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Six Things that Tested Even the Most Loyal Phillies Fans in 2010

With only three weeks to go in the 2010 regular season, it’s looking more and more like there will be postseason baseball in Philadelphia.   That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some difficult moments along the way.

Injuries and slumps are bound to happen, so rather than focus on the obvious, here is a look at six things that made even the most ardent Phils’ fan consider switching to reality television for entertainment.

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Ruben Amaro, Thank You for Roy Oswalt

Admit it, even though you were kind of giddy when Ruben Amaro picked Roy Oswalt from Ed Wade’s pocket at the trade deadline, you still weren’t sure that the Phillies new No. 2 starter belonged in any discussions of the league’s top pitchers. After all, discussions of baseball’s top arms usually includes names like Sabathia, Halladay, Wainwright, and of course, Lee.

You read about Oswalt’s propensity to shut down the opposition in August, September, and even October when he was an Astro, but you tempered your expectations after realizing that those impressive playoff numbers were from 2004 and 2005. Those were the days when Cole Hamels was dominating hitters by day and breaking bones (in his own valuable left hand, unfortunately) at night in Clearwater, Florida.

Nonetheless, it was hard not to be excited. After all, in the eyes of every baseball analyst, the Phillies starting rotation (or at least the three arms at the top) was the best in baseball.

Then came Oswalt’s first start as a Phillie, and even though it was less than twenty-four hours after his arrival from the deep south, and with a catcher he had just met, his 8-1 loss to the last place Nationals still gave you that unsatisfied feeling. The kind of feeling you get when you go to a Panera with a huge appetite.

What’s happened since, however, has made you forget those bitter Cliff Lee thoughts and envision another season with Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels beginning or prolonging the offensive slumps of National League opponents.

In his first month as a Phillie, Oswalt is 4-1 with an ERA of 1.89. Take away that hurried first start against the Nationals, and those numbers go to 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA.

Maybe those late season statistics from years past weren’t a myth after all. With nearly 200 innings under his belt in 2010, Oswalt seems to be surging when it matters the most.

Isn’t it amazing what a pennant race can do for a terrific player freed from a losing atmosphere? The Phillies have now seen this phenomenon in two straight years with Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt.

With Oswalt, the move to a contender has already proven that this undersized, 33-year-old Mississippian plays to win.

In a crucial stretch of August baseball, we have seen him win with or without his best stuff. At times, his location has been Halladay-esque, but there have also been days like this week’s start against the Dodgers, when Oswalt simply dug deep and competed when the strike zone didn‘t seem as friendly. Firing a 95-mph fastball for a strikeout on his 90th pitch of the afternoon was something you see $15 million pitchers do.

What you don’t often see $15 million pitchers do are things like pinch hitting at crucial spots in late-season games, and substituting as a surprisingly slick left fielder. Oswalt is leaving little doubt that he is here to win.

And the best part is that he will be wearing a Phillies uniform for at least another full season, and possibly two.

Maybe this Ruben Amaro, Jr. guy learned a thing or two during those three years under Pat Gillick. After all, have you heard anyone describe former Phillie J.A. Happ using the word “untouchable” since Roy Oswalt arrived in town?


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MLB Playoffs: Should Phillies Use a Three-Man Rotation in 2010 Playoffs?

The article has been included in just about every major newspaper and website that cover the major league baseball pennant chase.

It’s headline, in various creative forms, poses a question about the best starting rotations in baseball.

The listed contenders don’t vary much from source to source, and more often than not, the top spot is held by the crew Ruben Amaro Jr. has assembled in South Philadelphia.

Almost every one of these analyses concludes with the Phillies at or near the top the list, along with the following question—In a playoff series, would you want to face the big three of Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels?

Quite simply, with those three arms at the top of the rotation, if the Phillies can avoid a Tiger Woods-like swing slump in a playoff series, and they will be difficult to beat.

To be honest, there are very few teams that have the ability survive a cold-stretch of hitting in a playoff series, and the Phillies are capable of some pretty nasty dry spells at the plate. It’s what makes Phillies fans so thankful for their elite starting pitchers.

However, the problem with the assumption that the Phillies’ starting pitching will be handled by only Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels is that it fails to consider the possibility that someone other than the big three could be called on in the playoffs.

