So there you have it, the Phils missed the playoffs…again. That it was only be the slimmest of margins should offer no recourse – this season was a failure. But you say, oh there are so many positive notes going into next season like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and maybe even Burrell and Rollins or oh, the club showed a lot of character in the final months; you can take all those silver linings and shove ’em. I repeat this season was a failure – period. When you have the 5th highest payroll in baseball it also comes with the realistic expectation of making the playoffs. Ed Wade repeatedly said this was a ‘playoff caliber team’ and Charlie Manuel said 88 wins would make the playoffs. Both were wrong, not almost right.
Don’t get me wrong, the team certainly shares the blame as well. Losing 6 out of 6 games to a real ‘playoff caliber team’ like Houston will almost certainly guarantee missing the playoffs, especially when you find yourself looking up at them in the Wild Card standings.
But if you really want to split hairs and mitigate the lack of the playoffs for the eleventh straight year, you should start by picking any one of the games the Phillies lost due to a stupid decision either by a player or manager. These small mistakes are the ones that need to be fixed: base running decisions, personnel moves, discipline at the plate. This is what adds up and makes or breaks a season. The Phils have talent, maybe not $95 million dollars worth of it as they should, but it’s not like there’s a crappy team out there. These guys are professionals and should accomplish the work assigned to them. There are no excuses for mistakes but learning from them is imperative.
So save all the “sure they didn’t make the playoffs, but…” points for January and February of 2006. Let’s not look ahead to next year quite yet. Everyone needs to spend some time and continue to focus on the 2005 season. There are plenty of lessons to learn and several of them are painfully apparent. For instance, plate discipline is crucial, there were far too many strikeouts for the team and not enough working the pitcher. It was a long season filled with issues such as this – a quick perusal of the archives can prove that point.
Therefore, remember the Phillies missed the playoffs again this year. So before you read the entire Inquirer section dedicated to the Eagles game, take a moment to be disappointed and angry over the Phillies. Remember, everyone at the Phils organization still gets paid win or lose, thus only for the fans is failure not an option.