The Philadelphia Phillies were expected to win the NL East this season. They didn’t, and it cost Larry Bowa his job.
The Phillies look to get interim skipper Gary Varsho his first win as they close out their disappointing season against the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
Bowa’s four-year stint as Phillies manager ended Saturday, just hours before the team dropped a 4-3 decision to the Marlins.
Bowa led the Phillies to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 21 years, but Philadelphia failed to reach the playoffs for the 11th straight season after coming in as a favorite to dethrone the Atlanta Braves in the East.
Instead, the Braves rolled to their 13th straight division title and the Phillies underachieved throughout the season.
“You never want to see this happen. It’s a huge disappointment that we didn’t make the playoffs because of the kind of team we have,” Philadelphia third baseman David Bell said. “I don’t think anyone’s pointing the finger at anyone. We all feel responsible.”
The Phillies had their third winning season in four years under Bowa, but his fiery personality and win-at-all-costs mentality clashed with a few of his laid-back players. Before Bowa took over in 2001, the Phillies had losing records in 13 of the previous 14 seasons.
The Phillies are the losingest franchise in sports. No team in any U.S. pro sport has lost more games than their 8,757.
Bench coach Varsho managed the team Saturday and will be back in the dugout for Sunday’s finale.
While the Phillies are changing skippers, Florida announced Saturday that Jack McKeon will return for another season.
McKeon, who turns 74 in November, is still energized despite not being able to take the Marlins back to the postseason after winning the World Series last year.
“What he’s done for this organization is measurable certainly in terms of success and immeasurable maybe in some of the intangibles he brings,” general manager Larry Beinfest said. “We’re very pleased that Jack is back. Two straight winning seasons and a world championship speaks for itself.”
A year ago, McKeon took over a team from Jeff Torborg that was six games below .500 on May 11, and posted a 75-49 record to earn the NL wild card, and eventually the world championship.
”(A thousand wins) would be a major milestone,” Florida owner Jeffrey Loria said. “For me, the two straight winning seasons are very important. It’s never been done before in franchise history. Jack is a special guy.”
As for the remainder of the coaching and training staff, the organization will make an announcement before Sunday’s season finale.