SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Saturday, May 04, 2013

Backwards Day

Remember days at school or camp when people did things backwards?  You wore your baseball hats inside out, shirts inside out, shoes on the wrong foot, ran bases the wrong way, stuff like that?  I didn't particularly like that sort of stuff, but it happened.  Perhaps Seinfeld got it right when he referred to "Bizarro World," but on his show it was hard to distinguish Bizarro World from the daily existence of the ensemble cast.

At any rate, the Phillies beat the Marlins last night (a nine that, instead of resembling a franchise that has won two World Series more resembles a terrible college team with a great player that everyone comes to scout), behind youngster Jonathan Pettibone.  That makes the Phillies 9-3 in starts by Pettibone, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan, and 5-13 when aces Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are starting.  It's hard to forecast this stuff, let alone make it up.

Mike Missanelli had Phils' GM Ruben Amaro on the other day and asked him by when fans could tell whether the team was a contender, and Amaro said, "Give it another month."  It's what anyone would have expected the GM to say, what with the Phillies now playing to 8,000 empty seats a night (in addition to about 35,000 full ones).  Yet, the Phillies, whose early schedule of cupcakes almost eclipses the air time that Food Network gives to "Cupcake Wars," have squandered early-season opportunities by not beating up on opponents they should be beating up on.  And therein lies one of their many problems

The squad, as constructed, relies upon many ifs.  So, if a) the aces return to form (and cease to pitch like the seven of clubs), b) the non-aces continue to hold serve, to mix a metaphor, c) the lineup can string together rallies, and d) some players emerge whom we need to emerge (such as Ben Revere and Domonic Brown and relievers not named Adams and Papelbon), then perhaps they might be able to make a run.  But when too much has to go right with an aging team, it usually doesn't.

Then again, during the Phillies outstanding run from '07 through '11, they suffered more than their share of injuries.  I recall one time when they had Dane Sardinha, Wilson Valdez and Juan Castro batting 6-7-8 in the lineup and won consistently and when Cody Ransom hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the 9th to enable the Phillies to tie a game against the Reds in the bottom of the 9th that they went into trailing 7-1, and that led to a great winning streak that helped make their season.  Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz all missed significant time because of injuries, the team never quit and each time someone stepped up (including, in '07, Tadahito Iguchi, who played 2B after Utley went down, hit .300 and helped the Phillies make the playoffs).

They had the magical mojo then.

Can they get it back?

Or will they continue to slide, move backwards?

May will tell us a lot.


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