World Series Game 1: Bring it on

Why stop now, Phillies? Rob Thomson’s team, still in an incredible postseason, will open the World Series against the favorite Astros on Friday night in Houston. It’s Aaron Nola versus Justin Verlander in Game 1 and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

So far, the upstart Phillies have fulfilled every moment. The magnitude of that event began to subside for the ball club Thursday under the glare of Houston’s national media. The team’s President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, has led teams to five World Series. He has tried to explain the experience to the players, most of whom have never gotten this far.

“You haven’t seen the World Series yet,” he said. “Wait until you get to the World Series. I mean the [League Championship Series] is great. The World Series is different.”

The Phillies soon found that out for themselves. They went through a series of video shoots and a Super Bowl-style media day. ‘It’s the big dance, isn’t it?’ said Rhys Hoskins. “I mean, just look at this room. How many people are in here? Coverage from around the world, probably. But where could one be better now?”

The only better place is on the podium lifting the World Series trophy. Now we’ll see if the Phillies have another surprise in store.

This weekend is a celebration for Philly fans. After exciting Games 1 and 2, the Eagles put their 6-0 record on the line against the Steelers on Sunday, and the Union played in the Eastern Conference Finals that night. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, Penn State takes on a heavyweight, Ohio State.

Monday should be a day of rest for the fans…but then everyone will be gearing up for World Series Game 3 tonight.

After hitting the biggest homer of his life — a two-run shot that put the Phillies on the brink of winning the eighth-inning pennant Sunday at Citizens Bank Park — Bryce Harper stood and watched him for a bat, then he looked into the dugout, bowed his head and circled the bases. There was no bat flip, no shouting, no over-the-top celebration. “The way he was able to get into the moment and stay focused and calm was [bleeping] unbelievable. Please use those exact words,” said Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos. “He was the calmest person in the stadium. And I think that’s a lot of growth on his part.” Entering the 118th World Series, Harper is at the absolute peak of his powers.

Rob Thomson turned to JT Realmuto to help count every win on the Phillies’ road to the World Series.

The Phillies have multiple paths to victory. The Astros probably have more of it. Here are some keys to success for Philly.

Héctor Neris, a friend and mentor to several Phillies auxiliaries, has found a home in the Astros bullpen.

Next: The Phillies open the World Series in Houston on Friday at 8:03 p.m. (Fox29). Aaron Nola starts against Astros right-hander Justin Verlander.

A day after being transferred to the Chicago Bears, passrusher Robert Quinn was in Philadelphia for his first practice session and to meet his new Eagles teammates.

EJ Smith was at the NovaCare Complex on Thursday to hear what Quinn and some of his teammates had to say about the move.

Next: The Eagles host the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at 1 p.m. (CBS3).

Yes, this is Union backup goalie Matt Freese (a good player in his own right, but definitely not three-time MLS Goalie of the Year Andre Blake) playing in the 2021 Major League Soccer Eastern Conference Finals. Union had six regular starters, including Blake and captain Alejandro Bedoya, who were unable to play last year due to COVID-19 protocols. They have since sought revenge on New York City FC, who beat Union in that game en route to becoming MLS Cup champions.

Now Union have gotten their wish and Bedoya’s return from a recent injury signals a powerful Union squad for Sunday’s second leg.

However, NYCFC has sailed through the playoffs so far, so Jonathan Tannenwald may be right in his assessment that the Union should be careful about what they wish for.

Next: The Union hosts NYCFC in the MLS Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday at 8 p.m. at Subaru Park (FS1, Fox Deportes).

The 76ers are in the midst of a stormy start to the 2022-23 season, complete with a 1-4 start and losses to multiple teams they are expected to compete with in the Eastern Conference.

With all this happening surrounding the Sixers, Georges Niang provided the first entry of his player diary for The Inquirer. Niang gives an insight into the team at this crucial time and how he’s relaxing off the pitch.

Next: The Sixers play the Raptors Friday at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSP) in Toronto.

While the Flyers may be on the up on the ice in a continuation of last season, the news from the practice room continues to be less promising.

After losing winger James van Riemsdyk to a broken finger on Sunday, John Tortorella announced on Thursday that two of the team’s best players, center Sean Couturier (back) and winger Cam Atkinson (upper body), are still not close to to return after an injury.

The Flyers also added a new face Thursday when the team called out former first-round pick Kieffer Bellows from waivers by the New York Islanders.

In their latest game, the players could prove that the Flyers’ transformation this season could be real.

Next: The Flyers host the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (NBCSP).

The Portland Thorns and their fans have been through a lot lately. But with 90 seconds of stoppage time in the second half of their NWSL semifinals, Crystal Dunn provided a spark and scored the winner to send the Thorns to the NWSL Championship, where they won on Saturday (8 p.m., CBS3, Paramount+).

To make the moment even more special is the fact that Dunn is just 156 days away from giving birth to their son.

North Philly’s Kahleah Copper, who stars for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, took part in a Twitter space Thursday to raise awareness about breast cancer. One thing that is important to her.

We asked you: What are your plans to watch the World Series? Among your answers:

A former Philadelphia resident of 24 years, I have remained so connected to sports in Philadelphia since moving away in 2018. The city’s passion for the sport and the pursuit of excellence through the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers inspire me every day. I’m super excited for the Phillies and despite all the naysayers, I think they have a great lineup with a great chance of getting past the Astros. I spent my youth in the Astrodome, growing up in Houston. However, there is something magical about the Philadelphia sports scene. I really miss going to the games in person. However, I will be glued to the TV during the World Series watching The Fightins. There’s a two-hour time difference, so I’ll rush home for the first game on Friday. —Michael B.

Having been a Phillies fan for almost 70 years, my plan might have been to watch every pitch on TV from our home in Florida. But I screwed it up many months ago and committed to a two week trip to Scotland starting on Saturday. I watch the first game at home, miss the second game in transit and then watch others with the time difference of 5 or 6 hours. … Uff. I’m up until 5am to watch the finals. I will, but at 72 I probably won’t be awake for the rest of the day. I checked my ability to watch a game. I’m pretty sure my direct TV streaming will give me access, but on my laptop. I wouldn’t take my computer with me otherwise, except for the Phillies. It’s a small price to pay to watch these games. I remember watching the final playoff series against the Astros en route to their first world championship in 1980. I hope this show is half as good as this one because many would agree that the 1980 NLCS was the best show of all time. Perhaps Del Unser is coming out of retirement to lay down the most impactful bunt in Phillies history. Go Phillies. — John W.

We’ve compiled today’s newsletter with stories from Scott Lauber, Alex Coffey, EJ Smith, Mike Jensen, Sam Cohn, Jonathan Tannenwald, Andrea Canales, David Murphy and Olivia Reiner.

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