There was a time in the not-so-distant past that you used to receive actual physical tickets for Phillies games. Nowadays you print them out or have them on your phone. I want to take you back to a particular date in Phillies history. September 7, 2005, to be precise. The Phillies were the Wild Card team on the day before but were locked in a tight race with Houston and Florida.
The franchise was 12 years removed from their last playoff appearance and since I was a season ticket holder, I had the option to purchase "first chance" playoff tickets. I did purchase them, but as well all know, there were never able to be used. The game that extinguished the Phillies playoff aspirations happened on 9/7/05.
On September 6, 2005, I became a Dad for the first time. The highest of highs and one of my most memorable days personally. As Phillies fans, we often have the nagging feeling though. The feeling of imminent doom and where Murphy's Law will prevail a good portion of the time. Enter 9/7/2005, so let me tell you about that game.
The Phils (73-67) were playing (75-64) the Astros at Citizens Bank Park and the stakes were high. The Phillies were trying to gain ground on the Wild Card leading Astros. Stop me if you heard this before, but the bullpen was the culprit. The Phillies were down 5-3 going into the bottom of the 8th. Up stepped Bobby Abreu with one man on and he hit a 2 run HR to tie the game at 5. Shane Victorino then followed that up with his first hit in MLB in more than 2 years and his RBI single put the Phils up 6-5 going into the top of the 9th.
The Phillies closer in 2005 was Billy Wagner, the goat and villain. Wagner gave up a spirit and season-crushing 3 run HR to former teammate Craig Biggio to give the Astros a 6-5 lead. None of the 3 runs were earned because with 2 outs David Bell made a critical error that extended the inning for Houston and allowed Biggio to come up to bat. Future Phillies closer Brad Lidge came in to shut the Phils down in the 9th and seal the win.
The game on September 7, 2005 may not have been the only game the Phillies lost late in the game. However, losing in that fashion to a team they were trying to catch ended up being the last gasp for playoff hopes until 2007. I have ticket stubs from the 2008-2011 playoff run and they are dear to my heart. I do keep the unused playoff ticket as well though. It is a reminder of every game counts.