Tuesday night marked the start of the 2017 MLB playoffs with the American League Wild Card game between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees.
While the sport will always have its critics – it’s boring, it moves too slow, there’s not enough action – there’s something special about October baseball. The air is crisp, players are giving it 110%, and you’re on the edge of your seat with every pitch, hoping that your team will be crowned World Series Champions.
Sadly, for the sixth straight year, Phillies fans won’t get to feel the joy, euphoria, and anguish of October baseball. Don’t get me wrong, the playoffs are still incredibly exciting if you’re a baseball fan but your team is not in the race. Just take a look at last year’s epic World Series. But it’s no substitute for seeing the team in red pinstripes on the field.
After grinding it out since the start of Spring Training in February, and playing a grueling 162 game season and not making the playoffs, there’s only one word that comes to mind. Disappointment.
Sure, we never really expected the Phillies to make the playoffs this season. We never expected them to be as bad as they were this season as well, but the playoffs were pretty much an afterthought. Still, that doesn’t dull the sting.
After all, we baseball fans are a hopeful bunch. Hope, optimism and positivity are fundamental parts of Spring Training, and those qualities carry into the regular season.
This year, they’re carrying into the off-season for the Phillies and their fans, and with good reason.
The Phillies went 37-38 in the second half of the season. Combine that with the eleventh best batting average post All-Star break at .259, the twelfth most RBI with 338, and 358 runs which ranked tenth, it’s clear the Phillies are putting together a formidable offensive lineup.
No longer will we be wondering who’s going to make up the next core because the next core is here. Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, Aaron Nola, and Jorge Alfaro have all made big statements in 2017 on why they are the future. Sure, we have some questions that remain. What will happen to the trio of Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, and Maikel Franco? Is J.P. Crawford going to fix that average and be a key contributor? When will we see the highly touted Scott Kingery? Who on earth is going to follow Nola in a rotation that has a lot of holes? And what about the mess that is the bullpen?
But those things are fixable. Through free agent signings and internal moves, the Phillies will be able to mend the starting rotation and the bullpen. After all, they can’t be worse than they were this year, can they? And having a logjam of talent in the infield is a problem a lot of teams would love to have.
As you sit on your couch and watch the last four weeks of the baseball season, enjoy it. Some of the greatest moments in baseball history happen in October. While the disappointment is sure to seep in, especially when you look back at the success the Phillies had in October not that long ago, remember to keep the hope alive. The Phillies are building to the future, and it won’t be long until we see them in the playoffs again.
Photo: Adam Zdanavage (via Flickr)