by Clark Groome
OK, gentle reader, it’s time to face the truth. The Phillies aren’t very good. The current season looks at best to be a long slog for team and fans alike.
Oh! You already knew that. To bring you up to date: after this past weekend’s series with the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies sport a 7-12 record, for a winning percentage of .368 that puts them on pace for a 60-win season.
So what can sports fans who normally spend hours at Citizens Bank Park or in front of the TV watching the locals play do instead?
While I wouldn’t completely rule out a trip to the ballpark if I were you – the game is still terrific; the venue superb; and the Phanatic, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, is always a hoot – here are a few thoughts on how to pass the time as the Phils “rebuild,” or whatever it is they’re doing.
May is a great sports month, so there are lots to keep you off the anti-depressants necessitated by the Phillies’ season.
This Saturday, the Kentucky Derby, accurately known as the most exciting two minutes in sports, kicks off the five-week horse racing Triple Crown. A dozen or so hours of TV will be devoted to this great event, although in total there is less than eight minutes of action.
We are currently in the midst of the NBA and NHL playoffs. While neither includes a Philly participant, they are both worth attention. I believe that the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is the best pro sports tournament. It matches the Run for the Roses in excitement, except rather than running two minutes it runs two months.
There are also ongoing mysteries to solve: What exactly do the 76ers mean by “rebuilding?” and who will Flyers GM Ron Hextall tap to be the team’s next head coach?
You might also want to follow what the Eagles are doing, but considering how much space and airtime the team is given year round maybe that’s something that will be unfortunately unavoidable. Me, I’ll wait until we get close to the season’s first game to pay attention to the Birds, although trying to figure out what Chip Kelly is up to is great fun.
In tennis, the French Open and Wimbledon are right around the corner, followed in August by the U.S. Open. Who will emerge from these as the top men’s and women’s players? Will someone new grab our attention?
Golf brings us the British and U.S. Open and the PGA Tournament. Will Jordan Spieth continue to play the way he did at the Masters? Will Tiger Woods, who seemed to be in his best form in several years, win his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open?
As for baseball, you could watch great contests on Fox, ESPN or the MLB network and, if you’re lucky, see a Dodger’s game called by the unparalleled Vin Scully, now in his 66th season.
There’s also the fun of heading to Reading or the Lehigh Valley to see the Fightin’ Phillies or the Iron Pigs. The intimacy of those parks is terrific. They are also where the Phillies future stars (they hope) are playing.
Also, you could stay in touch with the many threads the team is weaving as it tries to transition from the Rollins/Howard/Utley era to the new one.
Watch how young players like third baseman Cody Asche, shortstop Freddy Galvis, outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Odubel Herrera perform. Keep an eye on what happens – or doesn’t happen – to veterans Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon.
There’s also the question of Ryne Sandberg’s tenure as manager and Ruben Amaro’s as general manager.
You might also want to put the July 31-Aug. 2 weekend on your calendar. That’s when Pat Burrell will be added to the team’s Wall of Fame, and dozens of Phils’ alumni will return for various events and appearances.
See, the summer ahead isn’t that dreary. But without the Phillies in the playoff hunt, it ain’t all that great either.