Thursday, November 05, 2009

World Series, Part I: The Vanquished

There's no strength or will here to give the Phillies a hometown boo. They didn't earn one. Sometimes, losing is just a no-fault bummer.

The Phillies had three excellent chances to seize control of the World Series against the Yankees; at the start of Game Two, when they took a 3-0 lead in Game Three, and when they tied up Game Four in the bottom of the eighth. They couldn't take advantage of any of 'em. Playing uphill is no way to beat that opponent.

It is part of the grandeur and misery of postseason baseball that any weakness a team had in the regular season will inevitably reveal itself at the worst possible -- usually fatal -- moment in the playoffs. It even happened to New York, when Joe Girardi's lust for overmanaging cost them a win against the Angels.

The Phillies' weaknesses in 2009 were, in order of appearance, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge. They each had a shot to be a Series hero, and were goats instead. This is sad, but hardly surprising.

Analyzing my feelings about the Series today, I was surprised at my relative lack of them. Oh, I was disappointed last night, and this morning, but my predominant sentiment was a kind of washed out blur of blah. I think it's baseball overdose. The playoffs are so long, if a fan commits to them, he or she is going to experience far too many highs and lows to keep them all straight. It takes a whole heap of energy to get twisted up over the failure of what one knows damn well is a 10,000 to 1 shot at a comeback. Better to surrender to the void when Hideki Matsui shoves you into it.

Besides, too much sorrow would be an unseemly memorial for the 2009 Phils. Bitching that the defending World Series champion only returned to the Series and couldn't win again is the kind of behavior that ought to get one thrown out of the better class of barrooms. Then there's this: by any rational analysis, the Phillies shouldn't even have made the playoffs in the first place.

Hamels and Lidge were the primary reasons the Phillies won the championship in 2008. They both pretty much sucked all year. Here is a team that could not depend on its number one starter or its closer from Opening Day on. And it made the World Series anyway. SOMEBODY, make that about 23 other somebodies, on the roster must've played his/their asses off.

And so they did, from start to flawed finish (it's hard to hit 11 home runs in six games and lose 4 of them, but the Phillies did). They were an admirable ballclub. I'm glad I spent almost my free time since October 1 admiring them.


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