And so the Phillies season ended much as it began, with a string of losses. Let's not despair, however, for much of the second half of the season was exciting around these parts as nearly the entire twenty-five man roster took turns playing hero. These Phillies led the major leagues in come-from-behind victories, a high-wire act to be sure, but one that had the faithful on the edges of their collective seats more often than not. The fans, more than three million of them, flocked to Citizens Bank Park, waving their rally towels and rocking the joint for the first time in its short history.
Leading up to and immediately following their capture of the NL East championship, nearly every lead to every story about this club made note of the injuries it overcame. True, many clubs overcome similar adversities, but this team endured an unusual number of them to key players and still managed to keep on keepin' on. In the end, they ran into a buzz-saw from the Rocky Mountains. Colorado is a fine team with an even more explosive offense than the Phils, one which is frankly far more consistent. Their defense is considered the best in the league if not the majors. The pitching staff is loaded with young, strong arms. Their sweep of the Phillies was no accident though unexpected in most quarters.
Next the Rockies face Arizona as the balance of power in the NL swings momentarily to the West. Two clubs, one of whom wasn't in existence when the Phillies made their last appearance in the post-season and the other of whom debuted that same season, will square off for the right to go to the World Series. For what it's worth, my pick is Colorado. They are 17 - 1 after last night's victory and look like they may never lose.
Meanwhile, back East, Phillies' fans, among the longest-suffering in all of major league sport not just baseball, must console themselves with having broken the long post-season drought and look forward to next year. They have probably watched Aaron Rowand play his last game here, but the rest of the core of gamers remains. The off-season will be spent trying to shore up the weak starting rotation and bullpen. For the first time in memory players around the league will take a second look at the Phillies, correctly surmising this club has a chance to go further into the post-season next year.
It was an exhausting season for this fan. The Phillies flirted with sea level for weeks before finally breaking through the surface and making their run at the NL East title. At this juncture a break from the constant ebb and flow is welcome. I'll watch snatches of the rest of the post-season, but with the home team on the sidelines I look forward to some time off. Beyond that, the Hot Stove League looms some months hence as well as the announcement that Jimmy Rollins, who had one of the most magical and memorable seasons I've ever seen, has won the NL MVP.