And it’s true that there are still a lot of games left to be played, as the players often say. In that sense, it wouldn’t surprise anyone in baseball if the Phillies find a way to pry a playoff spot from the cold, dead hands of the Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins or, God forbid, the Washington Nationals by the end of the season.
Still, in the here and now the Phillies are a maddeningly mediocre team. The bullpen scares the hell out of Charlie Manuel. The offense struggles to score more than two or three runs a game — especially when Cliff Lee is on the mound.
To top it off, no one knows for sure if Chase Utley is actually alive, according to a Beatlesque Paul-is-Dead rumor that SportsWeek just started. (Someone check the license plate on the Phanatic’s all-terrain vehicle. If it says “33IF”, we’re toast.)
So what’s a mildly depressed Phils fan to do? We’ve given this question some thought, and here are a few suggestions on how to cope with the suddenly mortal Phillies, at least until Ryan Howard and Billy Shears — er, Utley, return.
Past-life regression. Remember the 2008 World Series DVD (or, better yet, Blu-ray) that a younger, more care-free version of you purchased? Now would be a good time to pull it out of storage.
Count your blessings. Recall what it was like to root for the 1997 Phillies in a perpetually empty Veterans Stadium. Rightfield was manned for about 6 minutes by Danny Tartabull. The rotation included Mark Portugal and Mark Leiter.
Amuse yourself with childish pranks. Call Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. Ask, “Do you know who you’re messing with?” Hang up. Repeat.
Remember, things could be worse. Quell your anger over Howard’s contract — “Five years, $125 million, and he always strikes out!” — by looking at the awful numbers that Albert Pujols has put up since signing a $240 million contract with the Angels.
Try a new hobby. Spend your free time quietly lobbying the Nationals to hire Ed Wade as their general manager. Bryce Harper would look good in a Phillies uniform …