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Philadelphia Phillies v San Diego Padres
Neither team won 100 games, but one of them will be in the World Series
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

By the beard of Zeus! Phillies vs. Padres NLCS preview

Previewing the NLCS with a little help from Ron Burgundy

The Cardinals were quickly dismissed, and the Braves barely knew what hit them. And now the only thing standing between the Phillies and an unlikely (to some, at least) National League pennant is the San Diego Padres.

When faced with an important series against a team from San Diego, I did as one obviously does: Base the series preview around the greatest movie ever made about the city. Thus, I present to you my Phillies vs. Padres NLCS preview featuring quotes from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

You stay classy, San Diego

I’ll be honest with you: I have nothing against the city of San Diego. I’ve been to the city once and even attended a Phillies vs. Padres game there, and it was an all-around pleasant experience. I dislike Cardinals and Braves fans, but I have no real animosity towards Padres fans. In the spirit of that non-animosity (and because I was specifically asked not to by the higher ups), I won’t be using that one quote from Anchorman. You know which one I mean.

That said, I still want the Phillies to beat the ever-loving crap out of the Padres and leave their fans wallowing in misery. It’s nothing personal, but one team’s fans are going to be sad after this series, and I would greatly prefer that it wasn’t the Phillies.

But don’t worry, Padres fans: You can cheer yourselves up by enjoying your constantly pleasant weather, watching Shamu, or whatever else it is that people do in San Diego.

Okay, before we start, let’s go over the ground rules. No touching of the hair or face, and that’s it. Now fight!

We aren’t dealing with any unfair advantages like one team having all of the games at its home stadium, or one team coming off an extended break. Now may the best team win without any crying about unfairness afterwards.

I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany

The National League had three teams win over 100 games this season, and they’ve all been eliminated. As certain pundits will tell you, this is the greatest tragedy to ever befall the sport of baseball and the current playoff format has tarnished the game forevermore.

It’s like they suddenly forgot that the very concept of playoffs is unfair. I don’t recall this much angst when the 2011 Phillies were knocked out in the NLDS. Phillies fans certainly didn’t raise this much of stink or complain about unfairness. I think we understood that there was no reason why they should have lost that series except that when you condense a 162-game season into a much shorter series, the better team isn’t always going to prevail.

Also, don’t be the person who claims to be concerned about the television ratings. There are some people who love to declare that any series that doesn’t involve a New York or Los Angeles team will be a ratings disaster. Coincidentally, these fans are almost always Yankees or Dodgers fans, although you do sometimes hear whines from Braves or Cardinals fans who mistakenly believe that the rest of the country is as enamored of their teams as they are.

I don’t know how to put this but I’m kind of a big deal

If those pundits could wipe away their tears for a second, maybe they’d notice that some of baseball’s biggest stars are actually playing in this series. Bryce Harper is arguably the most recognizable player in baseball, and it might be a good thing for the sport if he’s on a national stage especially now that he’s once again performing at an MVP level.

The Padres aren’t star deprived either. Manny Machado is on a Hall of Fame career track, and even though he’s had a down season, Juan Soto is considered one of the game’s brightest stars.

Maybe instead of whining because the Dodgers choked again, the media can focus on these guys and the other great players that will be taking part in this series?

There were horses and a man on fire. And I killed a guy with a trident

The season series was won by the Phillies 4-3. The Padres came to Philadelphia in May and won two of three games. The Phillies visited San Diego in late June and won three out of four. Unfortunately, the third game of that series saw Blake Snell pitch Bryce Harper too far inside.

If you were a man, I’d punch you. Punch you right in the mouth

Snell is expected to start one of the first three games of the series. I’m not saying that Harper will be looking for revenge when he faces Snell this series, but I have a feeling he might take a little extra delight in getting a key hit off of him.

You’re so wise. You’re like a miniature Buddha, covered in hair

There were times in the NLDS when I felt Rob Thomson was overmanaging a little in terms of his bullpen usage. But it worked! Using Andrew Bellatti in every game might not seem ideal, but he’s largely gotten the job done. Need some key outs from Brad Hand? Then we’ll get some key outs from Brad Hand! Maybe Zach Eflin as closer is a disaster waiting to happen, but the guy has yet to surrender a lead.

Now that the series will be longer, he probably can’t keep using Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Alvarado to cover three innings every game. But thus far, Topper has made the right calls, so I’m confident he’ll figure something out.

