From gas can to THE man- An ode to Brad Lidge

Wrapping up 2008 I have been recalling many goings on in the year. For this post I would like to pay homage to a pitcher who resurrected his career and proved he could be the man. Even though he’s not a Rockie it’s easy to root for the individual.

Imagine standing on the mound and you are the last defense and three outs away from leading your team to victory. The whole game has come down to you and your ability. Are  you good enough? Can you handle the pressure? Can you be the man? We all face those decisions in life even if not on the mound and did you live up to the expectations put on your role?

In 2008 Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge answered those questions with his play on the field and in doing so exorcised the demons of the 2005 season wherelidgepujols.jpg his career seemed to have ended.

 

Many will point to the 2005 NLCS series game five against Albert Pujols and the Cards when Pujols sent a three run home run into history and forced game six which the Astros would win.

Enter the World Series and Lidge again with the opportunity to close the door, when Scott Podsednik would hit his second homerun of the season. A walk off blast that led to the Astros getting swept two games later.

brad2.jpgI remember reading a story and Lidge recalling going straight home after the last game, getting his dog and driving all the way to Colorado where he lives. If you have made that drive it’s a long one with plenty of time to think and go over what could have been.

In 2006 Lidge would have a miserable ERA of 5.28 coming from a 2.29 and 1.90 ERA’s the two previous years. It was easy to make the comparison that Lidge was indeed spraying gasoline from his gas can all over the field and throwing matches with every pitch. Blown save after blown save, many thought he would never be able to get over the mental aspect of failure and being able to succeed again. He just wouldn’t re-engage. Talk to me Goose.

goose_l.jpgThe Astros were playing the Rockies in 2007 and Lidge was called to put down the Mile-High surge and I looked over and said “No, no this is good. This guy lost his stuff, he gets lit up.” Then I saw it and if you have ever seen Brad Lidge’s slider up close it is one of the most beautiful pitches you have seen and I thought to myself “Crap, he’s back.”

He had his confidence back and you could see it. The Rockies lost that day and I knew Lidge had something back and I think it was the same confidence he had before Pujols and Podsednik lit him up.

Quietly he exits Houston to sign with Philly and I thought it was a good move because I’m not sure Astro’s fans could ever really get over feeling like he lost the Series for them. I didn’t know what he would bring but it was a new start and a new opportunity to succeed. He took it.

Game five of the 2008 World Series, Lidge gets the ever important strikeout he had not been able to get in 2005 and converts seven saves in post season. Seven saves gave him the perfect season with 41 saves with 41 opportunities.

He faced adversity on the world stage and failed and continued to fail until he was able to find something inside himself to find that confidence again. He not only succeeded he was perfect. Congrats Mr. Lidge and you are an example to follow in everyday life. Best wishes for continued success in ’09.

lidge.jpg 

16 comments

  1. juliasrants

    Hey Tom – what a great story to share with us during this season. All of us have the ability to dig deep down inside ourselves and find that inner strength. Just too many of us don’t do it because we are to afraid to fail. Thanks for giving us the inspiration to do better! Happy New Years to you and yours! Here’s to a great 2009!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  2. Jane Heller

    Comeback stories are always inspiring, Tom, so thanks for reminding us about Lidge’s. I thought Mike Mussina was finished after his miserable ’07, but then he came back and won 20 games in ’08 for the first time in his career. I can only imagine the guts it takes for a pitcher to go back out there after he’s been shelled. Kudos to Lidge.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

    • rockymountainway

      For sure. Baseball is a game of failure but pitchers seemingly are held to a much greater standard. It takes courage like Mussina to come back and win 20. I love baseball comeback stories and hopefully lidge can have a long career with no monkey on his back.
      tom
      http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

  3. Elizabeth D

    Tommy,
    Great “ode” to Lidge, I didn’t realize all he had gone through, and it’s really cool that you kind of knew when he was “back” for good. Pitching is so tough mentally, I used to pitch for my softball team and it was brutal. It’s amazing that he was able to get his confidence back.. and it was a smart move to sign with Philly. It takes people time to forgive. Some people have just started to forgive Bill Buckner. And what about Tim Wakefield in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS? Wakefield came back though, but Buckner was never the same (with good reason, poor guy). Brad Lidge really had a commendable season this year!
    -Elizabeth
    http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

  4. hooksfan

    Baseball and life do have a lot in common. It’s what we do that defines how we will handle the adversities which come our way. Baseball provides us with many stories of those players who hit rough spots in their careers…..many times it can be one person who helps turn that players career around.
    http://thehooks.mlblogs.com/

  5. rockymountainway

    Elizabeth, yeah buckner right, that poor guy. I hope he still isn’t getting comments to this day but when they break out the tape of that ball rolling by it must eat him up. I used to always joke with softball pitchers until this gal in high school who I had a crush on and was being stupid with took a tennis ball and fast pitched into my leg. It freakin hurt and it was a tennis ball. I have much respect for softball pitchers!
    tom
    http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

  6. redstatebluestate

    Nice work, Tom. As a Pujols-loyalist, it’s hard to find a sweeter memory than that rocket he hit of Lidge in the ’05 NLCS… but even I had a hard time holding back the grin that came seeing Lidge succeed this year. Best wishes for you in 2009! Cheers!
    –Jeff
    http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

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