A leap of faith | Sports Daily Newsletter

A leap of faith | Sports Daily Newsletter

Updated: 4 months, 27 days, 13 hours, 37 minutes, 12 seconds ago

Managing partner John Middleton holds up the National League trophy after defeating the Padres the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park. Read more

The National League added the designated hitter, so there was room for another big bat on the Phillies’ roster. Trouble was, there wasn’t much room on the ledger, not unless ownership was willing to surpass the competitive-balance tax threshold for the first time in club history.

John Middleton was willing. The Phillies signed Nick Castellanos, pushing the team above the $230 million tax threshold, and the rest is history — even if things didn’t always go to plan as the Phillies locked up the final wild-card spot (another new feature this season) en route to the World Series.

“If you’re in this business to make money, you’re in the wrong business,” said Middleton, standing on the wet grass in front of the infield Sunday night as the Phillies celebrated winning their first pennant in 13 years. “There’s only one reason to be in this business, and that’s to win.”

— Maria McIlwain, Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport, sports.daily@inquirer.com.

As the Phillies’ longest-tenured position player, Rhys Hoskins felt the pain of four September collapses before enjoying the sting this October of four champagne celebrations in three weeks. He reached the majors in August 2017, quickly ascending to be the face of the Phillies as their rebuilding process tried to gain traction. Hoskins answered the questions, shouldered the criticism, and was pulled in every direction by sponsors, marketing, and charity work. Now he’s preparing for a World Series. Said J.T. Realmuto: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t think anyone deserves this moment more than Rhys.”

Who’s starting Game 1? “Common sense” says it will be Aaron Nola.

From Grover Cleveland Alexander to Brad Lidge, here are some highlights from the Phillies’ runs in the World Series.

Next: The Phillies open the World Series at 8:03 p.m. Friday in Houston.

The Sixers were considered one of the winners of the NBA offseason with the additions of P.J. Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and De’Anthony Melton as the headliners of a fruitful summer. While that hasn’t panned out exactly as planned to start the season, many of the Sixers’ holdovers have remained on the sidelines.

Matisse Thybulle, Shake Melton, and Furkan Korkmaz have experienced the most drastic swings. All three players have played sparingly to start the season, and they spoke to The Inquirer’s Gina Mizell about living through that new reality.

Next: The Sixers face off against the Toronto Raptors at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday on the road (NBCSP).

Following their bye week, the undefeated Eagles will welcome the Steelers, who bring their 2-5 record across the state with them. Looking to avoid his first losing season as a coach, Mike Tomlin faces an “awesome challenge” in the Eagles, and referred to multiple players by name when dissecting his opponent.

On Sunday night, John Tortorella benched stars Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny for the third period of the Flyers’ 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Olivia Reiner writes about the coach’s bold decision to do that and the message it sends to the rest of the team regarding accountability.

One player who won’t be on the bench for the time being is winger James van Riemsdyk. The veteran left Sunday’s game and did not return and it turns out he will need to have surgery on a broken finger.

Next: The Flyers are back on home ice Thursday against the Florida Panthers (7 p.m., NBCSP).

Two constants in the Union’s excellence in recent years have been manager Jim Curtin and captain Alejandro Bedoya.

Curtin has been recognized for his coaching skills yet again, winning his second Major League Soccer honor for coach of the year.

Bedoya, however, hasn’t been able to get on the field for the Union in playoff action, but he hopes to return for the Eastern Conference final against New York City FC. Bedoya wasn’t able to play in the conference final last season, when the Union were eliminated by NYCFC, because he was one of six Union starters barred from the game because of COVID-19 protocols.

He’s aiming to play Sunday.

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

Ryan Carter, Jessie Moses, Taylor Brown, and Jezelle Banks are best friends whose lives center on basketball. College offers are starting to come in, too.

They’re in eighth grade.

As college basketball recruiting trickles down to younger and younger athletes, how do they balance school, hoops, and just being a kid?

Worth a look

Boys’ Latin tees off: The school brings golf — and the doors it can open — to West Philly.

Small world: A couple of high school basketball competitors will soon become teammates at the next level.

Tuning it out: Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford has heard a lot in his six years of college football. He’ll hear some more as the Nittany Lions take on No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday.

A tough call: Drexel soccer player Caroline Thompson faced a crossroads — focus on school full-time or play one last season with the Dragons after missing two seasons with a torn ACL. She picked the pitch.

Trivia Tuesday answer

Who was the MVP when the Phillies won the National League Championship Series in 1980?

The answer is B) Manny Trillo. Mark P. was first with the correct response.

Manager for a day

We asked you: Assuming Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suárez are ready for the first three games, who starts Game 4 of the World Series for the Phillies and why?

Zack Wheeler. ... When pitchers pitched on every fourth day, the number one starter pitched 3 games. With the current schedule and pitchers today pitching every fifth day, the team’s best starter cannot make 3 starts. Wheeler is their best starter. I’d start him in game 1, and [Aaron] Nola in game 2. Some believe that the Philies need to win both of the first two games to be able to win the series. I don’t, but pitching Wheeler and Nola more often is their best chance. There are two days off in the 7-game schedule. …

With this plan, Wheeler would be set up to pitch game 7 if needed. That, for him, will be the 4th day from his last start, which he can deal with at least one time. Of the three starters to be used, he is the most rested with this plan, and he is their best pitcher. If not him, then a 7th game would require a “bullpen” game to decide the series; not preferred. This plan is set up by Wheeler pitching game 1. — John W.

Got to be Noah Syndergaard. He has the experience on the big stage and is wily enough to get through 3 innings. He could be followed by [Bailey] Falter and/or [Zach] Eflin. I like Falter, but don’t think he’s ready for the pressure of starting. Of course, if we’re up 3-0 it really doesn’t matter who starts. — Peter S.

Thor with the long blond hair. — Ellen G.

Bailey Falter has earned the #4 spot. He was the unsung hero of September. Yes, he had a rough start in the NLCS and got the quick hook (deservedly so) but give him the ball. Syndergaard gets WHIPped. — Scott J.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Scott Lauber, Matt Breen, Ed Barkowitz, Gina Mizell, Josh Tolentino, Olivia Reiner, Giana Han, Jonathan Tannenwald, Isabella DiAmore, Aaron Carter, Sam Cohn, and Matt Ryan.