You will be forgiven for not paying close attention to what the Philadelphia Phillies have been doing early this season. The first week of the season was not kind and the Philadelphia 76ers were worthy of your sports focus for the last couple of months. But with the Sixers being ousted from the NBA Playoffs last night, the sports focus in Philadelphia will now hopefully shift to the Phillies.
The challenge for the Phillies now? Keep fans interested until the Philadelphia Eagles open up training camp. Unlike last season, the Phillies are in much better position at this point in the season than they were a year ago, and the Phillies have the look of a team that could potentially stay in the playoff conversation as the season continues.
A year ago today, the Phillies were 13-19 and already eight games out of first place in the NL East. Today the Phillies enter their series finale against the San Francisco Giants a mere half game behind the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves and a half-game in front of the rest of the National League wild-card pack. Sure, it is still incredibly early and far too soon to even bother looking at playoff scenarios, but the point here is the Phillies are holding up their end of the bargain so far. Now is their time to prove worthy of the casual sports fan’s attention until the defending Super Bowl champions get started on defending their title in the NFL.
I figure that gives the Phillies until late July to remain a viable contender before the Eagles take over the sports headlines for the next few months. The Eagles are always going to be a lead sports story that time of year, and that only figures to increase this year after winning the Super Bowl and anticipating the return of Carson Wentz.
It has been a while since we have had a summer of entertaining baseball to watch, so this season seems like a breath of fresh air on the baseball field. The Phillies have been fun to watch again, except when they are playing the Atlanta Braves it seems. They still have some issues they are sorting through and growing through, but this season seems to have a 2005-2006 vibe brewing right now. That’s not to say the Phillies are going to be celebrating a World Series title in the next couple of years, but baseball being enjoyable to watch and follow in the summer is much more enjoyable than a summer without baseball anyone really cares about.
There is room in this town for a successful Phillies and Eagles team though. The Phillies just have to avoid falling off the map in the next few months to make sure they are not completely forgotten about before the end of the summer.
With Aaron Nola continuing to impress, Jake Arrieta boosting the starting rotation, Odubel Herrera always finding ways to get on base and Carlos Santana riding a bit fo a hot streak these last few days, the Phillies are fun to watch once again. Like the Sixers, the Phillies will probably run into a few hurdles they can’t quite clear at times, but this season has already shown the Phillies have a knack for dusting their shoulders off after a bump in the road and get back at it.
It’s now officially baseball season in Philadelphia. Let’s hope that continues into September (and October) this year.