On paper, today is when the Phillies should be playing in the National League Championship Series opposite the Milwaukee Brewers.
Then, the Phillies would advance to the World Series, meet the New York Yankees, win in a 7-game thriller and have a parade down Broad Street in Philly celebrating their second World Series championship in four years.
Before the playoffs, that’s what was supposed to happen.
Again, on paper.
But, as the old cliche goes, “That’s why you play the games.”
If anyone saw Friday’s Game 5 of the NLDS, the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter beat the Phillies, 1-0, to advance. The wild-card Cardinals, who weren’t even going to make the playoffs until the Braves and their historic collapse down the stretch.
The Cardinals got in and weren’t supposed to be a match for the mighty Phillies. This was the year of the Phytin’ Phils.
The starting pitching wasn’t bad for Philly. But the offense was putrid. It’s been getting older and older. People hit like crap and made people like Edwin Jackson look like Cy Young.
The St. Louis bullpen, which was a major bad point for the Cardinals this year, looked like a bullpen full of Mariano Riveras.
One run. One friggin’ run.
In Game 5, that came early. Two batters in, to be exact. For as great as he is, Roy “Doc” Halladay has had issues in the first inning. I groaned when Rafael Furcal tripled. It was worse when Skip Schumaker followed with a 10-pitch at-bat and doubled.
Halladay being Halladay, he got out of it without further issue and then mowed down the Cardinals through the eighth. Ryan Madson came in and did the same in the ninth.
Alas, Chris Carpenter did it the whole game.
The brain farts didn’t help, either. Like Chase Utley with his second base-running blunder of the series when he tried to swipe second. One out, man on and Hunter Pence up.
Pence eventually grounded out to end the inning, so who knows what could have happened.
Utley and Raul Ibanez each missed homers during the game. The one by Ibanez really hurt, as it ended an inning with runners on first and second.
What could have been.
And Ryan Howard — that $25 million guy when his new contract kicks in next year — grounded out to end he season and went down in a heap midway up the line. He felt something pop, according to media reports. It’s possible it’s an ACL. I don’t wish injury on anyone, but that almost seems fitting with as bad of a postseason that he had following the opener.
Probably not quite as bad as Carlos Ruiz and Placido Polanco, who combined for a whopping 3-for-36 in the 7 and 8 spots.
I don’t usually get so upset over a professional team losing. After all, there’s nothing I can do. But, as a fan, I am vested. Emotionally. Mentally. I expect them to be able to score one friggin’ run.
Especially with the second largest payroll in baseball.
Heck, two runs and the Phils would be moving on. Two damn runs.
Instead, these Phillies are off for the season now. Some, I’m sure, will let this stew. People like Utley, Halladay and Cliff Lee don’t seem like fellas who will let this sit too well.
What’s worse is with the surge of social media, these guys can interact with fans more. That can be a good thing. But it can also be bad. Especially when following a playoff loss that might be one of the worst in the team’s history (considering this team), some of them took to Twitter.
Allow me to quote Shane Victorino:
@ShaneVictorino Goodnight to all…very tough/frustrating night for us all. I hope we can all wake up tomorrow and understand the greater things in life….
The happiness of family, for me the fortunate opportunity to play in a place like Philly who has the greatest fans on the planet…
I know we are all disappointed that our season ended like it did…but remember this…I am proud to have been able to play on this team!
He then had a couple of Tweets to others, thanking them for rooting for the Phils and acting all jovial. He finished with this one:
@ShaneVictorino Till tomorrow…again thanks fans for all the support! We couldn’t have done without you folks. Keep all our heads up!
Sorry, but this bothers me.
These son-of-a-guns make a lot of money to play this game. And, in Philly, they play in front of a sold-out crowd each night. So much so that the ownership became spenders.
If these guys are going to Tweet at all, tweet about how pissed you are. I read these tweets and I get the impression of “Oh, well we lost. It was a fun season!”
No it wasn’t. This team was built to win. If you win 102 games in the regular season, you should win more in the playoffs. Anything less than a World Series title is a complete and utter failure.
Hunter Pence also took to Twitter after the game and said:
@HunterPence3 Thanks for all the incredible support….I’m grateful to be a part of this season and of course disappointed I couldn’t do more.
At least Pence took some credit for as bad as the Phils were. He thanked fans, but still noted that he was disappointed in himself. I can at least deal with this over a little happy go-lucky feel.
I’m not putting this all on Victorino. Or anyone else. Or any of the quotes I’ve read in newspaper stories. But this one stings.
And I would have liked to have seen one of these guys let us know that.
In a Philadelphia Inquirer story, Ryan Howard at least said something that made sense:
“It sucks,” Howard said. “It sucks.”
It does, indeed, Ryan.
And you know what sucked even more? That the Phillies cleanup hitter went hitless in his final 15 at-bats of the playoffs.
This one stings so much that I might actually not care about watching the rest of the playoffs, a rarity for me. But this one really bothers me. A loss in the NLCS wouldn’t have hurt so much. But to lose in the first round and then have it be like this? My interest has gone down.
I’ll hope for the Tigers, based on having covered their short-season Single-A minor league team for several years.
Outside of that, I guess it’s the long wait to pitchers and catchers.
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