The expectations for the Phillies have never been higher than they are for 2011 season.

The 2011 Phillies
Ben Francisco scores winning run in bottom of 9th in first game of 2011. Rob Carr - Getty Images

High Hopes
With the off-season return of Cliff Lee, the Phils have 4 starting aces to throw at their NL foes and an offense that even with the loss of Jason Werth, has potential to score runs in bunches. They have been an exciting team to watch for the past 3 seasons and 2011 looks like it could be magical year for the players, fans, the city of Philadelphia and even for Major League Baseball. The club has been fortunate to have the senior leadership of Charlie Manuel and Ruben Armaro who have made some bold and surprising moves. They seem to know what they are doing and have earned the respect of players and fans alike.

World Series or bust. That seems to be the growing expectation among the fans of Philadelphia and even in the club house. They believe they have what it takes to win it all. Over confident? Maybe. There are a lot of games to be played and there are a lot of hurdles to get by, including the injury bug, but there is no reason to doubt their chances are as good if not better than the rest of the league.

Is it fair to have such high expectations of a sports team or any organization? Should we be disappointed when a team “only” makes it to the first round of the playoff then looses? Most teams would just love to make it that far. Many players never get to taste the playoffs, not to mention wear a championship ring on their finger.  Does the pressure of having higher expectations in yourself and by your fans help you do perform better? It seems that the best athletes are those that rise to the occasion and rather than crumble under the pressure they soar. Conversely, it seems without high expectations (or with too low of expectations), many will fail or only reach mediocrity.

What About the Real World?
It seems to make sense to have these hopes and expectations for sports teams that have the right chemistry and talent, but what about the “real world” where we work and live? Should we have high expectations of our leaders at work, church or government? What about our families and our relationships? If our expectations are low are we just setting them (and ourselves) up for failure? Some of us would rather play it safe and not risk being hurt or disappointed and in so doing, miss out on the opportunity to ever taste the thrill or experience the excitement that comes from achieving something that seems impossible.

Do we cheer for our friends and coworkers or do we insult them or try to bring them down. Do we encourage our kids and be there biggest fans or do we point out what they are doing wrong and constantly have to ‘show them’ how it should be done? Do we support our spouses, church leaders and workplace bosses or do we spend our time finding their faults and pointing them out to others?  How much better would they be if we had high expectations and cheered them on?

I believe sports are so popular because we all want to experience what winning is like. We want to be the hero and the one people cheer for. What we often overlook though is the number of times the star players have struck out, the amount of practice they have put in and the sacrifices they have made along the way.

Maybe it’s time we spent as much enthusiasm cheering those around us as we do our favorite sports team. I wonder how many more champions we would produce if we did?

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