2011 NLDS Game 5: Roy Halladay with the Season On the Line

2011 NLDS Game 5: Roy Halladay with the Season On the Line

It's going to be wild.

Charlie and the players like to downplay it as just another game. They're right, in a way, that it's just one more baseball game. It counts the same as all the other games in this series. But the result of tonight's game, unlike any of the previous 166 games, could put an end to our baseball team's season.

There are two clear and distinct outcomes. Lose and experience incredible, massive disappointment. Win and Citizens Bank Park and the city of Philadelphia will explode with joy.

And perhaps relief. Relief that the dream lives on. There's no doubt that expectations for this 2011 Phillies squad have been through the roof. That's why the Daily News' Paul Hagen says this might be "the single most important game the Phils have played" since they were created way back in 1883.

Yeah, tonight's Game 5 of the NLDS is going to be intense.

To add to the drama you have two former Cy Young winners who just so happen to be great friends going up against each other in a deciding game. Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter are going to have some awkward conversations on their next fishing trip, that's for sure.

As Phillies scribe John Finger points out, this is only the third time in the history of the game that two former Cy Young winners have gone up against each other in a decisive game of a playoff series.

Much of the reactionary portion of the Phillies fanbase was a mess after Wednesday night's loss in St. Louis. Ryan Howard took the brunt of that anger, but what so many forget is what those inside the game repeat over and over: baseball is a failure sport. Yes, Ryan Howard did not deliver in Game 4, but the series and the season are not over yet. As Ben Francisco showed in Game 3, redemption is always just a swing of the bat away.

When asked about the Cardinals potent offense yesterday afternoon, Roy Halladay put things in perspective, reminding us all that this is a Phillies team that can win when they have to.

"I think it's important for us to realize what we have on our side, too," Halladay said. "You know, we feel like we have a team that can go out and win games when we need to win games, and I think that's important for us to keep in mind."

Now they just have go go out and do it.

We all know the story lines by now. The Phillies could really use some life from Placido Polanco or some power from Hunter Pence. It'd be nice if someone reminded Choochtober what month it is. Just for kicks, I'm calling Hunter Pence as the Game 5 offensive hero. I feel like he's the one that is bound to bust out.

Most importantly, they need a shutdown outing from Roy Halladay.

I've made the drive down to the sports complex to watch the Phillies play well over 50 times this season. I'll be making it again tonight and I don't want to have to wait another five and a half months to make it again. I'm attending tonight's game with my dad. The last time I went to a Phillies playoff game with him, Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter.

Tonight is one baseball game at Citizens Bank Park to see if the dream lives on.

And the ace of the aces is on the mound for the Phillies.

Roy Halladay.

"That's the reason he was brought up here," said Young James Calvin Rollins, "to come out and be The Man -- be Doc and perform a little surgery."

It's going to be wild.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."