Phillies on a mission to rewrite history
Originally Published: October 8, 2008By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Passersby reported a strange sound Tuesday at the corner of Darien Street and Pattison Avenue in South Philadelphia.It was odd, all right. It sounded almost like, well, baseball. In a month that most of us know as October. How 'bout that? As it turned out, it was just the sound of the Phillies tuning up for their National League Championship Series with the Dodgers. But you could understand why that sound could scare off many an unsuspecting pedestrian.
In case you hadn't studied up on this sort of thing, you see, not many people in Philadelphia are familiar with the concept that baseball can still be played in October. The leaves turn in October. Pumpkins get carved in October. The Eagles throw those shoulder pads on in October. But the Phillies? For 95 of the past 106 Octobers (aka the World Series era), they've been officially invisible by now. Unless they had a manager to fire or something. So for the current group of Phillies, there's more going on this month than just another baseball team trying to reach for another October mountaintop. This is a group on a mission -- a mission to rewrite history. Its own. It's very rare in sports that you hear players talking about this sort of thing. But it happened just the other day, in a clubhouse where a team was celebrating only its fifth victory in any postseason series in franchise history. "I always said, when I got here, that I wanted to try to change the tradition," said Jimmy Rollins, a man who actually thinks these concepts through -- and verbalizes them right out loud, in front of real witnesses. "I said it to myself, 'We need to change the mentality, change the way people think about this organization, change the way the young kids feel about being in this organization.' And the only way you can do that is by winning." So Rollins and the core group of this team have constantly raised the bar. A little higher. Then a little higher than that. Then a little higher than that. Until it has brought them to this time and place -- where they have an opportunity to carve a new chapter all their own. A chapter they might even enjoy reading some day. There haven't been a whole lot of enjoyable chapters like that in the life of this franchise, you understand. Need a brief history lesson? Here goes: You might be shocked to learn that before the Cubs forgot to win the World Series for a century, the Phillies were the team whose record they broke. It took the Phillies 98 seasons to win their first World Series in 1980. And, as you might have noticed, they haven't won one since. Heck, even the Royals have won a World Series more recently than the Phillies. But it hasn't just been the World Series that Phillies teams have had a little trouble with. It's been every kind of postseason series. The Marlins have been around for 16 seasons. They've won six postseason series. The Phillies have been in existence for slightly longer than that -- like 110 years longer. But they've won only five postseason series. In the history of the franchise. "You know, I was watching ESPN the day we beat the Brewers, and I saw that," said catcher Chris Coste. "They said it was only the fifth postseason victory here. That stunned me. It really did. I don't know how many of us knew that." In this case, though, ignorance is bliss. The less these players know about the 125 seasons before this one, the better off they'll be. Fortunately, when we took a quick survey of the clubhouse to determine how much these men knew about their franchise before they arrived, they confessed to a dazzling array of historical obliviousness.
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIREJimmy Rollins is in his eighth full season with the Phillies.
It's crunch time. Big lights. Big city. We're playing the best of the best. It doesn't get any more urgent than
--Phillies third baseman Greg Dobbs
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