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.

There's another Embiid WWE 2K17 entrance and it includes Hinkie

There's another Embiid WWE 2K17 entrance and it includes Hinkie

He’s done it again.
 
Eleven days ago, Sixers social media went wild over a video that showed Joel Embiid walking out to the ring as a WWE character in WWE 2K17. Well, YouTube user Hillman811 is back with an even better version of the video complete with Sam Hinkie and fans chanting.
 
The first video sparked questions to Embiid about his favorite WWE wrestler, and he even did his own Triple H introduction at the Wells Fargo Center after The Game threw him an All-Star vote (see story).
 
Watch the video below and let your mind run wild with what this would look like if it actually happened.
 

Tommy Joseph focused on earning first base job, taking more walks

Tommy Joseph focused on earning first base job, taking more walks

There was no better story of personal triumph on the Phillies' roster than Tommy Joseph in 2016.

Dumped from the 40-man roster and passed over by 29 other teams on the waiver wire and in the Rule 5 draft in 2015, he reported to minor-league camp with his career on the line last spring.

Two months later, thanks to good health and a molten bat, Joseph's career began to spike upward.

But 4½ months in the big leagues and the promise of a starting job in the majors in 2017 hasn't changed Joseph's outlook or the mindset he will take into spring training camp next month.

He's still going to scrap and claw for everything, just like he did a year ago when he was fighting for his baseball life after a series of concussions put his career in jeopardy.

"I'm preparing the same way I did last winter," Joseph said during an offseason stop at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday.

"The job is not given to me. I still have to win it. I'm not going to walk in and have it. Obviously, it's mine to take and I plan on going in and winning the job."

Joseph, 25, earned a significant slice of the starting first base job last year. But with Ryan Howard, the last piece of the 2008 World Series team, gone, Joseph has a chance to stake an even greater claim to the position in 2017 and establish himself as a serious building block in the Phillies' rebuild.

"Tommy came out of nowhere last year," manager Pete Mackanin said. "There's something to be excited about there. He was off the map and he did enough to warrant a real strong look this year. And hopefully, he can improve and take baby steps toward being a final product."

Joseph pushed himself to the majors and cut into Howard's playing time last season by hitting .347 with six homers, 17 RBIs and a .981 OPS in 27 games at Triple A. He came to the majors in mid-May and hit .257 with 21 homers and 47 RBIs in 107 games. In the fall, Joseph briefly played winter ball in the Dominican Republic, but right wrist tendinitis, now fully healed, cut the stint short.

Joseph's good showing at the plate in 2016 was partly the result of his finding good health. As he recovered from a fifth concussion in the summer of 2015, it was discovered that he had a series of ocular problems. They were addressed through therapy and ... well, it's amazing what a hitter can do when he can see the ball.

This year, Joseph will look to improve in the field. The converted catcher is looking to add quickness around the first base bag and that starts with better footwork. At the urging of bench coach/infield instructor Larry Bowa, Joseph has been jumping rope and doing box drills all winter.

Joseph also wants to improve his approach and mindset at the plate. Though he wants to drive the ball like his size — 235 pounds — and position dictate, he wants to improve his on-base percentage and thus his OPS, on-base plus slugging percentage.

Joseph struck out 75 times and walked just 22 times in 347 plate appearances in 2016 and his on-base percentage was just .308. But over the final month of the season, he made an effort to be more selective at the plate and he recorded a .327 batting average and .406 on-base percentage (while slugging .618) over the final 23 games of the season. He struck out 10 times but walked seven over that span.

"My whole career has been a battle when it comes to walking," Joseph said. "I started to listen and read more what veterans around the league were saying about on-base percentage and OPS. Slugging is important on the corners, but there are times you have to take your walks. It's relevant because the best players in the game have a high OPS."

Joseph needs to improve in this area for a couple of reasons. First, the front office is intent on building a long-term lineup around players who control the strike zone, i.e., those who don't chase bad pitches. And second, the Phils have a legitimate run-producing first base prospect in Rhys Hoskins set to take his game to Triple A in 2017.

Joseph knows all of this and takes nothing for granted.

"The only difference this year will be I'm on the big-league side in spring training, but everything still has to be earned," he said.

The Phillies ranked last in the majors — or "last in the world," as Mackanin said — with just 610 runs scored in 2016. The offseason additions of Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders should help run production. So, too, should expected improvements from Maikel Franco and Joseph, two players who have the chance to be long-term building blocks.

"We've got guys at the big-league level that I choose to think are going to get better," Mackanin said. "Tommy Joseph is a perfect example."