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Are the Phillies standing in the way of the St. Louis Cardinals' destiny?



Every year, there is that ‘it’ team having everything magically work out for them as they catch a wave of momentum as the season ends. It could be a crucial wild pitch or just the way a certain ball bounces (no pun intended). No matter what the team does that’s good or bad, all of the surrounding pieces fall apart or fall in place, with either one working out in their respective favor.
It was the Phillies in 2008, and we know all about the other two teams that ended the Phillies’ seasons the last two years.
This year’s team very well might be the St. Louis Cardinals.

And the Phillies could be facing them very soon. Next Saturday in fact.

Yes, Tony LaRussa (you know, the inventor of baseball who also jams with Carlos Santana) and his squad are at it again. Tony LaRussa: Manager-PercussionistOn Sunday the redbirds won on a home run by Rafael Furcal, whom despite being benched the other day after making a crucial error, goes from goat to hero two days later. Albert Pujols, who is in danger of not hitting under .300 for the first time in his 11-year career, is now on an absolute tear.

Jason Motte, Marc Rzepczynski, and Fernando Salas aren’t going to remind anybody of The Nasty Boys, but they seem to be getting the job done exactly when it counts (with the exception of last Thursday’s loss).

On the other hand, the same can't be said for Antonio Bastardo  and Michael Stutes, who both look hopeless as the playoffs begin (great timing). If Bastardo isn't still tipping his pitches, then that's a big problem because he got lit up again Sunday against the Mets. Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are just one game behind the Braves in the National League Wildcard race.

Uh oh.

Yes, as fate would have it, the Cardinals close out the regular season in...of all places....Houston. Yep, the team with THE worst record in major league baseball. The Astros have lost 104 games this season. I can only imagine the Cardinals’ confidence while travelling on their “Happy Flight” (I’m getting really sick of these stupid baseball cliches these teams have).

Here is where it really gets interesting, and it involves our Phillies.

Starting Monday, the Phils play the Atlanta for three games to close out the year. Putting 'Baseball Ethics 101’ aside, would you want to (to be blunt) help the Braves this week and face them in a possible post season series? Or would you want to play your hand, try to put out a maximum effort (which is another story in itself these days for the Phils as they try to pull their best 2011 Flyers impersonation) and try to, dare I say it, win this series and face the Cardinals on Saturday? Yes, those same Cardinals who (post-clincher or not) beat the Phightins three out of four games just last week. If R.A. Dickey was giving the Phillies fits Saturday, just what do you think Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia could do to this club in a five game series?

Yeah, yeah, we all know about the Phillies and the quest to get 102 wins, and if they really are the best, they will beat whoever they play.

I get that, and it couldn't be more true. I'm trying very hard to look at the big picture. And yes, the Phillies limp to the finish line is a factor in these thoughts, as it should be.

It does however, provide some interesting scenarios that could change the outcome of an entire baseball season.

And one team’s possible destiny.


In the meantime, Keep On Phightin'

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Cardinals photo: AP

LaRussa photo: www.yahoo.com