At least that’s what they say.
So what about the Phillies’ ability to just say no to scoring runs? Sure, it flies in the face of fundamental baseball theory, but the fact that the Phillies have only been able to score in one inning out of the last 45 shows the resolve of a Tibetan monk.
Take a second to think about how difficult it is to go practically five games without scoring a run… Then take a look at the Phillies’ offense and the fact that they slugged their way into the World Series for two straight years. That makes the fact that the Phillies have been shut out by the Mets in three straight games that much more incredible.
Charlie Manuel figured his guys would get one by accident on Thursday night against the Mets at CitiField. How could they not score one off Mike Pelfrey with runners at the corners, one out and the crafty Placido Polanco coming to the plate? It’s been well documented here and in other spaces that Polanco is one of those gritty ballplayers who do all the little things that don’t show up in the box score. He’ll hit the ball the other way, put it in play, and take a few pitches to extend the inning to allow his teammates to get a look at a pitcher’s repertoire.
Except, of course, when he doesn’t.
With the tying run on third base ready to dash home and put the Phillies in a game for the first time in nearly a week, Polanco didn’t hit the ball the other way. He also didn’t do any little things that don’t show in the box score or take some pitches. He didn’t do any of that. Instead, Polanco grounded into a double play to end the team’s best chance to score a run.
The ol’ GIDP shows up in all of those expanded box scores these days.
It’s not fair to pick on Polanco though, especially since he seems to taking it so hard. After last night’s game he admitted that he was incredibly frustrated by the team’s extraordinary restraint and didn’t attempt to mask his displeasure. Jayson Werth, contrarily, dealt with the frustration by shaving off nearly all of the hair from his face. But in his first game with smooth cheeks, Werth made five outs in four plate appearances by striking out three times and grounding into an inning-ending double play when he was able to make contact.
“No matter how you want to spin it, we're still in first place and we've got a real good ballclub,” Werth said.
Werth is right about that, and that’s what makes this uncanny ability to hold back so much more amazing. Figuring that the purification process in nearly complete, the Phillies are probably a game or two away from an offensive explosion. That’s how it always happens, right?
“Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you,” Manuel said, but not in a way like Sam Elliott. It would have been better if he sounded like Sam Elliott.
Nevertheless, as written after the game: And sometimes you don’t eat at all.
At least that’s the case for a father and husband from Northeast Philly named Mike Meech. You see, so dedicated to his team is Meech that he decided to go through a purification process of his own just like the Phillies by staging a hunger strike until the team deigns it necessary to score a run. Since 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Meech has not eaten a crumb of food. Reports indicate that he purchased a stromboli for $15 to feast upon when the time was right, but Polanco, Werth and the rest of the Phillies had other ideas.
So now Meech is entering a world of pain. Mark it zero, dude. By the time the Phillies dig in against the Marlins on Friday night it will be more than 48 hours into the hunger strike. Needless to say, he’s fragile… he’s very fragile, man. He needs some nourishment and that stromboli is getting rotten waiting for the Phillies to score a run.
So we have to ask: Has the whole world gone crazy? Is Meech the only one who gives a bleep about the rules? A man has to take up a cause from time to time, and our friend Meech has decided that if the Phillies are going to go down, he’s going with them. Undoubtedly Charlie Manuel can appreciate the plight of one of his biggest boosters considering ol’ Chuck has decided to show more restraint when it comes to his diet, too. In fact, Charlie has been imbibing on a certain brand of diet food, which makes a hunger strike more preferable by comparison.
So when you’re sitting down to watch the Phillies tonight, think of Meech. Better yet, make a sort of Lenten appeal by standing with a man who has put his team’s welfare in front of his own. That’s right, I’m telling you to put down that fork and that hillock of food compressed into a box or a bowl and do the right thing.
Meech and Charlie will know about it and will appreciate the gesture.