Passing the Crown
If it happens — a Nationals victory or Braves loss clinches Washington the title — the Phillies will get to watch the on-field celebration for a few moments before they return to a quiet clubhouse, eat their postgame meals, change into street clothes and return to the team hotel to prepare for a meaningless final two games.
It is strange to see the Phillies playing out the string entering the final series of the year. Obviously, they won five consecutive National League East championships dating to 2007, so even if they clinched early they were still preparing for a postseason. But they were eliminated from the NL Wild Card race with two games to play in 2006, and on the final day of the 2005 season. So not since Larry Bowa managed the Phillies in 2004 — Gary Varsho managed the final two games after Ed Wade fired Bowa — has there been a meaningless finish like this. I guess the Phillies could play spoiler — the Braves are three back with three to play — but it seems highly unlikely. The Phillies are going to have a bullpen game tomorrow night because Tyler Cloyd is injured. Nope, the Phillies will play three more games, head back to Philly, clean out their lockers at Citizens Bank Park and head home for the winter.
And the Nationals, who truly seem to have enjoyed knocking off the Phillies, will get to play on.
Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels finished their seasons over the weekend. Ryan Howard finished his season after breaking his right big toe. The Phillies are expected to use a relief pitcher to start Tuesday’s game because Tyler Cloyd cannot pitch because of soreness in his left arm. It’s