Assuming the Phillies hold on to the wild-card position or overtake the Braves for the NL East title, they will soon be faced with the decision of using a three-man starting rotation in the playoffs versus the option of sending either Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick to the mound in order to keep their big-three on their normal four days rest.

In case you need a reminder, this is the same Joe Blanton that opponents have enjoyed a .301 batting average against this season. He is also the $8 million dollar option with the 4th worst ERA in the majors (5.54). Equally troubling is the fact that Blanton has only produced quality starts in 10 of his 20 opportunities this season.

As for Kyle Kendrick, the phrase “feast or famine” couldn’t be a more appropriate description of the risk that accompanies the Phillies fifth starter. He has looked terrific in nine of his 24 starts, lasting at least six innings while giving up one or fewer runs. Just as frequent, however, are the nights during which he can’t keep his team in the game. Kendrick has given up five or more runs ten times this season.

So, when it comes to a fourth starter for this year’s postseason, the Phillies are facing a huge roll of the dice. If they want to keep the big guns on regular rest, they can pitch Joe Blanton and expect a consistently mediocre outing that won’t kill them if the offense is rolling. They could also resort to Kyle Kendrick, in which case they may get a terrific start or be blown off the field in the early innings of a crucial game.

The possibility of a three-man rotation in the playoffs is something that needs to be examined using a concrete example. Just how difficult would this task be for Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels?

A quick look at the Phillies playoff run of 2009 provides some insight.

Remember that the Phillies starting rotation for the 2009 playoffs included Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Pedro Martinez (Jamie Moyer, J.A. Happ, and Brett Myers were eliminated from starting consideration when the playoffs arrived).

That four-man rotation worked off of four days rest throughout the entire 2009 playoffs, which ended when the Phillies lost in the sixth game of the World Series.

A closer look at that playoff schedule reveals that even a three-man rotation could have functioned with four days rest between starts until nearly the very end. Thanks, in part, to the Phillies quick advancement through the first two rounds of the playoffs, a three man rotation could have pitched with full rest all the way until the fourth and fifth games of the World Series.

That would mean that if the Phillies compete in this year’s postseason, they could conceivably utilize a three-man rotation and only be required to call on Roy Halladay or Roy Oswalt to pitch with three days rest once or twice. This would seem to be a reasonable approach if the reward was a World Series title.

Assuming the Phillies make the playoffs in 2010, the only foil to the three-man rotation plan would be if they are stretched to five or seven games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, which would subtract from their off-days between series. If that happens, and a fourth starter is needed, Joe Blanton’s usual three or four runs over six innings would likely be a better option than Kyle Kendrick’s potential for a meltdown.

Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels are a $37 million dollar per year investment. With the way they consistently shut down the opposition, this dollar amount is an absolute bargain.

As the Phillies look ahead to another postseason run, they would be wise to not leave their fate in the hands of any other starting pitcher on their roster.



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NL Playoff Chase: Phillies Can’t Afford To Be Satisfied With Wild Card

For the Philadelphia Phillies, the last few days have brought with them a measure of reassurance.

It was only a month ago that this season’s overwhelming National League favorites were watching their season circle the drain. Losses in six of their first seven games after the All-Star Break had increased the deficit in the NL East standings to a disheartening seven games behind the steady Atlanta Braves.

Perhaps the reality of being irrelevant in the playoff chase woke up the slumping Phils, who have gone 18-5 since July 22 and now trail the Braves by just 2.5 games.

Another source of encouragement, as the Phillies prepare to welcome back Chase Utley and Ryan Howard this week, is the fact that they now find themselves atop the NL Wild Card standings with only 45 games remaining.

While there may be a sense of relief surrounding the past month’s developments, the key to the Phillies success in the 2010 postseason will be their refusal to find satisfaction in their wild card position.

In fact, they must go two steps further.

First, the Phillies must reel in the Braves. Next, they must overcome the current four game lead of the San Diego Padres for the best record in the National League. The first accomplishment would land the Phillies their fourth straight NL East title. The second outcome would secure the most valuable commodity in the National League this season: home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

Home field advantage is undoubtedly coveted by everyone in the playoff hunt, but may mean the most to the Fightins.

How much of a boost do the Phillies get from their home field?

Well, if the goose bump moments of the 2008 and 2009 seasons have already taken a back seat to our infatuation with the here and now, then perhaps two recent thrillers against the Reds and Dodgers can remind everyone of the magic of the Phillies’ home turf.

