There's all sorts of at-least-we-got-there sentiment going around Philadelphia (and a bit of this site) today. The Phils hadn't been in the playoffs for fourteen years, the thinking goes, so at least we broke that streak this year. Going further in the playoffs would have been nice, but at least we've got that monkey off our back. So let's celebrate that and hope for more next year.
That's great for some people, and I'll be there in March, but right now, I'm pissed. I waited fourteen years for those awful 27 innings of baseball? Excuse me if I'm not happy with that. In fact, excuse me if I'm horrified by that.
Here's why, right now, I'm not feeling the love with breaking the streak. First, the "year" in "wait 'til next year" around these parts can be an awfully long time. Who remembers a Philadelphia sports championship? I do, but about as well as I remember anything else from my early elementary school years. We had a chance this year. Who knows when it's going to come again?
Second, the reason we want to get to the playoffs is that we want exciting and entertaining baseball in October. What we got was far from it. Instead of excitement and entertainment we got Phillies early April baseball in October. That doesn't make me happy.
Third, Joe Carter ripped my heart out in 1993. The baseball gods owe me a lot more than three crappy games the first week of October.
Fourth, this particular team, with its dreadful pitching, was lucky to get the NL East crown. To get it on the last weekend of the season took a meltdown of singularly historic proportions from the Mets combined with a string of pitching performances that could never have been predicted from the Phillies dreadful bullpen. Luck like this doesn't come around that often here in Philadelphia, so the flaws of this particular team are more likely than not to not be overcome next year.
Fifth, and this is probably the most important one, we still have the same management team that is going to try to fix those flaws in the off-season. Does anyone have an iota of confidence in them? Does anyone not want them magically whisked far away from this team never to return again? This management team, with Montgomery and Giles and Green and Gillick and Amaro and whoever else owns this team but enjoys being more reclusive than J.D. Salinger, knows as much about winning baseball as The Good Phight's readers know about the difference between backwards Japanese and backwards Dutch. The lucky pickup of J.C. Romero aside, this year's team got to the playoffs in spite of management, not because of it. Who in their right mind thinks that the 2008 Phillies will break spring training with the flaws fixed by these people we have in charge? Pedro Feliz at third base in 08 - come on down!
Look, I really like some of the guys on the Phillies. Rollins, Utley, Burrell, Howard, Hamels, Romero, Victorino, Ruiz, Madson - I love rooting for them and have enjoyed the others as well. I was thrilled by the last month of play and walked around on air for the days before the first playoff game.
But, with the wound still less than 24 hours fresh, I can't not let the negativity out for a bit before I spend the rest of the off-season being analytical and trying to be optimistic. These three playoff games leave a very bitter taste in my mouth, and I and anyone else who shares this sentiment has very good reasons for that.