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48 hours at the World Series - From rubbing shoulders with the 'Fightin Phillies' to meeting the man who stands to win $75 million on the Houston Astros
A newbie British fan's story of the 2022 MLB World Series so far as Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies do battle for baseball's biggest prize
“Be careful over there, Philly fans are crazy.”
I’m six hours into my Trans-Atlantic flight to the World Series in Philadelphia and my neighbour has decided to break from passenger pleasantries to deliver an important warning.
Aside from testing his patience to the limit with my anxious mid-air fidgeting, I use the journey to pick my companion’s brains on all things baseball and the city’s fanatical supporters.
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Baseball is the greatest sport in the world, he attests, but Philadelphia fans are a different breed.
It’s a sports-mad city and Philly sport is in rude health. Every third pedestrian I pass on my way to the hotel wears merchandise from the city’s flourishing franchises.
The Eagles, the only unbeaten team left in the NFL, are soaring towards a first Super Bowl appearance since 2018. In soccer, Philadelphia Union are one game away from being crowned the best team in the MLS.
But this week is all about baseball and a first World Series appearance for the Phillies since 2008.
With less than 24 hours to kill until my first ever baseball game, our guide whets our appetite with a trip to a sporting goods store where the walls, plastered with jerseys and memorabilia from every era, read like a cotton tapestry of Philadelphia’s rich history.
She tells me the city's natives derive their passion for sport from their pride in their hometown and its role in the formation of the United States.
During the American War of Independence, the city became the primary meeting place for the nation’s founding fathers.
On July 4 1776, the Declaration of Independence was penned and passed in Philadelphia, forever etching the city's name into the American history books.
If Philadelphia is the vanguard of the American Republic, then the Houston Astros are baseball’s evil empire.
The Astros are seeking redemption after their 2017 World Series win was tainted by ‘cheating’ revelations.
They were accused of using a video camera in the centre field to film opposition team's hand signals regarding the next pitch.
The club were fined $5 million and general manager Jeff Luhnow received a season long suspension – but Phillies fans have long memories.
They call it the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ but Philadelphia’s hospitality rarely extends to rival teams.
On the eve of the first game at Citizen Bank Stadium, there are reports of travelling Astros fans being refused service in some of the city’s most iconic eateries.
It means there is no love lost when the two sides finally take to the field after the pre-match pomp and ritual comes to its crescendo with a rousing rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
History made at Citizens Bank Park
With the teams locked at 1-1, the Phillies come out swinging on home turf to thrash the Astros 7-0 and take a 2-1 lead in the seven-match series.
After persistent rain on Monday forced the schedule to slip by a day, the Phillies enjoy a dream start at a raucous Citizens Bank Park, where an illuminated Liberty Bell tolls every time the hosts hit a home run.
Fresh off the back of his match-winning heroics in the last round, talismanic Phillies hitter Bryce Harper takes the plate for the first time in a World Series game.
To the back-drop of “MVP” chants from the home crowd, Harper does not disappoint, smashing a home run over right field to send the Citizen Bank Stadium into frenzy.
Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh go on to plunder two more home runs off Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr as the Phillies becomes the first team to hit three homers inside the first two innings of a Fall Classic game.
Two more home runs from Phillies hitters Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins mean McCullers' name will go down in history as the first pitcher to concede five home runs in a World Series game.
The victory extends Philadelphia's unbeaten run in the post-season and raises hopes of an eighth World Series triumph, 112 years since their first.
Mattress Mack and the $75 million bet
On my way for breakfast the following day I spot a makeshift TV crew interviewing an elderly gentleman dressed head to toe in Houston Astros apparel.
Crossing the road to get a closer look, I recognise Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, whose $10 million bet on the Astros has made him a minor celebrity.
He stands to win nearly $75 million if the Houston Astros win the World Series, including what bookmakers' say would be the largest pay-out in US history.
McIngvale is tredding the streets of Philadelphia less than 12 hours after his foul-mouthed altercation with a Phillies fan went viral.
He recalls: "This fan wanted to tell me about the Astros being cheaters so he and I exchanged a few words.
"And then he said, 'Jose Altuve will never make the Hall of Fame because he is the biggest cheater ever,' and that's when I lost it!
"I was told they are the roughest fans anywhere and so far they seem to be living up to it. They’re a brutal bunch.
“But tonight’s a new game and we’re going to level the series up!”
His words turn out to be prophetic as the Astros turn party-poopers on Wednesday night.
Astros fire back
I’m again afforded the pleasure of being a witness to history as the Astros roar back to life in game four to level the series at 2-2.
The visitors make history by completing baseball's first ever combined no-hitter in the Fall Classic.
A combined no-hitter occurs when more than one pitcher prevents the opposition from making base with a hit.
The sport has seen 18 in MLB history, but it had never happened in the league's franchise event.
Cristian Javier and Houston’s stellar cast of pitchers combine to silence a boisterous ballpark and even the series at two games each.
Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly each follow with a hitless inning, ensuring this year’s championship will be decided this weekend back at Minute Maid Park.
In contrasting scenes to 24 hours before, Phillies' post-season hero Harper is heckled in some quarters as fans start leaving Citizens Bank Park.
It's an all-too familiar story in Game 5 as the Astros prevail 3-2 to edge closer to a first World Series win since 2017.
Only eight teams in baseball history have won a best-of-seven World Series by winning Games 6 and 7 on the road but Philadelphia, home to Rocky Balboa, is a city that is used to having the odds staked against them.
Underdogs they may be, but Houston beware: this underdog has bite.
When is MLB 2022 World Series on BT Sport?
Coverage of the sixth game of the World Series begins at midnight on Saturday night.
If necessary, a seventh and deciding game will take place at the same time on Sunday evening.
Results and schedule:
Game 1: Phillies beat the Astros 6-5
Game 2: Astros beat the Phillies 5-2
Game 3: Phillies beat the Astros 7-0
Game 4: Astros beat the Phillies 5-0
Game 5: Astros beat the Phillies 3-2
Game 6: Phillies @ Astros - Saturday 5 November, 12pm - BT Sport 1
Game 7: Phillies @ Astros - Sunday 6 November, 12pm - BT Sport 1
The games will be shown on TV and will also available to live stream on the BT Sport app or right here on bt.com/sport - full details below.
How to live stream the World Series on BT Sport
Every single game from the World Series is available to watch live on BT Sport via the BT Sport app or online at btsport.com.
With access to in-game stats, real-time table changes and more, our matchday page will enhance your viewing ever further.
*BT Sport customers can download the BT Sport app on PS4, Xbox, Apple TV and Samsung Smart TVs (2015 models onwards). To watch the action, follow the link at the top of the homepage.