4,014 days ago, the date was October 7, 2011. On that day, the 102-win Phillies hosted the 90-win St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park in a win-or-go-home Game 5 in the NLDS.
On a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, down by a run, Ryan Howard grounded out to second base. As Howard collapsed in-between home plate and first base with a torn Achilles, the Cardinals celebrated at first base around future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols.
That was the day the music died.
Now, the date is October 3, 2022. And for the first time since that date, the Phillies are returning to the postseason.
With their 3-0 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park featuring a brilliant performance by Aaron Nola, the Phillies have snapped an 11-year playoff-less drought, as they have clinched the third and final seed in the Wild Card.
In those 4,014 days, we have seen 1,676 games, lost 893 of them, and watched every other team in baseball celebrate what we were so needy of, making the postseason.
I was nearly four years old when Howard collapsed that chilly, windy October night in 2011. Now, I am nearly 15 and a freshman in high school. Tonight, my daydreams have come true, seeing my favorite team make the postseason.
I began watching the Phillies and baseball in 2014. And ever since then, I have dreamed of what this day could become.
I’ve enjoyed all the good and bad of watching this team all these years, because without the time of waving the white flag or collapsing in August and September, right now would not feel so sweet.
From Howard, my favorite all-time player’s, career being changed due to his Achilles injury, trading away the whole World Series roster, most notably Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Cole Hamels, seeing two of the greatest pitchers I have seen in my lifetime, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, limp their way into retirement, to barely getting over 70 wins a season, to falling off a cliff every August and September the last four seasons, it has been an emotional ride.
And for me, it’s surreal being here.
And it has to be for Jean Segura as well, who has made his first postseason in his career.
Segura has been a major leaguer for 11 years and has been on five different teams. He has never sniffed the postseason.
Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola, the two longest-tenured Phillies, have to be feeling this one too. They have experienced the ups and downs of this team. They are two guys I have latched on to and have made connections with since I began watching this team.
Tonight was a dream come true.
The Phillies will either face the three-seeded Cardinals in St. Louis, the Mets in New York, or the Braves in Atlanta beginning Friday night.