The Philadelphia Phillies are indeed the World Champions of baseball. The question now are can they do it again and are they good enough to repeat? If you ask each of the players to a man they will crack a smile turn to their right or left and tell you it's only February and spring training has just begun. I, for one, believe they will win a consecutive World Series Championship.
The Phillies have all their bullets in the holster again for 2009 aside from Pat Burrell's walk on the wild side to Tampa Bay. The only true change to their lineup will come in the name of Raul Ibanez, the former Mariner who has been as consistent a player over the last seven years as any.
The Phillies are the most complete and balanced team in baseball serving up two National League MVP's, a World Series MVP, and host of team-oriented chemistry guys who fill their roles like puzzle pieces within the larger framework of the roster.
In order to win consecutive world championships in any professional team sport there are three ingredients that come to my mind - having your core players staying relatively healthy over the duration of a season and future seasons, a strong team orientation built on selfless chemistry guys, and a stable talent base that can stay together and want to be together for the long haul. The Phillies have all of the above ingredients in place to win for several more years.
Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and Brade Lidge form one the strongest foundations in baseball and with role players Jayson Werth, Gregg Dobbs, Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson, J.D. Durbin and others, the old saying applies, the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.
What has been most impressive are the intangibles: the clutch hitting, the mental toughness, the locker room stability, the team chemistry, and strong leadership. There are talented teams in both leagues that have the tangibles, but few have the collective intangibles that have enabled the Phillies to rise to the pinnacle of their sport.
We look ahead to 2009 and every team holds out hope that this is their year, but if I am a betting man, and I am not, I may want to hold steadfast to the team that just celebrated a world championship in October 2008.