Ryan Howard wore oversized, snowboard goggles around his neck. They didn't have to be over his eyes to block the champagne spray, mostly because he stood off to the side.
Jayson Werth had a cigar in his hand and kindly obliged to each reporter's question. Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer shared a conversation and a couple of beers.
In the middle of the scrum following the Phillies 8-0 win over the Nationals, clinching a franchise-record fourth-straight division title and the best record in the NL, and thus, home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Brian Schneider
wore a beer-soaked red t-shirt, Mike Sweeney
was wet from head-to-toe and Roy Halladay
couldn't bob and weave his way out of the constant barrage of adult beverages being heaved his way.
When the Phillies walked into the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park Monday night, Ryan Howard summoned Schneider, Sweeney and Halladay to the center of the room.
"They yelled our names: 'Sweeney, Schneider, Halladay, get over here,'" Schneider said. "We popped the corks, let it rip. The rest is history."
The veteran trio had played in a combined 37 big league seasons prior to 2010. When they took a sip of beer Monday, it was their first taste of the postseason.
Halladay (320 career starts), Sweeney (1,451 career games) and Schneider (970 games) have never played in the playoffs.
The champagne stung a lot more than I thought it would, but it was an exciting emotion to share," Sweeney said. "With this group of guys, it’s not a feeling of contentment because we feel like we still have three more stages to go. As much as we enjoyed it today, we still have work to do and 11 wins ahead of us once the playoffs begin.”
“To share that with Doc and Schneider – the three of us have played over 35 years in the big leagues and never had a chance to do this. To have this group of guys, really all three of us are first-year guys here, and to let us be the ones to pop the champagne first, it’s an amazing tribute to the guys in this clubhouse and that’s what makes it so special.”
Unlike the other two parts of the veteran trio, Halladay was front and center in helping the Phils finish off the NL East title on Monday night. He heaved a two-hit, complete game shutout at the Washington Nationals, arguably his best performance other than the perfect game in what will likely end up being a Cy Young Award-winning season.
Halladay retired 26 of the 28 Nats batters he faced Monday. The only two base runners he allowed reached in singles.
It was fitting that Halladay, who waived a no-trade clause in December to join the Phils, a team he thought would help him reach the postseason, was at the controls Monday, motoring his way through the Washington order to clinch the team's division title.
"Honestly I didn't care where I was, as long as I was a part of it," Halladay said. "I've been watching too much from the sides, so I'm just glad to be a part of it."
And how does the champagne taste, Doc?
"It's everything it's cracked up to be, especially with a group of guys you like," Halladay said of the celebration. "This is the coolest thing I've ever been a part of. And this is the start, I think."
Halladay is 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA. He leads all major league pitchers in wins, complete games (nine) and shutouts (four).
Here is more mid-celebration chatter from the winning clubhouse:David Montgomery
, team president, on Halladay finishing off the division crown on the same mound where he made his Phils debut on April 5:"It's kind of fitting. He started it here and finished it here. This was the path he was certainly hoping to follow, and he did it."Rich Dubee
, pitching coach, on letting Halladay go back out in the ninth after a lenghty, top half of the inning:"That was a tough decision. Do you take the guy out, or do you leave a guy who has been so important, who came here for this? He deserved the right to finish that game and be out there, almost like what we did with Lidge last year. These guys are special. You need to reward good players. He came for that reason. But we were going to watch him. We weren't going to let him get too deep of a pitch count. But we thought he deserved the right to be out there for the last out."Jayson Werth
, right fielder, on Halladay finishing what he started:"It was one of those meant-to-be situations. That top of the ninth almost too long for him to go back out there, but I think if Charlie would have taken him out, he might have had a problem with that. I'm glad we were able to do that, that makes it extra special."Ryan Howard
, first baseman, on comparing this year to the last three NL East champ-winning teams:"If you look at our record compared to years past, we have a much better record. But at the same time, we’ve had so many injuries. I think it was definitely tough, and we were down seven games. To be able to come back from something like that and do what we’ve done this year, that’s a great accomplishment.”Charlie Manuel
, manager, on his Phils team making history, becoming first to reel off four straight division titles:“I don’t look at it that way. I think it’s competitive, it’s a way I want to play. Winning the game, it just gets bigger and bigger. I’ve never been a guy that looks at things for records or for stats. I’ve looked at it as our players. … I’d like to run off 14 in a row to Bobby Cox. That’s pretty good. I’ve got 10 more to go, and hell, I wouldn’t be but 76 years old. I could see getting used to winning. There’s nothing like that.”
“It feels real good. I think it’s very important, especially for our fans and the people in Philadelphia and our players and of course the Phillies organization. I’d like to win another World Series.”Roy Halladay
, staff ace, on if he thinks his team sets up pretty good for a few more champagne celebrations: "Yeah, you definitely look forward to it. But I think we realized in September that we're a lot better going game to game, taking baby steps through it. I think that’s the way we'll take it."Ruben Amaro Jr
, GM, on trading for Halladay:"When you have an opportunity to acquire a player of this caliber, you’ve got to do what you can to try to do it. We put ourselves in a good position with the players we had in our system and some of the advice I got from our people to make a run at Roy. We’re really fortunate to have brought him here to Philadelphia.”
Amaro, on Halladay's season:“I kind of couldn’t have dreamed it. For him to win 21 games and have pitched the way he did and to clinch this ballgame for us, it’s special. I’m glad for him. It’s been a long road for him. He’s been a tremendous competitor and professional for so long that for him to get the opportunity in the postseason now, it’s got to be gratifying for him.”