It May Be 2009, But It Seems Like 2008 All Over Again for Philadelphia

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It May Be 2009, But It Seems Like 2008 All Over Again for Philadelphia
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

In 2008, George Bush presided over the United States, now it's Barack Obama.

In 2008, gas prices weren't manageable, but now they are.

In 2008, it seemed like the Phillies had to add fireworks and dramatics to each victory, but in 2009, that's still the case.

Things really just don't change in the City of Brotherly Love. In fact, Philadelphia fans are a bunch of misoneists. They will go as far as booing Adam Eaton in 2009 like they did so loudly and proudly in 2008 even when the biggest waste of $24 million isn't even on this season's team. When receiving his World Series ring, Eaton received a loud array of boos.

On the actual diamond, the Phillies reminded fans of what made this team so special last season.

Like the first two games of the series, the Phightin's fell behind the Braves early, but the pitching staff absolutely imploded, and Atlanta led 10-3 in the seventh inning.

It seemed as if 2009 was actually going to be radically different than 2008. The feel-good emotions of the city's first title in almost 30 years were quickly flying out the window. The offense couldn't score while the pitching couldn't do enough to bail the bats out.

But the act of booing Adam Eaton before the game should have signaled to everybody that the change Barack Obama so infamously called for hasn't really affected the Phils. The lineup is essentially the same and the Phillies will throw most of the same arms they did last season.

That combination of the bats and the arms proved once again to be good for yet another comeback.

Last season marked the first time the Phillies repeatedly showed the ability to score runs without the long-ball (although when the big flies did come, they came in spectacular fashion). The new brand of small ball showed up in the rally that should otherwise be known as the Citizen's Bank Park merry-go-round.

Against southpaw Eric O'Flaherty, Shane Victorino led the seventh off with a ground-out, but a single, hit batter, a walk, two singles, three walks, another single, yet another walk, and three Braves' pitchers later, the Phillies tallied eight runs without a single runner moving more than one base at a time.

But with two innings left, Charlie Manuel's bullpen had to replicate its 2008 performance which ranked at the top of league in ERA and save percentage.

And they did.

They did it in typical Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge manner.

In 2008, Madson's changeup was statistically the hardest pitch in the majors to lay the bat on the ball.

In 2009, it appears as if the Mad Dog's off-speed pitch is once again unhittable. Philadelphia's setup man threw it five times, Atlanta hitters swung and missed three times and put it in play just twice, both resulting in ground-balls.

So with Madson not skipping a beat, it was time for Brad Lidge to do the same.

Lidge closed the game out, but did it in typical Lidge fashion. Although he's known as Lights out Lidge, he makes a habit out of making things interesting, much like the closer of Philadelphia's last World Series team in 1993, Mitch Williams.

Lidge did what he does best—strike out the first batter, but doled out a long ball to leftfielder Matt Diaz. Lidge ended the game with another strike out by throwing veteran left-handed hitter Garret Anderson five straight sliders with the last one finding the dirt, but only after Anderson looked silly flailing his pine at the unhittable pitch.

Joe Blanton, who pitched well for the Phightin's in 2008, but had more than enough bad outings that should have earned him a loss, never actually garnered a defeat last year.

After allowing seven runs in just four innings of work, Blanton seemed destined to saddle his first loss in red pinstripes. But what had to be by the grace of God, Blanton's first loss in Philadelphia will have to wait one more trip through the rotation.

Blanton still can't lose.

Lidge makes hitters look like they've never played the game.

Madson makes hitters look like they've never seen a changeup.

The Phillies are still coming back.

And the fans still hate Adam Eaton.

Many things have changed since 2008, but Phillies baseball has not.

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