They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time

If the series goes at least six games, the Phillies will have Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola start four of them. In a perfect world, these guys would be putting on Curt Schilling-like performances where they blank opponents into the eighth inning or further. But that’s not how baseball works anymore, and if they’re going to keep giving us 6-7 dominating innings, then we’ll take it.

I love lamp

Speaking of Nola, this series has special meaning for him since the Padres employ his brother Austin.

In Nola’s one previous start against the Padres this season, he pitched seven innings, giving up only one run. Unfortunately for Nola, that was the only run scored in the game, and it was driven in by Austin.

Thankfully, Aaron handled losing the brother-on-brother matchup better than Phil Maton did when he gave up a hit to his brother.

It’s a formidable scent... It stings the nostrils

In theory, the Padres’ starting pitchers are capable of matching up against the Phillies. Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Snell all put up solid numbers this season. But based on past performances, there’s reason to think the Phillies’ lineup won’t be shut down.

Darvish faced the Phillies twice this season. In his first start, he pitched seven shutout innings, but he gave up three the next time he faced them. It stands to reason that he’ll give up six runs this time around, and that’s probably not going to lead to a Padres win. Speaking of six runs, that’s how many Musgrove allowed in his lone start against the Phillies this year. I guess he wasn’t wearing his special ear stuff that day.

As for Snell, when he wasn’t hitting Phillies with pitches, he wasn’t getting them out with great efficiency. He couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning in his first start and gave up four runs in 5.2 innings in the next.

I’m a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn

The Phillies have won two playoff series despite getting very little contribution from their leadoff hitter. Kyle Schwarber led the National League in home runs, but he has yet to hit any in the postseason. In fact, he only has one hit of any kind in 20 at bats.

The good news is that Schwarber has suffered through similar cold streaks before and tends to end those with a two-home run game. If you want good value on an NLCS MVP wager, Schwarber might be your best bet.

Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart

If it wasn’t for the Phillies, reliever Josh Hader probably wouldn’t be on the Padres right now. He was a dominant closer for the Brewers before Alec Bohm and Matt Vierling homered against him to give the Phillies a comeback victory in June. Several more rough outings followed, prompting the Brewers to trade him to the Padres at the end of July.

The change of scenery didn’t seem to help, since he recorded a 7.31 ERA and two blown saves for the Padres, but he did pitch better down the stretch. He hasn’t given up a run in the playoffs, so it looks like he may have regained his dominating form. Then again, Jonathan Broxton looked like he had regained his dominating form back in 2009, and we all know how that turned out:

A good closer has a “short memory” and doesn’t let past failures affect current performance. If Hader has to face Alec Bohm or Matt Vierling in a key spot in this series, we may find out if that applies to him.

Where’d you get those clothes, the toilet store?

Last year, when we did a uniform ranking at The Good Phight, the Padres’ uniforms were the most polarizing. Some people thought they looked sharp, while others (correctly) said that poop brown is an awful choice for a uniform color, and if the Padres were smart, they’d go back to the great blue, orange, and white color scheme they used in the nineties.

I’m in a glass case of emotion

The playoffs are intense, and watching these games is a stressful experience. Even when the Phillies established multi-run leads, I didn’t feel completely comfortable until the 27th out had been recorded. I don’t expect that to improve now that they’ve advanced another round and the stakes are even higher.

Some fans may feel that the team is “playing with house money” after beating the Braves and advancing further than most people expected. But why let the good times end here? Lots of “fluke” teams win the World Series, and maybe we’re owed some karmic payback for 2011.

The Padres are formidable. They’ve got a talent-laden and they just took down two straight 100-win teams. If anyone thinks the Phillies have an easier path to the World Series now that the Mets and Dodgers are out of the way, they’ll soon learn that there are no easy paths to the World Series. And if you think that the Phillies will win because they’ve established themselves as a “team of destiny,” remember that Padres fans have reason to feel the same about their team.

But the Phillies can and should win. They need Harper, Schwarber, Wheeler, and Nola to play like stars. They need to keep getting contributions from players like Brandon Marsh, Jean Segura, and Alec Bohm. And if Rhys Hoskins wants to contribute more bat-spiking home runs, that would help the cause as well.

Give me all the stress, give me all the karma, and give me another National League pennant. Go Phillies!

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