The National League Championship Series is on right now, with my hometown Phillies taking on the San Francisco Giants. It’s a pitching matchup for the ages, so they say – Halladay for the Phillies, in his first start since pitching only the second post-season no-hitter in baseball history, and Lincecum for the Giants, who struck out the majority of the outs recorded over the entire game in his last post-season outing.
And I’m sitting here typing this.
There’s a good reason for this. It is because I have been scientifically proven to be unlucky when it comes to my favorite sports teams.
During the series against the Reds I would tune in just for the Phillies’ at-bats, on the theory that the worst thing that could happen then was that they wouldn’t score. But I don’t think I ever saw them score, except for one inning, and you know – they need to score if they’re going to win these things.
What makes this even more anxiety-inducing is that the Phillies are this year’s favorite team. They had the best record in baseball for the first time in their nearly 130 years of history. They have, by general consensus, the best starting pitching among the playoff teams. Their hitting is second to none, if not necessarily better than all comers - the Yankees, at least, are equally good there. Even their bullpen has clawed its way back to respectability this year. Every single sports journalist who has made a prediction that I’ve heard (outside of San Francisco) has them winning this series against the Giants, and most of them have the Phillies winning the World Series for the second time in three years.
And this just makes me absolutely convinced that they are going to lose.
Especially if I watch.
And not a normal 5-2, “well we just got outplayed” kind of loss. No. A 17-0, “what league do you think you belong in?” kind of loss. Or, worse, a 1-0, “you know, if you had just taken advantage of any two of the several dozen opportunities you had along the way you’d have won” kind of loss.
Pessimism. It’s my birthright.
I know I’ll get drawn into the game at some point, though. I’ll peek in just to see what’s going on and the next thing I know it will be three innings later and my blood pressure will be reaching heights that are usually reserved for NASA orbiters. I’ll even watch to the bitter end, win or lose, because that’s what you do when the team you’ve cheered on since childhood is finally in a position to do some winning on a grand stage, even if they don’t.
It would be nice to be wrong.
Go Phillies! Why can’t us again?