The Philadelphia Phillies have written this season off more than a few times already. Yet while Phillies fans like myself have mourned for some time that their five-year playoff run would be over, it still hadn't been made official yet. However, for the first time since 2006, Philadelphia was finally mathematically eliminated from postseason play on Sept. 28.
After expecting it for weeks and months - except for a few hopeful weeks in September - the Phillies have now officially missed the playoffs for the first time in five years. Fittingly, the final blow came in a game where Cliff Lee's best efforts were wasted, before the bullpen let Philadelphia down.
Lee held the Miami Marlins to one run and three hits over seven innings on Sept. 28, yet the Phillies gave him absolutely no runs in the meantime. They finally tied things up in the eighth when Lee left, but a ninth-inning Marlins run - off of someone other than Jonathan Papelbon, of course - doomed Philadelphia to a 2-1 loss and elimination.
The Phillies would have been knocked out even if they won, given that the St. Louis Cardinals blew out the Washington Nationals by 12-2. It was fitting that the Cardinals ended the Phillies' season for the second year in a row - albeit under different circumstances than in the 2011 NLDS - and that the Nationals also played a part as well.
Now Washington will likely go on to succeed Philadelphia as NL East champions this year - and maybe a few more after that - while St. Louis gets another playoff shot even without Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa. Yet while the Cardinals managed to rebuild and the Nationals rose to power, the Phillies kept declining and couldn't recover from their own personnel losses.
The final defeat came to a Marlins team that was even more disappointing and chaotic. At the least, Miami's problems make Philadelphia look good, since the Phillies still got hot and made a run for a little while. But all their early September hot streak got them was third place in the NL East and the chance to avoid their first losing record in years - although that quest has taken a hit lately.
Not only are the Phillies out of the wild card running, they have fallen back below .500 in this last little slump. Getting back above it is the only goal left in these last five games - whereas Philadelphia's last five games of the regular season used to be spent staying healthy for the playoffs. We have all known for weeks and months that this wouldn't be the case in 2012 - but there is no hiding or brushing that fact aside anymore today.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
Other stories from this contributor
- Sports & Recreation