Phillies' success a dream come true
Two hours. Thatís how long I sat there.
When I was six, the Philadelphia Phillies did something that they hadnít done in ten years: They made the playoffs. Now, at 20, I will see the Phillies playing in October for the first time since. It still hasnít sunk in: The Philadelphia Phillies are the National League East Champions and are going to the postseason.
I had thought about how I would react. Every fan thinks about how the moment will go. The strange thing was, I had no idea what I would do.
Never in my lifetime had so much been riding on a baseball game. I was unaccustomed to the situation, and had no idea how I would behave. I should have been jumping up and down. I should have been throwing objects around the room in pure elation.
But I just sat there with tears rolling down my face and a goofy smile, in near stone silence. For two hours. I watched the post-game celebration, followed by the extended coverage, until almost 7 p.m.
As I watched that curve ball slice through the strike zone, it was almost an out-of-body experience. Brett Myers entered his windup. Everyone in the stands knew it was coming. Everyone in both dugouts knew it was coming. Everyone watching at home knew it was coming. The closer was going to throw his out pitch. Even Wily Mo Pena knew it, but he seemed resigned to his place in Philadelphia sports lore, as the man frozen by the pitch that melted the heart of every person watching the game.
I watched that final pitch at least 30 times. I saw the players talk to various media outlets while showering each other with beer and champagne over and over again. I still canít get enough of it.
Of course, all of this is not because I watched this one game. The Philliesí season has been one of the wildest and roughest that I can remember.
The franchise set a record of futility with the 10,000th loss in its history.
A player set the single season record for strikeouts, and still finished second in the league in both home runs and runs batted in.
The left fielder that got booed on Opening Day turned in one of the most unexpected second-half performances in history and finally won back the fans.
A controversial statement way back in January proclaimed the Phillies to be ďthe team to beat in the NL East.Ē Nine months later, the man who said it stands as the favorite for Most Valuable Player.
Fans and media called for the termination of the manager, highlighted by a confrontation with a high-profile radio personality. In the end, all the players praised the coach and credited him for the entire season. He will likely win Manager of the Year honors.
Finally, down seven games to the mighty New York Mets with just 17 games to play, the season was finally written off for what seemed like the 100th time. But then something happened. Everything came together for the Phillies at the exact moment that everything fell apart for the Mets.
Jimmy Rollins is the MVP of this team and of the league. Ryan Howard maintained his status as a premiere slugger. Chase Utley solidified his place as the best second baseman in the game. Pat Burrell carried the team through most of July and August. Cole Hamels showed that he is an elite starter in the big leagues. Myers selflessly entered the bullpen at the request of the coaching staff.
And then thereís Charlie Manuel. The skipper could have folded at any moment, but stood strong and led his team to the playoffs. But most importantly, this team came together and pulled off the biggest September comeback in history.
The Phillies donít have a cute gimmick to represent the franchiseís futility. Thereís no Bambino, thereís no goat, thereís no Bartman. Thereís no curse or blame assigned to one player. All they have are the fans. The fans that remember all the collapses, all the close calls, all the misfortunes. The fans that have stuck with the team through all the tough times. The fans that sold out standing-room-only tickets in 20 minutes. The fans that watched with tears in their eyes and smiles on their lips, for two hours.
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