This might be the forlorn look of a man who’s lost his best friend. Or, it could be the face of someone whose team, according to some, has just been eliminated from the 2013 NL East pennant race. And this, after playing just one game.
Obviously, the man is Charlie Manuel manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. His team lost its opening game of the season to division rival Atlanta Braves. For some fans, the remaining 161 games need not be played — the season’s over.
If you take the pulse of Phillie nation since that loss, you’ll find it beating weakly. And, the life that’s still pumping blood is devoted to denigrating everyone from General Manager Reuben Amaro Jr. to the Phillie Phanatic to the usher in Section 139.
The list of culprits is extensive. In fact, Manuel may be wearing sunglasses as a self-protective disguise.
It’s interesting to note that the City of Brotherly Love sometimes falls woefully short on the love part of the title. Instead, they tend to focus on the “Brotherly” part assuming it somehow justifies the in-family disagreements, name-calling, and outright anger evidenced by fan blog posts.
Phillie fans have short memories. Sometimes that’s good. In this case — not.
For example, forgetting that ex-Washington National pitcher John Lannan, in 2007, hit both Chase Utley (breaking Utley’s hand) and Ryan Howard on the next pitch, is a good thing.
Especially now that Lannan is designated as the Phillies’ fifth starter, it’s a very good thing.
On the other hand, forgetting the Phillie’s prophetic comeback to win the NL East division title, in 2007, is a less-than-good thing. Not only did Jimmy Rollins boldly predict this result before the season began, but backed it up by winning the MVP award.
Remembering how fortunes can change during a season is essential to fans’ good mental health. Teams that seem invincible on paper at the beginning of the schedule often fade by the All-Star break.
Likewise, teams considered to have no chance at postseason play do the inconceivable and cruise into October. The ingredient that makes the difference? Desire to win, and the conviction to make it happen.
It’s trite, but true. One (or two, or three, or four…) game does not a season make, or break. Phillie fans are knowledgeable, unquestionably loyal, and at times, boisterous. The one element they often lack is a belief that good things will happen.
Phillie players will admit that much of their success comes from the ardent backing of those in the stands at Citizen’s Bank Park; and from loyal fans who journey to other parks.
In 2013 the ingredients are there for a championship run. The recipe for a winning season, however, always includes a heaping dose of fan support.