Philadelphia championship drought update: It's been ZERO years, ZERO days, a little over two hours, since a Philadelphia team has won a championship in one of the four major sports. I don't know how we Philadelphians can stand this much longer. (At this point in this post I'm clicking on one of the various emoticons but it doesn't seem to be working. So, as you can imagine, the previous statement is quite facetious, or something.)
After a 25-year wait, compounded by an unprecedented two-day suspension, Philadelphia finally has a championship to celebrate. The Phillies won the World Series tonight.
I'm quite intoxicated, and extremely happy. We're finally having a parade!
There are two people I'm truly happy for (besides myself).
For one, Harry Kalas. He's been broadcasting games for the Phils since Veterans Stadium opened in 1971. But when the Phils finally reached the World Series in 1980, after a 30-year wait since their last Series appearance, he was out of work. MLB rules at that time dictated that, once the League Championship Series ended, the local broadcasters couldn't work any further. Exclusive rights were given to national TV and radio networks. Thus, when the Phillies won it all in 1980, the TV call came from Joe Garagiola on NBC, and the radio call was from Vin Scully, the longtime Dodgers broadcaster, working for CBS radio. I surely have nothing against Vin Scully. I gave his Dodgers broadcast the highest grade this summer in my reviews of baseball telecasts. But back then, it just wasn't the same without hearing Harry Kalas. Though Kalas eventually did a re-creation of the Series that was sold in local record stores, it just wasn't the same.
But the uproar from Phillies fans after the 1980 Series caused MLB to reconsider. After that, local announcers were allowed to broadcast the games locally on radio. So, tonight, Harry Kalas finally got to call a championship. For real, this time.
Then there's Jamie Moyer. He's a native of the Philadelphia area. He attended the parade celebrating the 1980 World Champion Phillies. Now he's a member of the Phils and gets to re-live that moment, except this time he'll be riding on one of the parade floats. When I signed up to play in the Phila. gay softball league this year, for the first time in over 20 years, I chose to wear Jamie Moyer's number 50 for my team this year. Okay, I have to admit that my first choice was number 26 (Chase Utley's number) but someone on my team already had that. So I chose the number of the oldest player currently in the majors because, for the first time ever, I am older than every major league player. Little did I know at the time that Moyer would win 16 games during the season, and then -- after struggling during his NLDS and NLCS starts -- come through with an impressive effort in game 3 of the World Serires, helping his team to a 2-1 Series lead.
The next night, Joe Blanton not only pitched well, but homered -- the first pitcher to hit a homer in a World Series game since 1974. The Phils were just one win away. Then came the bizarre suspension caused by the sudden intensification of a storm off the coast, which caused heavy rain on Monday evening. There was a lot of speculation about how this suspension would affect the game. There were quite a few people who thought, after the Rays tied the game in the monsoon in the 6th inning on Monday, that this was a turning point to take away a championship that -- with Cole Hamels on the mound for the Phils -- seemed to be inevitable. But I decided to be optimistic.
I was at the Bike Stop, a gay bar here, on Monday night, hoping to be happily intoxicated and celebrating a championship, and I wanted to be with other people when that moment finally arrived. Then the rain stopped the game and screwed everything up.
I recalled the last two times I was at the Bike Stop during a crucial playoff game -- the Eagles' loss to Carolina in the NFC title game in January 2004, and the Eagles' loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl the following year. So, after the rain on Monday, I decided to stay home when the game resumed.
Also, I have a Phillies t-shirt, with the name and number 32 of Steve Carlton on the back, that I wore on Saturday and Sunday. Since the Phils won both games, I wore it again on Monday. Thanks to the extra day off after the rain, I was able to put it in the laundry and wear it again tonight. Superstitions -- gotta love them.
Tonight, the game resumed in the bottom of the 6th inning. Geoff Jenkins led off as a pinch-hitter for Cole Hamels. I feared that Charlie Manuel would send up Greg Dobbs at that point to pinch-hit, which likely would've brought a lefty pitcher in. Instead, he wisely sent Jenkins up to the plate. Grant Balfour, a right-handed pitcher who finished the 5th inning on Monday, stayed in the game to face Jenkins. Jenkins ripped a double to right-center. At that point, I knew the Phils would win.
Jenkins eventually scored on a single by Jayson Werth in that inning. Even though Tampa Bay tied the game in the top of the 7th on a homer by Rocco Baldelli, I knew the Phils would win. Sure enough, Pedro Feliz drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning. Brad Lidge, who went through the entire season without blowing a save opportunity, but was still thought of by many as a choker after he gave up a homer to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS, finished it off.
P.S. Yesterday I bought a bottle of rum, to mix with diet cola, because I wanted to have some alcohol to celebrate if and when the moment of joy finally came. So, just like my post after the 2007 NL East Division clincher, I am happly intoxicated. Woo-hoo!!!