Sports

What Happened to the Phillies? A breakdown of Philadelphia’s baseball drought

     If you have grown up in the Philadelphia area  and enjoy baseball like I do, you may have looked forward to when the Philadelphia Phillies played to try to go for the W. Enjoying the Phillies may not be worthwhile right now due to the team’s recent struggles. Almost a decade ago, the Phillies were having great success, which included winning the elusive World Series title eight years ago. Success does not come easy, especially with the Phillies. With a club that has more than 10,000 career losses in franchise history, one could think that this team was not historically successful. Let me give you reasons that downplay that pessimism and actually name some accomplishments that the team achieved before their recent decline.

     The Philadelphia Phillies came into existence back in 1883. It was not a good first year for them, as they won only 17 games and lost 81. For the better part of two decades, failure seemed to overshadow the success. However, that all changed in 1911 when Grover Cleveland Alexander came to the Phillies and, with his leadership as a pitcher, the Phillies captured their first National League Pennant. They faced the Boston Red Sox that year in the World Series and lost in five games. After 1915, the Phillies would had to wait 35 years to play in the World Series again, this time facing the powerful New York Yankees who swept them in four games. The Phillies would not reach the playoffs again until the mid-‘70s. In 1976, the Phillies achieved the success that they longed for. Every year except 1979 before the turn of the decade, the Eastern Division Championship of the National League belonged to the Phillies, but the Phils failed to reach the Fall Classic all of those years. But then came 1980, the year Phillies fans had been waiting for. After a regular season where they beat out the Montreal Expos for the division title, after the Houston Astros gave Philly their all, the Phillies were back in the World Series for the first time in 30 years. But one thing was still missing: a World Series title. In six games they won their first world title. They would return to the World Series in 1983 and 1993 and lose both series. The success reached a level not felt since 1980, when Philly captured their second World Series title. Then, the drought happened, and the Phillies did not make the playoffs again until 2007.

     Then the fall happened, and here we stand. The big question that is before us is what happened to the Phillies? Well, there are three possible explanations. First, when players get older, they tend to be unreliable and take away from the team rather contributing. A great example of this was pitcher Brad Lidge, who in 2008 was perfect in save opportunities and then the following year had 11 blown saves added to his record, eventually getting traded a couple of years later. Second, the management was changing a lot, and new people had to take positions when a few of them retired. Third, a city like Philadelphia loves a winner, so when the Phillies played below .500 for the first time since 2006, manager Charlie Manuel was fired so a new face could lead the team and change the culture. As the saying goes, “Out with the old, in with the new.” With all of these factors, the Phillies are still not getting the W. Hopefully it is only a matter of time before the Phillies are back on top.

     Sources: baseball-almanac.com, ESPN

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