Don Carmen, Steve Jeltz, Freddy Garcia, Sil Capusano, Gregg Jefferies, Lance Parrish and Danny Tartabull.
These are just some of the names Phillies fans in the 1980s and 1990s have had to hear suiting up for their team and yet for the most part they continued the team. Then team president Bill Giles saying that the team was a small-market one despite being in a top-five market (at the time) could have alienated some fans to leave the ballpark for good especially considering that the team was spending like a small market team. Still, those fans often supported even if a shower of boos for a player or play was involved. Please forgive the current Phillies fans for being especially ecstatic that their team is playing to make the World Series for the third time in three years. Having pitchers like Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels is something Phillies fans have seen the Yankees present so many years it is sickening so don’t blame the Phillies for being in a state of shock. Being a media favorite to win the 2010 World Series isn’t anything Phillies fans will get used to easy. Remember this is the team that was the first professional major sports team to reach 10,000 losses. This is the team that won it’s first World Series championship in 1980 after almost 100 years of being in existence (they were founded in 1883). There are many reasons that the Phillies are currently the best team in the baseball record-wise going into the playoffs and look to be competitive beyond this season. Here are a few of them: chemistry, being willing to spend, development of the farm system and talent. This team has players who support each other and in the end that can be better than a team of superstars because everyone seems to genuinely want each other to do well and they are willing to sacrifice for the team. Credit to former General Manager Pat Gillick and current GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. who have brought in players from different situations and given them an opportunity. Names like Jeyson Werth and Shane Victorino come to mind. These two players both spent time in the Dodgers organization but struggled with consistency and Werth in particular had a nagging wrist problem so they weren’t guaranteed to be anything. Other players who have come in and made an impact of some kind in the last handful of seasons include: Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, Pedro Martinez, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Chan Ho Park, Ross Gload, Pedro Feliz, Wilson Valdez and Matt Stairs among others. These players were pieces of a bigger puzzle and the plan was set from up above. The manager put in situations and the players made their mark. Choosing a manager was a consideration the team had to make after firing a hometown favorite Larry Bowa and the team despite many people choose to bring in Charlie Manuel despite the fans disgust at the time. Manuel’s decision-making in the National League, mannerisms and slow southern drawl was the seat of criticism at the beginning and it could have sent the administration back to the drawing board but with a few adjustments they gave Manuel what he needed to succeed. In turn, Manuel has done much better on and off the field and in time he’s made the city believers. Don’t call Charlie slow around that’s their Charlie and you can’t talk about him only Phillies can. This movement to popularity was very similar to the relationship between family members and the outside world. The team used to complain about the venue, Veterans’ Stadium and didn’t want to spend money until they moved. Thankfully the Phillies administration meant what they said and it actually started with the signing of Jim Thome before the Vet closed. Thome’s signing was a signal that the team wasn’t trying to take the fans money and simply put it in their pockets but understood the fan’s need for a winner. In the mid-2000s it also seemed that the public relations department started to be more fan friendly and it seemed to coincide with the hiring of Scott Palmer as Director of Public Affairs. A team that previously had people trying to boycott the team for lack of transparency has a team that seems to give transparency and credit to the fans at every chance it can get. I’m sure the 3.5 million fans coming to the park doesn’t hurt but it’s similar to how Philadelphia 76ers Team President Pat Croce came and made the team relevant (along with winning, Larry Brown and Allen Iverson). The team would have fans with all of the culture changes but lets not forget the team has talent and wins and that solves most problems. Credit to Ed Wade not only for giving the team Brad Lidge and Oswalt through what many would consider long-term if not lopsided trades but for not trading the team’s future in Ryan Howard, Hamels and Chase Utley when fans were clamoring for the team to make some moves at the deadline. His (and the team’s) stubbornness about not riding themselves of the future prospects for the now has paid off. On the flipside, credit the team for being willing to trade prospects, which speaks to the development of the once in the dumps farm system, to bring in Cliff Lee, Halladay and now Oswalt. You can’t pull some of the moves the Phillies have off if you don’t have talent in the minors. The team has given up middle to high prospects for All-Star talent and the results are displayed on the field. Oswalt’s signing, in particular, was a great move because it came on the heels of the Phillies brain trust saying they thought the pitching staff was good enough so they did not need Lee to pair with Halladay. The Oswalt move signaled an admission of a mistake and that they were trying to win while the stove was hot no matter how their egos could have been bruised. Since the 2008 World Series won the team has brought in Raul Ibanez in 2008 to replace Pat Burrell and last off-season brought back contact hitting and gold glove fielding Placido Polanco from Detroit to replace the stellar defensive third baseman Pedro Feliz. They also resigned their core players including Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Howard, Utley and Hamels. The only player of significance not resigned yet is Jeyson Werth who is free to negotiate after the playoffs is over. This team now keeps great to good players and fills holes instead overpaying and making due as the team has in the past. This era of Phillies baseball is the best of the franchise history whether they win this year or not but don’t tell the fans that because high expectations are here now and they want another parade!