Posts Tagged ‘Brad Lidge’
College football is the most exciting regular season in American sports. Every single game matters. There is no playoff, and in some seasons, a single loss will take you out of the running for a title.
The NFL is a close second. The difference between teams in the NFL is so close, that frequently, one loss is the difference between getting in the playoffs and going home. Had the New York Giants, for example, beaten the Green Bay Packers last regular season, they, and not the Packers, would have gone to the playoffs. Instead, the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl, despite being the last NFC team to qualify.
In 2010, the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers made the playoffs on the last shot of the last game of the regular season. They went on to win the Eastern Conference Finals.
So why does it grind my gears when people insist on getting worked up about every Phillies loss this year?
Because baseball is different.
There are 162 games in each season, a little over 10 times the number of games in an NFL season. An NFL team is generally considered to have a very good season when it wins 13 or so games. It happens almost every year. In fact, most seasons have teams win 13, 14 even 15 games. Once, the New England Cheaters won all sixteen.
The most wins in baseball history is 116 by the 1906 Cubs (in a 154 game season) and the 2001 Seattle Mariners. This would be like an NFL team going 11-5 or 12-4.
Again, that happens every year in the NFL. It is far, far harder to do in baseball for a number of reasons.
A baseball season is a battle of attrition. It is a grind. Clearly, it is far less physical than football, but the season is also two months longer. While one loss in football is big, one loss in baseball really isn’t in the grand scheme of the season. There are so many games, that everything you can think of will happen to every team in a given season, even the best ones.
They will win some 1-0 games. They will lose some 1-0 games.
They will blow some people out. They will get blown out.
They will lose games that they shouldn’t. They will win games that they shouldn’t.
They will get out hustled sometimes. They will get out coached sometimes. They will just get beaten sometimes. It is impossible to maintain the same level of intensity for 162 games. No one can do it.
The way that teams are successful is by remembering not to get high on any win, and not too low on any loss.
The Phillies know how to do this. They have won four straight NL East titles, two of the last three NL Pennants, and a World Series three seasons ago. They didn’t do this by freaking out when Charlie Manuel pitches Joe Blanton, JC Romero, Kyle Kendrick and Denys Baez in the same game.
He messed up. It happens. It’s going to happen again.
People say that the offense isn’t good enough, the bullpen isn’t good enough. When Chase Utley, Dom Brown and Brad Lidge return, those people will freak about something else. Because when the Phillies are pounding people and winning 3 out of every four games, the game they lose 1-0 when Roy Halladay pitches a gem and loses will be the one they fixate on.
The Phillies are fine. They have the best record in baseball. It’s early in the season. And for those who say every game counts, I offer you this tidbit:
In the last 30 non strike seasons, guess how many times the NL East has been decided by a single game? Go on, guess.
In fact, it has been won by twenty or more games more often than it has been won by one. History, recent included, has shown that the Phillies are much better in the second half of the season. And they have the best record in baseball, with Wilson Valdez starting most nights at second base.
Think about that for a second.
I, personally, am very content with the way they are playing. If nothing changes, and they continues to win at the same pace, they will finish with 107 wins, nine shy of the all time record.
Chase Utley hasn’t played a single inning,
Neither has Dom Brown.
Or Brad Lidge.
And they have the best record in baseball, on pace for a team record 107 wins.
Get a grip, people. Seriously.
With his Major League leading eighth blown save, Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge is ever closer to fulfilling his boyhood dream of being in the record books for most blown saves in a single season.
“When I was a young boy, I always dreamed of breaking records in baseball,” said Lidge after literally throwing away a game with the Atlanta Braves. “But there was always one that was near to my heart, the holy grail. The single season blown saves record.”
The current record for blown saves in a season is fourteen, held by four different players. The last pitcher to do it was the Minnesota Twins’ Ron Davis in 1984.
Lidge was visibly choked up when talking about the record.
“That was a magical year, 1984,” said Lidge wistfully. “It takes a special kind of situation. You can’t just suck. You have to suck in a special way.
“Kind of like I do this year.”
Lidge was in danger of saving the Braves game yesterday. With his Phillies leading 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, it started off well enough for Lidge with Braves OF Garret Anderson singling to right, just under the glove of Gold Glove second baseman Chase Utley.
“That was a break right there,” said Lidge.
Then Matt Diaz laid down a bunt just to the right of Lidge. He had time to throw to second and start the double play.
“That went through my mind as I reached for the ball,” said Lidge. “But then I thought, the record!
“I bobbled the ball and threw it into right field. I had no choice, really.”
With that, Anderson scored. Lidge, charged with two errors on the same play, knew his work was not done yet. He then walked the next two batters, one intentionally, then struck out Ryan Church.
“It was more dramatic that way,” he said.
Then, to the surprise of no one, Lidge left a slider over the plate that Omar Infante hit into left field for the win.
More importantly for Lidge, the blown save.
“I really think I can do it if I get the opportunities,” said Lidge. “I’m glad Kim (Myers) hit (her husband and injured Phillies pitcher) Brett (Myers) in the eye like I asked her to. That should buy me a couple extra chances.”
When told that Kim denied that and that the Myers claimed that Brett fell out of his car, Lidge chuckled and said, “Sure, ok, whatever.”
“Six more to go. Wow, I can’t believe I am actually this close to history.”
Hey, Brad, you got a second? We, the fans of Philadelphia, just wanted to say thanks. Thanks, Brad, for the magical perfect ride last season. That run of 48 straight saves in a Phillies uniform last year, from April through the World Series was amazing, thanks. Don’t let the bullpen door hit you on the way out.
It’s over. Brett Myers is coming back.
No, it’s cool, we know you’re a great guy and everything. It’s just that, well, you know, you really have been a terrible pitcher this year.
We can live with the major league leading seven blown saves. The law of averages says that’s probably about right with the perfect season last year. It really isn’t about the ERA either, really, although an ERA over 7 is ridiculous.
No, it is the way you are blowing saves that concerns us, to the point where we need to end this now.
Your success is dependent on people chasing that nasty slider, because you can’t throw it for a strike. (Well, you can, but when you do, it gets hit hard.) People are on to this. They know that they can just wait out the sliders until you have to throw a fastball for a strike to hit, or a slider for a strike to hit, or continuous sliders off the plate or in the dirt until you walk them.
Let’s take Tuesday night in Chicago. You walked Kosuke Fukudome, who was then sacrificed to second. Behind in the count to Milton Bradley, you threw your slider over the plate, which, predictably, got smacked into center for a game tying RBI single.
After the game, you wanted to focus on the walk. Regarding the pitches to Fukudome you said, “I guess I could have made them a little closer so they could be called strikes.”
Yes, Brad, you could have thrown them over the plate instead of trying to nibble. A pitcher working a perfect closing season gets those calls. A guy with six blown saves and an ERA north of a touchdown does not.
Look, you don’t have to explain. It’s not that we don’t love you, we do. You’re a great guy. It’s not you, it’s us. We just need more consistency, like Phillies’ pitching coach Rich Dubee says. You aren’t giving us what we need.
Look, Brad, don’t make this harder than it already is. It was fun, right? You can keep the ring. No, we insist . You can – wait, that’s our cell phone, hold on, we need to take this – hello? Hey, Brett, how’s it going? You threw two simulated innings yesterday? No pain? You think you might be pitching in a rehab start within a week? Great! Hold on, what? Yes, he’s still here. We’re telling him now, hold on a second.
Look, Brad, we gotta go. Actually, you gotta go. Thanks again for last year. No, now. Goodbye, Brad.