Discover more from Good Stuff
End of the road
The Padres came so close. But the Phillies were that much better, and they are advancing to the World Series.
As the droplets turned into puddles, San Diego's season washed away.
The Padres came so close, if only for the missed opportunities, and bullpen mismanagement, and the bad hops, and the bad calls, and tons of Diamond Dry to blot up the standing water on the rain-soaked field ... it all culminated Sunday with the Phillies' 4-3 comeback win in muddy Philadelphia.
What might have been sticks with you. You comb through every at-bat and pitch, looking for an answer.
But at the end of the day, the Phillies were better. They had an answer for everything San Diego did.
This was such a successful season for the Padres, too. They overcame the loss of arguably their most talented player in Fernando Tatis Jr., and a host of midseason uncertainty, to upend the Mets and dreaded Dodgers in the playoffs.
They went further into the playoffs than they'd gone since dearly departed stars Ken Caminiti and Tony Gwynn were in the lineup.
Philadelphia's Bryce Harper — for years dogged by criticisms that he was too phony, or too much, or too individually focused, or too uncomfortable on the big stage — forever vanquished any question of his ability to dial it up in the playoffs.
Harper owned this series, batting .400 with two home runs to earn MVP honors.
No smash was bigger than his series-clinching two-run homer in the deciding Game 5. He swung and admired his handiwork, and the home fans erupted. This was their guy, the scruffy, heart-on-his-sleeve superstar who signed a megadeal to spend the rest of his career playing here.
This, after the back-breaking hit of the series one night earlier, when he hit a go-ahead double and flexed, pounding his chest.
At that moment, San Diego was toast.
The Phillies have been waiting 13 years for this. For relevance. For a return to baseball's biggest stage.
It was the same thing San Diego was fighting for. And something both teams vanquished in their own ways.
Something tells me that both of these teams will be in the mix in the years ahead. They are both built for something bigger. But this season, only one of these teams is playing on. And the other is going home to sunshine.