Diamondbacks silence the Philadelphia faithful and enjoy every minute | ET REALITY


PHILADELPHIA – Standing atop the stage set up to honor their National League championship, the Arizona Diamondbacks looked down on a handful of sad souls who refused to return home.

This was what the vaunted Phillies crowd had been reduced to. Day after day, before and after every game, Arizona players and coaches were asked about this raucous atmosphere.

What was the challenge of playing here? How could they overcome the best home field advantage in baseball? Would this young core be bewildered?

That crowd was now reduced to a couple hundred solemn stragglers after Arizona’s 4-2 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. Some watched in disbelief. Others shouted insults and obscenities.

“Nobody cares about Arizona,” one fan bellowed.

“Let’s go Rangers,” others chanted.

Tommy Pham watched from the front of the group on stage, phone in hand, smiling as he filmed their faces.

“Success is revenge,” Pham said from the clubhouse an hour later. “They’ve written us off since the first series.”

Tommy Pham celebrates with Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall after upsetting the Phillies and their fans. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Every team that reaches this point in the season loves to say that it was doubted. It is one of the great clichés of sport. For the Diamondbacks, this rings true. They had the worst record of any playoff team and a negative run differential in 162 games. They have been the underdogs all postseason. When they say that no one outside their club believed this was possible, they are not wrong.

Just two years ago, they entered the season planning to be competitive. Instead, they lost 110 games. That wasn’t a tank job. It was an unexpected failure of epic proportions. And one from which they had to pick up the pieces.

Now they’re going to the World Series, an idea that only recently seemed beyond comprehension.

“I’ve thought about it (tonight) 100 times. I’ve thought about it 110 times,” coach Torey Lovullo said when asked if his mind had returned to that painful 2021 season. “I can’t put my arms around him. We are a small market organization and we have done it from within.”

The Phillies are not a small market team. Its $246 million payroll is more than double that of Arizona. And this was not expected to be a competitive series.

During the first two games, it became clear why. In Game 1, two of the first five pitches Phillies hitters saw flew out of the park. The next night was a 10-0 laugh.

Secondary market ticket prices for Arizona home games dropped dramatically. Garrett Stubbs, Philadelphia’s backup catcher, joked about making a “straight line” toward the D-Backs’ huddle in center field after securing his ball.

“I don’t look at betting lines very often, but we were like plus-200,” veteran third baseman Evan Longoria said. “Basically, we shouldn’t even show up. We have MLB Network here 24 hours a day. “We are seeing what people say about us.”

As Tuesday night’s game wore on, it once again seemed like Arizona’s season was on the brink. In the fourth inning, it looked like starting pitcher Brandon Pfaadt was unraveling. A walk, a double and a frozen single on the first pitch put the Phillies up 2-1. They were threatening more.

The Phillies lineup has always been inevitable. So this budding leak was no surprise. One night after they closed it, this tide seemed to be the turning point for a team of destiny.

Instead, Pfaadt struck out two batters to escape trouble. Then a combination of Joe Mantiply, Ryan Thompson, Andrew Saalfrank, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald combined to pitch five scoreless innings.

“The Brewers were supposed to beat us. The Dodgers were supposed to beat us. The Phillies were supposed to beat us,” said Thompson, who was released by the Tampa Bay Rays earlier this year but has since become a key reliever in this Arizona run. “They’ll say the Rangers are supposed to beat us too. We will see how it goes.”

The celebration at the clubhouse was complete chaos. General manager Mike Hazen was in the middle of it all, with players and staff taking turns dunking the architect who had brought them this whole moment. Christian Walker walked with a wooden cigar box, handing them out as a small visitors’ clubhouse gradually filled with smoke.

Bench coach Jeff Bannister appeared from behind the canvas-covered walls wearing a white “Snakes Alive” T-shirt. Sewald, standing to the side, was surprised when his teammates walked up to him with a gray tin bucket full of beer and simply dumped it on him, redefining what a beer shower looks like.

Many of these players and coaches had been discarded at one time or another. Walker was designated for assignment three times before landing in Arizona. Bannister was sacked because the Rangers manager couldn’t get hired anywhere for years. Arizona was Longoria’s only concrete contract offer last winter.

Now here they are and the Diamondbacks, on top of the baseball world. A best-of-seven shot at baseball immortality is approaching.

“We walked through trash to get here,” ace Zac Gallen said. “And those guys that have been here to balance us out for the last two or three years, they’ve been worth it.”

Coaches do not usually admit to hearing outside noise. But Lovullo is different. He proudly stated that he kept receipts from those who doubted his team.

After the series returned to Philadelphia, famed radio host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo was so confident that Philadelphia would take care of business that he vowed to retire if Arizona won two road games.

“I would love to see him quit if we won today,” Lovullo said before the game. “There’s nothing better than a wise New Yorker who says something and then has to bite back on those words.”

These D-Backs are making everyone eat their words. And enjoying it.

The Phillies were the story of the playoffs, until they weren’t. They connected with the city in a way that few teams truly can: transcending the typical sports fan in a tangible way.

Then a ragtag team of strangers came in and changed the narrative. The only thing left for those Philly fans to do was to scream and scream and say that no one cared. The Diamondbacks didn’t seem to care.

“This is what we want. This is where we want to be. This is where we want to play,” Hazen said as the music blared in the clubhouse. “If we want to win, we have to go through places like this. And we were able to do it ”.

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(Photo of José Herrera and his Diamondbacks teammates in the victorious clubhouse: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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