(Guest post brought to you by Ryan Parmer)
World Phuckin’ Champions! Seems like just yesterday I was in the middle of an epic man-pile with my college roommates, and about to get up and run the 2 miles down to city hall from Temple U to celebrate after Brad Lidge threw that nasty 0-2 slider past Eric Hinske to cap an amazing World Series run. It was a run that saw Matt Stairs become a legend on a homerun that may still be flying. Carlos Ruiz hit one of the shortest game winning balls I’ve ever seen. Brett Myers set a record, at the plate, becoming the first pitcher ever to have 3 hits in an NLCS game. Brett also had a 9 pitch walk against C.C. Sabathia in game 2 of the NLDS which led to Shane Victorino’s grand slam and had us saying C.C.- ya later to the most dominant pitcher down the stretch in the N.L. last year. It was a run that saw Joe Blanton hit a homerun in a World Series game, giving him the nickname “Joe the Lumber”. Cole Hamels become a big game pitcher during that run, and won the World Series MVP honor, the third Phillie to win some type of MVP award in 3 years. Ryan Madson was bringin it at 97 mph as the bridge to Lidge, who was still perfect. The run was magical, and unforgettable to those who witnessed it all.
After the post season last year, everyone here fell in love with every player on that team, they were heroes, and deserved all the love they got. This was not more evident than the day of the parade, which saw millions of people, lined up along Broad Street starting early in the morning (I got to city hall around 8 am, and was still about 4-5 rows deep in the crowd). The parade was our chance to show them how much we appreciated what they did for us during that magical run, a city which had not seen a championship for 25 years.
So where has that magic gone? I couldn’t wait for the season to start April 5th, this was the first time in my life I got to watch a Philly sports team that I could call defending champions. Ok, so we went out and got 4 hits and 1 run in a 4-1 loss. No big deal, we’re still defending champions, these guys are still heroes, no reason to worry, right?
I hope so. Since then, we have a team who is sitting at 16-16, 12 of those 16 are games in which we were forced to come from behind to win. It’s still early but I can’t help but be frustrated, our pitching staff has given up 55 home runs, by far the most in the bigs. The ageless wonder Jamie Moyer can’t seem to get it together and joins Brad Lidge in the ERA of 8+ club. 6 guys have an ERA over 5. The offense was looking good until this recent home stand, and 3 of our .300 hitters have now dropped below that mark (Utley Feliz and Victorino, who was above and below .300 a few times already this year). Speaking of home stands, the team is 8-12 at home, 9-9 in the division, and perhaps most disappointing, 1-3 against the damn Mets. It is essential to win at home, and beat your division rivals, for us its the Mets, if you want to be a good baseball team.
At the parade I made a promise to follow a rule written on a sign on the southwest corner of city hall which read “I promise never to boo again.” Now I’m not so sure. Any other year a struggling Jimmy Rollins would hear it every time he doesn’t get a hit. Our starters would be targets of those thrown back home run balls at home, and (I hate to say it) Brad Lidge might be given the Tom Gordon treatment (I am NOT comparing the two, but Tom Gordon was good for us his first year here, then struggled, and was run out of town, but of course he didn’t bring us that ring).
So should I feel guilty for wanting to let out a good old fashioned Philadelphia BOOOO when I go to games? After all, this is basically the same roster that made that magical run last year, with the exception of Rauuuuuuul,(who it is easy to say is an improvement over the much loved Pat Burrell), and Chan Ho who I was saying must go before his Mets start. Or do these guys deserve some leeway still after what they did for this city, and us as fans last season? I don’t know how to handle a team that brought a championship to this town, and then struggles the next year. All I’m used to is booing a struggling team that hasn’t won it all since before I was born. What do you think? Do they deserve to hear our frustrations? Or should we cut them some slack and hope for another amazing end of season run?