"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him."
The above is a tremendous line from Julius Caesar, a wonderful play by an exceptional playwright named William Shakespeare. Earlier this month, it was cribbed by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay to describe his feelings toward his opponent in the National League Division Series, the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, exactly one week after the start of a series that the Philadelphia Phillies were universally expected to win, it turns out that the only thing the team buried was the hopes of the city's fan base for another World Series parade.
So now, as I reflect back on the team's season, the line begins to take on another meaning. Yes, the team had a terrific regular season. They set a franchise record for wins in a season with 102. Charlie Manuel passed Gene Mauch to become the winningest manager in team history. The four aces - Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Vance Worley - treated the fans to near-nightly feats of wonder on the mound. But let's make this clear: pulling an epic choke job in the first round of the National League playoffs makes all of that sh*t absolutely moot. Over the last week the Phillies resembled not a team of highly trained professional baseball assassins, but rather a motley crew of nerve-stricken chokers, baseball-IQ-averse mental midgets, and, in one particular shortstop's case, scapegoat-seeking whiners. So yes, if the Phillies, with their incredible pitching staff, their lofty payroll, and their five straight division championships are Caesar, then I am not here to praise them. I am here to bury them. And through their lousy play this October, they have provided me with a rather large shovel.
Congrats, bro! You hit one to the warning track last night! YIPPEE! Despite the fact that you looked near tears in your locker room interview last night, I pray to God that I have seen the last instance of your sputtering your wheels after a weak groundball to second base. John Mayberry Jr. should have taken your spot for good months ago and I'm sure beginning next year left field will become his permanent assignment.
Sorry, Mr. Teflon, but the gloves need to come off for you! You potentially cost the Phillies multiple runs this series with your idiotic risk-taking baserunning. The media and fans will probably just sell your antics as two more examples of your inimitable hustle, but what you pulled out there this week was just plain stupid. Trying to go from first to third on a groundout to the shortstop with no outs and your team down one run? That is something that could only be topped if you decided to run on the best arm in baseball with a 1-0 deficit while hobbled with an arthritic knee that kept you out of the lineup for a decent amount of the season. So of course you did that as well. Thanks, Genius, for flushing the whole f*cking season.
Sir, I wish you luck on your upcoming hernia surgery. And after the way you played this series, I also wish you luck on a hopeful retirement. Your sorry azz needs to come off the payroll.
A series of questions: Did I whine about the Phillies trading Cliff Lee the whole time that he was gone? Yes. Was I incredibly happy when they decided to bring him back last offseason? Yes. Was he stunningly brilliant at times this year with multiple scoreless streaks of over 30 innings? Yes. Was he the main reason why the Phillies did not win this series? Yes. Hey, say what you want about the Phillies anemic hitting in the postseason (and there is plenty to say), but all this a$$munch needs to do is hold a 4-0 lead and we sweep the Cardinals. That team of scrappy yet uninspiring battlers would be going golfing instead of prepping to play the Brewers. Instead, this guy choked away a sizeable lead because he couldn't put away guys like Ryan Theriot. F*ck him!!!
The People Who Attended Game 2
Did you people really applaud the guy who blew Game 2 and the series for us as he was running off the field? Jesus! Time to stop riding the guy's pistachios!
All year, we have been calling this guy "Little Roy," when in fact we should have been calling him "Little Cliff." Because like his true namesake, he too took an early lead given to him by his offense and blew it like a Kensington Avenue "lady of the night." Then, in the locker room, he blames the fact that he gave up a dinger to should-be minor leaguer David Freese on "poor pitch selection." In other words, it was Ruiz's fault. Whatever, dude. You should not have even been starting in this series. Go find a down-South road that needs clearing and stay there.
Although you choked hardcore in game 5, you actually played quite well in this series, James. Hopefully, it will get you a foolishly lengthy and pricey contract from a team on the West Coast. But here is a question: How did those Game 5 fans sound? Those people were loud and rowdy despite the fact that you guys were laying an enormous egg on the field. The bottom line is fans don't win games. Players who don't collapse under the pressure do. Also, extra kudos to you for ducking the media after the contest! What a professional. I guess they should just sign up for your Twitter if they want insightful updates about how sh*tty the fans are?
Maybe if we would have forced the Cardinals' hurlers to pitch in front of a batting practice screen, our late-season addition from the Houston Astros would have come up big in the clutch instead of hitting a seemingly endless string of off-balance bouncers to second base and shortstop. I don't care how many tweets you send thanking the fans for their support, .211 and useless in the three-hole doesn't cut it. But, hey, at least you'll always have the time-capsule ready memory of celebrating a division title in an overly animated fashion worthy of finding out that you just won the honor of a threesome with Scarlett Johannsen and Jessica Biel.
Congratulations! Who would have thought you would end up being the most accomplished hitter on the Phillies roster this series?
Nothing I can say about you...except that you gave up runs in the first inning of both games that you pitched. And in Game 2, that run, which was a result of consecutive extra-base hits to superstars Rafael Furcal and Skip Schumaker, put an already skittish offense on their heels. I'm just saying: Carpenter put up goose eggs. You WERE outpitched. But I'm nit-picking.
Let's address your performance: Polanco should have been nowhere near the field. Cliff Lee should have never gone back on the field in the seventh inning of Game 2 with the game tied 4-4. Ryan Howard needed Hunter Pence batting fifth behind him, not the unpredictable performance of would-be flyweight slugger Shane Victorino. Meanwhile, you made absolutely no changes to your lineup in the whole of the series even though Polanco and Ruiz clearly had nothing and the lineup as you had it constituted was practically anemic. In other words, I truly hope you had to pay for your seat because that hands-off nonsense you just pulled was not managing; it was spectating.
So you thought you were getting away because you ruptured your Achilles tendon, huh? 'Fraid not. Is this what we pay you $25 million for? A strikeout more than once every three postseason at-bats? Harmless groundouts to the first baseman because you're positioning yourself so far off the plate leaves you hopelessly susceptible to the outside pitch? A look of fear in your eyes so evident during that last at-bat, you would have thought you were being chased through a Colorado hedgemaze by an ax-wielding Jack Torrance? Maniacal suckling of a mouthpiece on the bench like you were feeding at your mother's teet. Hey man, I hope your leg is OK. I also hope that while you are chilling on the sidelines you can think of a way to shoot one into left field every once in a while. Or maybe you can take one every once in a while on 3-0 when you are hitting about as effectively as an American League pitcher wacked out on roofies.
Eh. I have no more vitriol left. Just trade this jumpy a$$hole already.
So there you have it, 2011 Philadelphia Phillies. Thanks for the memories! And by that I of course mean the memory of your losing to an inferior team, who then proceeded to celebrate on our field as if they had just discovered a permanent cure for Tony LaRussa's erectile dysfunction.
The Pizza Project
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