NLCS: How the Phillies Decided to Travel Home Early
PHILADELPHIA — It seems obvious at this point. And, yet, I suppose they’ve been planning to do so for months.
The Phillies have gone home early in previous years, most notably in 2007, 2004, 1999 and 1997. In each of those years, the schedule was stacked to do so. You’d have played against the Giants and Dodgers from the beginning of the season, then had games against the Yankees, Twins and Rockies from midseason.
On top of that, the Phillies had played three of the four top-flight National League teams, so the trip was well-worth it in terms of winning.
This year, there’s no such temptation. The Phillies don’t have a top-flight opponent on their schedule, because they’ve played the Dodgers, Nationals and Astros. They have no games against the Mets, Braves, Nationals, Padres and Yankees.
So, they’re going home early.
The only question is where.
They have eight days between games. They also have three days at the end of the game.
This, in fact, is the first time they’ve gone home early since 2004, which made sense since their first season in Philadelphia. They played all of their games at Citizens Bank Park, where they’ve since won the National League Pennant nine straight years.
They left Philadelphia as the National League’s first-place team, winning 73 games — in large part, because it became apparent to then-manager Charlie Manuel that his team could go deeper in October.
The fact that they have come up short of the Pennant would be a disappointment, but a long time ago, the Phillies were capable of winning the pennant, and the team has made it to back-to-back World Series.
They’ve taken care of business,