CLEARWATER, Fla. --- Join a new team. Convert every save. Strike out the final batter in the World Series.
Brad Lidge's first season with the Philadelphia Phillies played out better than anyone could've imagined. What can Mr. Perfect do for a sequel?
"This is baseball," Lidge said. "At some point, I will blow one and I know that. Basically, my goal isn't to improve upon last year or do better. It's to go out, prepare every game and compete every game like I did last year.
"If that means I end up converting most of my saves, blowing a few or getting 38 out of 41, I don't know. But as long as I do all the things I did last year mentally and physically to compete and help our team win, then I've had a successful year."
Lidge was 41-for-41 in save chances and had a 1.95 ERA during the regular season, helping Philadelphia win its second consecutive NL East title. He was 7-for-7 with an 0.96 ERA in the postseason as the Phillies captured their first World Series title since 1980.
The tying run was on second with two outs when Lidge struck out Eric Hinske swinging on a nasty slider to end it.
"At that point, it has to be your best one," Lidge said.
The image of a jubilant Lidge on his knees will forever be remembered by fans in Philly the same way as Tug McGraw's leap after striking Kansas City's Willie Wilson to end the '80 Series.
"I always figured I'd be jumping up and down but I guess it happened and that's how I felt," Lidge said. "I said, 'Oh my God, we just won the World Series.' I remember Carlos (Ruiz) coming out and then being on my head and having 100 people on me."
It was the perfect way to end a perfect season.
"When you think about it, it's absolutely outstanding," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Though things didn't start so well for Lidge when he first joined the Phillies, the time he spent on the disabled list was beneficial. Lidge, 32, won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award, finished fourth in voting for the Cy Young Award and eighth for MVP. He was an All-Star for the second time in his career and earned a $37.5 million, three-year extension in midseason.
"When I used to see Lidge and would see his stuff, I used to think just a little bit more confidence, just a little bit better location, this guy could really be something special," Manuel said. "I had seen him when he first came up and he hadn't lost nothing. We wanted him. He showed us this past season exactly what we saw in him and why we got him."
All Lidge has to do now is try for an encore.