A Season of Hope Gone in the Blink of an Eye

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, October 26, 2010 09:32 AM | Comments: 41
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

Walking through the empty concourse, hearing the sounds of the machines working and the tractors tilling the field was a somber reminder that baseball in Philadelphia has ended prematurely. Gone were the workers setting up shop; rather, they were taking down signs from the NLCS and tearing down the memories of a season filled with unfulfilled promise.

It began in December 2009, actually. Roy Halladay was acquired, Cliff Lee was dealt to the northwest, and so began a new year with hopes, dreams, and aspirations as high as the sky would allow. Questions would linger well into the new year as to why Lee was traded – no one had an answer and on went life.  Spring training came and passed – but not before heards of Phillies faithful made their annual pilgrimage to the Gulf Coast for sun, sand, and baseball – and the hype surrounding this team was palpable.

Two weeks into the season the hype was warranted. A 7-1 start, including 64 runs scored in those eight games to open up 2010. Little could go wrong…until it did.

The Phillies misplaced their hitting shoes and slumped into a near-death state. Their low point was 48-46, seven games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead. It was a depth previously witnessed during the days of Marlon Anderson and Travis Lee; how could seven all-stars, a former Cy Young winner, an NLCS and World Series MVP, and more, take such a plunge? Questions were followed without answers; it simply made no sense.

The tides turned just as they hit the lowest of lows and by the time you were done refreshing MLBTradeRumors.com constantly, Roy Oswalt was settling in, and this team was grabbing hold of the NL East before a stunned Braves club knew what hit them. A seven-game deficit became a seven-game advantage in under two months. Still, questions remained but times were good again. The playoffs were a lock and all were smitten with the notion that October baseball was just a formality.

They finished the season with the best record in baseball, winning the National League by a wide margin. A 49-19 run to the finish line had the prognosticators and pundits in awe. This was the Phillies team of old – one that could not be stopped. A force to be reckoned with boasting two Roy’s and a Cole, many were sure the best of the rest would be unable to handle the myriad of weapons this team threw at you. All the while, there was still a slight funk in the air.

You could tell this club was different from 2008 and 2009, but we brushed it aside. A playoff no-hitter from Roy Halladay makes that easier to do. A 2-0 complete-game shutout from Cole Hamels overshadowed the offensive struggles. Still, no one cared – this train would not be stopped until it had run over everything in its path; Braves, Giants, Reds, Yankees, it didn’t matter. Until it didn’t happen.

San Francisco came to town showing the Phillies an old fashioned way of thinking. Contact hitting and stellar pitching ruled the series, ending the year prematurely. Giants fans rejoiced, something the Phillies faithful had become accustomed to, taking the NL Pennant in six games.

Yesterday, in his State of the Phillies address (or so it seemed), Ruben Amaro Jr. was grilled about the age concerns of his team moving forward, his payroll flexibility moving into free agency, and of course, whether or not Jayson Werth was moving.

Roy Halladay was asked about the devastation of packing up to early, but he sounded like a man who understands that nothing is just given to you in this game. “To be playing your best baseball in a two, three week period at the end of the season, you know, it’s definitely hard to do,” said the Phillies ace. “I dont think any of us had any allusions about that.” Needless to say, the team played some of its most uninspired baseball when it counted most.

Jayson Werth was the last to speak. He was his normal monotone, dry self, tossing out decent one-liners while also ripping a fellow media member who talked too much. But overall, it felt like a eulogy was being given, not a presser for one of Philly’s most beloved athletes. Werth closed up shop by saying “I definitely had a good time playing here in Philadelphia.” Sounds like a man who understands what the offseason is about to bring.

In closing, everyone from the fans to the front office realizes this was an opportunity missed. A year that began with such promise ended far too soon with one of their most prized players telling the world in a press conference that his time here might be finished. The situation in Philadelphia is far more enviable than in many other baseball towns, but that doesn’t make this season sting any less. Anything less than a World Series was a bust – everyone understood that. Now that the season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, can we think anything differently?

On a personal level, it was the end of my first season covering the team as part of the mainstream media, something many are unable to accomplish. I’m lucky in that I get to do what so many others want to do on a daily basis; I get to cover the team I grew up admiring. I’ll continue to do so, even in the offseason, so thanks for the support and helping make this site great.

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1714 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    We need at least one more steady contact hitter, a stronger bullpen and Cholly Manuel to use his bench more to give aging players an occasional rest.

