OMG! What's Wrong With This Team? It's Only Got the Best Record in Baseball! Why Can't They Do Better?

It would be nice in life if I could rise above idiocy.  Ignore it, and let others live their lives in their blinding ignorance and tomfoolery.  After all, there are always going to be dumbasses everywhere you go.  It's a fact.

But, I can't always ignore it.  And, I especially can't ignore it when it has to do with the current Phillies.  Lucky me, I have a soapbox thanks to the fine folks at SB Nation, and today I'm going to use it.

The latest instance comes from Jack McCaffery in today's Delco Times.  His piece, which is just one in a long string of such pieces from journalists all over the Delaware Valley, argues that there's something wrong with the Phillies because their hitting is crummy.  He goes one step further, though, and says that fans are being too soft on the team because we're not spending all night at CBP booing the lackluster offense.  He reminisces about a time when Phillies fans would boo Mike Schmidt for not hitting a home run in his final at-bat of the game even though he hit three earlier that night.  He concludes:

Patience [from the fans] is fine. But not ignorance. And Phillies fans are careening into that intersection. "We went five innings the other night in Pittsburgh," Manuel said, "and we did not barrel the ball up once."

Once, that would have been unacceptable. Why not now?

I'm responding here not because I feel that McCaffery's special breed of idiocy needs a particular response, but rather because this type of nonsense is all over the place these days.  Here's the answer to McCaffery's burning question:

BECAUSE THE PHILLIES HAVE THE BEST RECORD IN BASEBALL.

It may be hard to understand this, but there is one goal that every team in baseball has on any given night and one goal only: to score more runs than your opponent.  The goal isn't to score 10 runs or to pitch a shutout.  It's to win, and winning is measured only by the differential between your score and the other team's being a positive number rather than a negative number.  It's as simple as that.

The thing is, there are many different ways to accomplish this goal.  Three years ago, when the Phillies would win games, they did so usually by hitting the bejeezus out of the baseball and hoping with all their might that their pitching would limit the other team to a run total less than theirs.  It was a successful approach to baseball (despite all the naysayers who complained that "you can't win without pitching").  Why?  Because all you have to do to win a game is score more.

If you've been a long-time reader of this blog (or in any way a thoughtful Phillies fan), though, you know that we live in a new normal.  The team doesn't win games by bludgeoning the ball and hoping for the best on the mound.  Rather, the team wins games by doing an amazing job at keeping the other team from scoring while eeking out just enough runs to better that total.  And, despite what you might hear from Phil Hoffman or Jack McCaffery or whichever former mediocre white Phillie is on the post-game show on Comcast these days, this formula is just as good a formula for winning as what the team did a few years ago.

How do I know this?  Because the team has the best record in baseball.

Does this mean we have to be thrilled with every aspect of the way the team is playing?  Of course not.  It would be great if a healthy and productive middle infield materialized one of these days.  And Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hitting like they can would be helpful.  And I'd love to see Roy Oswalt's velocity return.  And it would be nice if our third-order winning percentage was higher (though, to be crass about it, third-order wins don't get you to the post-season).

But at this point, complaining too much about those things without looking at the big picture is kind of idiotic.  After all, would it have made a difference if the team won last night's game 8-0 instead of 2-0?  The team may not be winning in ways that make you happy and entertain you as much as you used to enjoy being entertained when the team was scoring busloads of runs, but the team is winning -- more than any team in baseball right now.

To all the idiots out there, please try not forget that.

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