Written By: Brandon
When is the best time to change the game and how do we know if it’s for better or worse???
Sports have a distinct way of connecting all of us. In the United States, baseball is considered our oldest pastime. From its beginning in 1796, the sport has rapidly progressed and many advances have been made within the sport. One such area that I wish to shed some light on is one that exists not only in baseball but also in other sports as well: breaking away from what is familiar and staring over with something new. A perfect example of this idea in baseball is the 2002 Oakland Athletics team. Manager Billy Beane forever changed baseball with his controversial managing style. He brought in questionable free agents and used a sabermetric approach towards scouting and player analysis that shocked the entire baseball world. The team went on to by win 20 consecutive games, breaking the previous record set by the New York Yankees in 1947. This tale is known today by those who love baseball and stands as an example of what can happen when a team starts over and changes both their image and possibly the game.
Now being a Philadelphian, I have seen both triumph and failure. I always loved all the sports teams in Philadelphia, and one of if not the best moments I have witnessed was when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008. I remember watching the team struggle when I was a child and didn’t know how long it would be before I saw them hoist the Commissioner’s trophy. In 2008, dream turned into a reality for Philadelphia. We even made the following World Series in 2009, losing to the New York Yankees in 6 games. Since that moment however, a regression has slowly began. The Phillies have not only been absent from the Word Series since 2009, but also got progressively worse each season. Fans have grown considerably unhappy with how owner David Montgomery and general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr., have ran this team, leading some experts to ponder the question of whether this is the time when the organization should change. This topic has inspired much debate, with both sides offering differing viewpoints as to whether an organization should stay the same or change their entire game plan. I use the Philadelphia Phillies as my own example; however I know there are numerous teams in all areas of sports that also fit into this area.
There is an old proverb that says; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It goes without saying that some people believe certain aspects should not be fixed and left to go out its natural course. Following the 2008 World Series, it is no surprise that the Phillies had this mentality. They had achieved something that had not been done since 1980, making them the most successful franchise in the city. The team also had 3 players who were viewed as some of the most interesting players in the game. Ryan Howard, the team’s slugger and first basemen, showed early signs before 2008 that’s he was developing into one of the heavy hitters in the entire league. Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP, dazzled scouts and fans of the game with his impressive range of pitches and ability to take over a ball game. The Phillies also owed their World Series victory to Brad ‘Lights-Out’ Lidge, their closer who finished the season with 41 saves out of 41 trys. Following the Word Series, he was considered one of the best closers in the game. These 3 and many other players helped the city achieve something that had not been received in a long time: a championship. The city was ecstatic, placing its ‘phaith’ and trust into the team that had made their dreams come true. The 76ers, Eagles and Flyers had made the playoffs in the early 2000’s but none had achieved the ultimate goal. The Phillies became that team the city could turn to for hope and showed the city was it felt like to be champions again. This was a feeling that would soon dissipate.
Since 2009, the Phillies have seen a great deal of players come and go, with some members of the 2008 World Series Players still present on the current roster. Some examples of players still present are Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley. The rebuild has begun in the city of Philadelphia, with most teams undergoing an era of change. Many analysts and critics blame the front office for the recent decline of the Phillies. The team, once viewed as one of the best teams in baseball, began to gradually suffer. In 2010, the organization put together arguably one of the best rotations seen in baseball, with pitchers such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. While the pitching staff performed exceptionally that season, the team still managed to get eliminated by the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS or National League Championship Series. In 2011, they lost in the first year of the playoffs to the Saint Louis Cardinals. The past two seasons the Phillies have received a losing record, losing 89 games in both seasons. The fans, who are never afraid to voice their frustration and anger (we once throw ice balls at Santa), are growing more restless. It is clear based on the Phillies numbers and by what the fans have witnessed that the team is no better than it was 5 years ago. The costly contract of Ryan Howard has left the team in a financial nightmare, and most people are divided on whether to trade Cole Hamels, the best asset the team has. The only thing we can all really do is sit back and eventually see what the team decides to do. Either way, one thing you can count on Philadelphia fans…you’ll know how we feel about it soon enough!
The Philadelphia Phillies are just one of many teams in the sports community faced with a difficult decision. Teams like these possess a tough choice on whether to keep to the status quo afloat or shake things up and do something bold. I do not know which method is best because that is up for debate. I also do not know what will happen next for the Phillies. Is there a right time to re-build or a wrong time to keep things the same? Are both of these methods ludicrous and there is an alternative none of us have even thought out yet? Find out next time, on Dragon Ball Z.