The day we thought would never happen, happened.
After 28 years and one weather-lengthened week, the Phillies are World Series champions once again.
As the clock struck 10:00 on the East Coast, and the initial screams of disbelief subsided, my friend Matt uttered four profound words:
"I feel born again."
With one pitch, Brad Lidge completed his season-long masterpiece of perfection, and the Phillies won the 2008 World Series four games to one over the Tampa Bay Rays. With Eric Hinske's swing and miss, the levees holding back a quarter-century of tears, heartbreak, and frustration, came crumbling down. In one instant, a flood of emotion washed away the longest championship drought of any four-sport town. The man they call "Lights Out" ironically banished the shrouding darkness of 25 years.
Just over nine months from the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, an entire city was reborn.
Grown men and women of all ages were reduced to puddles, tears of unbridled, unparalleled joy streaming down their cheeks. Complete strangers were toasting and dancing and hugging in the streets. The weight, the burden, the misery of a hard-luck, hardcore sports town, was lifted in one spectacular moment, released in one uber-cathartic sigh, that none of us will ever forget.
For a terrific example, click here. Listen to that guy!
(Also enjoyable for the eruption is this one I found.)
And then the calls started coming in. Scott called me from the Upper West Side, screaming with cracks in his voice, "Did it really happen? Did it really happen??? I can't believe what I just saw!!!"
My boy Kevin, not one to be so outwardly emotional, called me from Seattle. I never heard the pitch of his voice so high in my life. "All of a sudden, I see the world differently," my choked-up friend said. "Perhaps there is a God after all."
My friend Jared sent me a text, on behalf of all of us under 30, saying, "We only had to wait our whole lives!"
Even my friend Mark, a (ahem) Yankees fan who had witnessed so much of my suffering, sent me a text saying: "this...changes...everything.....congrats."
And it does. It changes everything. Forever. Because now we have our stories. We have our "remember when" story, knowing exactly where we were, who we were with, and how we all reacted when Hinske swung and missed, when Lidge dropped to his knees and thanked the heavens, when Ryan Howard tackled Lidge and Ruiz to start the greatest pile-on this town has ever seen.
And maybe I'm alone on this one--or maybe I'm not--but I just knew it was going to happen. Somehow, deep down in my soul, something about Wednesday just felt different. While many of us were fuming at Bud Selig's suspension of Game 5 (and understandably so), dreading a typical Philadelphian reversal of fortune, I experienced a bizarre sense of calm that is and will remain completely beyond explanation. Maybe it was the sense of, "We've waited 28 years. What's two more days?" Maybe it was Penn State winning in Columbus for the first time in 30 years the Saturday before. Maybe it was the Phils and Eagles winning on the same day for the first time this year. Maybe, like Matt says, it was when we were able to take that obnoxious "saved by zero" commercial and make it into dance party music. I don't know. But I just knew it. That's all I've got for you.
And I was right. There were moments in this game that would have spelled doom for other Philly teams, where you know you were waiting for the worst to happen. In the ninth when Ben Zobrist hit a liner to right that looked like a hit. Instead it hung up just enough for Werth to make the catch. When Hinske came to the plate and you remembered that the only other at-bat the guy had he hit one that still hasn't landed, you feared the worst. And in the top of the 7th when it looked like the Rays were about to squeeze home a run that would have given them the lead, Chase Utley did it again with his fielding. He faked the throw to first, gunned it home, and Ruiz laid the most important tag in Phillies history on Jason Bartlett, right on the cheek, prompting yells of "IN DE FACE!" like Akeem from Coming to America. After the game, it occurred to me just how fitting that was. For all of the pundits, the experts, the naysayers, the haters, this Phillies team tagged them all out, right in the face.
And every ten minutes or so, I remind myself of the miracle we witnessed Wednesday night, and nothing can bother me.
Matt's mother Bess is often quoted saying, "Yestahday was yestahday. Today is today."
Today is redemption. Today is the rebirth of Philadelphians wherever they are. Today is the day where we can finally say what we've always wished we could: The Phillies are World Series Champions.
Today is a beautiful day.
When the Phils signed Geoff Jenkins in the off-season, before I really knew much of anything about him, I loved it. I've been calling him Leroy all season, and laughing to myself. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this. I promise you it's worth it.
In honor of the magical week that was, in lieu of asinine commercials, I'd like to give honorable mention to some commercials that make me laugh.
One is the T-Mobile commercial where the father comes home to announce the new family calling plan he signed them up for. The little boy says, "And you can call that lady at my soccer games you always stare at." The daughter says, "And I can call Derek." The father says, "Derek with the moustache and the Mustang, Derek?" "Yeah." "Yeah...no. It's weird, there's a no-Dereks-with-moustaches clause, it's in the fine print. Oh, what a drag, dude." Very funny.
Another T-Mobile one I like is with the younger brother who picks the same Fave Five as his sister, saying "Your friends are HOT." When she asks her father, "Are you gonna do anything?" he replies, "Maybe you should have uglier friends."
Also funny is the Domino's commercial for their new oven-toasted sandwiches (a novel idea!). The sub store employee has the Domino's guy leave the sandwich around the side of the building. I'm telling you, all week I've been going around saying, "But I love Submart!"
Lastly, a shout to my boy and hardcore Philly fan Adam "Shappy" Shapiro, whose latest ad is for Oberto beef jerky, and is very funny. (He's the one on the right.)