There really is no other way to describe the feeling watching the Cardinals celebrate on the field last night while Ryan Howard was curled up in a ball grabbing at his Achilles tendon which, still pending an MRI, trainers think he tore it. Seconds after I watched Albert Pujols squeeze the ball in his glove for the 27th out last night, I felt helpless. Unable to move as I watched the Cardinals celebrate on the field in which I watched the Giants celebrate in person last year. No words came to my mind when my friends were asking me questions about the team, what had happened, and my thoughts on it. There were no words. My thoughts? I didn’t have any thoughts at the moment. The only thing I had were emotions. Pure, unfiltered emotion. I wasn’t mad. I was upset. I was sad. This was our year, this was the year we were supposed to bring it home. I invest my heart and soul into this team each and every year from pitchers and catchers, to the 162 regular season games and the playoffs. This was the one time where I wasn’t mad when they lost. Just absolutely heartbroken.
As I think back on the year, I enjoyed the ride this team took us on. Sitting there with my dad on Opening Day freezing my butt off, I watched as the Phillies strung together single after single with John Mayberry coming through with the game winner to beat the Astros 5-4. I watched every single pitch of the Phillies-Reds game on May 25th and sat there stunned as Wilson Valdez hit 90mph on the radar gun. Running around at two in the morning as the Phillies finally beat the Reds in 19 innings.
I was taken back when the calendar turned July 1st and Cliff Lee had driven in two runs in the month of June but had only allowed one run on the mound. I sat overjoyed as Cliff Lee fouled off pitch after pitch against Braves ace Tommy Hanson before Lee deposited a fastball into the right center field seats for his first career grand slam.
I ate dinner happy on July 29th knowing the Eagles had landed Nnamdi Asomugha then Ruben Amaro came through in his “I will not be outdone” moment when it was announced that the Phillies had acquired Hunter Pence. I watched as the Phillies went through the month of August and grew their lead in the NL East to 7 ½ games only to watch it balloon to thirteen games by the end of the season. Amazingly watching the Phillies sweep the Braves in September and then go into Milwaukee and take three of four from the Brewers.
I watched players like John Mayberry Jr. and Vance Worley step up in big situations and come through when the Phillies needed them. I watched Worley go from a guy who is filling in the rotation to someone who made it difficult to leave him out of the playoff starting rotation.
But as I watched last night unfold and the Phillies offense only able to muster three hits over nine innings, as I watched Doc Halladay leave everything he had on the mound, and the Phillies offense unable to pick him up, I forgot all those awesome moments. I sat stunned wondering how could this team who I had such high hopes for (no pun intended) could not manage a single run in an elimination game. But as the minutes passed by and the scary reality that the Phillies were eliminated became more real to me, these memories started to come back.
I wanted nothing more than to bring home a championship. I wanted to have that overwhelming joy that I had on October 29, 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series. Unfortunately, that is not in the cards this year. So it is time to sit back and reflect. The Phillies played 167 games this year and won 104 of them (62%). Of those 167 games, I went in to each and every one of them expecting a win. I remember a no-so-distant time when I would go into most games HOPING they win but not expecting it. So I thank the Phillies for what they did this year. They gave this city a sense of pride. For the second best year, over the course of the regular season, they were the best team in baseball. They set franchise records. They made each night down at Citizens Bank Park an enjoyable experience. It is common to hear players thank the fans for their loyalty and passion but I am taking this opportunity to thank the players. Thank you Phillies. Thank you for making this spring, summer and early fall extremely exciting. Thank you for leaving everything you have on the field each and every day. Thank you for giving the fans a reason to be proud. I am excited for next year already.