Expectations; Fans Sucking the Fun Out of the Season.

Enjoy Yourselves For Once.

Is anyone having any fun watching the Phillies this year?  Anyone at all with a little jump in their step because the Phillies are in first place?  Where are the optimists?  We all know that pessimism has a permanent home in the Philadelphia sports culture.  And, we know that it is the most panicked voices that become the easiest to hear through the abundance of media outlets, but still this is getting ridiculous.  I believe that teams should be held to a high standard.  Brainwashed, Flyers apologists drive me crazy (I may be one myself).  I wrote a post last year about fans starting to blindly trust the Phillies front office.  Well, the results of last season and this year have eroded that stance a good bit, but there is still a difference between that and what I’m talking about here.  I’m sure most people still think (or hope) that the Phillies will make changes if necessary, but right now that kind of speculation is mostly buried under this daily worst-case scenario mentality.

I know a couple of Phillies fans who are going with the flow.  Some seem to realize that the team has changed in make up over the last 3 or 4 years and the hard-swinging, score book defacing days of scoring 850 runs a year are long gone.  The Phillies are working on steady offensive decline.  It’s probably time to realize that Jimmy Rollins isn’t going to win another MVP award.  And, 58 HR/150 RBI campaigns probably won’t happen for anyone around baseball, and definitely not for Ryan Howard.  Pitching, that’s where the focus has gone.  Every major move has revolved around pitching, and that’s the team we have before us–loaded on pitching (note the pitching depth as opposed to the shocking lack of position player depth).  If the Phillies scored 850 runs this year, they might as well have cancelled the season.  I guess that is what people wanted though, because the mantra you hear day in, day out, seems to be, “we’re screwed.”

The two biggest causes for concern are that the Phillies aren’t hitting enough and that they cannot beat good teams.  On the hitting front, you’d have to be a moron to miss the fact the Phillies certainly aren’t tearing the cover off the ball, but some perspective would be nice.  Like it or not, offense is way down all over the league.  On Saturday there were six shutouts in 15 games.  It’s down to early 1980s levels.  Now, I know most people out there started paying attention in mid-September 2007, but back then teams weren’t lighting up the scoreboards.  If you hit 32 homers, you might accidentally lead the league.

This brings me to Charlie, and the role he plays in all this.  Charlie says he knows the numbers are down, but doesn’t care.  It shouldn’t be making a difference to his hitters.  Well, that’s a good mentality in some ways, but it’s also incredibly ignorant.  That’s like saying, “Oh, this recession isn’t going to hurt me.”  Well, that could be true, but at the very least you have to make adjustments, and that is what Charlie seems incapable or unwilling to do.  He’s still running his business like the economy is booming, and it is most decidedly not.

In broader terms, the offense could be worse and should get better.  If you really want to see a bad offense go to Seattle, or San Diego, or San Fran, Washington, Houston…the list goes on.  Plenty of teams out there can’t score 4 runs a game, let alone five.  The Phillies have plenty of room for improvement and should get better.  Raul Ibanez should be past rock bottom at this point.  The same goes for Carlos Ruiz.  Chase Utley should eventually be back, and hopefully Victorino as well.  He may be the position player they can least afford to lose.  But, considering this team has given Wilson Valdez, Pete Orr, Brian Schneider and the like consistent at-bats things aren’t all bad.  The majority of the top of the order are having respectable years.

As far as beating good teams goes, this is again where some perspective would be nice.  I think we’re falling victim here to the neophyte baseball fan, or perhaps a football fan mentality.  No team out there rips off a .700 winning percentage against the best teams in the league.  Or, if they do, it’s extremely rare.  Here’s a newsflash for you, 2/3 of the National League is terrible.  The majority of the games this year will be played against sub-par teams.  You’ve got 36 against the Braves and Marlins. Then maybe six each with five other contenders and some interleague action.  A good 1/2 the schedule is against these teams that the Phillies beat up on without mercy.  If they go 20-25 games over .500 against the slop, they barely have to play above .500 against the rest to get into the 95-win range.  And, they are hardly getting man-handled.  Overall record of 6-6 against Florida and Atlanta (who recently was almost swept by free wins Washington, just FYI).  We want to panic over 12 games?

The point is, we’re about 1/4 of the way through this thing.  There is still a long way to go, and I, for one, would like to enjoy the remaining 120 games.  Very little has gone perfectly for the Phillies this year, and yet they still sit atop their division.  But after every loss and even after the wins it’s concern over what isn’t going right.  People say they don’t care about being in first now, they just care about winning in October.  Well, pardon my judgment, but that makes you an assh*le.  If you only care about what happens in the playoffs, please, PLEASE tune out now and let the rest of us enjoy the regular season.  Close games and pitcher’s duels can be fun too.  Broaden your horizons.

And, people shouldn’t be so surprised on a nightly basis.  You can see these Phils slumps coming a mile away.  This week’s mini-series in St. Louis should bring a nice mix.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they get to Westbrook tonight and then get totally baffled by Garcia on Tuesday.  That’s the way this team goes.

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10 thoughts on “Expectations; Fans Sucking the Fun Out of the Season.

  1. 1/4 way through the season? from my view in the stands, time flies. i’m having fun. this is entertainment. not neurosurgery. but speaking of neurosurgy, reading a book i recommend, “Another Day in the Frontal Lobe.” even there, win some, lose some. but get a perspective, nobody dies (usually) if the phils lose.

    ps, i heart Mayberry.

    Q

  2. We’re kind of getting spoiled too. I was in physical therapy the other day and some kid goes, “Man we’ve had a rough couple ofnseasons. The Phils lost in the NLCS, Flyers lost in the Cup, Eagles went out in the playoffs.”

    It wasn’t too long ago we would die for a stretch like that. I’m not saying we should settle fornpostseason appearances, but we certainly shouldn’t say it was a rough stretch.

  3. The team has had so many injuries, people can’t honestly get down on the team (yet). I look at a team like Oakland, who might have the best top to bottom pitching staff in the majors, and when they give up 3 runs it’s over. They’ve got zero offense. The Phils are a threat to put up 3-4 runs every inning, even with the AAA fill-in’s they’ve got in the lineup now.

  4. Can Blanton pitch more than 5 innings? It made 0 sense taking him out on Saturday after he gave up 2 HRs to start the game, settled down and then gave up 3 hits over the next 15 outs.

    I’m only concerned about the ultra-loyalty to JC Romero. Has he gotten through an inning without walking a guy this year? And he’s still coming in during close games. The bullpen has 4-5 guys throwing well right now. He and Baez shouldn’t be allowed to touch baseball unless the game is out of reach.

    Did Dom Brown have a setback with his wrist?

  5. Dom Brown sprained his thumb, or a ligament in his thumb. he’s been out a few days, and I think they are hoping he’ll back by the end of the week.

    If they took Blanton out because that is how long he could go, certainly that is a problem…

    but, they were getting no-hit there, so I think they were pretty desperate for any kind of offense.

    hopefully Romero is pitching his way out of the rotation out there. They are going to have to do something when/if Contreras and Lidge come back (even though Worley will likely go).

    and baez, his connection with Contreras can only keep him around so long.

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