Each of these dramatic comebacks saw the Phillies score eight runs in their final two at bats to pull off the unlikeliest of wins. The first ended on a Ryan Howard walk-off homer in the 10th, and the second with a surge that once again deflated the ego of the soon-to-be demoted Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton.

Anyone who watched or attended these games once again felt the high-voltage atmosphere present when 44,000 Phillie Phanatics bear down on a visiting team.

It seems impossible that any other National League team could enjoy the type of home-field advantage provided by the Phillies’ perpetually sold-out grounds.

Unfortunately, a closer look at the home records of the National League playoff contender’s serves as a myth-buster to the aforementioned statement. Listed below are the 2010 home and road records of each of the National League playoff contenders (expressed in games over/under .500).


26 over at home, six under on road


19 over at home, five under on road


18 over at home, three under on road


14 over at home, nine over on road


14 over at home, one over on road


10 over at home, six over on road

So, while the tendency is to believe that the Phillies get the biggest boost from their paying customers, the advantages enjoyed by the other NL contenders are often just as impressive.

Just as noteworthy is the fact that, other than the Padres, the road records of every team in contention are all south of .500.

The one thing the Phillies can truly claim as an advantage is that they are the hottest home team in the league since the beginning of July, with a record of 16-4. They are once again making their opponents squeeze the bat and ball a bit tighter in close games at Citizen’s Bank Park.

However, the major difference for the Phillies between this season and the previous two is that they are not as dominant on the road. During the 2008 and 2009 regular seasons, the Phillies were second only to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best road record in baseball, achieving a mark of 22 games over .500 during that span (compared to this season’s mark of three games under .500).

Despite their road success in those seasons, the 2008 and 2009 playoffs demonstrated that when the Phillies enter postseason play, there’s no place like home. The Phillies home playoff record during that time was 12-3, while their road record was only 8-6.

It definitely does not take an expert analyst to conclude that home field advantage is important in any sport. But the Phillies have proven over the past two seasons that when it really counts, there is no team that gains as much advantage from their home digs as they do.

In no way is any of this meant to diminish the heart shown by a team riddled with injuries that has managed to move into the wild card lead with only just over a quarter of the season remaining. Making the playoffs is the goal of just about every Major League team.

The Phillies, however, should look to win the NL East again because it would add to a string of division titles.

They should then prioritize securing home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs because that could be the edge that sends them to another World Series.

It’s time for the Phillies to do what they do best, and that is to play their toughest and soundest baseball as summer winds down.

It’s also time for Phillies fans to do what they do best as fall approaches: Provide the biggest advantage of any home crowd in baseball.

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Think Philadelphia Phillies Bullpen Will Ruin Postseason? Think Again

Let’s face it, we’ve all had those moments during the 2010 Phillies season.

Charlie Manuel casually strolls to the mound, head down, and then signals to the bullpen to send some relief for his reliever.

As we watch another bullpen arm head for the dugout, we reiterate that nobody in the Phillies front office listened to our concerns about relief pitching at the trade deadline and beyond.

The most recent of those “Do they still make Rolaids?“ moments came during Tuesday’s night’s debacle against the Dodgers. The Phillies were in the midst of one of those drubbings that happen only a few times each major league season (or more than a few if you’re the Pirates, Royals, or Orioles).

On that night, nothing positive was delivered by any Phillie who toed the rubber, and consequently nothing positive came from the reactions of people who follow the team and plan on watching baseball around Halloween.

Wednesday’s sports radio and message board discussions repeatedly pointed out that the 2.5 Million Dollar Man (Danys Baez) and Mr. Rule 5 (David Herndon) are awful. This assessment usually transitioned to the one in which everyone identified J.C. Romero as a complete disaster, Ryan Madsen as maddeningly inconsistent, and Brad Lidge as washed up.

Not many of the above evaluations would land anyone an analyst’s job with the MLB Network. Just about everyone’s belief is that the Phillies’ offense will get healthy in time to overtake the Braves. Their starting pitching will make the Phillies a threat in any postseason series. Then, if their bullpen appears in the playoffs as presently constructed, it will be the team’s undoing.

