PHILADELPHIA - Through the last-place finishes, September collapses and every agonizing failure over the past 125 years, no team has lost quite like the Philadelphia Phillies.
Futility has followed them since the day they were born, and Sunday night was no different for the losingest team sports history. Loss No. 10,000 came when Albert Pujols hit two of the St. Louis Cardinals’ six homers in a 10-2 rout.
Not surprisingly, this defeat resembled the thousands that came before. Bad starting pitching, brutal relief and hardly any hitting. And, of course, lots of booing.
By the ninth inning, with the outcome inevitable, the boos turned to cheers. Fans in the sellout crowd of 44,872 thumbed their noses at the dubious mark, standing and applauding. One held up a sign that read: “10,000 N Proud” as NL MVP Ryan Howard struck out to end the game.
“I don’t know too much about 10,000 losses,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I try and concentrate on the wins.”
From Connie Mack Stadium to the Vet and Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies have had few moments to celebrate. The franchise, born in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers and briefly called the Blue Jays in the mid-1940s, fell to 8,810-10,000.
Next on the losing list: the Braves, with 9,681 defeats. It took them stints in three cities (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta) to reach that total. Not even those lovable losers, the Chicago Cubs, come close at 9,425.
And for those counting, it was the 58th time the Phillies have lost by that exact 10-2 score, the Elias Sports Bureau said.
The Phillies avoided the milestone for three games, but the Cardinals — the team that caught them 43 years ago for the NL pennant in one of the biggest collapses in baseball history — beat Philadelphia one more time.
Earlier, a banner hung from the upper deck that read “10,000 is not in the Cards.” Turns out, it was on this night.
So the franchise that won only one World Series championship (1980) in 125 years, has 14 seasons of 100-plus losses, and once lost 23 straight games, now has the ugliest number of them all in a city way too familiar with losing.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
They haven’t lost 100 games since 1961, and they won the NL East three straight years from 1976-78 behind Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Larry Bowa. Philadelphia lost the World Series in 1983 and 1993, though it hasn’t returned to the playoffs since Joe Carter’s homer won the 1993 World Series for Toronto.
“I think they need to forget about it and move forward,” said Greg Luzinski, the starting left fielder for the 1980 team.
After combining for 23 runs and 37 hits in the first two games of the series, the Phillies were held in check by Adam Wainwright (8-7). He threw seven shutout innings against the highest-scoring team in the National League.
Philadelphia, with a 46-45 record this year, fell five games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets. But these Phillies have long grown tired of answering questions about 10,000.
“It doesn’t matter one way or the other to all the guys in here,” All-Star center fielder Aaron Rowand said. “The guys in here weren’t responsible for 10,000 losses, so what does it really matter to us?”
Most fans seemed rather detached from the number. After all, what’s one more loss from a team responsible for countless more than 10,000 broken hearts?
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