Even though they are in first place at the moment, it’s still hard to imagine the 2018 Phillies ultimately having their own Brad Lidge moment.
But perhaps they’ll continue to surprise us, then reconvene in a decade to talk about the time reliever Seranthony Dominquez blew away Red Sox’ star Mookie Betts to clinch it for Gabe Kapler’s gang the way Lidge got Tampa Bay’s Eric Hinske to chase his 0-2 slider and make those 2008 Phils “World Champions of Baseball,” as the late Harry Kalas squealed.
They celebrated that moment again on Sunday, handing out Lidge bobbleheads, before Lidge, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and 16 others from that team—including a warmly greeted Jayson Werth—took the field to commemorate the 10th anniversary of their crowning achievement.
It capped a memorable weekend filled with emotion, ranging from Shane Victorino’s tearful retirement back in a Phillies uniform one last time Friday, to Brandy Halladay’s gut-wrenching tribute to her late husband, Roy, upon his induction into the Phillies’ Wall of Fame, to Lidge and manager Charlie Manuel extolling the fans as being one of the keys to their success.
And if nothing else it showed Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco & Co. that once you win in Philadelphia you’ll never be forgotten.
“I was in high school and didn’t really understand the value of what it meant when they won in 1980,” recalled Souderton native Jamie Moyer, who went 16-7 for the 2008 Phils and pitched Game 3 of the World Series vs. Tampa Bay.
“But 28 years later, I was older and part of the team, so you look at it through a different set of eyes,” he said. “Even today seeing Shane retire and being around the fans you’re reminded of it.”
Even Werth, who left town a few years later for the greener (as in $126 million in green) pastures of NL East rival Washington and subsequently became the object of the boo birds disaffection.
Admittedly, he did not know what to expect following his recent retirement after deciding to join the party.
“This is the first time I’ve been here with a smile on my face in a while,” said the 39-year-old Werth, before being met with a rousing ovation. “It would mean quite a bit being accepted after what’s transpired the last seven years.”
“Because these guys resurrected me, essentially, so I always hold a special place in my heart for the Phillies.”
He’s hardly alone, on a team that bounced back with a vengeance from a disappointing 2007 NLDS sweep by the Colorado Rockies. “I walked in our clubhouse after that and there were some people down and mad that we hadn’t accomplished a lot,” said Manuel, the franchise’s winningest manager.
“When they came back in 2008 they were ready to go. I didn’t have to say very much,” he added. “They were determined and thought they were the best team. I didn’t have to talk about winning because we didn’t expect to lose.”
That’s a far cry from what Pat Burrell encountered in 2010 with the upstart San Francisco Giants, who knocked off the Phils in the NLCS, then beat Texas to complete an unlikely run.
“It was a magical type year because we weren’t supposed to win,” said Burrell, who left Philadelphia after 2008 for Tampa, before heading to San Francisco. “But nothing can compare to this, because we were a work in progress for so long.”
“All these guys came into their own at the right time.”
A decade later, despite winning four other division titles, that remains their high water mark: a bond that will never be broken.
“It’s something everybody hopes to have the opportunity to do before they retire,” said Lidge, the “perfect” closer with 48 saves in 48 tries. “To have that bond with the rest of your teammates and have that ring to show people. There’s no personal accomplishment to match that.”
However, there’s only one thing Lidge and the rest would like now, just as Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and the rest of the 1980 champion Phillies wanted, too.