The new century began with the dawn of a new era as the Phillies reached an agreement with the city to build a new 43,500-seat ballpark -- opening April, 2004 -- in South Philadelphia, across the street from Veterans Stadium.
The 2000 season began with high expectations after the acquisitions of Andy Ashby and Mike Jackson, but the club fizzled early and finished 65-97 to end Terry Francona's four-year run as manager.
Former Phillie Larry Bowa took over the managerial reigns for 2001 and led the club to a 21-game improvement (86-76) and a second-place finish. The season was also memorable for the week that baseball stadiums fell silent. The Phillies' pennant chase -- and the rest of baseball -- was halted for a week as the nation recovered from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
Rookie shortstop Jimmy Rollins (pictured left) was a perpetual sparkplug for the 2001 club, leading the league in stolen bases with 46, tying him with Colorado's Juan Pierre for the National League lead. Scott Rolen produced his third -- and second straight -- Gold Glove season and Bobby Abreu became the first Phillies player to record a 30 home run, 30 stolen base year.
In his second year as manager, Larry Bowa's Phillies regressed from a season that saw them finish two games behind the Braves in the NL East. The 2002 squad went 80-81 (a rainout was never replayed) and fell to third place, 21 1/2 games behind Atlanta. They were never able to recover from a 9-18 start in the April. Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu continued to lead the team's offense, driving in 201 runs between them, and Mike Lieberthal appeared in 130 games, a welcome achievement considering he was coming back from major knee surgery that cost him all but 34 games of the 2001 season. Jimmy Rollins, who regressed a bit in his second full season, was voted to start in the All-Star game for the first time in his career. Randy Wolf also emerged as the staff ace, winning 11 games and compiling a 3.20 ERA. Especially
impressive was August, when Wolf posted a 1.37 ERA and had a 27-inning scoreless streak.
Philadelphia also cut the cord with prodigal son Scott Rolen in July, dealing him to St. Louis when it became obvious they couldn't sign him to a long-term contract. They netted Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin.
Slugger Jim Thome wore the red pinstripes in 2003, and led the National League with 47 home runs -- all in his first season in Philadelphia. He also knocked in a career-best 131 runs. His clubhouse leadership was even more impressive, as his constant positive outlook was difficult to miss. Kevin Millwood also arrived in a trade from Atlanta and won 14 games, but stumbled in the final month. The Phillies contended all season -- and led the Wild Card race by 1/2 game with eight to play, but a 1-7 stretch ended their postseason dreams. Left fielder Pat Burrell, third baseman David Bell and closer Jose Mesa stumbled mightily, contributing to the near-miss season.
On Sept. 28, 2003, the Phillies played in their final game at Veterans Stadium, and gave the palace an emotional sendoff. Appearances by Paul Owens and Tug McGraw made the afternoon magical, as both would pass away in the coming months.
The Vet -- the site of the Phillies' lone World Series Championship -- was imploded on March 21, 2004, ushering in the Citizens Bank Park era.
A team with high expectations was derailed by injuries and inconsistency in the 2004 season. New closer Billy Wagner was limited to 45 games and had two separate stints on the disabled list, and starters Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla and Kevin Millwood missed large chunks as well.
Still, there were bright spots for a team that won 86 games, and had back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1982-83. Right fielder Bobby Abreu renewing his membership in the 30-30 club, rookie Ryan Madson won nine games and had a 2.34 ERA out of the bullpen and Jim Thome had a second fine season in Philadelphia, smacking 42 homers and driving in 105 runs.
The positives weren't enough to prevent the dismissal of manager Larry Bowa with two games left in the season.
For the Phillies, 2005 marked a third straight winning season, but a 12th straight year of missing the playoffs. Ryan Howard enjoyed a breakout season at first base, hitting .288 with 22 home runs and 63 RBIs in just 88 games, winning him Rookie of the Year honors. Pat Burrell also came alive, hitting 32 home runs with 117 RBIs, good for second in the NL. The Phillies enjoyed some hot stretches including a 12-1 homestand in June. Their downfall came with an 0-6 record against the Astros -- the team that beat them by one game for the National League Wild Card.
Just when the 2006 seemed irrelevant after the July trades of players Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, David Bell and Rheal Cormier, the Phillies who remained caught fire and made a run at the Wild Card. They got within a half-game of the lead by the season's final week, before being eliminated after Game 161. Individually, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley blossomed into team leaders, but they were trumped by Ryan Howard, whose 58 homers and 149 RBIs earned him the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Helped by a historic collapse by the Mets, the Phillies went 13-4 in the final 17 games, overcoming a seven-game deficit and taking the National League East. Jimmy Rollins called the Phillies the "team to beat" before the season -- hoping it would motivate his teammates -- and wound up backing up those words with a season that earned him the NL Most Valuable Player Award. Perhaps exhausted by their charge, Philadelphia's first playoff appearance in 14 years was short-lived, as the even hotter Colorado Rockies swept them in three games in the Division Series.
Using the early playoff exit from 2007 as motivation, the 2008 squad entered the season with a goal of going "as deep as you can go," according to Rollins. They still needed a late-season charge when they trailed the Mets by 3 1/2 game on Sept. 12. Led by Ryan Howard's powerful September (.352, 11 homers, 32 RBIs), the Phillies overcame the deficit, clinching the division on the penultimate day of the regular season.
The postseason featured many amazing individual accomplishments, starting with Cole Hamels' dazzling 1.80 ERA in five starts. Brett Myers' nine-pitch walk off Milwaukee's CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the NL Division Series and Matt Stairs' pinch-hit, eighth-inning homer off Los Angeles' Jonathan Broxton in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series also jump out as legendary Philadelphia moments.
The World Series had plenty of moments, too, notably the clinching Game 5 that was suspended for 48 hours due to rain. When it resumed, Pedro Feliz eventually drove in the winning run with a single up the middle and Brad Lidge completed a perfect season -- 48-for-48 in save situations -- when he struck out Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske for the final out. The celebration gave the Phillies their first World Series championship since 1980.