Ya Gotta Believe!!!

We all know the Phillies have their backs against the wall.  One loss and it’s over…  As crazy as it sounds, maybe it’s exactly where they need to be.

If you know the history of this team, you’re well aware that nothing comes easy.

1980 was a great year for the Phillies as they won their only World Series.  They weren’t handed any trophy.  They fought just to get in the World Series.

In the NLCS (which was a five-game series then), the Phillies won the first game, coming from behind (on a Greg Luzinski home run), but dropped the next two.  Facing elimination, the Phillies had no choice but to win or go home. 

In Game 4, the Phillies were trailing 2-0, but scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 3-2 lead.  That lead was short lived as the Astros tied it in the bottom of the ninth.  The Phillies won it in the tenth inning, with Pete Rose mauling Astro’s catcher Bruce Bochy, scoring the go-ahead run.  Tug McGraw earned the save as the Phillies won 5-3 in ten innings.

With the series tied two, it would come down to a one game winner take all.  After blowing a 2-1 lead the Phillies were down 5-2 in the eighth with Nolan Ryan on the mound.  To this point Ryan was cruising, allowing five hits and eight strikeouts over seven innings, so it didn’t look good for the Phillies.  That was until they loaded the bases on three straight singles. Ryan was replaced after he walked Rose, scoring Larry Bowa. 

The Phillies would tack on four more runs that inning and take a 7-5 lead in the eighth, only for McGraw to give up.  Back two back RBI singles with two outs knotted the game at seven.  It would be another extra inning battle.  In the tenth inning, Garry Maddox doubled home Del Unser, to take an 8-7 lead.  **** Ruthven pitched a perfect tenth inning, and the Phillies won, advancing to the World Series. 

With their backs against the wall, the Phillies beat the odds. 

The other time the Phillies were in a five game series and had to rally was in 1981.  It wasn’t the NLCS, but the first NLDS.  Due to a players strike, the division champs of each half of the season played each other, to see who went to the NLCS.  The Phillies played the Montreal Expos.  The Phillies were down two games to none.

The Phillies won Game 3 easily 6-2.  In Game 4 the Phillies blew a 4-0 lead, but won the game in the tenth inning on a George Vuckovich pinch-hit home run.  This forced a fifth and final game.

Unfortunately they lost that game as Steve Rogers out-dueled Steve Carlton for a 3-0 victory.  Although they lost the series, they proved they could crawl out of a 2-0 hole.

So if you think the Phillies are out of it, they’re not.  It’s all about taking one game at a time. 

When Tugger said “Ya gotta believe”, he meant it…



  1. tswechtenberg@gmail.com

    thanks for dropping in to the Heartland Pinstripes for the encouraging words. i’m a yankee fan who has been rooting for your awesome team all year. i have faith that both they and the yanks will find a way to win. good luck

  2. risingleo99@yahoo.com

    I want to believe (I remember vividly the 1980 Phillies and the excitement they generated), but the Game 2 moves Charlie Manuel made the other day leave me shaking my head, wondering if this guy is a reincarnation of Danny Osark?

    Great column today about Wally Backman by Yahoo’s Jeff Passan:

    Wally Backman would be a great fit for the Phillies. It’s time to move on from the Charlie Manuel era. Today’s game in Denver may underscore why a change is needed before next year.

    It’s time for the Phillies to hire someone who knows how to manage. Inept managers have been an achilles (rhymes with Phillies) heal for this team for a very long time. 10,000+ losses didn’t happen by chance.

  3. Jason

    Hi Jason:

    Many thanks for your stopping by my heartland Pinstripes blog, and the kind words that Mike above mentioned. While without a rooting interest in the other series, I have always had a deep respect for the Phillies and their players. Mike Schmidt–hard to beat that guy at third; Lefty Carlton was phenomenal, as was Tug as a reliever, plus one of my favorites, Bake McBride–so much so that I called a guy I went to high school “Bake” whose last name was McBride.

    Your attitude is the right one to have for your team. You have to believe. It’s been done before, and might be again.

    Keep up the good work on your blog, and drop by The Heartland anytime.


  4. goligers@msn.com

    As a lifelong Mets fan, dialog with Phillies fans is frequently difficult. Despite this, there are a few things Mets and Phillies fans can agree on. One is the late Tug McGraw. Tug typified the spirit of your 1980 Phillies. His 1973 rallying cry of “You Gotta Believe” fired up his teammates on the Mets. As a lefthanded eleven year old kid who pitched and played first base on his little league team in the Catskill Mountains of New York in 1973, I idolized Tug McGraw. Unfortunately, the 1973 pennant winning Mets lost in the World Series but Tug’s rallying cry continues to resonate with me to this day. It kept me going through the miserable collapse that concluded the Mets’ season (and frankly, over the course of the 34 years since Tug first coined that soundbite it has carried me through a lot of life events), and no doubt it carried you and other Phillies fans through the improbable events that led to your team winning the NL East this year. Like the ’73 Mets who met the end of their season at the World Series that year, the Phillies met theirs in the division series this year. But, without question, that loss only firms up your resolve. The Mets and Phillies will be right at it again next year… I gotta believe. So, here’s to lots of Phillie caps and Met caps being spotted in cars traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike next season. Hats off to Tug.

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