The Season Doesn't Start in Philly Until They Begin to Doubt
It's that time again: The time when the end of the season is approaching and everyone starts making their end-season predictions.
The Phillies have been supported by a handful of experts for the last couple of years. The remainder however, have been contrary.
Hindsight is 20/20 they say, and it is. But lets take a peek back to 2008, the magical year for the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans.
Within that year, did anyone think that in 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, the Philadelphia Phillies would come out of the NL?
Furthermore, defeat a young team in the World Series, who handily dominated the AL East which previously was under the monopoly of the Yankees and Redsox?
Those scenarios, at the time, seemed unlikely.
This year, there is new fun.
Why should Philadelphia fans believe that their team can do it again?
Reason Five: Batting
The Phillies are eight deep in their line-up. From the catalyst J-Roll leading off, to Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz who is having a very solid season, batting almost .300 on the year, with a .385 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 line-up finishes with Victorino and Ruiz, who will absolutely hurt any pitcher, 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 reason 4.
Reason Four: Pitching
Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels can be, and have been, number one options by themselves. Here they are, on top of tremendous offense potential, pitching solid games, holding teams to an average of under 4 runs a game.
The bullpen isn't great, but not bad either. With Halladay's work ethic and being able to go to at least the 7th or 8th inning every game, the bullpen should be able to hold it down like they have in the past seasons, when the bullpen was much more shaky.
Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madsen, and Brad Lidge, should be, with all of their difficulties at times, enough to support the all-star starting pitching line-up.
Reason Three: Leadership
There is something about, when Rollins, Utley, and Howard are in the line-up 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 post-season approaches, the whole team is, again, healthy, and they are looking to wreak havoc in September and October..
Reason Two: 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 now--most 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, that 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. etc.
And you may be right.
But, what separates the Philadelphia Phillies from the others is...
Reason One: Experience and Success
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 your better believe this team isn't just going down like some fluke team that rode a success wave.
It's very different success, to fight against the current.
Make no mistake, the experienced Philadelphia Phillies are poised to make another Pennant run in 2010.