August 24, 2019

Time for Phillies Fans to Root for the Yankees

October 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Was there ever any doubt? The Phillies just wrapped up a 162-game warm-up schedule and now their real season begins. Starting in April and running through the end of September it was merely an exercise in the inevitable. First place? Better be. Never a doubt. Their biggest competition was themselves. How many games over .500 could they make it to? How many games could they put between themselves and the Braves? How soon could they clinch everything that was clinch-able, winnable and doable? Could they win 100 before the Astros lost 100? Could they tie the franchise record of 101 wins, and could they pass it?

It was the Phillies playing the Phillies night after night stretched over an entire season and now all that matters is the 11 wins that they need to be world champions. They won 102 games, the most ever for an organization that played its first game in 1883. If they do not get 11 more wins it won’t matter, not in this city where teams are held to a higher standard and success is measured in celebratory parades. If you don’t win it all then you may have been better off not playing at all. Should the Phils not win more than 10 in October, right or wrong, they will be thought of as chokers, under-achievers and a team that let its rabid fan base down and could not deliver what is expected, or should I say demanded. Unfair? No such word in this town. Two hundred plus home sellouts, a starting staff for the ages and big-name position players means there is only one acceptable outcome. Now in the playoffs they play more than just against themselves and their opponents. They play against the suffocating pressure to win everything. The pressure has no heart or understanding; if they lose they get vilified by their fans and the media, they win and it is “they better have, they were the heavy favorites.”

As a fan you have to want more, though; push this team to their limits, see what they are made of. Wear your red, wave your rally towels, stay up late for every game and be a zombie at work over the next thirty days, cash in your kid’s 529 plan and get tickets for every round of the playoffs. Do it all, but you have to root for the Yankees, too. The Phillies need to face the Yankees in this World Series. The Philadelphia fans need the Yanks in the Series; I just don’t think the fans realize it yet.

Driving home today from work I was listening to sports talk radio and the host was saying how he hopes the Yankees lose to the Tigers in the ALDS and was telling everyone to root against them and how he never wants to see them win. Up until the season ended on Wednesday this line of thinking was okay, if you want to root against the Yanks and Red Sox not making the playoffs that is fine. When either team misses their October appointment, Phillies fans should take glee in seeing either come up short, but once the dance begins you gotta want one of them as your partner in the end. You NEED one of them as your partner in the end for validation, to cement your legacy as a champion. Now only the Yankees stand.

The Yankees swept the Phillies in 1950, and came here again in 2009 and smacked the Phillies around in their own house in claiming title number 27. The Phillies are relentless animals at home being fed by their frenzied 45,000 plus keepers. In October most teams come in and look like nine deer getting caught in the headlights, then getting run over and sent home for the winter. In 2009, though, the Yankees came to the Phils’ party at Citizens Bank Park where they took two of three, ate their food, kissed their women, used the facilities and never flushed, took all the host’s best liquor and went on home without saying good-bye. The Yankees don’t get caught in the headlights, they invented the headlights. Do Phillies fans hate the Yankees or are they scared of the Yankees and just hide behind their fear?

With a title this Phillies team will be the best one in franchise history. Some will say they are regardless of what happens in the playoffs which is ridiculous. I can buy this reasoning if you live in Seattle or San Diego where you are just happy to win a few games. If you live in Philly and think like that then you should seriously consider moving to a place where you get a pat on the rear end, a tussle of the hair and an “Atta-boy” for just showing up. You probably also just signed up to play little league for the participation trophy. In 2011 we are talking about cementing a historic legacy, one which may never be seen again in this town or lifetime. How many cities get the nod from the baseball gods, those that are unseen, that go beyond the field to make seasons unforgettable from an all-time great team perspective? Forget baseball. How many cities in any sport get this chance? And fans want to waste it on another series with the Rays whose home crowd has the capacity of a WNBA game? Why? Because they want the easy road or the team they can intimidate and win it against.

I am sorry, not me. This goes past winning to the places where some will never get to see or experience again. Where you can say I saw that team, or remember that game, and say with conviction when arguing for them that they were maybe one of the ten greatest teams of all time. Saying they beat the Yankees, no matter the year or circumstance, in a Fall Classic means there is no comeback answer, no counter argument, and no better opponent to hold up as the standard to match against all others. As a fan, now is the year to go all in. Didn’t want to play the BoSox in 2008 because you just wanted to experience a winner? Understood, but since then there have been 3 division titles, and an NL pennant and maybe another if Ryan Howard didn’t do his best Billy Penn statue impersonation for the final out in Game 6.

So when the kids are in bed and your wife is upstairs watching “The Real Housewives of Camden” sneak downstairs in the dark and turn on the TV. Find that Yankees game and flip it on, and in your lowest voice whisper…..”Let’s go Yankees” clap-clap-clap-clap-clap. Do not fear the road you need to travel to be among the greatest.

Pickoffs:

– October 3rd, marks the 60th anniversary of my single favorite moment in baseball history – The Shot Heard ‘Round the World. I love listening to Russ Hodges go ballistic, seeing grown men act like kids in celebrating a game and others dejected because it was anything but at that moment in time. If you want to read a great book full of details leading up to and following this event pick up “The Echoing Green” by Joshua Prager. Well worth a read.

– I have to give ESPN’s Baseball Tonight credit, they did a fantastic job on the new set design and I really like it. The old one was really dated and this one does a fine job of incorporating the ballpark theme. Now they just need some analysts.

– I caught a look at the 2012 Topps Heritage baseball cards which will be based on the 1963 Topps design. I’m a huge fan of the look.

– I grew up, and would say I still am, a Toronto Blue Jays fan. Frankly, I have had little to be excited about since 1993 (and yes I rooted for them to beat the Phillies) but in addition to all their young talent and stacked minor league system I saw a picture that Paul Lukas put out of their new retro logo design. It looks awesome as it draws from their original logo; I have not been this excited in a long time. I think they have had some of the worst logos for nearly the past 20 years and appreciate them tapping into the old school look they once had.

Matt Aber is a baseball enthusiast who hopes that all the time he has spent on LinkedIn will at least get him an interview for either the White Sox or Red Sox managerial position. Matt is an advocate of the national organization called The Miracle League which allows special needs children to play baseball. He encourages you to support this worthy cause and learn more at www.miracleleague.com.

www.miracleleague.com

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