The Fightins'
Sep
28
2010
Philadelphia Phillies: Four Years Running
Posted by at 10:06 am ET 63 Comments

Over the last week, we’d count down the number. Eight. A win or two from the Phils, plus a loss or two from the Braves, and it got trimmed down. Four. Another win. Three. Then two.

Eventually, the Magic Number was down to one.

They returned to where it all started: Washington, D.C.

They sent their Ace to the hill to finish the job: Roy Halladay.

The goal was the same as it was on day one: Win the division, play in October.

In a season fraught with too many injuries, too many slumps, and not enough good days to outweigh the bad ones (and there were many bad ones), the Philadelphia Phillies stand, on day 157, as the National League East Champions for the fourth straight season, the final product of one of the gutsiest and talented teams in recent memory.

When the season kicked off with Doc’s gem in our nation’s capital, the playoffs seemed inevitable, a birthright for a team that made the last three seasons seem, in hindsight, absurdly easy. A team that boasted an incredible array of offensive prowess and a shiny new toy, Roy Halladay, Ruben Amaro’s Weapon of Choice after the disappointment that was 2009.

There was an explosive 5-1 start to the season, the result of an easy early schedule, but it was nonetheless just as indicative that the 2010 Phillies were arguably the most talented of the past four years.

But then something happened: they stopped hitting, exacerbated only by the neverending stream of injuries to the starting eight. Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino all succumbed to the injury bug, leaving the likes of Juan Castro and Dane Sardinha to man the shop while most of the team was playing the role of the infirmed.

Despite those injuries, they managed to put together just enough of a starting lineup to keep their heads above water, all the while the Atlanta Braves surged to the top of the division, fueled by improbable victories and the storybook last go-round for Bobby Cox.

The low point of the season was on July 21, following a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, when the Phils dropped to two games above the .500 mark and seven games south of the Braves in the division. They had lost six of seven to start the second half, and it reeked of something that the Phillies were all too familiar with: Failure. This wasn’t our year. Can’t win ‘em all. And so on and so on.

But that never stuck, not with this crew. They battled back in August and September, resurrecting the ghosts of comebacks past, doing the same old song and dance that they learned back in 2007 and perfected back in 2008. Their 18-10 August put them three games within the division lead, but it was their blistering September that made the difference, with a win on the seventh of the month that put them back atop the division after spending the entire summer fighting for their playoff lives.

So here they are, winners of the division for the fourth straight year, amid one of the most dominating runs by a Philadelphia sports team, anchored by the arms Roy and Cole and Roy and the bats of Chase and Ryan and Jayson.

As for the clinching game, it was sort of bland. It was an easy win for the Phillies, who took the lead on a Jayson Werth solo homer in the second inning game and never looked back. They added seven more over the course of the game, which was more than enough for Doc, who went to work on the same plot of dirt where he began his career with the Phillies, tossing a two hitter to punch the first playoff ticket in his 13 year career.

After Roy struck out Danny Espinosa to end it, the celebration began, except it was more of a formality than anything else. It had not the pomp and circumstance that usually surrounds these moments, but rather it was a muted joy, a subtle cheer for a team that knows that the season isn’t ending, but beginning; fully aware that the hardest work is in front of them, and this win tonight was merely a footnote in what is a very long season.

For most of the crew, it was routine. Bland. Like a great song that you’ve heard so many times that you know the words and beats, even without hearing the music. They’ve been here before and tasted the champagne. They know how this part goes. No big deal.

But for others, like Doc or Mike Sweeney, it was a baptism, an initiation into a fraternity with an exclusive guest list and no guarantees of future membership. For them, it was the end result of a career that has been spent toiling on mediocre clubs with no chance to crawl out of the cellar and into October. For them, this is the most important moment of their professional lives.

Even though the champagne stains are still in the carpet and the odor of cigars still present, the celebration is over. At least for now. They have but five games to collect their thoughts, rest up, and recharge their batteries before it begins all over again.

The Magic Number is now 11.

  • Fantastic Phour

    Well said

  • http://idontgiveaschmidt.com Adam Eaton

    I’m sorry Dash, I’m too excited to read everything you wrote…

  • Section118

    Beautiful. It brought a tear to my eye.

  • http://www.twitter.com/h_cliff_slocumb Heathcliff Slocumb

    I mirror #3. This got me a little misty-eyed and gave me chills. I believe. Bring it home, boys.

