I reached for my remote the other day, just as Phillies starter Kevin Correia gave up his ninth earned run to the Atlanta Braves. It was still the fourth inning.
The temptation, of course, was to turn away from one more horrid game in this horrid season. Somewhere, “Hoosiers” had to be on. But I couldn’t change the channel. I was transfixed as I realized this: we are watching history with the 2015 Phils. This may be the worst Philadelphia sports team of our lifetimes. This is 50 shades of dreck.
Okay, I know the 1972-73Sixers set a record by finishing 9-73. The Eagles had an eight-year stretch before World War II when they went 16-70. There is a legacy of losing this town can wear like no other.
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But if you review the past 40 years, you cannot find a franchise more decrepit, inept and ill-managed as the Phillies. And that distinction has to command your attention.
So I watch, as Dom Brown overruns third base to create the final out of a game. As interim manager Pete Mackanin signals Cesar Hernandez to bunt with two strikes – even when Hernandez had already reached base three times that game. As one more time, Scott Franzke ends an inning with the words, “The Phillies threaten, but do not score.”
Like Cole Hamels, I am a prisoner. I am all in, because I want to be able to say someday that I witnessed the entire thing.
The results are more amazing, of course, because just five seasons ago, this team won 102 games – the most in the Majors. Just one other time in history has a team sunk from 100 wins to 100 losses in that timeframe. That happens to be the Philadelphia A’s – from 1911 to 1915. Stick around another century and we’re bound to see it here again.
We’ve seen bad baseball before. The 1972 Phils finished 37.5 games out of first. But that team boasted Schmidt, Carlton, Bowa and Luzinski, and would later win us a title.
On this team? I believe Maikel Franco will be part of the club when it eventually rediscovers winning. Probably Ken Giles. Maybe Hernandez. Beyond that, I don’t believe in anyone on the current roster.
This year’s version is on pace for 108 losses. It would be the first 100-loss season in 54 seasons, and challenge the all-time franchise mark of 111, set in 1941. That team featured a pitcher nicknamed “Boom Boom” Beck, so titled because of the sound his pitches made coming off of bats.
I think these Phils have an outside shot to challenge that 111-loss mark. If Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon get traded, I’d give them even-money odds.
And I’ll be watching it all, inning by inning, the remote still resting on the couch. Transfixed, because you don’t tune out history.