Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Series

I've already explained that I'm rooting for the Phillies in the Series, and would have been even if the Sox made it too. The Phillies are my first team, and the only reason I became a Sox fan was because rooting for an American League team presented no conflict of interest (this, of course, was in the days before the novelty of interleague play).

Phillies fans have suffered as long and hard as have fans of any other professional sports franchise. Of the original teams in the National League, the Phillies have won the fewest World Series titles--just one, in 1980, their 97th season. The Phillies are the first team in any of the four so-called major sports to reach 10,000 losses, but nobody romanticizes the suffering of the Phillie fan the way they do for Cubs fans and, until 2004, Sox fans. The Phillies weren't lovable losers struggling admirably with curses of the Babe or a billygoat or any other forces that lend themselves to elegant writing in sports columns. They just sucked, for a really, really long time. It takes just as much character and commitment to stick with the Phillies as it does to stick with the Cubs and, until recently, the Sox, if not more. (Let's face it, Wrigley and Fenway make those commitments easier. Nobody's waxing poetic about Veterans Stadium.)

So I am rooting hard for my first love, and not because the Rays are the rotten swine who sent the Sox home for the winter. That's irrelevant. I'm rooting for the Phillies for all the times my parents treated my brother and me to a day at the Vet; for my first game, when my legs were sunburned as I sat with my father, watching Phil Niekro shut out the Phillies 4-0; and for the time my parents let me skip school to go to Opening Day with a friend. In those days you could bring coolers into the park, and our parents made sure we had enough rations to last 100 innings. I'm rooting for the Phils for all the memories I have of Philadelphia baseball.

Go Phils!

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