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Why Phillies fans can still have faith in 2012

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Being a Phillies fan hasn’t been easy this year.  We have suffered about as much as the fan base of a .500 baseball team can suffer.

We’ve spent the first two-plus months of the season in a bizarro world where the Mets and Nationals look down at our team in the standings.  

We’ve watched as Charlie Manuel resorted to Hector Luna as a cleanup hitter.  Cliff Lee photo: Matt Slocum/AP

We’re approaching mid-June with a winless Cliff Lee and another six weeks without Roy Halladay.

We’ve had to be excited about a young second baseman, who fields really well while hitting .228.

Finally, we are supposed to be optimistic about our two injured stars raking pitchers who weren’t even good enough to break into rookie ball.

It’s starting to feel like the euphoria that has been the last five years of Phillies baseball may be approaching its end.  Perhaps we have seen the last World Series run from this core group of Phillies players (and management).  

But before you dust your coffee table with that Phillies rally towel, consider the challenges overcome by the last two World Series champions.

The 2010 Giants had every reason to wonder if a championship was in their future when they ended June just three games over .500.  Last year’s St. Louis Cardinals probably faced the same sort of doubts when they carried a similar record into late July.  Both teams weren’t even considered serious contenders to win it all, but played really good baseball during the only month that really matters: October.Cardinals photo: Paul Sancya/AP

The New York Giants were an injury-riddled team with a 7-7 record and just two games remaining before they got healthy and played nearly flawless football en route to a win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.  

Still not seeing the Phillies’ glass as half-full?  Maybe you should consider the two postseasons that are still in progress in this country.  The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from being the first ever eight-seed to hoist the Stanley Cup (and finished the regular season with the league’s 12th best record).  Meanwhile, the Celtics are on the verge of eliminating the mighty Heat to reach the NBA Finals in a season where they were only two games over .500 as the season was two-thirds complete.  

The point is that champions are being crowned in each of this country’s major sports among teams that were scuffling throughout the regular season for a variety of reasons: injuries, slumps or lack of chemistry.  

At the moment, the Phillies are suffering from each of the aforementioned problems. And the bottom line is that they still have 104 games remaining. They are still only six games out of first place, and (it’s never too early to check on this) only four games out of the Wild Card.

Considering that nothing has gone right thus far, things can only get better.  If the Phillies simply stay in contact with the playoff contenders and welcome back their injured personnel while possibly adding a piece or two at the trade deadline, we could be seeing another World Series team who didn’t look the part in the season’s first half.   

Hopefully that run will start any time now.

 

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:
Roy Halladay: AP
Cliff Lee: Matt Slocum/AP
Cardinals: Paul Sancya/AP