When The '08 World Series Baseball Champs Couldn't Win A Home Game
How It Was . . . 2009
Can someone help me because I'd really like to know why the Phillies, the reigning World Series Champs, can't seem to win their home games with any consistency.
Consistency? At this point I would be quieted if they just broke even.
You know your team might be in trouble when neither the coaching staff nor the players can provide a valid explanation as to why they keep losing.
First baseman, Ryan Howard seems downright testy these days when the question is asked by a reporter. He declared he is tired of hearing about it and done talking about it.
I think it best for inquisitive minds to back off Ryan for a bit. If the man says he doesn't want to talk about it, I think no one better try to make him.
However, I feel I can provide a suitable number of potential explanations which while in themselves won't stop the home field disadvantage they seem to have at this time, might provide the needed impetus to show more patience to the Phils while they work to turn it around.
A Review of 2009 and 2010
It is only fair to point out that we are still dealing with the 2008 National League Championship Team. So we're not just whistl'in Dixie to call them a great team. Even with their dismal at home record, they are still atop the NL East, 1.5 games ahead of the New York Mets. They might have the 3rd worst record at home, but they follow that stat up with the Best League Record of 23-9, when on the road. Sure they are getting some help from the Mets, who can't seem to win right now, but that doesn't change the fact that they are doing a lot of things right.
So then, what's WRONG?
The Harry Factor
No doubt losing Harry Kalis still weighs on the hearts of the Phillies whenever they play a home game. How could it not? Harry Kalis was a Philly institution. You didn't think of the Phillies without thinking of Harry K. Grief is a process and perhaps the Phil's are still working through the process on top of the hoopla of winning the World Series. So here they are trying to concentrate on the start of their season, then Harry's death and the great sadness they all felt. Perhaps, even unconsciously, returning home to play, with him not in the booth, makes it hard to concentrate and avoid the mental mistakes that seem to plague them at home.
When was the last time you loss someone you loved? How long did it take you to get back to "normal"? Did you find it hard to concentrate? It just could be the absence of Harry is harder to accept than anyone imagined.
The Emotional Roller-Coaster
Now add on top of the grieving process, the excitement of being World Series Champs.
The parade that practically made them immortal in the minds of many right after their victory was followed by a well-deserved rest for the members of the team. It was surely needed for Philadelphia fans have always known how to show their appreciation and then some, to their winning sports teams. Give the fans a 28-year absence and there will be the Parade of Parades for the winning team. The Phillies kindly and genuinely accepted all the thanks of accolades before they took a rest period to themselves.
With the start of Spring Training, everyone has to gear up for another season. A season they plan on winning, so they can be two-time champions.
Now its time to start playing baseball again and what happens, the team is looking forward to taking delivery of their World Series Diamond Rings. The rings are presented and the team is thrilled. Even the Mayor of Philadelphia shows the ring off under glass.
OK, play baseball guys, put up your rings because the "season is in full swing" -quote courtesy of philliesbaseball.com
Right after you finish your Washington National's game, you guys will be meeting with The President of the United States. So lets get this game over with and enjoy the rest of the Washington festivities.
Oh but wait, the most beloved announcer to ever broadcast the sport was found in his office and has died! We're devastated as a team and an organization, but lets finish the game he was preparing to broadcast, he would have wanted it that way. Come on guys, play ball for Harry K!
We've reschedule the President of the United States for another time, team, he was most understanding. Good win against the Nationals, way to hustle through. Now we have to get home and honor Harry K at one of the largest open-air funerals of the cities history. But don't forget we still have games that need to be played and that rescheduled meeting with the President will happen as well. Meeting the President will not be the same without Harry, but he would want us to enjoy it, so its alright to get excited.
Time to hit the road again. Don't worry we're settling into our season now. We're winning, especially on the road, so everything is good. However, during our next home stand we're going to have to make thoughtful and sincere comments about Harry as we attend ceremonies and presentations in his honor., Don't worry though because after these tributes you get to play another home game to take your mind off of it.
Perhaps, although totally acceptable and expected. The Harry K factorneeds to be considered more thoughtfully by those of us who wonder why the Phils are having trouble winning at home.
Who has been injured so far this year. A couple of pitchers, the first baseman, the outfielder who is currently second in home runs, did I miss any more of the starters? Well lets include the 2nd baseman who had to come back from surgery during the off-season and is working to get back at a full and confident 100 percent.
That's a lot of injuries, it sure could make you feel you need to recover from a lot while still handling everything else.
Enter Pedro Martinez
No doubt the addition of Pedro Martinez will help the pitching problems the Phils have been up against. Pedro seems very excited about being in Philly and why not, he is getting a million dollar salary for one year. He can potentially restart his career with the world champions. Sounds like a win-win proposition for him.
Of course if he were to deliver, Philly will love him just as they love Raoul Ibanez
The Better Question
After considering just a couple of the major distractions facing the Phils. I find rather than asking myself why can't they win more home games, I am asking, how have they managed to win so many home games with everything else going on.
- Put in proper perspective, given all of the above, 13-18 at home isn't too shabby after all.
HOORAY TO THE FANS
To some of the toughest fans in the baseball league, hat's off to you for hanging in there and being patient with your National League Champs.
Selling out a ballpark game after game, shelling out $31.10 per ticket or $219.90 for a family of four, just to watch the Phils lose, would normally drive a sane person crazy. Yet the Phillies fans haven't booed or hissed or anything. They are patiently waiting for the Phils to get right-footed again. Something that has not gone unnoticed by the Phillies organization.
Coach, Charlie Manuel offhandedly replied, maybe the fans needed to star booing them to ge them going. He later said he didn't know what he meant by that.
Matt Stairs, is quoted as saying, "we could be getting booed right out of this place." Could be but aren't. Again the fans' love for their champions will outlast this temporary combination of strange and unusual occurrences which are serving to distract the team and lead to the type of mistakes that cause close games to be lost.
The Phillies, especially Coach Manuel, expect to repeat as World Champs, but will they be able to do so if things don't change quickly?
Last year, to their credit, they managed to win it all even while Coach Manuel and Shane Victorino were preparing to attend funerals of a mother and grandmother, respectively.
They won while Ryan Howard was in a bad hitting slump, demonstrating their ability to rise to the occasion. Fans hope the Fight'in Phils will continue to live up to their name.
I think they will!
The Phillies did indeed capture the NL East Pennant for the '09 and '10 season!