"The Andy MacPhail Era has arrived!" we exclaimed weeks ago, but it hadn't. The Phillies' incoming president was to follow Pat Gillick around for a while to see where touch-ups are most needed and to figure out, assuredly, where the bathroom is. You have to get a key from Linda, it turns out. No, not that Linda. Upstairs Linda.
"The Andy MacPhail Era has arrived," we suggested when Ruben Amaro was let go. Hell, it was even MacPhail helping make the announcement. Still, though; how could the wheels really be turning if Gillick was still in office? And where the hell is Linda? I shouldn't have had that eighth cup of coffee.
Yesterday, though; yesterday we could say it with zero addendums, caveats, or asterisks. The Andy MacPhail Era has, officially, arrived. We were just all too busy watching that seventh inning to remember.
This inevitability having been announced back in June, MacPhail settled into a role of observing and considering before actually inheriting Gillick's position. We talked about the situation he was walking into and why he was the man for the job. We knew that he had helped floundering teams in Minnesota, Chicago, and Baltimore make the playoffs since 1985. We chortled with anticipation for the moment his key card finally worked on the executive elevator because it meant that this - this is a rebuild now.
The Phillies are as ready as anybody to get this thing going, pushing new ad campaigns into play that focuses on "the phuture" and who will be a part of it.
So, what's next? A gong on a mountainside is struck five days after the World Series, opening the free agent market. From November 7-12, Boca Raton becomes the center of the baseball universe for the sexy GM Meetings, and the somehow even sexier Winter Meetings take over Nashville December 7-10. Then it's just a matter of screaming into our pillows for two months and change until pitchers and catchers finally detach from their weeping families and get their asses to Clearwater in mid-February.
In between, there will be plenty of moves for MacPhail to make, and plenty for him to not make. Some free agents sound good for a team with bulging pockets like the Phillies, but many expect MacPhail to play it cool this winter, letting his young talent dominate the roster while a bunch of Jeff Francoeur's fill the gaps. Meanwhile, he wants to have a GM in place - with a lot of yammering following his interview of Kim Ng for the position - by the time all those offseason meetings begin, which is are less than a month away.
No one should expect this team to create problems for anyone else in 2016, but the secret expectations are that MacPhail is able to pull away from the ancient monoliths who have dictated the direction and staffing of this franchise since words were first etched in their surfaces. The more hands-on involvement of co-owner John Middleton is seen as a sign that this will be the case, bringing new philosophies into play - remember when MacPhail said "sabermetrics" multiple times during his first press conference and security didn't drag him out of the building? Say, aren't the Phillies building a supercomputer named to aid with an analytics systems for their individual use? Wasn't it named "PHIL?" Did I make all that up?
And so, as the Phillies' new president, their empty slot for a GM, and a tough, but fair, baseball supercomputer lock arms and skip into the future, we can allow ourselves the slightest glimmer of hope. It's only been four years since playoff baseball in Philadelphia, so nobody can really have gone completely feral by now. Nothing that a little skipping or running in place can't fix. At least until Linda gets back with that key.