Monday, September 27, 2010

UNCORK THE BOTTLES, STRAP ON YOUR GOGGLES:  Four straight NL East titles.  Four straight seasons under Charlie Manuel winning more games than the previous season.  From 48-46 and 7 GB in late July to 46-18 since, including a giddy 11-game streak in September besting all four division rivals and soundly putting away the Braves.  

Tonight, the Phillies clinched it at their home away from home, Nationals Park, in front of a boisterous Amtrak'd crowd, and who better than Roy Halladay to be there on the mound at the end?  Another CG (9th), another shutout (4th), another no-walk game (13th), and surely another Cy Young Award, his second. 

One reader of The700Level.com put it better than I ever could, late last year: "You follow sports hoping that one day you'll be rewarded and get to root for a team like these Phillies."  Indeed.  Our WFCs are in October, one more time, and we want it all.  Eleven to go.

40 comments:

  1. Adam C.11:40 PM

    Co-sign.  I'm Adam C. and I approve this message.

    GO PHILS!

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  2. Adam C.7:39 AM

    And another thing...

    This franchise hasn't seen this level of sustained greatness since the 1975-1983 stretch, which ended with the Wheeze Kids.  That run saw 5 division titles, 2 WS appearances and one championship.  It was still not even all that close in comparison to the current run, because it also contained a shortened strike season and 3rd and 4th place division finishes along the way.  It was also a very different time in terms of free agency and player movement -- it was easier to keep a team together, and it was also easier for the right free agent to make a huge difference (Pete Rose). 

    In that context, what this organization has done since 2005 (the first full season with Howard, Utley and Rollins -- all homegrown -- together in the lineup, and the first under Charlie Manuel) is pretty freaking remarkable.  They narrowly fell short in 2005, finished a more distant second in 2006 (Hamels' rookie year), and got over the top in 2007 and haven't looked back.

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  3. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Y'all are really making it hard for me to be a good sport.

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  4. Joseph J. Finn8:42 AM

    Congrats, Phillies! I can't quite root for you, being an AL fan (though my White Sox crashed and burned after trading for that cheater, and believe me the karmic implications of that would be delicious were I not a fan of said team), but here's hoping for the best in the playdowns, as Gil Thorp would say.<span> </span>

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  5. Carmichael Harold9:16 AM

    We sure are lucky to have this team to root for.   With this team and an Eagles team that has generally been in contention for the past decade, it is the golden age of Philly sports in my conscious lifetime (I wasn't really sports aware until '81) despite only having one championship to show for it.

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  6. I understand that Nats Park is easy to get to, etc., but there is nothing more obnoxious than gloating about fans taking over another team's park.

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  7. patricia10:31 AM

    Congrats, Phillies!  I have to root for you after watching my beloved Braves implode so spectacularly over the last 6 weeks or so.  We may still ease into the wild card, but it's probably not a long postseason run if so, especially the way we've been hitting (...or not, as the case has been).  The level of talent on the Phillies is really just amazing, of course starting with that lovely pitching roster.  It's just not there for the Braves this year. 

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  8. The Pathetic Earthling10:39 AM

    This is why I stay away from any interleague Yankees or Red Soxs games at Pac Bell Park.  Where do these people come from?

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  9. The Other Kate11:02 AM

    There is much to love about the current crop of Phillies, so congrats and good luck in the postseason.

    As a Nats fan with tickets for tonight's game, I am praying that with the division secured, the Amtrak'd- and fanbus'd-in hoard will have headed back north. Having the kind of Phillies fans we've been seeing in DC for the past couple of seasons take over your stadium is, indeed, exceedingy unpleasant. Exceedingly. Within an inning, I'm almost always crankily composing a Visiting Fan's Code of Conduct in my head.

    This Code includes should-be-obvious points like "Do not spit at hometeam players and fans," as well as more subtle issues of politeness, like "Cheer for and celebrate your team and its accomplishments, but do not boo/taunt the hometeam." As for visiting fans starting chants ("Let's go, Phil-lies," etc.), I think this is tacky, but others may disagree.

