Lidge a reminder: It's not 2008

Posted: August 05, 2013

IT WAS an ironic ending to "Brad Lidge Night" at the ballpark, one more reminder of a bygone era that the Phillies apparently still cling to tightly.

Two hours after Lidge's familiar "Soldiers" blared on the Citizens Bank Park speakers, Jonathan Papelbon trotted into a 1-0 ballgame to "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Lights out, Papelbon isn't.

Four straight singles later, Cole Hamels could do little more than hang his head in the dugout, as the Phillies lost for the 17th time in his 23rd appearances. It was Papelbon's sixth blown save in 2 months, just days after chastising his teammates, saying he "didn't come here for this."

"Some nights . . . you just go back in the dugout and you kind of scratch your head like, 'What just happened?' " Papelbon said.

With Lidge back in the ballpark once again, it's a question many Phillies fans were asking yesterday.

Lidge, 36, officially retired as a Phillie on Thursday, signing a 1-day deal to forever crystalize that slider to Tampa Bay's Eric Hinske that delivered Philadelphia's first world title in 28 years back on Oct. 27, 2008.

Lidge relived the moment one last time on the big screen before entering the game from his familiar spot in the bullpen. He kicked up a little dirt on the mound and threw one last pitch to Carlos Ruiz at home plate as 33,645 roared with nostalgic approval.

As triumphant as Lidge's reappearance in Philadelphia was on Thursday, it is one that Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and even Ruiz should have swallowed hard watching.

They're next.

And in many ways, some of those Phillies should have had these moments already. Utley should have received a grand sendoff earlier this week, just prior to being dealt to a contender at the nonwaiver trade deadline. He is still a value commodity, yet he just doesn't represent the Phillies' future.

Utley, Rollins, Howard, Ruiz and Lidge are the fathers of the Phillies' best era in their 130-year history. The "old" Phillies would not have squandered a bases-loaded, no-outs opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, with a chance to get Papelbon off the hook.

The torch needs to be passed to some of the other players sprinkling the field on Thursday, like Cody Asche and Darin Ruf.

Yet, most - if not all - of those core players will be back for 2014. Ruben Amaro's question this week was "How can we add pieces to this core to make us a contender next year?" when it should have been, "How did this core not win us multiple championships in 2009, 2010 or 2011?"

Papelbon called Thursday's loss a "tough pill to swallow."

With Lidge on the mound one last time, his leisurely toss to Ruiz was another poignant reminder that yesteryear is gone in a season full of them.

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