The Philadelphia Phillies are going to sit and watch Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 24, like 27 other baseball teams. Phillies fans like myself were once used to this, but we got spoiled in 2008 and 2009 by reaching the World Series. Yet in just three years, Philadelphia is back to the point where missing the Fall Classic isn't surprising anymore - but at least it isn't like its 2009 opponent right now.
Both the Phillies and New York Yankees have fallen pretty far from when they faced off for a championship three years ago . Each club is now suddenly old, banged up, bloated with expensive contracts, devoid of real offensive sparks and can't deliver on pitching anymore. Of course, the Yankees can still make the playoffs and get to a league championship series - although they didn't really show up in the one against the Detroit Tigers.
In looking at both the Phillies and the Yankees, it would seem obvious that New York is in better shape. After all, New York just won the AL East and won a playoff round, while Philadelphia missed its first October since 2006. However, the Yankees' humiliating sweep at the hands of the Tigers shows how they are really in the same straits as the Phillies.
Philadelphia is barely hanging onto the glory days of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and more aging stars. Over in New York, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez and more have also frozen up due to aging, poorer play, injury or all of the above. And while the Phillies are stuck with an overly expensive Howard for the next several years, the Yankees may have gotten desperate to break themselves from Rodriguez's $100 million albatross.
The Phillies and Yankees could conceivably have one last run in them next season. But the Phillies are running out of time to get any production from their aging bats and arms. What's more, with the Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and more packing up the Nat ional League elite, there may not be any room for Philadelphia anymore.
For the Yankees, their fate next year is tied to Jeter and Rivera's recoveries, as well as the status of Rodriguez. Even if they get these internal problems fixed, the Tigers, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics have made the American League more crowded.
Time, aging and leagues that have caught up to them have made the Phillies and Yankees dinosaurs. It was just three years ago today that they were on top of the world - and seemed destined to have more than one World Series showdown in them. But none of them have been back since, and at this point, it may be a long time until either of them return.
As the baseball world outside of Detroit and San Francisco watches Game 1 of the World Series with envy, New York and Philadelphia will watch with more bitterness. It wasn't too long ago that the Phillies and Yankees were in this position - but with the way these last three years have gone for both of them, it feels more like a lifetime ago.
Which one of them will overcome their age, lack of offense, wobbly pitching, flood of injuries and massive holes first - if any of them do? It used to be a shock when both New York and Philadelphia missed the World Series. Yet if they don't get out of their sudden hole, it will be a shock if any of them win a pennant in the next three years, let alone a world title.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
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