Isolated errors and mental blunders will happen, but when mistakes occur at the rate the Phillies are committing them this series, and all season long, there's something bigger at play.
The Phillies picked the wrong series to play their sloppiest ball of the season, but the truth of the matter is stupid mistakes have cost them a handful of games this season. Even the wins are never crisp.
Before yesterday’s game, GM Pat Gillick acknowledged that fact: "We haven't played smart baseball. We've made some stupid mistakes," he told the Daily News.
The Phils committed three official errors Tuesday and three again yesterday. Officially, there should have been more.
These aren’t isolated mistakes from only a few players we’re talking about. Over half the starting lineup is guilty of fielding errors, baserunning mistakes, poor pitch selection, and poor situational hitting. We’re talking game-destroying, season-crushing mistakes across the board.
If the Phillies are truly the Mets' closest competitor in the NL East, New York should pop the cork right now. They’re in a different class.
So what happened to the Phillies? How does a team become stupid? Is it a reflection of the coaching staff? Should Charlie Manuel and crew share the blame for poor preparation, and failing to develop a sense of craft and urgency?
How long will the Phillies sit around and watch man-child Brett Myers make a spectacle of himself? Yesterday, his big mission was to show up an inexperienced catcher and umpire who wasn’t calling the game his way. He turned the most critical game of the season into personal playtime, mucking around against the best lineup in the National League. A thinking pitcher, with just a gram of focus, wouldn’t throw down the middle to David Wright ahead 0-2 in the count.
It doesn’t stop there. Here's a small sampling from the rest of this series. Two missed balls in the outfield yesterday by Bobby Abreu. Both should have been converted to outs. How do you pitch to Endy Chavez, the same, weak fastball hitter who embarrassed himself last year in a Phillies uniform? When is the right time to steal a base? How do you field a chopper at third? How do you respond when calls don't go the way you think they should? Do you throw two high fastballs in a row to Carlos Beltran, a high fastball hitter?
Not enough discipline. Not enough focus. When it gets this bad, one can't help but see it as a reflection of the manager.
This series demanded a focused approach, and the Phillies came unprepared for the fight.