With two outs in the top of the 9th, the Brad Lidge stared down Eric Hinske.
Three straight sliders resulting in three straight strikes brought the Phillies and their fans to euphoria: a World Series championship.
“I felt like the hole in my sports life that was missing finally was filled,” said Steve Grande, a Senior at Rowan.
“Since I started watching sports I always wondered what it would be like. It was such a good and different feeling.”
It was a proud day indeed for Philadelphia fans everywhere. A city that has been in a title drought for 25 years was finally relieved.
The city couldn’t celebrate for long. They knew that the Phillies would truly be the team to beat now and the title defense would be a task.
The Phillies knew this too and they had to retool. One of the major offseason moves was Pat Burrell. After being unable to sign him, they had to look in a different direction.
“I think Pat Burrell was a monumental piece of the Phillies making and winning the World Series,” said Jay Del Duke, a sophomore at Rowan.
“I was sad to see Pat go mainly because he is the right handed bat we need.”
The Phillies found a replacement in Raul Ibanez, who will be 37 in June.
“I love Raul,” said Del Duke. “I think everyone was skeptic about him being a lefty but he has proven that he can hit lefties and be productive even when the lineup is (Chase) Utley, (Ryan) Howard, then Ibanez.”
The Phillies also needed a 5th starting pitcher in the rotation. They only used four in the playoffs because the fifth guy was so bad. They can’t do that all season though.
They had Carlos Carrasco, JA Happ, and Kyle Kendrick to fight for the last spot and signed Chan Ho Park as a guy to compete with not only the starting spot but also in the rotation.
“He’s ok,” said Grande. “Out of all of their pitchers he’s my least favorite. I still want Happ to be the 5th man.”
“I also wanted Happ to be the fifth guy but obviously they went with Park,” said Anthony Medio, another Rowan sophomore.
The fifth spot wasn’t the only problem as was also whether or not to keep Moyer. Philadelphia actually chose to keep him, signing him to a 2 year contract worth $16 million.
“I love the fact that the Phillies kept Moyer on the team,” said Patrick Rush, a senior. “He is a solid pitcher and can serve as a senior leader. Plus he’s from Philly.”
The Phillies set their 25 man roster with a few new guys such as Park, Ibanez, Miguel Cairo for utility help, Jack Taschner for left-handed relief pitching, and let go of Geoff Jenkins.
The other big concern was Utley’s hip. He had surgery back in November and they feared he would not be able to make Opening Day. That was not the case as he played only 10 games in Spring Training but there was still worry that he may not be in top form.
“I was concerned but obviously not anymore,” said Medio, referring to Utley’s start of .346 average, 8 homers, and 21 RBI’s.
The season started once again with Brett Myers on the hill due to Cole Hamels being injured. Myers got roughed up, which became a trend for all pitching, even when Hamels returned.
The Phillies hit a slow start all the way up to May 4 with a 13-10 record. Rush thinks it may be due to the pitching.
“Their ERAs are through the roof and they are giving up ridiculous amounts of homeruns,” he said.
Another factor may be Jimmy Rollins’ slow start. He’s only batting .200 as the leadoff guy and has an OBP of .245, a terrible number for his spot in the lineup.
Rollins has been known for bold predictions as he he said he would bat .400 in the month of May.
“I think that he will not reach .400 but he can be productive,” said Del Duke.
The injuries to Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels have been problems but Grande isn’t worried.
“I think the Phils will be fine with injuries,” said Grande. They’re so deep, they don’t have to rely on just one player.”
They brought up Lou Marson to fill in for the injured Ruiz and he as filled in nice. As far as prospects to be called up, he has become the first to be brought into action and may become the most effective.
“They have to keep Marson up,” said Medio.
I believe not just him but Jason Donald and John Mayberry Jr. will eventually get some significant playing time. Carrasco may as well.
Distractions have also affected this start. Longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas died last month and the team and fans are still reeling from his loss.
“His voice will forever ring in my ears when I see a Phillies homerun,” said Del Duke.
“I grew up listening to Harry. Games just won’t be the same,” said Grande.
Their season isn’t anywhere near a bust and this team always fires up by May.
Is a repeat evitable?
“I sure hope so,” said Rush. “But the way the starting pitching has been… not a chance.”