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A Conversation With Myself

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In the tradition of the legendary Inquirer columnist Bill Lyon--and in hopes that the exercise somehow delievers therapeutic value--I present the following exchange:

--We're not this bad. We just can't be this bad. The first three starters won 43 games last year, and none of them flukes. Four guys in the lineup have 30-homer power, the leadoff guy was good enough to hit in 38 straight games, and the bench is better than it's been in years. The team looked good all spring. We really just can't be this bad.

I don't think you understand what's going on here. Remember 2000?

--2000? What are you talking about? There's like three guys left on the roster from that team.

The names change, my friend, but the faces remain the same. Those slack-jawed, clueless faces. You might forget, but I remember how yours looked in 2000, when the Phillies went something like 6-15 in April. Know what you said then?

--I don't remember, but I can guess...

`We're not this bad.' The same song: "Ashby's a better pitcher than this. Morandini has to have something left. They'll turn it around. They've got Rolen and Abreu"... any of this ring a bell?

--(silence)

They had a dumb-assed slogan that year--"Bring It On"--just like this year's less-than-stirring "Red Means Go".  They had aging guys who couldn't really play anymore--Brogna, Morandini, that bloviating putz Jeff Brantley--just like this year's crew of Bell and all those geezers in the bullpen.

--Oh, come on. You're smoking crack. Yeah, that team had some bats, but they didn't have a core like this club...

They also didn't have a $90 million payroll. I'm not saying inflation doesn't buy you something a little better than 65-97 or whatever they went that year. Just that, like the 2000 team, they've overestimated their talent and had hope rather than a plan.

--Okay. But they also didn't have a general manager who will recognize what's just unfounded hope and what's based in something real. All the big things that have gone wrong so far--the bad starting pitching, the David Bell--Gillick knew about those things going in. he tried to fix them over the winter, but the pitching market went crazy and, for obvious reasons, no team wanted anything to do with David Bell. It'll be better a year from now.

If you're saying that the 2006 Phillies are still Ed Wade's team with Ed Wade's problems, fine. But that's even more reason that this year is going to be "2000, Part 2." Oh, and this time there's no Pat Burrell coming in the middle, or Jimmy Rollins at the end. And Gillick's not a rebuilder--kind of the opposite. He took over veteran teams in Baltimore and Seattle, made them a little better, but didn't get any rings. And then when he left, the bottom fell out. Also, what is it exactly about the Nunez signing or the Padilla trade that gives you confidence in this guy?

--I'm still not buying it. Jon Lieber isn't Andy Ashby, Tom Gordon isn't Jeff Brantley, and I don't see a Chris Brock on the roster. For that matter, Charlie Manuel isn't Terry Francona. The Phillies tanked at the end of 1999; last year they played their best ball in September. That's got to count for something.

Yeah. It counted for wins in September 2005. So far, all I'm seeing is losses in 2006.

--You know, this is all Negadelphia nonsense. You're irrational about this.

Negadelphian? Maybe. But why don't you tell me what we've been looking at for the last 23 seasons?

-- (silence)