I never quite understood the championship hangover. What could get a player more pumped then to return to the field for the first time as a defending champion? What could distract a professional athlete from repeating what has already been done, especially when what was accomplished felt so good?
But now I get it.
As the Phillies players tried to turn their attention to their "title offense," fans, media, the promotions department, and even the President of the United States beckoned them to reminisce just a little longer.
The thrill of a championship cannot be explained. I experienced my first such thrill last October, in what has easily become one of the most memorable days of my life.
Nobody wants to lose that high. Nobody wants to move on. The Phillies took this city on a magical ride for the entire month of October, ending with a parade for the ages.
But as the new season drew closer, distractions abounded. Pat Burrell made his return to Philadelphia in something other than red pinstripes. Opening Night carried unachievable expectations. The Phillies' new duds sported the World Champions patch. And the ring ceremony was supposed to bring last year full circle.
Finally, some closure. Finally, the players and coaches had what they worked so hard to achieve. Now it was time to move on. Now it was time to forget the ghosts of championship past and focus on the task at hand.
But not before the President got in on the fun.
These constant reminders of last season make it all the more difficult to focus on the now. Now the team is 1-2, after looking completely uninspired for the first 24 innings of the season. Now the team faces questions about their lineup. Now the team faces questions about their ace.
So now I understand the hangover.
Now I understand why it is so difficult to refocus, readjust, and repeat.
But now is the time to move forward. It's time to turn the page. 2008 will never be forgotten, but now is the time to move on.
Can someone get these Phils some Advil?