The Greatest Gift of All

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, December 24, 2009 09:14 PM | Comments: 26

Who remembers what the offseason used to be like? I don’t mean a time before Twitter or MLBTradeRumors.com, or before we all knew the details of a trade before it was finalized. I mean, who remembers the apprehensive excitement that used to serve as the precursor to another season of Phillies baseball?

If you recall how offseasons used to go, be it as recently as the late 90s-early 00s or the countless years of irrelevance that came before then, be thankful. The period from November to March involved more hopes and pipe dreams than actual expectations. In experiencing all of the pain and heartache that came with those insufferable years of being a Phillies fan, you got yourself here, to a point in which you’re being fairly compensated with success.

When I ask who remembers the less fortunate years, I don’t intend to demean those who have only recently become fans of the red pinstripes. It seems like many people complain about “bandwagon-jumpers,” but, at least to me, it doesn’t matter when you started supporting your team. For those of us who live and die with the Phillies, it’s the sheer obsession and array of emotions that we live for, not a “Whose-the-bigger-fan” competition with our next-door neighbor.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, instead of calling someone out or berating them for becoming a Phillies fan only when it became trendy, be thankful that you, yourself, were a fan for so long that you get to enjoy this period of time to such a greater degree. Only people like you–experienced, dedicated, and intelligent fans can truly comprehend the significance of what the Philadelphia Phillies have evolved into–a team that every baseball fan wants to watch, and mostly every baseball player wants to play for.

Usually, this is the spot in an article where the writer has finished introducing his point, and feels it’s time to include stats or quotes to support that point. But none of those things can accurately quantify the insane anticipation of the 2010 season felt by Phillies fans. No number or sarcastic opinion from Keith Law can enhance or derail how eager we are to get off at Broad and Pattison and make our way into Citizens Bank Park next April.

This is the kind of feeling that few fans across the country have the privilege of experiencing right now. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at some of the other cities that inhabit potential National League contenders.

  • In St. Louis, a city considered by many to be the best baseball town in America, the status of Matt Holliday is up in the air. Sure, a World Series berth is always possible with Albert Pujols manning first base, but the ever-productive Holliday may be gone, and Mark DeRosa certainly won’t return. Joel Pineiro, the Cardinals over-achieving No. 3 starter from last season, will also probably find a new team. The Cards are relying on a huge financial commitment being made to Holliday (which, when paired with the impending extension they’ll have to dish out to Albert Pujols, will cripple the team’s flexibility for years,) the ability of Brad Penny to replace Pineiro’s effectiveness, and the hopes that Ryan Franklin can maintain a ridiculously, unsustainably low ERA for most of the season like he did in ’09. If everything goes right, they *could* compete with the Phillies for NL supremacy.
  • The Dodgers haven’t made any notable moves to improve their team. Randy Wolf, the de facto ace of the 2009 squad, left for Milwaukee. Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley are still somewhat raw, but, in all honesty, Kershaw has been inconsistent and Billingsley simply doesn’t look like he’s the pitcher everyone thought he’d be. Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake are a year older, Hiroki Kuroda is a year less healthy, Russell Martin is declining faster, offensively and defensively, than any other major leaguer, and James Loney hasn’t developed much at the plate. Tons of uncertainty.
  • I outlined the strides Atlanta has made this offseason, but if they don’t sign Jason Bay or break the bank for Holliday, the Javier Vazquez trade will look awful. If it turns out that Frank Wren traded his ace for a league-average outfielder, prospects, and the ability to sign Troy Glaus, I’m taking back every nice word I said about him. Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito, and Glaus all come with injury concerns, and, while I think the Braves will be the NL wildcard winner in 2010, it’s hard to imagine them challenging the Phillies with the team they would field as of December 25.
  • Mets fans must be going out of their minds right now. Bay and Bengie Molina have each asked for too many years and too much money, the team missed out on John Lackey and Randy Wolf, and it seems like every signing Omar Minaya is making is just to prove that he’s still alive. Chris Coste? Henry Blanco? R.A. Dickey? Great job, Omar. Problem solved!
  • The Cubs are a financial mess. They have aging, underachieving sluggers, an extremely wild closer, a volatile ace, and no legitimate way out.
  • The Rockies could be just as dangerous as they were last year, or they could be just as pitiful as they were in 2008. The “genius” of Jim Tracy won’t impact the schizophrenia of this team as much as it did in 2009.

