The Best of Times?

With over 10,000 losses as a franchise, the Philadelphia Phillies have been through a lot of eras that could be labeled "the worst of times."  There's much less to choose from in thinking about "the best of times," but I think you can make a really good argument that what we have now is this franchise's best of times.  And that's without even knowing what happens with the rest of the season and playoffs.

Let's start with the most fundamental.  The Phillies won their second World Series ever last year.  The only other World Series came in 1980.  The difference between 1980 and 2008 is that the Phillies sandwiched their 2008 World Championship with division wins.  In contrast, the Phillies suffered in the years immediately before and after the 1980 World Series.  In 1979, the Phillies finished fourth in the NL East.  In 1981, they finished third (but made it to the playoffs anyway because of the strike).

Beyond World Series wins, only one other stretch in Phillies' history competes with the current three-year stretch in terms of playoff appearances.  The Phillies are now entering the playoffs for their third year in a row.  The only other time they've been in the playoffs three years in a row was from 1976 to 1978.  Of course, the difference is that the Phillies never made it beyond the first round in those years, whereas in this stretch, even without this year's playoffs starting, the Phillies won the World Series.

That same stretch in the late 70s is the tops in Phillies' history for three year win total.  In those three years, the Phillies won 292 games.  So far, the Phillies are at 273 wins over the last three years.  Even if they win out, they'll still be 15 wins behind the 1976 to 1978 Phillies.  But, there's that World Series win that makes up for those 15 wins during the regular season.

The current crop of Phillies is a group with more hardware than the group in the 70s.  The current Phillies include Ryan Howard (rookie of the year and MVP), Jimmy Rollins (MVP), Brad Lidge (relief pitcher of the year), Cole Hamels (World Series MVP), and Pedro Martinez (multiple Cy Youngs).  The late-70s Phillies included just Steve Carlton (Cy Young) and Bake McBride (rookie of the year, although not with the Phillies).  The late-70s Phillies included two future Hall of Famers in Carlton and Mike Schmidt.  Of course, none of the current Phillies are in the Hall, although Pedro certainly will be.  Chase Utley is mentioned as the best second baseman currently and possibly ever, so he has a chance if he keeps it up over his career.  Others like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels are unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

And this group of Phillies has the fan support that no other group has had.  Even though the late-70s Phillies played in the Vet, which held about 20,000 more fans than CBP, this current group has outdrawn every other Phillies team to have played.  With four more home games, there's no doubt the Phillies will draw over 3.5 million this year.  And the fans are treated to a great experience in a beautiful stadium.  The Vet was, believe it or not, considered state of the art for its time, but CBP is better.

The Phillies have been around a long time.  Amidst the years and decades of suffering, there have been some moments of glory.  But, I would argue, none have been as good as what we're witnessing now.  Regardless of the outcome this October (and November, hopefully), we are living in the best of times for Phillies fans.  Sit back, and enjoy.

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