BY NICK STAFFIERI, Contributor
As we celebrate the beginning of a new year, we begin to ponder what 2010 will bring us. And even as we still thaw from the blizzards of winter, I cannot help but look forward to the days of spring. Yes, the hope of new beginnings as life and color bloom back into the air. Oh heck, let’s get real. Spring means a new baseball season. But for the Phillies, this season is like no other in the 127 year history of the team. That’s because the Phillies will attempt to reach the World Series for a third consecutive season.
In Philadelphia, that is a major accomplishment. The last time a Philadelphia sports franchise appeared in three consecutive championships was the Philadelphia Flyers from 1974 to 1976. The Flyers won the first two consecutive Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 and fell short of a hat trick to the Montreal Canadians in 1976.
To find this accomplishment in Philadelphia before that, we have to travel back to the Philadelphia Athletics. We all remember them, right? The American League baseball team that now resides in Oakland began their existence right here in Philadelphia and played here from 1903 to 1954. (They moved briefly to Kansas City prior to settling in Oakland, but who really cares.) The Philadelphia Athletics were the only other sports franchise in this city to appear in a championship game three consecutive season. They won the World Series against the Chicago Cubs in 1929 and repeated as World Champions of baseball against the Cardinals in 1930. Their third straight World Series appearance was a loss in the rematch to the Cardinals in 1931.
With many baseball experts considering the Phillies still the team to beat in the National League, it is not a stretch of the imagination to think that they can win a third straight NL pennant. This can certainly begin to rival, or even surpass, the successful run of the Phillies team of the late 1970s through early 1980s. That team, with the help of Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, won five division titles (’76, ’77, ’78, ’80 and ’83), two pennants (’80 and ’83) and one World Series (1980) in a span of 8 years.
With the 2010 Phillies being a legitimate threat for a third World Series appearance (hey, and how about winning it this year for a second time in three years), we may be jumping to considering this the best run in Philadelphia baseball history. Well, not so fast.
Remember those Philadelphia Athletics? Heck, they were a great team here in the city at one time. Their success that started 100 years ago this season began with a 1910 World Series victory against the Cubs, a repeat as World Champions in 1911 against the NY Giants, a third World Series in 1913 against the NY Giants and a loss in the World Series to the Boston Braves in 1914. Those four World Series appearances in five years makes it the most successful five year period in Philadelphia sports history.
So as we begin the 2010 season with our beloved Philadelphia Phillies, we begin to think: Can this team make Philadelphia history? With players such as Howard, Utley, Halladay and Rollins on board for at least the next few years and an Ownership group that appears willing to spend to win, Philadelphia fans should be witness to the greatest sports team in the last 100 years of this city.
Heck, perhaps in a few years, we can even say the best Philadelphia sports team ever!