December 11, 2004

Phans, your team has phailed you

In parting with the usual chipper tone of BPF, here's a friendly reminder that the Phillies have failed you.

It's important not to lose sight of this fact, not to forget the blown opportunities, the belly-up trades, the deadlines that have passed, the overspending on mediocrity, and a team that's out and out failed to deliver since 1993.

Somehow, as we reflect on the season that ended two months ago, that harsh tone has loosened a bit. Fans seem ready to forgive and move forward with optimism.

Baseball hasn't been played since Boston ended the curse, yet it lives on in sites like this one through stats - the cold hard residue of the '04 season.

Let history, not numbers, put 2005 in perspective
Michael Berquist at A Citizen's Blog, a unique and informative voice on the Web, is making a case for the Phillies to win the NL East in 2005.

Like Berquist, I believe the Braves have a serious challenge to repeat as division champs because of the bodies they're going to lose. It's awfully tempting to write them off, a subject I wrote about a few weeks back. However, I simply can't agree with this philosophy:

"The Phillies don't have to get much better than they were in 2004, they have to stay where they are while the Braves decline."

The Braves are the last team anyone should underestimate, yet that’s exactly what Ed Wade and the majority of experts have done for God knows how long. They're winners of 13 straight division titles, and consistently defy the numbers. The Phillies, on the other hand, have won nothing despite looking great on paper.

If the Phillies philosophy going forward is to sit back and wait, the Braves will turn right around and say "Fine, you can underestimate us until October, when we’re back in the playoffs and you're not."

I'm not here to dispute numbers; I don't write about numbers much at BPF. That doesn't mean there isn't truth to be found in numbers. They uncover answers about how much a player is actually worth, and leave a cold-hard residue long after the last pitch has been thrown.

The numbers, in that regard, do what our eyes cannot. But here's a case where the numbers fail. What numbers would have predicted the season Jaret Wright had? Or Johnny Estrada? Or Nick Green filling in for Marcus Giles at second? Or Charles Thomas stepping into a starting spot in left field? Or Mike Hampton beating the Phils like a dog time and time again.

It's not going to just fall into the Phillies' lap. It’s not going to happen, not with the Braves in the mix, not now, and with Ed Wade at the helm, maybe not ever.

More than player moves he did and did not make, at the core, Ed Wade's biggest mistake has always been underestimating the other guy.


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