I seem to have an underlying theme going on right now with my posts. The last few have looked at team dynasties. This next book we are going to look at the team dynasty that could have been. The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies had an incredible starting rotation. They had four bona-fide super star pitchers in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and that guy Joe Blanton to round it off. When you have those first four in your rotation, you can run Sister Mary-Frances out there on the fifth day and still win the division. The problem with the 2011 Phils is that even with this rotation, the window closed on their chances of becoming a full-fledged dynasty.
Anyone who has read my blog in the past knows I am a die-hard Phillies fan, so this one is a little hard to write. With the Phillies elimination in the 2011 NLDS the window closed, actually slammed if you listen closely. After five straight years of division championships, two trips to the World Series, a post season no-hitter, a Cy Young Award and a World Championship, you could stick a fork in the Phillies, because they were done. The grand finale of their five year run, was the year that fans had pinned their greatest hopes on, because of the starting rotation full of stud pitchers and the belief that Phillies upper management would not screw this up going forward.
The Rotation takes a look at what many have said is one of the greatest pitching staffs assembled in the modern era. The authors look at each pitcher individually and the staff as a whole. Giving in-depth analysis of the team of players assembled, not just the pitchers, you can get a sense of what a strong team the 2011 Phillies really were. But, as we all know it was not meant to be.
The authors also take you through each month of the season, allowing fans to relive the highs and lows that happened out on the field. If you are not a Phillies fan, the book gives you a real good feel of the way the season progressed for the team. The authors do a great job of explaining the season to those people who didn’t witness it first hand. Inside perspectives and behind the scenes stories help to paint a complete picture for the readers.
In the end when the Cardinals eliminated the team from the 2011 NLDS it closed the door to on the field success. Age had finally caught up to the team, and its been a string of cellar dwelling finishes since then for my Phillies. They really missed the opportunity to become a dynasty in 2010 when they were eliminated in the 2010 NLCS. The local fans had hoped that 2011 was the year to start a new streak of greatness and this rotation was going to be the tip of the iceberg. Four short years later, Halladay and Oswalt are retired, Hamels is on the auction block, Lee …… well nobody is sure what he is right now, but spring training will tell for sure. Finally what about Joe Blanton, the fifth starter and the essential forgotten man in this rotation. Well, honestly I don’t know what ever happened to Joe. He is not in baseball as far as I can tell, maybe he bought a 7-11 franchise somewhere in the Dakota’s, I am just not really sure.
Baseball fans beyond the Philadelphia market should enjoy this one. It gives a complete picture of the team and the season as it unfolded. For Phillies fans, this is a painful reminder of what we once had, but until things get better at Citizens Bank Park, memories like this will have to pull us through and help us keep the PHAITH!
You can get this book from the nice folks at Running Press