Phillies fans are not conditioned to be optimistic. We are fans of a franchise that has not exactly covered itself in glory through most of its existence. Sure, there have been eras of success when things haven’t been quite so bleak, but those have been rare and fleeting.
Whatever feelings of positivity were brought on by the World Series championship of 2008 and the Four Aces 102-win season of 2011 have been thoroughly stomped out by the past nine years of failure. We now recognize that Phillies fandom is not rooting for a perennial contender and feeling happy. No, Phillies fandom is 10,000 losses and hoping in vain for a Nick Pivetta breakout season.
But I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to be optimistic. It may seem hard to remember, and it certainly doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes things do break right for the Phightins. In 1993, the Phillies were coming off a dreadful last place season, but for whatever reason, for one magical season, just about everything broke right for them. In 2007, the team was enduring another lengthy playoff drought, but down the stretch run of the season, all of a sudden they couldn’t lose and the Mets couldn’t win.
So what if something like that happened this year? I’m not saying to expect something crazy like a Vince Velasquez Cy Young Award campaign or more than two weeks of good health from Roman Quinn. But maybe, the things that need to break right do break right. Maybe those multitude of “ifs” actually happen.
- Zach Eflin has that breakout season that a lot of people are predicting.
- Chase Anderson and Matt Moore are solid in the back of the rotation.
- Spencer Howard joins the rotation in midseason and pitches up to his pedigree.
- Archie Bradley is a stabilizing force at the back of the bullpen.
- Hector Neris, unburdened from the closer role becomes a game-shortening setup man.
- Jose Alvarado harnesses his amazing stuff and provides another late-inning weapon.
- Those glimpses of greatness we saw from Connor Brodgon and Jojo Romero become their reality.
- Bryce Harper plays at an MVP level.
- Rhys Hoskins lives up to his rookie year potential, avoids the severe slumps that have plagued him, and he hits over 40 home runs.
- Alec Bohm builds upon his rookie season and establishes himself as the team’s best home-grown hitter since Ryan Howard.
- Adam Haseley wins the centerfield job and turns the one potential weak spot of the lineup into a strength.
- Brad Miller, Andrew Knapp, and the rest of the bench prove to be capable subs who chip in the occasional clutch pinch hit.
Will all that happen? Probably not. Will enough of that happen for the Phillies to make the playoffs? Sure, why not? It’s not like I listed anything especially unrealistic.
So don’t worry about how the Braves always seem to outplay their talent and make the playoffs. Don’t worry about which All-Star shortstop the Mets traded for this offseason. Don’t worry about the fact that the Phillies haven’t finished a season above .500 in ten years.
Instead, take a look at the roster and recognize that this is a good team. And maybe with a little good fortune, its a team good enough to make the playoffs. After all, we’re due for some good luck.