Last year, if you'd told me a pitcher in the National League was going to have, over 33 games, a 16-7 record with a 3.71 ERA and 123 K and only 20 HR given up, I would’ve said:
"That's a darn good season!"
If you'd then told me the same pitcher would post 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, and 3 K in the NLDS and a measly 2 IP after giving up 5 R in the first inning of his NLCSappearance, I probably would’ve said:
"That guy's no postseason starter."
And if you then told me the same pitcher would pitch in the World Series and put up 6 IP, 5 K, 3 ER, and just 1 BB as he won a pivotal Game Three and that the guy was 46 years old, well, I would have had to tell you:
"Lay off the sauce, man."
Well, you never made such statements, so I never had to make such remarks.
But those scenarios do indeed tell a lot about Jamie Moyer's 2008, a year in which the 46-year-old Philadelphia Philly pitcher redefined the concept of "age."
In the first World Series game in his beloved city of Philadelphia in over 15 years, Moyer displayed his grace rather than his age, his experience instead of his degradation, and his enduring spirit in lieu of his perceived decrepitude. But most of all, he showed the world that one's number of birthdays means nothing.
After a brilliant regular season by the Philly native, Moyer was still considered the Achilles' heel of the Phils' rotation simply due to his advanced stage. And that percpetion almost became reality.
In Game Three of the NLDS, Moyer faced a potent Brewers team that was known for smacking the ball around, and that’s exactly what they did to the ageless wonder.
In four innings, the Brew Crew had already taken advantage Moyer to the tune of four hits and three walks, producing two earned runs and shrugging off the mere three strikeouts Moyer threw.
Father Time seemed to be rearing his ugly head at the worst possible time.
Then, in Game Three of the NLCS, things went from bad to worse.
In just one inning against a very dangerous Dodger team, Moyer gave up five runs and was pulled in the second inning. The "Achilles' heel" tag seemed an appropriate moniker, and, for a moment, all the sports pundits who claimed Moyer was through felt downright sagely.
But Moyer went from past-his-prime to rejuvenated by youth, and experience triumphed over failure. His performance to come left the experts befuddled and amazed.
Game Three of the World Series, the triumphant return of the Fall Classic to the City of Brotherly Love, seemed to be disaster from the start. The Phillies entered the game tied with Tampa at one game apiece, and a 91-minute rain delay silenced the exuberant cheers of the Philadelphia faithful.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the oldest pitcher in baseball was set to take the mound against a young Tampa phenom, Matt Garza. Doubt had set in everyone’s mind.
Everyone's except Moyer's, that is.
Jamie went toe-to-toe with the youngster and threw one of the best postseason performances of his long career.
To repeat: The man had, over 6 innings pitched, 5 K, 1 BB, and 3 ER (and had it not been for Carl Crawford stealing a single, the earned runs may have stayed at one). The Tampa hitters were completely stifled by Moyer’s crafty use of movement and totally dumbfounded by his fastball placement, though his heater remained in the low 80s.
The greybeard had beaten the wunderkind.
In the blink of an eye, a man who was considered "over-the-hill" became "king-of-the-hill;" silent were the critics, and surrounding him was the magnificent sound of satisfaction, accomplishment, and acceptance.
Philadelphia, on the heels of Moyer’s majestic accomplishment, went on to win that game and two more to capture the coveted title. Moyer proved all his detractors wrong, including himself. Put simply, he was "forever young" instead "too old" to pitch.
Moyer was reminded of his own "childhood," when he was a kid who skipped school to see the 1980 World Series parade in Philly. Twenty-eight years later, he was a part of a World Champion team.
His dream has come true; the child within rose to the challenge and knocked aside all doubt. He proved, unequivocally, the words of Abraham Lincoln:
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
This article comment and also be found on Sunday's daily commentary on UltimateSportsRankings.com on 4-5-2009