PHILADELPHIA -- You miss baseball. We miss baseball.
We wanted to satisfy our baseball cravings, so MLB.com came up with the MLB Dream Bracket, a 32-team best-of-seven simulation featuring all-time teams for each of the 30 current big league franchises, plus teams of Negro Leagues Stars and 25 & Under Stars. The 26-man rosters for each team, compiled by MLB.com beat reporters, consist of 15 hitters and 11 pitchers. For the simulation played out by Out of the Park Baseball, players are rated using the average of their three best seasons from that team. Rosters were constructed with balanced depth to specifically compete in a simulated regulation game.
This all-time Phillies rotation includes Steve Carlton, Grover Alexander, Robin Roberts and Cole Hamels. Yes, folks, Curt Schilling, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay come out of the bullpen on this team. So do Tug McGraw, Jonathan Papelbon, Jim Konstanty and Ron Reed. No Brad Lidge? No Jim Bunning? Remember, OOTP averaged the best three Phillies seasons for every player. Lidge was perfect in 2008, but Papelbon was more consistent over three years. Halladay should have won consecutive National League Cy Young Awards in 2010-11, so we chose him over Bunning.
Mike Schmidt, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard make up the infield. There are no arguments there. Richie Ashburn, Chuck Klein and Bobby Abreu round out the outfield. Darren Daulton is behind the plate. The bench includes Dick Allen, Larry Bowa, Sherry Magee, Gavvy Cravath, Johnny Callison, Greg Luzinski and Carlos Ruiz. We chose Chooch over Bob Boone as the backup catcher because we wanted offense.
The Phillies played the MLB 25 & Under All-Stars in the first round. Who are the 25 & Under All-Stars? The team included players like Cody Bellinger, Pete Alonso, Juan Soto, Jack Flaherty and Shohei Ohtani. But the kids were no match for the Phillies, who beat them in five games to set up a matchup with the Cardinals in the Round of 16. Carlton went 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts, winning Games 1 and 5. Alexander and Hamels picked up wins in Games 3 and 4.
Utley led the way offensively. He hit .364 (8-for-22) with five doubles, one home run, four RBIs and a 1.144 OPS in the series.
Here is a look at what happened in this first-round series:
Game 1: Phillies 3, 25-U All-Stars 2
Rollins’ teammates liked to call him a “red-light player” because he stepped up in big moments. After Allen singled and Abreu walked in the bottom of the second inning, Rollins smashed a three-run home run against Flaherty to hand the Phillies a 3-1 lead. Carlton and the bullpen took care of the rest. "Lefty" allowed two runs in seven innings. Papelbon, McGraw and Schilling pitched a combined two scoreless innings in relief.
Player of the game: Carlton
Interesting stat line: Schilling pitched two-thirds of a scoreless inning in the ninth to earn the save.
Game 2: 25-U All-Stars 7, Phillies 0
The kids jumped all over Roberts, who allowed nine hits and five runs in 4 1/3 innings. The Phillies offense could not counter against Walker Buehler and German Márquez, who pitched a combined five-hit shutout. The Phillies’ offense has only 10 hits through two games. If this were real, Phillies fans would be working themselves into a lather about it. Ten hits?!
Player of the game: Buehler
Interesting stat line: Klein, Schmidt and Allen went a combined 0-for-11, leaving 13 runners on base.
Game 3: Phillies 6, 25-U All-Stars 2
Alexander, who helped the Phillies win their first NL pennant in 1915, allowed two runs in 8 1/3 innings in Game 3 to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead in the series. Alexander got himself into trouble in the ninth when Alonso hit a solo home run and Yordan Alvarez and Soto singled with one out. But McGraw got Carlos Correa to hit into a game-ending double play -- we like to think he got him on a screwball -- to earn the save. Offensively, Utley had three hits and scored three runs, while Schmidt had four RBIs.
Player of the game: Alexander
Interesting stat line: Schmidt’s two-run double in the fifth chased Mike Soroka from the game.
Game 4: Phillies 10, 25-U All-Stars 5
The score was tied at 3 through five innings before the Phillies posted seven runs on Shane Bieber and Julio Urías in the sixth to take a 10-3 lead. Utley doubled, homered and had four RBIs. Schmidt had three hits and three RBIs. They provided plenty of cushion for Hamels, who allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings. Lee allowed one run in 2 2/3 innings in relief to finish it.
Player of the game: Utley
Interesting stat line: Ashburn leads the way with four of the Phillies’ series-high 14 hits.
Game 5: Phillies 5, 25-U All-Stars 0
Carlton (seven innings) and Lee (two innings) pitched a combined three-hit shutout to clinch the series and help the Phillies advance to the next round. The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Rollins doubled to score Allen. They scored three runs in the fifth, when Klein singled to score Ashburn, and Howard singled to score Utley and Klein.
Player of the game: Carlton
Interesting stat line: Lee had a 1.42 ERA in three relief appearances this series. Asked if he likes the bullpen, a simulated Lee said, “Whatever.”