This wasn’t supposed to happen. It wasn’t supposed to end. Not like this. The Phillies were supposed to end their season in the World Series, eventually hoisting the trophy and parading down Broad Street. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee were supposed to get their first World Series Rings. We were supposed to be World F***ing Champions again. Supposed to.
When Ryan Howard grounded out to end the season on Friday night, the entire City of Philadelphia felt that all too familiar feeling. That pit deep in your stomach, the agony of defeat. But this wasn’t just any defeat. This one hurt.
Ever since the 2008 World Series Parade, Phillies fans have not only hoped for another World Series trophy, but have expected it.
In 2009, the dream of another trophy was crushed by the Evil Empire–the Yankees. We got the first taste of that feeling. The pit in our stomach.
Before the next season started, they went out and got the best pitcher in baseball in Halladay, and traded for another Ace at the trade deadline in Roy Oswalt. They played amazing baseball down the stretch, eventually securing the best record in baseball.
Halladay threw a freakin’ no-hitter in his first ever playoff start and the Phillies went on to sweep the Cincinnatti Reds. They were set to face the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS after the Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves.
There was no question that they would reach the World Series. The Giants had a terrible offense and good pitching–but not as good as the Phillies. The series began, and the very first game shocked everyone. The Phillies lost.
They won Game 2 before heading out to San Francisco for Games 3, 4, and 5. The Phils lost again in Game 3 to Matt Cain. They faced a must-win situation in Game 4. No problem, right? This is the same team that won the NLCS against the Dodgers in back-to-back years when the Phillies won games that were must-wins for the Dodgers.
But they lost. They freakin’ lost. All of a sudden the aspirations of reaching the World Series for a third straight year were gone. They had to win three straight games just to get there.
Halladay willed them to victory in Game 5 to bring the series back to Philadelphia. There was hope. But Juan Uribe put that hope to rest. His home run off Ryan Madson gave us that pit in our stomach again. The Phillies weren’t supposed to lose. Not to the Giants.
The pain was relieved when Ruben Amaro Jr signed Cliff Lee. He had assembled the best starting rotation in baseball, and possibly of all time.
The excitement for the 2011 season was tangible. There was a buzz in Philadelphia, a feeling of extreme excitement. The Phillies were going to the World Series. It wasn’t even a question. No team could match up with them.
And that held true throughout the regular season. They proved time and time again that they were the best and that theywould represent the National League in the World Series.
They drew the Cardinals in the NLDS, a team that barely even made it into the playoffs. One of their best hitters was injured, and their rotation was not set up ideally for the series.
There was no doubt that the Phillies would advance. They were the best team. They were going to the World Series.
The Phils won Game 1. All was well. In Game 2, they jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead. Cliff Lee was on the mound–surely the game was over.
Wrong. Lee blew the lead and the Phillies lost the game. All of a sudden there was a slight panic in Philadelphia. The Phillies weren’t supposed to lose Game 2. Not with Cliff Lee pitching with a 4-run lead.
They went into Game 3 against a pitcher that has had their number–Jaime Garcia. They were staring at a 1-2 deficit. But Ben Francisco changed that. He hit a late-inning three-run home run that broke the 0-0 tie and won the game.
All was well again. The Phillies had a 2-1 lead and were ready to celebrate. They were set Edwin Jackson in Game 4, a guy who they were ready to feast on. The champagne was on ice.
But they lost. They weren’t supposed to lose. Not to Edwin Jackson.
That forced a Game 5. The Phillies magical season-to-be was in jeopardy. They were one game away from going home. It wasn’t supposed to get to this point. Not in the NLDS.
It was Roy Halladay vs Chris Carpenter for a trip to the NLCS. The game was everything it was hyped up to be. Halladay gave up one run in the first before throwing up a bunch of zeros. Carpenter didn’t give up any runs.
They were going to do it. One of them would hit a home run or hit an RBI double to tie the game.
But they didn’t. The Phillies lost. They weren’t supposed to lose. Not to the Cardinals. Not in the NLDS. Not after having a 2-1 lead in the series.
Do you feel that? Its that pit in your stomach again. It won’t go away. Not for a long time. 2011 was the year. The Phillies assembled the best team in baseball only to be ousted in the NLDS.
It hurts. Maybe 2012 will be the year. Until then, all we can do is look back.
Because 2011 was the season that never was.