It’s an exciting time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. The Eagles have just completed their draft weekend and fans are eager to welcome the newest Birds to the nest. The Flyers are in the middle of an amazing run, and it’s being made even sweeter by the fact that they’re beating up on hated local rivals. The Sixers are beginning their playoff journey against a now Rose-less Bulls team. Then there’s the Philadelphia Phillies, and everyone wants to know what’s wrong.
The Phillies have spent the entire first month of the season searching for an identity, and three of their top players are on the disabled list. Ryan Howard is still nursing a torn achilles. Chase Utley is trying to find his way back from a knee condition that we know now will never be fully healed. Cliff Lee threw 1o shut out innings only to land on the DL without a win to show for it. Then to make things worse, the Phillies are assured of their first losing April since the 2007 season when they finished with an 11-14 mark.
Truth be told, the Phillies have been notoriously slow starters, but this year theres a feeling that there’s something different.
The pitching has been excellent thus far with a team ERA of 2.99, which is good for 5th in the National League. The offense, however, has been the story for much of the year. Currently the Phillies are 14th out of 16 National League teams in runs scored with 70. Only the Marlins and Pirates have scored less.
Charlie Manuel has done his best to shuffle the line up and spark the offense. Juan Pierre has supplanted Jimmy Rollins at the top of line-up for most of the season, and has been a pleasant surprise thus far. The afore mentioned Rollins has filled the third spot and is only batting .222 on the year. Hunter Pence has batted clean-up most of the year and has struck out 22 times in 22 games. Shane Victorino is leading the team in home runs, and that isn’t a good sign.
There’s also the carousel of first baseman trying to fill Ryan Howard’s shoes.
Watching this team has been a struggle and fans are waiting for their beloved Phils to break out and show some life, especially now that the hated Mets are sitting above them in the standings for the first time in years.
For a team that has given the city of Philadelphia so much to root for over the past 5 years, it is painful to see them take a back seat to the Flyers, Sixers and Eagles, but that’s also why they deserve to have the city stand behind them. The San Francisco Giants showed that great pitching can carry an inconsistent offense all the way to a World Series Championship. The St. Louis Cardinals showed that it just takes a little bit of luck and a lot of heart to get to the promised land, so Phillies fans, stand by your team.
Yes, it’s hard.
Yes, this is a different team.
No, they may never be the same even with Howard and Utley anchoring the line up, but they’ve been there before and experience is much more valuable in certain circumstances.
The stars will come out again. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cliff Lee will be back. Cole Hamels is one of the best young lefties in the game. Jonathan Papelbon has the passion that excites Philadelphia fans. Hunter Pence is gritty just like Utley.
This is the team that chased down the Mets for 162 games in 2007 and 2008. This is the same team that went to the World Series in 2008 and 2009 and brought it all home in 2008. This the team that almost went back to back to back in 2010 and had the best record in baseball in 2011.
So Phillies fans, keep cheering your hearts out. Keep filling “The Bank”. And stand behind your 2012 Philllies.
They’ve earned it.