Phillies give up playoff bid

By John Fennell
October 6, 2006

The Philadelphia Phillies’ bid for a playoff bid officially ended Saturday, Sept. 29 when the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 4-2. Despite beating the Florida Marlins 4-3, the Phils ran out of games and will end out of the playoffs for the 13th straight year.

Since the All-Star break the Phillies had the third best record in the Majors. By the trade deadline Aug. 1, the team’s front office had given up making the playoffs. General Manager Pat Gillick even went so far as to say the team might not even be competitive till 2008. His comments did not sit well with the fans. While at the time they were true they sounded like the general manager was giving up on the team.

Then something strange happened. After the trade deadline, they started to win. The team traded its best player right fielder Bobby Abreu, to the New York Yankees for minor league players as well as four other players from the opening day roster. Second baseman Chase Utley got hot and went on a 35-game hit streak. Correspondingly the team went from 5 and one half games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the wild card lead to leading the wild card going into the final week of the season.

What is now becoming a common occurrence, the city of Philadelphia began to believe that this team might actually make the playoffs. To many there seemed to be something different this year. When asked even students who do not usually follow the Phillies knew about their surge toward the playoffs. Senior Matt Caso has attended 35 games this year and thinks the difference is rookie starting pitcher Cole Hamels who, after the All-Star break went 7-4 with 101 strikeouts in 87 2/3 innings

Utley’s hit streak and Hamels maturation were not the only things to help the Phils make a playoff push. First baseman Ryan Howard has followed up his rookie of the year season with one that has him in serious contention for Most Valuable Player. He is hitting .313 with 58 homeruns and 149 runs batted in. He is first in the majors in homeruns and RBIs by large margins.

During the month of August he had his best month while keeping his team in the playoff hunt, he had 14 homeruns 41 RBIs and batted .348. Manager Charlie Manuel said “He’s tremendous. The only thing he’s got to do is do the same thing he’s been doing every day for the four years I’ve seen him, and he’ll keep on getting better.”

Utley, Howard and Hamels helped the Phillies get close to the playoffs as well as make names for themselves this year. The Phillies end up three games out of the wild card but they did when everyone else had written them off. This year is over and once again we end up saying wait till next year.

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John Fennell

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