Thursday, August 30, 2007

Time to Believe?

By Jeff Glauser
The Phanatic Magazine

I’m speechless.

(Good thing I have a keyboard)

I’m broke, juggle several jobs (including this one), yet spent most of the past 4 hours and 9 minutes bypassing necessary productivity, instead engaged in an emotional roller coaster.

I didn’t mind one bit.

I just witnessed the most exciting baseball game I’ve watched since probably Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship, when the hackneyed Red Sox curse was on its way to being exorcised and the choking bum Yankees put a new crease into the word “fold.”

Putting it in local terms, it was perhaps the most exciting game I’ve seen from the Fightins’ since the 1993 World Series.

The 9th inning alone was not for the weary of heart: Fan fiend Billy Wagner, nasty as it is and well-rested to boot, against his former team. A seeing eye bloop by the unconsciously hot Jayson Werth (does anyone recall that Shane Victorino is actually healthy now, yet still on the bench?). Werth, showing off his big brass pair, steals two bases on the fireballing Wagner with nary a throw from the catcher.

And instead of sulking as so many in his position would, career starter and recent odd-man-out Tadahito Iguchi then comes through on another clutch pinch hit, a ballsy stolen base himself, topped off my a dramatic slide at the plate for the winning run.

The best part about the inning was that it had “team” written all over it. No one person carried them over the top. Best yet, the pitifully small dimensions of Citizen’s Bank Park were rendered moot when small ball took over.

The rest of the game had its own share of storylines. The Pat Burrell Redemption Tour continues, with two more jacks, including one off Wagner – who you may recall had his share of criticism for “The Bat” in the past. Ryan Howard breaks out of his concerning slump in a big way. On the flip side, 5-0 and 8-5 leads by the Phils unmercifully ripped away from them, the latter time by a excruciatingly painful performance by Antonio Alfonseca.

They battled back. And battled some more. I’ve done nothing for most of the afternoon and yet I’m the one who’s exhausted.

There’s really nothing to say that makes sense of this team. In simple terms, they’re friggin maddening.

This can’t be a healthy relationship. Just last weekend, I publicly lambasted them for showing no heart against the Padres. Well, in Grinch-like fashion, it seemed to grow ten sizes against the Mets.

Like a stubborn atheist who just witnessed a miraculous act of God, I can’t say that I’m all in at the table just yet. I still need to see that string of success. I still need to see momentum carried from one season to the next. I still need to stop taking those cold showers.

Trust me when I say that after watching this game, I want to believe. I’m ready to believe.

My biggest issue which remains: I really, really, REALLY don’t know how this can continue if the Phils have to battle their own pitching staff as well as their opponents. With Cole Hamels still on the shelf, the rotation is as follows: Kyle Lohse, J.D. Durbin, Adam Eaton, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick. For the record, that’s two journeymen, one senior citizen, one complete bust and a rookie who played Double A not two months ago. Plus, don’t get me started on the bullpen.

If you were presented with that rotation in April, admit it: You vomit a little bit and then begin preparing for 2008.

Don’t get me wrong: 1993 was magical. From Opening Day, there was something special taking place. This year defies all logic. Roster moves and statistical data don't equate for an alleged playoff contender. Every day seems to present a whole new set of circumstances and expectations. Every come from behind win (in which they lead the National League) has fans thinking October, every supposedly debilitating injury initiates the funeral.

I have no idea how they’ve made it this far. So perhaps it’s almost time to throw logic out the window.


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