In football, you lose your first three games and you're done. The baseball season is long enough that it often produces the thrill of victory (when the Phillies came from seven games back in September to catch the Mets), and the agony of defeat (our infamous 1964 collapse when the Phils blew a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 games to go).
As you are reading this, the Phils are opening up their Grapefruit League schedule. In every major league city, fans are dreaming about what great things might unfold for them during the 2013 season. I'm no different. So here's my wish list for this season:
* The Phillies meet the White Sox (my American League team) in the World Series and win in seven terrific, nail-biting games. Cliff Lee out duels Jake Peavy in Game 7 for a complete-game 2-1 win.
* Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Doc Halladay have injury-free, turn-back-the-clock seasons.
* Darin Ruf hits like Adam Dunn, without the strikeouts.
* Adam Dunn hits 60 homers, while breaking the major league strikeout record.
* Cliff Lee wins the Cy Young Award and goes 22-6 with a 2.28 ERA.
* Carlos Ruiz comes back and plays great in the last 110 games, proving he's a great player without any help.
* Jimmy Rollins hits .301 with 25 HRs, fields brilliantly and wins the MVP Award.
* Delmon Young wins the city's Wanamaker Award for good citizenship and doesn't hurt himself in rightfield.
* Michael Young falls in love with the Bank and hits 27 HRs.
* Ben Revere falls in love with the Bank and hits four HRs.
* Kevin Youkilis hits three homers for the Yankees in his first game at Fenway.
* The Red Sox and Yankees fail to make playoffs, but the Blue Jays and Orioles do.
* The Mets end up with a better record than the Yankees.
* The Cubs lose 108 games, but break their all-time attendance record. A few fans actually watch the games.
* Jeff Samardzija, of those woeful Cubbies, quits out of frustration and signs with the Eagles, giving them a great red-zone
* Both LA teams bomb and miss the playoffs, proving money can't buy you love.
* Brian "The Beard" Wilson starts out terribly, shaves, then has fine year.
* Stephen Strasburg wins 30 for Nationals, while the rest of their staff barely matches him and the overhyped Nats miss the playoffs.
* Nice guy Shane Victorino has a bounce back year in Beantown.
* The White Sox lose Gavin Floyd to a season-ending injury in late August and 50-year-old Jamie Moyer steps into their rotation and pitches them into the World Series.
* Bill Giles suggests bringing hometown hero Smarty Jones out of retirement to lead the Broad Street victory parade. Smarty does so happily, to the delight of Dick Jerardi, who still insists there is no way Smarty will lose the Belmont. Smarty has a great time, but keeps looking over his shoulder for Birdsong.
Well that's it; a guy can dream, can't he?
Wait - it's mid-August, Ruf is playing at Lehigh Valley, Chase and Ryan are on the disabled list, and the Nationals are 11 games ahead of us? Aaaaagh!!!