As the regular season winds down, many teams are already facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.
But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is Peter Lyons from The Good Phight.
My fellow Philadelphians: It is with great sadness but also great pride that I appear before you today at the end of this difficult season. I just had the honor of speaking to Patrick Reddington over at Federal Baseball
(crowd boos, scattered "No!"s are heard, I raise hands with wistful smile to silence crowd)
I congratulated Patrick and wished him and the Nationals the best of luck as they take over the reigns of the National League East, a division we both love. The greatest division in baseball! (Crowd cheers wildly).
It was a season that began with so much promise. Our Phillies had won 102 games one year ago. But all good things must one day end. And it turns out that the signs of trouble were there. Our friends, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, were hobbled to begin the season. Roy Halladay, the best player on a pair of teams that combined to win 199 games, injured his shoulder and was never 100 percent all season. The Peoples' Hero, Cliff Lee, got virtually no run support and struggled to win six games all season. By the time the All-Star break arrived, the team was buried at 37-50. It was hopeless.
We had to go through the painful process of saying goodbye to old friends. Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton, heroes of Octobers past, were both traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hunter Pence, who arrived in Philadelphia just a year ago, found himself traded to the San Francisco Giants. We remember them fondly, and thank them whole-heartedly for their service! (applause)
As for those who were left behind, they call them the Fightin' Phillies, and they fought. They fought like hell. We called it the "Surge after the Purge," and the Phils played nearly .600 ball after the Break and made an improbable run that put them within three games of the second wild card in the second week of September. And yet it wasn't enough. The better teams won, and the Phillies must enter the offseason looking both inward and forward.
Despite the pain and heartbreak, there is plenty to be happy about. Catcher Carlos Ruiz, previously beloved by Phillies fans and Phillies pitchers only, had a season for the ages. Cole Hamels, the homegrown superstar ace, was signed to a contract extension that will keep him in Philadelphia for his prime seasons. Minor-league slugger Darin Ruf abused Eastern League pitching, and then got one of the longest dugout freezes ever after hitting a home run for his first big-league hit. And Jimmy Rollins, whose "Team to Beat" proclamation in 2007 stood as the emotional starting point of five seasons of greatness, had one of his better seasons despite a slow start, making that three-year contract he signed in the offseason look like a bargain.
Without enduring the struggles of the past, there was no way we could have appreciated the wonderful five-season run from 2007 through 2011. Likewise, the champagne sipped upon return to the mountaintop, whether it comes in 2013 or 2030, will taste just as sweet. There will be hard work and sacrifice. We will see more old friends depart and fade away. But the future is bright! Go Phillies!
Previous Concession Speeches: Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros