Last week the lady behind the counter at Wawa told me people are always nice when the sun shines and the Phillies win.
Well, it’s a great time to work at Wawa.
And a perfect time to be a Phillies’ fan. I’ve only lived here a few years but I remember vividly the scorching summer day in 2007 when I walked into my sister’s house and announced, “I heard the Phils can sweep the Mets today and we have to be there.”
The eerie part was I don’t know where that came from. Sure I grew up in a household with a faith based strongly on sports, and my dad had a city league softball team for most of my youth, but something moved me that day. And when those words escaped from my mouth (without a few choice ones that come from the potty) I knew the Phillies had entered my soul.
Since then, my sister has supplied me with enough season tickets to make attending games a part-time job.
And she gave me my birthday present early. Yesterday I read my very own subscription of the Philadelphia Inquirer . How fitting that the front page was plastered with Jayson Werth, the man who earned a place in more of my posts than any other and was smeared across the blanket that wrapped around me in section 131 as the Phillies clinched the series.
And how fitting that, in my first very own Inquirer , I counted 12 pages of NLCS coverage. My only question is, is 12 pages enough?
The fact is it’s packed with so much team news and stats I’m going to change the name to The Phillie Inquirer .
As I read the pages, one thing became evident: Game Five proved that even if all we have left is the audacity to hope, it’s still hope.
For example, Cole Hamels squelched the life from the crowd by falling to 3-0 in the very first count but then earned a K. It was obvious the ace was in trouble when he’d thrown 75 pitches after only four innings, and I was about to kick his butt when he threw back-to-back changeups to Andre Ethier that stabbed me with déjà vu like that third consecutive changeup Manny Ramirez released into the seats in Game One.
But then he redeemed himself with a fastball followed by a strike three changeup. Sure he gave up three home runs on 94 pitches over only 4 1/3 innings, but all of it is such yesterday’s news that I can’t even find out what pitch he was throwing that didn’t work.
Poor Chase Utley was 0 for 4 with two backwards K’s, one forward one, and a ground out. As a mom my first instinct was to take his temperature. But the walk he drew tied the record of 25 consecutive times on base in the postseason and made it all better.
Jayson Werth-it had a postseason average below .080 when he stepped to the plate for the first time in Game Five but then hit a three-run home run with two outs on a full count. And just to prove it wasn’t a performance issue, he hit one out in the seventh. But as if we’re all Zen masters, his previous postseason shortcomings were forgotten faster than it takes Cialis to work.
Rocking Ryan Howard settled for a tie with Lou Gehrig for eight consecutive postseason RBI by failing to earn one on Wednesday, but that MVP award makes everything else a slow news day.
And don’t even get me started on the bullpen. Okay, you did. When No. 37 ran in from the bullpen, we didn’t know if it’d be "Disturbin Durbin" or the "Durbinator" throwing pitches. But not only did he earn the win, he got another nickname. A guy behind us called him, “Chad Lidge.”
Of course we were hoping the Chan Ho Park that earned a spot as a great long reliever in the regular season would step to the mound with that same dynamic style. But my husband calls him CHP for a reason—not for his initials, for his inconsistency. Well, “Can He Pitch,” bailed himself out of the eighth after giving up only one.
But when Mad Dog Madson started missing the strike zone like a bad skeeball game, could we continue to consider a six run lead a safety zone? Well, I have a holiday plate that has a piece of mistletoe and a sleigh bell painted just about the word, “Believe.” And it’s not just talking about Santa Claus.
Lights Out ran in from the bullpen to a different song Wednesday night—one that still sounds like it was sung by Metallica. And we all know Metallica is its own band, just like Lidge is his own man. He accepted responsibility for his shortcomings all season as well as remained humble with his achievements, but I don’t think I was the only one holding my breath in the ninth.
Again hope prevailed.
Late in the game, Charlie Manuel came to the mound to the lyrics from, “Dance Like a Freak,” and looked like one when he broke into a jog back to the dugout (losing all that weight didn’t make him light on his feet). But he addressed the crowd after the win like his tongue was on steroids. Charlie will tell you, baseball is a game of 27 outs and he plays every one of them.
So, hope that Game Five would finish with a 4-1 series win was evident even from the start. A spirit of celebration filled the stands before the first pitch was ever thrown, and even persisted through the noxious gas someone continued to pass in row 24. I considered it just another way people in the City of Brotherly Love like to share.
And could the city be witnessing the best Phillies team ever? Is it too early to say that Ruben Amaro, Jr. successfully expanded on the consistently winning picks of Pat Gillick to put the frosting on the 2008 World Series cake to create a Philadelphia phenomenon? Could our kids be watching a team so dominant that a new era of Philadelphia baseball has emerged?
We all know winning two straight pennants, earning unprecedented back-to-back World Series appearances, and setting the record of winning 16 of 20 NL postseason games takes time. It takes patience and time. It’s a primordial soup of recruiting, scouting, practicing, discussing, planning, managing, and luck. But really, it all comes down to executing.
Now we have seven days to savor the execution of this one. And seven days to discuss, debate, plan, pray, prepare, and predict.
But for a city that loves its sports, is seven days enough time?
I’ll let you know on Wednesday.
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