  • Posts: 0 Glutenous

    Assuming father time does not catch up with the Phillies in 2011, we will be right back in the fray. Excited to see who we will aquire this offseason and already looking forward to pitchers and catchers report. Could not come soon enough.

  • Posts: 0 EastFallowfield

    Contact hitting stat: Both teams struck out 56 times in the NLCS.


    Pat, Keep up the good work and get us as much info as you can. I’ll need your help to get through to the Pitchers and Catchers reporting date.

  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    My greatest fear in that last NLCS game was that it would be decided by a home run as the close game progressed into the late innings and I was worried that the Giant’s Sanchez, Torres or Uribe might hit one and unfortunately, Uribe did. Uribe is a dangerous, unpredictable hitter, somewhat of a wild swinger, who can pop one when least expected. I would have brought in Contreras to face Uribe. Less risk with a reliever who generally keeps the ball low as compared to a reliever like Madsen who gets the ball up a great deal of the time. Charlie needed to manage like LaRussa and even Boche in that late game situation with Uribe up.

  • Posts: 0 Wis

    Pat: thanks for all you do. This blog is the greatest!!! Its been a great season. Can’t wait for the next season. Now what the hell do we do…?

  • I live and die with the Phillies, maybe too much for a 40+ guy who lives in VT. I invest time and money, I get the Sunday package and drive down to at least 8 of the 14 games I get. Plus opening day, and playoffs. And as much as it depressed me when they lost on Saturday night, 16 hours of work sucked on Sunday, but looking back I am not a WS or the season was a failure type of guy. There are some moves I do not get from Charlie, like why not Contreros in the 7th, where was Sweeny with one out and Raul on third. But I do not think that lost them the series. And some of the big guns had a bad few weeks offensivly. But I think the real issue on the team was they did not play the game like they have in the past, many people say that they need to be more patient at the plate, but I think they were too patient at times. Howard, Rollins, Vic are agressive hitters and were not playing their game. Yes patience is needed at times, but I also say you do not bunt Ruiz after Rauls double because as much as all you talk about small ball, that is not how this team is built.
    I regress I am sorry this is so long but for some reason I can not post from my laptop.
    I really do not see many moves that this team needs to make. If they can figure a way to keep Wreth that would help. But IMO I think you can platoon Raul, Ben Fran, and Dom Brown. I think they can find a way to keep Jayson, and I really think they just need to stay healthy.
    Ben Fran is not Jayson, but if Chase, JRoll, Howard.Vic can come back and have closer numbers to 09 then 10 and Chooch has another year like 10 you may have enough offense with this rotation.
    I really do think the injuries, and all the games played by the key players effected them. With Wilson showing he can play, I would hope Charlie would rest JRoll, Poly and Chase, and I think that you will see games that are 3 or 4 run leads not be finished by the starters, especially Doc, and Roy 2.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    And a busy off-season will also be over in a blink of an eye. How many days til they get started down there in Clearwater?

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Great post, Pat… thanks for all your hard work.

    I think that the age concerns are being a bit overdramatized. I mean, if you’re talented and have the will to be the best, you’re not going to slow down in your early 30′s. I mean, everyone’s talking about Jayson Werth’s upcoming payday – he’s one year younger than Rollins and Utley. Polly and Ibanez are old… but I don’t get the feeling that’s who we’re talking about.

  • Posts: 0 Ted Washington

    Pat, i don’t usually write to blogs and columns. I tend to sit and stew and wait for the next column. But I am Soooooo disappointed that i have to lend my two cents. Firstly, I believe what took a BIG toll on the Phils this year was injuries. I don’t think we EVER fully recovered from ALL those injuries. Secondly, what the hell happened to our BATS!!! The heck with being patient, that’s not how we play. Look I am from the old school,”…you ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT watch a 3rd strike!!!! Especially with the SEASON on the line!!! Ryan and Jayson in particular are the culprits here. Don’t be fooled by the stats, hitting with RISP, that’s what counts…”
    For some reason Ryan couldn’t catch up with a lot of guys’ fastball. REALLY Ryan???? Fastball??? Jayson is as easy an out as Pat was on that low away slider. J-Roll needs to be sat down ’till he gets healthy. I am of the opinion that we actually had a better year than we should have given the state of our health, the paucity of our bullpen, the lack of depth from our bench and Charlie’s occasional lapse into that stubborn crusty old curmudgeon that he can be. I LOVE THE PHILLIES!!! Always have – always will. But until we address those nagging issues, we will get TO October, but not OUT OF October. Shane, bat him leadoff. J-Roll, bat him sixth. Jayson, I am ambivalent. Play Wilson more and conversely REST Chase, J-Roll, and Polly. Bullpen, keep Doggie, Durbs, and the Young guys.

