Thursday, October 30, 2008

We Are the Champions My Friends

The Philadelphia Phillies are your 2008 World Series Champions!!!

What a fucking game!!!

After all the crap from Monday night, the rain- and wind-induced errors, play getting suspended in the middle of an inning through until resuming on Wednesday, the agonizing 47-hour wait for the Phillies players and coaches and fans, destiny finally came to the city of Philadelphia as the Phillies once again jumped all over the Tampa Bay Rays' pitchers to capture the team's first World Series crown since 1980, and the city's first professional sports championship since 1983.

To say this is something special would be the understatement of the century for anyone who really understands Philadelphia sportsdom. This just isn't like when any other team wins a championship, in any other city. As I think I mentioned last week sometime, the best analog I can think of is the city of Boston, but frankly over the past decade even those fans have become complacent, losing the desperation that was once rampant in Beantown as well before the Patriots started cheating their asses off and won three superbowls in four years, the Red Sox finally broke the curse and won two World Series in three years, and even the Celtics joined the party by taking down their first world title in 20 years in the 2007-2008 NBA season. Sure you have the Cubs who as an individual franchise are far and away the saddest story going right now in professional sports, but even in that city, we are only a few years removed from the White Sox winning the World Series, and throughout the 1980's the fans of the Windy City were treated to a Bears thrashing of the Patriots (pre-cheating) in a Superbowl victory as well as of course six world titles for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

No, Philadelphia stands alone as the most desperate of cities when it comes to the major sports franchises, and that's what makes this title so fucking special. It simply cannot be put into words. Rather than attempt to describe the indescribable, I'll just tell you this quick story. As Brad Lidge closed it out, completing his incredible 48-for-48 perfect season as the Phils' unbeatable closer by getting Rays pinch hitter Eric Hinske to swing about two feet over his patented, unhittable slider, I rang up my younger brother with whom I had been chatting and texting throughout this stub of a game on Wednesday night. We spoke for maybe 3 minutes, because that's all the guy could take. He was bawling. I mean, I'm not talking a few tears or choked up or anything. I'm talking downright sobbing. This is a guy who, although I always think of him as a kid, is now a grown man. He's 30, he is newly married, and probably soon will be a father for the first time. The guy is all growns up at this point, and like me he has been a Philly sports fan through and through for his entire cognizant life. But even at the ripe old age of 30, the guy has had it fucking rough. See, I am lucky to have been alive and have been cognizant when the Phillies won their first -- and only other -- World Series. I remember my father would leave my older brother and I little notes under our doors every night so that when we woke up we would know that the Phils won another game in the playoffs, that the Phils were going to the world series, etc. When that fateful Game 6 came around in 1980, my father woke my older brother and I up near the end, and I will never forget even at the age of 7 years old sitting on the couch while my dad sat in his recliner, watching Tug McGraw strike out Willie Wilson to clinch the title. The team jumping all over the place, boyhood hero Mike Schimdt pouncing on top of McGraw from the third base side, and the crazy celebration that ensued on the field and on to the locker room afterwards. I was well old enough to understand and appreciate what was happening there.

Similarly, I very well remember the 76ers sweeping and embarrassing the heavily-favored Lakers in the 1983 NBA finals, and loving every minute of it. At that point I was a sass-mouthed 10 year old, already playing basketball myself in the driveway whenever I could, and I specifically recall the arrogance and pride I felt seeing the fans sporting signs at the parade saying "We Swept L.A." and "Down With Magic", etc. It was great. But those two memories are forever ingrained in my head, and in my entire aura of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

But now think of my little brother, and moreover, the literal millions of Philadelphia fans like him unfortunately born in the late '70s. G was just two years old when the Phils won their World Series, and even at 5 years of age when the sixers crushed the Lakers, he was just barely too young to get it. He has no memory of either event. To him, they are just stats in the sports almanac, the stuff people talk about and write about in their memoirs, no different from hearing how Babe Ruth hit 60 homers when no one else in the league hit even 10, or Ted Williams hitting .401 in 1941. To him and millions of others just like him in the Philadelphia area, the notion of any Philly sports team being anything but a loser -- let alone a champion -- is just a legend. Something he knows has happened, but has no concept of what it feels like to experience. And the guy is 30 years old now. Just think of how many Philadelphia sports fans have been born in the past 30 years, with all of them never having had the chance to taste what it really feels like to be a fucking champion, to be the king of your sport for a day, or an offseason. See, this is what gives the Phillies fans
the reputation that they have, what makes them the way that they are. This is where the desperation comes from -- from 30 years of fans who have never tasted the thrill of victory, despite the Flyers losing the Stanley Cup finals in 1985, 1987 and 1997, the 76ers losing the NBA finals in 2001, the Eagles losing the Superbowl to the now-known-to-be-cheater Patriots in 2004, and the Phillies loss to the Orioles in 1983 as well as their walkoff defeat at the hands of the Pat Gillick-led Blue Jays in 1993.

