Thursday, June 29, 2006
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
-Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776
I couldn’t help but think of Paine’s words, written in the wake of the Colonial Army’s disasterous campaign in New York and retreat across New Jersey, right when the British victory over the rebellion seemed assured, when thinking of the Phillies plight.
Things are bad. With their twin losses in the doubleheader with the Orioles, the Phillies have dropped fifteen of their last eighteen games and seven in a row. As near as I can tell this is also the first time the Phillies have dropped both ends of a doubleheader since they lost to the Florida Marlins 6-4 and 2-1 on September 9, 2002.
2003: Three double-headers; split vs. San Diego Padres, swept the Oakland A’s and Montreal Expos
2004: Three double-headers; split vs. Detroit Tigers; swept the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates
2005: Two double-headers; split vs. Washington Nats; swept the Arizona D-Backs
I’d love to know if anyone had bothered to figure out how often teams split double-headers and how often do teams win them outright?
Anyway, the losses mean that the Phillies are twelve games back of the Mets and are holding off the Braves, Nats and Marlins by a thread. There is a very real possibility that the Phillies could fall to dead-last by the end of the weekend.
Now, as I said previously, I think that the Phillies would probably have to win ninety games in order to make the playoffs. Today their record stands at 35-42 with 85 games left. To win an additional 55 games, the Phillies are going to have to go 55-30 (.647) the rest of the season. At this point last year the Phillies were 39-38, four games better than this. The only team that had a winning percentage of .647 or greater in 2005 for the last 85 games was the New York Yankees at .659 … Add into the mix other distractions, like Brett Myers (alleged) battery of his wife and the persistent trade rumors swirling around Bobby Abreu and others, and the Phillies look like an organization in crisis.
After Paine wrote those words, which were published in Philadelphia, by the way, the Colonial Army launched a counter-attack at Trenton which surprised the Hessian Army and gave George Washington a much-needed victory. Everyone in the Delaware Valley is familiar with Washington’s bold crossing of the Delaware River in the snow and ice. It was the low ebb of the revolution and the victory at Trenton prevented the revolt from collapsing. Despite losing battles at Brandywine and Germantown and then the City of Philadelphia in 1777, the revolution continued and culminated in freedom for America.
I think the Phillies need to do something bold and dramatic to recapture the hearts of the fans and improve this team before the rest of the season goes south. Is it already too late to salvage this season? That is impossible to say. Sure, the Phillies could go 55-30 and win 90 games and make the playoffs. It is possible. Unlikely, but possible. But this team could also finish fifth at this rate. Deal Bobby Abreu, deal Pat Burrell, deal Brett Myers (please!) … but I think the fans need to see the team shake off this malaise that is hanging in the air. Washington’s decision to attack Trenton was risky – terrible weather, a river cutting off your line of retreat – but it was the right decision because it saved the rebellion from collapsing. Be bold, Pat Gillick, or watch this team wither away.
This isn't working. And it's so very painful to watch.
Manuel shares part of the blame, and I've wanted him fired from some time dating back to last season, but it's time to blow this team up and get as many prospects and young MLB ready players as possible.