It has been a long and winding season for the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies, but with two weeks to go they find themselves up three games on the Atlanta Braves in the NL East division with the best record in the National League and facing a favorable schedule down the stretch.
With the lineup almost completely healthy for the seemingly the first time all season and with the best trio of pitchers that any living Philadelphian can ever recall, things are looking pretty good for the 2010 squad.
Whether they win their fourth straight NL East divisional title or not, and whether they go to their third straight World Series or not, the current squad of Phillies must, by now, be considered to be one of the two greatest teams the Phillies have ever produced.
Where do they rank amongst the top ten Philadelphia teams of all time? Let's have a look.
Over the course of five seasons the Philadelphia Eagles went to the playoffs four times and won ten or more games every year, but did not see a lot of success in the post-season.
Nevertheless, this team featured a combination of Randall Cunningham, one of the most exciting players ever to play the game of football, as well as an astonishingly good defense featuring Reggie White, Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Mike Golic, Byron Evans, Eric Allen, and Andre Waters, one of the straight up scariest guys ever to put on a football helmet.
In an otherwise vast sea of failure–from 1918 to 1974 the Phillies enjoyed just 13 seasons over .500–the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies (dubbed, "the Whiz Kids") went 91-63 and won the National League by two games over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
They got swept in the World Series by the New York Yankees, and didn't make the playoffs again for 25 more years.
There hasn't been a ton to cheer about for the Philadelphia 76ers in the last 30 years, but in 2001 Allen Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo and a scrappy band of role players willed themselves to the NBA Finals to face off against the mighty Los Angeles Lakers.
They even won Game One in Los Angeles before losing the next four games.
For three straight years the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers finished with the two best records in the NHL, and twice in three years the Mike Keenan-Tim Kerr-Ron Hextall Flyers faced off with the Gretzky-Messier-Coffey Oilers.
The 1987 team took the Oilers to seven games and were the only team to do during the Oilers run of five Stanley Cup championships in the 1980's.
A lot of current Philadelphia Eagles fans don't realize this, but Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb were once the greatest coach-quarterback combination in team history. From 2000 to 2004, the Eagles under McNabb and Reid went to the playoffs five times, won four NFC East division titles, went to four NFC Conference Championships, and even went to a Super Bowl.
Their overall run together, though, has largely been considered a failure because they never won a Super Bowl.
Because, you know, going 103-56 and making eight playoff appearances in 10 years, any team can do that.
In the very early days of organized professional basketball, before the NBA, the Philadelphia Warriors were part of the Basketball Association of America, or the "BAA."
And in the inaugural season of the BAA, the Warriors won the first ever championship. The team was led by its 6-5 center, and future Hall of Famer, Joe Fulks and head coach Eddie Gottlieb, who is also in the Hall of Fame.
The Warriors would return to the BAA Finals the following year, losing to Kleggie Hermsen's Baltimore Bullets.
In 1909, the Philadelphia Athletics went 95-58 and finished second in the American League behind Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers. For the next five years, the Athletics would finish out of first just once, going to four World Series and winning three of them.
Behind Hall of Famers Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, Eddie Collins, and Home Run Baker, the A's won 90 or more games every year for six straight years.
The A's would come back to earth with a thud, however, as after being swept out of the World Series in 1914 they proceeded to finish in last place in the American League for seven straight years.
Ah yes, the infamous 1913-1917 Philadelphia Phillies. Who can forget those guys, with names like Otto Knabe, Sherry Magee, Gavvy Cravath, Dave Bancroft, Eppa Rixey and Grover Cleveland "Pete" Alexander.
One of the greatest assemblages of talent in the history of the Phils, this group led the Phillies to three second place finishes and a first place finish in five seasons, losing the 1915 World Series to the Boston Red Sox.
In a span of eight years the Phillies went to the playoffs six time–after having been only twice in franchise history before the 1976 season.
The Phils made it to the NLCS three years in a row, losing to the remnants of the Big Red Machine and then the Dodgers two years in a row (revenge for which would be exacted by the Phillies 30 years later).
After missing the playoffs in 1979, and firing manager Danny Ozark in the process, the Phils went back in 1980 and won their first World Series championship.
The team centered around Hall of Famers Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt, who combined for three Cy Young awards and an MVP during the period, as well as 1983 Cy Young winner John Denny, future Hall of Famers Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, plus guys like Pete Rose, Larry Bowa, Gary Matthews, Bob Boone, Tug McGraw, and Greg Luzinski.
Under Coach Billy Cunningham, in 1980 a core group of Mo Cheeks, Darryl Dawkins, Caldwell Jones, and Dr. J took the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals, where they were beaten in six games by Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in the series in which Magic famously played all five positions.
After getting eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1981, the Sixers got back to the NBA Finals in 1982 with roughly the same nucleus, plus Andrew Toney, but were once again dispatched by the Lakers.
After that season, though, the Sixers signed Moses Malone and in 1983 the Sixers finally summited the NBA Finals and won their first Championship since the Wilt Chamberlain days.
That was the year that Malone, when asked to predict how the Sixers would do in the playoffs, famously uttered the phrase "fo-fo-fo," meaning that the Sixers would sweep their way to a championship.
In their first ever stretch of greatness, the Philadelphia Eagles won three straight NFL East division championships and won two out of three NFL Championships, allowing zero total points in their two championship games.
To this day, Steve Van Buren and Tommy Thompson are names that every kid growing up in Philadelphia knows and loves.
The current era of the Philadelphia Phillies began on a summer night in 2006 when the Phillies traded away Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the New York Yankees for, in essence, nothing in return.
The Phillies haven't looked back, winning three division titles (so far), two NL penants, and a World Series.
Along the way, these guys have put together one of the greatest 6-4-3 double play combinations of all time, have won a World Series and been to another, and have won two NL Most Valuable Player awards with an eye towards a Cy Young Award for Roy Halladay this season.
How long can it continue?
We can only hope it will go on forever.
The Philadelphia Flyers of the mid-1970's weren't the most talented hockey players in the NHL, but there can be little doubt that they were the toughest. For three seasons they intimidated their way to the top of the hockey world, winning two Stanley Cups and losing a third to Guy LaFleur's Montreal Canadiens.
Dubbed "the Broad Street Bullies" because of their style of play, the Flyers style of play eventually forced the institution of a variety of rules to make the NHL safer.
In 1927, the Philadelphia Athletics won 91 games and finished second in the American League to the New York Yankees.
In 1928, for one season only, the Philadelphia Athletics featured seven of arguably the top 50 players in the history of baseball: Mickey Cochrane, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, and Al Simmons. The team won 98 games and somehow finished second to the Yankees again.
But for the next three years, the A's enjoyed one of the greatest teams of all time, winning 104, 102, and 107 games in consecutive seasons, and winning two out of three World Series.
In 1932, the A's won 94 games, finishing second in the AL again, and within two years A's owner Connie Mack had dismantled his brilliant team, hastening a run of 13 straight losing seasons and eventually sending the A's on their way to Kansas City.