As far as I can tell, there are only two options for the Phillies this season—domination or failure.
Given the makeup of their pitching rotation, most observers are expecting domination. Total domination. Anything less would be seen as a failure by most.
The Phillies swooped in at the last moment in the Cliff Lee negotiations and scooped up the top-level pitcher for $120 million, making their pitching rotation at that moment one of the most dominant in all of professional baseball. Immediately, observers started to say words like "World Series" and "championship."
With the addition of Lee, the Phillies rounded out a pitching rotation that many see as almost unbeatable. Those who are fans of other teams in the National League had to feel their heart sink to their stomach when it was announced that Lee would re-join the Phillies.
It made it seem likely that they would dominate the National League for certain, and maybe all of baseball in the postseason to take home another World Series trophy.
The expectations for the Phillies are at the highest point you can reach before a season opens. Most observers expect them to dominate. Most observers expect them to take on all comers and come out on the winning end.
Barring injury, most observers see the Phillies marching straight through the regular season and into the World Series.
But wait, what if it does not work out that way? What if they aren't all that and a bag of chips? What if injuries happen? What if they come across teams that can hit them?
What if their lineup that is now minus Jayson Werth doesn't put up a lot of runs during games? If the Phillies rotation doesn't completely dominate everyone, is "failure" the tag that becomes associated with them?
In my mind, it is only one or the other. With a rotation like the Phillies have, they have to be completely successful, or they are then considered a failure. If you have that kind of talent and they all stay healthy, the expectations must be met.
Domination or failure—it is one or the other. There is no in between.