This hurts worse than I thought it would.
I mean, I sort of remember what it was like for a Phillies season to end on a losing note. But ever since Shane Victorino grounded out to second base to conclude a series sweeping loss in the 2007 NLDS against the Colorado Rockies, I'd simply forgotten how crappy it feels to lose your last game. I guess it's only fitting then, that when Victorino grounded out to second base last night to end the 2009 World Series, I was struck with an odd and disgusting feeling of déjà vu.
With the 2009 baseball season having come to an official close, I can't help but look back on this Phillies season with both fondness and frustration, though I can clearly say there were way more ups than downs this year. But boy, when the downs came, they were DOWNS!!!
1) Our beloved Phillies broadcaster/grandfather, Harry Kalas passed away in April.
2) Cole Hamels & Brad Lidge never found a groove after amazing '08 seasons.
3) Injuries ravaged the pitching staff.
4) The offense had a tendency to fluctuate toward extreme hot and cold spells at any given time.
5) We ultimately lost the World Series to the Evil Empire.
1) We started the season as the defending World Champions and went on to prove that 2008 was no fluke.
2) We had a decent April record (a Phillies rarity) despite losing Harry.
3) We took hold of first place in the NL East in May and never looked back.
4) We had four hitters with over 30 home runs.
5) We acquired seasoned veteran pitchers Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, who both strengthened the team immensely.
7) We made it back to the World Series, and despite losing it, are still champs of the National League.
8) Charlie Manuel will once again manage the NL All Star team in 2010.
So while all of this amounts to an amazing 2009 Phillies season, I still feel punched in the gut today as I read all the headlines reminding me that the store-bought Yankees won their 27th World Series over my beloved team. What an amazing feat it would have been to win back-to-back World Series titles and be included among the teams that are talked about for decades afterwards. Still, no one can deny how hard it is to win three consecutive division titles, including two consecutive World Series appearances, with one championship already in the bag.
And so the page is turned toward next year. If Cole Hamels can regain his dominance and form a lethal 1-2 punch with Cliff Lee, if Brad Lidge can remember how to get three outs in the 9th inning, if we can solidify our bench and bullpen a little bit, and of course, if we can keep everyone relatively healthy over 162 games, then I think it's safe to say we can look forward to some more dominant Phillies baseball in 2010 as the boys work to reclaim their throne! Without a doubt, we are living in the greatest era of Phillies baseball!
The Yankees may have won the World Series this year, but they will never be WFCs!!!!