Still in last place and firing off glimmers of hope with every isolated victory, the Phillies have yet to truly announce themselves, both to their division, and to the fans. Charlie Manuel has already hinted that the club is somewhat silent and leaderless at the moment. Which, as anyone familiar with group dynamics will tell you, is exactly how you become the best.
Finally, though, we had a quote from someone on the team who felt that a “We know we need to be better” or “It’s still early” cliche wasn’t enough. Maybe he was a bit overstimulated from the win against the Padres, but it was Juan Pierre who hinted that the Phillies are both self-aware and prepared for a fight, laying out the team’s plan for success: lowering their standards.
“I know you’re accustomed to winning a lot here, but if you stay around .500, in August you’ll have a chance to win. I’ve been on teams like that and we ended up winning the World Series. I know 102-win season good and dandy, but this is real-life baseball, and that doesn’t come around too often. You’ve got to battle and bust your butt. That’s the teams I’m normally on. I hear all the commotion here, and I’m like, we ain’t that bad, guys.”
In all fairness, a 102 win season without a World Series ring is a poor introduction for a team that is a year older and without more of its offense than ever. We all got caught up in the greatest Phillies season ever, refusing the acknowledge that the following may not be even better. Anything worse would have been perceived as FAR worse. And with the national media ready to cast the Phillies as fading villains, they don’t need too much for us to be imploding.
Fortunately for them, we’ve given them plenty of implosions to work with. And what Pierre is saying is that this year, the Phillies will continue to do so. The trick will be not doing so every time. Thus far, the Phillies have won a bunch of games. Not enough to be out of last place, but enough to not have removed themselves entirely from the playoff picture. Which in mid-May is about as solidified as a portrait on an etch-a-sketch.
So, Pierre has taken the opportunity to point out that in the proper context, the Phillies are not in too bad shape. They are far from dominant and probably a lot closer to abysmal than we’ve seen in this era, but hey, at least, uh. At least they all remember their hats. And hey, there’s that charming new commercial for Xfinity with Vance Worley in it. He’s all “Hey, have you seen my glasses?” and they’re right on his hat! Vance Worley has glasses! Adorable.
The NL East is far from the powerhouse predicted; the race was initially imagined as planet-sized titans seismically blasting each other with unbelievably upgraded rosters. Now it’s just sort of like watching ducks on a pond. And the Phillies are in the water, floating near .500 as Pierre points out, giving us those bread crumbs of hope that become fewer and fewer as the season goes on.
It’s a solid philosophy, and Pierre is right. He was on an incredibly average team that won the World Series. And now he’s asking us to please compromise and accept the “acceptable” rather force than the “impossible.”
But we won’t, though.