To be sure, the Phillies bullpen is not very good as playoff contenders go. They are currently ranked tenth in the National League and are the worst of all of the NL playoff contenders (and the second worst of all MLB playoff contenders, ahead of only the Angels).

What everyone fails to acknowledge is that the Phillies 2010 pitching situation may be just as good if not better than that of the 2009 Phillies who came within two wins of a World Series title.

Let’s start with those who start.

Everyone agrees that this year’s starting rotation is better than last year’s, but just how much better is it? Before we get to the statistics, just consider that this year’s playoff starts will be handled almost exclusively by Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and the 2010 version of Cole Hamels. Last year’s rotation was headlined by Cliff Lee, the 2009 version of Cole Hamels, and a three headed monster of Pedro Martinez, J.A. Happ and Joe Blanton.

So, essentially the Phillies have gone from a 2009 rotation that went one-deep to one that goes three-deep with elite starters.

A deeper look at those starting rotations reveals a few main themes.

First, Phillies starters not named Cliff Lee averaged only 5 innings pitched during their ten postseason starts. Next, Cole Hamels was particularly awful in the 2009 postseason. He started four games, averaged 4.2 innings per start, and posted an ERA of 7.58. Lastly, Cliff Lee was clearly as dominant a starter as a team could wish for in the playoffs. He averaged 8.0 innings pitched during his five playoff starts, with a ridiculous ERA of 1.56.

In summary, due to the short outings of their starters during the 2009 playoffs, the Phillies bullpen was responsible for an average of four full innings per game in the ten games not started by Cliff Lee. However, even with a struggling Brad Lidge, an inconsistent Ryan Madsen, and only two reliable left-handers in J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre (Antonio Bastardo made minimal contributions), the Phillies came within two wins of a second straight World Series title. .

If the Phillies make a deep postseason run again this year, it is quite possible that only two or three playoff games will be started by a pitcher other than Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt or Cole Hamels. Based on their regular season numbers, this Phillies big three are averaging just under seven full innings per start.

Therefore, if the Phillies get the performance they are paying for from their big-name starters, they could realistically be looking for just about two innings per night from their bullpen, as opposed to the four innings they were sweating out during many of last year‘s playoff games.

The reality is that a set of only five or six relievers will be counted on to get six or seven outs to secure playoff wins. The right-handed options will include Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Ryan Madsen and Brad Lidge. The more nerveracking at-bats will be contested by lefties J.C. Romero and Antonio Bastardo, unless the team acquires another arm via a waiver deal. That leaves Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick for long relief, similar to the roles assumed by Blanton and Happ last season.

Now, clearly this analysis is oversimplifying what it takes to get six outs at the end of a major league baseball playoff game. However, it provides a little perspective to the panic we have all been having over some of the bad relief appearances we have seen from the 2010 Phillies.

So, despite the contempt that exists for Baez and Herndon, the Phillies will make us tolerate them for another regular season. The team’s financial situation will prevent them from paying Baez to pitch somewhere else and also from paying someone else far more than David Herndon to pitch here.

The consolation is that neither Baez nor Herndon will find themselves on the roster for any the team’s postseason series.

The Phillies still have question marks surrounding their closer and left-handed relieving corps. However, they have a group of starters that is light years ahead of last year’s, which will make the relievers responsible for fewer outs than either the 2008 or 2009 bullpens .

Take a deep breath, Phillies fans.

Welcome back Victorino, then Howard, then Utley.

Then, let this team make the bullpen look good.


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2010 Phillies: Roy Halladay’s Workload a Cause for Concern

Back in December, the Phillies traded for Roy Halladay and promptly signed him to a three year, $60 million dollar contract. They were willing to make the commitment to the 32-year-old ace because of his track record as a dominant pitcher who takes pride in spending as much time on the mound as some of the greats from an earlier era.

The first eight months of Halladay’s tenure with the Phillies have only confirmed his reputation as an old-school workhorse.

In 23 starts this year, Halladay has thrown a major league leading 178 innings (that’s an average of 7.2 innings per start). As already highlighted, this is not unusual for the Phillies ace. He led the majors in innings pitched in 2009, was second in 2008, and third in 2007.

It’s where he could be headed by season’s end that is a bit frightening.

With 54 games remaining, Roy should take the mound 11 more times before the end of the regular season. Based on his average innings pitched, this could add 85 more innings to his season total. That would bring his total innings pitched for the regular season to 263 (very likely the highest total in majors yet again).

