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PO'ed at TO?
2005-08-17 21:21
by Mike Carminati

The Phillies won tonight, 4-3, over the Nationals even though they didn't score after the third inning. They are now tied for the wild card lead with the Astros, and the city of Philadelphia couldn't give a damn.

I opened the rag Philly commuter paper, The Metro, today and their only Phillies story in what one might call the sports section—or more appropriately would be described as the last three and one-half pages of this tabloid version of the USA Today and a Modell's ad—was about the team's reaction to Terrell Owens return to Eagles camp.

"Hello, you may not know us but were in a pennant race" or words to that affect were the mock-u-mercial in the film Major League, but they quite aptly describe the state of the Phils.

The Eagles, and especially the TO dramedy, have dominated local sports headlines and fans' imaginations since the beginning of baseball season. Cheers of "E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!" have broken out during dull and exciting moments alike at games at Citizens Bank Park all year. It's as if the fans are completely indifferent to the plight of the ballclub as they enjoy their schmitter and Schmitz.

Truthfully, there really isn't all that much compelling about the team with the exception of perhaps their backing into a wild card race that they seemingly have no business to be a part of.

This is a team whose most popular star, Jim Thome, has either been completely ineffective or injured all season.

Their best player, Bobby Abreu, made headlines by winning the home run derby, but at the same time had started a month-long home run drought that he just got out of the other day.

Their leadoff hitter, Jimmy Rollins, who had a mini-renaissance lasts season, has fallen back into his bad ways and now owns a .313 on-base percentage and .704 OPS.

Their third baseman, David Bell, has been one of the worst regulars in the majors (.661 OPS), is 32, and is signed through next year.

They have a catching tandem (Mike Lieberthal and Todd Pratt) that can only be considered somewhat acceptable given that the 38-year-old, career backup (Pratt) is on pace to set career highs in homers and RBI. For his part, the putative starter, Lieberthal, has been a sinkhole offensively.

They have two closers since Ed Wade couldn't pull the trigger on any semblance of a deal at the trade deadline. They have a rotation that scares no one. The one starter who had been doing well, Brett Myers, seems to have lost it since the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, there are positives. Pat Burrell has but been written off by the locals for not being the next coming of Ted Williams but has been solid all year. Chase Utley may already be the best second baseman in the league even though his manager had no confidence in him coming out of training camp and this is just the first season in which the Phils graciously and begrudgingly allowed him to start. Ryan Howard may not be a revelation as Thome's understudy but has been at least a step up from Thome's performance. Kenny Lofton has been his usual self in center though he is 38, after all, and plays about three-quarters of the time. Robinson Tejeda has filled in nicely for Randy Wolf. Vicente Padilla has actually resembled a major-league pitcher lately.

Those are all plusses that can go—and are going—unnoticed while the locals obsess over the utterances of Owens.

This team could actually back into the playoffs, sort of by default in the mediocrity cum parity that prevails in throughout the majors, and the locals may not even notice.

Especially if Donovan and TO kiss and makeup or the Eagles start playing games that matter.

2005-08-18 09:09:06
1.   mattapp
I think the other big reason that the Philly faithful aren't caring about the Phightins is that we've been here before with them. This is the third straight Mid-August (and 4th out of five) where they were in the think of the hunt. They didn't break through before, and given that the core of the team remains the same there's little reason to believe this year will be different.
2005-08-19 05:59:52
2.   PhillyJ
I think there are a couple reasons...matt is correct, the deja vu of this has made many skeptical. Second, the series in Houston where they scored 4 runs off Petitte, Oswalt and Clemens proved to many that they are not good enough despite their position in the standings...and lastly, and certainly not least, there are many fans who simply do not want them to get to the playoffs as that would provide Montgomery, et al with confirmation that the worst GM is in baseball is doing a fine job...just as they have been saying for 8 years...

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