No one questions the fact that the last great Philadelphia Phillies' era began in the 1970s.
The Phillies finished nine games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the National League East in 1976. That was the first time that postseason access was granted since the "Whiz Kids" finished two games ahead of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League and then faced the New York Yankees in the 1950 World Series.
After being swept by the Yankees, the Phillies didn't appear in the playoffs until they faced (and were also swept by) the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Championship Series during the United States' Bicentennial year. A flourishing farm system and some fine acquisitions enabled an outstanding front office to engineer back-to-back 101-win seasons in 1976 and 1977, along with NLCS appearances in 1977 and 1978 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite adding free agent Pete Rose, the Phillies missed the playoffs in 1979.
It wasn't until Dallas Green's tongue-lashed squad beat the Houston Astros in 1980's thrilling National League Championship Series that World Series' tickets were finally able to be printed. Tug McGraw, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and the rest of the boys soon rode through the streets of Philadelphia in triumph after they had defeated the Kansas City Royals in six destined games.
Labor strife allowed the Phillies to make a split-season playoff appearance, in a quasi-National League Division Series, against the Montreal Expos in 1981. The Phillies won 89 games, but finished three games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1982 and had to watch the playoffs that year.
In 1983, the "Wheeze Kids" included former Reds' Joe Morgan and Tony Perez. Along with Cy Young Award-winner John Denny and Rolaids Relief Man Al Holland, they helped the remaining members of the 1980 team to win the NL East by six games and to finally defeat the Dodgers to capture the pennant. The Baltimore Orioles' five-game World Series' victory served to end what was the best era in team history.
A wide range of factors allowed those great Philadelphia teams to make six playoff appearances, win two National League pennants and a World Series Championship.
Even though they missed the playoffs in 1979 and 1982, it's fair to say that the Phillies' last great era lasted for eight years. How it compares to the era that began in 2007 is something that I haven't fully decided yet. Depending upon what happens in 2013, the current era might not be over.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He began his professional career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons' front office (the Philadelphia Phillies former Triple-A affiliate), later worked as a freelance sports writer and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo Contributor Network! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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