Originally posted January 31, 2007:
Well, tomorrow will be February 1, and a few weeks later, Spring will be upon us. No, no, not Spring Spring, Spring Training. Soon the players will be reporting to Florida and Arizona and once again, we’ll all be anticipating to see which one of the 30 teams in the two leagues will be declared this year’s champs. Will it be the present champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, doing a repeat, or will it be one of the other 29, like my home town team, the Phillies? Yeah, yeah, I can hear you all out there laughing your ***** off. The Phillies? Give me a break.
Well, as they say, hope springs eternal, and I really do like their chances this year. I mean, this time they have 6 good starters coming into spring training. It has been a real long time since I’d heard that said about a Phils team heading into Spring Training. Plus, the guy who runs the show now is willing to pull the trigger to make a trade. We certainly can’t say that about the previous incombant, whose shall forever be nameless. And then there’s the ex-Rookie of the Year and present NL MVP, Ryan Howard. Can you say someone who make opposing pitchers wet their pants? I know you can. 🙂 Yeah, yeah, I know what happened at the end of last season. Howard suddenly couldn’t hit home runs. But, what I’m sure most of you don’t realize is that at the end of the season the opposing teams were pitching around him. Instead of letting him kill them when they had men on base, they would intentionally walk him and take their chances with the guy following him, Pat (Can’t Hit Right Now) Burrell. I mean, dammit, I actually saw one team walk him with the bases loaded so that his big bat wouldn’t kill them. Of course, if the Phils last year had someone who was just as dangerous following him in the batting order, that would never have happen. I’m just hoping that the Phils will have that guy this year, whether it’ll be Pat Burrell getting his stroke back, or someone else, so that the opposing team will in the home stretch (September) take their chances facing Howard instead of once again pitching around his mean bat.
Now, last year’s team. To quote Maxwell Smart, they missed the playoffs by that much. Sigh. Starting pitching started off a wreck, the relief core’s not home, bats asleep or just not there. I’ll be honest, when Pat Gillick finally made some trades when he needed to at the deadline, I was one of those who’d thought the season was over and that maybe 2007 would be better. Then, a funny thing happen on the way to the funeral. The Phils pulled off a Lazarus and came back from the dead, led by Howard, the now departed Randy Wolf and the rest of the team and put themselves back in contention for a possible playoff spot. Oh, to say I was a happy camper is an understatement. 🙂 But come late September, it fizzles, mainly because Ryan’s bat got muzzled. Oh, he got his hits and his RBIs, but, when he went to the plate with runners in scoring position, the opposing team usually gave him a free pass to first. Now, it wouldn’t have been a bother, but the usual result was that the guy after him didn’t pick up the runners. Not every time, of course, but just enough times that the team was once again on the outside looking in, and watching the playoffs on TV.
Sigh. Anyway, enough of that. I really, really think this will be their year. Knock on wood. Don’t make me wrong guys. This town needs a champ like nobody’s business!