Monday, November 2, 2009

It Had to Happen

During this amazing season, two factors marred the Phillies' success, lingering in the background of every discussion of how good this team was: the inconsistency of Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge.

No matter how large a lead in the division standings, people would end every conversation about this club with a "Yeah, but if Lidge..." followed quickly by a "And who knows what you'll get out of Cole..."

For the first two rounds of the playoffs, against the Dodgers and Rockies, the Phillies were able to keep those doubts at bay. It even appeared to some that Charlie Manuel's handling of Lidge down the stretch had revived this imperfect closer, perhaps given him just enough mental rest to reset the clock.

This weekend, we saw those doubts brought to the forefront. Hamels' forgettable 4 1/3 inning performance on Saturday followed by his inexplicable comments that he just wished the season would end was compounded by Lidge's meltdown that turned what would have been one of this city's most memorable come from behind victories into one of its most indellible moments of pain.

Sunday, November 1 will live alongside Black Friday as a memory no one in Philadelphia is able to forget.

Going to the mound tonight is the seemingly unbeatable Cliff Lee, and Phillies fans are hoping that Cole doesn't get his wish just yet. At the very least, we want to be spared the indignation of watching the hated Yankees celebrate on our home field.

Tonight we root for Lee and hold our collective breath if he isn't able to pitch a complete game and we're forced to turn to the bullpen.

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