There is something to be said about being challenged in the regular season, to do well in the postseason.
They won 21 of 22 games in September to win the Wild Card, then swept the Phillies in three games and swept the Diamondbacks in four games.
Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote a story in the Aug. 21 edition titled: "Phillies Would Be Wise to Keep Their Foot on the Gas in NL East." In it he wrote:
"Here's what has happened over the last 10 years to the team that finished with the biggest lead in its division:
None won the World Series.
One made it that far.
Four lost in the League Championship Series.
Five were bumped off in the first round."
What's going to make the difference this year? The Phillies have to stay hungry. Charlie Manuel needs to keep the team fresh and focused, and players like Chase Utley have to continue to study film, run out every play, and play heads up baseball.
Having Cliff Lee in the rotation doesn't hurt.
But this is still a team predicated on the home run. When the Phillies win 8-1 as they did in the series finale against the Diamondbacks, they only had one run not produced by a home run.
With this team, runs come in bunches. They currently have four players with 25 or more home runs: Ryan Howard leads the way with 32 home runs and counting, Jayson Werth 28, Raul Ibanez 27, and Utley 25.
Nobody on Comcast Network asked Lee about the Phillies prodigious offense, but the Philly newspapers mentioned it. As a starting pitcher, it is nice to have that run support.
But as a fan, can you have it all?
I want the Phillies to win the National League East running away.
If I remember correctly the 1993 Phillies team, which made it to the World Series and lost to Toronto, led wire-to-wire.
The Phillies have been in first since the end of May.
Ryan Howard isn't going to cool down. Raul Ibanez will surely get back to hitting and raise his .289 average back over .300.
Cole Hamels has to return to domination and Brad Lidge has to regain his confidence.
If so, the team will go far.
But would you, as a fan, be happy with .600 ball, an 11-game margin over the second-place team, and be swept out of the playoffs in the first or second round?
I am happy with this season as it now. The Phillies are starting to dominate the East and I don't see them slowing down.
The rest is gravy.
As much as I have been pushing for a Phillies-Yankees World Series, I figure this:
If the Phillies don't make it or win the World Series this year, they will be in it next year.
They are that good, but a lot can happen in a baseball season.
Just ask the Mets.