Phillies vs. Reds… BIG RED PAYBACK by Joe Bonsall / The Oak Ridge Boys
This past week the team of my childhood eliminated the small red machine in the National League Divisional Playoff Series. They did it with some timely hitting, stellar defense, and incredible pitching. The win paved the way for a chance to go up against the San Francisco Giants. Beating those guys would mean going to the World Series for the third straight year… but back to square one.
Joey Votto and the young upstart Queen City Redlegs were simply outmatched by the more experienced and seasoned Philadelphia Phillies. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Jason Werth and company have BEEN there… DONE that… no cases of the flaming YIPS in the Phils’ dugout. The Reds were the best defensive and offensive team over the course of the regular season, but they forgot to bring their gloves and bats to THIS fight. Game On… Game OVER! Heck, Doc Halladay even pitched a no hitter at them in Game #1, and Cole Hamels dunked them again in Game #3. Closer Brad Lidge was probably playing solitaire on his iPad in the bullpen. His role as scary closer was never even needed in this short series.
This young and talented Cincinnati team will be heard from again and soon. They have come from being just awful for years to a team chock full of potential. Sound familiar? Lets us go back to 1976… the year of the Bicentennial Phillies.
There was no team worse in the 60’s and early 70’s than the Phillies. From the big El Foldo in 1964, to the years when only pitcher Steve Carlton shined bright, they were hard to watch. In 1972, Carlton won 27 games. The Phillies LOST 97! They were horrid!
But the farm system started to bubble over with potential. There was catcher Bob Boone, shortstop Larry Bowa, slugger Greg Luzinski, a fleet-footed, young outfielder named Gary Maddox, and a hard hitting, strong-armed third baseman from Ohio of all places… Mike Schmidt!
The Phillies had NEVER won a World Series but, like today’s Reds, they were building a very talented young team. A team who watched the storied 1975 World Series from their living rooms as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in perhaps the most exciting seven game series in baseball history. THIS was the BIG RED MACHINE… perhaps the best team EVER, and the young Phillies would meet them in the National League Championship Series the very next year and get slaughtered.
Sound familiar? Tony Perez, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Cesar Cedeno, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Ken Griffey, Sr., and Johnny Bench not only cut through the Phillies like warm butter, but also went on to sweep the New York Yankees for their second consecutive championship.
The NLCS was a best of five series in those days, with no wildcards anywhere, and the Big Red MACHINE swept the Phighting Phils in three straight games. Much like the 2010 Phillies did to the young Reds just last week.
The Phillies would go to the National League Championship Series again in 1977 and 1978 and lose to the Dodgers. 1979 was the year of the WE ARE FAMILY Pittsburgh Pirates, when Willie Stargell and company came from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Baltimore Orioles. But in 1980, the Mike Schmidt-led Phillies, with help from former RED Pete Rose (amazing huh?), beat the Kansas City Royals in six games for their first EVER World Series Championship. The vision of Tug McGraw striking out Willie Wilson to end that series will forever be engrained in my medulla oblongata.
So here we are in October of 2010. The PHILLIES have paid BACK the Cincinnati Reds at last for the humiliation of 1976. Yet, as a baseball fan who understands how things turn and how history repeats itself, I still say GO PHILLIES—but look over your shoulder, boys. HERE come the REDS… again!