They just go home. They leave early and fight traffic. They put the crippling defeats out of their minds by skipping work to play in the sun. They just forget about it as they frolic in the grass with cool drinks and lots of pretty friends.
Loss? Nah, they don’t deal with it at all in Los Angeles. Who has the time?
In Philadelphia we know loss all too well. It’s in our DNA. It’s intense… no wait, that’s wrong. It’s intensity.
Each morning we all wake up before the dawn just as the rage has regrouped so we can wipe the bitter-tasting bile that has encrusted the corners of our mouths with the outer black sleeve of our spittle-coated MotorHead t-shirts. Then we drag our sorry asses off the couch where we collapsed just 45 minutes earlier and instinctively thrust a middle finger at the rest of the world.
The day begins in Philadelphia. The fury must be unleashed. We lose again.
But there is always a fleeting moment – one that usually occurs in the time it takes to get from one knee to a standing position after unfolding oneself from the couch – when stock is taken. A moment, as fast as a flap of a hummingbird’s wing, enters our twisted and angry heads:
World weary. Saddened by my years on the road. Seen a lot. Done a lot. Loss? Yeah, I know loss. I know loss with its friends sorrow, fury and death. Yes, loss and me are like this… we’re partners as we walk on the dusty trail of life.
But something happened in Los Angeles. Beneath that tiney, porcupine-like exterior, glimpses into our souls were exposed. There was warmth, fear, insecurity…
Yes, victory. The Phillies are going to the World Series. They will play these games in the prime of the night beginning on Wednesday in a city like Tampa or Boston – places that it’s easy to look down at our sad, wretched lives of angry and failed dreams. In Boston and/or Tampa, with their white, sandy beaches, gourmet restaurants, unimpeded gentrification, high-brow universities and sunshiny skies not all that different than in Los Angeles where for 364 days God gives them the gift of perfect weather and climate. That 365th day it might get cloudy.
So when we show up to these cities en masse to watch the local nine fight for our civic pride, they see us coming. We stick out with that crippled walk of defeat, clenched jaws of stress and disgust, fists balled up and middle fingers erect. When we take the exit ramp off the boulevard of broken dreams to enter these happy, little towns, the local authorities are ready. They’ve been tipped off ahead of time and are prepared to set up a dragnet at a moment’s notice.
But what hurts worse isn’t the condescending attitudes or the arrogance in which those people flit through life so carefree and cheery. That we can handle just fine with our jealousy and resentment, thank you very much. No, instead we’re put off by words and hackery. Our dander rises with mockery and stereotypes.
Hey, we know who we are and we accept what others might think and believe, too. We’re cool with it – it doesn’t define us, but sure, if folks want to take the easy way out who are we to blame them? But the insulting part is that they just don’t even try any more.
Boo Santa. Cheer injuries. Snowballs at the Cowboys. Batteries for J.D. Drew. Cheesesteaks. Cracked bells. Anger and passion. Rocky Balboa.
C’mon man, doesn’t anybody want to work anymore? Doesn’t anyone want to learn the truth? Isn’t anyone tired of the hypocrisy and the complacency?
Worse, with some folks from our town now coming to grips with the prospect of winning, they just might attempt to hack it up and fire back at the places that scorn us with their cheap, tired newspaper stories. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, the city rip is OK, just like that inanity of politicians betting cheesesteaks against lobsters based on the outcome of a game.
Can we stop this before it starts? Do we owe the citizens of the Tampa Bay area a rip job just because of the notion that the sports team that represents them might beat the one that represents us? Do we have to generate some faux anger with the folks of New England who follow a baseball team that plays in an outdated stadium with high-priced talent?
I have a better idea…
Let’s stop it before it starts. Let’s be better for a change. Let’s act like true winners now that it just might fit us for a change. Let’s not be like Tampa or Boston or Los Angeles.
Let’s just be a town with a winning baseball team trying to win the World Series.
"Winning is hard. Nothing about winning comes easy," Charlie Manuel said. "... believe me, there's a price you pay for winning, too."
That price can sometimes mean dignity, self-respect and the ability to think clearly.
Just because we’re good for once doesn’t mean we get to hack it up, too. Let’s stay good.
While we’re talking the World Series, here are some facts and figures about the Phillies courtesy of CSN producer, Neal Slotkin:
Making sixth World Series appearance in franchise history – first since 1993
Phillies now 4-0 in NLCS closeout games
0-4 vs teams currently in AL East :
IF TB wins, Phillies will have played all 5 current teams from the AL East in a World Series:
1915 – lost to Red Sox 4-1
1950 – lost to Yankees 4-0
1983 – lost to Orioles 4-1
1993 – lost to Blue Jays 4-2
If TB wins: Phillies 5-10 all-time vs Tampa (2-4 at Tropicana Field)
World Series Experience: (5 players – 3 hitters, 2 pitchers)
So Taguchi: 3-15 (.200 BA, 1 RBI) – Only Phillie with a World Series hit
Eric Bruntlett: appeared in 2005 WS w/HOU, never batted
Pedro Feliz: 0-5 in 3 games with Giants in 2002
Brad Lidge: 0-2, 4.91 ERA in 3 games (3.2 IP) with HOU in 2005
Allowed 4 hits, 2 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 6 K
Scott Eyre: 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 3 games for Giants in 2002 Allowed 5 hits, 1 R, 0 ER in 3 IP, 1 BB, 2 K
Other Player Notes
Cole Hamels: 6th Youngest starter to win LCS Clinching game Becomes fourth Phillies player named NLCS MVP:
Cole Hamels – 2008
Curt Schilling – 1993
Gary Matthews – 1983
Manny Trillo - 1980
3-0 this postseason, 3 playoff wins is 2nd in franchise history (Carlton 6)
Jimmy Rollins: 3 career leadoff homers in postseason, most all-time Only player in MLB history with 2 leadoff home runs in same postseason NLCS: .143 BA (3-21), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 8 K
Jayson Werth: 13 K – most among any player in 2008 playoffs (Rollins tied for 2nd with 4 other players with 10)
Shane Victorino: Leads all players with 13 postseason RBIs