Oct 27, 2008

It's Time

I'm sitting here watching Game 5 of the World Series. My Philadelphia Phillies are currently leading the series 3 games to the Tampa Bay Rays' 1 game. If the Phillies win tonight, it will be only their second World Series Championship since their inception in 1883. Yes, this team, the Philadelphia Phillies, has been in one town, with one name for 125 years (a professional sports record, by the way)... with only one championship. As a matter of fact, Philadelphia, my professional sports city of choice (I grew up in Central New Jersey, in the Philly TV market), last won a championship in 1983 when the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Lakers. That is 25 years, and 100 seasons (Sixers, Flyers, Eagles and Phillies) without a championship.
Our teams have been to championships since... the most recent for each are the Eagles in 2004 (which I was at), the Sixers in 2001 (which I was at), the Flyers in 1997, and the Phillies in 1993.

But the Phillies are there now. They are winning in Game 5 right now, they have a real shot at stopping this streak right now. One game will mean so much to so many people.

It's about the Phillies right now, and being a Phillies fan. Everyone that knows me knows that I'm an enormous Philadelphia Eagles fan. I have season tickets, I also produce and co host the podcast, EaglesFanCast, with two very good friends. Yesterday I was at the Eagles game, and they beat the Atlanta Falcons in Philadelphia. It was a fun game, especially for the struggling Eagles team. But one thing that made being there even better was looking around the stadium and seeing so many red Phillies hats, shirts and jerseys. The fans of the Eagles and Phillies enjoyed the day to no end... and later that night the Phillies won Game 4 of the Series.

The Phillies won their first and only World Series in 1980... 28 years ago. They were in the Series last in 1993... 15 years ago. (I know, they were also in the Series in 1983, but I lump the time frame in with the 1980 time.)

I'm watching this appearance with completely different eyes than I did in the previous years mentioned. In 1980, I watched the Series with the eyes of an eleven year old, at home with my parents, and can remember it like it was yesterday. I remember Steve Carlton's pitching, Mike Schmidt's hit that knocked in two runs in the third, Pete Rose and that bobble-catch near the dugout, and Tug McGraw throwing that final pitch and throwing up his arms in victory. I remember the players meeting Tug in front of the mound and Schmitty leaping atop the celebrating group. One of the coolest parts of a young boy's life was watching that TV that night. Watching and feeling what it meant to be a Phillies fan, and a winner.

Then in 1993, I watched the final game of the World Series in a local bar among friends this time as a 24 year old single guy, with a job and unknown future. The team was a blast to watch, with Curt Schilling, John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, Dutch Daulton and of course, Mitch Williams. Ahh, Wild Thing, can't forget you.

Tonight, I watch the game as a 39 year old married father of two. My six year old daughter wanted to stay up and watch the game tonight. With another day of first grade tomorrow, being the responsible Dad, I had to say "No". It wasn't easy. I want her to see the thrill of a championship win. She's too young, though, and quite honestly doesn't really understand... yet. As for me, I realize that 28 years is a long time, and a lifetime to quite a number of my twitter friends. I remember that 1980 Series vividly, but those not much younger than me only know about the 1980 Phillies from articles and news video clips. Their Champion Phillies may be, ahem, WILL be, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, and many more. Mine will be as well, but, to me, they will not be as great as Schmidt, Rose, Carlton, McGraw, Bowa, Maddox, Luzinski and Boone. My first Phillies World Series championship was something extremely special. I hope that the 2008 Phillies become something extremely special to many more. These fans deserve it. This city and region deserve it. No matter how bad things have been over the years for each of the teams (and they have been REALLY bad at times), the fans have remained loyal and passionate. They want it for themselves, for the players, for the city and for each other. It's long overdue, and this team has what it takes to make it happen.

Three different stages of my life. Three different sets of eyes. It feels good. It feels like 1980 again. Go Phillies! We're ready for a parade!