It’s hard to remember the 2011 Phillies having any problems at all. One would have been the losing of the division series. Another may have been all the injuries that happened to people. The bullpen I guess.
But it would take a rather serious mental disorder to block out the hitting. If you’ll recall, the 2008 Phillies were considered an NL team with an AL lineup. Which I think is supposed to mean they were cartoonishly productive on offense. As if there was some magical guy in the lineup whose sole job was to hit, leaving the pitcher to concentrate on pitching. Which is so blatantly ridiculous they couldn’t do it anywhere other than the American League.
The 2011 Phillies could also be considered an NL team with an AL lineup, if the AL lineup in question is the A’s or the Royals or some terrible thing. They didn’t score many runs. They hit a lot of pop-ups. They made the pitchers work for every lead. Greg Gross had told everybody a bedtime story about a monster living under home plate so that they’d run down to first base faster but, in an made them terrified of scoring. These things happen on Major League Baseball teams.
That’s why Charlie Manuel has decreed an edict for 2012: Please pay attention, everybody. Don’t overthink, don’t burn your mind out with endless tape sessions, don’t rip a muscle in your shoulder trying to force one over the fence in BP, just… just use a little more focus at the plate. Please.
For instance, don’t listen to the monster under home plate when he whispers that you should probably swing at the first pitch. In your head, it looks like it’s going to be a lead-off triple. But in reality, that usually leads to the first baseman drifting into foul territory with his glove raised.
“Selective” was the word Charlie used, but that’s only because he couldn’t say “better.” But the idea is for Charlie to stop thinking so much about the whiskey and old pistol in his top desk drawer during games.
Being smarter at the plate leads to more hits, which lead to more runs, which takes pressure off the pitchers. And as the old baseball saying goes, “the longer we can keep our rotation from exploding, the more effective they can be.”
And so, in a preemptive strike against the undoubtedly endless frustration of Phillies at-bats this season, Charlie Manuel has reached out to his team, begging for a reprieve from the nightmare that awaits him. It is up to the Phillies with bats in their hands to save him. Can they do it? Please. When do they not do as Charlie says?
Maybe when he said “Let’s get a hit, boys,” during the 2011 NLDS.