  • al

    awesome writeup!!

  • TonyIsDynamic

    Dash is a fucking wordsmith.

    Great writeup, just reading it got me excited for October *and* November.

  • http://twitter.com/tonyvolpe78 Ghost of Larry Anderson’s Liver

    i’d love to read this but i’ve been way to busy constantly changing my pants filled with “joy”

  • D. Whitmore

    You might say this dash fellow has a way with words.

  • http://idontgiveaschmidt.com/ Jdashdog

    I wish everyone an extremely unproductive upcoming month at work. Between the excitement and the hangovers may nothing get done in October, aside from WFC part Deux

  • Nino Espinosa

    Very nice.
    If there were any “fears” going into the playoffs, to me it would be running into one of those “slumps” that they seemed to throw up this year…eg. the Houston sweep.
    I dont suspect that will happen, but when faced with these short series kind of things, they cant afford any of that nonsense. The pitching will be there to keep it close, but for crying out loud, just hit!! At least they will have seen these pitchers already in the playoffs. Lord knows if someone throws out a rookie against us, we would get one hit.
    I suspect round one could be epic…
    Cincy could be troublesome. I also dont want another round with the Braves after seeing them 6 times in the past 2 weeks. I know they are falling apart, but the playoffs are another story.

  • Stickaforkin’em

    Damn, it’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions this year! At times I was doubting that the Phour-peat was possible, but here we are…NL East Champions! Got my tickets to Game 1 of the NLDS!

  • http://www.twitter.com/SJHaack SJHaack

    I think the magic number is technically 22. :D

    Well written Dash. Well said.

  • Eric

    I surprisingly have nothing negative to say about this article.

  • John K

    nice!

    but i don’t feel like 07 and 08 were easy at all – that was excruciating with exciting finishes

  • James Fayleez

    @Eric

    Neither do I.

    I was waiting to read something about how Cole Hamels made this all happen magically, but Dash kept his emotions in check to credit the whole team.

    Nice job.

  • Ozzie Virgil’s Beard

    “For years to win the division, you had to go through Atlanta,” Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. “Now you’ve got to go through Philadelphia.”

  • Bastardo’s Changeup

    And I was waiting to read something taking a shot at Hamels and his fans, and Fayleez delivered.

    Nice Job.

  • Franchise

    Stands up and gives a slow clap, well written dash. H2o and the bats are taking it back from the yanks.

  • Jayson Werth’s Beard

    My magical powers clinched the division last nite!!

  • will.H

    what a great game. i was pleasuring david wright shortly after the phillies won. i still love my mets.

  • WorldEffingChampions

    only way to improve it is for wheels to fall down the stairs and sprain his throat

  • ♪♫♪♫♪♫♪♫♪

    magic number now 11, haha i love it

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabriellejuliet Gabrielle

    @jdash I’m already wasted at my desk. Bring it, October.

  • FanSince09

    Maybe rest the starters against the Nationals, but it’d be great to start them all when we verse Atlanta, just to kill their playoff hopes.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jondgc Jon

    Great article, Dash.

  • Phan Stuck in nyc

    Halladay and Werth won that game.

  • Random Philly Phan

    We gonna fuck dose Yankees up.

  • Tyson

    Nice job Dash. All that needs is some video and a soundtrack and you could turn it into a hell of a season’s end vignette.

  • Sherry

    Or the Rays. Or, really anyone who makes it out of the AL. Bring it.

  • http://glassesofjoe.blogspot.com jd

    i wasn’t watching the reaction of the group that has been here for these past four years. i was watching the reactions of the sweeneys and halladays alike.

    its just so beautiful to see the good guys that never had a shot get their turn.

  • Stickaforkin’em

    @jd…that was the most fun, seeing Doc and Sweeney grinning ear to ear. The boys learned their lesson in ’07. They celebrated, but it was subdued. And they all know it’s time to get some rest and that the magic number is now 11.

  • Tim

    Enjoyed the writeup, but the line about “the disappointment that was 2009″ stuck in my craw a bit. Come on, 2009 was an awesome season, capped off by a great playoff run. It’s true that, like every Phillies fan, I was certainly disappointed that they didn’t win the WS. But to call 2009 as a whole a disappointment is a prime symptom of the dreaded front-runner syndrome which is familiar to observers of the Yankees fanbase. If you can wind up disappointed at the end of a 162-game season just because your team was one of the 29 that didn’t wind up with the Commissioner’s Trophy, then you’re a sorry excuse for a baseball fan.

