I swear I did not save this post to coincide with the day that Brad Lidge signed a contract to play with the Washington Nationals. It just happened this way. When I started thinking about and created my "Top 100" list in October... Brad Lidge landed on this spot. I had no idea it would fall on the exact day he officially departs the Phils.
First of all, let me state: I love Brad Lidge. I love that nasty slider he threw. I love him for being a perfect 48 for 48 in 2008. I love him for striking our Eric Hinske and closing out the 2008 World Series, giving me a moment that will never fade. I love him for being everything that Brett Meyers, Tom Gordon, and Billy Wagner were not. I love the pride and resiliency he displayed after Albert Pujols shocked the Astros in Game 5 of 2005 NLCS. I love him because he pitched with my Round Rock Express in 2001. I love him because he played college baseball north of the Mason/Dixon line and was still drafted in the first round.
I generally don't subscribe to the standard "you need to have a back of the bullpen stopper" mentality dominating baseball for the last 3 decades. I recognize that recording out number 25, 26, and 27 are typically the hardest outs to get. But I believe that the end of each game should require the manager to assess his team, the pitcher currently in the game, and the opponent before blindly calling on the same man to ALWAYS record those last three outs.
Outside of a very select few pitchers (cough, Mariano Rivera, cough...) the current gospel of the "closer" is a flawed concept. It narrows the mindset and options available to a manager, costing many teams many games in the standings. For one entire season, Brad Lidge proved me wrong. And I love it when I am wrong like that