The Phillies and Brad Lidge: It's Time We Start Seeing Other Closers
Breaking up is always hard to do, even when it's for the best.
You start reminiscing about all the good times you've had, the places you've traveled together.
It's even harder when you live together. All their stuff is in your place, and everywhere you look are reminders of the good thing you had.
But sometimes it has to be done, even if you don't have another special someone waiting in the wings.
You don't stay with someone just because you've always been with them, hoping that things will get better.
Sometimes, it's just no longer working and you need to start seeing other people.
For the Phillies and Brad Lidge, that sometime should be now.
There's a give and take in every relationship. Last night, the Phillies took the lead in the top of the ninth against the Nationals.
And Brad Lidge gave it away.
It was clear from the start the inning would end badly. Lidge had no semblance of the strike zone last night.
Even the untrained eye could see he was struggling just to put the ball over.
A typical Lidge outing these days is enough to make your heart race–although not in a good way, like in the old days.
Who should be the Phillies closer?
The year was 2008, and Brad Lidge was perfect. Not one blown save.
Not in the regular season.
Not in the postseason.
Lidge came out of that bullpen, and you knew it was game over–for the good guys.
Not any more.
Sure there are sparks of what made you fall in love with the guy in the first place.
The fall-off-the-table slider.
The sizzling fastball.
But when one of the traits starts to fade and you look a little deeper, you realize that there's not much else there.
Lidge is a two-pitch pony. When one isn't working, he has to lean on the other to get by.
Even this casual baseball writer can see it.
So what do you think happened when a professional hitter named Ryan Zimmerman stood in against Lidge in the bottom of the ninth with two on, trailing by one?
Lidge got smacked around.
He sent that ball deep (and I mean deep ) to straightaway center field.
You square away on a ball like that, you knew what was coming.
Really, we all should have seen what was coming.
Perhaps someone (say, Charlie Manuel) should have seen how wild Lidge was and prevented the abuse that was to follow.
If a starting pitcher was that wild, he would have signaled for the bullpen.
But in baseball these days, it's the closer's job to get it done. And in general, managers stick with those closers until the game is either won or lost.
Even if it's obvious that a guy just doesn't have good stuff on a night, he's left out there to do his job.
The problem that Manuel is facing is that he really doesn't have anyone else in the 'pen who has shown he can do the job.
And unfortunately, the clock just struck midnight, ending the annual ball that is the trading deadline, with nary a maiden with closer stuff going home with our handsome prince.
So the Phillies leave the party with the same date they brought. Never showing any signs of checking out the other options there.
While it does speak to their loyalty, it doesn't do much for the long term happiness of the team...and its fans.
Maybe things will get better.
Maybe Lidge will find that spark that made him the best closer in baseball two years ago.
But most broken marriages don't get better without counseling.
Perhaps Lidge can learn a new pitch, like Cole Hamels did in the offseason, so he isn't walking so narrow a tightrope should he not have his best stuff on a given night.
Maybe they just need a "cooling off period," so Lidge can focus on him, because we all know we can't contribute to a relationship unless we're comfortable in our own skin.
All I know is that this marriage between Lidge and the Phillies appears to be broken, and their friends are worried about it.
We Phillies fans know you have been through a lot together, and we hate to choose sides.
But like in most splits, you end up sticking with the friend you've known longer.
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