The air went out of the balloon Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, and it's not because of the Pirates' walk-off home run.
PNC Park, rarely even half full, consisted of just as many Phillies fans as there were for the Pirates. Being one of those numerous Philadelphians, it was a rough night.
Surprisingly, Pirate fans are some of the grumpiest people I've ever met (this coming from the grumpiest group of all). I won't go into specifics, but the single row of Pittsburgh fans behind the Phillies' dugout wasn't the greatest bunch of fans.
But that's beside the point.
Largely responsible for the disappointment laid upon Phillies fans was Brad Lidge. This is nothing new.
We've all gone over the difference between the Lidge of '08 and the Lidge of '09. The fact that he is an ineffective closer, to say the least, has been covered.
The argument against replacing him is that fans want to give him a chance, due to the success he had in 2008. The problem? This isn't 2008.
I agreed with this philosophy in June. Not anymore.
There comes a time when a player becomes so terribly bad, that every fan cringes at the sight of him on the field. Right now, that's Brad Lidge.
Last night, the Phillies were down 3-2 with one out in the top of the ninth inning. Carlos Ruiz was at the plate, with a pinch hitter expected to follow.
With Matt Capps on the mound for the Pirates, Ruiz slammed the ball down the left field line for a double. Ben Francisco was called on as the pinch hitter, and he also doubled, this time to deep left-center.
The game was tied at 3-3, but was far over.
After Jimmy Rollins struck out, Shane Victorino hit a line drive to center field that was misplayed by Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates. After taking a step in, he realized the ball was going over his head and Francisco was allowed to score.
With the lead, in came Brad Lidge.
He threw six pitches; three were hits, and one was a wild pitch. None of them were outs. His final line was a pathetic 0.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER.
When will Lidge lose his job? Are the Phillies simply waiting for Brett Myers to return?
He has been given the chance to fix himself for all this time, and yet he has only become worse. He shouldn't be granted any more chances, because more likely than not he'll just blow the game.
Next season, Lidge can return to the closer role. Hopefully, he may be able to fix the train-wreck he currently is during the offseason.
For now, he shouldn't appear in any one or two run games. He cannot be trusted to keep a lead intact.
Believe me, I still love Lidge for what he accomplished last season. I hope he can fix himself and return to form next year.
But the time has come when Lidge is hurting the Phillies and their attempts to win more than he is helping.
Nine blown saves would lose any other closer their job. Lidge should be no different.