The Philadelphia Phillies have had horrible luck befall pretty much everyone this year. Phillies fans like myself have been spoiled by the likes of Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and others for years, yet injuries and struggles have derailed all of them. The one exception in Philadelphia this season has been Carlos Ruiz, who was enjoying a career-best year.
But of course, no Phillies player can have a totally charmed season in 2012. Although Ruiz fought it off as long as he could, he finally got taken down by this cursed year on Aug. 4, as a tear in his foot will keep him out until the final meaningless weeks in September.
Ruiz was the one Phillies star to be unquestionably proud of this season. At one point, he was even the top hitter in baseball for a little while, until he dropped to .335 and Pittsburgh Pirates MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen seized control of the batting lead. Nevertheless, Ruiz finally went from being the glue that held Philadelphia's super rotation together to being an All-Star on his own - even while the rotation plummeted.
Ruiz, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon were the only Phillies' All-Stars and the only one living up to their potential. Yet Hamels was subject to trade rumors, until he got a huge contract that could tie the Phillies up later. Meanwhile, Papelbon's all too expensive $50 million offseason deal kept Philadelphia from giving him any real setup men. Ruiz was the one player who was brilliant without any asterisks - until this final gut punch of an injury.
Since he is 33 years old, there is no guarantee that Ruiz will ever have a year like this again. The Phillies are well aware that the older someone gets, the more vulnerable they are to decline and break down, as Howard, Utley, Halladay and Lee are proving. If Ruiz is just the latest example, it would be truly heartbreaking.
The Phillies can't seem to have anything good this season that isn't ruined by injury, or some other dumb twist of fate. Ruiz was the one exception left, so perhaps it made sense for things to end this way for him.
This was also the perfect ugly capper to a ugly week where the Phillies sent Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton to former NL West playoff rivals, while Cliff Lee got put on trade waivers. At the least, Victorino, Pence and Blanton are still playing and can help the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants make the postseason.
On the other hand, Ruiz's career season was destined to end way too soon - but it shouldn't have ended like this. Yet in Philadelphia in 2012, there was no other way for it to end.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Phillies since he was eight years old.
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