Jul 142010

July 14 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford

“There are only two days on the crowded yearly calendar when American sports fans are required by guarantee to go cold turkey from their daily obsessions for at least one revolution of the earth.

The first was celebrated Monday, the day before the major-league All-Star Game, and the other is Wednesday, the day after the game. On every other day of the year, it is possible, almost unavoidable, that something will be going on among the four major sports, some regular-season or exhibition or postseason game. If you’ve got the right television hookup and the proper lack of anything better to do, big-time sports can be your constant friend.

But not Wednesday. So let’s take this moment’s rest – put down the damn remote! – gather a deep breath, and pause to consider exactly what to make of the Phillies this season.

The schedule resumes with a rush Thursday, and the Phils are expected to play 18 straight games before their next day off. That will shove baseball past the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31 and quickly force the issue of what will become of the Phillies.

At their best, despite some inconsistent starting pitching and a terrifyingly unreliable bullpen, the Phillies are plenty good enough to make the playoffs and do well once they get there. A third straight league championship, which hasn’t been accomplished by any NL team since 1944, is within their capabilities.

What it will come down to, however, is whether they are once again lucky enough to get that outcome, and no championship in any sport, at any level, is gained without a serious dollop of good fortune.

So far this season, the Phillies haven’t been very lucky – particularly with injuries – but neither have they been cursed any more than during the early months of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

In 2008, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth spent time on the disabled list and starter Brett Myers was optioned to the minor leagues, all before the all-star break. Afterward, with the exception of a brief injury to Pedro Feliz and some minor issues, the Phils got healthy and got hot. The organization added Joe Blanton, Scott Eyre and Matt Stairs for the stretch run, and won a World Series.”

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