How would that compare to the highest season totals of his career?

It would be the second highest number of innings he has pitched in his 12 years as a professional. In 2003, Roy tossed a whopping 266 innings on his way to a 22-win season and the Cy Young Award.

What followed that glorious season is what may hold the most relevance for his current team. The 2004 season saw Halladay experience physical breakdowns. He only managed 133 innings while encountering two stints on the disabled list with shoulder problems.

Back in the present day, the Phillies are starting to look like a team capable of making another deep playoff run. When they finally overcome the rash of injuries that have plagued them this summer, it would be hard to envision them not reaching the World Series in a league whose biggest threats are the Braves, Giants, and Reds.

For Roy Halladay, a World Series trip could mean an extra five to seven starts (one or two in a division series, two in the NLCS, two to three in the World Series). If we use a conservative estimate of seven innings per start, this would result in an extra 35-49 innings that were never a factor for Halladay as his former Blue Jay teams began their offseasons well before October each year.

If you’ve been working ahead, these added postseason innings would leave the big fella with a total of somewhere between 298 and 312 innings for the 2010 season.

To put these numbers into perspective, it has been 30 years since a major league pitcher registered 300 innings (Here’s a hint: he also wore Phillies pinstripes, but was a Cy-Young winning leftie for the 1980 World Series champs).

Clearly, we are witnessing a season that would be extraordinary for a pitcher working in the era of conservative workloads for starters. However, one needs to look no further than the Phillies current third starter for a cautionary tale.

In 2008, Cole Hamels befuddled opposing hitters on his way to a World Series MVP, and a career-high 262.1 innings. This total was 79 innings more than he had ever thrown in a season, and the resulting hangover from this overtime schedule led to a very disappointing encore performance. In 2009, Hamels posted the worst record (10-11) and ERA (4.32) of his five-year Major League career. Moreover, his 7.58 playoff ERA could be viewed as one of the main reasons the Phillies did not repeat as World Champs.

So, while the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay for his dependability, they also chose him over Cliff Lee because they knew he would be topping their rotation for at least another three years.

The Phillies long-term commitment to Halladay necessitates that they do not treat him like a three-month rental of the CC Sabathia variety. If you remember, the Milwaukee Brewers called on Sabathia for long innings and short rest throughout the stretch run of the 2008 season because they knew he was a summer rental whose arm would soon be the property of someone else (as long as it was still attached to his body).

Although Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee are surely not looking for advice in the handling of their pitching staff, I will provide it anyway.

When it comes to Roy Halladay, respect him as an ace and as one of the best in the business, but don’t be so quick defer to his desire to close out games. The perfect example of this tendency was last week’s start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Phillies held a 7-0 lead going into the ninth, and Halladay’s pitch count was already in the triple digits. While another complete game and shutout would have been great for Halladay‘s resume, the win was no longer in doubt and there was an opportunity to save his arm from throwing another inning (and the 10 extra pitches that brought his total for the night to 114).

The Phillies bullpen can be a scary proposition sometimes, but this was a lead that even Danys Baez or David Herndon couldn’t give away.

The 2010 Phillies are clearly built to win now, and that is exactly what Phillies fans want. Fans can also be excited about having Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels for at least another year. The health and effectiveness of this trio could hinge on whether or not they are handled intelligently.

To some extent, the current season’s hay is in the barn when it comes to taking care of Halladay’s golden right arm, but Phillies fans can still hope that Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee find ways to ease the workload of the big guy when the opportunities arise during the season‘s final three months. Their 2011 and 2012 plans could very much depend on it.

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Phillies, Not Eagles, Are City’s Gold Standard

It’s been six years since Jeffrey Lurie armed the Philadelphia media and fans with one of the most explosive pieces of ammunition possible.

Fresh off four straight NFC Championship berths and a trip to the Super Bowl, Lurie kicked off the 2004 season by declaring that the Eagles were the “gold standard” for NFL franchises.

Although the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots didn’t seem overly offended by Lurie’s declaration, his description was carefully filed away by Philly fans and media members, to be used whenever the franchise fell short of its own precious metal ideal.

