Sunday, November 8, 2015

Has It Already Been That Long?


The Beginning Of The Lidge Legend – On this date [yesterday] eight years ago, the Astros sent Brad Lidge to Philadelphia as part of a five-player deal. Lidge was two years removed from his last All-Star appearance and coming off a 2007 season during which he converted 19 of 27 save opportunities and sported a 3.36 ERA -- not a bad season by any means, but nothing historic. His first season as a Phillie, though, can only be described as "tearing it up." Lidge was literally perfect, going 41-for-41 in saves (the first Phillie ever to do so), while averaging 11.94 strikeouts per nine innings. He was an All-Star and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting that year, but Phillies fans probably remember his seven saves in the postseason more than anything he did in the regular season -- including Lidge's World Series Game 5 save that clinched Philly's first championship in 28 years. Your browser does not support iframes.  Did the Phillies win the World Series because they traded for Brad Lidge? It's impossible to prove otherwise. Fun fact: Joining Lidge in that deal was Eric Bruntlett, who turned the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history as a Phillie in 2009.

Phillies Host Sleepover – On Friday night, Citizens Bank Park turned into a wonderland for a special group of Philadelphia-area children, who were able to turn from hospital patients into Major Leaguers for the Sleepover in the Phillies Clubhouse. The children, all being treated for serious illnesses, had the rigors of that routine wiped off their faces by wide smiles as they filed into the clubhouse in the early evening, accompanied by their parents and lugging sleeping bags and duffel bags of baseball equipment. Participants ranged in age from 3-year-old Noah Sierra, a patient at Temple University Hospital, to 16-year-old Riley Hunter, undergoing treatment at Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Others came from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. Each youngster was assigned a balloons-bedecked locker; one reedy teen broke into a grin as he entered the room and, with glee, immediately pointed to the nameplate "Marcus Quattlebaum" above a locker. As the kids began to settle in, new Phillies general manager Matt Klentak welcomed them with a video message to inform them that they would each sign an official players contract to become Phillies for a day as "my first official signings." Bending over the contracts placed in their lockers, the kids affixed their signatures, then made a beeline for the indoor batting cage, where they took turns taking cuts off tees with the help of a quartet of Phillies ballgirls. After slicing line drives, the kids took slices of pizza, as well as french fries and chicken fingers, from a buffet in the middle of the clubhouse. The Phillie Phanatic crashed the feast, adding selfies to the menu. The meal was followed by movies with the usual accompaniments -- ice cream and popcorn. A scavenger hunt, chaperoned by Phillies staff, ensured that by midnight the kids would be ready to drop into the sleeping bags laid out in the footprints of Ryan Howard, Freddy Galvis and company. It wasn't easy, with the prospect of sleep interrupting this special experience. Usually, dreams only come in sleep, but these kids were dreaming with their eyes wide open. Eventually, they drifted off, knowing that the treats would continue in the morning, with breakfast in the clubhouse followed by a photo session in the Phillies dugout. The Phillies did not have a successful season in 2015, but it got a whole lot better on a night-into-morning when they gave a bunch of kids the gifts of mirth, and of hope for all of their tomorrows.

The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.

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