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Ride or die

If you’re scared, get a dog or watch the Eagles

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World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Five
There’s still time for Nick Castellanos to be a hero
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

I understand if you’re done with the Phillies. After watching them lose two straight games - with each loss being its own special type of agony - to the Astros in the World Series, I know why you might want to jump off the bandwagon. It was really fun following this team for a little while, but the past two days haven’t been fun, so it makes sense that you’d rather just turn your attention to the 8-0 Eagles.

If that describes you, then all I can say is thanks for coming, it was fun having you for a little while, and I hope all your recently purchased playoff gear fits well.

As for the rest of us...Who’s ready to see the Phillies shock the baseball world and win the 2022 World Series?

I’m not going to pretend that the Phillies’ situation is optimal. The starting rotation appears to be leaking oil, and the lineup has been shut down by the Astros’ seemingly endless array of quality pitchers. They’re one game from elimination and need to win two straight games in the home park of the American League’s best team.

Sounds difficult, right? Well, that’s because it is! I’ve said some variation of this throughout the playoffs, but if winning the World Series was easy, the Phillies would have done it more than twice in 140 seasons. It was never going to be easy to beat the Astros, and it sure as heck isn’t going to be easy now that they’re a game away from elimination.

But difficult doesn’t equal impossible. For proof, all we need to do is look back to the 2019 World Series when the Astros had a similar 3-2 lead with two games to play at home. What happened next?

The Phillies have won two straight games at Dodger Stadium, Petco Park, and Busch Stadium this season. You think they’re incapable of winning two games at Minute Maid Field in front of a milquetoast crowd that feels the burden of past home failures weighing it down?

I’m also not frightened by the pitching matchups. The Zack Wheeler vs. Framber Valdez matchup didn’t go the Phillies’ way the first time around, but if there’s one guy who deserves to have our faith placed in him, it’s Zack Wheeler.

As for Valdez, he wouldn’t be the first pitcher to find less success when he faces a team for a second time in a playoff series. He threw the most innings in the American League this season, and while fatigue hasn’t appeared to be a problem for him so far, that type of thing sometimes bites you when you least expect it.

If the Phillies win game six that would set up a Ranger Suarez vs. Lance McCullers, Jr showdown in game seven. Based on what we’ve seen from those two in this series, which guy do you trust more to come through in the highest-pressure situation imaginable?

We’ve been frustrated with the Phillies’ offense, but if there’s one thing this team has shown us in 2022, it’s that they can look really bad for a stretch and then heat up in a hurry. They got a lot of runners on base in Thursday’s game, which is often a harbinger of good things. If you keep getting enough runners on base, eventually you start scoring runs in bunches.

It’s just a matter of which player steps up. I think Bryce Harper has at least one more big playoff moment left in him, even though I’m shocked every time he gets a hittable pitch. But who is going to join him?

Rhys Hoskins has constantly oscillated between hero and goat these playoffs, so maybe he’s got one more burst of heroism left in him? J.T. Realmuto looks like a guy who caught a lot of innings this season, but he came through in game one, so why can’t he do so again?

And even though he’s failed countless times, wouldn’t it be something if Nick Castellanos’ disappointing season was just setting up a game-winning hit in game seven of the World Series? That’s the great thing about baseball: No matter how poorly things have gone up to that point, until the final out is recorded, there’s still time for someone to be a hero.

So, what’s it going to be, Phillies fans? Are you going to give up and start writing your “Oh well, it was a nice season and we lost to a better team” Tweets, or are you going to have some faith in this goofy team and cheer your fool hearts out this weekend? I know I haven’t watched this much baseball to just give up now when the situation looks dire.

Two games left. Two wins left. Ride or die.