Out of Left Field: Seven Game Series

Finally, some fight. Pat Burrell, Billy Wagner, and Kevin Millwood have returned from the disabled list instead of just packing-in the last month of the season. It's also good to dream of what the future holds with the likes of Gavin Floyd and Ryan Howard in the clubhouse. Although the Phillies started this season with aspirations of playing in the World Series, there is still a huge seven-game series yet to be played that may help take the sting away from a disappointing season.

I'm referring to the seven games that the Fightin's still have to play against the villainous Florida Marlins. Three in Florida next week (September 21 – 23) then a season ending four-game set in Philadelphia beginning Thursday, September 30th. The Marlins have been kryptonite to the hometown men of steel over the past two seasons, but the Phils have an opportunity left to reverse the curse. While the losses this past week to Cincinnati have all but eliminated what little hope was left for a wild card berth, the Marlins are still in the fight, and thus ripe for some disappointment of their own.

How satisfying would it be to knock them out of playoff contention? They have been our Achilles Heel in our own playoff runs in 2001 and 2003. Last year they stole the wild card right out from underneath us, and used the momentum to carry them through to the World Series title. They fancy themselves contenders again this year; I'm sure that in the dark reaches of his mind, Jack McKeon envisions back-to-back titles. It would be his crowning glory, a tribute to his "genius." So, let's stick it to him.

Petty? Childish? Of course. But, are you with me? Over the past two seasons, the Phillies record against the Fish stands at 7-20. We've beaten them in exactly one game this entire season, and haven't had consecutive victories against them since April of 2003. I'm no mathematician, but even I can figure out that if we had just split the 12 games this season with the Marlins, we'd be in a dead heat for the wild card lead right now. They have owned us, and Jack McKeon has crawled inside Larry Bowa's head.

I have been hypercritical of Bowa in this space, and I still can't be convinced that he is a major league caliber manager, but that doesn't mean I don't like him. Larry Bowa will always be a legend in this town because he was the shortstop on the 1980 team, and was a member of perhaps the two most beloved teams in Phillies history: 1980 and 1993.

Larry Bowa is a testament to overachievers everywhere, and I personally believe that Larry Bowa can be one of the best third base coaches in baseball. The fact that I think he's over his head in his current job is immaterial to any of that. So, I think he deserves better than what he's gotten from Jack McKeon, and I'd like to see him go out (if indeed he won't be back next season) by leading this team to victory in the remaining seven games with the Marlins. Knocking them out of the playoffs at the same time would be icing on the cake. This is a matter of civic pride. It won't completely recover the sting of another disappointing season, but just like the Septembers of 1979 and 1992, it could serve notice of greater things to come. So let's root the Fightin's on in this upcoming, epic seven games series, and let's turn out in droves for the season ending series at The Vault.

Filet O' Fish!

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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