SI.com's Tom Verducci wrote a great article today that does an excellent job of summarizing the Phillies transformation from pretender to contender.
Philadelphia proved it is one of the three organizations in baseball that must feed The Beast. Only the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies operate with this mandate: World Series or bust.
Give that statement a second to sink in. It was not more than five years ago that most Phillies fans would have given a limb to be grouped with those two teams.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. didn't fully want to acknowledge the mandate last winter when he foolishly dealt pitcher Cliff Lee in order to do something The Beast cares nothing about: "restock our farm system." It may have been smart baseball for 27 other teams, but not The Big Three. Winning today, not tomorrow, is all that counts.
We wrote often about how the Lee trade was a move that the Yankees or Red Sox would never make prior to a contending season. And we were right. But Amaro and Co. have acknowledge their mistake and are now going for broke. They are giving us what we have wanted all along- a team dedicated to being on top (take note, Eagles).
Making the playoffs? That's fine for 27 other franchises. But the Yankees took on The Beast in 2000 and the Red Sox in 2008, and now Philadelphia has it.
This line makes me misty a little.
Verducci points out that the Phillies have a 41% larger viewing audience than the Red Sox and that only the New York teams have more viewers, on average, per game.
If you go by the average number of households watching the local team, the Phillies have more eyeballs on them than every team except the Mets and Yankees. Think Red Sox Nation is big? The Phillies' viewing audience is 41 percent bigger than the Red Sox's audience and 60 percent bigger than the Cubs' audience.
We've come a long way in five years.
Right now, the Phillies are 2 1/2 games back of the Braves- last week they were seven games back. The Beast is angry.
Tonight, we feed him again.