What do all of those teams have in common?

  1. A ton of question marks,
  2. Signs of regression, and
  3. That apprehensive anticipation that we all felt prior to 2007.

This is not to say that there aren’t question marks with the Phillies, or that they’re a lock to repeat as National League champions, but let’s face the facts: the Phils were an already deadly team that used November and December to replace a great starting pitcher with the best in the game, add a consistent bat to stabilize the seven- (or two-) hole, and give a tired Cole Hamels enough time to rest and regroup.

Much of the apprehensiveness is gone, but the anticipation remains. Only, it’s turned into absolute edge-of-your-seat excitement.

But more importantly, and more fulfillingly, it’s been replaced with realistic expectations of greatness.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 shawn qwartz

    My biggest concern is that baseball is beginning to price itself out of existence. Any player who makes near $20 million a year is absolutely ridiculus and the speed at which this salary growth per player is taking place is going to potentially be the absolute downfall of my favorite sport. The Cardinals, Mets, Cubs and others are examples of teams spending above their means JUST TO BE COMPETITIVE. They are teams that are paying horrible prices for mortgaging themselves to the hilt and paralyzing themselves in future years. Will this be the problem with baseball and the Phils in 1012 and beyond? Are Phillies fans looking at their own future?

  • Posts: 0 Chan Ho

    Tis the seaon to be jorry. Fah rah rah rah rah rah rah rah rah.

  • Posts: 0 Lake Fred

    Nice Christmas gift. Last year I got a lot of Phillies WFC stuff for Christmas. This year I get Halladay and Polanco and great hope for 2010. That’s a good Christmas haul for me.

  • Posts: 0 James Kay

    What countless years of offseason irrevalence? For hard core fans, every year of Phillies offseason was revalent. I have followed the Philles since the early sixties, and from a loyal Phillies fan perspective, every offseason from that point on had the exciting drama associated with high profile personnel adjustments. I agree that the current edition of the Phillies is a solid winner that is easy to support, but I also experienced many last place finishes where the following offseason was revalently animated, and the true fan base remained solidly supportive. Don’t make any derogatory comments about the revalence of Phillies baseball given their deep history. Every Phillies game was and will be revalent.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew

    I’m so ecstatic to be able to be a Phillies fan. I always craved for a championship to come to Philadelphia and I’m so excited to not only have gotten one but to be a fan when it is one of the best runs the Phillies have ever had. It never occured to me we would be undeniable contenders for the World Series three years in a row.

    As far as bandwagon fans go, I’ll take them. They bring more money to the Phillies. I’d rather have Philly fans than Dodgers, Braves or Mets fans.

  • [...] a Phillies fan and know that we’re not hoping futile hopes and pipe-dreams.  Checkout this Phillies Nation piece on Phillies fans’ perspective on the coming 2010 season — makes for enjoyable reading. Add to:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where [...]

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    With all due respect James Kay, I think you kind of missed the point of the article. Corey most certainly was not trying to make “derogatory comments about the [relevance] of Phillies baseball” but more to point out just what Andrew said that he, I, nor almost every other die hard like us could EVER imagine in our wildest dreams the Phillies would be “undeniable contenders for the World Series three years in a row” (look at that Andrew, we agree on something! LOL). I agree with you, “Every Phillies game was and will be [relevant]“. Keep in mind the last time a Philadelphia Baseball team had this much success reaching the World Series 2 years in a row and being contendors for so many years you have to go back to the 1929-1931 Philadelphia Athletics. The Phillies have never done this. Im sure the “irrelevance” comment is more that for those years just as you said we experience “many last place finishes” we all for the most part, realizing after the off season, we would more than likely see another disappointing season. Even through all of that, we all stayed passionate and loyal. My comments were not meant to be derogatory by any means, but really, I agree with what Corey and Andrew said. This is a very special, and for Phillies fans, unusual time to be PHans, and I love this period of Phillies Baseball.

