An Eagles team that can't stop the run. A Sixers team that can't run a half-court set. A Flyers team that, uh, high-sticking? But in my Sports Pain Hierarchy, there's nothing more frustrating than a Phillies team that can't hit. It's a futility that troubles you down from your sinuses to your rib cage to your femur to your toes. I've broken many a couch arm for Abraham Núñez and David Bell and Tomas Perez and surely other erstwhile post-Rolen third basemen.
But these Phillies, in all of their Amaro-ness, are different. They've kept Father Time at arm's length long enough -- even last year can be attributed to injuries rather than age, at least in my mind -- but it's 2013, when shrewdness must be their ally, that the Amaro-Manuel brain trust is leaking more water out of their ears than this nervous system can handle.
Delmon Young. Nate Schierholtz. Jonathan Papelbon. Michael Young. Chad Durbin. Ryan's contract. The ghosts of Jon Singleton and Hunter Pence, tripping over his arms. But mostly, Amaro's now infamous and probably inflated comment about walks and production.
There's nothing you can do about it. Unless Rube reads TGP (he'd be a huge WL fan, I gather), you're just dust in the wind caught in the wind turbine of Philadelphia fandom. Anthropomorphized Dust can't determine where it's going, but it can dictate how to feel. And so can you. I'm here to help.
I've spent the better part of the last four Sixers seasons rooting for them to lose. It's less of a slippery slope and more a slippery cliff -- unless you're Jon Krakauer, there's no turning back.
There's varying levels of loss-mongering that may suit you. If it's pure Schadenfreude for the proud ignorance of Ruben Amero and hysterical managerial decisions of Charlie Manuel, that's fine. You'll turn into some anti-fan rooting against Chase Utley to be awesome or hoping Mike Adams blows the 8th inning. It's a sad life, but if you think it's in the best long-term interest of the franchise to start the rebuild and clean house, it could be yours. I've been down that rabbit hole, man. I've seen things.
Before you get too deep, you'll want to know how far you're willing to go. How many of Chad Durbin's inherited runs you can handle before you crack. What it feels like to root for Domonic Brown to misplay a sinking liner. If you can stomach Chase Utley in Dodger blue.
The Casual Fan won't get it. He'll never get it. But if you're committed to it in a maniacal, funless way, then you're far past caring what your Uncle Sheldon thinks. And I wish you well.
But, coming from a guy who's spent years wishing misfortune upon his favorite basketball team, I don't want you to go down that road yet.
There's too much good will from 2007-2011. I still love this team too much. I can't endorse the above because a team with Chase Utley is still a team that needs to win. If they lose, and lose big, then Chase, Chooch, Cliff, and Roy are gone. No sense pulling any punches or saving any in the chamber. And while I'd love the prospect haul showered upon us in that world, I can't let go yet. Even if Roy is a corpse.
McNabb's Eagles had their window closing for what felt like 7 years. The national media has the Phillies' windows boarded up and moldy. But getting older isn't a straight line. And in baseball -- unlike the more binary basketball -- it's not impossible to get good at stay good but smartly infusing prospects into an already-successful club.
Really though, it's not about that. There's a romance in baseball that isn't as evident in other sports. It's a consuming summer smell that lingers for months or years or a lifetime. For such a quirky little game, there are so many metaphors for life to be found.
I love these Phillies. In spite of all the idiocy, these are our Phillies. We pulled ourselves out of the 90's to the kind of success Matt Beech and Tyler Green couldn't dream of. If I'm irrational, then I'm irrational. But so is baseball. And I know enough Padres fans to realize that once winter comes, it tends to be a long one, even in San Diego.
And I'm not ready for summer to end yet. It's Hittin' Season, dammit.