From the get-go, everyone knew the 2012 season would be a tough one for the Phillies. Not one hour after Ryan Howard fell down in a crumpled heap, I remember talking to a buddy of mine, and lamenting about how 2012 was going to be rough. And that's before it was revealed that Chase Utley would miss a significant amount of time.
After all, runs like the Phillies had between 2007 and 2011 don't last forever. You need a freakish combination of talent and luck, and you need to take advantage of each and every break. For this run of success to even get off the ground, it required the Phillies to chase down the collapsing Mets in 2007.
In baseball, life at the top is a tenuous one.
And though I remained optimistic coming into this season (I still do), I knew it would be a challenge. So far it has been, as the Phillies have been taken to task early on thanks to a sub-par offense that's unable to support mostly stellar pitching.
This season isn't the cake walk like it was in recent years, and it's looking like Phillies are going to have to fight and claw their way to the top.
It's similar to the 2007 and 2008 seasons, when they similarly got off to rough starts, only to step on the gas in the second half and catapult themselves into the playoffs in dramatic fashion. And let's not forget the near-disaster that was 2010, when they were down some seven games in the middle of July. Each time, they found a way to come back.
Of course, the big difference is that those teams, unlike the 2012 club, could rake. They were never out of a game because the bats wouldn't let them be out of a game. Give them a six-run deficit and 27 outs, and they'll give you back a notch in the win column.
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This year's offense, quite frankly, is a mess, thanks to injuries and age taking its toll on key offensive players. The bats, which were the cornerstone of the team, are now relegated to needing a series of singles to put up a crooked number.
Nowadays, a six-run lead is Mount Everest, and until they get some more hitter, that's not going to change. Heck, the early, three-run deficit to the Diamondbacks on Monday night seemed nearly impossible to overcome. And, as it turns out, it was.
It's bleak, right now, but there is no reason to panic. Rome wasn't built in a day, and a baseball season can't be lost in one. And even though the rest of the division is looking good, that's no reason for the Phillies to punt. Not yet, at least.