You know, 2013 has been a rough year. Losing a lot of games is no fun, and watching an aging core of a once-great team is perhaps even sadder.
But I, for one, have had enough doom and gloom, at least for today. Today, I want to take a moment to celebrate what this team accomplished from 2007-2011 and rank the 10 greatest moments in this team’s playoff run, which now appears to be over.
Just a quick note, I have decided to eliminate the clinching moment from Lidge in Game 5 of the 2008 World Series because, well, that’s clearly the greatest moment of Phillies baseball many of us have ever experienced and I wanted this to remain an “intellectual exercise.” Or some crap like that.
10. Ryan Howard‘s Last Great Moment
Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS against St. Louis will probably be the last great moment in Ryan Howard’s career. Oh sure, he’ll probably have a big game or two in the next few years, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever reach that stage again, and deliver such a huge hit. It’s what Howard used to do all the time, and is something we haven’t seen since Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS.
9. Ben Francisco‘s Moment
From the same series, this moment would have been enormous had the Phils managed to win the series and play in the NLCS. Francisco’s homer broke a scoreless tie in Game 3 and was one of the most shocking moments in the Phils’ playoff run. No one saw this coming and then, all of a sudden, BOOM! This would have been known as “The Ben Francisco Game.” Alas, it’s just number 8 on this list.
8. Ruiz Wins Game 3
Before Carlos Ruiz became a legitimate offensive threat, he was light-hitting Chooch, a guy who couldn’t swing the bat a lick but was cute behind the plate and didn’t hurt anybody. He didn’t exactly kill this ball here with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 3 of the 2008 World Series, and the Rays basically gave this game away to the Phils. Still, it was an exciting moment, and one more sign this team was destined to win it all.
7. Utley’s Historic 2009 Home Run
Now it starts getting hard. It’s hard to believe that Chase Utley tying Reggie Jackson for most home runs in a single World Series (5) would be outside the Top 5, but because the Phils lost the Series, and because the 2009 World Series is largely forgotten by most Phils fans, and because the Phils were down 3 games to 1 at this point, this moment gets lost. But it was still ultra cool, and more proof that Utley is “The Man.”
6. Get On My Back, Boys
I’m sorry, but for me, Game 4 of the 2009 NLDS against the Rockies was one of the greatest playoff games ever played. Aside from the game from which the #3 moment appears, Game 4 against the Rockies was the most dramatic of any game the Phils played in their 5-year playoff run. And this was Howard at his best, delivering huge hits in clutch situations. This was the moment I really thought the Phils were never going to lose another playoff series ever again. Of course, this merely tied the game. Jayson Werth‘s single drove in Howard for the winning run. But this was clearly the more dramatic of the two moments.
5. Shane Victorino Grand Slam
This was the moment you knew the 2008 playoffs were going to be different. Shane Victorino slaying the best pitcher in the game at that time, C.C. Sabathia, was so shocking, and so amazing, that it defies explanation. Of course, we also remember the Brett Myers at-bat that kept the inning alive two batters earlier. Those two moments go hand-in-hand, for sure.
4. Utley’s Defensive Save
With the score tied at 3 in the top of the 7th, Chase Utley made this incredibly alert play, faking a throw to first on a ball hit up and the middle and throwing the ball home, nailing Jason Bartlett as he tried to score the go-ahead run from second. It is one of those plays that is just typical Utley, proving he has an otherworldly awareness on the baseball field.
3. Matt Stairs HR
Many people may have this ranked at the top of their lists, and I wouldn’t blame them if they did. Every World Series winning team has a moment like this, when some unknown scrub comes from out of nowhere and does something incredible. For the Phils in ’08, it was Stairs in Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS, probably the best pure baseball game from the Phils’ five-year playoff run. And my heavens, how FAR he hit that ball…
2. Rollins Walks It Off
Jonathan Broxton, you poor bastard. For whatever reason, the Phils had his number in the playoffs and, just one year later, once again in Game 4 of the NLCS, the Phillies got him again. This time, it was Jimmy Rollins‘ two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the 9th that put the Phils up 3 games to 1 in the series and destroyed the souls of the Dodgers for good. For me, it was the most surprising and unexpected jolt I’ve ever experienced watching a sporting event, and the Scott Franzke call of the moment is as good as anything Harry Kalas would have done.
Yet… it’s still not #1…
1. Halladay’s No-Hitter
Of course, a moment as historic as Roy Halladay‘s playoff no-hitter, only the second in Major League history, in his first ever playoff start, will forever be remembered as the best playoff moment in Phils history, outside Tug McGraw‘s strikeout of Willie Wilson and Brad Lidge‘s strikeout of Eric Hinske.
Just play the video and enjoy.