Tickets for Games 1 and 2 of the Phillies-Diamondbacks National League Championship Series are priced at a minimum of $299 for the games that will be played Monday and Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.

By comparison, tickets for the Maccabi Ra’Anana vs. Cleveland Cavaliers game on Monday night are priced beginning at $2. Yes, two bucks.

So, yes, baseball will be taking center stage next Monday and Tuesday nights while the NBA slogs through its preseason, which makes sense. Mid-October is when we get ready for the Fall Classic, a.k.a. the World Series, and either the Diamondbacks will make the final round for the first time since 2001, or the Phillies will be back for a second straight season.

The Diamondbacks, who are 5-0 thus far in the playoffs after sweeping both the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers, are +135 on the Betway board in Arizona despite having won just 84 regular-season games to finish six games over .500.

Philadelphia placed second in the NL East, 14 games behind the Atlanta Braves, but we saw the same thing from the Phillies last season when they also finished 14 games back in the NL East (behind both the Braves and the Mets) but made it to the World Series, where they were defeated by the Houston Astros 4-2.

When is the National League Championship Series?

Games 1 and 2 are Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 17 and 18, Games 3 and 4 are in Arizona on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, are scheduled for Monday Oct. 23 and Tuesday Oct. 24 back in Philadelphia.

How many games are in the National League Championship Series?

It is a best-of-seven series. The first team to win four games goes to the World Series.

Who won the National League Championship Series last year?

Philadelphia, after being a wild card team, defeated the San Diego Padres 4-1.

National League Championship Series History

The NLCS has been played since 1969. Prior to that year, the World Series pitted the team with the best record in the National League against the best team in the American League. The NLCS was best-of five series prior to 1985, when it switched to a best-of-seven.

Ranking the Top 10 Best National League Championship Series of All Time

  1. 2004 National League Championship Series

Matchup: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Houston Astros
Series Result: St. Louis won 4-3

This marked the first time in either major league that two teams from the Central Division met in a championship series. All seven games were won by the home team. In Game 6, Jim Edmonds, who hit 42 home runs in the regular season, hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 12th inning. In Game 7, the Cardinals trailed 2-1 in the sixth when Albert Pujols doubled -- scoring Roger Cedeno from third to tie the game. Scott Rolen then put the Redbirds ahead with a two-run home run off Roger Clemens.

  1. 2003 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Florida Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs
Series Result: Florida won 4-3

The Marlins came back from a 3-1 series deficit and beat the Cubs in seven games to advance to the World Series, where they defeated the New York Yankees. Josh Beckett had a two-hitter in Game 5, In Game 6, Cubs fan Steve Bartman tried to catch a foul ball as he sat in the front tow, interfering with Moises Alou of the Cubs, who had taken a 3-0 lead into the 8th inning. After a wild pitch and an error, Mike Mordecai hit a bases-loaded double as part of an eight-run inning. Florida scored six runs in innings 5 through 7 of Game 7 to win 9-6.

  1. 1992 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates.
Series Result: Atlanta won 4-3

This NLCS was played at a time when the Braves’ pitching staff was the most dominant group of hurlers that baseball had seen in two decades. The series ended in dramatic fashion. In the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, with Atlanta down 2–1 and the bases loaded, the Braves’ Francisco Cabrera had a two-run single that scored David Justice and Sid Bream, with Bream sliding home to score the winning run by beating the throw from Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds.

  1. 1991 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Series Result: Atlanta won 4-3

This was considered one of the best-pitched seven-game series of the modern era, featuring three 1-0 finishes and four shutouts, as well as four one-run games. The Braves, who had finished in last place the previous season, won Game 7, with John Smoltz throwing a six-hit shutout. After Atlanta had gone 26⅔ innings without scoring, the Pirates went the final 22⅓ innings without scoring.

  1. 1988 National League Championship Series

Matchup: New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Series Result: Los Angeles won 4-3

The 100-win Mets were heavy favorites when the 1988 NLCS began. They had beaten the Dodgers 10 of 11 times during the regular season, outscoring Los Angeles 49-18. The Mets stayed alive in Game 6 on the road with a 5-1 victory behind a complete-game five-hitter by David Cone. In Game 7, Mets starter Ron Darling got knocked out in the second inning as the Dodgers took a 6-0 lead, and Orel Hershiser -- pitching for the fourth time in the series -- threw a complete-game five-hitter to send Los Angeles to the World Series.

  1. 1973 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Mets
Series Result: New York won 3-2

This series was defined by a nasty Game 3 brawl involving Mets shortstop Buddy Harrelson and Cincinnati’s Pete Rose that lasted several minutes. The Mets' victory has gone down as one of the greatest upsets in MLB history, as New York dominated the heavily favored Big Red Machine and won the series in Game 5, when the Reds loaded the bases against Tom Seaver in the first and the ninth innings but failed to score both times.

  1. 2018 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Series Result: Los Angeles won 4-3

Milwaukee was trying to make the World Series for the first time since 1982 after posting the best regular-season record in the NL. Dating back to the regular season, the Brewers had won 11 straight going into the NLCS. By virtue of their regular-season record, the Brewers held home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. But in Game 7, Cody Bellinger hit a two-run homer in the second to put the Dodgers on top for good, and Yasiel Puig added a three-run homer in what ended as a 5-1 victory.

  1. 1996 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Series Result
: Atlanta won 4-3

The Braves won in seven games, becoming the eighth team in baseball history to win a best-of-seven postseason series after being down 3–1, and the first to overcome such a deficit in the NLCS. They outscored the Cardinals, 32-1, over the final three games. In Game 7, starting pitcher Tom Glavine hit a bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the first inning to give the Braves a 6-0 lead in a game they won 15-0.

  1. 2016 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Series Result
: Chicago won 4-3

The “Curse of the Billy Goat” would not have ended had the Cubbies not gotten past the Dodgers in the 2016 NLCS, which they managed to do before defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games -- overcoming a 3-1 deficit. At least one of the teams in this series was guaranteed to end a pennant drought of at least 28 years. The last time an NLCS had two teams with pennant droughts greater than 25 years was in 1989, when the Giants had a 27-year drought and the Cubs a 44-year drought.

  1. 1980 National League Championship Series

Matchup: Houston Astros vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Series Result: Philadelphia won 3-2

The 1980 National League Championship Series is remembered as the closest, most grueling playoff series in Major League Baseball history. The series went to its five-game limit, with the final four games requiring extra innings to determine a winner. In the finale, the Phillies scored five runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 7-5 lead, only to have the Astros tie it in the bottom of the inning. Philly got doubles from Del Unser and Gary Maddox in the top of the 10th for an 8-7 lead, and Dick Ruthven retired the Astros in order in the bottom of the inning to send Philadelphia to its first World Series since 1950.

Parameters of Rankings

For these rankings, we mostly went with series that went the distance, whether they were best-of-five or best-of-seven, because in baseball and other sports there is nothing quite as riveting as a winner-take-all game. Additional weight was added to series that had multiple extra-inning games and/or brought about a result that fans had been awaiting for a long time. When long-suffering baseball fans are no longer suffering, it boosts the responsible series’ all-time Top 10 ranking. 

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