I owe the Phillies a collective apology. They aren't dead. Far from it. These guys have had more resurrections in them than a host of Sunday morning televangelists and they've managed their miracles with a cast of fill-ins, cast-offs, third-stringers and veterans. Whatever else plays out, one cannot help like these guys. No big egos. No bickering. No disgruntled players riding the bench. Heck, the only one who admitted to being pissed off was Brett Myers, who complained about the music played to introduce him when he came in to toss a scoreless, triple-K ninth last night against the Marlins.
It all makes you wonder what if Garcia hadn't arrived as damaged goods and Howard, Victorino, Gordon, Myers, Lieber, Bourn and Utley hadn't gone down with injuries. Through it all the Phils are only one game behind Wild Card leader San Diego and four games in back of the Mets in the NL East.
Let it also be known the fans have noticed. Attendance has soared this season with the Phils averaging more than 38,000 per game, up from 31,000 +/- a year ago. Heck, it's downright hard to get a ticket these days. Don't think the players haven't noticed the support. The Phils have won nine of their last eleven at home. Last season they barely played above .500 at the Bank.
More than 30,000 brave souls showed up last night against the Marlins and the temperature at game time was still in the '90's. The Marlins must have walked out on the field and literally felt they were still in South Florida as the humidity hovered around fully saturated. Dontrelle Willis went through two jerseys by the fourth inning. Everyone was stepping out and wiping his brow. It was brutal even if you stood still. (The temperature never fell below 80 degrees in the wee hours of the morning, nearly matching the record in Philadelphia for highest low, 82 degrees, set in 2001.)
Once again Aaron Rowand was the hero as he hit his eighteenth home run of the season, a two-run shot that provided the winning margin. The silence coming out of his camp and the Phillies' front office is ominous. It looks more and more like he is departing.