Many people (including me) thought that the Phillies weren't likely to make the playoffs this
season. Whether those previously documented digital thoughts hold true, or not, this late-season run has been very encouraging.
Offseason of uncertainty
We entered last offseason with thoughts of Ryan Howard's Achilles' surgery weighing heavily on our minds. But, it was cool to think about Jim Thome coming home and adding former Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to the bullpen mix.
Due to a variety of unfilled roster holes, hardcore fans were rightly nervous about how this season might play out before spring training even began. When the news about Chase Utley's knees flew in from Florida, dire thoughts formed in the minds of many.
The mental transition to being a fan of one of baseball's elite franchises hadn't been fully embraced by everyone in stands, which was understandable.
Let the detractors shout
We all know people who believe that they know everything about everything, including baseball.
Actually, there is no reason for the rest of us to live out our sporting lives. We simply should ask the 'baseball gods' how every era, playoff season, regular season, series, game, inning, and pitch is going to play out. Doing so would be such an efficient use of time and transfer the responsibility of enjoying the game to those who are clearly our intellectual superiors.
Getting back to reality, where most of us live, watching the Phillies this season has been a challenging task.
The balanced view
It's reasonable (and humble) to admit that we don't know if the Phillies are making a playoff push, if they will finish above .500, or if they might end the season in a way that isn't fulfilling.
Charlie Manuel, his staff, and these Phillies' boys of late-summer have been demonstrating that they still possess the 'intangibles' that are needed to win. That makes me hopeful for the future.
We don't know if this Philadelphia squad can remain resilient, or if the other teams who are currently around them in the Wild Card race (Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals) will collectively stumble down the stretch.
I've been a baseball fan for over thirty years and like most people, I played the game when I was young. I'm someone who was fortunate to hold a front office position within the Phillies' farm system. Most importantly, I have always enjoyed following this sport with many sharp family members and friends.
These life experiences allow me to appreciate the heart that everyone in the Phillies' organization has shown this season. I believe that the same is true for everyone who follows this team and loves the game.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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