The Phillies Journey is Almost Finished

16 10 2008

Madson has become a star in October.

Madson has become a star in October.

By Mike Gill

When the Phillies game ended and the Dodgers were eliminated, the final step in their journey had been taken.  The Phillies didn’t have the look of a team that was just happy, they all said the right things.  Sure there was plenty of hooting and hollering, but the stars of this team know what is in front of them right now.

You heard Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels say afterwards that they were not finished yet.  The team reacted very business-like in each of their three key wins – the NL East win verses the Nats, the NLDS win and now the Dodgers.  Each time this team was questioned, they answered that it was a very long season and they have proven the media, fans and anybody else who doubted them wrong this time.

People many have thought they didn’t have a sense of urgency, but following this NLCS victory how can we count them out again?  Throughout this season, this team liked themselves maybe more then we thought they should have liked themselves.  They have had a longer view all season, whether we liked it or not and they have proven to be correct up-to-this-point.

In a series where their lead off man and number two hitter hit .143 and .190 respectively, this team not only advanced, but they did it in five games.  In a series where the majors leading home run hitter, in nine post-season games has yet to hit one out, they are still playing baseball.  This is playoff baseball, trends go out the window, you find new stars for a few weeks, Matt Stairs, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Madson, Shane Victorino, you get stories like this all the time, the Phillies never had this story before – this year they do.

The Dodgers had Manny hit .545 in the series, he is golfing (does Manny golf ?) now.  The Phillies had Shane Victorino hit .200, but all his hits counted.  When the Phillies needed a hit, he got it.  Rafael Furcal had three errors in one inning, Jimmy Rollins didn’t hit, but fielded everything that came his way.  It just seems like the Phillies time.

And then there is Cole Hamels. 

Has he silenced his many critics, who don’t think he is tough enough when he didn’t pitch on three days rest.  I think its the nature of the media, the media pays more attention to what a guy says then to what he does.  Since he has arrived in the big leagues, Hamles has been at his best in September, his lowest ERA is in September, his strikeouts are up and runs allowed are down and now he is carrying that over into October.  

 I think we all get up in what we think they should say and what we want them to be and not what they are.  What we know now is that Hamels takes the ball every fifth day and we all expect him to win, and that’s what an ace is.  We all want the guy that says “give me the ball” and Hamels does it, he just does it a different way – but like his way or not, he is a clear-cut ace now and for years to come.

Then the is Charlie Manuel, who out managed the great Joe Torre.  Manuel has gone from the most hated head-man in this city, to maybe the most respected.  Manuel does it a different way from most, there is something about him that makes people want to do well for him.  He puts his players at ease, he won’t rip his guys, he treats them like men and he is respected in the clubhouse for it.  Think back to the end of the Abreu, Thome time here in Philly, we all wanted Charlie gone with them.  He stayed and now the team is onto the world series and neither Abreu or Thome have a title to show for it. 

The fans in Philly are passionate but sometimes they are wrong. 

Were we wrong about the Phillies in August ? Yes.

Were we wrong about Hamels and his ability to carry this team in September and October ? Yes. 

Were we wrong about Charlie Manuel and his ability to motivate these guys and get them to the World Series ?

Obviously – thankfully.

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