The Philadelphia Phillies honored their 2008 World Series team again last night by playing a lineup that featured Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz in a loss to the Giants, while ’08 stars Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels watched from the dugout. It is the 263rd consecutive game, dating back to the start of the 2013 season, that the Phillies have honored their former champions by allowing them to remain on their roster.
“That 2008 team will be remembered forever,” said general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. “It was the first champion this city had in decades. I thought it was important to honor these guys night after night long after they were ‘quote unquote’ capable of forming the core of a competitive baseball team anymore.”
A rival NL East general manager said he appreciates what the Phillies have done for their stars of long ago.
“You don’t see that with most franchises,” he said. “They’ll bring an old team back for one night and have them wave to fans before the game starts. But not the Phillies. They’re still trotting out much of the same team they had six years ago every night. That’s respect. I admire that. Most teams nowadays, especially teams with Philadelphia’s resources, are built to be competitive now, not in the past. And I’ll admit, they help us win some games.”
In addition to putting their old-timers on the field each game, the Phillies chose to honor all of them with massive, long-term contracts.
“I remember a few years ago one of our opponents had a ceremony for an old championship team before the game,” said first baseman Ryan Howard. “They gave all the guys a watch and free drinks during the game. That’s nice, but the Phillies gave me $125 million. That beats any watch.”
Amaro says he intends to keep on honoring the 2008 team far into the future.
“Just because attendance for these nightly throwback nights continues to decline doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing,” he said. “Plus, even if we wanted to get rid of guys like Howard and Rollins, we couldn’t. I’ve made sure of that.”
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