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Show A Little Phaith

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 2023 Phillies

MLB: San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies
The boys are hungry for another one
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

On Twitter, the Phillies posted that Thursday’s home opener was postponed until Friday due to forecasted inclement weather.

A four word response from one Twitter user stuck out like a splinter: “don’t care team sucks.”

All over social media people are pointing out such things as how, other than the 2021 Braves, none of the 105 World Series winners started the season with an 0-4 record. Plenty of other stats are thrown around reinforcing how unlikely the chance is the Phillies will be hoisting a trophy this November.

There’s no question this has been an ugly week. Over the course of six games, the Phillies have been out-scored 42 runs to 18. They blew a five run lead against Texas in the season opener. The next game opened with Zack Wheeler’s second pitch of the game sent over the fence by Marcus Semiens in what turned into a 16-3 rout. On Wednesday, both Brandon Marsh and Darick Hall were injured.

Pointing out statistics of how few teams have come back from an 0-4 hole at the start of the season to make it to the World Series is completely understandable. It’s what we do as Phillies’ fans. Frustration boils to the surface quickly when expectations are high. I’ve freely expressed my own embittered sentiments with the season so far.

A Quick Personal Digression That Eventually Ties Into the Story of This Season, I Swear

Back in my early thirties, I sat in an exam room while a doctor explained to me that the biopsy confirmed what the PET scan had shown. After she uttered the word “cancer” everything else she rambled on about became unintelligible noise like a Charlie Brown cartoon.

My only thoughts were of my three kids, who at the time were so young and small and dependent on me. Was I not going to live long enough to see them grow up?

I zoned out.

Until the doctor got to the numbers. “You have a 50-50 survival probability,” she said.

It was a gut punch on top of a gut punch. “Based on what?” I asked.

She seemed almost annoyed. “Based on the 5-year survival rates of other people with your type of cancer.”

Something hit me then. Those numbers she was throwing around belonged to everyone who had come before me. Those weren’t my numbers.

Maybe half of the people before me who were diagnosed with this form of colon cancer had passed away. But I sure as hell wasn’t going to.

The fact that only one out of 106 World Series champions went on to win the World Series doesn’t matter. Nor do any of the other stats and numbers about any team in history, because none of those teams are the 2023 Philadelphia Phillies.

Plus, if the Braves could do it, the Phillies damn well can, too.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies
He’ll be back
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Back to Why You Should Hold Onto Your Optimism

There’s simply too much talent on this team for them not to make another October run. While Nola and Wheeler each came out of the gate as rusty as hinges on an old barn door, they’re still Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Nola showed much better command, confidence, and endurance on Wednesday against the Yankees than he did on opening day against the Rangers. We can expect the same from Wheeler in Friday’s home opener. Bailey Falter proved to everyone his performance in the summer and fall of ‘22 (excluding the postseason) wasn’t a fluke; he’s a solid and reliable arm. Strahm displayed his newfound confidence and steadfast approach in a fantastic outing against the Yankees. Who didn’t love his barbaric yawp after striking out Judge?

As far as the lineup goes, we have WBC hero and arguably the best shortstop in baseball, Trea Turner leading off. Scwarber is off to a slow start but is coming to life and on Tuesday hit his 200th career homer. Castellanos is showing much better discipline at the plate than he did last year. As Joe Edinger pointed out, Stott is doing much better against the fastball and is becoming a true threat at the plate. And Bohm has transformed from struggling daycare kid to the cornerstone of the batting order.

Plus Rob Thompson is at the helm. The guy usually knows what he’s doing.

It’s true that things aren’t clicking right now. The team is dealing with a plethora of injuries and is trying to sort out an order and routine that will sustain them until the return of the regulars. The team’s depth is being tested like no other in MLB. Rhys Hoskins’s injury meant more than the loss of a ledger of home runs and RBIs - he was a leader in the clubhouse, and his absence effects the team in ways both obvious and intangible.

If you’re still not convinced, Ben Silver crunched the numbers and proved history is actually NOT stacked against the Phillies.

In these first few days of the season the record will look ugly. But once they find their footing, this team is going to go on a tear.

As Brandon Marsh remarked to Alex Coffey in the clubhouse before Tuesday’s game, “I don’t see any frowns.”

I’m not about to write off this team after a few tough games. Neither should you.

You just gotta keep the Phaith.