The Fightins'
Sep
14
2011
Five Years Running: A Phillies Playoff Retrospective
Posted by Dash Treyhorn at 4:51 pm ET 15 Comments

On a sunny afternoon in Houston, on the 14th of September in the year 2011, the Philadelphia Phillies secured a spot in the playoffs for the fifth straight season. It came on the heels of a complete game shutout from Roy Halladay; the second time in as many seasons that the Ace accomplished that feat. His performance is, in a way, a microcosm of the current state of the Phillies. That is, dominance from start to finish, never giving their opponents a chance to get off the mat, with a win all but an inevitability.

We are truly through the looking glass.

The last time a baseball season went without a Phillies playoff berth, George W. Bush was the president, gas was two bucks a gallon and Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart were not yet the faces of virginal, poorly acted, teenage angst.

It was a dark and disturbing time.

When the Phillies surged in September of 2007, how man of us expected it to last clear through to 2011, some five years later, with no real end in sight? At the time, the first trip to October since 1993 seemed like a pity-berth. A gift given to us from the baseball gods, not because we earned it, but because, well, someone had to win.

Looking back on it, that team was a bit of a wreck. They could hit the snot out of the ball, thanks to an MVP season from Jimmy Rollins, a career year from Aaron Rowand and the prime years from Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but that was it, really. With the exception of a 23-year-old Cole Hamels, there wasn’t much to the pitching staff. On paper, they were what they were the season before: potential without execution. A bullet without a firing pin. A match without a rough surface for which it could get lit.

The season started off predictably enough. Which is to say: terrible. They were slow out of the gate, their opening day starter got moved to the bullpen, their reigning MVP was hanging around the Mendoza Line in May, and they were busy being trounced by the New York Mets, who were, at the time, the class of the league.

They hung around long enough to keep it interesting, but like the season before it, when another late season push came up just short, something else happened. They started to win. Convincingly. They swept the Mets in a four game series in Philadelphia, culminating in a come-from-behind victory against former Phil Billy Wagner that ended with Tad Iguchi sliding into home plate and being mobbed by his teammates. That was their firing pin.

After a few rough and tumble weeks, when it seemed most bleak – down seven games in the middle of September – they found their rough surface, and they couldn’t lose.

They went 12-4 to finish with a flourish, culminating with Brett Myers – the man who threw the first pitch of the season – poised to throw the last pitch; a swing-and-a-miss curve ball past Willy Mo Pena and the Washington Nationals on the final day of the season. A moment later, his glove was thrust into the air as he stomped towards home while Pat Burrell bum rushed him from the dugout while Citizens Bank Park rocked in a cacophony of cheers from the Phillies faithful. It didn’t really even matter that they were swept out of the playoffs by the Colorado Rockies, because the seemingly impossible was accomplished and, for the first time in over a decade, there would be October baseball in Philadelphia.

That was five years ago.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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15 Responses to “Five Years Running: A Phillies Playoff Retrospective”

  1. Dubee Dubee Du says:

    So who were the faces of virginal, poorly acted, teenage angst?

  2. Probably those kids from the American Pie movies. Or Jaleel White.

  3. Brett says:

    That particular Sunday in ’07 when they clinched is a memorable one for me, as it’s the also the 1st day I went out with my future wife. We went to Giants/Eagles that day (her season tix, she was on her way to becoming a keeper). She is a Giants and METS fan. Thanks to the Phils I’ll never catch sh*t for forgetting our first date.

  4. Colleen Wolfe's Newly Bleached Asshole says:

    Back in 2007, my asshole looked like a Trinidadian tar pit. We have come a very long way!!!

  5. negative nancy says:

    Was this written by a 12-year-old? Whats with all the spacing? The whole piece reads horribly.

  6. Stink Bag says:

    Larry Mendte friended my on facebook.

  7. nickjames says:

    That Pena strike out is my favorite Harry call of all time. Even more than the WS call.

    “Look at the scene in the stands! Look at the scene on the field!”

  8. rhymeface says:

    “dominance from start to finish”

    What, like when they dominated Brett Myers and J.A.Happ the other day?

  9. This nitpicking A-Hole says:

    Myers struck Willy Mo out looking, not swinging.

    I always liked the scene when Rowand dumped a bottle of Bud all over Harry. I believe there is still a pic of that floating around.

  10. JP says:

    I was at that game in ’07. It’ll probably be the best game I ever attend, and one of the best memories I shared with my now 90-year-old grandma who is also an enormous Phils fan. People there were almost weeping with joy, everybody high-fiving and hugging each other, the place went nuts. I’m sure Harry called a great game that day, too.

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Written by Dash Treyhorn

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