Balls, Sticks, & Stuff
Dues and Don'ts
Several weeks ago I pointed to an article in the New York Times that touched on the history of teams making the playoffs when down by "X" amount of games on July 31st and the bottom line was that the Phillies needed to get their act in gear. In today's Philadelphia Inquirer, Todd Zolecki runs a similar piece:

The Atlanta Braves had an eight-game lead over the Phillies entering last night. Chicago, San Diego and San Francisco - in a three-way tie for the wild-card lead - had a 41/2-game lead.

Since 1963, just 11 of 158 playoff teams (7 percent) have overcome deficits of at least 41/2 games on Aug. 16 to make the postseason. The Phillies were involved in two of those races.

In 1980, Pittsburgh had a 41/2-game lead over the Phillies in the NL East. The Phillies went 31-18 on their way to winning the World Series. In 1964, the Phillies had a nine-game lead over St. Louis. The Cardinals went 31-14, the Phillies finished 22-25.

In one of Bob Rotella's books, he discusses the concept of a player feeling he is "due". He recommends that a golfer who has not been making many putts should approach putting in a similar manner as a basketball player he once interviewed. In a particular game the basketball player - who was generally a great shooter - finished with a horrific shooting percentage for that particular game. Rotella asked the player why he continued to throw up shots even though it was obvious he did not have his touch that day. The player replied, "because I was due."

The Phillies have to believe they are "due". They've been saddled with a coaching staff that is just not working out and they've been decimated by injuries. Most of primary teams the Phillies have been competing with have all been playing quite well. Misfortune has been around every corner. If the Phillies are going to turn things around, they have to begin to believe they are due, that the Braves or Giants or Padres are going to come back to the earth, that there won't be any more injuries (Bell and Thome return this evening), and that the clutch hitting just has to improve.

Mr. Lieberthal, do not read this morning's Inquirer and grab a Bob Rotella book. Please.

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