The statistical anomalies of the Phillies' 2008 run to the World Series were these: a starting pitching staff that remained completely healthy for the entire season and closer Brad Lidge remaining completely, pristinely, impeccably perfect for the whole year.
Now comes the backlash, the statistical reversion to the mean. Brett Myers is now out for the season following hip surgery and closer Brad Lidge is now on the disabled list with a bum knee after blowing a bunch of saves already in 2009.
This is the same knee that Lidge had surgically repaired twice before the 2008 season. He had cartilage repaired in October and his meniscus repaired in February. He was on crutches, in fact, when the Phillies signed him that winter as a free agent. It seems like a long time ago.
But the knee bothered him in late April, they all admitted. He had an MRI done back then and it was said to have shown no tears and no structural damage. A little rest and a cortisone injection was the prescription and then it was back to work. But the work has been spotty at best and alarming at worst.
All through it, Lidge said he was fine. Now, this -- the disabled list, without a hint that it was coming.
The hope is that this is it -- that a couple of weeks of rest will cure Lidge of what ails him. But you don't know. You have to assume that more testing will be done or already has been done. You have to assume, also, that he is finally frustrated enough with his outcomes to tell the truth about how much this has been bothering him. You want athletes who pitch through pain sometimes. You don't want athletes who try to pitch through injuries -- because this tends to be what happens. It is a fine line, obviously. But you would hate to think that Lidge made things a lot worse by stubbornly ignoring the pain.
There is another possibility, too: that this is just a convenient way of dealing with a confidence issue. Pray that that isn't the case. Because if it is, the next months will be tenuous at best and gut-wrenching at worst.
There is a lot we don't know yet, obviously. The only certainty is that it isn't 2008 anymore.