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  10. Adam C.11:10 AM

    I'm going to assume that this might be Jenn., and I'm going to say something that you might not expect me to say:  it is humbling in many ways to be able to think of our team as successors to the Braves and their long-term domination of the division.  This is a hard division to win, year in and year out.  That it has come against strong competition in each of the past four years makes it more meaningful.

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  11. Adam C.11:23 AM

    I'm not going to defend indefensible fan behavior.  But I will say that there is one easy way for a fanbase to ensure that its home games are not taken over by the visiting team's fans, and that is to make sure you attend the games yourselves, through thick and thin.  Obviously you're doing that, The Other Kate; just as obviously, I know that there are sound economic choices that take priority over attending meaningless and even meaningful late season games.  

    But, to respond to this and other comments above -- and boorish behavior aside -- these visiting fans are enjoying the home team's city for a day or even a few hours, and are spending good money there, and might even be persuaded to return and spend more good money there, all while supporting their beloved team....what's the problem with that?  Likewise, there are plenty of Philadelphia-area natives who live in other major league cities and are more than happy for the chance to see their hometown team in person.  I guess I don't understand the blanket discomfort with the concept, while agreeing that bad behavior - whether from the visitors or the hosts - shouldn't be a part of it.

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  12. The record will reflect that back in 1986, the Mets came here for a weekend series in mid-September needing only one game to clinch.  For all three games, they had 20-25K fans here, we had 20-25K here -- and it was loud and messy (Mets fans breaking chairs and throwing them on the field from the RF upper deck) and awesome.  My relatives came down from Brooklyn for all three games. We swept them. 

    Spitting on others is unforgivable, but if you're not going to bring your own boisterous fans, we will.

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  13. patricia11:37 AM

    Adam C., I keep trying to "like" your comment, and the system won't let me, so let me say thanks for it.  It's been a tough year to be a Braves fan, especially wishing that the team could pull it together for Bobby Cox's retirement, but the Braves are still a quality club and a few shifts on either side could bring the Braves back into competition with the Phillies.  It's what makes baseball in this division so exciting.

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  14. I attend 15-20 Orioles games a year, but do my best to avoid Red Sox and Yankees games. I know that makes me part of the problem, but I can't justify spending 3-4 hours being made uncomfortable by being surrounded by fans of another team not only cheering for their team--which is fine--but booing my team and making rude comments about the Orioles and Orioles fans. So I trade that ticket in for a game against other teams; and the next time we play Phillies interleague, I'll do the same. The last Phillies-O's game I went to in Baltimore, I was surrounded by chants for the Eagles, despite it being June.

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  15. Adam C.11:52 AM

    I remember that series, and the awesomeness of the sweep, well, even though I was still growing up in Tampa at the time and merely following along on the Phils' Clearwater radio affiliate and the morning box scores. 

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  16. The Pathetic Earthling12:54 PM

    I'm looking forward to an awesome end-of-season run here from the Giants -- to have a race this tight with San Diego, and to have San Diego here for the last three games -- and with a real chance that the loser stays home (if the Braves rally and get the Wild Card), it's going to be fun.  Of course, San Diego is my second favorite NL team, so I'd love for them to make the WC, but this will be great fun.

    Jonathan Sanchez's September ERA: 0.73, and the Giants (I'm told) have the best September ERA since the 1965 Dodgers (maybe just NL?).  What fun this is.

    Also, thanks Cubs, for last night.  

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  17. The Pathetic Earthling12:57 PM

    I was at the Giants-Braves NLDS game in 2002 where we just smoked them and there were a few Braves fans here and there.  I felt a little (*just* a little) bad for them when Giants fans started mocking the Braves with our own Tomahawk Chop.  Usually, Giants fans are pretty relaxed with other fans -- even Dodgers fans. 

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  18. The Other Kate1:55 PM

    Adams, I don't have blanket discomfort the *concept* of the visiting team's fans supporting their team in my team's stadium. But the actuality, when the balance of support tips the visitor's way, when they do take over, well, come on! It's depressing. It short-circuits the communical and civic-uplift aspect of attending the game. It's ... shaming. Absolutely, the solution is to Grow Our Own Boisterous Fans, and I hope we do.

