On Wednesday afternoon ESPN.com Senior writer, Jayson Stark, joined 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli and the two had what I believe to be the preeminent conversation regarding the Phillies recent history and wondered how fans would handle the end of this great era:
Stark: “The next era is coming, how soon it arrives is up to these guys (Rollins, Howard, etc).”
Missanelli: “How will the fans react to an era of lower proportions than what we’ve been through?”
Stark: “…I can’t tell you where this is leading. There’s still a lot of affection for this team, but when you have a generation of guys who won, who knew how to win, who just captured the hearts of the fan base, the next generation is not going to be the same. They’ve traded away too many guys, and surrendered too many picks to have that group-in-waiting. And so uness they make a bunch of tremendous trades, there is going to be a period of watching the Nationals and Braves do their thing. And the Mets have actually built a nice little foundation too. You won’t see it this year, but its coming.”
Missanelli: “Here’s the question then, did the Phillies do it wrong?”
Stark: “If I had asked you five years ago – they’re going to win one World Series, and then they’re going to do whatever it takes to try to win one or two or three more, wouldn’t you have advised them to do that?”
Stark: “And that’s what they did. I’ve asked other General Managers about this all the time, Mike. And they say this is what you’re supposed to do. You don’t get that many opportunities with a team like this and a group like this, and so you max-out, and you try to win. They won a World Series; they got back to a second World Series; the year after that they had the best team in baseball and just didn’t win in October because they had the wrong matchup. Then they faced the Cardinals- another bad matchup. They had a chance to win two or three or four, it’s hard to win those. If you keep making those trades and you keep giving up those choices, somebody drops the bill in the mail, and the bill is arriving now. This is the price they are paying.”
Immediately following the triumphant 2008 season it was almost unfathomable to think that the Phillies wouldn’t win at least one more World Series in the years ahead. The majority of the team was still under contract, including past MVP’s Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. We had blossoming stars in Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and Carlos Ruiz, and once they started making trades for Cy Young Award winners like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, it was time to sit back and watch our home team collect one World Series trophy after another. Or at least that was the plan.
Regardless of how the upcoming season turns out, I know that these have been the greatest years of Phillies baseball that I will ever see. Whatever happens with the expiring contracts of Halladay, Ruiz, and Utley, I promise to move forward as a fan with whichever players take the field. I vow to root for the name of the front of the jersey, regardless of the name on the back. I wish for nothing more than to see another string of NL East titles, and a World Series parade, but even if that doesn’t happen, I will always look back fondly and give the Phillies organization credit for going all-in to chase that elusive 3rd World Series crown.
Lets all be sure to enjoy this season and whatever fun it brings, because there’s a chance this great ride could be coming to an end in the not-too-distant future.