Back home for a three game set with Arizona, the Phillies are on solid ground save for a pair of pitchers, one who achieved perfection a year ago and another who may have become too big for his britches.
Aside from being a game of inches, baseball has that uncanny way of leveling the playing field by knocking players down a peg or two. Only the elite best of the best are immune from game’s wrath. Today, only Albert Pujols has the bloodline to ascend Mount Olympus. The rest, like Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels, were about to reach the top, until Zeus stuck a lightning bolt in their ear. It’s between the ears where baseball’s true battle rages on: the intense perfectionism, impatience, frustration, self-doubt and inevitable hopelessness that cripples baseball’s remaining 99.9 percent at least once over a 162-game season. These symptoms are especially true for pitchers, who wait days to remedy their symptoms. Lidge and Hamels are fighting themselves as we speak. Lidge has reportedly watched the tapes, perplexed that identical versions of himself - as he sees it - have produced sadistically varied results between 2008 and 2009. Meanwhile, only injuries have slowed the perfect specimen from San Diego ... up until now. Hamels has had the ability to stop time with his change-up, but the tables have turned and the game has evolved. Now, it’s Hamels whose pitches lay motionless.
The Phils could employ the type of artificial stimulus that has worked in the past. It took a minor league demotion for Brett Myers to right himself, and a four game benching for Jimmy Rollins to wipe the slate clean. But most of all, it will take the will, and maybe even some humility, to get back in baseball’s good graces.
Phillies well represented in BA’s tools issue: Beerleaguer’s senior correspondent received the latest issue of Baseball America yesterday and he’s happy to report the prospect magazine sure loves Lakewood outfielder Anthony Gose, voted best base-runner, fastest base-runner, best defensive outfielder and most exciting player in the Sally League. Gose, who just turned 19, has collected an incredible 66 stolen bases this season. Reliever BJ Rosenberg, second baseman Harold Garcia, third baseman Travis Mattair and outfielder Quintin Berry were among the lesser known names included in the issue. As long as you skip the page on the International League (zero Phillies entries), the BSC says you won’t be disappointed.