This season has been a great one - but we have a new season now, and it better be a long month! The Phillies led the division for 123 straight days, which this team has not been used to doing. During these games the team had its ups and downs, but in the end were able to stay "the team to beat" in the NL East until the last day. Ed Wade, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr. have truly built a dynamic team through the draft, off season pick ups and trades. These three GM's will forever be remembered for the 3 NL East Division titles they manufactured in Philly - only the second time in team history.
I'm not going to lie, I am as proud to be a Phillies fan today as I have ever been. I am still running high off of last year's World Series win, but it is truly gratifying to know that this team has not laid back comfortable from last season. This team has capitalized on their talent, took the bull by the horns and won another title. They could have had a decent year, missed the playoffs, or just barely made it in as a wild-card.... and still have been loved in Philly because of last year -but they didn't. Instead, players like Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez had career years, Pedro Martinez made an incredible comeback to baseball, Pedro Feliz and Jimmy Rollins dominated the left side of the infield and J.A Happ, Jamie Moyer, Chan Ho Park and Kyle Kendrick battle as starters and relievers to get a win anyway possible. This team is not perfect, and they never will be, but they understand how to win and how to play as a true team.
One thing that really meant a lot last night were the two incredible decisions by Charlie Manuel. We all know Charlie is a player's coach, but he really showed why last night. With two outs in the 9th inning, Charlie brought in Brad Lidge to close out the division for the Phillies. This showing of confidence and respect for Lidge is something that few managers would do, especially with the year Brad has had. Charlie has said he would stick with Brad all year - well, he proved it last night. While Lidge was pouring beer and champagne all over his teammates, Charlie was nowhere to be found. We all know where Charlie was - sitting in his office allowing the players to enjoy the title on their own, focusing more on what the team needed to do next to win the NLDS. Charlie has vowed he will not celebrate until they win the World Series, and that is an incredible decision on his part. Charlie Manuel, you are the man!
Philadelphia Phillies - 2009 National League East Division Champions!