  • Posts: 0 Brian Sr. of CO

    True the the 1976-1983 team was a pretty wicked team making 3 straight NLCS appearance 76, 77 and 78, and winning the WS in 80, and going back to the WS again in 83, but still the point remains, back to back NL Champs, 3 time NL East, and still a viable contender for possibly a few more years. This is a great time to be a PHan.

  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    Being only 19 I dont remember those times as much as I wish I did. I love the Phillies, and love all the excitement baseball brings to our lives. Who could think that such a silly game could bring us so much love, happiness, anger, sadness, and pretty much any emotion you could think of. As weird as it seems or sounds it does. And I dont care when you became a Phillies fan, I have been one since I can remember and if you became one last year welcome to one of the greatest fan bases on the earth. I probably wont comment on here for a while since I will be following my other love, the Devils(dont kill me Flyers fans, I am from NY so its not that bad) But until then, happy free agency, happy holidays and the best wishes to everyone and I hope everyone has not only a happy holiday but a safe one.

  • Posts: 0 ashmidt


  • Posts: 0 shawn qwartz

    I have been a Phillies fan since the late ’50s and love baseball and the Phillies. Charlie Manuel has managed the greatest era in Phillies history with three consecutive division winners and two world series appearance, with a very good possibility of a third. NOW IS THE GREATEST ERA FOR THE PHILS. We have had some nice showings in the past but it has largely been less than stellar for the Phils’ century plus of existence. Keep winning. I remember when our stars were Pancho Herrera, Harry Anderson, Ed Bouchee and Chico Fernandez. I supported them then but it is so much easier to support them now.

  • Posts: 0 James Kay

    @ shawn qwartz: What a list of stars! For those who are not aware of them, here are some relevant biographical notes.
    Pancho “Two Strike” Herrera; I believe he is the only 250 lb player who played some second base for the Phillies. He’s listed at 220 but he actually weighed more like 250. He was nicknamed “Two Strike” because of his propensity to almost always strike out with a count having two strikes. He led the league in strike outs way before Ryan Howard was ever thought of.
    Ed Bouchee; He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1957, hitting .293 with 17 home runs and 76 RBI. But, After the 1957 season was over, Bouchee was arrested for exposing himself to young girls. He eventually pled guilty to a series of charges, including indecent exposure. Bouchee was sentenced to three years of probation, spent a few months in a psychiatric institution in Connecticut, and then was allowed to return to the Phillies on July 1, 1958. It certainly helps when you can hit .300. He finished his career as the third string first baseman fot the 1962 NY Mets.
    Chico Fernandez: Fernández was the first African American to play in a game for the Phillies, appearing for Philadelphia on April 16, 1957.
    Harry Anderson; Harry hit 23 homers and .301 with the 1958 Phils.

  • Posts: 0 shawn qwartz

    Thanks James…. I enjoyed your player summaries. Brings back memories when you could get into the bleachers for 50 cents if you were a kid. How times have changed. I have Pancho Herrera’s autograph, as well as Harry Anderson’s. Chico Fernandez later hit 20 homers for Detroit — a lot for a shortstop in those ancient days. Ed Bouchee also played a while for the Cubs before the Mets. Happy Holidays James and to all Phillie Fans.

  • Posts: 0 ashmidt

    hey shawn and james, merry xmas. the great thing about the internet , it puts you in touch with fans as intense about the phils as yourself. i also have panchos and harrys autographs, harry anderson was a really nice guy, he was a salesman at a paper company in northeast philly, i think he lived in delaware though, his nickname was harry the horse, i think because he worked hard like a horse. a compliment. richie ashburn wrote in his coloum in the bulliton that eddie bouchee was a real gentleman, good enough for me. hey james, chico was cuban, i think a john kennedy was the first african american to play for the phils, nothing like a stroll down memory lane.

