I bet you can remember your first kiss. It’s likely that you can remember your first car. And I’m sure you can remember your first drink, right? …right?
How about that second kiss? What car did you drive after your first lemon? And after that first drink, well, it’s all down hill from there.
The point is familiarity begins to set in. That first kiss created a feeling unlike anything you had ever felt before. The first time you revved your engine etched a memory forever in your consciousness. And the first drink, actually, never mind.
And that’s where the Phillies find themselves today. The day after clinching their second World Series appearance in as many years, the team unquestionably feels different than they did at this time last year.
They are undoubtedly mindful at the opportunity before them, thankful for the success they’ve already achieved, and hopeful about finding similar successes for years to come.
But for the players, coaches, and fans of this Phillies team, this is not 2008. The jubilation of last year will be hard to match. Ever.
To many, it was the first season in their lifetime that ever ended with their team walking off the field a champion.
To many, it was the culmination of decades of fan-ship without ever reaching the ultimate pinnacle.
It was the validation of their passion after thousands of hours watching, countless dollars spent, weeks of sleepless nights, and far too many of those drinks that make you forget about the hopeless futility of your team.
But last October it all seemed so worth it. The way you felt after Carlos Ruiz squeezed his glove for one final out, the emotions that ran through your veins when Brad Lidge fell to his knees as a champion, the thoughts that raced through your head as you realized the far-reaching implications of what had just transpired—all of it, every bit of it, was what you waited for.
That night, you were no longer a loser. You had climbed every seemingly insurmountable mountain right there with your team.
Your buddy from New York could no longer persecute you. Your cousin from Massachusetts would finally have to keep his mouth shut. Now it was your turn to brag. Finally.
So when Ronnie Belliard’s pop-fly landed softly into Shane Victorino’s glove last night, don’t fret if you didn’t quite get the same feeling as last year. It doesn’t mean you’re any less a fan, or even any less excited.
It is simply impossible to duplicate such a new, unique feeling. It was an emotional high many diehards have never, ever felt.
We may get to that emotional level again, but not this quickly, not this year.
This year we are all victims of expectations. Last year’s championship validated these Phillies. It reassured us of their place as a juggernaut in this league.
So what made last year so much different? Why did last year seem to occupy every waking thought we had for one, fast-paced month?
Because last year carried the element of surprise. Perhaps we all knew this team had the capability to achieve such success, but being a fan so long has trained all of us to temper expectations.
You see, we fans have gotten so used to having our hearts ripped out, that it was foolish to put your faith in any team that called Philadelphia home.
Volcanic explosions are so violent when they burst because of the years of pressure building up inside them. They simmer. They wait. And then finally, in one magnificent feat of Mother Nature, they burst.
Last year, Philadelphia burst.
And when that most glorious ring was finally presented to all the players and coaches this past April, it officially closed the book on one of the finest professional athletic achievements to ever grace The City of Brotherly Love.
We all felt like we owned a little piece of each ring. That our initials were also engraved in that fleeting piece of jewelry.
So now is the second time around. This feels like a second kiss. The second car, the next in a long line of drinks. We know how to react this time around. We know what to expect. We know how it felt.
This feeling of superiority is rare for the Philadelphia fan. So take solace in the fact that we are the first set of Phillies fans to ever witness this type of sustained success. Feel thankful that this organization is firing on all cylinders, and is set up perfectly to do so for a very long time.
But do not be disappointed if you don’t quite feel the same excitement as last year. It’s not possible. It’s not coming.
Rather, cheer on your beloved Phillies as they take another step towards becoming one of the most successful franchises in American sports this decade. Watch anxiously as this team comprised of pure grit and talent closes in on dynastic status.
But most importantly, get used to this feeling of success, because the end is nowhere in sight.
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