Do you fully understand how important this weekend series is with the Braves? If you're not hyperventilating in anticipation, you might as well just ignore the Phillies and watch some Olympic dressage or handball competitions this weekend because you're not worthy.
The Phillies enter the series 9.5 games behind the Braves in the Wild Card 2 race (sounds better than "the race for fifth place"). And, with the Phillies playing the Braves this weekend . . . well, your mouth should be watering.
The Phillies will be in enemy territory this weekend, having to deal with the tomahawk hate of the hundreds of fans who will show up at Turner Field for the series. The stakes are high:
Standings: What happens this weekend could put the Phillies back into legitimate contention or put them so far back that 2013 will be all we care about. With a sweep of the Braves, the Phillies would be 6.5 games behind the Braves. With a Braves sweep of the Phillies, the Phillies would sit 12.5 games behind them. A six game swing from three games - if that isn't totally hugeriffic, I don't know what that word means. Of course, the ultimate Wild Card 2 standings will also depend on what the Cardinals and Dodgers do (with three losses the Braves could slip behind them), but regardless, the Phillies need to keep their winning going. This series is no time for even a split.
Roster: This series could mean the difference between watching the current roster continue its play or watching a roster of the high-priced long-term guys complemented by the Kevin Fransden and Hector Lunas of the world. On Monday, Ruben Amaro could stand pat (or even try to improve the team) or he could sell it all, getting rid of Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, Joe Blanton, and, if rumors are to be believed, even Cliff Lee. This is no time for the standard "whatever." This is big.
Attendance: When the Phillies return to Philadelphia the first week of August, does the "sell out" streak continue or does it fade into history? After this weekend, we'll know a lot more about that, as the team might be out of contention for the first time in six years. Regardless, the fans will still show up in numbers greater than a playoff game in Atlanta, but they'll no doubt cut back as playoff baseball in Philadelphia is not a possibility this year. I can't imagine going to CBP without another 44,000 (or 43,000 or 45,000 or whatever that number is on that particular day that means there are "no tickets left" but you can still go to the game because there are actually always more tickets) people there with me. It'll be a different place.
Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Roy Halladay against Ben Sheets, Mike Minor, and Tim Hudson. Three battles of titans (or rather two battles of titans and one battle of middle management).
Are you excited enough? Are you ready for the possibility of baseball nirvana or baseball hell?