Tag Archives: Brad Lidge

Philadelphia Phillies: Perfectly Awful Game

2 Aug

On the same night that the Phillies former closer took the mound for one last time and threw out the first pitch, the Phillies current closer threw the last, at least for the Phillies.

On the same night Brad Lidge, wearing his familiar #54 jersey,  retired as a Phillie and was honored for his 2008 perfect season, Jonathan Papelbon blew his sixth save in 13 opportunities since mid-June.

Brad Lidge lauded the Phillies, the front office and their fans:

“This is such a first class organization from the day I got here.  The players here, the front office, it’s the place I wanted to be attached to for the rest of my life and every time I think about baseball I want to think about Philadelphia and the fans here and it means a lot to me,”

But Jonathan Papelbon’s recent words had a decidedly different tone.

“I definitely didn’t come here for this (losing),…. I would like to stay here,” Papelbon said. “But if I’m going to have to put up with this year after year, then no, I don’t want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?”

But Papelbon, who also said that it would take changes “from top to bottom” for the Phillies to turn things around had better start by looking in the mirror because lately he has been a big part of the Phillies problems, including his blown save last night.  Papelbon allowed two runs in the ninth inning, wasting a brilliant eight-inning shutout performance by Cole Hamels, in a game the Phils lost to the Giants 2-1.

In short, a night that began with memories of the heart-stopping, unforgettable  2008 World Series Championship, ended with yet another heart-breaking loss in a season we wish we could forget.

Philadelphia Phillies NOT the Phavorites!

9 Feb

“You LIKE me, You really like me.”

(Younger readers just google Sally Field and you’ll understand.)

A heartfelt thanks for the warm welcome back.  (Warmth greatly needed on this snowy February morning on the East Coast!) This blogger greatly appreciates your support.  I will try to live up to all the kind words.

As I sit looking at the snowy white scene out my window it’s hard to believe that we’ll be seeing red in just a couple of days now.  And let’s hope that’s just the uniform color.  Many of you have already expressed your concerns for this year’s Phillies team.  My favorite was the description of the Phils outfield as “Moe, Larry and Curly”  (Thanks, Ron.)

But is it already time, before a single pitch is thrown, to  ‘throw’ in the towel??

 I think not.

It’s hard to argue with the fact that this may be the hardest Phillies team to get a handle on in years.  Lots of major players returning from injury, an aging lineup, no huge off-season acquisitions.  Wait a minute, isn’t this usually an uplifting blog?

Well, here’s my spin.  After several painful years of being the favorites but never living up to expectations, including a year with a record-breaking number of wins during the regular season only to be followed by elimination in the first round of the playoffs, is this fan sorry that the Phillies will NOT be a favorite again this year?

I think not.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for the last several years know how I feel about being picked to win.  I HATE IT!  Why?  Because if you win, you were expected to and if you lose (which every team but one ultimately does,) you blew it.  Where’s the fun in that?

Look at it this way.  Close your eyes and think back to 2008, that magical World Series year.  You’re smiling right?  Did we have Cliff Lee on the mound?  Or the “Doc?”  Did we have a starting rotation thought to perhaps be the best baseball has ever seen?

I think not.

How about a starting rotation featuring Brett Myers, Joe Blanton, a 45-year-old Jamie Moyer, who in 2008 was the oldest active player in Major League Baseball, and a then-unproven young lefty named Cole Hamels.

And did that 2008 Phillies team, the one that won the World Series, did they have a $50 million closer?

I think not.

They had a bullpen full of unknowns like JC Romero, Scott Eyre and Chad Durbin.  And their closer?  Well he was trying to come back from an injury-filled season not to mention the fact that many had written him off after he gave up a 3 run homer to Albert Pujols in the NLCS.  What was his name again?  Oh yeah,  Brad Lidge.

