Sep 282010
Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz celebrate

Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz celebrate

September 28 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“The MVP of the 2010 National League East champion Philadelphia Phillies is Brian Schneider.

Yes, the backup catcher is the team’s most valuable prophet.

Shane Victorino confirmed it by telling a story Monday afternoon that dates back to the end of the Phillies‘ first road trip following the all-star break.

The Phillies opened that miserable trip by losing three out of four games to the Cubs in Chicago and the first three games of a four-game series in St. Louis.

“We were at such a low point and everybody was like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on here?’ ” Victorino said before the Phillies wrapped up their fourth straight division title with an 8-0, rain-soaked victory over the Washington Nationals.

During that low point at Busch Stadium, Schneider sat in the visiting clubhouse and worked on some math. He figured out a way that everything could turn out OK for a team that was 48-46 and seven games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves at the time.

“There were 68 games to go and I had to come up with some numbers and I wanted the math to be as easy as possible,” Schneider said as he was saturated with champagne and beer from teammates. “I just said ’50-18.’ ”

Victorino thought his teammate was being overly ambitious.

“I remember saying, ’50-18 – come on, bro?’ We had just lost six out of seven, so that was a ridiculous number,” Victorino said.

Turned out it was not so ridiculous after all.

Starting with a 1-0 victory that salvaged the final game of the series against the Cardinals, the Phillies have gone 46-17 in their last 63 games, turning a seven-game deficit into another division title. They may not get to 50-18, but only because they rendered the remainder of the regular season meaningless by also clinching the best record in the National League with Monday’s victory. They will have home-field advantage in any postseason series they play.

“Schneider reminded me about that conversation a couple days ago,” Victorino said. “That was weird. It gave me goosebumps.”

Victorino’s story surfaced Monday afternoon at the end of a conversation about the Phillies‘ true MVP during the franchise’s unprecedented fourth straight run to the postseason. You could argue that Schneider is the only player on the roster who does not deserve that distinction, although all four of his home runs came during victories, including a walk-off shot against Cincinnati shortly before the all-star break.

What’s different about the latest and greatest of manager Charlie Manuel’s four straight division championship teams is that it’s almost impossible to point to one man and say this team could not have done it without him.

If Victorino had to point to one man, he said it would be the guy who went out and clinched the division Monday night with his latest brilliant pitching performance.”

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