Keith Hernandez does a 180, says ‘I’ll be rooting for Phillies the rest of the way’

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Mets announcer Keith Hernandez wasn’t sold on the Phillies back in August, citing their sloppy defense and poor “fundamentals” as a reason he doesn’t enjoy calling their games. Those comments didn’t go unnoticed with the Phillies using his criticism as bulletin-board material, ultimately going on to secure their first playoff berth in over a decade. They didn’t stop there, feeding off a raucous home crowd Saturday at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies would eliminate the Braves in Game 4, sending the defending champs home with nothing to show for their 101 regular-season wins.

We knew Philadelphia had enough offense, but nobody expected the Phillies’ bullpen, their Achilles’ heel for years, to suddenly become one of their biggest strengths, silencing a potent Braves lineup that led the majors in slugging percentage during the regular season (.443). Making a deep run in October is as much about timing as anything, and with the bullpen pitching lights out and Bryce Harper rounding into form with two homers in Saturday’s finale, the Phillies are as hot as they’ve been all year.

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With the Phillies firing on all cylinders, looking like a team of destiny ahead of their first NLCS in a dozen years, Hernandez decided it was finally time to eat crow, dramatically changing his tone toward a team he didn’t show much respect for earlier this year.

Fans are right to be suspicious of Hernandez’s tactics—for all we know, this could be his elaborate attempt at a reverse jinx, buttering up a team he once doubted, only for the Phillies to wither at the feet of their next opponent (Los Angeles or San Diego). But even if this is as far as Philadelphia goes, the Phillies still made it further than the Mets, who were a colossal disappointment in the playoffs, squandering homefield advantage in a Wild Card loss to the Padres.

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