Finding the right words to describe the importance of the Philadelphia Phillies first half-ending home stand against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves and the NL West leading Cincinnati Reds is vexing.  

Facing off against two of the top teams in the National League right before the All-Star Break is obviously important, but how important?

To use the words “must-win” in this situation would be, for all intents and purposes, wildly inappropriate.  Forget, for the moment, the old adage that anything that can be done in the first half of the season can be undone in the second half.  And forget for the moment that this is a team playing without one of its starting pitchers and its All-Star second and third basemen.

In 2007, the Philadelphia Phillies came all the way back from being seven games behind the New York Mets with two weeks to play to win the NL East.

Thus, to say that the Phillies “must win” these two series against the Braves and Reds in order to have a chance to make the playoffs in 2010 would be a hyperbole.

On the other hand, let’s not pretend that the Phillies can easily afford to lose either or both of these series.  

The prohibitive pre-season favorites for their third straight World Series run in 2010, the Phillies are currently in third place in their own division and are not playing the best ball they’ve played during the tenure of manager Charlie Manuel.

If the Philadelphia Phillies are going to be a playoff and/or NL East contender this season—more importantly, if they are going to believe that they are a contender—then a home stand against two of the top three teams in the National League is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that fact conclusively to the NL, to Phillies fans, and perhaps even to themselves.

At the end of the day, it is probably appropriate to say that the Phillies three-game series against the Braves and four-game series against the Reds are both crucial.

Forget for the moment about the straight-up game advantage that the Braves will gain with any win against the Phillies and lose with any loss.  This will be the Phillies’ final home stand against the Braves until the third week of September.  If the Phillies can take this series, or for that matter sweep this series, the Phillies can play the second half of the season confident that they are battling a beatable opponent in the NL East.

And then, of course, there is the game advantage.  You don’t want to be giving away home games against divisional opponents, particularly those you are locked into battle with.

As for the four game set against the Reds, that series will be all about momentum.  Enough can not be said about the momentum boost that winning a four game series would give the Phillies going into the All-Star Break.  Winning three-of-four from the Reds would be just the confidence-builder this team needs to go into the All-Star Break feeling good about the first half of the season and focused on the second.

This team needs to believe that it can play with the best teams in baseball, and there is no better way to convince itself of that then by playing good ball here at the end of the first half.

Thus, it can safely be said that this is a crucial home stand for the Philadelphia Phillies.  Not that the Phillies must win these games, but they can ill-afford to lose them.


Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia and is a co-founder of

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