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Phillies will never play the role of favorites, but are still a force to be reckoned with.

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Yes, in a way I am still scratching my head at the Cliff Lee  trade. Yes, I am wondering why in the world they would bring back Brandon Duckworth (even though it WAS a minor league contract).

But at the end of the day, the Philadelphia Phillies, OUR Philadelphia Phillies, have turned into a perennial power house in Major League Baseball. And as I am sitting here typing this, I have to stop and admit that NEVER in my lifetime did I think I would ever see the day that you could put "Phillies" and "powerhouse" in the same sentence. Ruben Amaro and Co. have turned this former laughingstock of a baseball team into one that CHiPS photo: http://cache.jalopnik.com/assets/resources/2006/10/ponch_jon_puf.jpg(barring serious injuries) you can count on to contend for a post season berth year after year. My friends and I used to joke on the school playground how Steve Jeltz and Floyd Youmans were the next Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton. You had to have a twisted sense of humor about the Phillies back then. Yes, in 1988 at ten years old, even WE knew that just the thought of the Phillies ever having this much success was about as realistic as Ponch and Jon drawing their guns on a Sunset Strip pimp. Or for more modern times, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie staying together. Let's face it, if you didn't ever skip your homework when you were a kid to stay up and watch the likes of Jeltz and Youmans get their brains beat in night after night, there's no way you can truly appreciate this era of Phillies baseball.

That being said, do the Phils get the proper respect from baseball that they should? Not really. Detractors will say that they beat a Tampa Bay Rays Cinderella team  in the 2008 World Series, but they couldn't dethrone the Yankees when they returned to the Fall Classic last October. Phillies supporters will say that those same Rays beat the Yankees AND Boston Red Sox to win their division title two years ago. Moreover, they beat Boston later on in a gruelling seven game ALCS. The Phillies are indeed our hometown heroes. Whether it's fair or not however, they won't get that respect that they deserve from baseball and baseball fans alike until they dethrone the Yankees or Red Sox for another title.

One thing you can't knock the Phillies for is their commitment to the team's core group of players. When you think about it, this is really no Shane Victorino has yet another reason to smile after signing his recent contract extension. Photo: http://citypaper.net/blogs/sports/files/2009/04/shane2.jpgsurprise. You can go back as far as 2002 when the team gave Bobby Abreu, Mike Lieberthal, and Pat Burrell long term contracts. Hey, nobody ever said they always committed to the right people, but I digress. After their World Series title, Amaro tied up 98 percent of the team, and the recent signings of Joe Blanton  and Shane Victorino   now have the meat of this team together for the next two to three years. Sure, you are going to lose some key players along the way (Lee, Burrell, Chan Ho Park), but that Raul Ibanez guy turned out pretty nicely, didn't he? And this guy they call Roy Halladay  is not too shabby (as far as the regular season goes) as a staff ace. Moral of the story: if you keep feeding the minor league system with grade A talent, and update your big league roster when needed, it is a very nice recipe for long-term consistency. It's easier said than done, and the possibility of losing Jayson Werth  AND Ryan Howard over the next few years is a scary thought. That consistency for developing and acquiring talent is something that the Phillies have done well for the better part of the last decade.

In saying that, the Phillies, like 100 percent of all baseball teams and other businesses, are not infallible. It took the Yankees almost a decade to win the World Series again, and the Red Sox were still considered a red headed step child as far back as 2003. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, gives the Phillies a harder time than I do when I don't feel they are making the right decisions for the team. Like many of you, I myself am a proud Armchair GM. To love is to care, and we may often wonder what the Phillies are thinking regarding some of their moves in the present and that will probably never change. Some of these transactions however, (or lack thereof) that we currently find questionable in the present could result in Back in the day.........favorable scenarios for the team several years down the line (saving "some" money here and there for a Ryan Howard contract extension?). At least that's what I keep telling myself when they sign "38 year-old" Jose Contreras as a possible fifth starter while the Yankees acquire Javier Vazquez and the Red Sox sign John Lackey. But we've been down this road before. Unless the Phillies get their own TV network, they will never bring in the revenue needed to match the transactions of the two American League teams we talk about all the time on Philly2Philly. It will be like this every year and I'm not particularly happy about it. However, stranger things have happened, like me batboying for the Phillies. Not only that, but we could be Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Think of the Phillies in the late 80's, and multiply that by infinity..........

So in closing, I'd like to throw my hat into the ring and offer my two year (unrealistic, but actually possible) plan for the Philadelphia Phillies:

Win two consecutive World Series Championships and become one of the greatest National League teams EVER. This would not only give the team three titles over the last four years, but the Fightins would also be crowned, dare I say it....a dynasty?

Who knows? Maybe it's not too late for Ponch and Jon to get a little nasty.

 

Feel free to leave a comment or contact me at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Thumbnail: http://blog.pennlive.com/patriotnewssports/2009/04/large_phillies_fans_boo.jpg