With the tragic death of the King of Pop Michael Jackson now comes some comparisons to the man in the world of sports. Most will be good comparisons, some will be a blemish to MJ’s name. This one will be considered by most to be the comparison to Jackson that no body wanted to remember Michael for. The end of his career, and all of the bad publicity that he got towards the end.
In the last two years, the Philadelphia Phillies can be considered one of the best teams in the world of baseball. After all, they did win the unlikely World Series trophy. But with that tremendous achievement comes the disgusting slump which they are currently in. The Phils have now lost 11-13 games, and 9-10, and their current record is 37-34, only three games above .500.
It pains me to watch this happen to my favorite team, almost as much as how it pained me to watch Jackson’s downfall through the media. The Phillies are making all of the wrong moves as players, that they did not make when they were the best, last year. Their whole roster is basically fighting through injuries and sickness since the start of summer. One of their best players, Jimmy Rollins, has been benched because of his terrible play on the offensive side of the game.
Jackson in a way could do no wrong, and every move he made back in the day was viewed as the right one, and nobody ever doubted him. Nowadays, before his death, Michael was put under a microscope, and every move he made was criticized by the media the same way the Phillies are being now. Sure, the Phillies are not viewed as crazy like Jackson was, but think about it. Raul Ibanez being semi-accused of using steroids. Brad Lidge’s epic collapse. Both Lidge and Ibanez to the Disabled List. The crash of the formerly stable bullpen. Everything is falling down around the Phillies that they once knew like they were for Jackson.
The Phillies post-season last year could be described as a “Thriller”. It featured the seemingly invincible Cole Hamels winning every game that he pitched. His record in the play-offs was 4-0, and won the CS and World Series MVP. Michael Jackson won just about every accolade out their in his day, and is still being honored as “The King of Pop”. Both of these guys were and are considered heroes in their respective fields.
This year, the Phillies are not doing so hot, and are turning into Michael Jackson. They started out hot, and were loved by just about everyone in Philly, but now have turned stale, and are being criticized for their play, like Jackson was when he went through that whole thing with his kids, and the relationships with boys. The Phillies are going through some crazy injury problems. Their whole bullpen has basically been out so far this year. You have Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre, Brad Lidge, and now maybe Chan Ho Park who suffered a right knee contusion in last night’s game. Also, some starting pitchers have suffered injuries as well. Brett Myers may be lost for the season, and now Antonio Bastardo is going to see a doctor on Monday. Raul Ibanez has also been lost to injury so far this year. He is on the DL as we speak.
With the loss of Michael Jackson comes some remembrance of his legacy and all that he accomplished in his singing career. As I watch this Phillies team, I cannot help but feel disgusted. I reflect and look back at what made this team successful, and compare the two teams like one would compare the two Jackson’s of his career. Towards the end, Jackson was not the same, and now, I’m not saying that this is the end for the Phils, as they are a young team, and still will compete for years to come, but they are not the same team. They are not the same team just like Jackson was not the same icon for the public that he once was.
The reason for the Phils bad play could be found in a recent comment by reserve Matt Stairs. Stairs says, “There’s no pressure,” said Stairs. “If we look at stats from last year, I think we were bad during Interleague Play. And what are we doing now? Playing Interleague Play and we stink.” He later goes on to say, “We’re not playing smart baseball and we’re not playing Philly baseball, as in we’re not working hard,” said Stairs. “I think when you look at the way we’ve been losing games, it’s been sloppy in the approach we’ve been taking. That’s the biggest thing.”
What Stairs says is true. The Phillies are not feeling the pressure of other teams. It seems to me that as long as the Phillies are in first place, they will not play their best until it gets later in the season. When they go into 2nd, or even 3rd place, the Phils will come out of their shell come August, and September, and dominate every other team that comes to face them. It may take awhile, but when the Phils are phased with a certain amount of pressure, that is when they are at their best. The same can be said of Michael Jackson. He was a tremendous singer up until the all of the media controversy, but he still produced some songs, and even though they might not be considered some of his best songs, they are still some of the best just because they were sung by Michael Jackson.
Both MJ, and the Phils are symbols of their eras. The Phillies are a symbol of a blue-collar team that works hard, and achieves their success through their hard work, and Jackson achieved his success through glamour, and his star-studded personality. Jackson went on to dominate the music world with his music, and now, with their young nucleus, they have a chance to dominate the rest of the Major Leagues with their play in the world of baseball, and sports.