can’t get comfortable. They’re aware of how tough playing Arizona can be when a team is as hungry as they are in the postseason. A team that is scrappy and having a bit of a Cinderella season is never one to underestimate.
The quotes coming out of the clubhouse indicate Philly knows this and is ready to buckle down. Words are nice, actions are better. Put them together and this is a World Series-bound team who knows they want revenge.
And revenge is best served hot (like a Philly pretzel).
AP Photo/Chris Szagola