Saturday, October 08, 2011

They Died With Their Batting Gloves On

The team built to win now didn't when it had to and for the second straight year took an early exit from the playoffs.

The elimination came in familiar fashion with Ryan Howard making the final out as he did last season. Apart from his game one heroics, Howard finished this installment of the NLDS by going 0-15. Last year, he stood at the plate and took a called strike for the final out. This year, adding literal injury to insult, he may have torn his achilles tendon trying to run out a ground ball.

The loss to St. Louis also had another familiar ring from this season: a starting pitcher held the opposition in check only to see his mates collect a total of three hits. Apparently, four Aces beat any hand but the one they hold themselves.

Years from now, or even next week, if your grandchildren work up the courage to ask what happened, tell them t'was offense killed the Phillies in this series and most of the year. Nearly everyone's average was down considerably except Hunter Pence, who wasn't here long enough to catch the disease.

With the loss, the 102 win season will fade from memory until some other collection of Phillies makes a run at that mark.

We can also expect this roster of rapidly aging veterans will probably see wholesale changes. It isn't difficult to imagine Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez and Ryan Madson will not be here next season for a variety of reasons. Rollins wants a longer deal than the Phils are likely to give. Ibanez' contract is up. Madson is a free agent represented by Scott Boras. Placido Polanco is signed but failing rapidly. Chase Utley had a mediocre season at the plate. His health is always a concern. Howard may be out four to six months if the injury is serious. Then there is the question of whether or not to bring Roy Oswalt back. At times he sounded like a guy who would rather be sitting on a tractor.

A season which began with huge expectations fell flat on its face in the end as the offense sputtered to a dead stop in the finale of the series. At least it can be said they died with their batting gloves on.

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