I’ve felt like I’m stuck between wanting to cry and wanting to throw up for the past 24 hours. I was physically ill during Game 4. There’s no reason the Phillies aren’t ahead in this series right now. Depending on who your favorite player is, you’re alternatively blaming Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, etc., etc.
The truth is, I can name only a handful of truly blameless Phillies: Cliff Lee, Carlos Ruiz, Chan Ho Park, Paul Bako…blame whomever you want. There’s no shortage of potential scapegoats.
The Damon Steal, Lidge’s implosion in the 9th, Raul Ibanez’s inability to hit Yankee pitching, and all the other crap that went on has been rehashed to death, so I’ll spare you having to relive it again.
Here’s what really gets me. My favorite movie, Independence Day, has a line where President Tom Whitmore is faced with a downturn in the polls. He wryly comments to his communications director, “Isn’t it amazing how quickly everyone can turn against you?”
That’s what I’ll take away from the 2009 playoffs. In 2008, Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge were unhittable. I’d go so far as to say that without the two of them, the Phillies don’t win the World Series. And this year, to say that the two of them have been inconsistent is an understatement. Paul will argue that Hamels is the victim of bad luck. I think that’s true to a point, but I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to argue that something’s different. The curveball, the demeanor, whatever. He just doesn’t seem like the same guy.
But this postseason, they’ve both been great in flashes. Until the 4th inning Saturday, Hamels looked like he did last year–he was unhittable. Then a few bloop hits, a cheap home run, and the wheels come off.
Lidge got 2 outs and 2 strikes last night with tremendous ease. Then Damon fouls off a few pitches and in the blink of an eye, 3 runs score and the series is out of hand. Not only have they been maddeningly inconsistent season-to-season, but from one game to the next and even from one pitch to the next.
It’s maddening. The worst part about this whole thing is that I can still see a way out. If Cliff Lee wins tonight (which seems probable against a short-rest Burnett), the Phillies take it back to New York, where they get Pedro on 5 days’ rest against Andy Pettitte on 3 in Game 6. They hit Pettitte hard on full rest and then some Saturday night, and I’d say they’ve got at least an even chance in that one. Then to Game 7 where they get CC Sabathia against either J.A. Happ or the shattered hulk of Cole Hamels. Well, it’s only one game. Anything can happen.
So I’m talking myself into that eventuality, then I realize that an 80% chance of winning game 5, a 50% chance of winning game 6, and a 20% chance of winning game 7 adds up to (Doing math…) an 8% chance of pulling off all 3 wins. Let the wearing of sack cloth begin.