Sometimes it seems the Phillies believe they are the only team on the planet.
Waking up and reading Todd Zolecki’s piece from last night’s 7-6 loss to the Marlins adds credence to that belief. There’s also the delusion that they control their own destiny.
"Look at the numbers," Rollins told the Inquirer. "We're not that far out of it."
Considering the remaining schedule, you are, Jimmy.
The ho-hum attitude verifies a generalization I happen to agree with regarding this team: the veteran core lacks the fire and focus to compete in September.
Say what you will about the manager and GM, I’m one of the few that still believes this nucleus should have been good enough to reach the postseason these past few years. A lineup that begins with Jimmy Rollins and ends with Mike Lieberthal – past and present all-stars – has been routinely labeled the best in the division.
So why haven’t they taken the next step? Some thought they had the wrong manager, but this year is unfolding much like it did under Larry Bowa.
Year after year, their method of handling pressure is to ignore it, collect a check, and move on. After all, many of them are virtually guaranteed to stay put and earn even more next season.
Instead of elevating their game when it matters most, it's business as usual. It’s frightening to hear how little they’re concerned with the out-of-town scoreboards, when they should be peeking at the scoreboard in right between pitches.
Counting Atlanta, three teams block them from the playoffs, with the Phils facing perhaps the toughest schedule of them all with only 20 games left to play. They’ve watched their Wild Card lead slip away at home, losing four of five to Houston and Florida. Four other hopefuls – Washington, New York, Chicago and Milwaukee, are also in position to pass the Phils, who are now 2.5 games back of Houston.
Their latest losses represent four blown opportunities when they had the win in hand, featuring another bullpen meltdown last night, this time from Ryan Madson. A month ago, insiders thought the Phils could slide into October because their back-end bullpen was the best in the league.
The sloppy play extends to the offense. They stranded 11 runners last night, six in scoring position with two outs.
With three weeks remaining, “We’re not that far out of it” translates into “You're not in it.”