2008 Phandom 25

The 2008 Phandom 25: Being Brett

Last year I wrote a series of posts chronicling 2007’s 20 greatest moments in Phillies Phandom. Each game had a special “wow” factor, whether it was an insane comeback, an awesome feat or a trademark moment. And each game was a Phillies win, of course.

For this year, clearly, you know the top moment. But ranking the rest was very difficult. Do I rank the NLCS second just because? Is the NL East clinching victory as important as other postseason moments? I used some heavy discretion, but I believe I came up with a pretty solid list.

Each moment has an attached video link, if you’d like to go back and reminisce.

Like the 100 Greatest Phillies countdown, I’ll be posting one per day. I swear, you won’t get any more countdowns this offseason.


17. The Re-Education of Brett Myers
Date: Aug. 20, 2008

The Brett Myers Show: It could be a reality TV show. A pretty damn successful one, at that. With his outspoken moments, his intriguing hobbies and love of guns, his fatherhood, his less-than-reputable husbandry and his ongoing battles with remaining a prominent major league pitcher, “The Brett Myers Show” would really have a following. And its 2008 season would’ve been its best yet.

It started with another Opening Day outing, another loss thanks to the bullpen. He’d find a groove against Houston, but turn completely bad from there — a slew of horrible starts mixed in with a couple choice outings (like his near no-hitter against Cincinnati). By mid June his train had run out of gas, and a wretched two-inning performance in Arlington, Tex., sealed his fate. Mr. Myers was leaving Philadelphia and heading to the Lehigh Valley, a castaway, a minor leaguer.

An incredible thing, really, that Myers had to become a minor leaguer. His career opened with a fantastic — hell, masterful start against the Cubs while facing fellow rookie fastballer Mark Prior. He’d been the consistent arm for the Phillies since 2002, the one constant in an ever-changing motley crue of has-beens and never wases. And suddenly, the man who had proven to be a solid but unspectacular starting pitcher was now a member of a triple-A ballclub. And the words of one William Joel rang pretty clear:

“And we’re waiting here in Allentown, for the Pennsylvania we never found. For the promises our futures gave if we were wise, if we behaved.”

Myers did anything but behave, and most times, was anything but wise. But he finished his stint in the minors and joined the Phillies on July 23, facing the Mets at Shea Stadium. He was wild, he was uncertain, and he finished with a five-inning line. Something to build on. His next start came in Nationals Park, where he ripped off a seven-inning, no-earned-run performance. Next up, Busch Stadium, and a six-inning, two-run job. Citizens Bank, for a welcome home against the Pirates: 7.2 innings, one run, five hits, and even some jawing when Charlie Manuel pulled him from the game.

Was Brett really back?

Dodger Stadium. Seven innings. Three runs. Eight strikeouts. Not bad. But his next start would tell the story.

The Nationals came into Citizens Bank Park, and the Phillies were reeling: Jimmy Rollins’ “frontrunner” comments had split the fanbase from the team, and while the team won on “Campaign Cheer” night, there was still much work to be done. Chase Utley was sliding. Ryan Howard was non-existent. Pat Burrell was out to pasture. Shane Victorino was burning up, but the Phillies needed more to prove their worth to the fans. They needed a leader, a veteran leader — a guy who knew the city, played like the city worked, held their emotions in the palm of his hand. They needed Brett.

Myers assumed his spot on the mound, fired his first pitch and never looked back.

Early it was his fastball, as he established it across the strike zone, then backed it up with a sweet changeup that dropped at the last possible moment. He gave up a few shots because of suspect defense, but wiggled out of the threats and settled in by the fourth inning, racking up strikeouts while barely giving the Nats a few singles. He did this by bringing the hook — clearly his best pitch, the curve came in high, dropped low, looked breathtaking.

And the help came, too. With a 1-0 lead, Greg Dobbs lashed a two-run home run in the fifth, and later, Jayson Werth added a bloop double in right field. The Phils had a 4-0 lead thanks to its unsung heroes, and Myers had everything he needed to finish the deed.

Ryan Zimmerman led off the eighth with a single, bringing up the ever-dangerous Lastings Milledge. He smoked one toward Rollins’ left, and the Gold Glove shortstop made another beautiful play: a diving stab and toss to Utley. Chase turned it with one-hand, quickly, and secured the gorgeous double play. Myers rewarded that work by striking out Rafael Belliard to end the eighth.

The ninth was a certainty. After getting Jesus Flores to ground out, Myers uncorked a curve to sit down Austin Kearns. A single by Anderson Hernandez led Myers to Aaron Boone. With a 2-2 count, Myers tossed a fastball to the outside part of the plate, catching Boone swinging through it and ending the game, a masterpiece 4-0 win.

Myers followed that performance by shutting out the Dodgers in seven innings, then keeping the Cubs at bay for seven more. After that, he shut out the Mets in eight before slipping a bit to close the season. But it was official: Brett Myers was back, and he could claim victory at any time, against any team.

His postseason featured three starts, one very good (against Milwaukee), one with some hiccups (against Los Angeles) and one square in the middle (against Tampa Bay). And of course, his bat probably did more damage in the playoffs than his arm — nothing to deter from his pitching, but his hitting was that damn good. But on a nice August night in Philly, Myers had reclaimed himself. He had brought “The Brett Myers Show” to a fitting, happy climax.

The video: Myers is masterful against Washington

From the comments:

TJ: Brett Myers has been just straight nasty after his “fun” little trip. He has been freezing guys all night, I’m loving it.

NC Jason: WHAT A GAME BY MYERS! I give him so much credit for going down to AAA and getting his stuff right.

ryan: brett has been pitching great since his recall. if he continues to pitch this well, i would equate this to the brewers picking up sabbathia (maybe not quite as good but you get the point) or the cubs getting harden.

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