Thursday, July 17, 2003

Play Ball -- Again

It is past the mid-point of July, and the Phillies are about to start playing meaningful baseball games. As in, after the All-Star break. This is a novel concept for us Philadelphians, though not an unwelcome one.

The problem is that I'm not as jacked about it as I should be. Getting swept at home by the Fish really took the air out of sails. It felt as if all the momentum built during the seven-game winning streak and the ground gained on the Braves were a mirage. The Phils are still leading in the wild-card race, but that just doesn't feel like a worthy goal to aspire to, and Atlanta is too far ahead to even consider a run at first place yet.

Add to that the Phillies' core offensive problems -- Pat Burrell's and David Bell's hopelessness at the plate, inconsistency out of the leadoff hole, and such -- haven't seemed to improve despite the team's recent success, and the sum is an underwhelming feeling of wait and see. Don't get me wrong -- I'm absolutely thrilled that for once it's other teams, not the Phillies, that are unloading their overpriced veterans on contending squads. I have a few games to go yet on the partial season ticket plan my brother and I share, and I'm terribly excited to watch games that will mean something.

Maybe I just need to shake off the lethargy of the All-Star break. Perhaps it's because so many different teams are available for viewing now, but the All-Star game isn't the thrill it used to be. I can see all of those players at various points during the season just by tuning in to ESPN, the Deuce, and TBS. The World Series home-field gimmick didn't do it for me, either. My hope is that once real game start -- tonight! -- I'll get it back.

The next week should help, too. My vacation includes games at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, and if those places can't foster second-half excitement, I don't know what can. Look for reports on those games here next week.


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