Phillies back from the dead

Since Seemingly Dead Day, the Phillies have pulled themselves within striking distance entering the season's penultimate weekend, writes Rob Neyer.

Updated: September 22, 2006, 12:58 PM ET
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
It's true. I gave up on them. Not so long ago, I gave up on the Athletics. And the Twins. And the Dodgers. And yes, the Phillies. I feel bad about all of this, and I would feel even worse if everybody hadn't given up on them, too.

The Phillies, especially. Nobody thought much of their chances in April or May or June or July or August. August, especially. Because on July 31, the Phillies stood 5½ games out in the wild-card standings, with six teams ahead of them. That same day, the Phillies traded their best player and one of their best pitchers. Even while acknowledging that the importance of single players is generally overestimated by almost everybody, there simply wasn't any reason at all to believe the Phillies would be within hailing distance of a postseason berth in September, let alone within striking distance entering the season's penultimate weekend.

Yet here they are. The season is down to 10 days, and the Phillies are knocking on the wild-card door. Sure, they're a half-game behind the Dodgers, who while once supposedly dead themselves have been one of the league's better teams much of the season. And sure, all things considered, the Phillies are less than favorites to come out ahead in this deal. Still, it's been a valiant effort and worth revisiting before the season ends and we forget every team that didn't make the final eight.


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