Out of Left Field: Fearless Predictions

Everyone came into this Phillies season with preconceived notions about how the team would play, and what the result would be. I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of us were way off when it came to predictions. I didn't reveal my predictions earlier in the season, but now is as good a time as any to look back at what a fool I was.

PREDICTION #1: Citizen's Bank Park would be the jewel of the National League. While everyone else seemed to be predicting that the ballpark would not be ready in time for the opener, I remained confident. I also thought that our new park would make us the envy of the rest of the league. Now, of course, we know that the power alley in left field is not exactly as originally advertised, and that the catch phrase for the new park could stand a slight modification. Citizens Bank Park: Real Grass, Real Fun…and, uh, fly balls travel Real Far.

PREDICTION #2: Pat Burrell would return to form. I'm going to give myself partial credit for this prediction. In April and May, Burrell hit .313 with 10 homers and 42 RBI. He contributed a .422 OBP and .974 OPS, and except for the occasional poor outing, looked to have returned to the form that had made him the number one pick in the draft and justified the huge contract that he signed in 2002. In June and July however, Burrell hit just .220 with 8 homers and 26 RBI. Technically, he still returned to form, it was just the 2003 "Ron Kittle-esque" form that no one wanted to see.

PREDICTION #3: The Phillies would ignore contracts and fill the roster with the best 25 players. Okay, so this wasn't a prediction. I'm just using this as a transparent means to expose another frustration with the Bowade Syndrome. All winter and spring they claimed that they were going to take the best 25 guys north. This was exposed as fraud when they kept Doug Glanville and Shawn Wooten on the roster at the expense of Chase Utley, and may have been the players first indication that Phillies management wasn't as serious that "Now Is The Time" as they professed on those T-shirts.

PREDICTION #4: The Phillies would win the division with 93 victories. In my defense, Ed "Delusional" Wade still believes that the Phillies can get there. I thought (as did most) that the Phillies would win the division. I thought they'd do it despite Larry Bowa, not because of him. I thought that with Thome leading the way, with a solid five-man rotation, and Wagner/Worrell in the bullpen, the Phillies would avoid the second half collapse that has plagued them during the Bowade Syndrome years. No dice. In Larry Bowa's four seasons, the Phillies second half record now stands at 130-136. The team has posted a winning record over the second half of the season in just one of those four years. That's a pattern.

PREDICTION #5: Jim Thome would lead the league in homeruns and RBI, earning his first Most Valuable Player award. This prediction seemed like a lock in April as the normally slow-starting Thome raced out the door with a .364 average and seven home runs. He is still on pace to have one of his finest seasons, and if he were to go on a tear like he did last September, he could still overtake Adrian Beltre, Albert Pujols, and Scott Rolen in those categories. The one glaring weakness that has frustrated Thome (and his fans) all season, has been his inability to get big hits with runners in scoring position. Thome, who normally excels in those situations, is hitting a paltry .203 this year.

OFF-SEASON PREDICTION FOR 2005: I will finally realize that I'm terrible at making predictions, at least as they relate to what the Philadelphia Phillies will do. For instance, I think that Larry Bowa and much of his coaching staff will be fired. I also believe that Chase Utley will be the starting second baseman, that Brett Myers, Randy Wolf, and Vicente Padilla are 15-game winners, and that I will see another Phillies World Championship in my lifetime. That's why I don't gamble.

DN Curry comes to you Out of Left Field every Thursday at PhillyBaseballNews.com. You can email him at dncurry@comcast.net.

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