The Philadelphia Phillies run of five consecutive National League Eastern Division titles seems certain to end this season. It could be that 2012 is just ‘one of those years’ and that better days will be seen again next season.
Reflecting upon this past half-decade is something that many loyalists have been doing for obvious reasons.
On that Sunday
The Phillies thrilling chase of the New York Mets in 2007 could not have been more satisfying. The natural rivalry that should have existed between these teams hasn’t often been in play. Through the years, one team was up, while the other was down. But, that specific season went against type.
Coming from behind in September, the Phillies clinched the division by winning the last game that appeared on their schedule. Meanwhile, the Mets were soundly defeated in their own season-ender.
I was fortunate to enjoy that victory with many friends and family members who were gathered at an event on that day. Some of us referenced the distant past with hopeful intent as events transpired. The celebration we then shared on that beautiful Sunday afternoon eventually led to even better days.
Everyone who was alive (and old enough to be aware) instantly knew that the 1980 World Series victory over a solid Kansas City Royals team would always stand alone. It was the realization of what no other Phillies baseball generation had ever experienced.
Tug McGraw threw a baseball from the mound in Veterans Stadium that Willie Wilson could not hit at the exact end of a game on October 21, 1980. Yes, that monumental finale was that simple.
After being swept out of the 2007 playoffs by the Colorado Rockies, Charlie Manuel’s squad finished above the Mets again in 2008. This time the road was smoother and they captured their second straight divisional crown by three games.
From there it was onto three straight playoff series triumphs and a championship that was never truly in doubt.
The Milwaukee Brewers were dropped in four games and then the Los Angeles Dodgers were stopped in five games.
Moving through the World Series, Philadelphia arrived at at Sunday night game that foreshadowed the two-part finale to Game 5. After crushing the Rays 10-2 in Game 4, the Phillies seemed primed to win it all the next day.
Intervening weather patterns caused Monday night’s game to be suspended for two days. The unique, ‘minisode’ conclusion to that fifth Fall Classic game was shown on Wednesday night (October 27, 2008).
Brad Lidge mirror-imaged McGraw when his own last pitch was missed by Eric Hinske and the Phillies second championship was secured.
I experienced that two-part baseball story with different sets of friends and family members on each of those 2008 days. Sporting events are always better when they are shared, no matter what the outcome.
From there on out
I respect the efforts that the New York Yankees gave in the 2009 World Series, that the San Francisco Giants gave in the 2010 National League Championship Series and that the St. Louis Cardinals gave in the 2011 National League Division Series.
I have studied the careers of great players like: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Cy Young, Jackie Robinson, Bob Gibson, Joe DiMaggio, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Hoyt Wilhelm, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Dizzy Dean, Bob Feller, Casey Stengel, Roy Campanella, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Richie Ashburn, Robin Roberts, Juan Marichal, Bill Mazeroski, Brooks Robinson, Lou Brock and many others since I was a boy.
Like most, I played the game when I was young. Like some, I was also able to work in professional baseball.
Many good people have taught me how to value what can be learned through this specific sport. That’s why I like to honor the past, while also looking forward to each game that is yet to be played during this and in other future seasons.
Sean O’Brien’s professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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