Congratulations to the Phillies for once again winning the National League Eastern Division title. And, a pat on the back to Phils' GM Ruben Amaro Jr. for acquiring Roy Halladay last December for Cliff Lee and a package of prospects. Halladay is arguably the best right-hander in the NL and an almost certain Hall of Famer ten-plus years down the road.
The Phillies' run of consecutive titles is in some danger of reaching its expiration date, however; this is an aging team with an average age of about 32. They sell out all the time as presently constituted, but it hasn't been such a long time since they were a sub-.500 club. During the Terry Francona years (1997-2000), their high water mark was 77 wins (in '99). That Francona has won a pair of World Series with the Red Sox tends to reinforce the premise that it's the players who win, and the skipper goes along for the ride.
Some younger Phils' fans weren't around for their years of stinkitude. This was a bad ballclub for a long time. Between 1950, when they lost to the Yankees in the World Series and 1976, when they won the NL East, they finished in the second division 15 times. They had their famous swoon in September of 1964, and in 1961 they lost 23 games in a row. The Phillies were the last NL team to integrate, which likely played no small part in those struggles.
It was interesting to hear how the visiting fans booed Nyjer Morgan every time he was introduced last night. They must not read the papers, or they would've seen that the rap that he'd intentionally thrown a baseball at a fan at Citizen's Bank Park was dismissed entirely. In fact, he and that fan watched a game together when the Nats were in Philly last week. They'll probably exchange Christmas cards this year.
The other Roy, Oswalt, goes for the Phils tonight. He's only lost once in a Philadelphia uniform - his first start for them against the Nats in DC. In retrospect, some now blame the uniform. When your pants aren't just right, they really impact your mechanics.