    I’m hoping this particular statement wasn’t meant like that, but I know there are plenty of Phillies fans to whom it might apply out there.

  • http://deleted JohnMatrix

    How sweet would this situation be…The braves have to win some of the last games to get a wildcard spot. The phillies, with scrubs starting, take 2 of 3 and knock them out. hahaha. lovley

  • Morandini’s Triple Play

    2009 was a fun ride, but ultimately it had a disappointing ending. And I don’t care if you’re a fan of the Yankees or the Pirates, if you’re not disappointed that you didn’t win the whole thing, then you’re not doing it right.
    For years, this organization was satisfied with just being mediocre. That’s not good enough. Your goal should be to win it all.

  • http://www.TheFightins.com Dash Treyhorn

    @Tim I wrote that as a way to characterize Ruben and the team’s approach to this season as a motivational tool. In their eyes, it was a disappointment, because the goal for them should be only a World Series win, and they need to focus on that and only that.

    It was not a reflection of how I (or anyone else) felt about 2009. Even though they couldn’t go back-to-back, it was a helluva ride, considering the issues they had with the rotation and the bullpen.

    @Everyone Thanks for reading. Glad you all enjoyed it. Hopefully there will be a few more of these before the season is over.

  • Lance Parrish

    Well said Dash. Anybody know if they opted for Series A or B for the NLDS?

  • Tim

    Yeah, Dash, I didn’t mean to actually accuse you of that. To be honest I figured that’s what you meant, but it wasn’t entirely clear, and thus I ended up kind of conflating you with all the dumbass fans out there who have taken the Phils’ recent success and gleefully turned into that Yankees-esque type of fan (deep dark family confession: I fear my brother is turning into such a fan; if so, god forgive my inevitable fratricide).

  • will.H

    2009 was an anomaly.. there was little doubt. We spent what, 4 months in first place. Injuries? Maybe a few. They walked into the world series losing 2 post season games by a total of what, 3 or 4 runs? Pedro was our number 2 starter. Roy, Cole, Roy will be a different story. 2010 was the standard what the fuck-coaster ride.. just like 07 and 08.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheBeerKing Griswold

    Where is mooseballs and bravesNLchamps2010 at now? HA

  • tonrey

    good writeup. man this is insanely incredible.

    -Joy Halladay-

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheBeerKing Griswold

    Hey maybe we’ll chase Marquis in the first inning again

  • will.H

    griswold, im sure it was really undocorkscrew trying to be cute. Either way, they’re both silent, mostly because they’re both cowards.

  • Cho Cho Chooch train

    I think this moment, the fact that Phillies Phans outnumbered Nats fans at the stadium was made sweeter by this quote from Evan Longoria after an attendance of only 11,000 in the Rays stadium –

    “We’re playing really good baseball, and it’s kind of like, ‘What else do we have to do to draw fans into this place?” he said. “It’s actually embarrassing for us.”

    The embarrassing thing is that there were more phillies fans in an OPPONENTS’ stadium during opening day, than there were in your stadium during a playoff implication game.

    God I love this team and this city.

  • Bobby D

    I can’t wait to see the lineup for tonight. Gotta figure that the starters did a little drinking last night. They’ve earned a day off. If it’s not raining I’d like to see Jimmy get a few AB’s but otherwise I’m actually excited to see the likes of Sweeney and Gload get some playing time.

  • JRoll

    “The Magic Number is now 11″

    Nicely done.

    GO PHILS!!!

  • I went to K-Mart and saw that guy

    @Bobby- I’ll bet my dog’s life that Madson and Brad will pitch tonight.

  • PhillyCuban

    Disappointment is relative to expectations. The Phillies expected to challenge for the WS, which they did, but it was disappointing to lose. The Flyers expectations were to maybe get to the 2nd round or the ECF, and after they actually played most of the season it wasnt even that. So their loss in the Stanly Cup, while disappointing, was a pretty big over achievement.

  • Greg

    Wow! Anyone see tonight’s lineup?

