Given up for dead, and rightfully so, in this space and elsewhere, the Phillies have mildly surprised the faithful by winning three straight series from teams likely to make the post-season.
Don't get your hopes up, faithful.
This modest streak comes on the heels of the following developments:
1. Their number two pitcher is lost for the remainder of the season by July.
2. Their number one slugger is flirting with the Mendoza line.
3. Their manager has angered rookies and veterans alike by his quick hook or lack of playing time.
4. Their GM only recently allowed for the possibility that his team, on a pace to lose 90 games, would not make the post-season.
Make no mistake about it, this modest streak will be halted shortly (perhaps as early as tonight) when the Phils start losing to teams with losing records.
More than a few pundits who get paid to write about the Phillies have raised alarm bells about the discontent simmering in the clubhouse. When rookies and under-performers complained about the manager, some of this pundits advised the youngsters to shut up and put up, not necessarily in that order. When veteran star Cole Hamels stormed off the mound, however, these same pundits began wondering whether or not the problem rested in the manager's office.
It's difficult to really measure Ryne Sandberg's performance given the crappy team his was furnished, but one conclusion is emerging: a player who gave his all and made the Hall of Fame as a result is not likely to be impressed by or care much for anything but what happens between the lines. Show him the performance, and then and only then can we assign some blame.