  • Posts: 0 shawn qwartz

    Like the great Roberto Clemente, Chico was a Black Hispanic. Harry Anderson went to West Chester University. Happy Holidays to you, as well, aschmidt. Always great to connect with Phils fans.

  • Posts: 0 James Kay

    @ ashmidt: You are correct. John Kennedy was the first 100% black Phillies player. But he only played in 5 games. Chico I believe was a Cuban of some African descent. How about this fact for coincidence. In Kennedy’s second game, playing against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Connie Mack Stadium. He entered the game in the bottom of the 6th as a pinch runner for Harry Anderson, who had singled, and later scored on a bases-loaded triple by Ed Bouchee. The Phillies won, 8-5.

  • Posts: 0 Matt Kwasiborski

    Merry Christmas to all Phillie fans and to the team and ownership! This is the greatest era in Phillies history and we all should be rejoicing in these times! I remember growing up in the 1980s and 1990s when the baseball postseason left us wondering what the next year will bring us. Will Jeff Stone provide the top of the lineup threat with Juan Samuel? Will Don Carman finally live up to his potential. Can Shane Rawley provide the necessary guidance for Kevin Gross, Bruce Ruffin and Charles Hudson? Does Joe Cowley have anything left? And how much would it take to sign Bobby Bonilla?

    Now, we finally have developed a championship core AND became a favorite destination for star players. Philly used to be the place where free agents would flirt with us just to drive up their price and leave us standing at the altar (see that as* hole Bonilla!) It is glorious time because no longer are we competing with just the teams in our division but now the entire NL and the powerhouses in the AL. It is amazing!

    Now Phillie fans have to realize that no NL team has made it back to the World Series in 3 consecutive years since the 1942-1944 St. Louis Cardinals. Not even the Cards of the 60s, the Big Red Machine of the 1970s, the Dodgers of the 80s or the Braves of the 1990s/2000s. It will be a daunting year for us be now we are armed with the best pitcher in baseball and know how to handle teams that chase us.

    A year from now I predict we will be celebrating another WS, further cementing us as a true dynasty and also toast to landing Joe Mauer who will become the face of the franchise for the next decade! You heard it hear first!!

  • Posts: 0 ashmidt

    good stuff matt, i really dont see mauer coming here, i will take chooch for the next 5 or 6 yrs. so james, you are truely amazing with your facts, maybe i am wrong, if chico played before kennedy in 1957 then he would be the first black player on the phils . i just always thought it was john kennedy. great name from that era.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    First my little XMAS present to all of us posters here esp. for the valiant few who, after the game six, defended the blog from Yankee vermin with quick wit and a sharp tongue. So, I was doing some last minute shopping at Borders. I was looking for a starter stats. book for my cousin who is a die hard Phillies fan but an english teacher, meaning she doesn’t play well with numbers. I came across a self-congratulatory book about the ’06 Mets division champhions and thought , “Hmm, this book obviously doesn’t belong in the baseball section, so, as a small token of XMas appreciation for these Borders employee working on XMas eve I’ll just put this book where it belongs” So i walked across the store to the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section and reshelved it.

    Brian of Co. – enjoy your son’s first XMAs.

