By Manda Getz (@PhiSportsPanda)
“Opening Day” is quite possibly the second best phrase in the English language after “pitchers and catchers report.” I have to say in my twenty-four and a half years as a Philadelphia fan I have never been this excited for a regular season game. This team, over the last three or so seasons, has brought several images to mind – most of them involve Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine.” Many fans, myself included, are hoping and even praying that this team could do something no other team in the city could even come close to. Can the Phillies turn a string of good luck into something more? Can this team be a dynasty in the making?
Are the Phils we watch every day good enough to be put in the same category with the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees who at one time in their respective history defined what our favorite D word is all about? We the fans say “Hell yes! We deserve this!” To that I say get ready for an awesome ride, Philly.
Taking into account everything I’ve learned both from watching baseball, talking to my father (a coach) and a close family friend (a Mets top prospect until a career ending injury), I feel more and more comfortable using that “dynasty” word. I’m not saying go out and preorder your World Series tickets for the next ten years; my view on the definition of that word is a team that raises the bar every season. For me, while I would love to say my team has six Commissioner’s Trophies in a decade, they don’t need to do that to be considered the dominating machine that were previous teams now infamous in baseball history.
First and foremost we can be proud of our team. This isn’t just some two-year fluke that our beloved boys in pinstripes happened to fall into. The core of this group are home-grown, gritty players who the fans love. Pending some amazingly stupid moves (that won’t happen… or at least I hope we’re past that) from the front office, the talent is here to stay. Which brings me to the point of this post.
Roy Halladay has made his first appearance for the Phillies. He trotted out of the clubhouse with all his “best pitcher in the league” glory trailing behind him, and he lived up to it. His line for the day was phenomenal on top of all the fireworks the offense had for us. By the time you read this, most of you will probably know that line by heart, and if not you at least know the basics of it. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know how I felt about giving up Cliff Lee, who was our rock down the stretch and into November, for Roy, especially considering the trouble he seemed to be having in his last handful of starts for ’09. In fact, I will admit that I’m still on the fence about him and will be for at least a few weeks.
Yes, yes. I know what his numbers and opposing batters all say about him, and I’ve seen his stuff and what he does to the guys at the plate. I won’t deny that he is one of the top five pitchers of this age. What I want to see is how he gels with the rest of the team.
I sat down the other night and read the multi-page spread Sports Illustrated ran on him, and if you haven’t already you should do the same. It’s an extremely well written piece that shows you a good glimpse of the man behind the arm. Reading that write-up told me a few things about this new guy we’re looking forward to seeing every day, and the thing I like the most is how hard he works.
He has a workout routine that could put some Olympic athletes to shame, and the fact that he has the drive to stick to it is even more impressive. Obviously, I’m talking myself into like him faster than I had anticipated, but holy crap, really? With Jamie Moyer most likely out of the rotation by the middle of the season, and the fact that we’re not quite sure where he’ll end up if his numbers aren’t as good or better than ’08, Roy will be the veteran guy that I want to see talking up the young pitchers.
The one I’d love to hear him working with the most of course is Cole Hamels. I’m not sure about everyone else but before every start I begin wondering which Cole we’ll see on the mound, WFC MVP or Princess Cole-ita. His seemingly bi-polar starts are mind-boggling and his post-game interviews even more so. The absolute one thing that I believe needs to be done is that Doc needs to sit His (or Her depending on how you feel) Highness Cole down and give him a what-for about being a professional and doing what you need to do to earn what you’re paid.
Of course, I could be wrong in all of this, and you all may think I’m crazy. It’s okay, I’m used to that too, people tell me I’m crazy all the same. Either way I’d love to see what you’ve got to say! Discuss in the comments, agree disagree, and debate! I love to hear it!
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