The lasting image will always be of a man on his knees, reaching up toward the glowing sky, teammates swarming and fans cheering as entire city spun on his axis. Brad Lidge says he will always have that moment: will always remember the sound of the crowd, the feel of the grass bleeding through his pants, the incomparable high that comes with being a world champion.
"I enjoyed the hell out of my time there," Lidge said yesterday from New Orleans, where he was scheduled to take part in a Triple-A Hall of Fame banquet. "I'd thank every fan personally if I could."
He was professional to the end, saying only that he was "disappointed" that the Phillies decided not to offer him a contract to remain with the club for a fourth season. Lidge said that at the end of the season, he talked with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and left the meeting with the impression that if he could not find an opportunity to close, the Phillies would be ready to offer him a modest contract to help set-up for newly-signed Jonathan Papelbon.
"We thought it was probably going to happen," Lidge said. "Basically when the season ended, I talked to Ruben, and he said, 'We understand you'd prefer something else, an opportunity to close,' but he said 'we'll be here if you don't have the opportunity to close."
A couple of weeks ago, Lidge said he returned to Amaro but was informed they no longer could offer him a deal.
"It was fairly surprising and disappointing," he said. "We were upset about it for a little bit. It's frustrating but its part of the business. They used their judgment and wanted to move on and I respect that, but obvious I thought we'd be able to come back."
Which brings a close to the most memorable part of his career. Lidge signed a one-year deal with the Nationals, which means the Phillies could be seeing plenty of him in 2012.
"It's going to be more emotional when we do actually pack everything up and leave town," said Lidge, who has seen two children born while living with his wife in Haddonfield. "We've spent a lot of our lives here. There's a ton of memories. It will be emotional. I'm real attached to the city. I've grown to love it, so yeah, it will be tough, but it's part of the business."