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Culture Club

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The one point being harped on continuously is that Gillick is intent on changing the culture of this year.  Obviously Abreu was a part of that culture as he was here almost as long as anybody and needed to have Lidle shipped out so we could just get rid of him.  The problem that remains is figuring out what that culture was and what we need.  Abreu, being the best player on some above average teams is the focal point of not making the playoffs.  Proof is in the pudding and since he didn't want it enough, that is why we didn't make it.

This post isn't going to be about Abreu, but more about the success of the teams he has been on and the concept that their culture has bred bad play.  We all know about how futile the Phillies have been, but we often forget about the historical standards that the current teams are competing against.  Let's start with the big one.

(if you notices anything inaccurate, just let me know and I will fix accordingly)

The Phillies' all time record: 8679-9879 .468 winning percentage

The Phils are exactly 1200 games under .500.  They are due and I smell a nice streak coming on.  Just to put this into perspective; the Phillies would need to go 101-61 for the next 30 years to finally reach .500 in 2036.  Since they do have precedence of going 101-61 twice (in back to back years no less), I think this is probable.

The Phillies started out to quite an auspicious start.  Their first year they were 17-81.  Then Pat Gillick's great grand daddy took over and they went 39-73 the next year.  Talk about an improvement.  The year after they went 56-54 for their first winning season.  The Phillies actually finished out the rest of the century on a pretty nice run.  Their overall record peaked in 1901 when they had a winning percentage of .524 for their entire existence.  Philadelphia was the New York Yankees at the turn of the century.  Of course, the 21st century was not kind to us and we went straight into the tank.

The Phils kept up a winning record for the first 5th of the century.  Alas, 1921 is the last we saw of a winning franchise.  When that year ended, the Phils had a 2717-2717 record and could at least think to themselves for the rest of the winter that at least they weren't losers.  Well, we all know how long ago 1921 was.  It seems that Babe Ruth really cursed us rather than the Red Sox.  The Phils lost 103 games in 1921 to get their record even.  They would go on to lose more than 100 games 11 more times in the next 24 years.  In fact, between 1920 and 1948, the Phillies had 1 winning season.  That was an outstanding 78-76 in 1932.  They went from a team .500 record to a team .445 record.  That is quite a feat!

The Phils have been working their way out of that massive hole ever since.  It has been slow, and we have had some painful times, but we are now at our best winning percentage, .468, since 1935.  Much of that is thanks to the late 70s and early 80s, but the last few years have helped out as well.

So, does this current team's culture as bas as everyone thinks?  What are we expecting out of them, what have they given and what can we compare them to?  I have looked at 5 year stretches from the Phillies' history.  I wanted to see where the last 5 years ranked all time compared to the rest.  I will consider this an era with respect to the franchise.  Interestingly enough, they did not rank as high as I expected as the Phils had some decent stretches coupled with many really awful times.

The best 5 year era to be a Phillies fan culminated with 1980.  Interestingly enough, that was the Phillies only World Series.  Those 4 years leading up to 1980 and that year gave us our best winning percentage by quite a bit at .577.  It certainly helps that it encompasses the best 2 years the Phils have had: 1976 (the year of my birth) and 1977.  Thus, those years dominate the top of this list.

There is quite a bit of overlapping, so, I will try to group those years of an era together.  The Phillies of 1975-1984 did not have a losing season.  This is longer than a 5 year stretch but these teams total 7 of the top 17 five year eras.  12 of the top 30 five year stretches were all from 1902 and earlier.  That makes sense as we used to be considered a good team back in the day.  The deadball era was also good for the Phillies as the 1915-1918 teams are all on the top 5 year stretches.  

So, where does our most recent "dynasty" rank?  2005 is the highest ranking era and they come in 28th on the list.  Doesn't sound impressive except that there are 124 teams and we have already labeled 3 eras that have 23 of the top 28 five year stretches.

The other 5 (actually 3) are:

  1. .539 five year winning percent average
  2. .535 five year winning percent average
  3. .535 five year winning percent average
  4. .531 five year winning percent average
  5. .527 five year winning percent average
I'd rate the most recent era of teams as the 6th best in terms of winning percentage.
1)    1975-1984
2)    1889-1902
3)    1915-1918
4)    1949-1954
5)    1962-1967
6)    2001-2005

What this shows me is that, despite not making the playoffs any of those years, these Phillies teams have been historically competitive with previous seasons.  What makes this an interesting point is that Phillies phans are known to love the blue collared work ethic.  Mike Schmidt, the best player in the best era, was often criticized and thought of as not performing up to his ability.  However, what we see is that those teams criticized the most tend to be the ones that are part of the best eras.  I am not sure what Philadelphia fan want more: to win, or to look like you are trying hard.  People couldn't wait to blow this team up, but let's really look at their place in Phillies' history.

For comparison purposes, the worst eras was 1942.  .296 five year winning percent average.  Those 5 years averages less than a .300 winning percentage.  As impossible as that sounds, the Phillies did it.  I wonder if people then used to complain about the culture of that team.