Former Phillie Brad Lidge nailed down his final save in the majors on April 17 for the Washington Nationals. On December 3rd, Mr. 48 for 48 called it a career. Lidge ended a career that spanned over a decade and saw the closer move between three franchises, earning one world championship and three World Series appearances along the way.
In Houston, Lidge will be forever linked with a 2005 NLCS towering homerun launched from the bat of Albert Pujols – a season that eventually saw the hometown Astros swept out of the World Series. In Washington, Lidge will be an afterthought. His Nationals career only a paltry 11 appearances, 2 saves, and a 9.64 ERA. However in Philadelphia, Lidge will be remembered as an October legend. Lidge was on the mound when the curse of Billy Penn was finally lifted. Lidge, collectively for all of Philadelphia, dropped to his knees as an entire city rejoiced. Lidge’s Phillies career saw 214 appearances; yet his October 29, 2008 appearance will be the one remembered by generations of Phillies fans.
Lidge was acquired from the Houston Astros in November 2007 in exchange for CF Michael Bourn, reliever Geoff Geary, and prospect Mike Costanzo. Lidge left Philadelphia with a whimper when the Phillies declined to exercise a 2012 option on the oft-injured and aging closer. However, for one magical season, Lidge was the lynchpin of the eventual world champions.
Lidge’s 2008 campaign began inauspiciously. Injured in spring training, Lidge earned his first and only All-Star appearance as a member of the Phillies. Later, he helped guide the Phillies to the franchise’s second consecutive postseason [a feat nearly three decades in the making for the Fightin Phils and their tormented fanbase] and victory in the World Series. Throughout the season, Lidge successfully responded to each successive challenge. Lidge converted all 48 save opportunities Charlie Manuel asked of him – the most dramatic ending on an 0-2 count to Eric Hinske. On that night, Hinske whiffed on Lidge’s patented slider and the Delaware Valley exploded in joyful celebration.
While Lidge threw thousands of pitches in his big-league career, his imprint on the Philadelphia sports landscape can be reduced to one swing and miss by the Tampa Bay Rays’ designated hitter. Few positions in sports are as pressure-filled or closely scrutinized as the closer. Yet for one season, the Phillies closer was automatic. Lidge was lights out. Lidge was perfect.
Perfection is rare. Whether individual or collective, it merits reflection and celebration. Rarely [albeit less so of late], a pitcher catches lightning in a bottle, lulls the opposing line-up to sleep, and tosses a perfect game [see: Roy Halladay]. Less often, a football team traverses the NFL gauntlet unscathed and emerges undefeated [1972 Miami Dolphins, 2007 New England Patriots]. Perfection leads to legend, and legend to immortality. Lidge’s career was far from flawless, yet in Philadelphia he will be remembered as so. Lidge will be forever remembered for his 2008 masterpiece. Lidge will be remembered as a Phillie. Lidge will be remembered as a winner. And for many, Lidge will be remembered as perfect.Tags: Brad Lidge, Charlie Manuel, Eric Hinske, Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn, Mike Costanzo, MLB, Philadelphia Philles, World Champions