The Phillies completed a three-game sweep and New York went 5-12 down the stretch in one of the most stunning and colossal collapses in baseball history. “We blew it,” Carlos Delgado said Monday as several Mets packed up for the winter. An 8-1 loss to Florida in the season finale Sunday – with Glavine getting chased after just one out – allowed the Phillies to win the division title by a game when they beat Washington. The talented Mets were left out of the playoffs, making them the first major league team that failed to finish in first place after owning a lead of seven games or more with 17 remaining. New York, which had that margin on Sept. 12, also matched the largest lead blown in September. “It still doesn’t feel like the season is over. It feels like we should be playing today, but we didn’t make it,” pitcher John Maine said. From news services Back on Sept. 14, nobody at Shea Stadium realized what was starting to unfold. Tom Glavine was cruising along for the Mets with a two-run lead against Philadelphia before Chase Utley hit a tying homer in the sixth. New York made a couple of late mistakes on defense and lost, 3-2, in 10 innings. Seemed harmless enough. The Mets still held a 5 -game cushion in the NL East and were 20 games above .500 with 16 to play. Go get ’em tomorrow, wrap it up soon.They never did. In a town where the Mets often struggle to take headlines away from the crosstown Yankees, the not-so-Amazin’ Mets owned the tabloids Monday – for all the wrong reasons. The back page of the New York Post blared: “CHOKED TO DEATH.” The front page of the Daily News read: “FROM CHAMPS TO CHUMPS.” Phillies celebrate comeback With their 10,000th franchise loss just a memory, the surging Philadelphia Phillies celebrated their unlikely NL East title at City Hall amid thousands of delirious fans. The Phillies begin the postseason Wednesday when they host Colorado. Organizers called Monday’s noon event the biggest pep rally in city history. Tightly packed fans encircled City Hall and spilled across the street to Love Park and beyond. They waved “Fightin’ Phils” towels and roared “M-V-P! M-V-P!” when shortstop Jimmy Rollins took the stage. “Lo and behold, the National League East belongs to one team and one city, and that’s the City of Brotherly Love, baby,” a gleeful Rollins said. “We did this for a city that’s been longing for something from this baseball team for a long time,” Rollins said. “But we’re not done yet. … This is party number one.” Almost a century Lou Piniella got the hard, cold facts nearly a year ago when he was introduced as the Cubs manager. Told it was going on 99 years between World Series winners, Piniella seemed surprised. “Has it been that long here?” he asked. Piniella made sure he gave Cubs’ fans hope, dispensing the same optimism they’ve been hearing from a long list of managers during a drought that extends to 1908. “Urgency is important,” he said. “We’re going to win here.” So far, he’s delivered. And that’s why the mere mention of his name brings out a long chorus of “Louuuuuuu” from the long-suffering followers, several thousand of whom showed up for a rainy downtown rally Monday. The NL Central champion Cubs open the playoffs Wednesday at Arizona. Arizona unlikely winner The kids have made it this far. Now the pressure rises. The young Arizona Diamondbacks, with their rallying cry “Anybody, Anytime,” head into the division series with the best record in the National League. This unlikely mix of rookies, role players and a few veteran leaders finished last in hitting and were outscored by opponents overall. Yet by winning the close ones, with solid pitching and timely hits from just about everyone at one time or another, Arizona advanced to the postseason for the fourth time in the franchise’s 10-year history. “In this day and age, I’ve never seen a team like this,” said left fielder Eric Byrnes, a high-energy leader of the team. “This is a group of unselfish guys. They think team first and not as a bunch of individuals. That’s rare today in sports.” Yankees playoff plans Hideki Matsui will likely be a designated hitter when the Yankees open the playoffs Thursday at Cleveland. Matsui hit just .185 in September with two homers and 12 RBIs and had fluid drained from his right knee on Sunday in New York. Yankees manager Joe Torre said Johnny Damon could start in left field and that he also was thinking about using rookie Shelley Duncan, a right-handed hitter, against C.C. Sabathia in Game 1. Around the league Astros: Houston closer Brad Lidge had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. The Astros said the 30-year-old reliever should be ready for the start of spring training in mid-February. Mets: Relief pitcher Scott Schoeneweis received six shipments of steroids in 2003 and 2004 from the Florida pharmacy under investigation for illegal distribution of performance-enhancing drugs, ESPN.com reported.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!