These are heady times to a be a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies.
With their 10-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night, the Phillies clinched their third straight National League East crown.
They have not accomplished the three-peat since 1976-78, then winning again in 1980.
Why not 1979? I was in college during this time and got tickets to the Pittsburgh Pirates National League Pennant clinching game against the Cincinnati Reds. It was the "We Are Family" year for the Pirates and they won the World Series that year.
Okay. Who is that guy in the picture, and why did I pick him?
It is veteran reliever Dan Plesac, who pitched for the Phillies in 2002-03. He is among many Phillies to play for the team in this decade who never reached the promised land of the playoffs.
Consider these names who played for the Phillies from 2001 to 2006: Rheal Cormier, Omar Daal, Tomas Perez, Marlon Anderson, Ricky Ledee, Plesac, Todd Pratt, Marlon Byrd, Joe Roa, Kevin Millwood, Turk Wendell, Vincente Padilla, Todd Jones, Tim Worrell, Jose Mesa, Eric Milton, David Bell, Jim Thome, Roberto Hernandez, Cory Lidle, Kenny Lofton, Endy Chavez, Ugueth Urbina, Sal Fasano, and Arthur Rhodes.
If you are like me and you watch every Phillies game that you can on television, most of these names will be familiar to you. We live, eat, and sleep Phillies.
We hear the stories of the 1950 World Series, the 1964 collapse, and the 1980 World Series Championship. I was lucky enough, as a young adult, to go to that 1980 parade.
Then there are a handful of players who played in the 2007 season and the first-round sweep by the Colorado Rockies, who didn’t play on the 2008 championship team: Wes Helms and Aaron Rowand are the most prominent names.
As great as you feel for Raul Ibanez and Cliff Lee, who joined the team this year and are in the playoffs for the first time or in a long time, there is another Phillies player to be happy about.
Consider the career of Jimmy Rollins. He joined the Phillies in 2000, and his first full year was 2001. The team went 86-76 and finished second in the National League East. He has been here for the bad times and is a building block of this championship team.
He got his average back to .250 last night, after a dreadful, dreadful first half of the season.
And I don’t know about you, but the team just plays better when Carlos Ruiz is behind the plate.
Going into the playoffs, surely the Phillies are not the hottest or best team. That might be the Yankees or the Cardinals. The Braves are cooling off and it looks like the Rockies will gain the National League Wild Card.
But until that time, the Yankees, Cardinals, or Dodgers have not won anything.
You know that the Phillies will put up a good fight in defense of their title.
I think they will get at least to the National League Championship series.
Hey, even Chris Coste, back in town as a member of the Houston Astros, said he would be pulling for the Phillies.
"My teammates joked with me," Coste said on ComcastSportsNet television prior to Wednesday’s game. "I would make the last out and beat the catcher to the mound to join the celebration."