Griping About the Phillies is Pointless
The Philadelphia Phillies baseball club, 2015 edition, is not very good. That may be stating the obvious to some, but if you read some of the headlines in papers and some of the Twitter feeds of supposed “insiders”, you would think this is some sudden revelation.
It was almost six months ago now, a week before Halloween 2014, that Pat Gillick publicly admitted to John Clarke at CSN Philly what everyone already knew: “I think where we are right now, it’s probably a couple years. I wouldn’t think ’15 or ’16, I don’t think is in the cards. I think somewhere around 2017 or 2018.”
The most ominous words in that entire statement may be the last: “somewhere around.”
Approximately 6 weeks later, the Phils dealt away the greatest shortstop in the history of the franchise, and the biggest symbol of the recent decade of excellence, Jimmy Rollins. Three weeks later, it was outfielder Marlon Byrd. Earlier, the club had let effective lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo go, also knowing they were losing both A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick from the rotation.
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This is all rehashing old news that every fan already knows well. The point? No one…no one with any sense, any way…ever expected very much out of the 2015 Phillies.
So when Ryan Howard starts out ice cold, flailing away at the same old pitches that have bedeviled him for half a decade now, why act surprised? Why even be angry? Because you’d rather see almost 29-year old non-prospect Darin Ruf and his .245 career average accidentally run into 20 homers as the first baseman instead? To what end?
Whether Howard or Ruf is at 1st base, these Phillies are going to finish in last place, barring a calamity of injuries for another NL East rival. At least playing Howard allows the possibility that he will get hot at some point, and attract a trade partner.
Pie in the sky thinking? Perhaps. Most likely. But at this point, the Phillies have nothing to lose by at least giving it a shot for a couple of months. Fans are staying away anyway. The team is losing anyway. That won’t change because of Darin Ruf.
When Chase Utley started out as cold as Howard, public calls began over the past couple of days, wondering why ‘The Man’ was being given a “free pass” when the Frankenstein-like torch mobs were forming for ‘The Big Piece’ all across social media. Chase put at least a temporary end to that talk with last night’s 2-homer game. But the talk is likely to return when the inevitabel next slump comes along.
Now since this is Philly, you’ll get the usual talk radio types who will gripe and moan that we have every right to complain. That’s not the point. I didn’t say that you don’t have some “right” to expressing negative feelings. Especially if you pay hard-earned money to attend games, or same for a cable TV sports package so that you can watch the team, you certainly have rights to gripe.
But the real point of this piece is the obviousness of the futility of your efforts. All the booing and hissing and griping and complaining? It’s falling on deaf ears. The upper organization is insulated from accountability. There is no active, directed, competitive owner to hold Gillick and Amaro, the two alleged “architects” of this attempt at rebuilding, to any winning standard.
Our baseball team is going to lose this year. And next year. There is some hope beyond that. IF 2-3 of the kid pitchers at AA are for real. IF top prospect shortstop J.P. Crawford really is the next JRoll. IF the team decides to start spending some of the Comcast TV money that will begin flowing next season on the right pieces.
But right now is what we are talking about. It is pointless to wonder why Jeff Francoeur is the cleanup hitter tonight: what are the options? There is no one coming up from the minors on a white horse to save the day this year, unless you believe that Maikel Franco at his best is a franchise savior. Decent longterm piece? Quite possibly. Savior? Hardly.
Unless or until you hear about a change in the Phillies ownership structure that results in the Giles-Montgomery-Gillick faction being eased out of control and a new, competitive ownership taking their place, little is likely to change on the field.
The best thing that Phillies fans can do right now is the hardest thing for Philly fans to do ever: accept surrender. Get ready for a summer of enjoying more family time, more cookouts, more swimming, more walks. Sure, pop the game on the tube or the radio as background noise.
But do yourself and those around you a favor, and save the griping and complaining in regards to the on-field product and results. It’s pointless. You know what’s coming, and most of the time, it ain’t gonna be good.