This Will Not Be Easy
Before the 2004 season, I remember asking Dallas Green what he thought about the Phillies’ chances to win the World Series. They had retained Kevin Milwood and acquired Billy Wagner, Eric Milton and Tim Worrell to boost a pitching staff many thought would compliment an already talented offense.
Green loved the improvements, but he made one thing clear: It’s hard to win a championship. He said if it were easy, he would not be the only manager in Phillies history to have a ring on his finger.
It’s hard to win a World Series. It’s even harder to play in three consecutive World Series. The Phillies are trying to become the first NL team to do that since the 1942-44 Cardinals.
Maybe this just isn’t the Phillies’ year.
“Oh, I’ve thought that,” Jimmy Rollins said after last night’s 8-4 loss to the Cardinals. “I’m sure all of us in here have thought that. Like, man, it can’t be this tough. There’s no way it can be this tough. You go out there it’s like, ‘We’re going to make sure that it’s not this tough,’ and you come back like, ‘It’s a little tougher than I thought it was going to be.’”
It is mentioned that maybe there is a reason why the ’42-’44 Cardinals are the last three-peaters in the NL.
“It’s not over,” Rollins said. “You can write it like it’s over. But the guys with the bats and the balls they control what the pen says. … We’ve still got time. We either make it more time or less time. Six games (behind Atlanta). If we catch fire all of a sudden and do what the Chicago White Sox did (a 26-5 stretch from June 9 – July 15) then you can say we have a lot of time. We can make it a lot of time or a little time.”
Rollins has seen it happen before. The Phillies held a fire sale in July 2006 only to turn things around and become buyers in August. They made baseball history in 2007, overcoming a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play to win the NL East. They overcame a 3 ½-game deficit with 16 games to play in 2008 to win their second consecutive division title.
Can they do it again? Sure, it’s possible. But Charlie Manuel knows the Phillies need to show life quickly. They have lost four of their first five games after the All-Star break and have just 11 games to play before the trade deadline. The offense has been inconsistent much of the season. The rotation has a 5.09 ERA without Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. They’re without Chase Utley for another month. Players say they have noticed a different feel in the clubhouse. If the Phillies fall too far behind the Braves and further out of the NL wild card race, Ruben Amaro Jr. could trade Jayson Werth — and it’s tough to see them winning without a big right-handed bat in the lineup.
They need to get going quickly this week against the Cardinals and Rockies, or more time will turn into less time.