Ladies and gentlemen, from the author of "The Verducci Effect" comes "The Philadelphia Fallacy!"
Tom Verducci is a well respected writer for Sports Illustrated and does some work for the MLB network as an analyst. In his "11 Storylines to Watch in 2011" piece for SI, Verducci only lists Derek Jeter's quest for 3,000 hits ahead of his foreshadowing words about the Phillies 2011 words. Here is his explanation behind "The Philadelphia Fallacy".
Despite the rush to frame the Phillies' rotation in historical context, the rest of the National League has not conceded to Philadelphia quite yet. For starters, what are the odds that Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels all win even 15 games and throw 200 innings? It's been done just once in the Wild Card Era (2003 Yankees: Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and David Wells).
The NL East figures to be much tighter than last year, when the Phillies were six games better than Atlanta and 17 better than Florida. The Phillies are an older team with no Jayson Werth and, for what could be a few months or more, no Chase Utley. Philadelphia's window could be closing faster than people think.
First, no one is pretending that there aren't other contenders to represent the National League in the World Series. In fact, one argument I feel is always misinterpreted is… "The moves that the Phillies made this offseason punched their ticket to the World Series nine months early." Some people did feel that way, but certainly not everyone.
I think the argument that just as many people were making was… "With the moves the Phillies made this offseason, headlined by the acquistion of Cliff Lee, it would be a disappointment for the team and its fans if the Phillies didn't win the World Series." There is a difference between those two statements. The front office unexpectedly broke the bank this offseason with a "win now" attitude, so the backlash will be there if the team doesn't… well… win now. That, combined with the injuries the team has experienced over the course of the past month, have brought Phillies fans and local and national pundits back down to Earth.
Would Verducci's words have had more of an impact if they were written a month ago? You bet your ass they would have. There were too many people still on cloud nine, probably myself included. But in this specific piece, his delivery is backed by a historical stat and a feel for how competitive the NL East will be this season. Both points he makes are fair… and we all know the Phillies are an older team; whether the window is closing or not right now, it's certainly not going to open any more than it currently is.
So, Verducci's comments do raise an eyebrow and the words come off as an attempt to give a dose of reality for those high on the Phillies this season. But at this point, it's safe to say that the reality check came far earlier than this… for the Phillies, their fans, and others.