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Thursday, September 24, 2009

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They need this game so bad

This season is heading inexorably toward the conclusion most Phillies fans secretly, in the darkest corners of their black, black hearts, really want and desire. Because the Phillies are not about victory, they are about pain, and last year was kind of disorienting in that way.

Last season, we were the resilient team who flourished in the late innings and at the end of the season, delivering demoralizing losses to the Mets and others. This season, we're the ones blowing the leads late in games and the come-from-behind wins we had at the beginning of the season are gone.

And that's basically why I think this season has felt so much more depressing and worrisome than last. Also, after a certain point last season, everything came as a pleasant surprise. This season, if we don't go to the World Series, it'll be a disappointment.

Murgatroid: I couldn't disagree more. Going to the WS is difficult. I think, with this ballclub, should they not win the division, that would be a disappointment. Going to the playoffs three years running is not an easy feat. If they get there and win a round I will consider than more than successful. They will have proven without a doubt that last year's team was no fluke. Although, honestly, the only ones who seem to still feel that way are the delusional divisional fanbases that seem to think the Mets handed the Phils the WS on a silver platter.

Part of it is an inevitable emotional letdown from the heights of last season. We already know that even if they do find a way to make it all the way through, it can't compare to how it felt last fall. We've experienced the pinnacle and everything else is just gravy. It simply can't mean as much; all the hurdles have been long since cleared, and the wistfulness is for the greater intensity of meaning which has gone more conspicuously missing than Brad Lidge's command.

Meaning or not, however, another part of it is that everyone knows they aren't going very far at all in October, and it's going to suck to deal with unhappy ending looming copiously in the headlights.

Saw this on Twitter today: When you say “Hang tough,” I hear, “We have no better strategy than letting you stand there being punched."

Sound familiar, Mr. Lidge?

With a better team (save the 'pen) this year than last, it will be hard to not feel disappointed.

Time for Cholly to earn his pay.

Technically, once you win the WS, everything that follows seems like a disappointment unless you repeat.
However, I think this has been a great season so far. The worrisome part is how Cholly and the FO don't see the Lidge problem.
The Phils can win in spite of it, though.

Ummm, not to throw off this Debbie Downer whinefest, but I'm actually really enjoying this season. Yeah, the Lidge situation is adding an uneasiness that I prefer wasn't there, because it sets up the possibility of an especially heartbreaking ending, but on the whole I'm still really excited about the upcoming postseason and the possibilities that come with that. The fact that we won last year makes this year that much better, because we can just enjoy the games without the "25 years with no title" monkey still hanging on our backs. Yes, anything that happens this year is just gravy, but I really like gravy, and it sure beats eating sh*t like we used to.

You guys are nuts. Last year at this time, we had no idea if we were going to make the playoffs, and more importantly, we had not idea how our Phillies were capabale of playing in the playoffs. Those 3 games against COL in 2007 didn't teach us much.

This year, we are a lock to make the playoffs and we know that Hamels, Utley, and crew are killers when the pressure is on.

Boo-hoo, our closer sucks and we lost a tough game to the Marlins. I am still a hell of a lot more optimistic on September 24 2009 than I was on September 24 2008. How can you not be?

"This season is heading inexorably toward the conclusion most Phillies fans secretly, in the darkest corners of their black, black hearts, really want and desire. Because the Phillies are not about victory, they are about pain, and last year was kind of disorienting in that way."

I find this ridiculous. Where does this come from? Why do people think Phillies fans - any fans - want to lose? Stupid. You support a team, you want them to win. There is no psychological thing. I want them to win. Not even in the darkest pit of my heart I want to lose. That makes no sense.

What I really think is this whole shenanigan is what we're expecting. I mean, what sure-brained person doesn't think the Phillies 2009 campaign will rest solely on the shoulders of Brad Lidge in the ninth inning of a playoff game? Probably in the NLCS, probably in game five or six.

It's an inevitability. Because we know the score. And Charlie Manuel's failure to follow logic and keep Lidge away from high-pressure situations only makes this expectation greater. Nobody wants anything bad; we just see the writing on the walls because it only makes sense.

Hi all-

We're off to Milwaukee for the games on Saturday and Sunday. I thought it would just be a little gravy at the end of the season...now I am feeling a LOT more pressure about these games. If they look good (again)- there's hope, but if they look like they've been looking lately- it's gonna be a short postseason, indeed.

I feel discouraged.