    To the specific: I grew up an Orioles fan, and cheered for them like crazy (and "O!"ed the National Anthem) when I was living in Chicago and they came to Comisky, or to Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit. There were plenty of us in park (this was the 90s, when the O's were still something), and I like to think I was a good guest and a good sport. I was never confronted or made to feel unwelcome, or met with anything other than friendly razzing. 

    Now I have a home stadium of my own, it seems right to be welcoming in return. As a city with lots of folks who grew up elsewhere, DC sees visiting fans all the time. We get plenty of tomahawk chops, for example, and the Mets draw like crazy. (Happily, "Let's go, Mets" and "Let's go, Nats"  = basically same sound.) My group of ticketholders is a sociable bunch, so we chat with visitors a lot. When the guys in the KC jerseys showed up in our section, we bought them beer. So that's all good. 

    Not good: When the stadium has tipped into "takeover" territory, and packs of visiting fans, bouyed with a fizzy sense of invicibility brought on by numbers and a terrific team, mass-crowdbrain-ly forget about civility/simple sportsmanship. And also keep drinking. It's there that boisterous turns ugly and bullying. And joy in a great team starts looking like glee at the undersized kid down on the ground getting kicked.

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  19. Jenn.2:30 PM

    Yup, Guest was me via iphone.  The Iphone was apparently also having a hard time being a good sport.

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  20. Christy in Philly2:40 PM

    It's not like the Phillies fans bought the place out. I read somewhere last night that paid attendance was under 15,000. My friend walked up to the gate before the game and bought a ticket for $5, walked right down to the first level of seating.

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  21. Christy in Philly2:43 PM

    I typically avoid Phillies games when they are playing the Mets. I'm a partial season ticket holder but I don't like the invasion feeling. I will admit that it was pretty sweet this weekend. I went to two games and saw only two Mets jerseys.

    I am a born and raised Phillies fan and have never booed anyone, ever, in my life. Not a team, not a player who left the Phillies with a bad attitude, not a player from another team who bad mouths the Phillies. Please know that not all Phillies fans are boors. We get a crap reputation.

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  22. Jenn.4:06 PM

    Yup.  I've been at Orioles games where Red Sox or Yankees fans come down---really uncomfortable, and I say that as someone who has never had a real dog in that hunt, you know? 

    I've also seen some pretty obnoxious groups of Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, and Phillies fans at Turner Field.  With the possible exception of the Cubbies---just because of the Chicago thing---I have trouble cheering for any of those teams to win, unless it's something like "to beat the Yankees."  I have friends who are fans of each of those teams, so obviously, it's not all of their fans.

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  23. Marsha5:36 PM

    I'm not sure I can even aim for being a good sport - that would involve the Mets having ever been in contention in the first place.

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  24. Marsha5:46 PM

    I agree with almost everything said here, but I will also add, if you're at your home stadium and see someone wearing the gear of the visitor's team, don't shove her and say something obscene. Especially in front of her kid.

    Once of the interesting things about the Cubs and Wrigley is that there are Cubs fans all over the country, in part due to WGN's insanely large broadcasting range (and the absence of MLB stadiums between Chicago and California until quite recently) and also fans of many other teams living in Chicago. So the person sitting next to you at Wrigley in, say, full Mets regalia for three games may be wearing a Cubs shirt the other 78 home games of the year. I take a lot of good-natured crap from my fellow season-ticket-holding section-mates when the Cubs host the Mets, but people are pretty good about it. When the Cardinals are in town, half of Wrigley Field is wearing red, and most of those peopel actually live in Chicago - and lots of them are season ticket holders. It's a very interesting dynamic.

    Some combination of the four members of my family attended 4 out of the five Cubs games from Wednesday to Sunday last week. Attendance was beyond pitiful, despite the fact that the weather was (mostly) beautiful and the official sales were close to sell-outs. I simply do not understand not attending a game for which you have tickets on a beautiful September night just because the team sucks.

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  25. Marsha5:48 PM

    Cubs and Mets fans can get obnoxious anywhere, most espeically when they gather out of town. I'm embarassed by my fellow fans when they do this. 

    But, as you well know, my hatred of the Braves comes not just from the NL East rivalry, but also because I have no respect for a team that can't sell out a playoff game. We can't take over your stadium if you buy the tickets yourselves.

