In the Philadelphia sports world, there's a lot of disappointment and buzz surrounding the beloved Phillies at this point in the 2012 MLB season. There's talk of mediocrity, injury and under-performing; in short, the Philly sportswriters are doing well at creating a little panic.
Here's the reality of the situation around baseball on June 4th, 2012:
If you look around the standings, you will see that the team with the most wins in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, has merely 33. That's only five more than the "mediocre" 28-27 Phillies have. This shows how much parity there is around Major League Baseball.
The Phillies are not the only team that are not playing to their potential, and they surely are not the only team fighting the injury bug.
Look around, Philadelphia sportswriters and fans.
The Red Sox and Yankees aren't that much better off than Philadelphia. Actually, to date, Tampa Bay is currently sitting atop the AL East with Baltimore (2-8 in their last 10 games) in second place.
Texas has played well out West, yet still holds a 32-22 record.
Detroit was supposed to be a serious contender, with AL Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander leading their rotation and after the signing of Prince Fielder in the offseason. Yet you look at their record of 25-29 and check out their latest box score, which shows three guys hitting under the Mendoza line, and it makes you wonder what is going on in Detroit.
Look around the league. It's in every division: parity, injury problems and underperforming.
Surprise standouts from around the league include the San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera currently holding the NL's top batting average, while in the AL, Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko tops the same stat. Pitcher Gio Gonzalez, a former Philadelphia prospect—who, if memory serves, was traded by Philly twice—tops the strikeout leaders in the NL and is among the league leaders in several other categories.
My point is this: It's June 4th, and no one has made the playoffs yet.
So, Philly sportswriters and fans, relax. There's still 108 games to be played (not including tonight's).
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will be back eventually, and how well they perform will be an indicator for how much the team improves over the course of the second half of the season.
The two big-hitting stars will likely return around the time that ace of aces Roy Halladay returns. Hopefully, he is healthy and pitches more like the Doc Halladay we know.
Until then, there are many improvements that can be made.
Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino can hit a lot better than what they have been, and it all starts with becoming more selective at what they swing at. You can't teach an old dogs new tricks...or so they say. So, unless those two decide to start trying to work walks instead of hitting the first or second pitch to an infielder or popping out, the run totals and win-loss column likely won't change much until the aforementioned three players return.
The one thing Philly fans can count on is this: If the team recovers and makes the playoffs in 2012, it will be a team that more closely resembles the 2008 champions.
Because they are forced to overcome more obstacles this year than any other, since '08, to perform at the level required to succeed.
To achieve this success, it will require group synergy, hunger to win, mental and physical toughness and some luck that can only be created through a lot of hard work. And these things are what the City of Brotherly Love is known for best...outside of cheese steaks and the Liberty Bell, of course.