Seventeen days ago, the Phillies got swept out of Chicago a few hours before the San Diego Padres lost for the fourth time in seven games. And in that moment, it was difficult to tell which team looked less like it actually wanted to make the playoffs.
Yet here they are, the last two entrants into the tournament, getting set to square off in the National League Championship Series.
The Phillies went 87-75 and punched a ticket to their first NLCS since 2010 by dispatching the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves in four games in the divisional round. The Padres, 89-73 in the regular season, will play for the pennant for the first time since 1998 after vanquishing the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers.
Story lines abound, and there are only two days to digest them. Game 1 is Tuesday night in San Diego, so let’s get right to it.