    Corey- thanks for al the great articles and weathering all the “sabrmetric sux” crap. I mean it’s no one’s fault that the game’s so damn measurable. I could see a hockey fan having issues with sabrmetric analysis of the fastest game on the planet. What a nightmare; ten guys and two goalie’s all of whom are missing a chromosome, traveling at 30 mph with lumber, smacking a disc that can reach speeds 100 + mph, all on a near frictionless surface. That’s alot of variables to quantify…you’d burn a hole throw a score card if they had one ( i don’t know, do they have scorecards?) Besides as baseball’s probably the most quantified human activity in history other what else are you gonna do with all that information…maybe find a new way of looking at it and hopefully get hired by the FO of a baseball team. Sounds pretty cool to me if you can swing it. Shoot if it makes your fantasy team any better, go win you some money. Anyway thanks for the recommendation for that book yesterday. I just got “The Book” for Xmas but also plan to by the one you suggested after reading a few online samples.
    Thanks aschmidt for blasting the ownership….I haven’t been around as long as you have but long enough to realize the same crap in a different wrapper. Funny thing about crap is you can dress it up but the smell remains the same. I too have been paralleling this team with the 29-32 A’s. How can an ownership group not see this chance at history is beyond me. Consider this:
    “Statistically the New York and Philadelphia mini-dynasties were remarkably even: The A’s had a record of 313-143 (.686) between 1929 and ’31; the Yanks, 302-160 (.654) between 1926 and ’28. And while Philadelphia scored six fewer runs than the Yankees—2,710 to 2,716—the A’s had five fewer runs scored against them: 1,992 to 1,997. That represents a difference between the two teams, in net scoring, of only one run.”
    That’s the 1927 Murder’s Row Yankees considered the greatest team ever assembled. If a group of blue blood owners fail to see the history they are part of, then they don’t deserve the priviledge of owning our Fightins’. All i wanted was one frickin’ year with
    Roy Halladay as righty George Earnshaw
    Cliff Lee as Lefty Grove (i know Lefty was better than Earnshaw but Lee’s a lefty after all)
    Cole Hamels as the lefty Rube Walberg
    That’s why I can’t get over the Lee Fiasco. For those who don’t know about the 1929-31 A’s or for those that do and want to bask in the glory check out this article:
    Diner guests are arriving. Happy Holidays.

  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    I was born after the 1980 World Series, and I was too young to remember the 1983 National League Championship series, so my earliest memories of the Phillies enjoying success was in the 1993 season, who still may be my favorite Phillies team ever. That’s why the recent Phillies success has been so shocking to me, since the team has ranged from terrible(most 90′s seasons besides 1993), to okay(all seasons between 2001 and 2006, besides 2002), to excellent(2007 onward), so I can’t say enough just how thankful I am to be a Phillies fan during their most dominant period EVER!

  • Posts: 0 ashmidt

    j reed, thank you that was a great xmas present, better then any card i got, i love the history of philly baseball, my mom , may god bless her soul, grew up on 23rd st. between cambria and somersett. she was a teenager between 29 and 31, jimmy foxx lived across the street from her and she said he was the nicest guy, he had no airs about him, she said he was a sweetheart. she said no one was a phillies fan that she knew of. the baker bowl really was a dump at broad and lehigh. i guess for many years the old time philly baseball fans had to think the best team in town left, they certainly had the best history. thanks again and merry XMAS.

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Merry Christmas PN!
    There is a great anticipation in the city for sure. Our team has won the NL East 3 years in a row, won the NL crown 2 times running and we are pretty certain that we’ll be Division winners again, NL champs again and most of us feel WFC again!
    It is a great time to be a Phillies fan!

  • Posts: 0 WFC010

    At the least, I feel we have a good chance of a fourth straight NLEast title, and hopefully a lot more as well!

    Can’t wait for the season to start.

  • Posts: 0 Brian Sr. of CO

    J Reed, thanks for the well wishes, My buddy is growing FAST. already a little over 12 lbs. Hope you had a GREAT holiday! and I hope everyone on PN had a great holiday and a happy new year!

  • Posts: 0 get it right please!

    Only people in ST Louis thinks that it’s the best basesball town, what else would they say. The town is cheap, and won’t spend money on a players unless like Holliday , so as to keep Pujols happy.

    If Pujols leaves it’s good bye to the Cardinals Central division ownership period!!

  • [...] a Phillies fan and know that we’re not hoping futile hopes and pipe-dreams.  Checkout this Phillies Nation piece on Phillies fans’ perspective on the coming 2010 season — makes for enjoyable reading. Comments [...]

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