It’s 2022, but it feels like 2021, 2020, 2019, and every year since 2011. The Philadelphia Phillies organization is breaking us again. They’re absolutely imploding before our eyes, and a sweep at the hands of the lowly Chicago Cubs has them in a dead heat for the final wild card position in the National League with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers aren’t world beaters, but right now, the 2022 Phillies are a get beat by the world team. They’re not out of the race, but someone should probably remind them of that, because they’re certainly playing like they’ve already been eliminated. It was a must win game in the series finale at Wrigley, and, of course, the Phillies were shut out by a rookie pitcher with 27 innings of experience and no picture on ESPN.com. The worst part is that this year, the Phillies were good enough that we actually believed that it was different. From here going forward, I don’t know how a fan of this team can believe again.
Maybe, if you’re one of the more optimistic among us, you think that statement is a bit dramatic. Make the playoffs or not, this team will be altered and hopefully improved this offseason by Dave Dombrowski. There will be new names, perhaps new stars, and the goal is to put an even more competitive team on the field, but that was what this organization sold the fan base on this year. And frankly, they should have. This team is every bit of talented enough to be a playoff team, and the players are getting paid to reflect that, but the results just aren’t there down the stretch. How could a team that looked so good in June and July look like they don’t deserve to sniff the playoffs in September? It’s baffling, but it’s familiar. It feels like the baseball equivalent of a magic trick; you know what the end result is going to be, but no matter how many times you see it, you can’t figure out how it’s possible.
Well, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for 11 years, shame on me. If the Phillies end up collapsing out of the playoffs again, it will most likely make them the owners of the longest playoff drought in Major League Baseball. That’s going to be a really hard sell to a fan base next year, regardless of who the front office brings in to try and remedy the problem. Citizens Bank Park is already a ghost town relative to other playoff competitors; how does that change with yet another playoff collapse? God only knows, but I don’t think it’ll lead to HIGHER attendance numbers. And how long do the effects of what feels like a betrayal last? Baseball owns July and August, but it’s getting harder and harder to care about the Phillies past that point as the playoff drought grows. I’m not sure that even backing into the playoffs at this point saves them from the ire of the fan base, but it would at least give them a selling point. One thing’s for sure, though: this Philadelphia Phillies team is collapsing right before our eyes. We know, we’ve seen it plenty of times before.