The Phillies handed the ball to newly promoted setup man Luis Garcia in the eighth inning late last night in Anaheim. Over the course of the last two months, this assuredly meant the Phillies would go into the ninth with the lead they had secured in tact. Garcia had tossed 22.1 innings while surrendering just one earned run since the middle of June. But like all good things, this impressive streak too came to an end. Garcia was unable to hold onto the lead, giving up two runs on a hit, two walks and a wild pitch, as the Phillies lost 5-4 and leave Angels Stadium with their tails between their legs. The team suffered their first sweep since June 16-18, when the Arizona Diamondbacks came into Philadelphia and beat them in three straight.
The sweep, in and of itself, isn’t the most important part of this piece, though. Every team gets swept. The World Champion Cubs last year were swept twice last year. The 2001 Mariners, who lost just 46 games all year, got swept out once in the season. Sweeps happen.
The more important factor of the sweep lies in its longevity. The Phillies were swept out by the Angels in 2017. And again in 2014. And once again in 2008. In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to 2003 to find the last time the Phillies defeated the Angels. The Phillies won that game on June 9, blanking the Angels 3-0. The winning pitcher? Try Vincente Padilla. Padilla threw seven shutout innings before turning the game over to Rheal Cormier and Jose Mesa for the final six outs. To my younger readers, if you don’t know the names Rheal Cormier or Vincente Padilla, you got a chance to avoid the first round of horrible baseball in my lifetime. To my older audience, you likely scoff by saying that I didn’t have to sit through the 1972 season. But you have 1980. I guess it’s a cyclical trade off.
The Phillies beat those Anaheim Angels in the first game of that three game series. They preceded to lose the final two, and the losing streak began. The Angels have won 12 straight against the Phillies dating back to that June 9 game, the longest streak in the history of interleague play.
So what I wanted to do today is take a look back to that day in June, 2003 and see how life was different for us the day before the losing streak began. It was only 14 years ago, but alot can change in a small period of time. Let’s take a look and see.
In June, 2003, I had just finished my final day of classes in the third grade. I was not yet ten, as I would turn double digits later that December. The only thing that mattered to me, and still one of the only things that matter to me, was baseball. I played 24/7, and on some good teams too. There were really no cares in the world for nine-year-old Tyler other than getting some playing time in that particular night’s game.
In Major League Baseball, the Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves were kings of the standings in their respected Leagues, both sitting at 42-19. Neither would find themselves playing in the Fall Classic later that year. In fact, the Mariners would miss the playoffs altogether despite winning 93 games, as the Red Sox took the Wild Card spot (remember, there was only one then) with 95 wins. The Braves did win the NL East, by ten games in fact, but would be beaten by the Chicago Cubs in five games. The Cubs would go on to play in the legendary Steve Bartman game, lose Game 7, and fall to the surprise team of the league that year, the Florida Marlins. The Marlins would knock off the powerhouse Yankees to win their second World Series in just the team’s tenth year of existence.
It was a bad day for Philadelphia Flyers fans, as they were forced to watch their hated rival, the New Jersey Devils, hoist the Stanley Cup trophy after defeating the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 3-0 to win the series 4-3. Later in the week, the San Antonio Spurs would win the franchises second NBA Championship, knocking off another Philadelphia rival, the New Jersey Nets fours games to two.
Outside of sports, George Bush is the President of the United States. Bush begins his campaign for re-election as the 2004 elections loom closer. His re-election plans loom large as the country earlier in the year sent armed forces to invade Iraq, starting a war that is still on the minds of Americans in 2017. After a few months of forces on the ground in Iraq, the United States announced on July 22 that Saddam Hussein had been killed.
In the entertainment industry, rap and hip hop ruled the airwaves, as 21 Questions by 50 Cent and Nat Dogg hit number one on the Hot 100 Billboard Charts, where it would stay for four consecutive weeks before being dethroned by This Is The Night by Clay Aiken. Despite that genre taking in the singles, it was rock that held the top spot on record sales that week. Staind’s 14 Shades of Grey was the big seller, followed the next week by Led Zeppelin’s How the West Was Won. The following week was won by Metallica’s St. Anger.
In theaters, fast cars and chase scenes were all the rage, and the second installment of the Fast and Furious saga, 2 Fast 2 Furious, was number one at the box offices, raking in $127 million in its opening week, grossing Universal more than $50 million that week. The following week, the box offices would pull a complete 180, as car junkies were overtaken by kids (read me) flocking to see Finding Nemo two weeks after it came into theaters. After taking in $70 million two weeks prior and breaking the record for opening day weekend sales for an animated movie, Finding Nemo brought in another $30 million.
For those of you that enjoy a good novel from time to time, it was a struggle to find the top selling book, as stores routinely sold out of this particular novel. The Da Vinci Code took the top selling spot in three of the four weeks in June, 2003 before finally being dethroned by James Patterson’s The Lake House in the final week of the month. After spending two weeks at the top spot in April, and again in those June weeks, the Da Vinci Code reclaimed the top selling position again for three weeks in July, three weeks in August, two in September and the final seven weeks of the year in late November and all of December. In total, the Dan Brown novel spent 20 of the 52 weeks of the year as the top selling book in 2003.
Prices around the country in 2003 would have our wallets a little more full in 2017. The average price of gas in June, 2003 in the United States was $1.44. In Pennsylvania and Delaware, it was $1.42. And in New Jersey, it was even cheaper, at $1.33. The cheap prices of gas were needed in 2003, as the top three selling vehicles of that year, the For F-Series, the Chevy Silverado, and the Dodge Ram, were all large, gas guzzling trucks.
In the grocery store, your dollar would have gotten you more as well. A gallon of milk was just $1.15 and bread was just about the same. A two liter bottle of soda would have only set you back $1.79, which in Philadelphia now, is nothing more than a cruel joke with the sugar and soda taxes. One thing that has stayed fairly even is the price of fruit. Bananas were just 57 cents a pound and oranges cost you $.122 per pound, which isn’t much different than in 2017. Apples are more expensive now, but not by a steep margin.
It was a different time, just 14 years ago, but it’s funny looking back on it. In some aspects, I can’t believe 2003 was that long ago, because it feels like just yesterday I was playing Little League ball. I can remember many games in great detail from that time. On the other hand, it seems like a lifetime ago, as in that time frame, I graduates from grade school, high school and college, watched our beloved Phillies parade down Broad Street instead of going to school my freshman year of high school, took on my first professional gigs, moved out of my parents’ homes and back in several times, and met some of my best friends in the world, as well as my future wife.
So, while it’s safe to say that 2003 doesn’t really like all that long ago, the last 14 years have changed my life, and the world, drastically. I mean, we were on Fast and the Furious 2 at that point. Now we’ve got, what, 3000 of them? I kid, of course, but it sure feels like it sometimes. And they’ll keep making them as long as we keep paying to see them.
I know this piece wasn’t entirely baseball related, and if you hung with me for it’s entirety, I thank you. I felt, as a writer, this was a chance for me to change things up a little bit and give you something other than a strictly baseball piece. I hope you enjoyed my little look back through time. If I forgot any important details, please, don’t hesitate to send me them and I’ll be happy to update this article. I’m always open to interaction with you, the readers, at any time. My email, Twitter and other social media sites are always open for you to leave comments, questions and angry letters! As always, your support on PhillySportsNetwork is greatly appreciated, as without you, there is no me and there is no us.
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports