I wanted to wait a little bit until I wrote this post (don’t want to jinx anything), but that rationale kind of bit me in the behind once Andy Reid went back on his word and made and announcement that could possibly set back the Eagles franchise for a decade.
So, change of plans. I am now going to use this post now as a subtle reminder of what you all should really care about if you are a Philadelphia sports fan.
THE PHILLIES ARE IN FIRST PLACE!
Along those lines, if their recent play is any indication, they will finish there for their 4th consecutive season.
After sweeping the Atlanta Braves in a crucial 3-game set at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies now find themselves in a position that they could have only dreamed of a few months ago. With a 6-game lead in the NL East and a magic number that is now less than a handful, the Phillies are a well-played series away from clinching another NL East crown. With a winning streak that now sits at 10 games and the best record in all of baseball during the month of September, I am going to go out there on a limb and say that it won’t be too much of a problem for the Phillies to solidify their spot in the 2010 postseason.
Think about it for a second. This is the same team who sat in third place behind the Braves and METS of all teams two months ago. This is the same team that has seen 17 players go on the disabled list, including three players with multiple stints on the DL. And last but not least, this is the same team that almost dealt All-Star OF Jayson Werth at the trade deadline, a move which would have shown that management had ultimately given up on the season.
The fact of the matter is, even with the plethora of shortcomings the Phillies have faced, they seemed have passed every test the baseball gods have sent there way.
Sure, they may have gotten some help. The Mets and Braves showed their youth and inexperience by faltering down the stretch. That was somewhat expected. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled the trigger on one of the more lobsided deals in recent history. That, again, was somewhat expected. However, there is no way anyone could have ever expected the Phillies to play themselves into this position once again.
But, they did.
If you look at most measures of baseball statistics, they are in fact a pretty good indicator of the Phillies prominence. With a current 10-game winning streak, a MLB-best 17-3 record in September, and a NL-best 44-15 record since the all-star break, it’s clear that consistent play at this high level is what ultimately brought the Phillies back into contention.
However, stats don’t tell the whole story. They don’t fully show how the addition of Roy Oswalt, the growth of Cole Hamels, or the stability that Roy Halladay provides has made the starting pitching, not the offense, arguably the Phillies most valuable asset. They can’t truthfully describe how important the recent resurgence closer Brad Lidge has been to the team’s championship puzzle. And lastly, there is no way a box-score and a stat-line can explain how the Phillies have been able to overcome their obstacles and overwhelming odds to virtually guarantee the fans of Philadelphia another post-season run.
Unfortunately, as most of us know all too well, there are no such things as guarantees. Especially when it it comes to baseball in September.