Your 2009 NL East Division Champions!!!
Two years ago, when the Phillies clinched the National League East Division Championship for the first time since 1993, I was there. It was one of those classic experiences. In order for the Phils to clinch, a number of things had to go right. First, the Mets would have to have a end of season monumental collapse of atomic proportions (the likes from which they have yet to recover, three seasons later), the Phillies would need to win this, their final game of the season, and the aforementioned Mets would need to lose one more time, on what was in fact the final day of the regular season.

All of this came to pass, and it was wonderful. To be there was magical. The scoreboard in right field kept the fans updated on the Mets activities, and the players on the field demonstrated consistently their will and commitment towards getting the job at hand done.

Throughout that game, cheers would be heard in pockets of the stadium, where cell phone updates would pre-empt the scoreboard with changes in the score in New York. The final inning came, and the Mets game was not yet finished. Just moments before the game ended in Philadelphia, word came over the elctronic messaging systems that the Mets had done their part and rolled over. Shortly thereafter,
Brett Myers did his job (of closing) and shut down the game in terrific, excited style. The place went ballistic, and after 14 years of subpar baseball and 24 years without a major championship, the excitement was well deserved. I must admit, my eyes teared up in joy at the realization that we had finally cleared this enormous hurdle.

It didn't take long for the
Colorado Rockies to thwart the Phillies and the city's dreams.

Last year, our boys plowed their way through the season admirably, and when I went to the stadium for the final game of the season, the Division had already been wrapped up nicely the night before. We were treated to an
impressive game full of bit and bench players. The playoffs ended beautifully last year, offering up for the city its first parade in 25 years.

Last night, the Phillies made it three in row, clearing out the opposition a full four games before the season's end. Where tears greeted the first achievement in this trilogy, a calmer, more determined self faced down this celebration, well aware that the task at hand involves a month of very hard work and focus before any true celebration can begin.
The Phillies know this too, but after a long, arduous season spent sloughing through with a target on their back, the catharsis that was last night's celebration was well earned. They know they need to focus. They know what needs to be done to get back on the parade route down Broad St. All of this made last night celebration all the better. The Phillies deserve to take a deep breath, and they are going to need it if they hope to repeat in theWorld Series.

While no tears of joy were shed (by me) last night over the clinching of the Division (old hat), a few tears did well up over the images and sounds provided via the television of one Mr. Harry Kalas, who passed away just months after making the call of his life: "The Phillies are the 2008 World Series Champions!" Harry singing "high hopes." Harry calling 2007 & 2008 Division clinchers. It is all bittersweet, as it always is upon the death of such a human, iconic figure. It was especially touching to see a group of the players head out towards the outfield as the post game celebratons wound down, in order to pay tribute to the 'K,' by placing their hands on the giant HK banner that was pasted to the outfield, and even spraying it with some beer and champagne.
As for the game itself last night, it provided healthy fodder for ruminations on the post season to come. Kyle Kendrick has been pitching like a man possessed, and did so last night, offering up three important, scoreless innings. The offense was on fire, lighting up the board as the often do not: through 'small ball' instead of monster home runs. Raul Ibanez fixed all that with a second decker late in the game, but by that point small ball had already won the day. Lastly, Coach Uncle Charlie Manuel, seconds away from clinching his third consecutive Division Championship as the Braves handed the game and their season over to ubiquity, walked slowly out to the mound to savor the moment and to hand the ball over to 'Mr. Perfect' Brad Lidge, in an attempt to better align his pitcher against the 'stros final batter, but more importantly to instill a modicum of confidence into the man who pitched so unbelievably well last year, and who has spent the majority of his encore season impressing with his ability to be so unimpressive.

The Phillies stand on the precipice of history.
Consecutive World Series victories are increasingly rare in this modern game, and have never been achieved in the brotherly loves' city.

As is stated and known, there is a long journey ahead. The Phils will likely face the hated Rockies in the initial round of the playoffs, and though they bested us two years ago, we should be able to shake them off our backs in short order. Next up will be a more difficult foe: either the St. Louis Cardinals or the Los Angeles Dodgers. Either team will prove difficult, but both are well within our capabilities. I see the Cardinals pulling out the series against the Dodgers, and the Cardinals are also my preferred foe. I hate the Cardinals WAY more than I hate the Dodgers, but also, they don't carry a revenge monkey on their backs over our defeating them in NLCS last year (as the Dodgers do) so that lack of an emotional edge should serve us well.
After suprising the country by easily disposing of all NL Playoff opponents, the question arises: who will our beloved Phillies face off against in their second consecutive WS appearance?

Popular sentiment aligns them against the hated Yankees, who with the best record in baseball gloat about being the team to beat throughout. Whatevs, Yank-os!

We shall see. A turnpike series would be exciting, and the Yanks would certainly be a formidible foe. I wouldn't count them Angels or Tigers out just yet either, although I would agree with the general perception we'll probably be seeing the Yankees in November. However, they do LOVE to shit the bed in the playoffs, and if they have yet to do so by World Series time, what better time could there be for them to embrace old patterns?

I'll be saving my tears this year for a WS repeat, but believe you me, I'm greasing them ducts!

Go Phils!!!!