Tonight's Phillie's/Mets game is the most important Phillies game in the history of Phillies games. Maybe even in the history of baseball. Or possibly the history of sport!
Well, not really, but it's an important one nonetheless. A few reasons:
1) Roy Halladay. We all know the story. Roy Halladay had an injury-plagued 2012 that resulted in him having decidedly human (i.e., non-Halladay) year-end numbers. We aren't used to that. We hoped that he would be healthy in 2013, but spring training showed that the problems of 2012 were still there, and maybe even had gotten worse. But we still hoped that the regular season would arrive and he would magically turn it around. His first start showed that hope wasn't true either. But still maybe you're like me and you're holding out hope that the first start was just a blip and that tonight the real Roy Halladay shows up. If you are, then tonight's game is incredibly important, because if he has two bad starts to begin 2013, especially if they're both as atrocious as last week's, on top of the awful spring training and his human 2012, then it's much harder to try to ignore reality. However, if he has a good start, there's hope in the universe.
2) The bullpen. We were promised a better bullpen in 2013. Mike Adams was added to pitch the 8th innings. Dead weight was shed. The overall improvement in the second half of 2012 would continue. But so far, the Phillies have the second-worst bullpen ERA in baseball. Our (inaccurate, but seemingly accurate) long franchise misery of watching awful relievers ruin games needs to end. With the bullpen pitching 8.7 innings over the past 3 games, tonight would be a good night to see only Adams and Papelbon and no one else. Regardless, the bullpen needs to get on track, and against the limp Mets' offense would be a good place to start. Which brings me to . . .
3) The Mets. It's one thing to lose the first series to the well-oiled machine that is the Braves. And then to follow that by another series loss to the Royals can be explained by the whole interleague thing. But, to follow those two series losses by digging a hole in the series with the Mets (the Mets!) would be legitimately demoralizing. Sure, the Mets are 4-2 and Matt Harvey is going to be a very good major league pitcher, but the Phillies have an opportunity to show some life and even to win a series here, and they need to start it off by winning tonight's game.
4) The fans. The fans were treated to a thrill Saturday night, with the last minute heroics from Kevin Frandsen. But, for the most part, the fans have had a miserable time watching baseball at CBP over the past weekend. The fans who make the trip to the stadium tonight in this perfect April baseball weather deserve something more. They deserve a sense that the Phillies can be exciting and entertaining this year. Another clunker of a game (or 8+ innings of a clunker) will not create much good will going forward. Especially against the Mets (see point 3).
So no, of course I'm not saying tonight is a must-win. There's rarely such a thing in baseball. And I'm obviously being completely hyperbolic by saying it's the most important game ever, or even this season. But it would do the team wonders to have Halladay and the bullpen pitch well, to beat the Mets, and to entertain the fans.
Is that too much to ask?