Balls, Sticks, & Stuff
8/06/2004
 
Put Away the Green and White
Sometimes during the course of a round of golf, you hit some crooked shots and try and fix them on the course, often to no avail. Following a glass of sweet tea or a beer in the grill after the round, you head, to the practice range and try and get to the bottom of those crooked shots, sure that there must be a quick fix. Wrong. Before you know what's happened, you can't get the ball airborne. I haven't consulted Bob Rotella on such matters, but I am positive that the best term for this is "paralysis by analysis" a state where you've lost all sense of objectivity and you are lost and rudderless. Then, hopefully, you have the sense to use someone else as "another set of eyes" so to speak, someone that knows what they are looking for in a swing, either a good amateur or a club pro. Inevitably, a quick fix is all that was needed, and you are back to hitting the ball the way you should.

What's the moral of the story? Sometimes a little objectivity can go a long way. In that light it was refreshing, initially, to read Scott Miller's column this morning on Sportsline.com. It's one of the few stories recently that has been presented about the Phillies from a non-Philadelphia based media outlet or the blogosPHere, and so therefore, it had a sense of objectivity to it - an outsider looking in and not rudderless and adrift in the same sea we who follow the Phillies are adrift in.

The majority of the piece was about the trials and tribulations of Larry Bowa and his Phillies. The injury bug is touched on, listing all of the significant players that have spend time on the disabled list. Many of the same player and manager quotes that we have heard time and gain were repeated for the sake of those who don't scan Philly.com for every last Phillies morsel. We see the Rheal Cormier "pins and needles" quote, the "relaxed' doesn't exist in Philadelphia" quote from Roberto Hernandez, and of course obligatory "I don't worry about it anymore" line from Bowa. But Miller then brings this train of thought together:
"Bottom line, here's the thing about the Phillies and their manager's temper: If the players collectively are too soft to handle Bowa day in and day out, is this unit really built for October, anyway?"
And if Miller had published these thoughts Monday or even yesterday, I might have gone right along with him, "He's right, this team has no heart, no soul, they aren't cut out for big things. Who cares if Bowa's a jerk, these guys can't come through when they need to." But he didn't, he published them today after the Phillies - with their backs firmly against the wall - had swept a good Padres team, a performance that had heart and soul. Marlon Byrd, Chase Utley, and Doug Glanville came through in the clutch repeatedly with good hitting and defense throughout the series and when Kevin Millwood went down to injury after just two innings Thursday night Brian Powell (of all people) came through with three good innings to bridge the gap to the more heralded members of the bullpen.

And so hopefully, like the hack that figures a way to straighten out his slice on his own despite seemingly unsurmountable paralysis by analysis, the Phillies are learning how to win before it is too late, injuries and bad clubhouse atmosphere be damned.

Is this sense of optimism too high? Possibly. An increasingly contagious injury bug and a surging Chicago Cubs team in the wild card race may just be too much to overcome. But if you prefer to see the glass as half full, you'll see that the upcoming Phillies opponents in August are some of the weaker teams in the league and Vicente Padilla will soon be back from the DL.

My bottom line: Don't get out your green and white just yet.



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