It seems to me that in light of the Phillies' early clinching of the division and the subsequent 8-game losing streak, many baseball pundits in the Philadelphia region are claiming that the Phillies are setting themselves up for an inevitable playoff collapse by, get this, having won too much. Now I know I'm not the brightest guy on the face of the earth, and so initially I failed to see the connection between regular season dominance and playoff destruction. The analysts (and I use the term loosely) believe that the Phillies have become numb to winning, it's seemingly automatic and they take it for granted. As a result, they're not going to have the determination and the moxie like teams that have been scrapping all year to get to the postseason will have, and a quick exit is ensured.
First off, just let me say it's a sad day in this country when winning by anyone other than Charlie Sheen is considered a negative. That's just not right. Teams don't win by becoming numb and taking their opponents' failures for granted. Teams win by playing their asses off every day for 162 games (or however many games it takes to clinch the division, wild card, home field advantage, etc. I think we all agree that the Phillies did not play their best baseball over the final two weeks). Secondly, as so many members of this site will affirm, the playoffs are a total crapshoot. The notion that teams like the Rays and the Cardinals, who were fighting for their playoff lives since the start of September, have any better chance of winning it all than the Phillies is pure, unadulterated absurdity. Let's compare the 2007 and 2008 Phillies as a brief example of the crapshoot nature of the playoffs in light of this claim(yes, the sample size is small, just roll with it). I don't need to tell you how historic the 2007 Phillies' magical September run to claim the division from the imploding Mets was. That was a scrappy team that played their hearts out and left it on the field every day for the last two and a half weeks of the season. And guess what happened? They got bitch-slapped out of the playoffs by the Rockies in 3 games. 2008: roughly the same story, though the collapse of the Mets was not quite as epic. But again, we fielded a team featuring many mainstays of the previous season's roster with a few minor adjustments, and this team proceeded to win the World Series. How could two equally talented teams finish out their postseason runs in similar fashion and experience such different results? Answer: crapshoot.
The point I'm trying to make is that neither the caliber of the team's play towards the season's end nor their situation in terms of a playoff "race" has any bearing whatsoever on how the team will perform in the playoffs. You'll see teams like the 2006 Cardinals--that nobody expects to even make the playoffs--win it all. And you'll see teams like the 1998 Yankees that dominated the whole season continue to dominate and win it all. So to all the sportswriters who just want to make some headlines by stirring up some panic within the fanbase, stop. It's unnecessary, and you're only putting the team down when they need our support the most. We get it. The Phillies statistically have a 12.5% chance of winning it all. We know that's not a lot. We can't assume they'll make it past the first round. But if history has shown us anything, we can't assume they won't be sporting rings next year either. So shut up and let us enjoy the ride.