Houston I have a problem

September 15, 2011 – The Philadelphia Phillies are going to the playoffs for the fifth straight year.

The team guaranteed themselves a playoff spot with a 1-0 win over the Houston Astros yesterday thanks to their ace Roy Halladay. They are the first team to clinch a spot in both the National and American leagues, and continue to lead the majors with the best record in baseball.

Not to take all that for granted, but it’s only what was expected of this team of superstars. What wasn’t expected was the sloppy and unfocused play that cost them the first two games in Houston.

For a team trying to reach 100 plus wins and possibly break a franchise record – the 1976 and 77 teams both had 101 wins – every game is crucial. With 95-51 record and 16 more games to play, they’ll likely reach both goals, but dropping a series to the last place Astros after taking three from the Braves and three out of four from Milwaukee, both playoff contenders, has fans scratching their heads.

Sure it’s baseball, things happen, and you can’t win them all, but playing badly is doubly frustrating when you have the best talent and the high payroll to go along with it. And it also stings that the first two games in Houston were lost to former Phillies, Brett Myers and J.A. Happ, who are both having a bad year yet the Phillies made them look like Cy Young Award contenders. Apparently it’s in the rulebook that ex-Phillies have to hurt the team more than any other player. It just goes to prove that revenge is a dish best served cold.

On another baseball related note, Sports Illustrated polled 215 major league players and asked them who was the meanest player in baseball. The Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley came in second. What’s up with that? How can you not have respect for how this man plays the game? Utley may be a bit aloof on the field because he plays with such intensity, but mean? That’s ridiculous.

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