It's quite obvious from the lack of content on this site over the last few days that I may still be in a state of mourning of what was the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies. It is still hard to put into words a state of shock and disbelief of how a season so filled with lofty expectations and high hopes dwindled down to an early post-season exit. The big question now is...."Where do we go from here?"
The thought going into Game 5 of the NLDS was one of nervousness but also one of hope and expectation that this team with their # 1 Ace on the hill would come out victorious. Roy Halladay struggled through the first inning but coming out unscathed only allowing one run seemed to be a victory upon itself. There was no doubt in my mind that Doc would elevate his game as he most always does. There was also no doubt in my mind that we would be able to score at the very least one stinkin run! Needless to say our bats remained silent as they were most of the series except for Game one's 11-6 victory.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Game 5 would have to be Ryan Howard lying on the ground in pain as a sea of St. Louis Red stormed the field. I didn't want to look back as I exited the park but I couldn't help it, and that was the sight my sore eyes saw. At that moment I had no idea that Howard had burst his achilles and my thoughts were that of "what a sad picture to such a sad ending to the season." It was painful enough to see Howard make the last out yet again, but even more painful to see him lying on the ground as the Cardinals celebrated.
Honestly, unlike I'm sure 99% of Philadelphia phans out there, I felt bad for the Big Fella on my quiet drive home. It is hard to put ourselves in his shoes at that moment, we can criticize and critique all we want but we don't truly know the pressure associated with that moment.
Now my saying all of that is in no way a ploy to let Howard off the hook, because flat out he stunk it up (minus Game 1) and has been nothing short of awful in post-season play.
It is hard to argue with his numbers since becoming a full-time player in 2006. He has been the quintessential big bat in the Phillies lineup. With 286 career homeruns, 864 RBI's, and a career .275 BA Howard has developed into one of the most powerful sluggers in baseball.
But where have those numbers been in October? In the 2010 NLCS Howard struck out 12 times with 0 RBI's en route to being the final out in another early exit. After a monster go-ahead home run in Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS it seemed that Howard was poised to make a statement this October. That ended up being Howard's only HR in the DS, while striking out six times and batting a measly .105. A not so memorable series for Howard and the Phillies.
This is in no way an attempt to blast Howard and put all the blame on him for the Phillies 2011 failures. If Cliff Lee hadn't blown a 4-run cushion in Game 2 we would be talking NLCS instead of what now.
The Phillies are not the Phillies of 2008. We keep expecting to see this never say never, Phigthin' Phils team that captured our hearts in 2008. The one with an MVP slugger, an MVP shortstop, and Chase "You are the man" Utley who did anything and everything to will that team to a victory.
As sad as it is for me to say age has finally caught up with our Phils. Chase is no longer Chase, Jimmy is no longer Jimmy, Polly and Raul showed next to nothing in the NLDS. Our 4 Aces seemed to be more like 2 Aces when we desperately needed a four of a kind.
So the question remains "where do we go from here?" I may sound like I'm doing a lot of venting, well because I am. I am still trying to make sense of it all. I know one thing that needs to happen, and that is that this team NEEDS to get younger. What that will look like come February 2012, I don't know. No more Raul, no more Lidge, no more Polly, no more Country Roy, no more Jimmy?
As big of a Jimmy fan as I am it seems as if his days are numbered. He has adamantly said that he can play another six years at a high level and will be looking for a five-year contract. I just don't see the Phillies taking Jimmy up on that offer.
So as the old saying goes in Philly, "there's always next year." As sad as it is to say next year is all we have to look forward too for the Philadelphia Phillies and it is only mid October! It is weird to see postseason baseball continue without our beloved Phillies. So being the good loser I am, I just turn the television off at any mention of baseball.