I think we're all familiar with the stages of grief, even if only from that old episode of the Simpsons where Homer eats bad sushi. Since this season has been as about as enjoyable as one long post-season 9 or so Simpsons episode, let's try and pinpoint where we entered each stage. Fun!

Stage 1: Denial

I'm saying at the end of the 0-9 Boston, Atlanta, Baltimore road trip. There were a lot of warning signs during those 9 games. The hitting disappeared until the final game, the bullpen had a couple of collapses, and the team lost 2 Roy Halladay starts. Still, they came back and won the first 2 games of a series at home against Boston and I was convinced everything was fine. They were only a few games back in the division and I just figured the offense went to sleep because their timing was messed up by having to face Tim Wakefield's knuckleball in the first game of the trip. Everything was going to be fine.

Stage 2: Anger

This one is a little tougher. I'd say it was sometime in June, maybe around the time of Doc's groin injury. They were losing a lot of games that it seemed like they would have been winning earlier in the year and were about the only American League team to be having trouble in Interleague play, including losing 2 of 3 to the lowly Washington Nationals. I think my anger was placed towards weaker teams in weaker divisions who hadn't started to fall out of the race so soon.

Stage 3: Bargaining

Let's see. There was a long stretch where it seemed like they could have won almost every game that they ended up losing and by mid-July or so, it was getting to be too much. I know I was blaming most of the losses on bad luck and was telling myself that the team was better than this. That if they held on to Halladay and Rolen and Rios and made a few tweaks, things would even themselves out next season. They had to (I'm 99% sure I was saying the same thing last year, just with A.J. Burnett).

Stage 4: Depression

Easily around the trade deadline. I was coming around to the idea of trading Doc, but it wasn't easy. I had visions of him putting on a 'Philadelphia Phillies 2009 World Series Champions' hat and I didn't like it. The team was going through this stage, too, and you can really see it in how they've played defensively since Rolen was traded. Also, more blowout losses, including Halladay getting rocked a few times, which is really a kick in the nuts, especially since it's probably cost him any kind of shot at the Cy Young award (or, at least, a 20 win season).

Stage 5: Acceptance

I probably reached this one pretty recently. Where I used to getting frustrated when I'd see Kevin Millar's name penciled in as the club's clean-up hitter, now I'm just resigned to the fact that it doesn't really matter. The team has played like shit with better hitters in that slot, I'm not sure having one of the worst hitters on the team in there is going to make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. Same deal with Jeremy Accardo not getting a September call-up. I know it's an incredibly stupid and petty thing to do, but I can't bring myself to get too upset. Maybe they can get something decent for him in an off-season trade. This also applies to Cito's obsession with using guys like Carlson and League, even though they clearly didn't deserve to be used in high leverage situations.

So, there we go. I think it's pretty accurate in how I was feeling towards the team at the time. I don't know if it took my longer to come around than most fans, it probably did, but I think any early season glimpse of the playoffs is going to send me over the edge until this team finally makes it. And, you know what, I'll probably go through this all over again next season. I never learn.

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