It has been 24 hours since the Phillies relinquished their World Series championship to the New York Yankees. Hell, the Yanks were the better team.
But… they weren’t a FAR superior team.
In fact, you could argue the Phillies could have repeat had Brad Lidge not blown up in the ninth inning of Game 4. If Lidge gets out of the inning unscathed, and the Phillies scratch out a game-winning, the Series is tied.
Oh well. No sense in playing the coulda/shoulda/woulda game.
So, what went wrong? Hmm, I can think of three things…
Ryan Howard was terrible
The Big Piece was having a tremendous postseason. He had won the NLCS MVP and came into the World Series with 14 RBIs in the playoffs.
After winning the NLCS in five games, the Phillies had a week layoff and that, I feel, was detrimental to Howard’s groove. Granted, the Yankees’ left-handed pitchers kept the slugger in check, but when a guy is that hot coming into a series and all of the sudden goes soft, it begs the question about too much rest.
Howard is a streaky hitter. He’ll carry the team for a month or two straight. He was doing that in the playoffs until the lengthy time off.
Howard batted .174 with one homer, three RBIs and a World Series-record 13 strikeouts. That’s not the kind of performance I expected. His MIA status was huge.
Pitching: The Yankees were better
Lidge was awful, as we know. So, too, was Cole Hamels.
The only reliable pitcher was Cliff Lee. Matter of fact, it was that way for the entire playoffs. Whereas the Yankees had three guys they could count on in Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett… the Phillies’ starting pitching was a big question mark.
Last year, the Phillies had an untouchable bullpen. This year? Argggh.
The year-long instability caught up to the Phillies at the very last moment.
Clutch hitting was nonexistent
The Phillies got back to the World Series behind the strength of clutch hitting. Jimmy Rollins, Howard, Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz … those guys all came through in the NLDS and NLCS.
Really, the only guy that was consistent in the World Series was Chase Utley… and even he stranded a lot of guys on base when he wasn’t smashing home runs.
Well, those are just a few reasons why the Phillies aren’t preparing for their second straight parade down Broad St.
As my former middle school baseball coach once told me, “When you don’t play as good as your opponent, you will not be as good as your opponent.”