For those not familiar with this duo, the two Joes represent the divergent views of Philly sports fans. Sometimes they actually exist within the same body, fighting for control of the fan’s mind.
Without further ado, let’s check in on the two Joes for the first time since last September.
Joe Pessimist: This is unbelievable! What’s going to go wrong next?
Joe Optimist: What are you complaining about?
Joe Pessimist: Those darn Phillies are driving me crazy. They can’t hit, the bullpen is a disaster, their bench …
Joe Optimist: Are you talking about the team that’s only four games out of first place? Those Phillies?
Joe Pessimist: I’m referring to the last-place Phillies. Of course, you probably turn the standings upside down so you can pretend the Phillies are in first place.
Joe Optimist: I know they’re not in first place. But, considering all the injuries they’ve had to key players, being within a few games of first place is pretty amazing.
Joe Pessimist: Amazing isn’t the first word that comes to my mind.
Joe Optimist: I’m surprised anything actually comes to your mind.
Joe Pessimist: What did you say?
Joe Optimist: Relax. I said, “You’re surprised when the sun actually rises on time.”
Joe Pessimist: Oh. That’s not what I thought you said.
Joe Optimist: I can’t believe you’re this upset about the Phillies. They’re hanging around .500 without Utley and Howard in the lineup. When those guys return, the Phillies will get on a roll.
Joe Pessimist: What makes you think they’re coming back any time soon?
Joe Optimist: Didn’t you hear? Utley had three hits Monday in Florida.
Joe Pessimist: You forgot to mention that Utley’s hits came in an extended spring training game. He’s facing young prospects in that game, not major-league pitching. Besides, he was the designated hitter. He still hasn’t played the field yet. In case you didn’t know, the Phillies don’t play in the American League.
Joe Optimist: Only you could turn Utley getting three hits into a negative.
Joe Pessimist: I’m just being realistic. I don’t get excited about hits in extended spring training. Thome and Michael Martinez had three hits apiece for Clearwater on Monday. Are you excited about that?
Joe Optimist: Thome and Martinez had three hits apiece? I didn’t know that. Thanks for the encouraging news.
Joe Pessimist: I’ll ignore that. As for Utley, I won’t believe he’s close to returning to the Phillies until he plays second base for a few straight days.
Joe Optimist: I’d like to see him play the field as well. But I think that day is coming sooner than you think.
Joe Pessimist: If it’s in 2012, it will be sooner than I think.
Joe Optimist: Well, you’re finally right about something. But I think you’ll see Utley and Howard in the lineup by mid-July. That will leave plenty of time for the Phillies to catch up to the rest of the division.
Joe Pessimist: What makes you think those guys will be back during July? Did Ruben Amaro tell you that?
Joe Optimist: No. As you know, Ruben Amaro has consistently refused to put a timetable on their return.
Joe Pessimist: Hey, do you know how you can tell when Ruben Amaro is lying?
Joe Optimist: No. How?
Joe Pessimist: When his lips are moving.
Joe Optimist: All right. I know he hasn’t exactly been forthcoming with information about injuries.
Joe Pessimist: That’s a nice way of putting it. I heard yesterday that Amaro refused to characterize Richard Dawson’s death as a setback in his recovery.
Joe Optimist: Can we please stick to baseball?
Joe Pessimist: OK. What about the offense? Are you pleased with that?
Joe Optimist: Of course not. But having Howard in the lineup will have a domino effect. Everyone will see better pitches.
Joe Pessimist: You’re still banking on Howard and Utley to change everything. What if they aren’t the same Howard and Utley we’ve seen in the past?
Joe Optimist: Even at less than 100 percent, they will make this lineup much, much better.
Joe Pessimist: They can’t be much worse than the slop they’re sending up to the plate now. This team hasn’t won a game when trailing after seven or eight innings all season long. What makes you so optimistic?
Joe Optimist: When Halladay gets back, this team won’t need as many runs to …
Joe Pessimist: When’s he coming back? August? September? How do you know Halladay will be the same pitcher when he returns? Or should I say, “If he returns?”
Joe Optimist: I don’t know that. But when you consider how well the Phillies have done without Utley and Howard all season, and with Worley, Halladay and Lee all spending time on the disabled list, I can’t see how you can be anything except optimistic.
Joe Pessimist: It’s easy to see how you could be optimistic. For those of us on planet Earth, the Phillies’ situation isn’t looking so rosy.
Joe Optimist: If I gave you all the injuries they’ve had and told you that Cliff Lee wouldn’t have a win at the start of June and Roy Halladay would be a below-.500 pitcher, would you have believed the Phillies would be within striking distance of first place?
Joe Pessimist: If I told you that Carlos Ruiz would be hitting .370 and Jonathan Papelbon hadn’t blown a save, would you believe the Phillies would be this bad?
Joe Optimist: I don’t understand your point.
Joe Pessimist: My point is that Ruiz isn’t going to keep batting at an MVP pace. Papelbon will eventually blow some saves, like he usually does in September and October.
Joe Optimist: Now you’re picking on Papelbon? You’re unbelievable!
Joe Pessimist: I’m simply saying that it’s unlikely that Ruiz and Papelbon will continue on this torrid pace. It’s true that other players may pick up their play, but that will be balanced out by the fact that Ruiz and Papelbon can’t maintain this pace all season.
Joe Optimist: The sky is blue.
Joe Pessimist: What’s that got to do with anything?
Joe Optimist: Nothing. I was just trying something out.
Joe Pessimist: Speaking of the sky, your sunny disposition is giving Philly fans a bad name. Don’t you know we have a reputation to uphold?
Joe Optimist: That was then. This is now. The Sixers and Flyers are on the rise with young talent. The Eagles had a terrific offseason and should challenge for the Super Bowl.
Joe Pessimist: Oh, you want to talk about the Eagles now?
Joe Optimist: Um, no. On second thought, I don’t.
Joe Pessimist: Hey, all this arguing made me kind of hungry. You want to get some lunch?
Joe Optimist: Do you think we could agree on where to eat?
Joe Pessimist: Good point.
Joe Optimist: See you at the parade.
Joe Pessimist: At the WHAT?!!!
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