Thanksgiving 2016 has come and gone, and on this Black Friday, there is still much to be thankful for other than leftover turkey and stuffing. Your Philadelphia Phillies deserve a bit of gratitude. Sure, they’re not the Phillies of the recent Golden Era past, but this team and this organization still provide us with many things to be thankful for as fans. Here are some of the things that we, the Phillies Phaithful, might take for granted most of the time, but should always be thankful for in the end:
Citizens Bank Park
CBP is one of the most beautiful stadiums in all of sports. There is nothing that will change my view on that. I personally have been to a number of places, including Camden Yards, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, and more. Citizens Bank Park sits right up top with the most well regarded parks around today. From the view of the Philly skyline in the backdrop, to being able to view the game from basically anywhere in the park, to the vast amount of food choices, and so much more, CBP makes the fans feel right at home. For those fans that are often attending games at the park and don’t really sit back and think about how great the place really is, now is a good time to be thankful for such a nice place to attend a game.
November 1, 2008: The day after the Phillies celebrated their miraculous 2008 World Series win, they made Ruben Amaro Jr. their new General Manager. September 10, 2015: The Phillies removed Ruben Amaro Jr. from his position as General Manager. Notice one thing missing during the time Amaro took over to the time he left? That’s right, a World Series title. The man now responsible for assembling a team to get us back to the Promised Land is 36-year-old Matt Klentak. This young front office mogul is now entrenched in the general manager spot for a Phils team going through a rebuild that looks as though it will pay off in due time. The fresh start and young look that Klentak and the rest of the front office are giving to this Phillies team has the fan base excited about the future. Who knows? Maybe that future is even closer than we think? The fact that this guy has been able to do what Amaro seemingly refused to do, which is embrace the youth that this organization has built up over the past few seasons, is refreshing and exciting for us Phils fans. Thank you, Mr. Klentak.
With all the youth around this organization these days, the Phillies need someone who has been around the game for a long time to kind of balance things out and form a strong nucleus in the clubhouse. Pete Mackanin, who took over as the Phillies manager when Ryne Sandberg resigned 74 games into the 2015 season, has seen his share of ups and downs during his time as the manager of the Phillies. Heading into his second full season as manager, Pete has built up a very good reputation amongst players and fans alike, and the decision to keep him around during this team’s rebuild seems like it was and has been the right move. With the lineups that he has had to muster up so far during his short time as the head honcho, his 108-142 record, all things considered, could be much worse. Pete and the rest of the staff hope that the knowledge that they’ve been providing for the young players on this team will carry over to the 2017 season and beyond so that this team can finally get back to their winning ways. Thanks for being you, Pete.
Maikel Franco & Aaron Nola
Now, I am grouping these two guys together for good reason. I personally believe these two will be the cornerstones for this franchise for years to come, and when this rebuild is all said and done, these two will be the driving force behind the winning ways of the Phillies in the upcoming years. Sure, you could maybe throw Odubel Herrera or Jerad Eickhoff into this conversation as well, but as far as flashes of potential stardom go, Franco and Nola stand out amongst the rest. Franco enjoyed a very good sophomore season for the Phillies in 2016, hitting at a clip of .255 with 25 Home Runs, 88 RBI and a .733 OPS. Sure, those numbers don’t scream out superstar. There’s still more time to grow for this young masher, though, who with a little more work in the consistency department, could be the homegrown superstar the Phils have longed for since the departures of their champion homegrown talent of yesteryears. As for Nola, he’s got a little more work to do. After showing flashes of his ace potential during his 13 starts in 2015, things started to slide downward for Nola in 2016, posting a 6-9 record in 20 starts before ultimately being shut down for the year due to injuries. Nola was the 7th overall pick in the 2014 draft, and for good reason. Since draft day, everyone knew this guy would be on the fast track to the majors, and sure enough, he made his debut with the Phillies just over a calendar year after being drafted. With comparisons in regards to his pitching style to the likes of Greg Maddux and other All-Stars alike, this guy just needs to be healthy enough to turn potential into reality. I see big things from both these players come 2017. Thank you, Aaron and Maikel, for giving us hope in this team’s future.
Here is the most broad, yet most important thing to be thankful as a Phillies fan this year. This team has an identity. Is this team identifiable as a powerhouse that the likes of Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox and other fans can attest to? Most certainly not. They are, though, easily identifiable as a team on the rise. Much like teams such the Astros and Cubs of the last few years, people knew that the rebuild method would work out in the long run, and the young talent from these organizations would build their way up into being big time winning major leaguers. The Phillies appear to be on that same path. This team could easily be one such as the Rays, White Sox, or Rockies of the world, who right now are kind of tweeners that aren’t exactly sure whether they should add a couple pieces and try to compete, or start a dumpster fire and start from scratch. At least the Phillies have direction. At least they know that their ultimate goal isn’t to overtake the higher powers of the National League and go all the way this year. Their goal is to build from the ground up and make something greater than they had before, and if they keep up what they are doing, they will most certainly enjoy success. Thanks for being you, Phils!
So there you have it. The Phillies are very similar to the likes of your family on Thanksgiving, such as your loving grand mom who keeps asking when you’re going to get married, or your drunk uncle who won’t shut up about Trump. In the end, when you sit back and think about it, you’re thankful for these people and having them in your life. The Phillies could be looked at along the lines of your annoying younger cousin. Yeah, they annoy you every Thanksgiving and every holiday, but sometimes they provide some entertainment, and you know one day that cousin will be really cool and grow up to be a mature, successful person. The Phillies are your annoying younger cousin. Right now, and in the last few years, they’ve been annoying, but provide you with small handfuls of entertainment every now and then. We all know, though, that the annoyance and the small entertainment will eventually turn into maturity and success. Therefore, be thankful for the Phillies this Thanksgiving, and for every other day thereafter.
Photo: Mindmatrix (via: Wikimedia Commons)