Friday, March 6, 2015


Don't look now but baseball negativity is poised to make a return.



 I know it's difficult, but stop texting, Tweeting and Zoosking for a moment. (If you don't know what Zoosking is, you've probably got a life, a job or a tan, perhaps even all three.)
 Open the door, walk outside and lift a finger into the air. (No, Philadelphians, not that finger.)
 Ok, feel it?
 It's barely perceptible, but it's out there. These old bones sense it. 
 It's the ill-wind of negativity, edging its way back into a Philadelphia baseball season.  It blew out of town about five years, just about the time the 2007 Mets blew the NL East title. 
 By October of 2008, it was so far gone you couldn't have found it with John Bolaris' Doppler, making it, by the way, just one more think John Bolaris' Doppler couldn't find. 
 Pleasant but rarely felt zephyrs of contentment stalled over our area like a welcome high-pressure system from Canada.
 Our native, black-cloud cynicism about the long-suffering franchise vanished and an unprecedented sunshine of optimism burst forth. Even the most soul-scarred among us became peppy cheerleaders for all things Phillies. Home games became hapenings. Casual fans became fanatics. Anyone in pinstripes became a minor deity. Gayly, we donned their apparel.
 And why not? No one under 40 had experienced anything like the stretch of marvelous, meaningful baseball. A World Series win. Two pennants. Five straight division titles. A packed balpark. Unburdened psyches. Sweet dreams.   
 The glow was so warm that it sustained us through those chilly October nights when the Yankees took the 2009 World Series, through the 2010 loss to the Giants and the stunning 2011 elimination by the Cardinals. 
 But like Peanut Chews and Doug Collins it's come back. You can feel the ill-wind's sting in all the naysaying forecasts about impending doom for these 2012 Phillies, about the end of a golden age, about Ruben Amaro Jr.'s shortcomings.
 Suddenly, instead of talking about the possibility of 100 victories, the focus has shifted to discussions about lying, injuries and anemic offenses. It's as if, to paraphrase a line from "American Pie", the three men we admire most -- Sts. Roy, Cliff and Cole -- took the last train to the coast.  They can't save us. For though our arms be mighty, our bats are weak.
 By mid-summer, if the Phillies find themsleves stuck behind any combination of the Marlins, Nationals or Braves  (the Mets are still blowin' -- in the wind), the bad-news breeze could be at hurricane force. And the old two-word solutions will be hurtling through the charged atmosphere like trailers in a Kansas twister -- Fire Charlie. Trade Jimmy. Sign Cole. We suck.
  Imagine. Howard misses the season. Utley returns a shell of his former self. Rollins loses a step.
 If so, it won't be long until until beer is again the biggest attraction at Phillies games.
 And, just like in the old days, we'll have nothing to cheer, but cheer itself. 
Frank Fitzpatrick Inquirer Sports Columnist
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About this blog
Reporter Frank Fitzpatrick, a 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist, is covering his eighth Olympic Games and has yet to win a medal in anything except caffeine consumption. He has also been the beat writer for the Phillies, Eagles and Penn State football.

Frank Fitzpatrick Inquirer Sports Columnist
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