Could Yankee Stadium energize the Phillies?
NEW YORK -- The Phillies are taking some early batting practice at Yankee Stadium, the first time on this field since Shane Victorino grounded out to end Game 6 of the World Series.
It harkens back to the glory days of the Phillies, when they competed for championships and ruled the National League East...
OK, OK, this isn't talk radio.
The Phillies are in a slide, no doubt. But could Yankee Stadium be the energy boost the team needs right now? Hear me out: The Phillies entered 2010 with immense expectations, namely, to walk through their competition in the National League. They've won two pennants in a row. That has made for some long seasons.
Has it taken a toll on this year's team?
In the past, the Phillies have gone into June slumps, normally what they have called "going through the motions." This slump is longer and worse than what the Phillies have gone through in previous years.
Some of the core players look tired. They're frustrated. During this streak, a few players talked about the pressure built up at the beginning of the season. It's not always that easy, they said. Sure, but no one expected a 32-29 record on June 15.
All of this brings us back to Yankee Stadium. There will be a great deal of attention on these games. The pitching matchups are overwhelmingly in favor of the Yankees. But this isn't a mid-June series against the Orioles. There are no excuses to not get up for these games.
"I think going into that building we know we're facing another great team and we have to step up," Cole Hamels said Sunday. "That's what matters. We have to play good baseball. We have to hit, we have to run, have to field, and have to pitch."
In spring training, Charlie Manuel said he wanted the Yankees again. On Sunday, he backed off that a bit -- a clear sign of how the first 61 games have changed things.
"We've got to win our division first," Manuel said. "We've got to get there. I said when the World Series was over and I told them in spring training, we want to get to the World Series. If we play the Yankees, that would be fine with me. If we played the Red Sox, that would be fine."
So maybe, returning to the scene of where the 2009 season ended in disappointment provides a wake-up call in 2010.
"It's going to be fun," Ryan Howard said. "I know a lot of people are going to try and make a lot out of it. But right now, we just have to go out there and play. Try not to get caught up in the hype."