Friday, October 31, 2008

Extra: WE DID IT!!!

Oh my gosh, my Phillies pulled it off! They are the 2008 World Series Champions! Their first championship in 28 years, and their second ever in their 120-plus year history. How sweet it is! It's also the first by any Philly pro sports team in 25 years (unless you count arena football). I'm really happy for that whole team, who seem like a great bunch of guys who really work together as a team. Despite their problems getting runners on base home, despite some early offensive slumps by guys like Burrell and Howard, they put it together with great pitching, timely home runs, and eventually, clutch hitting.
And Charlie Manuel just out-coached Joe Maddon. When Charlie opens his mouth, he’ll never be mistaken for a college professor, but he’s a baseball lifer (46 years in the business), he knows the game inside-out, his players would take a bullet for him, and right now, he seems like the smartest guy in the world.

Some of the great stories of the series:
1. Former Phillie and baseball great Jim Thome visiting Manuel , with whom he has a “father-son” relationship.

2. Country superstar Tim McGraw spreading the ashes of his dad, pitching legend Tug McGraw, on the pitcher’s mound before Game 3.

3. Ryan Howard’s bat finally coming alive.

4. Cole Hamels continuing his undefeated post-season streak.

5. Brad Lidge: unbeatable and perfect.

6. Chase Utley’s brilliant throw to home in Game 5, saving the win and possibly the series.

7. 45-year-old Jamie Moyer tossing a gem in Game 3 and coming full circle from young Phillies fan attending their last victory parade in 1980, to being in the parade himself in 2008.

On the down side:

1. Game 4, the longest rain delay in history (46 hours). In retrospect, the game should never have started that night, and at the very least it should have been halted before the 6th inning. Those guys should not have been made to play baseball in those conditions. A bonehead move by the commissioner and the powers that be.

2. I'm so glad I don't have to hear four things on Fox Sports any more:
a. The Phillies' subpar stats with runners in scoring position,
b. "Feliz is in the lineup more for his glove than his bat" (I think his series-winning hit shut them up about that),
c. The “Rocky” theme played after every Phillies half of the inning, and most of all:
d. The “curse of Billy Penn” and the 25-year championship drought!

3. Tampa Bay Rays, you guys are a talented bunch of young players, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from many of you in the future. But I’ve gotta tell you, you just might have the ugliest park in major league baseball.

4. And a big sarcastic "thank you" to those Phillies fans the other night who reinforced the stereotype of the Phillies fan - loud, drunken, obnoxious, profane, mercilessly insulting to anyone who's not a Phillies fan (including members of the Rays players' families in the stands during the Series), and disrespectful of public and private property (my friend's 78-year-old aunt's car was trashed, for example). You must have been very proud of looking like totally out-of-control morons on local and national TV. Thank you - it makes it that much harder for a sportsmanlike, respectful, law-abiding Phillies fan like me to get any respect elsewhere.

I think the fans redeemed themselves today, though, when some 1.5 million(!) of them converged on downtown Philly to see their champs parade down Broad Street to the stadium area. There were very few incidents and the weather was perfect. The only down side was that the public transit system (which the media encouraged everyone to take, rather than drive in) became a state of gridlock for hours. But the city and vicinity are in a state of euphoria right now, because as Queen sings, “We are the Champions”!

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