With Game 2 of the NLCS being played in the late afternoon, for the second year in a row I got to listen to the tail end of the game on my drive to work -- covering a local high school football game.
I tried to stay home as long as possible before leaving, as the pitching duel between Pedro Martinez and Vicente Padilla was moving along briskly...until the 8th inning, at least.
It got to the time of the day where I couldn't wait to leave any longer. The Phils were clinging to a 1-0 lead, and after having pulled Pedro -- who was masterful through seven scoreless innings (but only 87 pitches!) -- the Dodgers were mounting a threat.
Chan Ho Park was in the game, and L.A. had the first two runners on with nobody out. Perfect. This should make for a fun and relaxing 30-minute drive to my night gig.
That's what's different about baseball from any other sport...and what makes it so excruciatingly stressful if you have a rooting interest in a playoff team. EVERY pitch is critical. So, as I'm working my way through traffic, hoping against hope that the Phils will be able to hold off this Dodgers rally, I'm living and dying with each pitch, holding my breath, exhaling, shaking my head, going through all of the different ramifications of each pitch in the 20 seconds before the next pitch.
It's brutal. But, it's playoff baseball. Not for the weak.
As my drive continued, so did the Dodgers rally: fielder's choice, but an error on Chase Utley's throw to first, allowing the tying run to score.(ruining a perfect double play chance), a Thome single putting runners at the corners, and then back-to-back walks forcing in the go-ahead run.
All of this transpired over the course of 30-plus minutes, and against five different Phillies relievers.
The half-inning started before I got in the car, and still wasn't over after my drive to work.
Needless to say, my good vibes built up after watching Pedro dominate L.A. while watching the game at my house quickly turned to sadness, anger and frustration by the time I got to the high school football game.
Even though the loss still left the Phils with the desired split in L.A., at that moment, as I took my gloomy mood and down-trodden face into the high school press box, it would have been awfully hard for me to truthfully believe Philly was about to sweep three straight at home to earn a return trip to the World Series.
But, it's playoff baseball. And, it's a different Phillies team then we're used to.