Is this Philadelphia Phillies Team Too Old To Win?
Spring training games start Saturday for the Philadelphia Phillies.
They may not be like the 1983 team dubbed "The Wheeze Kids."
But the Philadelphia Phillies squad that takes the field Saturday to start a month's worth of spring training games before Opening Day is getting a little grayer around the edges.
These aren't your World Champion Phillies of five years ago.
Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels are seasoned veterans now who have gone through the past few years nursing injuries and massaging egos after a season last year that put them out of playoff contention for the first time in a half-dozen years.
Throw in Roy Halliday and Cliff Lee and this roster is really starting to look on the long side of 30.
But don't tell Ryan Howard that. The Big Fella basically has been telling anyone within earshot that the Phils will be Fightin' once again -- and showing the rest of the NL East that they're not dead yet.
Maybe, just maybe the baseball will bounce the right way this year, like over fences or over the plate for lots of strikes.
Maybe, just maybe, Howard and Utley can bounce back from major injuries and show off the form that made them MVP winners and candidates.
Maybe, just maybe, Halliday and Lee will shine as the starter studs they once were, when batters feared to even step into the box against these two great competitors.
Maybe. A lot of maybes.
The Phils even acquired a fellow named Young to play third base.
But ex-Texas Rangers star Michael Young is old too, like 36. Rollins is no spring chicken anymore either.
So this might just be the last chance -- the last stand -- this bunch can make before the Phils go the route of youngsters like new centerfield Ben Revere, outfielder Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and a whole bullpen full of up-and-comers.
Anyway, like any baseball team, hope springs eternal and spring training offers that hope -- a rebirth -- a new season where the possibilities are endless.
Could another World Series championship be one of those?
It all depends on whether Howard and Utley can play a whole year injury-free, whether Hamels can take charge as the staff ace, whether Rollins can get this party started at the top of the lineup and whether Halliday and Lee can hold up their end of the bargain. And, then, of course, can the bullpen back it all up.
Maybe, just maybe.