And so it probably has come to your attention by now that your Fightin's have run smack into nuclear winter.
You are left to wonder how they have reached such a sad state of affairs because it all has seemed to happen so suddenly. One day in April the new season is beckoning, burgeoning with the promise of yet another winner, and then almost overnight it is midsummer and they are done. Cooked. Toast. Last in the NL East. Last!
The team that won a franchise-record 102 games as recently as last year now struggles to win 70. This time around their magic number looks like the remnants of a zip code. It is an epic collapse, both in terms of how fast and how far, and worse, they seem helpless to help themselves.
But they'll find no sympathy. The rest of the division, having been bullied by the Fightin's for the better part of the last six years, is hungry for some payback.
So now comes the question: How will the Fightin's handle these last two months of a season that is beyond their reach? Will they rear up on their hind legs in snarling defiance or submissively roll over with all four paws in the air?
In other words, August and September are for pride, precious little of which they showed last weekend in Atlanta, getting swept in a series that everyone agreed would determine whether they had a pulse. To borrow from the owner of the Iggles, their effort was "unacceptable." A repeat of that will earn them a scorching from all those loyalists who have made those rollicking 270 consecutive sellouts (through Friday) possible, and it would be richly deserved, too. If they think they're under relentless scrutiny and instant judgment in this town when times are relatively placid? Ha! Try failing to bust a gut in any of the remaining games. The first one to jog to first on a ground ball will get the Philadelphia serenade.
You will hear how this lost season has officially transformed into a "meaningless" stretch. Bull biscuits! Quite the contrary. An athlete reveals himself in situations such as these. Will he be content to play out the string, to throttle down and play at three-quarters speed to avoid risking injury?
And as Doc Halladay has suggested, it's not as if they can just forfeit and take an early out, as tempting as that might be.
"We have no choice but to keep playing," he said. "I think we owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to a lot of people."
So they do. Starting with that three-man rotation that turned to ashes.
Doc added: "There are times when you have to take your lumps . . . sometimes you have to kind of take it like a man."
No. No. That won't do.
Resistance, not acceptance.
Defeat may go down hard, but surrender is worse.
And in this town, Buck-o, going through the motions is considered a mortal sin, and absolution dearly won.
The Fightin's are in uncharted waters now. There is no pennant race. There will be no playoffs. Lots of free time. So they teeter at the edge of the abyss. Can they regain their momentum of this decade, keep this rocket ride blasting? Or is this the start of the long, slow, inevitable and unavoidable slide?
For all that has gone wrong in this snake-bitten season they need to go right in 2013. What they need is a long, daunting laundry list:
Third baseman, check.
Rebuilt-from-scratch bullpen, check.
And a partridge in . . . also, a return to form of their vaunted starting rotation.
In sum, then, they need to replace half of their everyday eight, bomb their bullpen and build from ground zero, and freshen their rotation and hope that age has not caught up with Halladay and Cliff Lee.
Ah, but not to worry - the general manager is on the case, and Ruben Amaro Jr. pledges that more is coming. Lots more. There better be. That covenant, after all, is binding, and forever and ever.