Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Potential Mets-Like Choke?

With the elimination of Tulane from the NCAA Baseball Tournament, the Green Wave sports’ season came to an end. Frank Helps You Think It All Out took a short break from providing insight- but now we’ll kill time until kick-off agonizing through the Phillies’ summer.

Pre-season, I put the Phillies at 89 wins. I am inclined to stick with that number- to wit, they’re pretty good, but winning the division ultimately rests on the Braves, Mets or Marlins being unable to get over the 90-win hump. With the Braves and Mets being disappointments so far, and the Philadelphia pitching really being a complete marvel health-wise, you might be able to tick the Phillies number up a hair.

The Marlins are still a pesky bunch- but the Mets and Braves need a multiple week stretch of the Phillies treading water at .500, coupled with decent play from themselves, to cut their games back number in half. Thus, we witness the rock around the park attitude the Phillies have been generating: the abounding sell-outs and good karma- all from Philadelphia fans!

Me? I’m still nervous. Lose this afternoon’s game to Boston- and that is three straight series losses. The Angles come in here next, followed by a never easy trip out west (Texas, Oakland), back on the road to Atlanta, and a huge hard homestand: Mets, Cards, Diamondbacks. That sequence ends July 13.

So the period June 13-July 13 is a tough one. They’re already below .500 for the span (2 up, 3 down)- and it is hard to see the Phillies churning out something above .500 for that one month span. Which, as above, is the one thing that will keep the injured Braves and ennui-filled Mets hanging around. Mind you, I'm not pessimistic; I realize the dog-days of summer are all about playing a stretch of sixty games with a degree of aimlessness. But I'm more worried about five games melting off their lead now than September.

If, on July 13th, they have a three game lead, five over the Mets, they’ll be a huge way to getting it done. Post all-star break it is division game after division game- and right now, they are the best team in NL East. But this next month is nervy and tricky.