Bird that Sings

October 25, 2010

The Phillies lose the pennant/Every season tells a story don’t it #7

Filed under: Sports,The Philadelphia Perspective,Uncategorized — admin @ 12:08 pm

Well, the Phillies lose to the Giants in 6, 3-2, at home, and it isn’t that big a deal.

I’m finishing my second shot of whiskey as I write this and my heart doesn’t hurt as much as it did just ten minutes ago when Ryan Howard struck out with two men on to end the game.

For that matter it doesn’t hurt as much as it did the whole 9th inning or even the 8th inning when Carlos Ruiz lined into a double play with two men on to end the threat.

The Phillies scored first in this game but despite having men in scoring position in every inning from the 5th on, were unable to score again and as the game progressed you couldn’t help getting the feeling that it just wasn’t going to be our year.

As Larry Bowa said elsewhere, the Baseball Gods were not smiling on the Phillies this year, and this series was kind of a fractal of the season. Despite having arguably the best starting line-up in baseball, that line-up ended up playing less than twenty games together before the play-offs began.  And once the playoffs did begin, the lineup just didn’t seem to gel in time. Kind of like the Democrats in the mid terms, though we’ll see.

So yes, there is a sadness settling over Philadelphians right about now, and it comes not just from the losing–and not just from the whiskey– but from the sense of loss. This should have been the Phillies year. They had everything in place; starting pitching, power, speed, defense, and with the looming free agency of Jayson Werth there is also the feeling that the team will not be better next year, but worse and worst of all, starting to get older. The Phillies still have a window to win, but winter is inexorably coming now, and the window is closing.

In some respects this particular loss reminds me of the NLCS in 1978, where the Phillies lost for the second year in a row to the Dodgers, a team we all thought that the Phillies were better than–though it must be said in passing, a team far superior to the 2010 San Francisco Giants.  In the 1978 playoffs, the Phils lost the deciding game of the then 5 game series when Centerfielder Garry Maddox, a man Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin used to call “The Secretary of Defense” dropped a routine fly ball to give the Dodgers the win in the bottom of the 10th.

Despite the Phillies of that era being anchored by two Hall of Famers; the best third baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt, and Steve Carlton, the second or third best left handed pitcher of all time, that game against the Dodgers also had the feeling of a window closing for the Phillies and in a way it did.

The Phillies lost the division in 1979 to the “We are Family” Pirates of Willie Stargell and Dave Parker who went on to win the World Series. Those Pirates were frankly a better team than the Phillies that year and it was unclear how the Phils were going to win back their division in the near term, let alone the pennant.

The hopeful part of course for Phillies fans is that the Phillies did come back, shocking not only their fans but themselves in winning their first World Series of modern times in 1980.

So it’s hard to say. I hear Charlie Manuel, the lovable idiot, claiming that the Phils have their best days ahead, and maybe he even believes it. Even stranger, maybe he’s right.

The elements of chance and destiny are a big part of baseball. Nobody in their right mind would have predicted a Giants-Rangers World Series, but (whoop) there it is.

I guess there’s hope for all of us: Even A’s fans.

Anyway, by now I’m finishing my fourth shot of whiskey and it’s getting to be time to wrap this up, so speaking for pretty much everyone in the six County area; most of Eastern Pennsylvania, the entire state of Delaware, Jersey from Cape May to Trenton, and Philadelphians far afield in their Joycean exiles all over the planet, I’d like to say . . .Go Rangers!

You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania.

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