The Phillies: It’s Always Darkest When It Goes Pitch Black


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The Phillies in Pittsburgh last weekend.

The Phillies have been a pretty good team in my lifetime- no, really. I’m 32, and they’ve played in four World Series in my lifetime. They’ve played in the NLCS five times, and in the playoffs seven times. That’s not bad, and it’s certainly not bad against their own history. My grandfather didn’t see the Phillies play in a World Series until he was 20, and didn’t see them back there and winning it until he was 50. Life hasn’t been so bad for a younger Phillies fan. If you’re younger than me, by say a generation, it’s been really good. From 2001 under 2012, they basically were never bad, and finished under .500 just once. The late 1980s and late 1990s seem like forever ago.

So here’s where I give you some bad news- Yes, they’re 23-46, and in last place, and Yes, they’re 13 games out of first on June 20th. This season is already ugly, and a complete washout. This team stinks, but the bad news is that they will be worse. This is not rock-bottom, yet. That day may be coming soon, but it hasn’t been reached yet. That day is coming, and on that day, this team will be much worse. That day is the day after the purge- the day that all the sell-able assets are traded out, and the team is left with a collection of undesirables, some questionable talents, and the very, very few bright spot young guys that have already made it up. Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Harang, maybe even Ben Revere have been purged out of Philadelphia, and you are left to watch the end of Chase Utley, the futility of Dom Brown, and the inadequacy of Sean O’Sullivan.

To be clear, it’s hard to be much worse than this team. They have won twice in the past two weeks. They have the worst record in the game. They lost 12-4 tonight. You’ve been subjected to more mediocrity than you can handle. Dom Brown came back to this team, and he’s hit .158 so far. Severino Gonzalez was sold to you as a viable pitcher, but so far he’s posted an 8.69 ERA. I mean, you had to watch a Phillippe Aumont start now. How much worse can it be? After the purge, there will be new prospects, space on the roster for some of the ones we have, and no expectations. To be fair, this team is so bad that the youth injected into it later might actually make it better, meaning rock-bottom might be a very short-lived place. In fact, it will only be rock-bottom because you will have to wonder if the prospects replacing older players on this team will live up to the hype. The uncertainty, and possibility that this team is bad for a very long time, will be the worst part.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to be worse than it is right now. You’re watching a lot of players who have no future here lose ballgames. You’re watching a team where a .260 average makes you a success story, and where the manager leaves relievers on the mound for 50 and 60 pitches at a time, because they are bad, and his other options are maybe worse. The Phillies called up a guy last night who walks a guy an inning at this point, and let him start. The Phillies called up a guy the fanbase soured on last year when he was one of the worst players in baseball, and in his first week back he’s hitting .158. People have talked up Ryan Howard’s performance on the season, despite having a .236 average, because he’s hit 13 homers, and frankly, you understand why when you watch Chase Utley hit .181 on June 20th. A pitcher with a 4.74 ERA in AAA will get the ball tomorrow, and could be in line for a more extended look later in the season. An outfielder threw two innings in a live game this week, and a reliever pulled the equivalent on Friday, while watching his ERA go north of five. Even some of the players you had hope in before the season- Diekman, Buchanan, Asche, and others- have had very difficult, downright miserable seasons that have tested their confidence and your faith in them.

This is a really awful team, and it’s going to be a really long season. Unfortunately I can’t make that feel any better for you. All I can say is that it’s always darkest when it goes pitch black. We’re there. So there must be some kind of light out there coming soon.

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