This is a Friday story, but it generated a decent amount of social media comments and came up in conversation with family members over the holiday weekend. On opening day, press box scribes noticed that the Phillies put a powder blue 2023 flag over Ashburn Alley, signifying last year’s Wild Card berth and playoff run. It’s hard to see in Anthony’s photo, but it’s above the CP RANKIN sign, just left of the middle:

A large portion of Phils fans called this the participation trophy of banners. The Phillies went to the NLCS last year, but didn’t win anything.

The other banners displayed refer to World Series wins (red), pennants (dark blue), and division titles (white). You can see 2008 and 1980 off to the right, while the pennant and division banners are to the left.

What’s interesting to me is that there are division-winning years in which the Phils did nothing in the playoffs, which creates a hypothetical –

Which season is more worthy of celebration? –

  • 2011: 102 wins, 60 losses, won the NL East, lost 3-2 to the Cardinals in the NLDS
  • 2023: 90 wins, 72 losses, finished 2nd in the NL East, beat the Marlins and Braves in the playoffs, lost in Game 7 of the NLCS

Two different seasons, but both represented by banners at Citizens Bank Park.

On one hand, 102 is the most wins the Phillies have ever had in a single season, so even though they didn’t win a playoff series that year, the regular-season campaign was the best they’ve ever had. Only two times prior had they won 100+ games, and those were consecutive years in the late 1970s with Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, and Greg Luzinski. The 2011 postseason was an abject failure, but the Phils were never better over the course of 162 regular season games.

The 2023 team was slow to start and only started playing high-level baseball from early June through October. They won 90 games but tore through a couple of division rivals in the postseason before choking against the Diamondbacks in the NLCS. Should a team that was one game away from the pennant get a banner in the outfield?

The general response I got when throwing out this question was a slight preference for a 2011 banner, because that team at least won something. They won the division. Playing great baseball over the course of many months is not an easy thing to do. That 2011 squad was better for a longer stretch of time than the 2023 squad, but that disregards the importance of the playoffs and the fact that they couldn’t get it done against the Cardinals.

It’s a pretty good hypothetical, and a lot of people went with a third answer of “neither.” None. They don’t think 2011 OR 2023 should get a banner. There’s a camp of Phillies fans who think a World Series or pennant is the only banner-worthy achievement.

What say you?