Remembering When and How the Phillies Started Getting Good

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Fan News

Following this Phillies season, enjoying a 4.5 game lead over the Florida Marlins in the National League East, I have been thinking about something the past week or so.

When did the Phillies start to get good? After thinking and giving credit to Pat Gillick, I thought back further.

The Larry Bowa years as manager was when they started getting good and the Phillies started getting respect around the league and picked up more fans.

You know your team is good when you watch late-night television and seeing a rapper wearing your team’s cap.

Bowa managed from 2001-04, a year before Ryan Howard and Chase Utley played full time for the Phillies.

But after the 1993 World Series, the Phillies had just one second place finish in the National League East, coming in 1995. Most of the times, they finished anywhere from third to fifth place.

In 2000, under manager Terry Francona, the Phillies were 65-97 and finished fifth.

Bowa, a former All-Star shortstop for the Phillies, was hired in 2001. He returned a no- nonsense attitude not seen since Dallas Green in 1980. At that time, Green was the manager of the Phillies only World Series championship.

The 2001 team finished 86-76 and finished second. Bowa’s only losing season was in 2002, when the team finished 80-81 and finished third.

Even though Howard and Utley did not start playing full time until 2005, Jimmy Rollins took over the shortstop position from Desi Relaford in 2001 and hit .274.

Excitement grew in Philadelphia when the Phillies signed free agents Jim Thome in 2003, then Billy Wagner in 2004.

But the fans of Philadelphia still were not used to a winning team. They were more excited, including myself, of the distance of Thome’s home runs and whether Wagner could hit 100 MPH on the radar gun when he closed a game.

Maybe it was the expectation, but with two games left in the 2004 season and the Phillies in second place at 85-75, Bowa was fired.

If I remember, it was said he was too tough on his players.

Out stepped Bowa and in stepped Charlie Manuel, a player’s manager.

Thome was traded; Aaron Rowand anchored himself in center field in 2006. After two more second place finishes, the Phillies finally broke through and won the National League East in 2007.

Rowand left as a free agent in 2008, as Shane Victorino took over in center field.

Former General Manager Pat Gillick, during his time in town, brought in Jason Werth, Greg Dobbs and traded for Joe Blanton, Matt Stairs and closer Brad Lidge.

All the pieces fit and in 2008, the Phillies won the World Series.

I surely don’t know if the Phillies will repeat in 2009. My gut tells me no.

But maybe that is the Phillies fan in me. Disaster. Defeat snatched from the hands of victory.

But they will win the National League East. I think they will win the National League pennant, and go to the World Series.

A matchup with the Yankees would be sweet, but the Yanks would be heavily favored.

Just looking back a bit, I submit that in 2001, the Phillies started getting good.

And there ain’t no going back…at least until 2011.


Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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