The last two seasons have been tough in Philadelphia. After a glorious run as one of the best team’s in baseball, the Phillies crashed back to Earth. Charlie Manuel, a beloved figure for anyone who’s followed the Phils, was tossed aside. Roy Halladay, a player who more than anyone made Philadelphia a destination for free agents, retired after two injury-riddled seasons. It was a magical time and now it is over.
The next phase is a familiar one. The Phillies will likely be hard to watch for a long time. With commitments made to an aging core and little to no talent in the farm system, the boom has gone bust. For anyone who remembers what happened to the team after 1993, we know what happens next. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll still be in the stands, basking in the ballpark, thankful for the memories the Phillies gave us.
Because the world needed another baseball blog. You can find it here, where I will be Tumbling about all manner baseball stuff, whether it’s Phillies or not. (And, yes, this is my umpteenth stab at Tumblr. This could stick only because I really like reading and writing and thinking about baseball.) If you can recommend anyone on Tumblr who is a thinking person’s baseball fan, or even someone who makes unbelievably hilarious .gifs, let me know!
Didn’t start or end pretty, but I can honestly say that what happened in between the first and ninth innings were truly inspired baseball. Halladay dominated, the offense erupted and Charlie went wild with the rally towel.
It was an absurdly fun night at the ballpark, punctuated by the lone Cards fan in our row leaving when it started getting ugly.
Singing “High Hopes” as we left the ballpark is so satisfying. “10 mas!”
Never in my life did I believe that the Phillies would be the sort of dominant team fans link to the Yankees and Red Sox. The sort of team that “buys” championships. The sort of team that players want to join, even if it means taking a pay cut to do it. The kind of team that can win 100+ games and dominate the competition.
Want to know a secret? I really thought 2011 might be a letdown year for the Phillies.
Acquiring pitching is great, but there’s only so much pitchers can do to help win games. I feared that our aging core players, notably Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, would make us vulnerable to the sort of power outages we’ve faced in the past and that the replacement parts wouldn’t be up to the task. I was wrong.
It was amazing to watch this team cut through the opposition no matter who they put on the field. I saw Michael Martinez hit a three-run homer. I feel like that encapsulated what a rarefied season this was for a team whose expectation is success.Â On the eve of the playoffs, I think I’m one of those who thinks that anything less than a World Series championship will be a disappointment.
The last two seasons have beenÂ heart-wrenchingÂ for Phillies fans. 2009 ended just short of repeat title. 2010 was cut short by a Giants team that caught fire. Where will 2011 leave us? Will we fall short again, or will we run roughshod over a field that is probably the strongest we’ve faced since 2009? Â Needless to say I’m excited to see what unfolds.
Dream match-ups? Phillies versus Brewers in the NLCS. Would love a rematch of the ’08 NLDS, which probably featured the most exciting game I’ve ever seen in the postseason firsthand, with the ’09 NLCS clincher against the Dodgers a close second. (Saw the 10–2 laugher against the Rays in the ’08 World Series. It was satisfying, but not exactly thrilling.) Want to see Phillies-Tigers in the World Series. I’m a chauvinist for clubs that have history to complement a dazzling rotation topped by one of my favorite AL players, Justin Verlander. (A little secret: I fell in love with the Tigers early in ’06 and have followed them since.)
I’ll be at the ballpark Saturday with my family, excited for another round of postseason baseball. Wish me luck as I run on no sleep for a month!
Hunter Pence. It’s going to take the rest of the season for me to decide how he improves this team. I know people are excited, but I think there are other issues, notably the presences of Wilson Valdez and Ben Francisco, who have lately become surplus to requirements. Removing Dom Brown from the everyday lineup doesn’t improve the Phillies chances come postseason play.
I still think the Phillies match up well against any team they could face in the playoffs, but I hate to think that banged up veterans like Polanco or Ibanez could come up short when it matters most.