Ron Costello

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Here we go again! There are only three things that are certain in life: Taxes, death, and the start of another grueling baseball season.

The Phillies last month awarded Pete Mackanin with a new two-year doo without the team playing one meaningful game. The club wants Mackanin to manage the crossover, from 2016 to 2017. Makes sense. The club is in a situation where a steady hand is meaningful with a team of youngsters. They open the season Monday at Cincinnati.

Mackanin — at least it's what his contract reads, will take the team into the year of Expectations.

Year of Expectations? That would be 2017. And like Bill Bradshaw says, Pete Mackanin is the perfect man for the job.

But as Phillies's fans, we know about expectations. Oh, we sure do. They can die faster than a cruise ship on a shallow reef. Exceptions don't win games and never won a championship or had a parade. But sometimes, when you least expect it, a team comes from nowhere and surprises the most down trodden — that would be us as Philly fans — aka 1993. As if the fairy princess sprinkled magic dust on Krucker, Lenny-D, Shilling, and Mitchie-Poo. Bang, quick as that, they won for a season and were gone — like your children who are now adults, their childhood a distant memory.

There will be no magic dust this season! If we're lucky, the expectations are real and the sprinkles come later.

The expectations on the youngsters at Reading and Lehigh Valley: J.P Crawford, Jake Thompson, Mark Appel, Zach Eflin, catchers Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfero, and outfielder Nick Williams, to name a few. They may get here this season, or in time for the year of Expectations.

We'll see.

But here in the real world, in the Lord's year of 2016, in South Philly, there are jobs to win: At first and second, and behind the plate — where Chooch will ride off to a Panamanian sunset at season's end, or sooner. The big hoss, Cameron Rupp, is fighting to earn at lease a backup spot, if not here then surely somewhere else. The entire outfield seems up for grabs.

For the outfielder Tyler Goeddel, a 21 year-old Rule 5 pick, it's live or die with a short leash. The Phillies have to keep him — Rule 5 rules — just like they had to keep Odubel Herrera last season. Herrera is on a short leash, too. The club wants a top notch center fielder and they'll have the money to shop. Herrera needs to prove he belongs...that's right, in the year of.........

There are others, like Darin Ruf. He's been hanging around like an unwanted relative, or a cat with bad breath; ditto for Cody Asche. Ditto David Buchanan and Alec Asher. As my old American Legion coach use to say, "it's time to crap or get off the pot." But coach Turtle didn't say crap!

On the farm, there are plenty of kids trying to win jobs, and perhaps no more harder than the youngster Jimmy Cordaro, who came here from Toronto in the Ben Revere trade. Cordaro has a shot at closing. He and his 104 MPH fastball were shipped to Reading where he'll join a cast of others working toward the year of Expectations.

Lookit, the worst thing any of these kids can do is to put too much pressure on themselves trying to make the Show in 2017. That's why Bradshaw, who knows a few things about athletes and youngsters, thinks Pete Mackanin is the right man for the right job.

The right job? Get them to 2017, the year of Exceptions!

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