As a Philadelphia fan, we all know disappointment. As far as disappointments go, the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies have been about as disappointing as it gets.
They entered the All-Star break at 37-50, 12.5 games out of the wild-card spot. They endured injuries that further exposed holes in the roster, as well as a bullpen that imploded on an almost nightly basis.
Ryan Howard was out. Chase Utley was out. Roy Halladay went down. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino continued to annoy with first-pitch pop-ups. Hunter Pence swung the bat with reckless abandon. Cliff Lee couldn't win a game. Cole Hamels has been discussed all season as trade fodder.
It was a brutal first half that became almost impossible to watch. I actually stopped watching because I got no joy out of it and too much misery.
Then the All-Star break happened.
For whatever reason, I became rejuvenated during the break. I calculated over and over that they'd need a .707 winning percentage in the second half to win 90 games.
It was almost impossible, but in the second half they would actually be the Phillies. Our Phillies. Chase and Howard would be back to ease the burden on role players like Shane and Pence. Halladay would be back.
There was still a chance.
When Lee blew the first game of the second half, it felt over, but the team didn't allow that to be the end. They won the next four games.
After dropping three straight, they've now won the last three in improbable and exciting fashion.
You see, for those of us born between the late 1970s and early 80s, this group of Phillies gave us the only championship we know. They've given us five consecutive postseasons.
Yes they have failed to win another World Series since 2008, but the point is, they did win a World Series. They gave us reason to believe they could win another one.
Well now is the time to still believe. Even if the playoffs prove unattainable in 2012, the Phillies have become fun again.
The first half was a case of everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The second half is playing out much differently. There is life there now. There is belief. The joy is back.
In Philadelphia, when things are going well, these players become out extended family. We get to know them. We get to love them.
When things go bad we get upset with them, especially when they disappoint us. They are ready to turn it around and they are trying to pull us all back in.
They deserve us being on board. These are our guys. For the first time as Phillies fans, we have our own guys. Don't give up now.
Jimmy, Shane, Chase and Ryan. Cole, Doc and Clifton Lee. These guys have given us a lot. They have more to give.
Some people are ready to blow the whole thing up and start anew, but there is still a window for this group. It's time to keep that window propped open. If they don't win another one together, it shouldn't be us that closed the window on them.
Maybe Cole will be traded. Maybe Shane and Pence will be as well. Maybe they won't. Maybe this team is about to play .700 baseball the rest of the way en route to 89 wins and the second wild-card spot.
Either way, this group has given us a lot and the right thing to do is give them all we have as well. They may not get it done, but they just might.
In their last 10 games, they are 7-3, which is a .700 winning percentage. All they have to do is keep it up. We owe it to them to believe that they can.
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