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Despite Phillies winning 5th straight NL East crown, a World Series Title will only be acceptable

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

This is for all the times I stayed up and didn’t do my homework to watch the 1988 Phillies get their brains beat in.

This is for all the times I sat in Veterans Stadium in 95 degree heat to watch Bruce Ruffin throw one wild pitch after another.

This is for every time I had to watch Julio Peguero, Alex Madrid, Mickey Weston, and Toby Borland.

This is for every time I got laughed at for being a Phillies fan. And trust me, I would be a billionaire if I had a dime for every time that happened.

And even though the vodka is wearing off right about now, the fact still remains that the Philadelphia Phillies, once considered the laughing stock in all of Major League Baseball, have very little if anything to hang their heads about since 2007. Back in the day, watching teams like the Oakland A’s and Atlanta Braves win multiple division titles was something a Phillies fan could only dream about. Until now.

Well guess what, it’s ok to dream sometimes. Just ask Hunter Pence.It’s ok to dream sometimes. Just ask Hunter Pence. Photo: Matt Slocum-AP.

Saturday night was the culmination of hard work and dedication on behalf of the pinstripes. The only other regular season goal is the single season franchise record for wins in a season, which the team should reach by accident. Saturday night’s celebration, the most muted of all five division titles, spoke volumes.

While the team is proud of what they have accomplished to this point, nobody on the Phillies is satisfied with just an NL East crown, nobody is satisfied going to the NLCS, and perhaps most importantly, nobody is satisfied with how they felt when they lost to the Giants last year  or the Yankees two Novembers ago. It’s World Series Championship or bust

Ruben Amaro did not build this Phillies team to get to the World Series and lose. To quote our old friend Herman Edwards, “You play to win the game.”

Who knows what kind of matchup the Phillies would encounter if they advance to the fall classic. They might have to face a high powered Yankees offense, they might have to face a Rays team trying to catch the Red Sox for a post season berth (much like the Phillies were at this time in 2008), they might have to face the hottest team in baseball (Tigers) and possibly beat their No. 1 starter (Justin Verlander) three times.

Like all Phillies teams of recent years, Saturday’s clincher once again showcased this team’s uncanny ability to deliver when it counts. Any questions regarding Roy Oswalt as the Phils’ fourth starter come playoff time  were quieted tonight. The rejuvenated right-hander was dealing, and Raul Ibanez’s grand slam was one of several big hits he's had for the Phightins this year after another subpar outing by the Phillies' once reliable seventh inning tandem of Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo.  The bullpen is as worrisome as it looks, and chances are more magic might be needed for the Phillies to secure those final nine outs come October.

It’s now time to look ahead. Simply put, if this team dominates in the post season, they will most likely be considered a dynasty. If they lose, it is a bust of colossal proportions. It’s as simple as that.

The quest begins two weeks from today.

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

Contact Joe at jvallee@philly2philly.com 

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Photos: Matt Slocum: AP