The Philadelphia Phillies have clinched a spot in Major League Baseball's playoffs by winning their fourth consecutive National League East Division title.
Philadelphia has some of the most passionate sports fans in the United States. They love all their professional teams and give them great support. And during the past decade all have been in contention for championships.
Great support and spirit
Though they have not yet won a league title, the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles have been division champions four times in the past 10 years and have made it to one Super Bowl. Since 2000, the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers have played in the Conference Finals four times and lost last season's Stanley Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks. The NBA's Philadelphia 76ers have made the playoffs seven of the last 10 seasons, reaching the NBA finals one time.
But baseball's Philadelphia Phillies have recently won their sport's ultimate prize, the World Series, capturing the title in 2008. They also made it back to the World Series last year, where they lost to the New York Yankees.
After shutting out the host Washington Nationals Monday Night, 8-0, the Phillies clinched their fourth consecutive National League East Division title.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel believes it is a significant achievement.
"(Winning the division) says a whole lot. This says we are definitely coming into a place where people should think we're winners," Manuel said. "That is what we are trying to establish and tried to establish for a long time. It says a whole lot about (the team)."
The Phillies also clinched the league's best record with their 94th victory, guaranteeing they will have home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
Philadelphia had started this season strong but injuries and inconsistent offense saw production and wins decline. The team rebounded and has been one of the best in baseball over the past two months.
Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino says it is a good time to get on a hot streak.
"Some would say, well, we turned the switch on in September," said Victorino. "Well it is not that easy. We are not that kind of team. We want to do great from the beginning but you know it is one of those things that when September comes we just play well and it is one of those things that we are able to get it done."
The playoff clinching win was especially exciting for bench player Mike Sweeney, who in 15 previous seasons with other teams had never before made it to the post-season.
"This is awesome. Too many Octobers I have spent fishing up in the mountains and fly-fishing out in Montana," Sweeney said. "To get a chance to play some baseball in October, as much as I love fishing, is going to be way better."
The Phillies will try to become the first National League team to play in three consecutive World Series since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals, who won twice.
Right fielder Jayson Werth believes the team is up for the challenge.
"We had a chance to have the best record in baseball, best record in the National League, probably one of the best teams we have had over the last four years. We are right where we need to be," said Werth.
The next step toward cementing their status as one of the best teams in National League history begins October 6th when the Philadelphia Phillies start their post-season campaign against a team still to be determined.