It is hard to separate huge sports moments from real life. I know what bar I was in when I saw Howard's Achilles go and Halladay and Carpenter's career die on the same field (Winking Lizard in Coventry, OH). I know where I was when Halladay threw the playoff no hitter, sitting on the couch with a Reds fan trying not to gloat. And I know where I was a few games later as a series died, I was cowering behind that same couch awaiting the inevitable.
Let's rewind, because how it went from complete joy to utter depression in 2010 is a story worth telling and then forgetting immediately. It was year one of the magnificence that was Roy Halladay. One Roy was not enough for the Phillies who doubled their Roy in the middle of 2010 with Roy Oswalt. Oswalt was masterful down the stretch, and the Phillies looked unbeatable. Chase Utley was at the height of his power, Carlos Ruiz was coming into his own, and Jayson Werth was great. Ryan Howard had a solid year, but we were seeing the first chink in the armor.
The Phillies would breeze through a Reds team loaded with stars young and stars well beyond their prime. Then they met the Giants and He Who Must Never Be Named. The 2010 Giants were an interesting group lead by 11 WAR of Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres. They had Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum back by rookies Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. The Phillies fell behind 3 games to 1 because He Who Must Never Be Named went crazy for 4 games. In game 5 Roy Halladay went 6 solid, and Jose Contreras, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge shut the door to get the series back to Philly.
Game 6, in Philly. Roy Oswalt vs Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez implodes in the first, and the Phillies only get two runs. Oswalt gives them back in the 3rd when Polanco makes an error. The Giants bullpen bails out Sanchez. In the 7th the Phillies turn to Ryan Madson to get it to Brad Lidge. Madson escapes the 7th, in the 8th Juan Uribe happened, 3-2. Lincecum comes in gets an out, Werth and Ibanez single, Lincecum is out and Wilson is in. Because of even year magic we don't comprehend Ruiz's ball goes right to a glove, double play. Lidge manages to get through the 9th when the Giants have Wilson bat with the bases loaded.
A quick fast forward on the first 4 batters of the inning:
- Ross Gload Groundout
- Jimmy Rollins Walk
- Placido Polanco Forceout at 2nd
- Chase Utley Walk
- Wilson Valdez PR for Polanco
- Ryan Howard to the plate
Jayson Werth waits on deck, it will be his last time in a Phillies uniform.
Called strike on an offspeed pitch
Rally caps are on, no one can watch.
Another one up and away, no swing, full count
The runners have a head start now, a single gets the Phillies to Game 7. Cole Hamels on the mound with a chance at a third straight World Series.
I can't look. At this point so much has gone the Giants' way that the end feels inevitable but drawn out.
Called Strike 3
Tom Hallion celebrates
Brian Wilson celebrates
The Giants celebrate
Ryan Howard stops and stares at the backstop for a second. He walks off the field and into the dugout. This is Ryan Howard at his second worst. His 2010 season will be better than any that follow it. The next time he is the last man to the plate it will be disastrous.