Tue. Jun 6th, 2023

Ever watch a horror flick and have the feeling that you’ve not been down this road before, but that you are helpless to change the outcome? The villain is still going to find a way to destroy the supposed hero and the movie will end on a down note. In each and every one of those films, there are a series of events that lead to the unsightly demise of the main character. The Phillies aren’t any different.

This season was supposed to be different than the 13 which came before. For once, the home team was supposed to overcome its shortcomings, not to mention their division rivals and ascend to the postseason for the first time in 13 seasons. Yet, despite the early season optimism that swelled to a crescendo leading up to opening day, this team is doomed to repeat the history of its predecessors.

Much like the series of missteps, errors in judgment and flat out stupid decisions that led our horror movie hero to meet his maker, this Phillies team is already following the road to mediocrity. Or worse.

Last season, despite their “valiant” (as they’d like you to believe) effort down the stretch leaving them one game shy of the post-season, this year’s club is like a mirror image of the group theatonce again made for a quiet Philadelphia October. In 2005, the Phillies compiled a 10-14 record in the month of April. As the old adage goes, you cannot win a pennant in April or May, but you can certainly lose one. April proved to be the Phillies undoing last season. It was imperative that this year’s club get off to a hot start and erase the bad taste left in the mouth of a mutinous fan base, and take that first step towards ending its postseason drought.

That simply hasn’t been the case. The Phillies opened the season with three ugly losses at home to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Philadelphia has started the season with the same questions that have persisted since the days when Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal were the great young hopes for an up-and-coming Phillies franchise. Charlie Manuel has still not figured out how to manage a pitching staff in the National League, correctly execute a double switch, or even put the best possible lineup on the field every day. Abreu still cannot hit his way out of a cardboard box in clutch situations. Burrell still waves at the ball as he swings, and can’t seem to get the bat off his shoulder in late innings.

Yet perhaps most damning to this season’s positive aspirations is the play of Lieberthal. Not only has the Phillies starting catcher had a direct hand in losing a game for this club, but his play seems to somehow taken a turn for the worse from his 2005 season in which he totaled just, 12 home run, 47 RBI and a batting average of .263. A microcosm of Lieberthal’s career of late was his game against St. Louis on April 5. Not only did Lieberthal go 1-for-4, he left two men in scoring position during the game and showed why he is quickly becoming one of the worst defensive catchers in the game. In the top of the ninth, Lieberthal attempted to throw out St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols at second base, and instead airmailed the throw into center field which led to the game-winning run when Scott Rolen drove in Pujols to make the final score 4-3. Never mind the fact that Lieberthal grounded out to first base on the second pitch of his bottom of the ninth at bat to end the game, leaving two men stranded; not exactly what a team wants out of its starting catcher.

Lieberthal aside, this ballclub needs to establish a winning attitude before its playoff hopes and dreams become the mirage of past years. It will take upgrades to the starting pitching staff, a competent manager being put in place, and a change of attitude for this team to be successful.

Until these changes are made, Phillies fans will have to watch as their team finishes out the closing acts of your typical horror film. You know, the ones where the good guy gets blown to bits as the villain reaps the spoils of his victim’s demise.

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