"It even just looks better than 99," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said between games of Thursday's make-up doubleheader against the Marlins. "It's the measuring stick for a great team. People just look at you a little differently."
The Phillies aren't quite there yet, still a few more pins to knock down as they bowl through the National League, but the sweep of the Marlins leaves them needing just three wins in their final 14 games to reach 100 wins, and needing just five wins to set a franchise record with 102.
For a team that began playing in 1883, it isn't easy to set a franchise record, although the Phillies did leave room for greatness for much of their history. The 1976 and 1977 teams had back-to-back 101-win seasons, the only two times the franchise reached 100 wins.
So, this will be a nice thing, but as the investment companies always caution, past success is no guarantee of future return. The Phillies will become the 18th major-league team to win 100 games in the last 15 seasons and there are just two world champions in that group of very good teams - the 1998 and 2009 New York Yankees. Even farther back, since 1980 there have been 30 teams with 100 wins or more and, aside from those two Yankees teams, just two others, the 1984 Tigers and the 1986 Mets, won the World Series.
"You think of 100 wins, and you think of a great team," Raul Ibanez said. "Everyone who starts the season wants to be on a team that wins 100 games. But more important is that 100 wins gets you to the postseason, usually. Once that part is over, it's a brand new season."
For reference, you can ask the members of the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won 116 games and had the best winning percentage in baseball in nearly a half-century but couldn't advance past the league championship series.
The Phillies know they are part of a special team this season, and the numbers they will have compiled by the end of the season just confirm that. They also know this team will be remembered. What no one knows yet is whether it will be remembered for a great, record-setting regular season or for a whole lot more.
"If you go back and look at the teams that have gotten 100 wins, they all have offense, but you'll also see that the pitching stands out," Manuel said. "I was with those Cleveland teams in the '90s that won all those games, and I played for great teams in Minnesota that had pitching staffs with Mudcat Grant, Jim Perry, Jim Kaat, Dave Boswell, Dean Chance. Those were pretty good pitching staffs. But ours is better. This is the best pitching I've ever been around."
Cliff Lee was great again in the second game of the doubleheader against Florida, even though he allowed a solo home run in the ninth and came out of the game as it went to extra innings. He gave up just five hits, struck out 12, but his record remained at 16-7 on the season. Lee, Roy Halladay (18-5), and Cole Hamels (14-8) are the three biggest reasons to believe that the regular season won't necessarily be the highlight of the year.
"You definitely feel a part of something special," Ibanez said. "And it's something that can carry over into October, and that's what it's really all about."
Carrying over into October got a lot more difficult in baseball with the advent of divisional play and a multi-round playoff system. After proving themselves over the slog of six months and 162 games, teams can stumble in the equivalent of a baseball moment - a three-game slump, a weekend in which the pitching doesn't hold up. It is as if there are really two different sports, a marathon followed by a dash.
The Phillies will want to be remembered for what they did in the 2011 regular season, but they are more concerned with being remembered for what comes next.
"I don't think you forget 100-win teams," Hunter Pence said. "This is a team they'll remember for a long time . . . if we're able to accomplish those things."
That's a big if, but that's all right, this is a pretty big team.
Contact columnist Bob Ford at email@example.com. Read his blog, "Post Patterns," at www.philly.com/postpatterns