“The 0-2 pitch – SWING
AND A MISS, STRUCK ‘IM OUT! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of
baseball! Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season.”
– Harry Kalas
In our eyes, Brad Lidge will always be perfect. If nothing
else, he was the perfect man to finish the job every time he was called upon in
’08, including the final inning of the World Series. Now that he’s calling it
quits after an 11-year big-league career, it gives us all a chance to reflect
on just how vital he was to the city’s first major sports championship in 25 years.
I doubt anybody could have predicted quite how important Lights Out was going to be upon his arrival in Philadelphia.
Lidge was sent from Houston along with the immortal Eric
Bruntlett during the ’08 offseason in exchange for Michael Bourn and prospects
Mike Costanzo and Geoff Geary. An All Star in ’05, he had gained some measure
of fame with the Astros, but perhaps more so for surrendering a game-winning
home run to Albert Pujols in the NLCS that same year. After a couple of
up-and-down seasons, the Phils were able to swoop in and land their closer for relatively cheap.
The rest is history – literally. Lidge saved 41 games in 41
regular season opportunities in ’08, followed by seven more successful
conversions in the playoffs. He won NL Comeback Player of the Year and Relief
Man of the Year awards. And of course, he struck out Tampa Bay’s Eric Hinske on
a slider to clinch the Phillies’ first World Series victory since 1980.
The guy even narrates the team’s championship DVD!
Lidge fell out of favor relatively quickly however. He
signed a three-year extension worth $37.5 million, and was never quite the same
after that. He finished ’09 with 11 blown saves and a 7.21 ERA, and spent a
good portion of the next two seasons on the disabled list. With his contract
finally up, Lidge joined the Washington Nationals last winter, though he only
appeared in 11 games. Now 35, he's decided to retire.
Yet for one season, if only one, Lidge was perfect. Do the
Phillies win a World Series without him? Maybe. Maybe not. From where we stand
today, it’s impossible to say he wasn’t instrumental to that run – and if not Lidge,
The guy was no Hall of Famer. In fact, he only had a handful
of decent seasons when you really start to dissect the career. And, yeah, he only
spent four seasons in Philly, and even two and a half of those were disappointing.
You might say Brad Lidge merely had impeccable timing. Any way you choose to slice it, the man is an all-timer here, if nowhere else. His was
not a classically great career, but there is no debate, he achieved
greatness and then some.
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