It was a fascinating night along Pattison Avenue, as two professional sports franchises lived with the consequences of major decisions.
Under the bright lights at Citizens Bank Park, another sellout crowd gathered to wave white towels and cheer the 20th win of the season for Roy Halladay. GM Ruben Amaro's defining off-season move - trading Cliff Lee and acquiring Halladay - has produced an epic individual performance from Halladay and a five-game lead in the National League East.
Under cover of the gated NovaCare Complex, Andy Reid rendered the off-season trade of franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb utterly nonsensical by pulling the cord on Kevin Kolb. The coach with the careful blueprint for building a winner is now operating off an Etch-a-Sketch that someone keeps shaking whenever he looks away.
There are those who believe the Eagles deliberately try to eclipse the Phillies, making big news when it will draw attention from the baseball team: Trading McNabb on the eve of opening day, promoting Vick on the night of Halladay's 20th win. Frankly, that theory would make more sense if the Eagles were making themselves look good in these little dramas.
It's hard to see the value in exposing your biggest gaffes while the Phillies are displaying their excellence. So, advantage Phillies. As they aggressively pursue their fourth division title and third pennant in a row, you might even call them the Bold Standard. Halladay, Lee, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge: The Phillies are on a roll when it comes to major personnel decisions.
The McNabb deal, the Andrews brothers, Darryl Tapp, Kolb's contract extension: Put all that on a roll and it might be pretty hard to swallow. It would probably taste quite a bit like crow.
The only ones eating crow as far as the Phillies are concerned are those who didn't immediately recognize the logic behind the Lee trade. And that would be just about everybody. Heck, even Amaro and Charlie Manuel couldn't say with any kind of certainty that the deal wouldn't come back to haunt this team.
It didn't, for three reasons: Cole Hamels, whose return to 2008 form was a major part of Amaro's algebra, has been even better than that. Amaro went out and got Oswalt at the trade deadline and he, too, has been stellar.
And then there is Halladay.
He didn't have to come to Philadelphia to win 20 games. He did that twice in Toronto. Halladay came here for the chance to win the games he doesn't pitch, and for the chance to pitch in the postseason. From the moment he arrived in Clearwater, it was clear as, well, water that he was completely dedicated to doing his part.
"He's a dominating force every time he goes out there," Jayson Werth said. "He's the type of guy you want on the mound every night, if you can. It couldn't happen to a better guy as far as work ethic, determination, showing up every day to do your job - I think he is second to none. Nobody deserves this more than Roy."
Through the long, long regular season, Halladay was as steady as a metronome. He won his first four starts and six of his first seven. He capped his first two months as a Phillie with a perfect game. Through August and into September, as the Phillies ran down and then passed the Braves, Halladay's record is 8-2.
For win No. 20, Halladay was merely very good - three runs on seven hits in seven innings - in a game that had that familiar October-at-the-Bank atmosphere.
"The best part about it is that it's been secondary for me," Halladay said of the 20 wins. "Being able to think about getting ourselves to the playoffs has been the priority. Being able to go out and pitch in meaningful games at this point in the season has made all the difference."
The Phillies are now five games up with 10 to play. Halladay isn't guaranteed that postseason he came here to find, but he can see it from here. The Phillies, the franchise that stumbled around in the wilderness for all those years, look even stronger than they did in '08 and '09.
"We're going for the best record in baseball," Werth said. "Make no mistake about it. Everyone in here believes we're the best team in baseball and we're going to go out and prove it."
For a while there, the Eagles were the franchise with the formula for sustained success. Their run from 2001 through 2004 didn't produce a championship, but it was awfully impressive in a league that legislates parity. In those days, it was Reid and the Eagles who seemed to press all the right buttons.
In those days, great players came to Philadelphia for a shot at the Super Bowl. Now, they come for a chance to win the World Series.