With yesterday’s impressive 12-5 rout at Turner Field, the Phillies have guaranteed their third series win in a row against four-straight division leaders.
Many believed this grueling stretch against the Cardinals, Orioles, Marlins and Braves would make or break the season. The team responded by rattling off a 7-4 record, with a chance to pull within three games of first place by the end of the day.
Next up the Phils will open a 13-game home stand with a chance to gain real ground against weaker teams, and will play 35 of their next 48 games at home. It’s conceivable the Phils could sit atop the division by the end of the stretch.
This team has earned a mulligan by clawing back into contention. Likewise, fans can earn a do-over by simply acting like good fans.
The first pitch of 2005 hadn’t been thrown and already the season was off on the wrong foot. Fans chastised the manager over a lineup decision, then chastised the player involved for no particular reason. The issue continues to hang over the fans and media more than it should to the point where Charlie Manuel may actually deserve credit for the second-base platoon, which worked pretty damn well last night.
Cynics can say what they want about lineup cards, the money players make, the attitude they take or even the history of the organization. Negativity targeted directly at players wears on even the most hard-boiled jocks. Former Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez, as insular as any baseball man in history, said boos were enough to tear him apart at times. Kenny Lofton, who’s been to the World Series with three different teams, said Philadelphia’s supporters are the least knowledgeable and most negative of any town he’s played in.
I can’t agree with Lofton on that point. Instead, I believe the informed fans - though just as disgusted about losing – keep their mouths shut about it, at least out at the park. They realize no matter how bad things get, it doesn’t help to turn one’s self into the tenth player for the opposing team.
It’s time fans recognize their own impact on the win-loss column when they return home Tuesday.