Philadelphia Phillies legendary closer Brad Lidge talks perfect season, closer mentality

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 21: Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 to advance to the World Series in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 21, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 21: Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrates defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 to advance to the World Series in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 21, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) /
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Brad Lidge recalls his perfect 2008 Phillies World Series championship season

Among the highlights from the magical 2008 Philadelphia Phillies season — which resulted in the franchise’s second-ever and most recent World Series championship — is of course the perfect season from closer Brad Lidge.

Late broadcaster Harry Kalas summarized Lidge and the overall team’s season the best when calling the final out of the World Series opposite the Tampa Bay Rays:

"The 0-2 pitch — swing and a miss, struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball! Brad Lidge does it again, and stays perfect for the 2008 season! 48-for-48 in save opportunities, and let the city celebrate!"

In a recent interview with the Denver-based CBS4, Lidge — who grew up and graduated from high school in Colorado — recalled what he calls a “crazy year.” He noted that once he was traded from the Houston Astros to the Phillies, he knew Philadelphia was not a city he would receive a lot of sympathy if he didn’t get the job done.

“I knew I needed to be at my best,” Lidge said. “Physically I felt good and mentally I felt good.”

And the rest is history.

Lidge said that just about everything went right for him in 2008 and he credited the “incredible” defense behind him. But as the season progressed, it was difficult not to have his perfect save streak in the back of his mind.

“As we got closer to the postseason, I think that’s when a lot of the media and people would come into the locker room and say, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be horrible if you blew one now?'” Lidge told CBS4. “I would’ve been ashamed to blow my first one in a big situation like that but fortunately, we had a great defense.”

“I had a lot of belief that year that everything would work out and lo and behold, it did,” the two-time All-Star continued. “Needless to say, it was a truly special year.”

Brad Lidge discusses the difference between a starter and closer mentality.

Lidge’s 2008 success was made possible not just from his on-the-field work, but also the preparation that went into each appearance. His ability to use adrenaline and feel the excitement of the game — while continuing to breathe and relax — equally contributed to his perfection.

A mistake many closers who transition from the seventh or eighth inning roles, Lidge noted, is that they cannot control their adrenaline and use it to their advantage.

“The mentality of a closer versus a starter is very different,” Lidge told CBS4. “A starter is like a robot going through their routine — doing what they need to do. They have a lot of adrenaline, of course, when they go out there, but they are trying to suppress that.”

As a closer, Lidge would do everything he could to stay loose in the first five innings. Somewhere around the seventh inning, however, he “flipped the switch” and got mentally ready. “You get into your stretching routine and start to think about hitters and everything else you will do,” Lidge said.

Lidge played for three different teams across his 11-season career; along with the Astros (2002-07) and Phillies (2008-11), he also appeared in 11 games with the Washington Nationals in 2012. He said he is fortunate to have been part of some great bullpens during his career, and still keeps in touch with many of his former teammates. He went on to tell CBS4:

"“We flicked pumpkin seeds at people in the stands, told each other stories from the night before, or whatever it was. A thousand different topics; you can imagine how much time we had to kill. We always said that we spent more time with each other than with our families during our careers. We knew each other and kept each other relaxed.”"

Without a doubt, Lidge is surely a future Phillies Wall of Famer.

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