And what about the outfield?  Let’s see,  it was the oft-maligned Pat Burrell in left, a Rule 5 draft pick from Hawaii, Shane Victorino in center and a platoon in right field of an unknown Jayson Werth and an even lesser-known Geoff Jenkins.

Were they the favorites?

I think not.

OK, I’m not saying that I think this year’s Phillies will win the World Series.  I’m not even saying that they’ll win 80 games or 90.  But am I ready to write the season off before it even starts???

I think not!

Now I’m going to make myself a cup of hot chocolate, sit in front of a warm fire and watch my old dvd of  The Perfect Season.  And I suggest you do the same!

Gone But Not Forgotten

27 Jan

Brad Lidge is no longer a Philadelphia Phillie today after signing a one-year one million dollar deal with the Washington Nationals.  Gone is that familiar walk from the bullpen when Lidge was coming in to yet another tight game in the ninth.  Gone is that filthy slider Lidge used to such great effect in 2008.  And gone is the classy man who even after the toughest losses suffered later in his Phillies career was always by his locker willing to answer questions, willing to take responsibility, willing to stand tall in good times and bad.  And that, my friends, is even more rare these days than that nasty slider.

But what will never be forgotten is that magical journey we had in 2008.  A journey that very well might have ended differently if not for the quiet, classy closer who was nothing short of perfect that World Series-winning year.  Lidge went an historic 48-48 and was on the mound when the Phillies clinched the division and, of course, when they finally won it all.

And yesterday, to no one’s surprise, he was the same classy Brad Lidge he has always been.  Although he was “surprised and disappointed” that he wasn’t able to work things out with the Phillies, when asked how he felt about leaving, he had this to say.

“I enjoyed the hell out of my time here.  I’d thank every fan personally if I could.”

No, Brad, we thank you.  For the perfect season, for your huge role in bringing us our first World Series Championship in 28 years, and for, well, just for being Brad Lidge.

And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then this one’s worth a million.




A Season for the Gods

9 Aug

Normally I hate a West Coast game.  No matter how hard I try I can never stay up till the end.  Last night I made it to the fifth.  But I think I’m glad I wasn’t awake for the eighth inning when the Phillies comfortable 4-1 lead was reduced to 4-3 by a combination of the normally reliable Michael Stutes and the recently rejuvenated Brad Lidge.

It was one of those ‘close your eyes and hope it’ll be over soon’ bullpen moments: an inning involving runner’s interference, a wild pitch and a three-run lead suddenly reduced to one.  It would have been a familiar scene last season or the one before.  But reading about it this morning reminded me that the real story isn’t that they almost blew a game in the late innings last night but how very few of those moments we’ve had this year.

Even in 2008, the year the Phillies won it all, there were many such close calls.  Brad Lidge might have been perfect but some of his saves were perfectly agonizing to watch.  Not that I’m complaining.  Believe me, I’ll take a painful save over a blown one any day of the week but this year we just haven’t had many ‘I have to leave the room because I just can’t watch’ moments.  In fact this year’s bullpen, even with all its injuries, has only blown three saves in 36 chances, a major league low.

Most of the 2011 saves have been of the one-two-three variety.  Very little drama, very little angst.  Which is just fine with me.  It shows what a truly incredible year we are witnessing as Phillies fans that not only has this team won a league-leading 75 games, not only are they 35 games over .500!, not only do have the biggest division lead of any team by far, 8.5 games over the second-place Braves,  but they have accomplished all of this with, for the most part, a workmanlike calm that is almost otherworldly. This is certainly un-like any season the Philadelphia baseball world has ever seen.

Even Shane Victorino‘s suspension played a role in the game last night.  Rather than serving it immediately he is appealing, hoping to have the three games reduced so Victorino was in the line-up last night.  He only went 3-5 with two doubles, three runs scored and an RBI with a home run in the ninth to give the Phils some needed breathing room after that uncharacteristically rough eighth.

