Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thank you, Phillies

I'm not going to rehash what went wrong, criticize any players or second guess moves that were made. That's not for today, it's simply too soon. The sting of last night's loss is too fresh, the end too recent to step back and honestly evaluate what just happened. There will be a time and place to do so and I'll be first in line when that time comes.

For now though, there is another message I want to share:

Thank you, Phillies.

You've changed the sporting landscape in this city in a way I'm not sure you fully understand yet. Trust me, coming from a previously jaded Philadelphia fan, we're all better for what you've given us regardless of last night's outcome.

Years ago, hell just last year, winning was never an option for us fans. Sure, we occasionally tasted of victory, but those tastes were quick and always ended bitterly. We had the 1993 World Series, the 1997 Stanley Cup, the 2001 NBA Finals and, of course, this. But each ended in crushing defeat, futher damaging the psyche of a once proud sports town.

It had become quite apparent that losing was what we did best. 10,000 losses. Ronde Barber. Scott Stevens. Videos like this. We wondered, as a collective group, what we had done to deserve the torture of 25 years, 100 seasons, without a championship.

Then came the 2008 Phillies. Seemingly out of nowhere they stormed through September and October, beating anyone in their path. They galvanized the city and "Red October" was born. And unlike the teams that came before them those previous 25 years, they won.

Suddenly, everything changed. We weren't so bitter anymore. Yes, we were still just as passionate and rabid as ever, but we didn't expect to lose now. No, we now expected to win.

That expectation carried all the way up until last night's game. I expected the Phillies to win, because that is what they made me believe. They had given me no reason, over the last two years, to think they weren't going to pull through in a big game. That's a great feeling for a sports fan to have.

Sure, they fell short and boy does that friggin blow. This one hurts and it's going to hurt for a long, long time. But they've changed me, they've changed all of us, forever. We're winners now, something we couldn't say before.

After the game last night, as I turned off the TV, I realized that I already miss this team. I'll miss not turning on a game tonight. I'll miss that there isn't a Phillies-Mets series coming up this weekend or an double-header with the Marlins on Sunday. I'll miss Section 204, Row 2, Seat 1. I'll miss Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee. I'll miss Charlie Manuel, Rauuuuul chants and Senior Octubre. I'll miss dollar dog days, tailgates and white towels.

But most of all, I'll miss watching a winner, a championship team, every night.

And for that, I'm forever thankful.

Thank you, Phillies. Thank you for everything you've given me [us].

Let's take back what's year.

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