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20,000 Games Under the 'P'

The Phillies have played 20,000 games as 'the Phillies.' The first eight and last four were terrible.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Phillies got stomped by the Blue Jays, 12-6, to cap off a four-game series in which Edwin Encarnacion clubbed the 200th moonshot of his career. But this series encapsulated another milestone they may have gone unturned.

And that milestone was Encarnacion's 201st career home run. The Blue Jays hit many, many home runs in this series. It was awful. Everything was... just awful. It was the perfect grand finale to complete the long-suffering Philadelphia Phillies' 20,000th game as the Philadelphia Phillies - the longest-running nickname in the sport.

Speaking of awful, the year 1883 in America was a real step backward. The Supreme Court declared part of the 1875 Civil Rights act "unconstitutional," decreeing that people should be able to discriminate based on race. The Brooklyn Bridge opened in New York, and six days later, a rumor that it was seconds away from collapsing led to a stampede that killed 12 people.

But least importantly, a sportsman by the name of Alfred J. Reach purchased a property in Philadelphia called "Recreation Park" and founded a real piece of shit ball team called the "Fillies." Recreation Park had been the scene of the first baseball game in Pennsylvania in 1860, in which "Pennsylvania" was defeated by "Equity," 65-52. Decades passed, and the field fell into disrepair, thanks to the inevitable march of both time and the Union Army, who briefly occupied the facility during what I guess was some kind of baseball war.

But on May 1, 1883, the Fillies took on the Providence Grays (back when baseball teams had real names, like "Grays" and "Beaneaters" and "Gothams"). The Fills kept things close in the series' first two games, losing 4-3 and 4-1, before dropping a real heartbreaker in the finale, 24-6. They would start their tenure 0-8, being outscored 85-41.

Reach, seen here receiving the results of his team's first eight games, served as team president of the Phillies as they offended most aspects of the sport on their way to a 17-81-1 inaugural season. It was the first 81 losses on the franchise's path to a precedent-setting 10,000 losses, which the team achieved in 2007, almost 80 years after Reach had begun spinning furiously in his grave.

Today, Recreation Park is long-since decimated, leaving a Chinese to-go place and a bar called "Hard Times" in its wake. These days, Phillies' horrid memories are forged ten blocks east and eight miles south from where Al Reach  watched them piss off their first fans (who presumably all went home and penned angry blog posts by hand before giving them out at church the next day).

Of course, by 1887, the Phillies were contending; proving that even when things look their most hopeless, good times could be just around the corner (a key moment was when they stopped giving up 20+ runs to the other team, which happened eight times their first year). Why, they didn't even finish in last place again until seven years later. And how about those Civil Rights? We sure got those figured out!

Very soon, Thursday night's debacle won't be the last the game the Phillies ever played. 20,000 will become 30,000, 30,000 will become 50,000, and then the sun will turn into a red dwarf and devour our planet, ending all life as we know it and in earth's place will be a soundless gasp of time, lost in eternal darkness and silence, save the occasional Galactic Hop-on Tour, on which alien guides will inform out-of-towners that this is indeed the spot where, yes, Edwin Encarnacion hit his 200th and 201st home runs against some team called the "Fillies."