In that regard Chicago is unlike Philadelphia in that there is no inferiority complex with New York to the north and Washington to the south. That kind of makes Philadelphia feel as if it’s just on the way to somewhere else.
Or something like that. Then again I really have no logical insight to offer on Chicago. It’s a good place. Lots of water and tall buildings. They even have a beach within the city confines. More importantly, they have two competitive baseball teams. One plays in the American League in a dumpy stadium on the south side of town (and even won the World Series in 2005), and the other plays in a dumpy ballpark on the north side of town.
Now here’s what I really don’t get about Chicago… why are the Cubs so beloved? It has to be the ballpark, right? People love showing up at Wrigley to do everything but pay attention to baseball. It is, as so deftly described by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, a bar. It’s a big, outdoor bar surrounding a baseball diamond.
“But one thing about Wrigley Field, I puke every time I go there,” Guillen said earlier this season. “That’s just to be honest. And if Cub fans don’t like the way I talk about Wrigley Field, it’s just Wrigley Field. I don’t say anything about the fans or anything now. But Wrigley Field, they got to respect my opinion. That’s the way I feel.”
Imagine if the Phillies didn’t win the World Series for more than 100 seasons or didn’t at least get there since 1945… Phillies fans would burn the place down. Quaint old ballpark or not, the Phillies fans wouldn’t be satisfied without a winner.
There’s only so much folks in Philly can tolerate and that gets back to the whole destination city thing. This is the magnet of the Midwest. It’s in the realm of places like LA or NYC in that kids aspire to be successful in Chicago. Hell, think of all the actors, writers and comedians that come from Chicago. It’s doubtful that “Saturday Night Live” would have made it early on if it hadn’t been for the filter system the show seemingly had with Second City.
We’ll get into the essence of the ballpark tomorrow. But in short it’s difficult not to be charmed by Wrigley despite what Ozzie Guillen says. Shoot, maybe it is pretty much just a bar. You know, one of those neighborhood joints they seem to have on every corner in South Philly. Only instead of being a part of the neighborhood, Wrigley IS the neighborhood.
There isn’t much space here, but, you know… whatever.
Here’s the important stuff… the Phillies are going to be OK. Sure, the lead has been whittled down to just four games after getting swept at home by the Marlins, and neither the hitting nor pitching has been all that good.
But if it was bad enough for Charlie Manuel to spend 20 minutes after Sunday’s game giving his team the business, then everything ought to be sorted out soon. See, Charlie doesn’t get worked up just for the sake of getting fired up. His messages usually have a purpose and that definitely seems to be the case in this instance.
Besides, compare the Phillies stats and records of last August with this month. Go ahead… do it. Know what you’ll find? That they are nearly identical. Last August the Phillies stunk and this August they are scuffling a bit, too.
In eight games this month the Phillies are batting .242 with eight homers, a .283 OBP and just 25 runs scored. That comes to an average of just a little over three runs per game.
Last August the Phillies batted just .235 with 30 homers in 29 games and 115 runs scored. That total comes to a little more than three runs per game (3.965).
Uncanny isn’t it?
So there it is – the Phillies don’t play well in August. It’s a bona fide trend. If they can turn it around in September and October that will be a trend, too.