PBR-Professional baseball in Philadelphia is experiencing an unprecedented run of success.
The Phillies have won 371 games over the past four seasons, collected four consecutive National League Eastern division pennants, played in three straight National League Championships and made a pair of World Series appearances. Toss in 2008’s World Series win and you are looking arguably at the best run in Phillies’ franchise history.
The club set attendance records last season, in total (3,777,322) and average per game (44,968), and will enter the 2011 season with a streak of 123 consecutive sell-outs, second only to the Boston Red Sox.
Things couldn't be going much better.
The record-setting attendance figures has generated additional revenue and given Ruben Amaro Jr. and Co. an opportunity to increase the payroll, which now stands as the highest in the National League, and just behind Boston and the New York Yankees as the highest in baseball.
After being a second-division organization for so long, the Philies are widely considered the class of the National League. And that was true even before the club went out and signed Cliff Lee last month.
The Phillies starting rotation for 2011, with Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, is already being heralded as one of the best in baseball’s rich history. The foursome is being compared by pundits to some of the greatest pitching staffs the game has ever seen; including the Baltimore Orioles staff of the late 1970’s, the New York Mets staff of the late 1980’s and the Atlanta Braves staff of the 1990’s.
The mantra of “pitching is everything” has been proven to be true time and time again, and these three staffs support it; all three teams won championships during their respective pitching tenures.
However, there is a sense of urgency. Halladay and Lee are signed until 2013 and beyond, but Oswalt’s contract will expire after this season and Hamels will be eligible for arbitration.
The idea that this season could be the team’s only year with all four of these pitchers together only magnifies the expectations for 2011.
S ince the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 fans have demanded nothing less than another championship. This season won’t be any different, and if anything, the postseason disappointments of the previous two years has created an anxiety amongst some of the Phillies’ most ardent fans.
A World Series victory in 2011 will turn this golden age into a dynasty, and Philadelphia has been waiting for a team like this for quite some time.
The fans will fill Citizens Bank Park, and the Phillies’ front office has hired the talent to succeed, so now the onus falls on the players.
And expectations couldn’t be higher.