First, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals. They played well and deserved to win this series. And that statement may be the only light moment in this post today…
I am angry, disappointed and thoroughly disgusted by this loss and the effort this Phillies team put forth in this NLDS series. I apologize in advance if anyone is offended by what I am about to say, but I need a good rant to get this off my chest.
I do not want to hear, “We’ll get them next year.” I do not want to hear, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Because frankly, the issues on this Phillies team are not hindsight. They are glaring problems that were obvious to me before the series even began. If they were obvious to me, what I want to know, is why weren’t they to manager Charlie Manuel?
As my first example, take Placido Polanco. This is a guy who normally hits at least .300 every year. But he has been playing on a hip that will require surgery this offseason. Manuel said after the game that Polly was in pain, but still able to play. Just because he is ABLE to play, does not mean he should have.
Polanco batted .105 in the series and should have been benched both for his lack of production and for his health. Putting a guy with a bum hip in the line-up every day was almost a guarantee of an 0-4 day. Wilson Valdez played in 99 games in the regular season and came through many times in big situations. Valdez would have at least accidentally run into a hit at some point.
I am not saying Valdez should have played every game, but Polly certainly should not have stayed in the line-up once it was obvious that he was unable to hit with this injury. This was a huge mistake.
Another huge mistake was Ryan Howard. Can anyone think of a good reason for Howard to be tinkering with his stance and location in the batter’s box during a playoff series? No? Neither can I. He did pretty well the 1st two games and then suddenly by Game 3, he had moved so far back in the batter’s box that he was almost in New Jersey.
So Howard made the final out of the postseason again, two years in a row, in the most pathetic manner possible. He hurt his Achilles and went down like a sack of potatoes trying to exit the batter’s box. He had to be helped off the field. Fittingly, the look on his face matched the feeling of every Phillies fans in attendance and watching at home; sheer agony.
Next up, Chase Utley….you all know I love Mr. Utley. But WHY is he taking a chance trying to steal a base in a 1-0 elimination game against Yadier Molina who throws just about everyone he faces out in that situation?
And my new favorite topic of discussion is Jimmy Rollins. Rollins may be the only player who had a pretty good series until the final game. He openly scolded fans about being too quiet after Game 2 and asked them to give it their all in Game 5. Ok, fine. The fans more than obliged and Rollins proceeded to go 0-4 in the game. The fans brought it, why didn’t Rollins? After the game, Rollins would not speak to reporters. Go figure.
And then there is Raul Ibanez. I can see letting him start most games, but when he started swinging at balls 2 feet out of the strike zone, this is a sign. Ibanez goes hot and cold like the flip of a switch. When he is obviously cold, take him out! Give John Mayberry Jr. a shot. TRY something to kick start this horrid offense!
Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz were just as bad in this series. After ending the season with a .314 average, Pence hit only .211 in the NLDS. Ruiz was worse, going 1-17 which equates to a .059 average.
Shane Victorino and Rollins were they only two guys who hit with any sort of consistency, but Rollins crashed and burned in the final game.
And then there is the line-up as a whole. Manuel moved Utley to the 2-hole and Pence to the 3-hole. This worked well for all of maybe 3 games total? – A few in at the end of the regular season and Game 1 of the NLDS? Howard hit well before with Pence behind him. Why mess with that once it stopped working?
Manuel is big on what he calls playing the guys who got them to this point. I’ve got news for Charlie…Valdez, Mayberry and sometimes Michael Martinez were a HUGE part of what got this team there, filling in for injured players and making big plays. But he started Mayberry once and totally ignored the other guys.
And now for the pitching…Roy Halladay gave everything he had and gave up only one run. He would have bled for this team if he thought it would help. But the team let him down and could not score even one lousy run for the one guy who has carried them all year. Disgusting. After the game, Halladay said that the worst part of the loss was letting down the fans who were so supportive all year. For me, the person I feel the worst for is Halladay. He deserved a win; he earned it. This team should be ashamed of letting him down like this.
And among the rest of the four aces, only Cole Hamels pitched well. Cliff Lee blew a 4-run lead in Game 2, which was the real turning point of the series. Once that happened, the Cards knew they had the Phils by the balls. It was all downhill from there.
The Game 3 win was a freak accident, thanks to a Ben Francisco homer. But the Phillies did not really earn that win. And in Game 4, Roy Oswalt choked and gave up 5 runs. So much for four aces. Because the Cardinals had the royal flush.
This is possible the biggest let-down for any Phillies team in history since Black Friday on October 7, 1977 when Davey Lopes with the Dodgers was called safe and the momentum propelled the Dodgers to win the series. So Friday October 7, 2011 (yes, the same day) may go down in history as Black Friday II.
With the pitching staff the Phillies assembled this year and the overall talent on this team, to see them lose the NLDS is a gut-wrenching tragedy. I would not be surprised to see GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at the top of a very tall building today contemplating where it all went wrong.
I feel sorry for Ruben – he did his job, got them the players they needed and has nothing to show for it. In fact, this Phillies team since the 2008 World Series win has taken one huge step backwards each year following: in 2009 they lost the World Series; in 2010 they lost the NLCS; and now in 2011, they lost the NLDS. One step further back each year – if the trend continues, they will not even make the playoffs next year.
The window of opportunity for this team to win is about to close, which is the worst part of this horrible loss. The main players are getting older, they are more injury prone and many may not even be back next year. This may officially wind up being the worst offseason in Phillies recent history.
So I am ready to spit nails, how about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
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