  • Posts: 0 Kate

    So, anyone booking tickets to Clearwater at some point during spring training?

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    OCP, you said it all – nice work Pat, I like the way you are able to express yourself as a fan and as a reporter- great combo.

    In this post, I did not see reference to the biggest plague the Phils had to deal with this year, the only fear that I had in my heart going into the season – injuries. The entire infield was lost for a huge part of the season and yet the Phaithful knew that the power that remained on the field could have/should have been able to carry us through and bleh – nothing upon nothing. Cept for the brilliance of the good doctor, resurgance of our Hollywood and the emergance of Roy 2. What a season to remember.

    Kate, I have been saying for the past 3 years that I’m going down – I believe a friend of mine that went down this past spring will “push me” to do it.

  • Posts: 0 Next Year

    Donovan McHoward is to blame.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    110 DAYS…

  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    As always, your post, Pat, is incisive and enjoyable. Another thing, is it me , or have the Phillies’ hitting slumps been more intense after they were called for stealing signs? Perhaps we should go back to cheating?

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Bart, I guess if I were to believe that I might as well say I believe the weight loss WAS the main reason for Howards power shortage (hmm??)

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    The last 3 years we went down and saw games…both home and away. Bright House Field is awesome. Away games in Kissimmee (Astros) and Lakeland (Tigers) were cool, too. Both those parks are friendly and very low-key. Stay away from Tampa’s George Steinbrenner Field. As you can imagine, they have a certain “attitude” there.

    Because Spring Break is late this year…and my son is now in middle school and has more work…I might look into going down before games start and just watch work-outs. Not sure if there will be a full squad over President’s Day weekend..

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Original, I agree with you regarding the age issue… definitely over dramatized. There’s no reason for a player like Utley, Howard, or Rollins to slow down in their very-early 30s. This core has at least two more years of solid production left… Chase and Jimmy are only going to be 32 all through next year; Howard 31.

    I’m confident that they’ll bounce back from subpar seasons (caveat: though I am not too sure about Jimmy, whose numbers seem to be on a heavy downward trend.)

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Pat, many thanks to you and the restof the staff for providing us with Phillies Nation. Your are all talented writers and I have enjoyed this site tremendously.

    Now if you could just get the technical glitches out! :)

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Bart it’s not just you! Give Nick his binoculars back!

  • Posts: 0 Phan in the outfield

    Pat: Thanks for the blog. Really well done. I love coming here, having this site to read & the regulars to read as well. It’s nice to count on it.

    I couldn’t help but notice this at the end: “A year that began with such promise ended far too soon with one of their most prized players telling the world in a press conference that his time here might be finished.” 1st, I’ve already said I honestly think Boras coached Werth to give those quotes. At this point, it’s smart.

    2nd, I think it’s only now that some people feel that way. Werth is still living in a town where a good number of people think he’s “too old” & we need “more youth”, that “Domonic Brown is the wave of the future and should be given a chance,” as if he won’t ever get a chance. At the very least Brown will be platooned next season. He’s better off to take the time, learn, be good at what he does, solidly contribute, & be a pro.

    3rd, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the summer when 90% were calling for the “most prized player” to be traded b/c he was slumping & he alone was causing the whole team to slump. If you ck any date beginning late June to early August, you’ll find any one of many Phila area sports writers (and bloggers too) with at least one article calling for Werth’s head. It was a gang mentality & hideous at best.

    beta: I can’t agree we have enough offense w/o Werth no matter how notoriously “streaky” he is (as if the rest of the team isn’t streaky). We also don’t have enough right-handed power. Even if BenFran is a righty, he isn’t consistent & he isn’t power.

    Fact is unless there’s a clone waiting in the wings or someone we don’t know about, anything less than what we’ve had is going to severly disappoint Phillies fans. If they want yrs worth of getting at least as far as we did this yr, then they need to quietly ease out the present team members & slowly ease in younger team members. Otherwise, we’ll have yrs worth of losing before winning anything. If it’s done right we can consistently win over a long period.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    Phan, if Jayson leaves consider what is left. Consider that everyone except for Jayson and Chooch had off offensive years. HR’s were down, runs were down, slugging percentages were down. The entire infield of the Phils was out for a time and yet the Phils made it to the post season. Regardless of Jayson’s career BA, doubles and runs scored, he was also mired in a terrible RBI slump especially when the table was set for him.