And of course, since Joe Blanton has pitched about half the games on national basic cable this year, we get to see him yet again on Sunday. Nothing personal, I like Joe a lot, but variety is the spice of life!

Have a good evening.

Spitz, you're making too much sense. Cut it out!

Not sure I've ever enjoyed a Phillies season more than this. The knowledge of a WS behind me and the promise of another postseason ahead of us.

The Phils have played GREAT this year despite some bullpen short-comings. We've won more than 60% of our games over the last about 40 games.

No team goes into the playoffs without flaws. I'm confident our flaw won't prevent us from being a top contender for the crown yet again.

CJ, are you serious? Um, don't you realize that ever other contender other than the Phillies has absolutely no chinks in their armour. I mean, don't let recent results fool you - Yankees starting pitching is not only fine, they are unstoppable. And the Dodgers - don't get me started with them...I mean, I bet they could sweep us even WITHOUT Clayton Kershaw.

Ibanez scratched with stomach virus, BenFranciscoTreat to start.

Don't want to create a panic, but did Vic give Rauuul the Swine Fluuuuuu?

"everyone knows they aren't going very far at all in October"

I don't know that at all.

@CJ

No questions asked.

CJ: Agreed 100%. Had that argument with denny b last night when he said this team was a "fraud".

This team has been playing really well and hitting well against some really good pitchers, especially over the last month. Yes, there's one glaring hole at closer, but if the team throws in the towel because of him, I'll eat my own head. (i.e. I'd bet good money they don't)

1st Baseman-B level player
2nd Baseman-Saint
SS-Can't hit
3B-Can't hit, too short
LF-Too Old
CF-Too Stupid
RF-Too Wasted
C-Too Short
Bullpen-Stinks
Starters-Pitched too many innings

Ladies and Gents, your 2009 Philadelphia Phrauds.

Old Phan: Ha!

I remember a panic last year and cry for Aaron Rowand's missing leadership from JW, in a post that pretty much waved the white flag on the season. Two months later, a post recapping our championship parade.

I am well aware of our liability in the ninth inning, but to write off a run in October as impossible is just foolish. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, people: these are two legitimate aces. And Joe Blanton has been the most consistent quality starter on the staff. That's three high-quality pitchers pitching Games 1-3 of every playoff series.

I think it is a safe bet to say that if the Phils don't get far in the playoffs, it will be because of the 9th inning. However, it's just reactionary and knee-jerkish to say that because of the 9th inning, the Phillies won't go far in the playoffs. They have the staff and lineup to dominate a series. Back off the Lidge, er, ledge: these Phils have as good a chance as any NL team to win the league.

Re: Race for best record

To me, the key is finishing ahead of the Cardinals. If we do, we get the Rockies at home in the first round. If we don't, we get the Dodgers on the road in the first round.

I'd much rather face the Rockies with home-field. It'd be nice to secure home-field in the NLCS as well, but if the Dodgers play the Cardinals in the first round, we might still have home-field if the Cardinals win.

Old Phan: Haha.. I really enjoyed the too old, stupid, and wasted for our OF. Well done.

Regarding my buddy Rob Neyer's link, he is being disingenuous when he says he doesn't know if a 2-inning closer can work.

Neyer was in KC in the late 70s and early 80s when Dan Quisenberry, a submariner, was there and was one of the best closers in baseball.

Quiz led the league in saves 5 times in 6 years and damn near all of them were 2+ inning saves. He pitched 130 innings a year as a closer.

I'm glad the optimists are posting right now. We need to move the pendulum the other way a little bit. Repost from last thread:

Awesome stat from Stark:

"Maybe the best argument for the Phillies' October readiness: Since May 1, Lee, Hamels and Blanton are 7-1, with a 1.75 ERA, against other prospective playoff teams."

Those are insane numbers, against playoff teams, not little sisters of the poor. But to some beerleaguers, apparently, those samples are poor indicators of what will happen in the postseason. And Lidge or Madson must not have appeared in any of those games in the 9th inning.

Carassco pitching for the Indians on MLB channel

Also, because it just seems to be the nature of sports, the 9th inning will probably be a non-issue in the playoffs. Usually the things we dread the most never come to fruition. We worry about those things we can't control, and then we find out later that we worried for nothing. Such is life.

I'm looking for Lee, Hamels, and Blanton to go deep into games, and the 3-run HR to be their best friend.

Old Phan - That was brilliant!