    Dominic Brown is in LEFT Field. Francisco is in Right. I’m sure he’ll do just fine and all, but anyone else find it a bit strange? Hmm…

  • Greg

    Nevermind, I just read the guy’s post clearly:

    Jimmy Rollins SS
    Raul Ibanez LF
    Chase Utley 2B
    Ryan Howard 1B
    Ben Francisco RF
    Domonic Brown LF
    Greg Dobbs 3B
    Brian Schneider C
    Roy Oswalt RHP

    Apparently, we have two left fielders and no center fielder. We should be good. I’m sure Francisco will be in CF and Dominic in Right.

  • Greg

    And fuck I spelled his name wrong twice. What the fuck?

  • Morandini’s Triple Play

    @44: I’m guessing Gload, Sweeney and Schneider may have drunk more than most. They might need the night off tonight most of all!

  • Greg

    Okay, Fixed lineup is:

    J-Roll SS
    RAUUUUUUL LF
    The Man 2B
    The Big Piece 1B
    Benny Fresh CF
    (There are so many nicknames for the following)
    Domonic Brown RF
    Dobbs 3B (He doesn’t deserve a nickname recently)
    Popeye C
    The Wizard RHP (he may be in Left Field tonight…)

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eih4rqhy1p4 What Would Mike Sweeney Do?

    Hmm. I was told that Charlie wants to rest the regulars but still put a team on the field that can compete with the Gnats. Apparently, your starters will be:

    Fishing Net with Extend-a-Pole SS
    Wheeled Laundry Basket LF
    Fan in Greenman Costume 2B
    Man in Pedobear Costume 1B
    Traffic Cone RF
    Pile of Pillows CF
    Squirrel with Mouth Full of Acorns 3B
    Stop Sign C
    Extra Eagles Football Chucker P

  • bigmyc

    Yes and Wonderng What Mike Sweeney Would Do, I understand that Paul, the World Cup predicting octopus will be sitting in at the Skipper’s spot…you know, in case some late game decisions need to be made.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eih4rqhy1p4 What Would Mike Sweeney Do?

    Nah, Charlie wanted to keep it fair, so he called the Astros. Ed Wade is tonight’s guest manager.

  • Eisenreich’s Third Leg

    The Phils might as well plug Mick Billmeyer in at a position somehwere…

    kind of like in middle school when the students would play the faculty

  • Bozo

    Would not be surprised if some of the regulars are pulled after they have some AB’s

  • MoyerIsMyHero

    Great game last night. Very excited to finally get to be at a clincher, even if it was in DC. It was a little underwhelming with so few people there, even if they were 80% Phillies fans.

    I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see any Fightins/Birdland shirts! I usually see at least one or two.

  • http://www.yankees.com Nick Swisher

    Congrats, Philly.
    This is a team that fought hard and deserves to be in the spot light right now. All joking aside, I believe every American League team (and National League team) is deathly afraid of Philadelphia. I don’t think any of the teams in the postseason can match the 1-2-3 starting rotation that Philly has. The Roys scare everyone. Hamels….maybe not so much, but he’s been on fire lately, albeit Sunday when he sucked, and he can surely step-up his game for October. Raul, Werth, Chooch…they’re all killing the ball right now, and if Howard and Utley suddenly get hot, that lineup will hit whatever starting pitcher another team can throw out there.
    Homefield advantage throughout? Frickin scary. That’s worse than having Cliff Lee as your 4th starting pitcher (well, maybe not, but you know what I mean). Philadelphia has an incredible fan base and the crowd will be your 10th man, no doubt. Ya gotta like your odds right now, Philly. The Yankees are slowly falling apart (no, I’m not giving up all hope, but…), and I just can’t imagine the Rangers, Rays or Twins beating Philly right now. Sure, the Fall Classic is still a month away, but your boys are only going embrace the pressure of the postseason. Enjoy your time, Philadelphia, and good luck.

    The real Nick Swisher (not the a-holes on here that have been posting under my name).

  • MoyerIsMyHero

    Ah, the old ‘talk shit and troll for weeks than try to act classy’ manuever.

  • http://www.yankees.com Nick Swisher

    @60

    Okay, nevermind clown.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eih4rqhy1p4 What Would Mike Sweeney Do?

    60,

    Can’t polish a turd.

  • Watrick

    I just had this vision of Ray Bourke with Sweeney and Schneider last night.

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