CINCINNATI — It’s such a staple on classic rock stations, you’re surely sick of it by now. The Phillies are, too.
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card.
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart.
The waiting is the hardest part.
Tom Petty wasn’t talking about postseason baseball when he wrote those words. (He had something more urgent in mind. Not that October baseball isn’t urgent.) But he could have been.
The Phillies completed their three-game sweep of the Reds in the division series Sunday night, winning 2-0. It took five days to play those three games. You remember. It began way back, last Wednesday, Oct. 6, when Roy Halladay pitched a 4-0 no-hitter on eight days’ rest. He’ll pitch the first game of the NLCS on Saturday, against the winner of the Braves-Giants series. That’s Oct. 16, if you don’t have a calendar handy. That’s nine days’ rest, if you don’t have an abacus handy. As the song says, the waiting is the hardest part.
The first wait was at the discretion of his manager, Charlie Manuel. The season’s long and Halladay was looking a little beat up come the dog days of September. Judging by what he did in Game 1 — it was one of the most dominating pitching performances ever — the wait served him well. After all, this was a man who began his wait just to get a chance to pitch in a playoff game in 1998. Is he going to get all keyed up waiting for Saturday? The right-hander’s father is a pilot. Roy Halladay is the Sully Sullenberger of pitchers. He doesn’t freak. He’ll wait it out. They’ll all wait.
By Saturday, the Phillies will have played all of three games in 12 days. Manuel was asked about the irregular schedule. He was asked about the wait.
“If you advance to the next round, if you do good, nobody says nothing,” the manager said. (You must stand in awe of the grammar. It will be a sad day in baseball when nobody speaks that way and that day is coming.) “But if you don’t, people say, ‘The rest hurt ’em.'”