BY SHAY RODDY
Well, it’s over. The New York Yankees are World Champions for the 27th time, in their history. The Phillies walk away from the World Series losers for the first time since 1993. But there sure is a hell of a lot to be thankful for, if you are a Phillies fan.
This team is truly one of the greatest in the history of this franchise. We’ve been lucky enough to witness the golden era of one of America’s oldest ballclubs.
They may not have been victorious, but they sure gave it their all.
This team is filled with a unique group of guys, gathered together from the various nooks and crannies of our country, who have gelled together unlike any team I’ve ever seen. They are a giant family, they all get along, and manage to find away to do the impossible, get through a Major League season.
It all starts with the manager, Charlie Manuel. Charlie’s southern twang and lack of public speaking skills have created an incorrect public perception of his intelligence. He’s smart, and he knows how to manage this team. He’s the biggest reason that the team has been to three-straight postseasons.
It stems from the manager to his players. And thanks go to:
Cliff Lee, who was the biggest mid-season acquisition in baseball came here and never turned it off. He started and finished strong. Then came the postseason, where experts wondered how he would deal with the heightened emotions. He was marvelous, and pitched the Phillies into the World Series, as well as giving them a good chance to win the Series.
Chase Utley, who’s five homeruns in the World Series tied Reggie Jackson’s all time record.
Ryan Howard, who never showed up for the World Series, but played perhaps the largest role in getting them there.
Jimmy Rollins, who bounced back after a rough start to the season to contribute when it mattered most.
Carlos Ruiz, who handled the pitching staff with such class, and expertise all year. He brought his bat to the table yet again in the postseason, earning the title “Senor Octubre” from local media.
Shane Victorino, who his the spark plug of the Phillies lineup. He always has something to say, and always brings that extra fire. He showed up all year and especially in October.
Raul Ibanez, who’s performance was so good at points, people questioned the legitimacy of his statistics. Well he proved them all to be true, and continued to help his team till the very end. He was a welcome addition to this lineup, replacing one of Philly’s favorites.
Jayson Werth, who was just always there. And he was always solid. Werth was impressive through the playoffs, and helped put this team where it was.
Ryan Madson, who stepped up for the struggling Brad Lidge to fill in from time-to-time in the closers role. Madson came into his own at the end of last season, and was there all year this time. He was the most steady part of the Phillies’ struggling bullpen.
Brad Lidge, who didn’t have a real great year. But he battled in the postseason, and saw the light at the end of the tunnel at times. Lidge will have a abbreviated off-season, where he can hopefully gather his thoughts and show up ready for 2010.
Chan Ho Park, who after a rough start to the year as a starter, found his role in the bullpen and proved to be a reliable go-to guy for Charlie.
Scott Eyre, who took on the role as a situational lefty, and did his job quite well.
Jamie Moyer, who wasn’t there on the field in the postseason, but was with the team teaching his brand of baseball every chance he got.
Cole Hamels, who had a rough season. He’ll be another one who will need to get his head back in the right place for 2010.
Joe Blanton, who was steady. About as steady as they come.
Pedro Martinez, who grabbed our hearts upon his arrival. What a guy. He was instrumental in getting the Phils back to the Fall Classic. Unfortunately, maybe the Yankees are his “Daddy.”
J.A. Happ, who did so much more than you can ask for from a rookie, pitching superbly in the rotation all season and then effectively out of the pen in October.
And everyone else who came in and got the Phillies a win here or there or contributed in this way or that.
They were truly a special team, and it was an honor and privileged to cover them this season. The Yankees are undoubtedly great, but so are the Phils, and mark my words, they’ll be back.