Friday, October 31, 2008

Back to normal

I wore my Phils jersey to work on Thursday and kept my Nike Phils had on all day - flaunting our rarely-enforced dress policy.

While I hung out at home with my wife on Friday, we watched sporadic updates of the Phillies' parade on ESPNews.

Now, the parade and the speeches are over.

That means cynical Hustle returns. Enough of the sappiness.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Did it really happen? Honestly?

Did I really see Brad Lidge drop to his knees?

Did I really see a pile of celebration envelope him?

Did I really see Charlie Manuel hold up a World Series trophy?

Did I really see this when I turned the channel?


Yes I did. At least I think so.

Just the thought of the bottom of that pic - "Phillies defeat Rays, 4-3, win World Series" seems incomprehensible. Each time, each time I think of the momentousness of it, and what it means to so many people who mean so much to me, I'm forced to wipe away a fresh wave of tears.

For the first time in my life - or at least since I've been old enough to remember such things - I'll go to bed knowing that one of the teams that I cheer for is a world champion.

Congratulations to our own Philadelphia Phillies, who brought joy to a city that had long since given up on it.

Utterly incomprehensible.

Yet I saw it. I know I did.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

(Photo by Reuters via Yahoo)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What the Phillies' run means to me

I've done a lot of bitching here. There's lots to complain about, at least from the perspective on the maroon La-Z-Boy.

Fundamentally, I like what I do for a living. I've seen a lot of things, been a lot of places and met a lot of people I would have otherwise never met or simply only dreamed of meeting. The downside, as we've talked about many times, is the loss of pure joy that sports once provided.

But, for the past few weeks, that joy has returned.

The Phillies are playing in October.

See, Philly's nine was the first team I ever loved. I can still picture the Mike Schmidt jersey pajamas I had as a little one; I always wondered why I never got to see them play in those jerseys, but that was back in the days when only road games were broadcast.

Schmitty was my first athletic hero, and the Phillies were the first pro team I ever saw play live.

I don't much remember their World Series trip in '80s; though through the highlights, I can picture Tug McGraw's iconic final strike.

I vaguely remember the '83 Series, when many of those same players from 1980 were older and wheezier. They lost that one to Baltimore.

A decade later, an equally wheezing lineup made it back, only to lose on Joe &$#!#@* Carter's homer.

Fifteen years later, after so many close calls - the Eagles' failed Super Bowl visit, a couple of Finals appearances by the Flyers and Sixers, all for naught - the Phillies are on the cusp of making it back.

It's 5-0 in Game 5 as I write this, though the Dodgers are threatening in the fifth. That's OK, because Los Angeles has a good team; to think that they're going to roll over in an elimination game is foolhardy.

Regardless of what happens, I'm going to be cheering the whole way.

And I haven't said that about any sports team in a long, long time.

Let's go Phillies.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Now this is how it should be...

Driving to an assignment tonight, generally miffed that I'm having to miss the Phillies game.

But the long drive was made imminently more enjoyable by the fact that, for the third inning, I was able to enjoy Vin Scully calling the game, thanks to XM. I'm even happy to overlook the fact that he called this guy by this guy's name.

That's OK. It's a pure pleasure to listen to Scully on the radio. During the regular season, he gives way in the third inning and moves over the TV booth. So after the third, I did likewise and switched over to the Phillies' feed - just in time to hear another legend, Harry Kalas.

I know some of our regulars are nowhere near a radio signal that would carry a Kalas broadcast. So go search YouTube (hell, just click the link, I did the legwork) and enjoy one of the smoothest voices of our time.

That is baseball as it should be.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Was anyone really surprised that neither of the VP candidates tripped?

Driving home from work, I heard Jeff Greenfield from CBS - a guy whose work I appreciate and a reporter I respect - talk about potential pratfalls leading into Thursday night's one-and-done vice presidential debate.

The key, Greenfield said, for Gov. Sarah Palin was to avoid coming off as clueless and out of the loop (that's my summary, not his exact words). Sen. Joe Biden could not afford any mean-spirited sarcasm or his occasional loose cannon-ness (again, my summary).

And he was absolutely right.

As it turned out, neither did.

I watched the debate with Greenfield's words in the back of my mind. And then it hit me: If he, a reporter, knew this, wouldn't it seem that the campaigns were aware of this as well?

Palin came off as in the know, though her continued unwillingness to expand on the topic at hand was annoying. Biden came off as a thoroughly respectable person, not one who reluctantly participated as if it were beneath him - though Palin was right in that Biden and Barack Obama seem more interested in badmouthing the Bush administration (which does deserve a fair amount of badmouthing) than showing us how they'd do it differently.

Which, I'm sure, is precisely what the campaigns wanted.

It's hard to imagine a scenario in which Palin, during debate prep, wasn't lectured over and over that she could ill afford to look squeamish or unprepared to answer. It's hard to imagine Biden, during debate prep, wasn't lectured over and over that he could not have a slip-up. As much as he may have wanted to, he simply could not blow his top.

It's like the venerable John Chaney used to say about his team: The guys he coached against were smart enough and their staffs were smart enough that they knew as much about his team he did. If his Owls couldn't rebound worth a damn, the opposition knew that. If they were turnover prone, those opponents would know that too.

If a guy like Greenfield knows these things about the candidates, you're damn tootin' the campaigns know it. Again, that's not a knock on Greenfield; but in the end, he's just a reporter.

The campaigns know better.

On Thursday, nothing was going to be left to chance.