On The Edge Blog

Monday, November 9, 2009

Time for World Series Reflection...

I had to let this loss settle before I could write coherently about the Phillies squandering their chance at repeating as "World Champions of Baseball."

After the loss on Wednesday night, I had so many thoughts running through my mind, but two of them stuck out from the jumble in my head.

My first thought was that this loss didn't cause the pain and agony that I expected to feel after Shane Victorino's ground ball was gobbled up by Robinson Cano.

If the dream season of 2008 had not occurred, my column and blog would be appropriately titled right now, but it has only been 53 weeks since I stood in section 428 and watched the Phillies celebrate the first Philadelphia championship in my lifetime.Even after losing to the Yankees, I am confident the Phillies will be back for more next season, and that it won't be too long before we are standing along Broad Street for another championship parade. I won't say it will happen in 2010, but it won't be another 25-year wait.

My second thought was that while these Phillies had many of the same players from last year, they were not nearly as good as the 2008 Phillies.

Baseball, like all sports, is a game of inches, and this year, those inches went against the Phillies.

Last year, Jayson Werth's blooper fell between Tampa Bay second baseman Akinori Iwamura's body and glove, allowing Geoff Jenkins to score in the sixth inning of game 5, part II.This year, a few inches allowed Alex Rodriguez to circle the bases in game 3 of the World Series, causing Cole Hamels to mentally shut down. In game 4, if Brad Lidge's slider was an inch lower, Johnny Damon strikes out in the ninth inning, instead of sparking a game-winning rally. And if Shane Victorino catches Derek Jeter's line drive in the third inning of game 6, Pedro gets out of trouble, instead of putting the Phillies in a deep hole.

That was the story of these Phillies.

Last year, the inches went our way because all 25 players had heart and were determined to win it all. This year, it seemed like Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Cliff Lee were the only players who showed up for the World Series, and it was evident in each of the four losses to the Yankees.

While you could argue that each of those plays was a freak occurrence that just went the wrong way for the Phillies, I believe that when you are the more talented team, you make your own luck. However, this series showed that these Phillies were not the more talented team. They certainly weren’t as determined as last year’s world champions.

In the 2009 World Series, the Yankees seemed to use pretty much every player on their 25-man roster, and for the most part, they came through.For the Phillies, it was the opposite.Last year's team had 25 guys who could all be counted on to make a positive contribution to the title run, with the possible exception of So Taguchi. This year, the Phillies roster was made up of the same top players, but quite a few useless bodies at the bottom of that list.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what was the purpose of having Brett Myers, J.A. Happ, Paul Bako, Eric Bruntlett, and Greg Dobbs on the roster. Throw in the ineffectiveness of Pedro Feliz, Matt Stairs and Ben Francisco, and you have one-third of the roster with either no role or no ability to contribute.

If Charlie Manuel didn't have faith in Myers out of the bullpen, either because of injury or general dislike for him, then why have him on the roster?

If Matt Stairs was going to be the lefty off the bench regardless of the situation, why have Dobbs sitting there?

While it was obvious that Bruntlett and Bako had no chance of seeing the field, Happ could have been a solid contributor. Instead of remembering that he was the Phillies' best starting pitcher for about three months this season, the Phillies tried to turn him into J.C. Romero's injury replacement, which everyone could see was a disaster waiting to happen, and resulted in a 5.68 ERA for a guy who had a 2.99 ERA as a starter during the season.

For guys like Feliz and Stairs, they wouldn't recognize the guys who played key roles in last year's title run, and while Jenkins doubled off the wall in last year's clincher, Francisco went 0-for-3, with two strikeouts, to help bring about the Yankees' celebration.

Despite the loss, life goes on, and the days that have since past have been pretty nice. (I even got to put the top down on my car a few times.)

And anyway, the Eagles and Flyers have some talented young players, right?


Like the "On the Edge" blog? Hear more of my opinions about Philadelphia sports every Friday at 3:30 p.m. on WBCB 1490 AM during the Coffee with Kahuna show. This week, we will talk about the Eagles' cross-country trip to San Diego, along with some Flyers and Sixers talk.


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Name: Matthew Fleishman, Yardley News Editor
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