The Philles are dead. They won't rest in peace.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

The Phillies were baseball’s heavyweight champ. They had the best starting rotation in the majors, the most regular-season wins, a payroll to rival the federal government’s, and an endless spool of sellout crowds that adored them as gods of the diamond.

The Phillies in recent years had injected an antibiotic into the polluted pool of losers that had been their history. No franchise in any sport has lost as many games as the Phillies over the decades.

None of those losses hurt like last night’s loss. This was worse than having a root canal, kidney stone and gall bladder attack simultaneously. Much worse. For their legions of devoted disciples, it was a death in the family.

When the Phillies lost 1-0 to the Cards at home in Game 5 of their NLDS, they squandered everything that had preceded it. Their lack of offense spoiled everything at the root. It all became a cropless undertaking because the front office was remiss in designing the tectonic plates of a consistently productive lineup. And if the offense hadn’t killed them, their bullpen with all the dead arms surely would have.

When Ryan Howard, who has now entered Donovan McNabb territory as the City’s Clutch Choker, crumbled with an Achilles injury as the Phillies’ season crumbled, you knew that the script had been written by the Grim Reaper.

And now this team never will be the same. Their aura has been knocked out. Their roster will change. Their signature shining moment has been swallowed up by twilight’s shadows. There was no boatman with a big bat to steer them clear of Hades on the River Styx.

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