It’s A Long Season, Folks
College football is the most exciting regular season in American sports. Every single game matters. There is no playoff, and in some seasons, a single loss will take you out of the running for a title.
The NFL is a close second. The difference between teams in the NFL is so close, that frequently, one loss is the difference between getting in the playoffs and going home. Had the New York Giants, for example, beaten the Green Bay Packers last regular season, they, and not the Packers, would have gone to the playoffs. Instead, the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl, despite being the last NFC team to qualify.
In 2010, the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers made the playoffs on the last shot of the last game of the regular season. They went on to win the Eastern Conference Finals.
So why does it grind my gears when people insist on getting worked up about every Phillies loss this year?
Because baseball is different.
There are 162 games in each season, a little over 10 times the number of games in an NFL season. An NFL team is generally considered to have a very good season when it wins 13 or so games. It happens almost every year. In fact, most seasons have teams win 13, 14 even 15 games. Once, the New England Cheaters won all sixteen.
The most wins in baseball history is 116 by the 1906 Cubs (in a 154 game season) and the 2001 Seattle Mariners. This would be like an NFL team going 11-5 or 12-4.
Again, that happens every year in the NFL. It is far, far harder to do in baseball for a number of reasons.
A baseball season is a battle of attrition. It is a grind. Clearly, it is far less physical than football, but the season is also two months longer. While one loss in football is big, one loss in baseball really isn’t in the grand scheme of the season. There are so many games, that everything you can think of will happen to every team in a given season, even the best ones.
They will win some 1-0 games. They will lose some 1-0 games.
They will blow some people out. They will get blown out.
They will lose games that they shouldn’t. They will win games that they shouldn’t.
They will get out hustled sometimes. They will get out coached sometimes. They will just get beaten sometimes. It is impossible to maintain the same level of intensity for 162 games. No one can do it.
The way that teams are successful is by remembering not to get high on any win, and not too low on any loss.
The Phillies know how to do this. They have won four straight NL East titles, two of the last three NL Pennants, and a World Series three seasons ago. They didn’t do this by freaking out when Charlie Manuel pitches Joe Blanton, JC Romero, Kyle Kendrick and Denys Baez in the same game.
He messed up. It happens. It’s going to happen again.
People say that the offense isn’t good enough, the bullpen isn’t good enough. When Chase Utley, Dom Brown and Brad Lidge return, those people will freak about something else. Because when the Phillies are pounding people and winning 3 out of every four games, the game they lose 1-0 when Roy Halladay pitches a gem and loses will be the one they fixate on.
The Phillies are fine. They have the best record in baseball. It’s early in the season. And for those who say every game counts, I offer you this tidbit:
In the last 30 non strike seasons, guess how many times the NL East has been decided by a single game? Go on, guess.
In fact, it has been won by twenty or more games more often than it has been won by one. History, recent included, has shown that the Phillies are much better in the second half of the season. And they have the best record in baseball, with Wilson Valdez starting most nights at second base.
Think about that for a second.
I, personally, am very content with the way they are playing. If nothing changes, and they continues to win at the same pace, they will finish with 107 wins, nine shy of the all time record.
Chase Utley hasn’t played a single inning,
Neither has Dom Brown.
Or Brad Lidge.
And they have the best record in baseball, on pace for a team record 107 wins.
Get a grip, people. Seriously.