Outta’ Right Field: Different year, very different team

By Kevin Durso
August 29, 2012

For five years, baseball ruled the sports world in Philadelphia. It’s safe to say that after five straight division titles, two pennants and a World Series title, no one saw this type of season coming for the Phillies.

Every season, the expectations grow higher for a team more committed to winning. After setting a franchise record in wins in 2011 with a 102-60 record, the Phillies had the highest expectations of any season in franchise history.

After a slow start to the season, something not uncommon even during this golden era in Phillies’ history, the results didn’t change.

The Phillies kept losing games and, with that, losing ground in the standings.

For some fans, the thought of not playing in the Postseason didn’t sink in until the trade deadline when two fan favorites were traded away. For others, it didn’t sink in until a record-setting sell-out streak ended at Citizens Bank Park. For the die-hards, it won’t sink in until the Phillies are officially eliminated sometime in September.

Whatever category you fall into, you were just as blindsided as the rest. This is not the type of year the Phillies or their fans envisioned. And for all of the struggles they have endured this season, it should be noted that this is far from the same team that won the hearts of Philadelphia years ago.

The Phillies began this magical ride in 2007 but it was the 2008 team that won over the city by winning. The first team to claim a championship for a Philadelphia team in 25 years was instantly placed on a pedestal simply for becoming champions.

But from that 2008 team, only five players remain today. The core of Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins is still present. One of the unsung heroes who moved to the spotlight, Carlos Ruiz, is the only other player from the 2008 team still on the roster.

This is what made the trade deadline this July so hard to watch. When Shane Victorino was traded, it was another piece of the 2008 puzzle watching his Phillies’ career end.

The sad reality is that times have changed. The Phillies are no longer the elite of baseball. They have been upstaged.

I’ve always believed that the defending champion is the best team there is in any league or division until someone else comes along and dethrones them. This is the Phillies’ time to be dethroned. It’s just that I, like many others, wish it didn’t have to happen this way.

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Kevin Durso

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