Until now. As my brother sat there crying his eyes out last night, you could just hear it in his voice. The change coming over him. Oh, it will probably take a few weeks if not months to fully sink in, but the guy will never, ever be quite as desperate of a fan again as he has been his entire life up until now. Thirty years of young (now grown up) fans, releasing the tension, the frustration, the anger, the desperation of never being able to see a championship, never being able to experience that feeling, of knowing that you are the best the world has to offer, in their entire lives. Thirty years of fully deserving, absolutely crazed sports fans, collectively exhaling, and along with their breath also releasing the anguish of a literal lifetime of losing. These people's entire outlook on sports, if not on life in general, will never be the same after Wednesday night's amazing game and the bringing of that beautiful World Series trophy back to Philadelphia.

By the way, if you want to hear the Phillies' victory called by someone who isn't a moron hater pussy, if you want to hear it the way the fans of Philadelphia heard it, then check out this link. That right there is Harry Kalas, the legendary Phillies announcer now working in his fourth decade of calling the baseball games in the City of Brotherly Love (hahaha I always chuckle at that nickname), getting his groove on and having the privilege of announcing the second world championship in this franchise's less than illustrious 126-year history.

It isn't often that us people from the area get to say this, but god dam does it feel great to be proud to be a Philadelphia sports fan today!

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11 Comments:

Blogger Riggstad said...

I go into it a little bit on my post, but you hit it right on the head Hoy.

My father called me, crying. This will probably be his last championship ever as a fan, and I think he recognizes it.

Parade on Friday, noon to 5pm. Al and I are in as well as about 50 of our friends, already making plans to get there by train.

This is going to be fun! Congrats Philly fan! Only four more months before pitchers and catchers report again.

11:23 PM  
Blogger corron10 said...

Yes, we are. WORDL SERIES CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11:31 PM  
Blogger AlCantHang said...

Here's an even better version of the Harry Kalas call. It's from the booth and Chris Wheeler goes apeshit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12GNs8ERYL0

1:03 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

Congrats.

I'm still unapologetic about the '93 Series though. ;)

-PL

1:04 AM  
Blogger 1Queens Up1 said...

7 months old dude, thats how old I was when they last won.

See I was all good, then I read your post and riggs post and i get a little emotional again!

Dang it feels good to be a champion!

1:57 AM  
Blogger 4dbirds said...

Hubby set off fireworks. That shook up suburban DC. Anyway, here is a really good World Series story. http://www.iambossy.com/fambly/2008/10/30/quite-possibly-the-best-philadelphia-phillies-story-you%e2%80%99ll-hear-all-day/

2:34 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Great stuff, katiemom, thanks for that link.

Tug will always be remembered by the Philly fans who were there when we won our first world championship.

God dam does it feel good to be able to say that!

3:05 AM  
Blogger Mike Maloney said...

For what it's worth, I would argue that Cleveland as a whole is #1 on the "Biggest Sports Loser" list of cities, since the Indians haven't won since 1948, the Cavs haven't won since...ever, and the Browns haven't won a Super Bowl and their last NFL Championship was 1964. Hell, their team had to move for them to win a Super Bowl.

Oh, and as a life long Cubs fan, I just wanted to say F U.

3:50 AM  
Blogger BWoP said...

Enjoy the party!

3:57 AM  
Blogger The Monster Stack said...

Big Mets fan here. I remember the 86 Mets like yesterday and my father shared season tickets with a few guys in his office that season so I got to see most Thursday and Sunday home games. Anyway, I remember going to Veteran's Stadium (what a complete dump of a ballpark that was) in the late 90s only to watch five times as many Mets fans as Phillies fans cheers on the Mets kicking the Phillies asses. It's amazing how everyone suddenly becomes a huge fan of their team when they are doing well. I'm not calling you our personally but when the Phillies sucked back then I was able to get box seat tickets at the window five minutes before game time. This goes for all so-called fans. Where are they when their team is in last place? I have seen it with the Mets and many other teams. I for one, as much as it pains me, watch the games when the team sucks. It makes winning (if that ever happens) all that much sweeter. And part of enjoying a winning team is watching them develop from nothing into something. If you've ever been able to talk to the right fielder during a game (and I have) then you know exactly what I mean. Anyway, I personally couldn't watch the World Series (I peaked in here and there) because for me, it was a terrible match-up. I have no interest in seeing a division rival win nor do I care much for Tampa Bay. Terrible for Fox IMO.
~TMS

10:56 AM  
Blogger The Poker Grind said...

transfer ? ... my AIM is steven3751 , I haven't been able to reach you , tried all week

6:45 AM  

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