Fortunately for Lurie, the city’s love for football and the Eagles’ consistent success over the next few years would maintain his team’s first class status among Philadelphians, but looking back to that summer of 2004, it is now evident that was when the Phillies began gaining on the Eagles in the hierarchy of Philadelphia sports franchises.

That spring, the Phillies left Veterans’ Stadium and moved to Citizen’s Bank Park, and renewed the city’s love for their baseball team.

The Eagles, of course, had moved into their own new playground a year earlier, but Lincoln Financial Field lacked the magical atmosphere of the ballpark across the street.

The Phillies’ stadium is the envy of Major League Baseball, and is currently approaching its 100th consecutive sellout crowd.

Sure, the Eagles are also playing to capacity crowds and securing season ticket renewals at a rate of 99 percent, but the rowdiness of a game at the Linc can not match the overall experience of a trip to Citizens Bank Park.

It should be noted that baseball and football franchises do not always market to the same target audience, but the wholesome atmosphere of a Phillies home game now appeals to a much greater audience than just the hardcore fan (are you listening Eagles management?).

Another trait of a “gold standard” franchise is its image around the league and among its own employees. This is another decisive win for the Phillies over the Eagles.

The Eagles have earned a reputation around the NFL for their cold and impersonal business model.

Their tendency to view players strictly as depreciating commodities has affected their image among current and prospective players.

Even their most beloved veterans are quickly cut loose the moment their price-to-value ratio drops.

The Phillies, on the other hand, are now viewed as an ideal destination. So much so, that their own players have become some of their best recruiters of star quality talent.

The recent acquisition of Roy Oswalt was helped along by Brad Lidge’s personal endorsement of the franchise.

Other players, such as Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard have publicly commented about the level of class exhibited by the Phillies front office.

Speaking of class, the Phillies show plenty of it in their commitment to players and also their willingness to respond to the media and fans. The roster is full of players that fans can identify with and root for.

General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and Manager Charlie Manuel are also respectful of questions from media and fans, even when they have unpopular answers.

Can the Eagles match this level of class? Well, ask yourself this: Would the Phillies sign a bench player with the character of Michael Vick, just because they thought he might provide some pop as a pinch hitter?

And how many times have you sat through the smugfests known as Eagles’ press conferences (think Andy Reid or Joe Banner) and came away thinking, “These guys really respect my intelligence and loyalty as a fan”?

Maybe none of these factors have anything to do with what makes a team the model for all other organizations. But there is one quality that surely does matter: success on the playing field.

After all, can a team be considered the “gold standard” without outstanding performances on the field?

Let’s compare the results achieved by the Eagles and Phillies over the past three years. Since 2007, the Eagles have made the playoffs twice. They reached the NFC Championship game in 2008, but were blown out in the wild-card round in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have built the best three year resume of any team in major league baseball (including the New York Yankees). They have reached the playoffs each season, and played in two World Series, with a championship in 2008.

Go ahead and name the top teams in the NFL over the past three years. One would be hard pressed to put the Eagles in front of any of the following: Steelers, Saints, Giants, Colts, Patriots.

Now, list the teams in baseball that have been better than the Phillies over the last three years.


Over the past three years, the Phillies have assumed the role of the city’s gold standard and it didn’t happen during a press conference. It happened through a series of events that made them more than just locally significant.

Certainly, the city has fallen in love with the Fightins, but the organization is nationally relevant on a level traditionally reserved for only the Yankees and Red Sox.

This reversal of roles may dawn on Jeffrey Lurie and company on Sept. 12, when the Eagles open their 2010 season at home against the Packers.

If the new look Birds fall behind or look sluggish, the Eagles brass may hear the name of the baseball team across the street being chanted in the stands.

Then, it may dawn on them that there is a new standard to which they can aspire.


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Domonic Brown Arrives: The Rules for Phillies Fans

The announced attendance for Wednesday night’s 7-1 Philly flogging of the last place Diamondbacks was 45,048 paid customers. For fans accustomed to hearing sellout numbers in the forty-four thousand range at Citizen’s Bank Park, it is worth noting that the stadium was actually 103.2 percent full.

Let’s be honest, none of us are surprised by another full house at One Citizen’s Bank Way. There have been 90 consecutive, including all 51 home games this season.

But there are games that feel different. Different than the usual, “Wow, this place is beautiful,” or “Wow, I can actually eat crab fries with a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak while I watch the game”.

