October 12, 2012 – For the past five seasons, the fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been on cloud nine.
Their beloved team, which notoriously struggled through much of its 100+ year history until recently, opened a beautiful new park, hired solid talent in the front office who sought out quality players, and pretty much owned the National League. They made back-to-back appearances in the World Series in 2008, when they won it all, and in 2009 when they came close to doing it again.
Now, with an aging team and plenty of injuries, this season unfolded quite differently than many of us expected. Fans witnessed a dreadful first half, without it stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and held on to renewed hope when everything seemed to click in second half, but just a little too late. I have no doubt that they can contend again in 2013, just as Jimmy Rollins prophisized, but the bitter taste of no post-season play right now is mighty hard to swallow.
So, what’s a fan to do? Cheer for your favorite former Phillie, of course. You’ll find them in six of the eight teams in contention for the top prize, and they are really making a difference in the outcome of the games.
In the National League, fan favorite Hunter Pence, now a San Francisco Giant, is playing the Cincinnati Reds, the team of former Phillie Scott Rolen. My heart is with Pence in this series. I haven’t been a fan of Rolen’s since he left Philadelphia with a bad attitude several years ago. Ironically, Rolen wanted out of Philly because he accused them of not wanting to win, which they started to do when he left. Since then, Rolen has had trouble with other teams along the way, but it’s always them and not him. His error cost the Reds the game on Tuesday night when they could have advanced to the National League Champion series. The Giants went on to win the next two, which sends them on to the next round instead. The Reds were eliminated when Rolen struck out in the bottom of the 9th yesterday, ending their playoff run.
In the Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals series, former Phillies Jayson Werth and Gio Gonzalez are pitted against former Phillie Kyle Lohse. This one is a little tougher for me since Werth followed Rolen’s path and departed Philly with accusations against Philadelphia fans and his former teammates, and Lohse was not actually a Phillie long enough to form an attachment. I’m leaning toward the Cardinals simply because Washington is a division rival. The outcome will be decided tonight after a dramatic walk off home run by Werth yesterday saved the Nationals for at least one more day.
Over in the American League, the Orioles featuring two-time Phillie Jim Thome, who is forever loved in these parts, are facing the New York Yankees and another huge fan favorite , Raul Ibanez. It was great to see Ibanez single-handedly win Wednesday’s game with two home runs, proving he was worth signing. I adore both Thome and Ibanez, so this is a tough call, too. I’ll have to side with the Orioles on this one since they are the underdogs against the big, bad Yankees. It would be nice, however, if Thome or Ibanez, who are both gentlemen of the highest class, finally get a World Series ring. Tied with two games each, the deciding game will be played tonight.
Only the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s are battling it out without the help of former Phillies, so I don’t care what the outcome is. 🙂 When I posted this story, however, Detroit was winning 6-0 in the deciding game so it looks like they will advance.
If the Phillies as a team cannot be there, it’s nice that much of the drama is coming from players who used to play for the team. That makes this post season “A Tale of the Former Phillies”. It is the best of times (because several former Phillies are still playing) and the worst of times (because the core unit of the Phillies is not).
My reasoning may not be perfect, but it is enough to get me through to next spring when all the drama begins again.