On July 15, 2007, the Philadelphia Phillies lost their 10,000th game. This had been a highly anticipated event for Phillies fans, one that city websites even counted down, like a missile launch going the wrong direction, the numbers heading up, the shuttle smashing into the ground. On that day, the Phillies lost to the Cardinals 10-2 to drop to 46-45 on the season, five games behind the first-place Mets. ESPN broadcast the game and made a big deal out of it, even inviting Harry Kalas to come by and chat with Jon Miller and that Joe Morgan fellow you've heard so much about. The regal Bill Lyon memorialized the day.
Has there ever lived a creature to rival the Phillies fan? Harder to discourage than a sidewalk weed. Always coming back for more. Go ahead, load up and take another shot. We endure, we persevere, we do not discourage.
The Phillies were the logical team to break the 10,000 barrier. They'd been to the playoffs once in the last 25 years and seemed perpetually perched at that "just above .500 but not a real contender" ledge. They didn't even have the good manners to break their fans' hearts. They just plodded along, always just short. After the 10,000th loss, the team went on to lose three of its next four, dropping a game under .500 and six games out of first. Take another shot. They endure, they persevere, they do not discourage.
Every single thing that has happened since then has been awesome.
The Phillies went on to reap the benefits of the first epic Mets collapse to win the division and reach the playoffs. The next year they were world champions. Last year, they became the first National League team to repeat as pennant winners since the mid-'90s Braves. They are, by almost every objective measure, overwhelmingly the best team in the National League this year. They traded for one of the best five pitchers in baseball in the offseason. They are becoming the Yankees of the Senior Circuit. The Phillies are the envy of baseball.
That 10,000-loss marker, so metaphorical at the time, is entirely forgotten now. The Phillies hit 10,000 and hit reset. The Phillies are the opposite of who they were before that loss. It was a silly conversation topic in 2007, an excuse to wallow. Now it is the fulcrum on which Phillies' history pivoted.
The next team to lose 10,000 games will likely be the Atlanta Braves, a mere 117 away, 60 less than the Phillies have lost since reaching the milestone. Next up are the Cubs, Pirates, Reds and Cardinals, in that order. I bet those teams can't wait. Apparently, it's the prism through which everything turns into rainbows.