You have got to be kidding.
Narrowingly judging our 2006 installment of the team by a single game -- last night's thrilla in the Phila -- there is positively nothing new that's positive about this team. The bright spots all phans know and love -- namely Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley -- are there, but aren't new. Complimenting those ups are the same old downs, the ghosts of mediocre seasons past. Witness:
-Bobby Abreu pulling up yet again on a sinking pop fly to shallow right, instead of sliding in for an entirely makeable, fairly injury-possibility free, shoe-string catch play. This, of course, eventually led to a run.
-Brett Myers in a huff, first about Bobby, then about pitches called balls which every angle of replay will clearly show to be balls. Balls, on the other hand, are what Myers has to suggest anything doing with the umpires affecting his pitching.
-Despite us defending him at Opening Day during his 2 for 3 performance at the plate, Mike Lieberthal is, more often than not, terrible in all aspects of the game. Blaming him for Myers' mental breakdown is unfair, but a ten-year vet has also got no excuse when his pitcher is self-destructing and he does nothing about it. Throwing a ball into CF in the 9th was galling, although not as galling as a game-ending, directionless impatient at-bat with the bases loaded by a pitcher who had just walked two batters. Fond memories still exist of Mike the Catcher circa 1999 (or even 2003), but not anywhere near the new stadium they don't.
-Charlie Manual almost insisting on making moves that confound the developed portions of the brain, sending up perhaps the bench's worst hitter, Alex Gonzalez, as the first pinch-hitting option, when Abraham Nunez, Shane Victorino, and David Dellucci would all be more potent options, and mishandling elementary situations like using a mound visit to buy time for a pitcher warming up in the bullpen. Despite being the team's fourth OF, it looks as though Shane-O is destined to be Pat Burrell's better pair of feet this year.
The optimism many of us so readily nurtured throughout the offseason has been met not just with underachievement, but familiar, frustrating underachievement. The grass we envisioned is already looking like weeds, and if you think we're being altogether presumptuous at a too-early junction of the race, well forgive us if we've seen it before. We have, and for that, we're just as insane as everyone else in this asylum.