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  26. Ramar6:14 PM

    But, as you well know, my hatred of the Braves comes not just from the NL East rivalry, but also because I have no respect for a team that can't sell out a playoff game. We can't take over your stadium if you buy the tickets yourselves.

    Of course, it also helps to have an extra 15 million people in your metropolitan area. 

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  27. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Of course, it also helps to have (1) a tiny park and (2) night games for the playoffs.  Most of the Braves playoff games in their last few playoffs were day games during the week.  Mock if you so desire, but plenty of people can't get off of work to attend baseball games, or can't get their kids out of school.  But night playoff games sell plenty well in Atlanta.  

    I mean---don't get me wrong.  I know that, as an Atlantan, I was an aberration, preferring baseball to college football.  But there are reasons why I've been known to boycott baseball's division series on network TV.  I firmly believe that every playoff team should get to have at least one night game, preferably on network TV, and that, to the extent that it is at all feasible, every playoff team should get to have at least one home night game.  Dammit. 

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  28. Jenn.8:01 PM

    And that was me again.  Sigh.

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  29. Genevieve8:46 PM

    Barb, we're Red Sox and Nats fans living in D.C., and when we go to Red Sox games at Camden Yards we make sure to behave well (my son points out we've done this while sitting in front of O's fans who were making rude comments about Red Sox - we just kept our mouth shut).  Not that this says all fans do this, just that we try not to contribute to that problem.

    Kate, you're making me want to avoid Phillies-Nats games.  Next year we're planning on buying quarter-season tickets, and I'll see if we can do that.  Though maybe it's only a problem near the end of the season.

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  30. Genevieve8:46 PM

    Also -- congrats, Phillies!  Well done.

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  31. Genevieve8:47 PM

    I wish other stadiums (like mine) would adopt Fenway's policy of having a "family," i.e. alcohol-free, section.  Then those of us who want to avoid extreme rowdiness could sit there.

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  32. Lou W8:50 PM

    As a Twins fan, another great francise to have been rooting for recently due to both team success, and wonderful superstars that make you proud to be a fan, it is my fondest wish to see these two teams meet in the WS.  So good luck!

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  33. calliekl9:20 PM

    Just wanted to add my 2 cents- before Tampa got good (and ticket prices subsequently increased), it was cheaper to fly there, catch a game, stay overnight, and fly back than to get equally good seats at Fenway, with dinner and parking. I'm sorry if there aren't many Oriole fans at the games, but I would blame that on the subpar performance of the team rather than the other team's fans who get to show up on the cheap.

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  34. The Other Kate10:54 PM

    Just back from the ballpark tonight, and the Phillies fans around us were friendly, chill, and totally classy.

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  35. Adam C.11:10 PM

    I'd love for that to happen, especially for the chance to see genuine nice guy and (in our house, at least) still beloved former Phillie Jim Thome across the field. 

    (Although revenge vs. the Yankees would be particularly sweet....)

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  36. Genevieve12:45 AM

    Excellent!  That's very good to hear, Kate.
    (also - go, Adam Dunn!)

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  37. patricia1:47 AM

    Thanks, Jenn, would have made those same points myself.

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  38. The Other Kate11:53 AM

    ... and even better to experience. Everybody engaged, rooting hard, having fun.

    (and yes! With all the chanting of "Sign Adam Dunn!" that had been going on throughout the game, his towering walkoff homer was the kind of ending that makes you love baseball. Wonderful.)

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  39. The Other Kate12:43 PM

    Genevieve, you'll love the quarter-season plan.  It's the perfect number of games (21 or 22), and sitting with the same group of people and getting to know them over the seasons is what fandom's built on. We talk now about how these early years of cellar-dwelling, false starts, and futility will make the Nats' Someday Success that much sweeter.

    The package at my seating level (300 mezz) includes a handful of single-game passes to the Stars & Stripes club area. These are very handy for strategic refuge both on 99-degree days in August and when Extreme Rowdiness is a problem. (After a very ugly Opening Day experience, we brought our passes to the three Phillies games on our plan. Used them once.) You can also trade in any tickets on your plan, as Barb does with her O's tix.

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  40. Anonymous3:11 PM

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