Duffy asked me how the Phillies did. I don’t know if he was really asking for my review of their performance, or just getting revenge for all my anti-Yankee comments on this blog, but I figured I should give at least a quick summary of how they performed.
Every year since at least 2000, even the years they were supposed to be good, I’ve picked someone other than the Phils to win the division. Past experience has taught me to expect the worst from them. So, even as the playoff drive mounted and the Mets were choking, I fully expected the Phils to fall just short as they have so many years in the past. The only time I really expected them to win was going into the final Saturday of the regular season when they had the lead over the Mets. They reminded me the folly of getting my hopes up by falling back into a tie.
So, I was happy, almost gloriously so, to see them win on the final Sunday of the season, especially with the Mets clearly having lost the game before they even had gotten a second Marlin out. Anything beyond that was gravy in my eyes. This was especially true when the red-hot Rockies won the playoff game. Even ignoring their hot streaks, I thought the Phils matched up better with the Padres than they did with the Rockies.
I missed game three of the playoffs due to sheer exhaustion; I just couldn’t stay awake for it and had to get up early the next morning to head to a wedding on Long Island with my girlfriend. (Not our wedding, FYI.) The other two games, the Phillies didn’t impress me. I don’t know if the comeback against the Mets had exhausted them or if they were just outclassed by the Rockies. (Ryan Howard and Chase Utley looked particularly clueless and lost in Game 1.)
But overall, I’m happy with the season and think they have a good base to build on for next year, especially when compared to the Mets or Braves. The Braves aren’t quite division winning caliber and the Mets just don’t seem to care enough, even using the excuse that they’re just too good, so they may not feel the need to try as hard. That’s the mark of a team that’s going to lose. Meanwhile, the Phils need to learn to win in April so they don’t need to play catch-up all season long. I don’t why they take so long to heat up, maybe they need to be worked harder in spring training, but they dig themselves a hole in April they spend the rest of the season climbing their way out of.
While the season ended earlier than we hoped, it was still a fun ride. Thanks for the memories, Phillies, and only 174 days until Opening Day!