The Phillies lost again last night. It’s becoming a little bit of a trend, and a very frustrating one at that.
Rewind to last Saturday, the night the Phillies clinched the NL East. There was a huge celebration, including Hunter Pence going bonkers in the locker room and Wheels getting champagne in his pants. It was incredible–and those celebrations never get old.
Rewind a little further, and before the Phils clinched, they were so dominant that things were almost boring. They were so far ahead of everyone else that there was absolutely no doubt that they would clinch the division and home field and it was a virtual impossibility for them not to clinch both.
It got to a point where the regular season games didn’t feel all that important, and we were more worried about Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee battling Clayton Kershaw for the Cy Young Award, or giving players rest to avoid injury and get ready for the postseason than winning games. It seemed like we just wanted to pick up the remote from the movie Click and fast-forward to the NLDS.
Back to Saturday: the Phillies clinched the East, and had the expected “clinching the division celebration” hangover the next day. That’s completely understandable, except it hasn’t stopped. They’ve lost six straight since then while getting out-scored 29-12. Talk about frustrating.
The frustration is an unfamiliar feeling. We’re not used to six-game losing streaks. The last one occurred 313 games ago (June 16 – 21 of 2009).
There seems to be a collective groan among Phillies fans who are worried about the team. But here’s the thing: There is nothing to worry about. The Phils’ current rut should have no effect on their performance in the NLDS.
Consider this–the Phillies have nothing to play for, and are just “waiting”. If you think that doesn’t contribute to the recent slump, I present you with an analogy:
You are at work, and you’ve gotten done everything you needed to do for that day with a few hours to spare. You have a big interview the next day that you can’t really prepare for, so you have a good amount of time on your hands with nothing to do before you head home. Will those last few hours be anywhere near as productive as the previous hours’? Will the less-productive hours have any effect on the big interview tomorrow? No and no.
That’s the situation the Phillies are in. They’ve reached every requirement for the regular season–clinching the division and home field with no major injuries–and are just passing the time until the playoffs start.
That’s not to say it’s fun, because it’s not. It isn’t pretty to watch one of the best teams in Phillies history struggle to win like this, regardless of situation.
But what we as fans need to do is try our best to separate frustration from worry. It would be worrisome if there was a major injury, or if Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels were completely off their game for more than one start. Things like that should make us worried, not the six-game losing streak. And if you are still worried, just look back to the 2000 Yankees. They won just three of their final eighteen games. Then this happened.
Is it frustrating? Absolutely. Worrisome? Hell no.