Well, it's over. The 2012 campaign that began like a lamb and ended like a lion went belly-up over the weekend, when the Phillies dropped two out of three to the Atlanta Braves, as they fell five back in the Wild Card with only nine left to play. At this point, it would take nothing short of a miracle for the Phillies to reach the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
And to be honest, it has been over for a while. Probably since sometime in July, when they were some 13 games under .500. It was a hole that they dug for themselves - due to injury, poor play, and a shoddy bullpen, among other things – that they were never able to climb out of. Even their late-season surge, which conjured up memories of the 2007 club, was not enough to overcome the mortal woulds suffered in the early part of the season. But that's what you get when your offense relied heavily upon Ty Wigginton, Freddy Galvis, and Laynce Nix. Thinking back to some of those lineups really makes me appreciate just how interesting they made it in the last few weeks, when it looked like they might actually have a shot at this thing. Alas, it was not meant to be.
If nothing else, we can all appreciate that the Phillies played this thing out to the bitter end. It would have been really easy for Charlie Manuel and the rest of the club to go on auto-pilot sometime in mid-August, but they didn't. They fought the entire way, and that says something. It would have been easy for players to ask out of the lineup, but that's not what happened. They didn't sit the regulars twice a week, they didn't use September as an audition for the young guys, and they didn't let anyone roll over them when it would have been so easy to do. Even though it didn't get them back to October, it gave us some excitement on a daily basis.
Yes, there are a thousand different ways for this season to have played out, and we can pick out individual games and moments - like the Astros series, for instance - that could have played out differently, but the reality is that this team was just too injured and beat down to dig themselves out of the hole that they dug for themselves in the first half of the season.
At this point, it's all about pride and a winning record. The playoffs aren't in the cards, and that's unfortunate, but not many teams can say they put together a run of success like the 2007-2012 Phillies did. There won't be many kind words written about the 2012 team, but considering what they had to overcome, their play in the second half was nothing short of incredible. And that's worth applauding.
For now, let's take in the final nine games of the season before taking in some stress-free playoffs, where we can watch some other team's bullpen collapse for a change.