Philadelphia Phillies: World Series Favorites for Good Reason

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIIMarch 20, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 31: Fans celebrate at a victory rally at Citizens Bank Park October 31, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay  Rays to win their first World Series in 28 years. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

This letter is intended for all players, coaches, trainers and fans of the National League, but most importantly for the Phillies Phaithful:

Dear National League,

Phillies Nation is becoming more amused by the day of your tireless efforts to spark fear into the most anticipated sports season in Philadelphia history. Whether it is the loss of Jayson "I can't hit with RISP" Werth, Chase Utley's knee or players being in their low-30's (that's a bad thing in baseball?), reports are coming out daily on why the Phillies are overrated.

Journalists, save your time and efforts.

I can understand why you have dedicated so much of your time into proclaiming why the Phillies will not win the World Series. If I had to face the rotation they had, I would be worried as well.

"The pitching is old and one of them will most certainly go on the DL."

National League, is this really an accurate statement? The team has three pitchers who have consistently logged over 200 innings and another who is in the best shape of his life and has done so twice already.

Since when is 32-35 years old a liability in baseball? I will give you Jaime Moyer being old and frail, but Roy Halladay? Sorry, I don't buy it.

Are we really that scared that we have to make outlandish comments such as, "one of them will get hurt?" I had to look at it from an outsider's perspective and I realized that this must be the case. National League, think about it, in any given series, you could be facing two to four pitchers who will make it very difficult for your team to score over three runs against them.

In fact, if your team does score three or more runs, the offense will probably feel like they have done their job. Three runs against Halladay, Lee, Oswalt or Hamels is a pretty tough thing to do.

"Werth is gone and Utley will be out all year, so your offense blows."

National League, I would like to point out that Mr. Utley is currently taking batting practice and grounders, and all eight position players on the Phillies spent time on the DL last season, with Rollins missing almost half of the season and Chase having surgery on his right thumb.

That didn't stop the Phil's O from having the best team batting average in the NL East (fourth in NL), the most runs scored in the NL East (second in NL) and the most home runs in the NL East (fifth in NL).

Sorry, National League, I still fail to see your point on why Phillies fans should be panicking.

"Lidge is inconsistent and the bullpen is shaky, and your starters can't pitch complete games every time out."

The bullpen and starting rotation had their share of injuries as well with Brad Lidge (15 day DL twice), Ryan Madson (60 day DL), Jaime Moyer (60 day DL), J.C. Romero, J.A Happ, Joe Blanton, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Danys Baez and Scott Mathieson (all 15 day DL stints).

The Phillies still led the majors with 97 wins and had the second best team ERA in the NL East. Add a teaspoon of Roy Oswalt (Phil's best pitcher down the stretch, who went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 13 games with the Phillies) and sprinkle in former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee (Yankees fans, whose your daddy?) and I'd say Vegas is right on in naming the Phillies the favorites to win it all.

"The Braves, Red Sox, White Sox and Athletics all have starting rotations that can match up in a playoff series with Philadelphia's."

Again National League (and American League), I fail to see your point/reasoning/logic on that one either. None of those other rotations can boast a resume that includes 10 top five finishes in Cy Young award voting, three actual Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star selections, six 20-win seasons, three postseason MVP awards and a 20-8 postseason record.

Not even close.

"The Giants beat you guys in the NLCS and they will do it again."

At least now, National League, we are admitting that no one in the NL East will stop the Phillies (if the Braves actually had fans, they might respond to that statement, but oh well). But I would like to point out that Pat Burrell (10 K's in World Series) and Cody Ross (who?) played out of their minds to carry the offense through the series, and the Padres had to lose 10 consecutive games in September for you to even MAKE the playoffs.

National League, I still feel pretty confident with the Halladay vs. Burrell or Ross matchup. The Lee vs. Burrell or Ross ain't too shabby either. Oswalt, Hamels vs....well you get the pitcher, excuse me, you get the PICTURE.

"Other teams in the NL have gotten younger while the Phillies have gotten old really quickly."

Chase Utley does not play in spring training and all of a sudden the Phillies are old? Or is there so little to worry about that something like this gets MAGNIFIED?

National League, Wilson Valdez showed last season that he is more than capable of holding down the fort while an accomplished starter goes down. He will do the same again this season if he is needed.

A healthy, happy and motivated Jimmy Rollins has shown over his illustrious career that when the lights are brightest, his light shines the most. He is entering a contract year and will likely be looking for the last contract of his career. He (finally) has entered camp in terrific shape and will be motivated to stay on the field and produce all season long.

"The Braves have the offense, pitching and right mixture of veterans and young players to win the NL East this season.'

National League, even in the NFL, NHL and NBA, the same teams are consistently at the top. Heck, Tom Brady led a team that had a defense of nobodies to a 14-2 record. That was in the ultimate team game of football.

Baseball is the one major sport in America where one player can single-handedly dominate any given game. The Phillies have a TEAM of those type of players. There is a reason that they still led the major leagues in wins last season. A season in which they could have missed the playoffs and have had a perfectly logical explanation for why that happened.

You seemed to overlook the fact, National League, that the Phillies clubhouse would not let something like that happen. In fact, they left no doubt by flipping a seven game deficit in early July to winning the NL East by six games. There is something to be said about the chemistry and make up of this team.

Whether it is the warrior-type mentalities of Utley and Halladay, the "just get me to the plate" mentality of Ryan Howard, the "we're the team to beat" attitude of former MVP Jimmy Rollins or the laid-back confidence of skipper Charlie Manuel, the team quite simply knows their goals and knows how to get there.

Phillies fans can still remember where they were the night the Phillies beat the Rays in 2008 and the most ridiculous parade down Broad Street that ensued. They can still picture what they were doing when they woke up on that Tuesday morning of Dec. 14 and heard that Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees (Bankees) to rejoin our beloved ballclub and give us the greatest Christmas present we ever could have dreamed of.

National League, these are the things the Philly Phaithful care about. There is a reason why Vegas picked Philadelphia as the team to beat this season. There is a reason Citizens Bank Park has sold out over 100 consecutive games. There is a reason Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Roy Halladay all CHOSE to play for Philadelphia. They are the team that gives them the best chance to win it all, something they so badly want to achieve.

Spring Training is a time of preparation for the long, grueling season ahead. A season that has not even started yet, and we are being told that it's time to push the panic button.

I say to hell with that. Let us continue to enjoy the fact that we have the team that has won the NL East four straight seasons, and has the type of pitching rotations that the rest of Major League Baseball is drooling over.

The spotlight is on the Phillies this season and they will not disappoint, no matter what your friends try to tell you.


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