You have probably read, or at least seen, 100 of those misguided stories this year. We read them when Tiger Woods won his first tournament of the year. We read them again when Woods played a good opening round at the U.S. Open. We read them when Woods won his own tournament at Congressional (Md.) against a watered-down field.
We’ve witnessed a similar phenomenon with the Phillies this season. How many times during the first half of the season did we read stories about the Phillies turning the corner? Even after all of those false starts, we heard similar sentiments expressed this week as the Phillies put together a modest four-game winning streak.
I understand the motivation. Without hope, the Phillies season will simply drag on and on … and on.
But I’m tired of reading all these premature “they’re back” stories. That’s why I’ve come up with the following criteria for writers considering writing “they’re back” stories.
Tiger Woods won’t be back until he wins a major.
The Phillies won’t be back until they pull within five games of a playoff berth.
The Phillies won’t pull within five games of a playoff berth until they find a middle reliever who can consistently get players out.
The Union won’t be back until they get to .500.
The NHL won’t be back until it reaches a new collective bargaining agreement with its players union.
Roy Halladay won’t be back until he pitches a complete game.
The Flyers won’t be back until Ilya Bryzgalov plays like an elite goalie.
The Tour de France won’t be back until viewers are confident the riders aren’t the products of better chemistry as much as better training.
The Eagles won’t be back until they reach the Super Bowl.
The Big Five won’t truly be back until they bring back doubleheaders at the Palestra.
Track and Field won’t be back until the next Olympics.
The Sixers won’t be back until their young players develop.
Chase Utley won’t be back until he can play in every game for an entire week.
Boxing won’t be back until there is one champion per weight class, top fighters battle each other instead of avoiding each other, big fights are on at a decent hour … in other words, boxing will never be back.
Michael Vick won’t be back until he makes it through an entire season without missing more than one game or, of course, he wins a Super Bowl.
Penn State football may never be back.
Joe Paterno’s reputation will never be back.
All-Star games won’t be back until the players actually care which side wins.
Roger Federer already is back.
Lenny Dykstra won’t be back for a long, long time.