The arrival of Domonic Brown in Philadelphia was one of those nights.

His evening began with two standing ovations. One for taking the field, and the other for stepping to the plate. The others were reserved for actual achievements.

Like the tracer he fired off the right center field wall for an RBI double in his much-anticipated first MLB at-bat. Or the letters-high fastball that was promptly returned as a frozen rope single. Or the vapor trail sprint from first to home on a double to left field. The Comcast SportsNet producers were editing mid-game musical montages for between innings just to show the five tools from as many HD angles as possible. It is clear that Summer of Love 2010 began on July 28th .

With the Phils on a roll, the fever of the fan base, and the scintillating debut of the youngster, it will be easy to get carried away with expectations for the next 20 years of Domonic Brown’s career. After all, who wouldn’t be swept up by the excitement that accompanies the arrival of the number one prospect in minor league baseball? Heck, even Charlie Manuel quipped, “I think he got a bobblehead coming out tomorrow”.

But before Phillies fans begin carving out their body paint templates in the shape of the number nine, here is a simple set of rules that must be observed during Domonic Brown’s rookie season.

1. Any references to Domonic Brown must be preceded or immediately followed by the descriptor “22-year old”.

Why? Only six out of the 750 players on MLB rosters are younger than the Phillies much anticipated call-up.

He is in very rare territory, not only as a player who can just barely celebrate his first big hit with a cold beer, but as a young man who is being asked to get big hits in the midst of a pennant race with a team that has been to back-to-back World Series.

2. Phillies fans may not proclaim the beginning of “The Domonic Brown era”.

I kid you not when I say that in the five hours between the Shane Victorino disabled list announcement and last night’s first pitch, I read three separate articles that made reference to the beginning of the Domonic Brown era.

Take a minute to consider how many players you can think of whose names are used to designate eras. Seriously, have you ever heard of the “Willie Mays era”? Do you think the current time period will ever be known as the “Albert Pujols era”? To further drive home this point, think of how many eras in Phillies history you commonly describe by using the name of a single player. For instance, do we refer to the “Mike Schmidt era” or the “Jim Bunning era?”

The point here is that even the franchise’s all-time greats and Hall-of-Famers do not have their names in front of the word “era”. If a Phillie with 548 home runs does not have an era named for him, perhaps it is premature to assign this tag (and the expectations that it carries) to a player with one career extra-base hit.

And by the way, included in the rule against “era” references is an edict prohibiting anyone from designating Dom Brown as a savior. In addition to the numerous baseball reasons for this ban is the logic that referring to any baseball player as a savior shows a complete lack of perspective.

3. Fans absolutely may not boo, grumble, or otherwise voice displeasure toward Domonic Brown at any time this season.

Brown is the first to admit that his base running is a work in progress and there are sure to be some neck-high fastballs that make the youngster look foolish. However, when these inevitabilities occur, Phillies fans should first refer to rule number one from this list. They should then use whatever accumulated energy they have to cheer for the next Phillie batter introduced by public address announcer Dan Baker. Whether this is a two-week stay or a potential post-season call-up, the absolute longest that you would have to exercise restraint will be approximately three months. You can do it, Philly fans!

Do not create, or even consider any Domonic Brown Fan Groups.

Fan groups have become a bit passe lately (I’m pretty sure Gload’s Toads was the only option left for current members of this roster) and that is definitely a positive trend at Citizens Bank Park. With that being said, there are to be no Dom’s Bombs, Brown’s Clowns, or any other groups based on first grade rhyming patterns.

This will serve two purposes. One, it will save much needed Wal-Mart white bed sheets for those who truly need them. And two, it will help to keep the hysteria and pressure surrounding our athletic young right fielder to a minimum.

There you have it. As the next two months progress, there are sure to be moments where we see things from Domonic Brown that simply could not be possible from the Ben Francisco’s of the Phillies world.

But remember that the speed and power that creates those moments can amplify a mistake here or there.

The Phillies season will mostly play out on the bats and arms of those on the roster before Domonic Brown’s July 28th debut, so let’s avoid the Ted Williams comparisons (he requested Domonic Brown’s number, you know?) and be thankful that we will not soon be regretting a trade deadline deal that led to the Domonic Brown epoch in some other city.

Sorry, just following the rules.

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