I woke up this morning, and there was a sharp chill in the post-dawn gloaming. Today is the worst day of the year. Always is. It's not just that the Phillies came up disappointingly short in their once-in-a-lifetime chance to take down the universally reviled Yankees -- thought there is that. The end of every baseball season is depressing -- I even felt a bit that way last year, even though the Phillies had just won the World Series; because victory still meant an empty ballpark for the winter, the loss of the cherished warm summer ritual. Why do you think God invented Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve? -- His desperate attempt to get we mortals over the hump of a frigid, tree-dead, baseball-less winter. It's still not enough, O Lord.
It's hard to know what to say about the Series. It's clear after these six games and also the three regular-season matches that the Yanks and Phils are the two best teams in baseball, and evenly matched -- were it not for the Phillies' problems with Brad Lidge and Cole Hamels. But were it not for Lidge and Hamels, the Phillies wouldn't be our Phillies, would they? In winning three straight NL East titles, going to back-to-back World Series for the first time in the 126-year history of the franchise and winning once, we've been blessed to watch the greatest incarnation of the Phils ever. Next up, a return trip to the Fall Classic in 2010, and a victory (hopefully, as Charlie Manuel said last night, over these Yankees); that would match the 1929-31 A's -- who went to three straight Series and won two of them -- as this city's greatest team in any sport, any time. (Just as the Yankees flourish under Democrats, Philadelphia baseball thrives in horrible economies -- the A's of the Great Depression, the Phillies of late 1970s-early '80s stagflation and unemployment, and now this recession-timed group. Interesting.)
I'm trying to get out of baseball, but here's a very short list of what the Phillies need to do on the off-season/
1. Sign the best set-up man available in free agency. Brad Lidge is under contract and realistically can't be traded, so the Phillies need to take the money from Brett Myers' now-expired contract and get someone who can pitch the 7th or 8th (along with Madson) if Lidge gets it together for 2010, and the 9th if he can't.
2. Somehow revamp the entire bench. The Phillies desperately need someone like Hideki Matsui -- but who can run and play the field.
3. Pray for the rapid maturation of Kyle Drabeck.
4. Take all the extra cash from all those sellouts at Citizens Bank Park and use it -- to buy the full-time services of Dr. Phil (I figure $5 million should do the trick). The Phillies need the world's greatest tough-love psychologogist to whip Hamels and Lidge back into shape, and that may be the only way for this team to return to its rightful destiny next October/November.
Like I said, I was hoping to be totally done with baseball here -- but I now realize that there's also something else that needs to be said...about New York.