I spent all of last night partying with the neighbors, celebrating the first major sports championship in Philadelphia in 25 years. Of course those of us who are real sports fans here count the Villanova National Championship in '85 against Georgetown a major sports championship, but whatever.
This 3 1/2 inning game was very wierd indeed. A lot of friends went out to bars or parties, but all of my neighbors decided to watch in solitaire, in our own homes, with the wives and children.
I spent the whole game IM'ing Carson via blackberry. My man was killing me over the sixers who moved their game up to 6:30 so that everyone could watch the Phils. He was in a pub that wasn't showing the World Series. After all he is in Canada, so it was Basketball and Hockey for the patrons that night.
I was live blogging for Carson, and I can only gather he was giving the verbal updates to the other people at the bar. I think they had a pool league or something and he was filling in. Now, I only mention this because it helped ME through the game.
After all of the circumstances leading up to the resumption of this game, no one really knew what to expect. Manuel had announced that he was going with Madson, and Madden didn't elude to who he was going to put up there. With only three and a half innings to play, where the Phils had 12 outs, and the Rays had 9 outs, there was all sorts of questions as to what would happen, and how it would be handled.
Now, if you haven't seen the game, watch the highlights on sportscenter. This 3 1/2 inning game really had everything. A lead, a tie, a homer, unbelievable plays from both sides, and some pretty sick pitching.
Before I talk about the celebration I want to highlight some of the plays and a couple of the players. I know Hamels won the MVP, and he was lights out for us in the post season, and the regular season for that matter. But Utley has to be given some consideration.
His play exemplifies someone who just goes out and gets it done. A taleted, intelligent player who kows nothing of the word quit. He made two plays last night that were crucial. The first was the play at the plate to get Bartlett out. Bartlett was on second and Iwamura hit one up the middle. Utley was playing towards first but dug it out and scooped up the ball towards second base. He faked the throw to first and fired home to Ruiz who had Bartlett by at least two steps.
This would have been a lead changing run for the Rays, and who knows what would have happened after that. The momentum would have changed drastically in the Rays favor, and after that, well, there is no telling how their hitters would have responded. By "stealing" that run from them like that, I am of the belief that it totally took the wind out of their sails. Which was pretty full at that point having tied the game with a Baldelli homerun and a single by Bartlett.
Iwamura also made a pretty super sick play in the next inning when he too scooped up an up the middle shot and got the force out on second with a man on. It was a hard fought game, and it seemed as if we just had the juice to get it done.
I also want to point out Burrell. He was 0-13 for the World Series. Fox put up a stat that had stated that 31 players have gone hitless with more than 10 at bats during the World series as he had come up to bat. At this point the score was tied 3-3. I had stated on Hoy's blog that Burrell would be a hero tonight. He got ahold of a pitch that screamed to left center. One of his tradmark monster super high shots that usually get out by 50-100ft. But his was hit right in the "gulph stream" and seemed to want to never come down. When it did come down it was about 6 inches short of getting over the fence. The wind had knocked it down, and it landed about 6 inches shy of the top of the wall. It bounced off the wall and gave him a double. No wind and he is that Hero that I predicted he would be. Burrell has lost a lot in the last three years, but he has always been one of the guys that fans have appreciated. He has the longest tenure on the team being brought up in May of 2000, and the fans have had a love hate relationship with him. Anyway, they pinch run him, and bruntlett comes in to score two batters later for the winning run. When it mattered the most, Burrell got it done.
With two outs, and a man on I was texting Carson the pitch count. 0-1. 0-2. Then the third and final pitch. My wife and 10 year old daughter were on the couch with me. I was on the floor, on hands and knees watching this. The wife was giving strict instructions not to freak out as she didn't want me waking up the other 3 kids.
Lidge threw that slider of his to the left hander and he swung without contact. I jumped up and ran outside, hands in the air screaming, looking across and down the street. I saw a neighbor coming out of every front door doing the same thing like we were all thoroughbreads coming out of the gates at the preakness. We all ran screaming, hootin' and hollarin' to the middle of the street. All jumping on each other like they did on the mound at Citizens Bank Park. Behind my house some others were setting off fireworks. Most were punching each other, some crying, some laughing, one guy going, WE WON!!! I CAN'T BELIEVE WE WON!!
I started gettting phone calls, and text messages from both brothers, my father, and friends. I went in and hugged the daughter (who said less than enthusiastically, "yeah yeah, good night dad"). The wife said to be quiet, congratulations, and have a good time. Just be quiet please (RAKE!).
I grabbed some champagne, and went back outside and we all just started popping corks, caps, and cans, and basking in what we have all waited for, for a very long time.
We settled into the deck and just started reminiscing about that game, the series, the post season, the whole season, the players, the Mets (we all hate the mets), and how much fun it will be in 4 months when pitchers and catchers report once again. We talked about who wouldn't be back, who would get all jammed up in arbitration, who would or could we go an acquire.
Within 30 minutes of the celebrating, the discussion turned into, "what about next year"? See this is what its all about here. What about next year. Not that we have done it often, but we already want to know what the club is going to do for next year. Our eternal fight for a championship will never stop. It will never end. Even when we FINALLY get one, we want more. We want it all the time. We expect it. So the celebration will end officially on Friday at 5pm.
That is the scheduled end to the Parade in the city. And that is when we will start looking ahead to next year. We love this club, these players, the game. Philly fans are all about the game. The Marines have a code. It's Unit, Corps, God, Country. Here in Philadelphia Sports land, it's City, Club, Players, Division.
We will celebrate this championship. We will celebrate harder than most do. Because we feel we are part of it. We helped bring it here. We supported the team, and sure as shit helped them win a few that they normally would not have without us. We pushed individual players to play better. They have admitted as much. We scorn, demand, and compliment, and worship players for their play on the field, and not their star status. Everyone is treated equally.
I congratulate the team, the city, the players, and the fans for this accomplishment, which was never a certainty, at any time.
For now we focus on the Eagles, the Sixers, and the Flyers. This year so far we have two championships. The Soul ad the Phillies. As fans, our expectations of the others are the same. To do their best, as a team, as an organization, and as individuals. If that happens, good things should happen.
Until then, we will celebrate with the Phils, and congratulate them for their hard work, talent, and commitment to themselves, the organization, and the city.