PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Philadelphia Phillies fans cheer during a game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park September 29, 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
For the first 120 or so years of Philadelphia's National League existence, success was fleeting.
Sure there were winning, even championship teams. But, they were few and far between. Remember 10,000 losses? Remember 1964? Remember Joe Carter?
Well, well, well... how times have changed. Not only do Phillies fans have a winning team, they're actually the patrons of a bona fide juggernaut. The Phils have been fine-tuned to not only win their third straight National League pennant (something not done since the 1940s Cardinals), but also to beat the Yankees or any other American League team in the 2010 fall classic.
In case you've had your nose buried in Tiger's tales (or is that, tails?), the Fightins have put together an offense that's absolutely bombastic. And it's not just Chase Utley and Ryan Howard anymore. This embarrassment of riches comes into today's home opener batting a collective .315 with a ridiculous major league-leading .511 slugging percentage.
As a team, the Phils' 2.72 ERA ranks third in baseball. When's the last time you saw that? Also, the bullpen's been decent (with Romero and Lidge on the comeback trail), and the fielding's as sharp as ever. Anyone who did a double take at Jimmy Rollins' fade-away assist yesterday in Houston can be assured that last year's slow start is in J-roll's rearview mirror.
Now, for the hard part. Can Philadelphia fans channel their "att-ee-tood" for an entire baseball season? If you follow baseball, you know that gawdy win streaks and sterling stats can quickly fade due to a number of factors such as stiff competition and injuries.
But, this team. This team!
Well, the fact is, there just hasn't been a Phillies team like this one in franchise history.
The club has World Series-winning experience, a workmanlike, yet easy-going demeanor, and a manager in Charlie Manuel who handles his red-striped charges like a doting, but firm grandpa. Fans should know that all of this luster doesn't come around very often in the wonderfully maddening sport of big league baseball.
The advice from here: enjoy the ride, let the usual Philly angst slide, and appreciate the work that goes into the home team's phabulous phieldcraft.