Image credit: Screenshot of this Major League Baseball video by Cujo359
A year after winning a club record 102 games, this year's Philadelphia Phillies barely managed to break even:
The Phillies finished 81-81, snapping their run of nine consecutive winning seasons. It is a minor accomplishment they finished .500, considering they stood 14 games under .500 on July 13 and traded Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
But finishing .500 is just a very small consolation prize for a team that had won five consecutive National League East championships and will miss the postseason for the first time since 2006, making way for the younger and immensely talented Nationals.
Phils finish up at .500 after loss to Nats in finale
The Washington Nationals are probably the only good news in those paragraphs. The erstwhile Montreal Expos moved to our nation's capital a few years ago. They look to be a much better representative than the generally dreadful Washington Senators of a generation ago. At 98-64, they have one of the better records in baseball this year.
The Phillies, on the other hand, might best be exemplified by the fortunes of star pitcher Cliff Lee, one of the few bright spots of the Phillies' last World Series appearance. This year, despite being one of the top starters in Earned Run Average (ERA) and Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP), and having pitched the entire season, he ended up with a 6-9 record. Lack of run support, bad bullpen performances, and fielding miscues all led to his lack of wins. After all, losing nine games in a full season isn't bad for a starter.
Losing their two best power hitters - Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, not to mention their two best left-handed batters, for most of the season was a tough break, but the rest of the lineup hit worse than normal, with the exception of Carlos Ruiz. Utley and Howard are back, but the lineup needs more help. Starting pitcher Roy Halladay wasn't himself this season, and it showed. It would help if they were better at fielding, too.
So, maybe next year.