Would Your Hand Win If You Had Four Aces? (Part III: The X-factor)

Steve O Speak

A Fanspeak Guest Blog By Corey M. Schwartz

Up to about 48 hours ago I would have started this section by talking about what an x-factor is and how there are really only a select few teams each year that have this intangible aura. Unfortunately, just two weeks into the Phillies camp this spring, that aforementioned x-factor that the Phils have carried with them over the last several years has suddenly turned into a new meaning. As in, how many times will Phillies players have to be x-rayed during spring training?

What was poised to be one of the most interesting position battles at Clearwater, FL this spring has sadly come to an abrupt end. In an exhibition game against the Pirates on Saturday, Domonic Brown fractured the hook of the hamate bone in his right hand while fouling off a pitch during his first at-bat in the second inning. A sport notoriously known, as “a game of inches” just became a game of stitches as Brown will head back to Philadelphia this week for what looks like surgery to repair the fractured bone. Talk about a tough break for the kid.

It looks like the timetable for Domonic if he needs surgery will be a 3-6 week recovery and then probably a 2-week extended spring training to get him back into the swing of things. That means Brown would not be eligible/ready to play for the Phils until about mid-May at the earliest in 2011. So what does that mean for the “fight for your right field” competition for the Phillies?

Well, although there is still technically competition between Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. for the right field position, almost everyone now sees the battle as Ben’s position to lose. So far Ben is hitting .364 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI’s, which puts him as the hottest offensive player in camp this spring. If you ask me, he is definitely making his voice heard. John is holding his own too with a .300 average and 2 home runs and 2 RBI’s this spring. The question becomes, is their room on the opening day roster for both?

Unfortunately Domonic Brown’s visit to radiography department is not the only one for the Phils this spring. The grit, the heart, the quiet storm of intensity for the Philadelphia Phillies – Chase Utley, is now one cortisone shot deep this spring. In fact, Chase has not registered a single at-bat this spring for the Phillies due to Patellar tendonitis. In my opinion, coming from a strong health background, this is not a good sign at all regarding seeing Chase’s name on the opening day lineup.

Coming off a season low in games played due to multiple injuries, tendonitis is not an acute injury or one that just sneaks up on a player. If you read some of the recent articles published by baseball journalists around the world, many are now stating that Chase went into spring training with this issue. If that’s the case, why wasn’t the injury treated more proactively (I am looking at you Chase and the Phillies)?

The Phillies had a few extra weeks off this off-season that rounded out to almost four months. I am guessing that this injury either developed during his off-season conditioning or is still lingering from the end of last year. If that’s the case, why was he not resting and receiving treatment for it prior to spring training?

Chase, I get it. The Phillies fans and practically the entire world realize it. You are a badass hard-nose team player that leaves it all on the field. I have the utmost respect for your playing style and the city of Philadelphia has practically enshrined you after becoming “freaking” world champions. However, there is a fine line between being a team player by playing through pain and being stubborn and potentially hurting your team.

The city of Philadelphia and Phillies fans across the world are begging you Chase, don’t try to push through the pain again. Rest your knee, fix what ever it is that needs to be fixed and come back when you are strong. I rather have a healthy Chase in October then a Quasimodo in March.

As it looks right now, the Phillies may be starting the season without their all-star second baseman Chase Utley and rookie sensation in the making Domonic Brown. Does this mean Phillies fans alike need to start popping their Brad Lidge influenced anti-anxiety pills earlier in the season? Honestly I see no need to start waving red flags as of yet.

If you ask me, the Phillies are on the X and they have been for several years now. No, not that kind of X that everyone in baseball assumes SF Giants closer Brian Wilson is on, but instead, that intangible factor that allows teams to embrace adversity in order to continue to win and prevail. In 2007 the Phillies overcame a 7 game deficit to win the NL East crown to the demise of the self-imploding Mets. In 2010 everyone except Jaysen Werth in the starting lineup spent time on the DL and nevertheless the Phillies still found ways to win.

So how exactly do we quantify this x-factor? Simply put, it’s not necessarily being able to win games, but collectively, as a team, the ability to know how to continuously win games regardless of the kind or amount of adversity faced. Point blank: the Phillies know how to win. They have too much talent, too much experience, and too much drive to falter in the face of adversity. The x-factor is not a player, coach or even management style, instead, it’s the summation of all three. My prediction: 2011 Phillies 107-55, World Series Champions over Boston Red Sox in 6.

Corey, an avid Phillies fan, will be analyzing the Phillies chances at another ring through a 3-part series looking at their offense, pitching, and the x-factor. Part I Part II

Corey is also the Founder and CEO of RemixYourHealth, a grassroots and social media based health promotion initiative. Visit RemixYourHealth.com for more information or e-mail Corey at corey@remixyourhealth.com. Also check out the RemixYourHealth Group on FanSpeak!

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