In the Playoff Pulse series, our MLB editor takes on a hot October topic.
In partnership with NBC Sports Philadelphia
Things move fast in the Internet Age. That's the nature of a 24-hour news cycle or maybe just the short attention span of Americans. Either way, before you know it we're going to be talking about CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira (And Jake Peavy and Manny Ramirez and maybe even Prince Fielder).
So let's take the chance, while we still can, to pay tribute to the 2008 champions. With a cheesesteak in one hand and a Yuengling in the other, here's to you Philadelphia.
- Here's to the Phillies fans, first and foremost. You're not always the easiest folks to understand. You've booed just about everyone including many of your own players. Even among East Coast baseball fans you can seem like a cynical, sour bunch. But your passion and loyalty is undeniable.
In frigid temperatures and pouring rain on Monday night, Citizens Bank Park was packed to the hilt. In more than 100 years of existence, you've been rewarded for your devotion with a title only twice. It hardly seems like enough.
- Here's to Cole Hamels, who at just 24 has established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball, and just maybe its greatest changeup artist.
Until his magical October run, Hamels wasn't widely recognized by casual fans for his dominance. He wasn't even an All-Star this year. Hope you enjoyed the relative anonymity while it lasted, Cole.
- Here's to Jimmy Rollins. Over the last two seasons he's become the heart and soul of this team, lending it the swagger it needed to succeed in the NL East and beyond.
- Here's to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley -- one of the game's most feared sluggers and it's greatest second baseman, bar none, respectively -- and to Pat Burrell and Brett Myers too. The Phillies were built the right way, increasingly the only way as free agents get more and more expensive, with elite homegrown talent.
- Here's to Jamie Moyer. The crafty old man was at the parade the last time the Phillies won the World Series in 1980. He'll be part of the procession this time around. It took him 22 seasons just to get to baseball's biggest stage, and even a stomach virus couldn't keep him from shining in his only start.
- Here's to the role players -- the bench bats and bullpen arms -- the guys you can't win a World Series without. Here's to Eric Bruntlett and Greg Dobbs, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero and Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins.
- Here's to Brad Lidge. The last time he was in the playoffs, things didn't end so well. Up until Wednesday night, the defining moment of Lidge's career was an Albert Pujols moonshot that might still be in orbit somewhere over Houston. Now people will think of something else: Lidge on his knees, hands raised up to the sky, with his teammates rushing toward him in celebration of a moment they had all dreamed of since they were boys.
- Here's to GM Pat Gillick, who has succeeded in three different places and built title-winners in Toronto and Philadelphia. Ironically, Gillick's 1993 Blue Jays team was the one that broke Philly's heart in its last appearance in the Fall Classic. By all accounts, Gillick will ride off into the sunset after this season, handing the reins of the Phillies to Ruben Amaro Jr. What a way to go out if this is indeed it.
- And here's to Charlie Manuel, the leader of this band in the dugout all season long. He's been given plenty of room to work in Philadelphia, and now he'll be given plenty more. His mother June was expecting this all along.
The Phillies weren't a mediocre team that got hot in October like the 2006 Cardinals or the 2007 Rockies. They weren't a clear juggernaut either. They were just one of the best teams in baseball all year long and they stepped their game up when it counted most.
The winter can be very long for baseball fans. It can be cold and bitter and filled with questions about where their team went wrong. After 27 long winters, the die-hards in Philadelphia won't have to wonder about their beloved Phillies. The glow of a championship can be awfully distracting.