Oh, and I'm going on record right now to predict monster contributions from Pedro Martinez & Raul Ibanez in the playoffs. One is the quintessential competitor who lives for the big moments and has been doubted for the better part of the last three years. The other is the consummate professional who has never had the opportunity to be a key contributor for a team during the post-season.

We've all been talking about how Happ has to go to the bullpen if the lefties don't come back. But if both Eyre and Romero do get back, and Myers and Park don't, then you have to move Pedro to the pen, right?

So many things up in the air right now. I think the Happ/Pedro decision comes down to which arms (lefties or righties) make it back to the pen the healthiest. If it's the lefties, you send Pedro to the pen. If it's the righties, you send Happ. If it's both, it's a tough call, but one from a position of strength. If it's neither, well, we pray.

It will take Cholly about 5 seconds to decide between a healthy Pedro and a healthy Happ. In fact, he already has.

RBI Single with a runner on 1st. Very Nice.

smokyjoe: for those of us not watching, how exactly did that go down?

@Timothy Malcolm: I find it sort of amusing that you called my (joking, sort of) post about people wishing for the Phillies to fail so as to restore the natural order of things "stupid," and then followed it up with foreboding musings about inevitability and Brad Lidge on the mound in the late innings of a crucial NLCS game. I stand corrected--no fatalism there at all, Mr. Calvin!

Pounce!

Utley was running on the pitch, Howard hit a gapper to RF that was cutoff by the center fielder, who slipped a little when turning to throw. Utley just kept running, but Howard didn't want to make an out on the bases and pulled up.

Quick poll of Beerleaguers. Choose 1:

A. Brad Lidge will pitch in a 9th inning save situation tonight

B. Brad Lidge won't pitch a 9th inning save situation tonight

C. There will be no 9th inning save situation tonight because we'll be more than 3 runs ahead

D. There will be no 9th inning save situation tonight because we'll be losing or tied

At the risk of not taking a stand, I'll vote for Option C.

I guess there should be an Option E: There will be no 9th inning save situation because Happ pitches a complete game.

If both (C) and (E) happen, either answer will be considered correct.

In the postseason last year, Lidge came in with a four-run lead twice, a three-run lead
three times, a two-run lead once, and a one-run lead twice, both times in the World Series.

If 2009 Lidge had been pitching for the 2008 Phils in the playoffs, we can assume that two World Series wins would have been blown, and at least one other playoff game. Face it, they're gonna need someone to pitch the ninth in some close games in this postseason as well, and if that person ends up being Lidge, they will lose, simple as that.


bap - B. It'll be a roller coaster ride of awfulness.

That last post was simply meant to stem the tide of postseason optimism here before it got out of hand.

Carrasco had one of those blowup innings in the 4th against the Tigers.

3-0 popup by Jimmy on a pitch that would have been ball four. How in the world can Charlie give JRoll the green light? That is terrible managing.

Way to go slugger.

J-Roll given the green light on a 3-0 count. Bad idea.

That AB was Rollins in a nutshell. 3-0 count. 1 pitch away from getting a runner to scoring position with their best hitter for average coming up. And what does he do? He swings and pops up.

Since when does a .245 hitter with a .690 OPS get an unconditional green light in all situations? That was just heinous.

Happ is looking like closer material.

12 pitch inning, 3 strike outs, all swinging. Ladies and gentleman, your postseason closer.

bap: I vote for A, and I hope he blows it again. We can afford to lose now, if it will put another nail n his coffin, and ratchet up the pressure for Cholly to do something other than say "he's my man".

Don't understand the doom and gloom either or the Phils "really need this one." BS. NL East is locked up and the Phils should have some needed time to sort out some of the issues in the bullpen. Hopefully they get a couple of guys back and are ready to roll the dice come Oct.

As for this series, the only things I remotely care about are seeing Happ and Pedro pitch. Split and keep marching forward to the inevitable division wrap up.

Don't worry about J-Roll. It's nothing Milt Thompson can't fix.

in the pre-game show they gave some insane stats on opponents BA againt Happ in varous situations. i wish i could remember them.

It's the bottom of the 9th and the Phils are up 2-1. Happ has thrown 120 pitches. Everyone in the dugout except Lidge gets sick and starts puking.
Do you
a) Let Happ pitch in the 9th
b) Bring in Lidge

I would rather the Gnome pitch the 9th over Lidge at this point......

substitute dugout for bullpen

Howard just wiffed on that. Way to help the pitcher.

Old Phan: If b), then everyone on BL starts puking...

