Philadelphia Phillies Fans: Don't Worry About a Thing
So when the Phils won the division for the third consecutive year after only 158 games this season, the city was left with nothing to do but twiddle their thumbs.
For a city that has witnessed as many excruciating defeats as it has, meaningless games are never good in keeping its fans calm.
When Andy Tracy, Miguel Cairo, Ben Francisco, and Paul Bako become the usual faces in your lineup, winning isn't exactly expected of you. But nevertheless, Phillies' fans don't necessarily feel confident about their team's chances heading into the postseason.
Granted, neither the rotation nor the bullpen has been stellar, and the offense has been far from what it should be. But none of that matters come Wednesday.
For a team that has known it would be participating in the postseason for weeks now, all they had to play for was to make it official. Once it was, the playoffs couldn't come fast enough, for the players and the fans.
But now that it has, the results of this past week of Phillies baseball is meaningless. The rest of Philadelphia just needs to realize that.
Some fans have begun to question whether this team really wants to win, and others simply don't think they have what it takes.
All of this is the result of too much thinking.
There's no denying the fact that Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee have been inconsistent of late; neither has Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, and Pedro Martinez.
But it's difficult to get up for games that mean almost nothing, which is what they have had to attempt to do in their last few starts.
Two weeks ago, things were different. Everything was clicking on all cylinders.
Yet, when the magic number began to creep under five, it was no longer a matter of if the Phillies would clinch, but when. Eventually, after a week of sluggish baseball, the Phils could call the division championship their's.
One could also argue that the bullpen is riddled with uncertainty. But, when you look at it, it's not as bad as it seems.
Ryan Madson has been strong in recent save opportunities; Brett Myers will be much closer to full strength come Wednesday; Scott Eyre will be available to pitch whenever needed; and Chad Durbin has been pitching very well of late (1.98 ERA in September).
J.C. Romero will not pitch in the NLDS, but he has only pitched in one game since July 19th. No Romero is nothing new for the Phillies. Instead, J.A. Happ will likely be the team's left-handed reliever.
These same issues existed two weeks ago, only the Phillies were playing meaningful games so nobody payed any attention.
These recent struggles are not a sign of a bad team, they are merely signs of a bored one.
Without an intense September race this season, focusing on winning every game isn't all that easy. When you know that October baseball is on the horizon, and you are certain you will be included, looking ahead is inevitable, especially for the Phillies.
After they basked in their glory in 2008, the Phillies obviously wanted to do it all over again, and they still do. You cannot question the will and determination of such high-caliber players, not to mention the reigning World Champions.
Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, Ryan Madson--do you honestly want to question whether these players want to win?
There's no doubting the talent level each of them bring to the table, and there shouldn't be any hesitation in calling them big-time players.
The playoffs are a whole new ballgame. The moment every living organism in Philadelphia has been waiting for has finally arrived.
There shouldn't be any doubt in the minds of Phillies' fans on whether or not their team can get the job done. The Phightin' Phils are a whole different breed of baseball players. Very few teams can turn up their level of play as quickly as this team.
All I ask from my fellow Phillies' fans is that you put an end to all this worrying. Stop worrying about yesterday, and focus on tomorrow.
This isn't the 90's anymore. This isn't the Eagles, Flyers, or 76ers. This is the reigning World Champions we're talking about.
This is a team that can, has, and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
It takes a team of winners to win it all, and that's just what these Philadelphia Phillies are--winners.
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