This one hurt even more.
A year ago, when the Philadelphia Phillies were outpitched and outperformed by the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, it felt like the team had simply met the wrong opponent at the wrong time. Perhaps they had chosen the wrong time to slump at the plate. When the offseason came, the Phillies added left-hander Cliff Lee to their already star studded pitching rotation, and the expectations only rose.
This year, being outsted in the NLDS, it confirmed a horrific and terrifying fact: the Philadelphia Phillies didn’t have enough offense to win.
After 3 straight years where pitching was the offseason focus, and was to complement a powerful offensive core, perhaps the scales tipped too far toward pitching. The team lacked the balance needed to support it’s vaunted rotation with runs.
Worse yet, was the image of Ryan Howard laying on the field in agony. For the second straight year The season came down to Ryan Howard’s prestigious bat. For the second straight year, he recorded the final out of the season. This time he did it swinging. It will not be the replays of a called third strike that will haunt Phillies fans for the next 5 months, it will be their super slugger Ryan Howard, who just signed a 5-year $125 million contract extension that is set to kick in in 2012, with a ruptured Achilles tendon on the final out of a miserable defeat.
Howard may not be ready for Spring training, and worse still, may miss a significant amount of time in the regular season. Even all of his detractors out there must realize that it will be incredibly difficult to replace his run production in the lineup.
There are other questions too. How will the oldest team in baseball start to get younger? Will Ryan Madson be the closer next year, or will he be playing somewhere else? Will Jimmy Rollins be the shortstop when this team takes the field next year? Will Domonic Brown live up to expectations and help this team?
Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Placido Polanco and possibly Hunter Pence will all offseason surgery. How will that affect this team next year?
As a fan it’s hard not to be disappointed or even angry. The team that so many supported and counted on let us down. It’s an empty, sad feeling.
As a human being, it’s hard not to feel their pain.