LOS ANGELES - Charlie Manuel left the madness on the field last night at Dodger Stadium to return to the quiet of his office, but he never stopped smiling and he never stopped feeling the way he felt.
Why stop now?
"I've been to the World Series, but I've never really won one," Manuel said. "This is going to be the year. I can feel it, yeah."
The Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to clinch their first NL pennant since 1993 and put them four victories away from their first World Series championship in 28 years and their second in their 125-year history.
"There's a lot of anticipation to get to this point, but when it actually comes it kind of takes you by surprise," said Pat Burrell, who stood to the side as teammates doused themselves in champagne. "I love the celebration, but how many times am I going to see this? I just want to enjoy it and take it in."
The Phillies are in the World Series for the sixth time in franchise history because they outplayed the New York Mets in the NL East, Milwaukee Brewers in the NL division series, and Dodgers in the NLCS. They were the best team, and they showed it immediately when Jimmy Rollins hit a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It was his second leadoff homer of the postseason - he hit one in Game 4 of the NLDS in Milwaukee - and third of his postseason career.
It was one run, but it was huge.
The Phillies scored two more runs in the third to take a 3-0 lead. They added two more runs in the fifth to make it 5-0, thanks to three errors from Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal.
That was plenty for Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels, who allowed just one run in seven innings to finish 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Dodgers.
"We knew what we could do and what we were capable of, and we did it," Hamels said.
Hamels was named MVP of the series.
"To win the award, it's surreal," Hamels said. "It's for the whole team. I had to go out and execute and keep going after them."
On the 20th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's historic home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series against the Oakland Athletics, there was no Dodgers miracle. Brad Lidge didn't allow it. He threw the final pitch, which Nomar Garciaparra popped up in foul territory along the third-base side. Catcher Carlos Ruiz settled underneath it to make the catch and end the game.
"I can't even describe it," Lidge said. "It's emotional. I'm so proud of these guys and what we've accomplished this year as a team. It's been everybody."
Yes, Philly, the Phillies are going to the World Series.
"Four more wins! Four more wins!" Phillies fans chanted from the stands.
Four more wins and the real party starts.
Talk about omens. Jimmy Rollins led off both National League playoff series-clinching games with home runs.
Last night, Rollins led off Game 5 of the NLCS with a homer off Chad Billingsley in the 5-1 clincher.
Last week, Rollins led off Game 4 of the division series against Milwaukee's Jeff Suppan in the 6-2 clincher.
It hasn't always worked out, however. Last year, he opened Game 2 of the division series with a home run against Colorado's Franklin Morales, but the Phillies lost the game, 10-5, and the series, three games to none. Rollins' homer last night was the 10th leadoff home run in LCS history and the first since Jose Reyes of the New York Mets hit one Oct. 18, 2006. It was also his 28th career leadoff homer.