That's an E-3, regardless what the homer scorer says. Seems like they've been adding up lately.

People keep talking about '93 today it seems and Williams but they seem to forget the fact the Wild Thing had a very solid NLCS against the Braves and just had those 2 notable meltdowns against the Blue Jays.

What everyone seems to conveniently overlook is that bullpen largely stank in the playoffs and was really shallow all year. Stiffs like Thigpen and Mason saw meaningful apperances in both the NLCS and World Series and it was not exactly like LA and West were world-beaters either.

If the Phils can get a few guys back (and that is a big "if") and stop the insanity with Lidge as the closer (leave him off the roster), this team should have a capable enough bullpen to patch it through for another postseason run.

And, hey, if Pedro can throw 130, the young whippersnapper certainly should be able to do the same.

Scott, good point.

Fun fact : If Lidge pitches like he did last year, this game is for win #100. With an above-average closer, say 4-5 blown saves instead of 11, this Phillies team would be challenging the franchise win record by the end of the season. It's a really good team with an astonishingly bad closer.

These first three innings, both offensively and defensively, are examples of why some posters are going a little overboard with the negativity. I know they pretty much have it locked up, but could they play some sound baseball anyway, just for kicks and giggles?

Yeah, lets have Happ throw 120+ pitches when he is coming off an injury and has a tender arm. That's makes a world of sense.

MG - I certainly am not suggesting Happ should go anywhere near, much less beyond, 120 pitches. Our manager often seems to have ideas of his own on such matters, however.

That is definitely composure that Rookies are not supposed to have, and a certain closer rarely shows.

Old Phan: I don't want Happ throwing 120 pitches when he's coming off an injury. I turn the ball over to one of the guys who's puking.

With a league average closer and a league average leadoff hitter we'd be past 100 wins tonight. But what fun would that be.

BTW, I think Howard's defense has regressed to the mean in the second half of the season.

Offense needs to pick this team up tonight. Suppan has been his usual mediocre self tonight.

This time, I'm with b_a_p. Bring in Mr. Creosote over Lidge.

BAP-Then I will add....
C)Bring in puking pitcher.

Just get the runner over Bako . . .

I think they should have Bako bunt Feliz to third for Happ...

I was on the same wavelength as you on that one MG.

I hate the bunt in this situation. I'd rather have a GIDP that scores a run.

Good execution this inning so far. JRoll better take a freaking pitch here.

Popout, or Double Play?

As I said last night, Jimmy is actually swinging the bat well. The problem is that he makes poor contact on pitches out of the zone, and he can't lay off them.

Smoky: Nah, a bunt was fine there. They now have 2 chances to score 2 runs. Of course, they'll fail, but that's beside the point.

Off course, I wouldn't totally blame Jimmy for not taking a walk, what with Vic's history w/ runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs.

Excellent AB by JRoll. Make this stiff throw a strike in the zone.

Time for Vic to Man Up.

It's like clockwork

Smoky: See, after I disagreed with you about the bunt, that's where you're supposed to say, "Look, pal, I made a perfect prediction on Jamie Moyer's stat line in the last game -- right down to the number of innings pitched & hits allowed. I know far more about baseball than you could ever dream of knowing."

Could they let this terrible pitcher off the hook more? It's infuriating. He's thrown 82 pitches in 4 innings, and the Phillies have only scored 2 runs. Unacceptable.

Ugh. At least the Phils were patient that inning though but man they have sucked with RISP since the ASB. Can't buy a hit (or even a SAC fly) in most of the time since August.

Did Utley's last pitch of the at-bat slow down to slow motion for everyone, or just me? It was pretty trippy.

That sucked ass.

BAP, I'm not trying to be negative, but this team shows certain tendencies that the manager completely disregards. It's assinine.

Saint Utley has turned into Saint Crappy this month.

Gaaa!

Ah, who cares, Happ's on pace for 18K tonight.

I won't feel too bad for Uts when he misses the 100 RBI plateau this year. He's had plenty of opportunities that for sure, they all have.

Joe - Such as? JRoll, Vic, and Utley were all patient and didn't force a bad swing and worked the count. I don't mind those innings as nearly as much when you see JRoll or Vic swing at some piece of crap pitch out of the zone on the first pitch.

Ah, well, Mahatma Utley.

TG, that happened here,too. Now there are audio problems, too.

This whole ballgame is a mess! The camera and the sound is totally fucked up!

I'm gonna guess Utley hasn't had a bases load hit since at least the ASB.

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