The boys from the City of Brotherly Love don't seem to be getting much love these days - at least not from the national sports media types. As this very minute - 1:26 a.m. - the Phillies are tied with the Dodgers for the lead in the NL Wildcard race. Tied! After trading away Bobby Abreu and a couple veteran pitchers, after conventional wisdom said wait until next year, the Phillies somehow have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs for the first time in, what, 13 years?
Yet, listen to anything on ESPN radio or TV and the Phillies seem to be an afterthought. Just after midnight, as I was driving home and listening to ESPN radio, the two guys hosting the show that was on the air gave their baseball highlights in approximately the following order:
Roger Clemens pitching and winning what may be his final home game for the Houston Astros; the Giants winning and managing to maintain an outside shot at the playoffs, though still trailing the Padres and Dodgers, who were both losing at the time; the Marlins beat the Mets; the Yankees clinch thanks to a Twins win; then, finally, we get to the Phillies win over the Cubs.
Now, to be fair, they spent about 30 or 40 seconds talking about the game - Utley's home run, Howard's intentional walk in the 8th even though the Cubs were already losing by four runs. The ESPN guys said Dusty Baker should be fired from baseball for doing that! But, they failed to mention that Brett Myers pitched a complete game - his first in more than a year.
My point is that here's a team that, at the end of July, NO ONE (including me) gave ANY shot at making the playoffs. Yet, here they are, one of three teams that still has a realistic chance at the wildcard. And, what do we get? We get coverage that has kind of a "by the way" attitude. Let's talk about all these other teams whether they're contenders or not, and, oh, by the way, the Phillies have won 7 of their last 9. They're tied for the wildcard lead, but, by the way, we're wondering if Ryan Howard is on steroids. We don't have any real reason to suspect that, but we'll speculate anyway.
What the hell?!? Give the Phils some props. Even if they fall short, at least they showed some spirit.