Posted by: mdegeorge | October 24, 2010

Giants deliver deflating blow to Phils’ fans’ bravado

The reasons for the Phillies’ elimination from the NLCS are myriad.

There was a lack of timely hitting (.178 with runners in scoring position), the absence of stars performing on the biggest stage (one RBI and no home runs from Ryan Howard in the postseason; .182 average and one RBI—in Game 6—from Chase Utley), and stars aging before our very eyes (see the flailing Raul Ibanez and the gimpy Jimmy Rollins).

The causes of the collapse of an early termination of Red October are so abundant that it’s easy to overlook the karmic cause behind it: the fans.

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From the outset of the NLCS, it seemed legions of Phillies faithful were more concerned with the other championship series. The palpable concern was that the Rangers not interfere with the divinely chosen plan: that the Phillies, fresh of a disposal of the San Francisco Afterthoughts, have their chance at redemption against the Yankees in the latest installment of the league’s budding rivalry.

It’s part and parcel of a mentality that seems to be hunkering itself firmly into the Philadelphia area of late. How else would you explain a rapidly popularizing moniker like the “City of Champions” for a foursome of professional franchises that has yielded one, count ’em one, championship in over 100 professional seasons combined.

It seems trite to say that the recent and historical run of success by the Phillies—and to a much lesser extend, the Flyers’ storybook run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring—has forced (or perhaps, given wings to) Phillies fans to forget they’re beloved team is the Phillies.

But that seems to be the case. It’s easy for fans in their Phanaticism—especially those around my age whose experience in the realm of fandom is limited primarily to these halcyon days—to forget that the Phillies have spent the bulk of their existence as a borderline laughingstock in of Major League Baseball.

They were the first team to 10,000 losses, indicative of 12 decades spent primarily in the second division. At the risk of an unnecessarily long history lesson, take a gander at their moments of glory: a pennant in 1915, a legendary team in the “Whiz Kids” that yielded one World Championship (1950), two Series appearances in the early ’80’s, the Joe Carter Series, and this recent run of success.

For Phillies fans, there’s no historical justification for the overabundant confidence and borderline hubris on display this October. Their four straight division titles are certainly the exception rather than the rule.

That was obvious in the Giants’ series time and again. The Giants, in the eyes of many Phillies fans, were merely a minor speed bump on the path to another world title. They were a bunch of journeymen no names with a lot of pitching and no offense. Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell? Pushovers. Cody Ross? Who? The prevailing idea at the start of this series was that the Giants were little more than Tim Lincecum, that closer with the crazy beard, and was Barry Zito still on the roster?

Even as the Giants made it obvious that they were here to stay with a formidable if not insurmountable 3-1 lead, the respect for their ability wasn’t there. Juan Uribe was still just a fat guy who happened to get lucky once in a while. Buster Posey was a young whippersnapper who would fold in the clutch.

The most superstitious among us may not blame the white rally towels ubiquitous at Citizens Bank Park, but at the very least it paints an interesting backdrop to what the most clear-headed of Phils’ fans should have seen coming.

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Responses

  1. The 1950 Phillies did not win the championship — they lost to the Yankees who were in the midst of their historical 5 consecutive Series victories. Phillies won in 1980 and 2008.


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