September 7, 2009
Mr. Bradley Thomas Lidge
c/o The Philadelphia Phillies
1 Citizens Park Way
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Dear Mr. Lidge:
I am writing in regards to your recent performance as the official closer of the Philadelphia Phillies. As you are most certainly aware you are currently 0-7 with a 7.15 ERA and 10 blown saves.
In 2008 you were Mr. Perfection. Lights Out Lidge. A sure thing. You carried your success into 2009 racking up three saves in as many opportunities right out of the pen. Then on April 18 against the San Diego Padres you walked two & gave up four runs on two hits. Charlie pulled you from the game and we the fans tipped our hats to you and gave you a standing ovation. I sincerely hope you truly appreciated the gesture and recognized that outward affection is not something offered so lightly by the fans of Philadelphia – especially in times of trouble. You should have been warned that at Citizens Bank Park cheers are to be taken with a grain of salt. That day the fans were smiling and clapping for you, but what they were thinking quietly to themselves was “congratulations on 47 consecutive saves – just don’t blow another one.”
You didn’t let us down again until May 15th when you tried to hand an 11-21 Nationals team their 12th win of the season by allowing two runs in the ninth bringing a 4-2 game to a 4-4 tie. It was one of those brilliant opportunities in which you were credited with a blown save but thanks to the prowess of Utley, Howard, Werth, Ibanez, and Feliz the Phillies still managed on scooping out the win in twelve innings. I will admit you did give us some warning when you started giving up at least one run per game in your five previous appearances. It wasn’t before long you were showing us what you were really made of dishing out two back to back blown saves and accumulating a 7.27 ERA before your eventual hiatus on the disabled list.
In the month following your return you were getting the job done, but the fingernails of fans across the Delaware Valley had been chewed to the cuticles. From June 26th through July 26th you pitched a total of 10 innings over 12 games. In those 12 games you had 6 saves and notched one loss. You gave up 10 hits, 7 runs (all earned), 10 walks, recorded 12 strike outs, and enjoyed a moderately lower ERA of 6.30. The real nail biters fell on July 10th with one run given up but still winning 3-2 & July 17th with another run given up winning by a score of 6-5.
There was a time when “Brad Lidge Time” meant you could start packing up your belongings and getting the kids ready for the drive home. “Brad Lidge Time” meant you could shift focus from the television to getting the dog ready for one last walk before bed. “Brad Lidge Time” meant the game was over, the Phillies notched another win and all was well with the world. Now “Brad Lidge Time” sends us fans to the fridge for beer before turning the lights down and curling up under blankets as if preparing to watch a scary movie.
In your last twelve appearances you have gone 0-3 with four blown saves giving up 11 hits that have turned into 9 runs in 9.1 innings (translating to an 8.90 ERA). You are fidgeting between pitches and lose all concentration when you allow a base runner.
Do you remember game five of the 2008 World Series? Do you remember getting the save propelling Philadelphia to their championship even with two runners on base? Do you remember only giving up 17 runs all of that season? Do you remember what it took to have a 1.95 ERA through 72 appearances?
Do you remember the last pitch of the 1993 World Series?
Do you want to be that guy?
Did you know that as of today you are tied with that guy at number 42 on the all-time saves list?
In 1993 Mitch Williams went 3-7, had 43 saves (blowing 6) and boasted a much more impressive ERA of just 3.34. Jim Fregosi believed in The Wild Thing and exhausted him to the point of no return similar to Charlie’s faith in you. There is a difference between you, though. Mitch earned his nickname by way of his mechanics (or lack thereof). For the most part, and besides the most devastating blown save in Philadelphia history, Mitch got the job done. He may have caused a number of nail biter games throughout his tenure as a Phillie but none as intense and those thrown by you. There is no confidence left on your face. There is no mystery left to your pitches. There is no heat, nothing “nasty,” nothing to look forward to other than how long it will take for you to lose your composure.
Cole Hamels raised an excellent point last week: you have nothing to prove. There is nothing you can do that could possibly top your performance in 2008 – and there is nothing wrong with that. You made 2008 happen because you brought your best stuff, and that was all you needed to get the job done. No one could ask any more of you, and no one expected any more from you this year. You cannot get caught up in trying not to disappoint the fans. We have stuck by you this season and literally hope and pray each time you take that mound that something will click and the fire will find its way back to your eyes. Charlie has stayed ever faithful to your abilities but we are all growing weary. It’s now or never. Myers is back and he is HUNGRY. Prove us wrong, Brad. Prove everyone wrong. We beg of you.
Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.
Michelle O’Malley for the people of Philadelphia