So let's begin with a glimpse into Game 1, and the experience TamerG and I had at the Phillies Home Opener.
Game 1...Returning to the Scene of the Crime
Disappoint. Heartache. An emotional roller coaster ride. The last time I left the gates of Citizens Bank Park, those were just a few of the words to describe what linger as memories associated with Game 5 of the 2010 National League Championship Series. After all, the Phillies had plowed through the Division Series against the Reds and were poised to take their place in baseball history as one of the few teams in baseball to be in the World Series three years in a row. But that didn't happen. We pitched to Cody Ross who appeared to take the Giants on his back at points during Games 1 and 2 and bring them to the playoff promised land. The Giants were known for their antics, beards, and unique make-up, but in the end a strong bullpen, a formidable starting rotation, and clutch hitting were pivotal in their journey to the 2010 World Championship. Congratulations to them and feel free to add them to another team I detest in baseball next to the Mets, Yankees, and Braves. They are the defending World Champions and a team not to be dismissed heading into the 2011 season which is exactly why Ruben was strategic in his off season moves.
So the stage is set. A rotation of R2C2 was established, an outfielder ready to play everyday put up strong spring training numbers, and a tweaked bench and bullpen put into place all to help erase my final memory, Ryan Howard caught looking, of the the 2010 season and what I consider to be the scene of the crime. We were destined, at least it appeared. But the sun has set on 2010 and a new season has officially begun.
Game 1 Insights
The Phightin' Phils looked dead through 8. They lacked spunk. They lacked swagger. Sure it's early. And the weather wasn't great. But this team gives off a different vibe. As we prepare to head to game 2 this evening, I'll continue to wrap my head around it but it just feels like this team is trying to find it's identity, it's character, it's personality. Based on game 1 alone, maybe they'll be a team of comeback kids. Stringing six singles together is different and not what the Phillies have been known for. What is clear are the following:
1 - strong starting pitching will be the foundation
2 - Howard, J-Roll, and Chooch are poised to lead this team throughout 2011
3 - more team contributions are required...in other words this team is going to need the Mayberry's, Francisco's, and Romero's to step up quite a bit this year with early reasons pointing to injuries to established guarantees like Utley, Lidge, and Polanco (don't let an elbow brace fool you)
And with that, I'm off to prep for Game 2. More posts on the way, and once again, happy opening weekend!