Top Moment #8: Phillies Clinch National League East
It didn’t have the drama of the two NL East titles that came prior. The Mets weren’t busy blowing leads. There was no miraculous double play. Hell, it didn’t even make it to the final weekend of the season.
2009 was a different year. The Phillies had built up a big enough lead that on a Wednesday night on the last day of September, they had a chance to pop the bubbly and sport some new hats and t-shirts.
The only real question as the night progressed was whether or not the Phillies would take care of business themselves or if the Braves were going to finish off the Florida Marlins first. After falling behind early, the Phillies finally pulled ahead 5-3 in the fourth inning and never looked back. Cue in a couple Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino triples, add in a Raul Ibanez bomb and all of a sudden it was 10-3 in the 7th inning.
However, then things got interesting. The Phillies game and the Braves game almost fell into a dead heat, going out for out.
During the past two NL East titles though, the Phillies had always clinched on their own. This year, the scoreboard operators would make sure that tradition continued. Suddenly, there were no updates coming of the Braves-Marlins game.
And with two outs in the ninth, Charlie Manuel went to the bullpen despite the game not being in question. Feeling as if he owed his much-beleaguered closer the opportunity to finish it off, Manuel brought in Brad Lidge to finish off his old team and bring the Phillies their third straight division championship.
A few fans in the stadium had their phones out and had seen the Marlins had already lost and the division was already won, but it felt better this way.
It felt better celebrating in front of the Harry Kalas tribute sign in left center. It felt better hearing the crowd erupt for a third straight division title considering prior to 2007, we hadn’t won one in 14 years.
It just felt better this way.