This year, you’re invited to a 20th anniversary “celebration” of the 2000 Philadelphia Phillies, who were so bad that I have to break it down for you throughout this season.
This is the time of year that hope springs anew around baseball for every club. It’s a clean slate for a refreshed group of players and coaches. Anything seems possible, even if some teams know that they are probably in for a long season. But, hey, you never know.
Then there are the 2000 Philadelphia Phillies, a team that was completely doomed from the start.
It’s not really spoiling anything to flip to the end of the script and tell you that they’d go on to finish 65-97, which was the Phillies’ worst record since 1972 and remained the standard bearer for the 21st century until they lost 99 games during the abysmal 2015 season. Thanks, Ryne Sandberg.
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But it’s not enough to simply tell you that they stunk, and then leave it at that. And so I’m going to forge ahead with this ongoing series as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 2000 Phillies all season long. Maybe “observe” is a better word actually, because “commemorate” usually denotes looking back on something positive.
So, why do it then? Why spend time researching, writing, and remembering a team and a season that should be confined to the dust bin of Philly sports history?
For one, this team really stands out to me on a personal level. The 2000 Phillies occurred just after what I suppose you’d call my “formative years” as a sports fan, but they still made a big impression on me. This wasn’t the only lousy sports season that stands out, as I could go on about some duds that the Eagles threw in or a fair number of Flyers campaigns that ended in disaster. But it was essentially the low-water mark for Philadelphia Phillies baseball in my lifetime, and it taught me about how to deal with failure.
Again, shouldn’t we forget about it?
And are you getting annoyed at this “ask questions” writing style yet?
No, we shouldn’t forget about it. It’s important to look back to see how far things have come. In a weird way, cases like the 2000 Phils also inspire hope in us as sports fans. If they could go from this trainwreck of a season to competitive baseball and ultimately a World Series title in eight years, then maybe anything really is possible.
And yes, you should be annoyed by this writing style. I’ll stop.
Even in 2000, I don’t believe that baseball fans had fully recovered from the 1994 strike, not in Philadelphia at least. Case in point — by 1993, the Phillies had endured six straight losing seasons. Then they went on the most unlikely of runs that year to bring the fans back, only to suffer six more losing seasons in a row prior to 2000.
And so there was absolutely no hope going into 2000, a feeling proved well-founded from the start. Still, as sad as that all was at the time, it’s pretty funny when you look back on it. The 2000 Phillies and other, similar seasons are the driving force behind my book I’m Getting a Sports Complex: Trials & Tribulations of a Thirtysomething Philadelphia Sports Fan.
No, this article and series aren’t meant to be one big plug for my book that you won’t buy. I just want you to know that this is something that I’ve studied and dwelt on for years. But it’d be great if you did buy it, just saying.
So, all during this 2020 Phillies season, I’ll be turning the clock back 20 years for periodic looks at the 2000 team. I’ll be talking about important dates, going into detail about key figures, and just basking in the overall ridiculousness of how bad that season was.
If organizations are going to mark the anniversaries of their greatest teams, it’s incumbent upon the fans to to the same for the absolute worst. We cried then, but we’re going to laugh about it now. So let me be your guide for this peculiar journey.
This series will resume in a few weeks, just as the regular season is about to begin. I hope that your excitement for 2020 won’t be dashed as I start getting into details about the downhill disaster that we saw 20 years ago. Instead, let’s look back and laugh a little bit about it as we breathe a collective sigh of relief that we’ll never see anything quite like the 2000 Phillies again. At least, not unless Ryne Sandberg comes back to manage.