BY SHAY RODDY
Wow, it’s hard to believe 2009 is just about over. And what a year it was for the Phillies. For the first time since 1981, the Phils opened their season as World Champions, following an unpredictable, remarkable and “perfect season.”
But after that ridiculous 2008, it promised to be a letdown year in 2009. In some senses it was. We all know the Phils didn’t go all the way. We all know the reigning champs lost their throne on one forgettable November night. But what we often too soon forget is that 2009 was chock full of its own magical moments and is up there with the greatest seasons ever experienced in the history of one of America’s oldest franchises.
Allow me to take a look back at the top 25 moments of 2009. Be it on or off the field, this year was filled with unforgettable memories. Here is the first part of this three-part series.
Phillies sweep Mets behind Blanton’s gem (July 5)
Joe Blanton always gave you a chance to win. This time he did a little more. Blanton tossed a four-hit ball into the eighth and Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins provided the offense, each solo-homering en route to a Fourth of July weekend sweep of the Mets.
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 2 METS 0
“Utley’s Corner” (June 10)
Chase Utley sent a solo homer into the corner to the left of where the seats jet out in right field at the new Citi Field in the fourth inning, which was kind of funny, because the night before he had hit one to the exact same spot. With things tied in the eleventh Utley again strode to the plate and what was funny became rediculous, Utley again homered to the exact same spot, only this time it was the game winner and the Mets announcers labeled the spot the ball landed, “Utley’s Corner” on their broadcast. The name has stuck to this day.
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 5 METS 4
King Cole shuts ’em down (September 1)
It was the first of September and things were really heating up for the Phils. But perhaps their biggest weapon from 2008 hadn’t looked too sharp in 2009. Cole Hamels had been anything but great so far this season and the once ace really needed a turnaround. And boy, did he look like he had it that night. Cole went the distance, pitching a complete game shutout giving us a little hope that he could turn things around.
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 1 GIANTS 0
TOP 20 PART 1 (20-16):
20. Mets lose seven run lead and fall to Phillies in 13 (August 26):
In a stunning turn of events, the Phillies rallied back to score eight unanswered runs and overcome a seven-run fourth inning deficit at Citizens Bank Park. Chris Coste, who will spend 2010 in a Mets uniform hit a walkoff 13th inning single knocking the Mets out of first place.
The Phillies trailed 7-6 as they headed to the bottom of the ninth but an Eric Bruntlett double to the gap in deep right-center scored Jayson Werth to force extras. The Phillies ran out of players and Brett Myers was forced to pinch hit. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins homered in the effort.
After that the Mets never quite regained their stature as an elite team and the sold out Phillies crowd went home happy after a five hour 17 minute game.
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 8 METS 7
19. Werth steals the plate! (May 12)
Jayson Werth got on base. He stole second. Still, Dodger pitcher Ronald Belisario ignored him, so he stole third. He danced down the line at third, but again Belisario ignored him. And so he did what any logical, aggressive ball player would do. He broke for home.
Werth then went on to steal another base in the Phillies victory.
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 5 DODGERS 3
18. Howard and Ibanez’s salamis lead Phils to victory (April 27)
It’s very rare that you witness a grand slam in baseball. Witnessing two in the same game is unreal. But you shouldn’t put it past the Phillies lineup as they proved late in this late April slugfest.
It was an unseasonably warm day in Philadelphia, 87 degrees was the game time temperature. And as one might expect, balls were flying off the bats. The Nationals scored 11 runs, but it just wasn’t enough as Raul Ibanez strode to the plate in the eighth and with the bases loaded, sent a deep fly ball down the right field line, that cleared the fence and stayed fair putting the Phillies ahead.
Howard had already hit a fifth inning salami and a montage of other hits abled the Phils to win the slugfest on a memorable day in South Philly.
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 13 NATIONALS 11
17. Werth hits 13th inning walkoff (July 21)
It was 1-1 when Jayson Werth strode to the plate with two men on and two outs in the 13th inning. A run hadn’t been scored since the fifth inning and Werth had a chance to play hero and send the fans home happy with a base hit. But Werth had something a little more in mind.
He sent the pitch over the outfield fence to win the game with a walkoff three-run homer, giving the Phillies their tenth straight victory.
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 4 CUBS 1
16. Cliff Lee shuts ’em down in first Phillies Start (July 31)
Cliff Lee answered all questions about what kind of pitcher he was. He left no doubt in our minds that he was a plenty adequate second option to Roy Halladay. And he did it all on he field with his first start in the red pinstripes.
Lee came to town just a few days before he was handed the ball and trotted out to the AT&T Park mound in San Francisco with plenty of expectations to live up to. He didn’t disappoint.
Lee toyed with Giants hitters tossing a near perfect ball, going the distance in a four hit, one run gem, letting everyone back home know, “I’m for real.”
FINAL SCORE: PHILLIES 5 GIANTS 1
Tune in for parts two and three later this week, as we continue to remember 2009. Feel free to debate the selections below in the comments.