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Miami Heat’s Failure May Hold Lessons for Phillies

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The unveiling of the Miami Heat’s Big Three will go down in history; particularly if one is studying the history of ostentatiousness.  LeBron James and Dwyane Wade photo by Lynne Sladk: APThere was the hydraulic lift that facilitated the arrival of the basketball superheroes, along with more pyrotechnics and strobe lights than a KISS concert.
 
And don’t forget the predictions of eight NBA titles (made of course, by the King with no crown). All this before the team even stepped on the court together.

We all know how things ended for Lebron and D-Wade (oh, and Chris Bosh, too). They were left to wonder what went wrong when the greatest assemblage of talent ever combined in one starting lineup got bounced from the NBA finals in front of its home fans.

There are obviously a number of lessons that will be taken away from the Heat’s high-profile failure.  The most obvious is that, when you talk the talk, you’d better be able to walk the walk. It proved that a few superstar starters do not guarantee even a single championship. Finally, there’s the conclusion that the supporting cast is often just as responsible as the headliners for putting a team over the top.

Here’s hoping that the Philadelphia Phillies avoid some of the pitfalls that swallowed the Heat’s season.  

 

After all, there are the some striking similarities between the franchise’s offseasons. Like the Heat, the Phillies unveiled what was, on paper, one of the best starting rotations ever assembled.  A rotation that was so loaded with firepower, that many began to calculate the number of World Series parades that may have to be planned before those contracts (and arms) expired.  There were Four Aces tee shirts, Sports Illustrated features, and even television specials.

The obvious difference between the Phillies and the Heat, however, was the level of decorum with which they approached those expectations. The Phillies have been the anti-Heat, exhibiting nothing but class from the introductory press conferences, to the humble interviews, to the selfless approach to the games themselves.  Phillies Sports Illustrated Photo: allthingsphillysports.blogspot.com/2011/03/ph...

Nonetheless, the same expectations are still heaped upon this baseball team, and they can actually learn some things from teams like the Heat.

They may have noticed that you do, in fact, need some very talented players to win a title.  After all, the Dallas Mavericks were not celebrating in South Beach without the magic of Dirk Nowitzki’s game.   

However, winning a title only happens when players who aren’t superstars also find ways to step up and perform on the big stage.  The Phillies will need to find their own versions of Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, and Tyson Chandler.  The Fightins experienced first hand the value of players like Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria  during their playoff loss to the Giants last October. They will need similar performances from players not named Ryan Howard to supplement the indomitable pitching of their staff aces.  

This is not to say that they have to acquire those types of players in a trade deadline deal. Those guys are alive and well on the their current roster. It is just a matter of getting production out of them when it matters most.  

Players like Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins are perfectly capable of sparking the team’s offense to the type of run production that will make those staff aces all the more dominant in the playoffs.  If Carlos Ruiz or Raul Ibanez get hot during the late summer and into the early fall, the Phils could go back to giving opposing pitchers sleepless nights.  

Based on everything we’ve seen in the first 64 games of the season, the Phillies can count on 6 or 7 innings of great starting pitching on a nightly basis. They can also count on their $25 million clean-up hitter to drive in runs as well as any player in franchise history.  There is also a third baseman that can be counted on for disciplined plate appearances and professional (if not powerful) displays of hitting.

What they need from the rest of their roster are meaningful contributions when September and October arrive.  That is what will ultimately determine if the 2011 Phillies are more substance than the flash that was the Miami Heat.

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com.   You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net 

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Photos:
Heat Big Three: Boston Herald
Lebron: AP Lynne Sladky