After yesterday’s inaction at the trade deadline and subsequent loss to the Giants, there is a good portion of the Phillies’ fan base that is feeling depressed today. Well fear not, depressed fan base! Mike Lacy is here to provide you with a burst of positivity!
Do you think this Phillies season is disappointing? I’ll admit that after the consecutive division titles and World Series appearances, it certainly is saddening to have the Phillies fall out of contention. But it could be worse. In fact, it has been worse – MUCH worse.
For those of you who are new to this whole being a Phillies fan thing, let me tell you about a time not so long ago. Back before the Phillies played at Citizen’s Bank Park, they played at a charmless multi-purpose stadium called Veteran’s Stadium. And they were also considered one of the cheaper teams in baseball, refusing to spend much money on the payroll. Those were truly dark days.
At least the Phillies entered this season with the hope of contention. Back then, Phillies fans had almost no hope at all.
Please join me as I take a look back at those dark days in a segment I like to call Ghosts of Phillies Past.
July’s Featured Phillie of the Month: Antonio Bastardo
Antonio Bastardo can’t seem to make up his mind whether he wants to be a dominating, shut down relief pitcher or a wild, panic-inducing mess. One night he’ll blow hitters away with ease, and the next night he appears to be scared to throw a strike.
For the most part, the Phillies got the “good” Bastardo in July. He pitched 12.2 innings, giving up only two runs, with an impressive .143 opponents’ batting average. It also helped that he was able to keep the walks to a minimum, surrendering only 5 bases on balls.
With former setup man Mike Adams out for the season, it looks like Bastardo will be the Phillies’ primary option for the eighth inning. (That is, assuming the Phillies can actually get a lead heading into the eighth)
With Bastardo in a key role, let’s just hope that we continue to get the “good” Bastardo, or else this season has the potential to get very ugly.
Ghost of Phillies Past: Yorkis Perez
Bastardo may be inconsistent, but at least the Phillies have seen evidence that he can be a successful major league reliever. In the late 90’s, the team’s options were less appealing. As a result, they were forced to use pitchers like Yorkis Perez in key situations.
Here’s a common situation from the 1998 season: The Phils would be in a pickle in the mid-to-late innings, and their opponent would have a left-handed hitter up to bat. Phillies manager Terry Francona would turn to his bullpen for help, but sadly, the only help that came was left-hander Yorkis Perez.
I remember hearing the announcers raving about what a smart move this was by Francona. They felt that bringing in a lefty pitcher to face a lefty hitter was the epitome of managerial genius. I can also remember my father shouting that the move didn’t make sense because Perez wasn’t actually any good against lefties.
In Perez’s defense, he was better against lefties than righties, but that is the very definition of faint praise.
Inevitably, Perez would give up a walk or a hit to the lefty hitter, and be left in to face a right-hander. After that, Phillies fans were typically free to turn off the game and attend to other affairs, confident that the Phillies were not coming away victorious on this particular evening.
If you ever become nervous when Bastardo is called into a game, remember that he can be dominating at times, and is generally effective against left-handers. Yorkis Perez used to inspire similar feelings of nervousness, except without any of the same effectiveness.
For more Phillies memories, both good and bad, follow me on Twitter @MikeLacy_215