It's finally here! We have waited for months. After watching yet another team not named the Phillies win the World Series, we have endured a brutal offseason by clinging to and being consistently let down by two of the three other major sports squads in the city. It's basically Christmas in April.
I can't help but notice the enthusiasm isn't what it once was. Permit me a quick review of the past few years, for perspective.
2007: The Phils were an improving squad, boasting recent Rookie of the Year and defending-MVP young Ryan Howard. SS Jimmy Rollins put together an MVP season, giving the Phils two in a row. They took advantage of a colossal collapse by the stinkin' Mets and won the NL East, eventually getting swept by the Rockies in the NLDS. Disappointing, but still exceeded most expectations.
2008: Who doesn't remember the parade? I hitchhiked home down Kelly Drive like I was a junior at Roman all over again. It was a great day, capping off an amazing season. Again, the Phils exceeded expectations. For the last time...
2009: Hamels coming off his NLCS and World Series MVP performances, went 10-11 with a 4.23 ERA. The team won their third straight NL East crown. Trade-deadline addition Cliff Lee went undefeated in the postseason. However, neither Hamels nor Pedro Martinez could not beat the Yankees and the Phils' season ended short of another World title.
2010: High expectations were again derailed in the postseason as the Phillies' rotation of Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt were not enough to stop Cody friggin' Ross and the Giants. We had to watch that stain Brian Wilson and his asinine black beard do that asinine arm-crossing maneuver. (It got even worse when that stain started doing Taco Bell ads...)
2011: Four aces, no ring. I'll leave it at that.
Which brings me to 2012. I hear all over the place how the Phils are not the team to beat. That the injuries to Howard and Utley are too much to overcome. But we have the pitching... People are saying that Amaro didn't do enough this offseason. Emergency rooms are filled with patients that have broken limbs jumping off the bandwagon. I for one say, "Good. Let 'em jump off." Perhaps I'll be able to go to Citizens Bank Park and actually watch the game, rather than all the jackass, hipster and college asses that know nothing about the game.
The past few season have been disappointing, yes. But that's baseball. There's a reason the season is 162-games long. It weeds out the pretenders. How many times has Oakland been in first place in June, only to fall apart before August? Being hot early on doesn't mean a thing. And slow starts and injuries can be overcome.
Utley was an injury non-factor for the first half of the year in 2011. They still won 102 games. They won 102 games. They still lost in the NLDS.
You gotta let them play the games. Therein lies the fun, the promise. This is why men still love baseball. Because we get to feel like boys again. Kids on Christmas morning. Who cares what's under the giftwrap. We get to peel the paper back for the next six months.
See you on Broad Street. Maybe Santa will join the parade...