The Philadelphia Phillies are 16-21 and they’re playing on a slippery slope. If things don’t change soon, they will spiral downward and find themselves out of contention long before September arrives.
Like many baseball franchises, they need a boost in talent and a shot of on-field and in-the-clubhouse leadership. A perfect example of this was the resurgence of the San Francisco Giants when Hunter Pence arrived from Philadelphia in the middle of last season and became the dynamic spark they needed.
Although not a prototypical leader, Pence rose to the occasion and put the team on his back. Even though his stretch run, pre-game oratories were a bit rough and unpolished, the energy and enthusiasm were genuine. The Giants latched on to his vision of a World Series trophy and they made it happen.
Without Pence, the story in San Francisco would almost assuredly have turned out differently. The Phillies need a Hunter Pence to take on a leadership role. In Chase Utley they have that person.
However, as much as Utley could inspire the Phillies, he’s not the kind of player to stir his colleagues with visions of parades down Broad Street. His introverted nature is one that doesn’t seek the limelight. Don’t be confused. He has the talent and possesses the ability. It’s just not him.
Apparently, it’s no one else either. Jimmy Rollins could move this team, but chooses to act “cool” instead of getting in the trenches — he could, but he won’t. Ryan Howard might be able to provide some inspiration, but he’s a bit like Utley: loud bat when he makes contact, but a quiet, unassuming player when faced with the challenge of motivating others.
Michael Young has often been characterized as a great leader and solid in the clubhouse. Probably true, but he hasn’t grabbed the reins and taken on a leadership role for his teammates to follow.
There’s a quote in the Bible that says, “where there is no vision, the people perish…” How true. In the Phillies case, it’s not the people who will perish, but a team that will come to a premature end in the 2013 season unless the leadership void is filled.