I sold the Phillies short this year mainly because I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so hard to repeat in baseball. It hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happened since the Torre Yankees about 10 years ago, and then before that the Blue Jays of the early Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ90s. Three separate teams repeated in the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ70s, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s back in the early stages of free agency when it was far easier to hold onto a good team once youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve built one.
But I underestimated the Phillies Ã¢â‚¬â€œ anticipating their demise at the hands of the red-hot Rockies in the divisional round Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and I really shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have.
It was an eventful weekend for SportsAngleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Esoteric and Epstein, who headed south down the GSP Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not Georges St. Pierre, the Garden State Parkway Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for a birthday celebration. (I wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say how many years, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rounder than IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like) The highlight of the trip was a visit to Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night for the Phillies-Marlins game with Cole Hamels on the hill.
PHILADELPHIA Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Though IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve long heard its virtues extolled, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to like Citizens Bank Ã¢â‚¬â€œ mainly because I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like the Phillies Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but at the end of my first trip to the park, I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but admit that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great place to take in a ballgame.
A big reason the park is such a success is that the atmosphere is fantastic. It makes an enormous difference that the Phillies won the World Series last year and look to be a strong contender again this year Ã¢â‚¬â€œ fans gravitate to winners. The guest services booth told me the game was a sellout, as most games have been since May, and it creates a special environment when the seats are completely filled.
Mets fans probably wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like to hear this, but though Citi Field was an attempt to mimic the vibe of Citizens Bank, the MetsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ lack of success and inability to develop stars have left them far behind their neighbors to the south. Even when Reyes, Delgado and Beltran are healthy, they simply donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t generate the trust that Utley, Howard, Rollins, Victorino, Werth and Ibanez do.