There was once a movie, a political thriller, called “Seven Days in May” about a fictional coup to overthrow the government by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Philadelphia Phillies could pretty much base their season film on the next 20 days starting in May and, while the stakes aren’t nearly as high as the fictional movie described above, this is a real-life drama that could determine both their long- and short-term futures.
That’s because the team plays 20 games in 20 days (how about “20 Games in 20 Days” as a working title?) and, if the Phillies come out with a winning record by then, they could be in the race to stay, at least for a wild-card spot. If they tread along at three games under .500, where they are now, by the middle of June there’s a good chance they will be swimming upstream the rest of the summer.
If the Phillies can somehow get hot enough to go over .500 in a division many consider winnable, then they can start to make a list and check it twice against their needs by the trade deadline that might get them over the hump. If not, they can do what the Philadelphia 76ers are doing—tear down and rebuild again.
Whatever happens, a three-game series starting at the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night gives the Phils a chance to get this 20-game swing off to a good start. After that, the team returns to Philadelphia for an 11-game homestand. The Marlins series will be a chance to see if some rejuvenated hitting is for real or a mirage. The Marlins won’t be an easy foe, since they are 17-5 at home this season, but they are a team the Phillies have swept in an earlier series.
The Phillies’ next day off is on June 9 and by then, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will know whether to make a list of players he should cross off the roster or add on to it. Not quite the stakes of overthrowing the government, but at least it’s not fiction.