Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.
For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.
Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.
Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.
6. National League champs!
Date: October 15, 2008
After Matt Stairs homered the Phillies to a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series, October 16 set up like a celebration. With the Dodgers clearly wrapped around the fist of the business-like Phils, a game five victory in Dodger Stadium seemed all but evident.
On the mound was Cole Hamels, who silenced the Brewers in game one of the Division Series, then bested Derek Lowe in the game one of the Championship Series with a gutsy performance at home. The ace. He was born for these kinds of games.
The beer flowed early. We readied ourselves for a jubilation unseen in 15 years by gorging ourselves early, fidgeting with our hats, clasping our hands repetitively. We chatted with friends, cleaned up our mussels when Jimmy Rollins strode to the plate at the top of the match.
One swing. And suddenly we were celebrating.
That was it. That was all we needed. Rollins’ homer — like the one he swatted to open game one of the DS — signaled a victory. There was no way the Dodgers could rip it out of the Phillies’ hands. So we watched as the Phils mounted a rally off poor Dodger defense. We watched as Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell stroked RBI singles off Chad Billingsley. We watched as the Phils ran out to an early lead.
Hamels was brilliant again. He walked into a few small hiccups, but relied on the amazing defense behind him, turning double plays, making long catches near the wall. Chase Utley. Shane Victorino. These guys brought their gloves.
And Hamels got a few choice punchouts. His strikeout of Jeff Kent to close the seventh brought his night to a close, and brought the Phils close to finality. This was it.
Ryan Madson — as he had done all series — pitched a sweet eighth, handing the ball to Brad Lidge to bring the Phils to the World Series. There was no doubt.
The celebration was one of overjoy. We were already drunk, but now we were punchdrunk, smiling, even crying, as we yelled and gasped. The Phillies were National Laegue champions. Who would’ve thought? Who would’ve predicted back in March that the Phils would win the National League? Only one national writer did such. This writer didn’t even do it.
But that’s the beauty of the game. That’s why we watch. So that maybe, maybe one October night, we can celebrate.
The video: Phils win the pennant
From the comments:
Jamie: Oh man…this is exactly the way I wanted this to start. I think Howard will be giving moonshot Stairs a run for his money tonight too…I predict Ryan has a long one.
Phils2611: victorino is the F’ing man…
SJ Mike: The Phillies win the pennant!
The Phillies win the pennant!
The Phillies win the pennant!