Wednesday night felt like old times, times when the Phillies were on top of the world. You could feel the energy of a team about to make an improbable playoff run, and of a fan base starting to believe. It felt more like the Phillies we knew from before; a team who knew they were going to win and who carried a swagger with them every night against every team. The Phillies we saw on Wednesday night were like the old team, the team who wouldn’t find a way to lose but a way to win. Veterans seem energized and young guys are stepping up.
All season, the Phillies have felt like a puzzle missing pieces and they seemed like a team that had lost its’ edge: A team that seemed stuck in reverse, headed down a mountain of mediocrity; but then something changed.
On August 24th the Washington Nationals came into the City of Brotherly Love, and all of a sudden, the Phightin’ Phils’ attitude seemed to change. You heard guys saying things that seemed to point to a fed-up clubhouse, a team that had finally hit its boiling point of frustration. Instead of quitting, however, the Phils saw that series as an opportunity to make a statement; the run is not over just yet.
A sweep followed, and the Phillies have hit their stride since. Sure, this team is far from perfect, as we saw in Atlanta two weeks ago when a 7-3 lead disappeared into the right centerfield bleachers, but they never seem to completely die. Their overall veteran experience seems to have given this team an “anything is possible” outlook. They just go out and play each game, pitch, and at bat one at a time. All of a sudden, on September 13th, the Phillies sit 3 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. No other word can describe it but ‘unbelievable’.
A mix of the resurgent bats of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and John Mayberry Jr, combined with the emergence of Philippe Aumont and Kevin Frandsen has given the Phillies a much more consistent, reliable team down the stretch. Sure, at this point the Phillies still have an uphill battle, but as we have seen in the past few weeks, anything is possible. Maybe the Phillies make the playoffs, maybe they don’t, but the bottom line is Philadelphia will have meaningful baseball in September. We will have baseball where every night is an emotional rollercoaster, and where the Phillies are something to be proud of once again.
As Tug Mcgraw once said,” You gotta believe.”