Two weeks ago the Phillies pulled themselves up to the top of the Empire State Building and let out a mighty roar, beating their chest and daring all those who oppose them to come and take their self-proclaimed title as the biggest, baddest king of impending free agency spending.

That Manny Machado biplane diving in to the Yankees? Swatted down with ease with the lure of millions that only the Phillies could afford. Bryce Harper setting his sights on the White Sox? Forget it, rended apart by the money bags hurled his way by the newly energized and success-hungry ownership core.

There would be stupid money to be spent. Oh my goodness, how the money would be stupidly spent. The stupidest of money would be used to lure the heavy hitters and make Philadelphia a baseball destination again.

That was the plan until Patrick Corbin flew his Supermarine Spitfire across the Phillies’ bow and unloaded both machine guns into their belly. Corbin left them dazed, woozy and wobbling at the top of the free agency heap, dangerously close to plummeting over the edge, back into the abyss of another 80-win season, and wondering what the hell just happened.

After weeks of John Middleton promising the Phillies would spend “stupid money” this offseason, insinuating that the franchise would even consider adding BOTH Machado and Harper and still have money leftover for a shiny free agent pitcher to compliment Nola, the first major domino fell Tuesday and it did not go the Phillies’ way.

Corbin, the top free agent starting pitcher, signed a 6-year, $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals. It was a sharp slap to the face that he signed with a division rival, but stung even more after fans were treated to this tweet earlier in the day:

And then this broke later on, throwing a bucket of ice water on our hopes and dreams that things may actually be different this year:

Ruh roh. We were promised stupid money was going to be thrown around, and stupid money we DEMAND.

All of a sudden there is a very real, and very frightening possibility, that the Phillies could lose out on TWO of the top three free agents available this offseason if Harper re-signs with the Nationals.

If Machado signs elsewhere…. well then I guess the money just wasn’t stupid enough.

It’s now a matter of pride for this franchise. The Phillies absolutely have to sign either Harper or Machado, or the offseason will feel like a spectacular failure for a franchise that barked all offseason and, quite frankly, for years. You can’t flex your muscle as the new big dog in Major League Baseball, as the preferred destination for elite free agents, and then not actually land anyone. That would be an absolute humiliation for John Middleton and all of his bravado these past few months.

Can you imagine the Phillies missing out on all three of those free agents, panicking, and then overpaying for J.A. Happ and having to put him and Jean Segura up on a pedestal as the big “gets” for this offseason? Having to shovel that bull to fans who were waiting to pull the trigger on Machado and Harper shirseys ever since Middleton hinted at the team’s intention to spend big all the way back in May?!

I’m sure Segura is a nice enough guy, but he and whoever they end up signing this offseason will always be the symbols of the Phillies failure if they don’t sign at least one of the two big free agents left. It’s not fair, but they’ll forever be compared to Machado and Harper, the two big fish the Phillies promised to land but couldn’t get into the boat.

Anyone can say they’re the new Yankees, Johnny boy, but if you don’t go full George Steinbrenner and actually pull the trigger on spending millions on a free agent who will put asses in the seats, than you’re just a no-name co-owner of the “losingest” franchise in the history of professional sports who talks a big game.

The Phillies are still at the top of the Empire State Building, but they’re teetering towards the edge. Don’t fall off, John.