    My point being we will miss Jayson but the Phils are one of the strongest teams offensively and just could be one of the only teams that would be able to afford to lose someone like him in the lineup and still be a presence in post season.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    They moved Singleton to LF for next season… maybe they’re hoping he could be RAUUUUUUL’s replacement… he’d have to move up pretty damn fast, though.

  • Posts: 0 biz

    My question is:

    What in the hell is wrong with Chase Utley?

    He was the worst player on the field the entire 2010 playoffs save Brooks Conrad.

    I’m still disgusted.

  • Posts: 0 bostonkate

    @kate I’m planning on it.

    I’ve never been down to ST before-any suggestions on when to book?

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    I might not recall this correctly but didn’t PN have a meetup last year or was it the year before during Spring Training?

  • Posts: 0 Phillistein

    Such is life

    Such is baseball

    It finally caught up with them – those offensive lapses. It was somewhat inexplicable. I was sure when Vic came up with bases loaded that………..it was going to happen.

    It happened alright……..a tap back to the pitcher.

    Did they not want it….as much as in years past? No, I think they wanted it as much – but, they kept waiting for it to happen. Instead of making it happen.

    The Yankees got beat by a hot team. Arguably, a better team. I don’t feel that way about the Fightins.

    I really don’t feel that the Giants took it……….as much as I feel we gave it to them.

    Oh well…………still love ‘em. They still gave us a great season…and for that I am grateful.

    Rangers in 4

  • Posts: 0 bostonkate

    Ooh that would be cool if it was a PN trip. I’d go.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    The Giants caught lightning in a bottle and ran with it. They are overmatched by the Rangers….ON PAPER…but the games have to be played.

    I really don’t care. I may not even watch it. Reading MLBTR every day might be more exciting to me.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    This city would be better off if Cliff Lee and the Rangers lose…

    I also hope Uribe Ks every single time while at the same time I wish that Renteria gets a lot of playing time and shines in the World Series (I’m a big fan of his). The Giants are such a pesky team, though…

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Forgot to add an interesting fact: Bengie Molina will get a ring regardless of which team wins…

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I really don’t want to hear “See…we should have kept Cliff Lee” if the Rangers win the Series. Cause you know that’s gonna be the outcry.

    Yet…I REALLY don’t want the Giants to win…cause they irritate me. Cody Ross and his stupid little hop-skip-and-a jump, Burrell and his blatant arrogance, Brian Wilson and that arms crossed gesture he makes after completing the save. Need I go on?

    I like Cliff Lee. So if he wins…good for him.

    I have a ton of respect for Josh Hamilton and what he’s been through. God knows, that has to be tough.

    And I LOVE Nolan Ryan. Saw him pitch many times and he was the real deal.

    But at the end of the day….I really don’t care. I’m still too numb.

  • Posts: 0 brooks

    I said the same thing maybe with more conviction Chuck – I don’t care. Cody bothers me, panty hose, the little hop-skip, journeyman who caught fire at the right time. He will be a memory next year, a Bucky Dent, a Rick Dempsey – hey, we can all remember one – Matsui was it last year.

    A 4 game sweep (get this over with) by the Rangers would be nice – yea, the Phils were much better on paper too right?

  • Posts: 0 biz

    Chuck, I can’t stand WEilson and that faux-gang sign he throws up after making a save.

    Is it asking too much for grown men to behave like grown men?

    I still can’t believe we lost to such a pathetic team.

    110 long days.

  • Cliff Lee on the Phillies: “It’s weird, when a team gets rid of you, you kind of want them to lose.”

  • Posts: 0 Chuck


    Just like I “kind of” want HIM to lose…

  • Posts: 0 Lefty

    Wow Manny I hadn’t thought about that- Molina can’t lose this series. Has that ever happened before?

  • Posts: 0 MikeB.

    Chuck, those Giants players you mentioned in your post, tops in arrogance.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Pat – Great job all season. I gotta say that losing Tim was tough but you guys actually picked the ball up and ran with it. Its a better site now that it was a year ago. Congrats.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Pat Gallen

    Dipsy, that’s nice of you. Thanks man.

  • Posts: 0 Keegan

    It was a ridiculously long season. I actually kinda wish they would’ve stayed in the funk and not gotten into the post season rather than heat up just in time to get there and then cool off like they had done so much in june and july.

    Frustrating and disappointing. Two words you’re going to see everywhere on Phillies end of season recaps. And for good reason.

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