From 1918-1948 they were above .500 once. 78-76 in 1932, finishing 4th. In an 8-team league, that was the only time in 31 years they finished above 5th place. Think about that. You are 7 and you start watching your team in 1918, and you are 38 years old before they finish 3rd and 39 when they win an NL title in 1950. And then they miss the postseason another 25 years in a row, without fail. So, after starting to watch in 1918, and now being 65, and having watched for almost six decades, you eagerly await the 1976 playoffs, as youâ€™ll be seeing your Phils play postseason ball for the second time since you started watching in 1918.
The 1915 and 1950 World Series losses were the only postseason appearances in team history until 1976. Before they won their first title in 1980, the franchise had won a grand total of three postseason games.
These are truly impressive statistics.
Throw 10,000 losses into the mix, and you do have an organization with a rather incredible and perhaps unmatched record of losing.
A backdrop like this only makes the current Phillies squad that much more impressive.
This is clearly the best 3-year run in team history, and has a chance to eclipse the â€™76-â€™83 year period of almost annual postseason appearances (every year but â€™79 and â€™82; 1 title, 2 pennants) as the best stretch in over well over a century of Phillies major league ball.
Howard, Utley, Rollins, Hamels, and Happ were all Philly draft picks; Victorino was a Rule 5; and fellow draftees were Schmidt, Luzinski, and Boone; Bowa was a free agent signing. The cores of both this team and the great Philly teams of about 30 years ago combined farm system production with wise player maneuvers, the earlier Phils adding Steve Carlton in a trade with St. Louis, and vets Pete Rose, Garry Maddox, and Tug McGraw, while the rising Phils over the last few years added pieces like Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, Raul Ibanez, and Joe Blanton.
It can be hard for the Met fan to fathom and to accept the Phillies as being the class of the NL East, let alone the entire NL. But it is reality. They have not yet proven themselves to be an all-time great team, but they have shown a serious spine and an effusive wealth of grit; most certainly making the most of this teamâ€™s opportunities thus far.
Some fans point at the Philliesâ€™ health–especially when viewed with the injury-addled eyes of a 2009 Met fanâ€”as a key factor in their success. Yes, certainly that is a part of it (isnâ€™t it for most successful teams?); other than Ibanez, who missed a few weeks and was not as hot after the injury as he had been.
Itâ€™s just time to give them credit.
Some of the comments made over the last few years by Rollins, Hamels and Utley are silly, rude, and/or obnoxious, no doubt about it. Victorinoâ€™s habits have been rightly questioned, especially in light of Jose Reyesâ€™ enthusiasm being criticized. The way Utley leans into the ball is outrageous (76 HBP in 3 years?!)
They are the type some hate as opponents but would love to see in the orange and blue. Howard? Utley? Ibanez? Werth? Victorino if heâ€™d play LF? Rollins if heâ€™d play 2B even? Who wouldnâ€™t take most of them? Not sure on most of the pitchers outside of Lee and maybe Happ. Hamels may just have more of Ollie in him that previously thought.
But their core contains some serious players. Howard has 198 HR and 572 RBI the last four years. He strikes out a lot, but still, these are some of the all-time great power numbers.
Despite the Metsâ€™ failures and recent downturn, the Phils-led NL East has indeed quietly been building itself into one of baseballâ€™s two most powerful divisions. The AL and NL Easts are the only divisions with more than one title in the last 15 years–the era of three-division play, the steroid era, the post-strike era, whatever it will ultimately be called.
This period has thus far produced 14 champs with another soon very likely to come from the East: Al East 6 (Yanks 4, Red Sox 2), NL East 4 (Marlins 2, Braves, Phils), and one each for the AL Central (White Sox), AL West (Angels), NL Central (Cardinals), and NL West (Diamondbacks).
The NL East has the second most titles, and is the only division to have three franchises win the World Series in the last 15 years. This is a stat that should be more widely known and appreciated-it is indeed not just the Yankees and Red Sox who are dominating baseball-it is also the NL East, home of the New York Mets. And Philadelphia Phillies.
So hereâ€™s one voice saying Letâ€™s Go Phils and keep it in the division!
That will make the still-chilling-and-probably-awfully-cold-by-now champagne even sweeter when we dethrone them next year.