Philadelphia Phillies Can Only Benefit From Motivation That Sub-.500 Season Provides

By Marilee Gallagher
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies need to win 11 games to finish the season with a .500 record. They have 13 remaining.

While there is still an outside, one-in-a-million shot that the Phillies will finish with a .500 record, the city is more likely going to have to accept the team’s worst season of baseball since 2002. Longtime fans should have no trouble moving on from this, but those new to the game might find it hard to let go. After all, the Phillies still are just six seasons removed from winning the World Series.

And because of recent years and the success they have brought, Philadelphia fans have become spoiled. Winning was the norm, not the exception; and the playoffs? They had become somewhat of a foregone conclusion. But as everyone quickly learned, success is in fact fleeting. The window had just barely been opened, but just like that, it was closed.

2008 has become more of a distant memory than it is something to build upon. Talks of a potential dynasty are long dead and the team, the city and its fans are really just holding on to hopes for one more run. It may be grasping at straws, but as long as there is hope, seasons like 2013 don’t seem like as much of a failure.

But when it comes down to it, that is exactly what 2013 has been and whether the team finishes at, below or even above. 500, that won’t change. In fact, at this point, it would be in the Phillies’ best interest to not finish at the .500 mark. That is not to advocate that this team intentionally loses games, but rather to make a point that sometimes, it is only when you hit your lowest point that you can begin to rebuild.

The Phillies have had a lot of ups and downs this season, but finishing below .500 would be the most crushing. But like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, the Phillies would be able to build off of this and use it to motivate them. Most of the players on this team, unlike the longtime fans, have never experienced a sub-.500 season in their playing career. It is probably fair to say that they certainly weren’t prepared for 2013 to go in this direction.

There is a silver lining though — the fact that this season is going to leave a bitter taste in the players’ mouths. They know what happened. Their commitment to the game was questioned, desire to win missing and play lackluster. They got their manager fired, failed to draw crowds and helped fans to remember that 2008 was not yesterday.

2014 is a chance for redemption though, and the players will want it even more if the 2013 record reflects the storyline.

If the Phillies were to miraculously finish at the .500 mark, however, it means the team would have to win 11 of their last 13. That would be an incredible stretch and one that would obviously have the players feeling better about the 2013 campaign. There is a chance complacency would set in as players falsely come to the conclusion that because of the .500 record, the season wasn’t “that bad.”

That is the worst thing that could happen at this point, as there is no doubt the Phillies need the motivation that only a failing season can provide. In the end, this will only make their 2014 better.

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