Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Spin is a wonderful thing. It seems that we get more of it than we used to. Maybe that's just me getting older and smarter (well, older) or maybe it's the way it is. Either way, there is a lot of spin going on. At work, play, in government and even in that last vestige of respite from our daily lives - sports.
When we combine the spin factor with the endless fascination that people have with even numbers - especially the ones that end in zeroes - we find that the spin can go so fast that it takes on it's own gravity and winds up being a force unto itself. Eventually, as scientists will tell you, things can only spin for so long until they either stop spinning or die.
The spin around here lately has been over the Phillies and their relentless pursuit of 10,000 losses. For a franchise that has been around since 1883, that's a lot of losses, and one more will do it. Unfortunately for them, other sports don't play as many games, so even though the Eagles have a worse winning percentage, the Phillies have the number, and we know there is strength in numbers.
Where the spin comes in is in the fact that for the most part, the Phillies have been losers. One championship in 124 years qualifies one as a loser. That's a .008 winning percentage. Not even one percent. Chances are, if they had managed to make a few playoff appearances or win a few more championships along the way, the 10,000 number would be a sidelight. It would be a measure of longevity rather than a measure of failure, which is how it is being portrayed.
Consider this:
Pete Rose amassed 4,256 hits in his baseball career and batted .303 during that time. He also had more at-bats than any other major leaguer - 14,053 - which means that he is also the all-time leader in outs. Rose made 9,797 outs in his career. Nobody brings that up, because he also had the most hits. He made more outs than Ty Cobb (7,245), Hank Aaron (8,593) and Carl Yazstremski (8,569) who happen to be the three players behind Rose in all-time at bats. Do any of them qualify as losers? No.
Pete Rose and those other players are winners because they did great things. The Phillies, however, are not because mostly they lose or finish second (the first loser). While the gang in the front office will try valiantly to deflect this monumental accomplishment (which will probably come this weekend at home against the Cardinals) if they want to stop the spin, they should try winning.
As we exit the All-Star break, the 10,000 loss mark will come and go. It will be headline news around the country, and part of me wonders why. There were no stories over the 9,510th loss or the 9,755th, and those Phillies teams were not a whole lot different than this one. They were losers and also-ran's. The only thing they lacked that the current team does not is an even number with a lot of zeroes. It's the number, and baseball is all about numbers. It's about hits and wins, and for most of its life, this team has not done either very well. Now, we have a large number to assign to the futility.
The large number has drawn attention to the futility of the franchise, and the word on the street is that the owners will not do what is necessary to win, merely what is necessary to compete. This ownership group won its World Series when Citizens Bank Ballpark was built. Fans pack the place for the ambiance, and baseball is often secondary or tertiary. Those things, like spinning objects, die also. Just ask anyone in Baltimore, whose owners sucked the life out of Camden Yards until the fans finally noticed that the team stunk and regardless of the ambiance, bad baseball is like a bad marriage. Once the newness wears off, it dawns on you.
Sadly for Philies fans, this ownership group isn't going anywhere, and things will likely get worse before they get better - which aligns with their history. There won't be another milestone loss in our lifetime, and once this nonsense is behind us and the ballpark ages, the focus will once again be on the bad marriage.
They are all just numbers, and the fact that this next one will end with five zeroes does nothing to alter the fact that it's another loss. Fans and management would be wise to not take their eyes off the ball.

1 comment:

Sparky Duck said...

You are right, Camden Yards only really draws the tourists or the fans who have never seena game there before, and not that many lifers, if there are lifers of the Orioles.

As for the losses, surprisingly I really dont care.