Philadelphia Phillies vs. History: What the Past Says About the 2010 Phillies

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Philadelphia Phillies vs. History: What the Past Says About the 2010 Phillies
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As the saying goes, "There's nothing new under the sun."

Not to say this absolutely, but it's true. History can tell us a lot about what we are likely to see.

Then again, if history was always right, life would be quite boring. So, every now-and-again, life decides to switch things up.

What we like to do as a human race is become intrigued with what will happen, even attempting to predict the outcome, and we're usually left in marvel when history takes a new path.

Sports events are our recreational exploration of these natural human tendencies.

This year, the Philadelphia Phillies are on pace to be the ninth team to make it to the championship series after two consecutive, previous appearances since it was instituted in 1969.

They've fought off the critics. They've fought through injuries.

Now they're poised to take on history.

If you look at the raw numbers of the past, they reveal some interesting statistics that could possibly explain the reality of the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies.

Only eight times, since the League Championship Series was introduced, has a team made an LCS appearance after two previous appearances. Only twice was it a National League team.

 

Never has a National League team won three League Championship Series in a row.

The reason I don't simply say 'three times in a row', is because I'm counting years such as the New York Yankees' appearances in '98, '99, '00, and  '99, '00, and '01 as separate times -- because it's just about teams who appeared in the previous two League Championship Series. 

With that being said, the Oakland Athletics did it in 1974 and 1990, the Atlanta Braves did it in 1993 and 1997, and the New York Yankees did it in 1978, 2000, and 2001.

I included the Toronto Blue Jays, who had a chance to do it in 1994. Of course, we'll never know what could have happened due to the lockout that year.

But because they did make two consecutive LCS appearances, they have to be included.

I've sorted all the results into statistics. I found that, of the eight previous times a team has made two previous LCS appearances, five of the teams went on to win a third pennant the next year: the Athletics twice, and the Yankees three times.

If you're completely depending on history to give you the possibility that the Phillies would pull this off, that'd leave you with a 63 percent chance that the Phils would win another pennant this year.

Of those five teams, three went on to win the World Series, which puts the Phillies' chances at 38 percent that they'll win it all again like they did in 2008.

The most surprising statistic, however, is this next one.

Of the eight teams who made the LCS after two previous appearances, four finished the subsequent season with the best record in their respective league. The Braves did it twice in '93 and '97, the 1978 Yankees did it, and the 1990 Oakland A's did it as well.

Of that group, only the '78 Yankees and '90 A's advanced to the World Series. Of those two, only the '78 Yankees went on to win the World Series.

To follow with the same theme, that would mean, if the Philadelphia Phillies finished this season with the best record in the NL, they'd have a 50 percent shot at advancing to the World Series, but only a 25 percent shot of winning the World series.

Fortunately, we have the saying, "History in the making."

This is why it's likely that the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies are likely to raise that 50 percent to 60 percent, that 25 percent to 40 percent and all those other numbers up as well.

 

Keeping on the theme of the past, did anyone think that in 2008, a playoff where the National League favorites where the mighty Chicago Cubs with a season record of 97-64, would be dismantled by the swagger-filled Los Angeles Dodgers?

Who would have thought that the Philadelphia Phillies would come out of the NL that year?

Furthermore, who would have thought they would defeat a young team in the World Series in the Tampa Bay Rays, who handily dominated the AL East. A division which previously was under the monopoly of the Yankees and Red Sox?

Those scenarios, at the time, seemed unlikely.

This year, there are new unlikely scenarios to conquer.

But why should we fans believe that our team can do it again? I'll give you five reasons.

 

The Batting

The Phillies are eight-deep in their lineup. From the catalyst J-Roll leading off, to Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz, who is having a very solid season, batting .300 on the year, with a .401 on-base percentage.

 

Ask any pitcher in the league about the journey from Rollins, to Polanco, to Utley, to Howard, to Werth, to Ibanez, and they'll tell you it's no relaxing day by anyone's standards.

The bottom of the lineup finishes with Victorino and Ruiz, who will absolutely hurt any pitcher, on any given pitch.

 

The depth of the team, though, isn't enough to base a whole argument on. Every contender, to some degree, has depth. This brings me to the next reason.

 

The Pitching

Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels can be, and have been, No. 1 options by themselves. Here they are, on top of tremendous offensive potential, pitching solid games, holding teams to an average of under three runs a game.

The bullpen isn't greatbut not bad either. With Halladay's work ethic and being able to go to at least the seventh or eighth inning every game, the bullpen should be able to hold it down like they have in the past seasons.

Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero, Jose Contreras, Ryan Madsen, and Brad Lidge should be, even with all of their occasional difficulties, enough to support the All-Star starting lineup.

 

 

The Leadership

There is something about when Rollins, Utley, and Howard are in the lineup that gives this team an extra zing.

They seem to feed off of the ultra confidence of Rollins, the silent consistency of Utley, and the powerful, dangerous, intimidation of Ryan Howard.

 

Now, as the postseason approaches, the whole team is healthy again, and they are looking to wreak havoc in September and October.

 

Teamwork

Despite injuries to Rollins, Polanco, Utley, Howard, Ibanez, and Victorino, the Phightins have still pulled themselves into playoff contention.

This is because of one thing: a common goal.

 

This team has a common goal; a common purpose. Which means, even if another, less talented player comes in to fill a void, the system will stay on task.

I know what you're saying right nowmost teams try to develop this.

But the key word is, "Try."

 

The Phillies have found a particular common viewpoint to administer to their on-the-field play, which works with a number of roster combinations.

 

Not to say that you can throw a group of anybodies together and be World Series Champs. The key is, they can patch the hole like duct tape holds the trunk of your car closed.

It won't look pretty, and it won't last long, but it's doing its temporary job.

Of course, you might say, "Well, what other successful team doesn't have those things? That seems general."

You might feel obliged to compare the resiliency of the Atlanta Braves. Or the strong pitching of the San Francisco Giants, etc., and you may be right.

But, what separates the Philadelphia Phillies from the others is...

 

Experience

The Phillies have seen the hard times.

They've met the challenges. They've been the underdogs.

They've heard why they won't make it, who they won't beat, who has better pitching.

They've heard how long-ball teams can't win, they've heard how small their ball park is, and they've been through the disappointments and have tasted success.

There is no better teacher than experience.

No better solution than patience. No better cure to anxiety than poise.

They've worked and fought to put themselves in the position they are in now. And you better believe this team isn't just going down like some fluke team that caught the current and rode a success wave.

It's a very different success to fight against the current.

 

Visit www.vincentheckwriting.com for more of Vincent's work.

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