Yes, his suspension of three games did seem a bit severe though he should certainly have received a suspension after shoving an umpire.  Yes, it was surprising that none of the Giants received suspensions at all.  Yes, it was even surprising that Placido Polanco, adding insult to  injury (his newly diagnosed sports hernia), did receive a fine for his ‘offense’– almost getting tackled at the knees by Giants catcher Eli Whiteside.

But, you know what?  I’m not going to pick a fight with the baseball gods on this day.  Not on this day when I am reminded of how truly amazing this Phillies season has been.  Not on a morning when a close call in the eighth reminds us all of how very few close calls there have been this memorable year.

I’ll just continue to thank those all-powerful gods of baseball for a season such as this.  I’ll continue to appreciate the pitching, the defense, and yes, even the hitting of late that is making this a season to savor.

In fact, I think I’ll even contemplate giving them an offering of some kind.

Hey, what do you think baseball gods like on their cheesesteaks??

A Touch of Class

27 Mar

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During an exhibition game this week in which he wasn’t in the line-up, Carlos ‘Chooch’ Ruiz returned to the deserted clubhouse.  There was a brown box on a table which at first he ignored until he noticed written on it:

To:  Chooch                                                                                                                                           From:  Roy

Ruiz opened the box to find an exact replica of the Cy Young Award won by Roy Halladay last year.  At the time Halladay said he shared the award with ‘Chooch’ and he couldn’t have done it without him.  Well, now, they really share the award.  Typically, Halladay didn’t want to talk about the generous gift and didn’t make a pubic display of presenting it.

Now that’s class.

In a sports world where too much attention is often paid to poor behavior, today’s post highlights some of baseball’s classier moments.

When the Texas Rangers won the ALDS last year, their star left fielder Josh Hamilton was prepared to skip the celebration.  He has battled both drug and alcohol addiction and has learned he should not be around champagne.  But when he walked down the tunnel he was told to put on his goggles.

When he reached the clubhouse the whole team was waiting for him all holding bottles of Canada Dry ginger ale.  As soon as they saw Hamilton they yelled, “Ginger ale!” and soaked him with the bubbly soda.  According to Hamilton,

“The stuff burns your eyes just like the alcohol does.”

Now that’s class.

Days after the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, the entire Washington Nationals team donned Virginia Tech baseball caps when they came onto the field for the second inning.  The crowd responded with a long, emotional ovation.  The Nationals went on to lose the game 6-4 but this night wasn’t about wins and losses.  It was about a small gesture  that made a big difference.  Perhaps third baseman Ryan Zimmerman who attended V-Tech’s rival, the University of Virginia, said it best,

“It kind of shows you how little sports mean.  It makes you realize how lucky we have it and not to take any days for granted.”

Now that’s class.

And since this is a Phillies blog, one final story.

2009 was a year Brad Lidge would rather forget.  After his perfect 2008 season, 2009 was one of the worst in baseball history for a closer.  In fact, in mid-September Lidge was removed from the closer role by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro.  But throughout the season Lidge handled his difficulties with grace and style, always making himself available to reporters after the game, always taking responsibility for his performance.

So on the night the Phillies were about to clinch the Eastern division title, with two outs in the 9th, Charlie Manuel headed for the mound.  He took the ball from Scott Eyre and waved to the bullpen.

In came Lidge to a raucous standing ovation from the sell-out Philadelphia crowd. Charlie wanted to give the man so responsible for the World Series win the year before, the honor to be on the mound once again when the team clinched the division title.

Lidge threw one pitch to Houston Astros slugger Lance Berkman who hit a grounder to first.  Ryan Howard made the out and the celebration was on.  And at least for one night, thanks to a special gesture by his manager, Brad Lidge‘s nightmare was over.

Now that’s class.

In less than a week the 2011 season will begin.  There will undoubtedly be reports of bad behavior on and off the field but let’s not forget to celebrate the good stuff, those athletes that with their often quiet gestures, bring to America’s game a ‘touch of class.’


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