These Phillies, though — they were different. They were so much fun, whether it was Jimmy Rollins trash-talking the Mets, or Brett Myers punking Kyle Kendrick into thinking he’d been traded to Japan. (“Do they have good food?” bewildered Kyle appealed to reporters. Manuel told the press he’d have paid to extend the joke by flying the rookie pitcher to Tokyo: “That would have been the best.”) Dan Gross and Michael Klein kept us apprised of their whereabouts, and you know what? They weren’t eating at Le Bec. They were chomping crabs at DiNardo’s and cheesesteaks at Jim’s — just like us. Okay, they sometimes had the burger at Rouge. The point is, we saw them! They lived and walked among us! They even made crappy-ass commercials for local car dealers, like the ’64s used to do!
And more importantly, they won. In a summer that saw the world crumbling around us, in which the nation lost a quarter of its savings, and mighty investment banks poof-vanished, and auto manufacturers failed, and homes went into foreclosure, and thousands of us were out of work and out of luck, the Phils pulled through, and pulled us through, winning every which wonderful, magical against-the-odds way, whether it was Chase faking a throw or Brad staying perfect or Shane leaping to make that catch against the wall. And oh, the made-for-TV stories! Sellersville’s own Jamie Moyer, the oldest active player in the majors. Chris Coste, “The 33-Year-Old Rookie.” Myers, floundering and banished to Triple A, fighting his way back to relevancy. Forty-year-old Matt Stairs, playing for his 11th different major league team — and looking like the stout, cranky innkeeper in a Dickens novel — hitting the ball out of the park in the Championship series. We couldn’t get enough of them, whether they were boogeying with the Phanatic, or faux-pas-ing at their celebratory parade: World fucking champions!
They brought it back the next season, too. Okay, the Yankees took the Series, in the end. Big deal. Did they even have a victory parade? Who gives a damn about the Yankees, that Madonna-humping, steroid-slurping, $2,500-a-seat bunch of droids? You wanna talk dynasty? We’ll talk dynasty. We’ve still got Jimmy and Ryan and Chase and Raul and Carlos and Cole and Charlie, and now we’ve got Roy, too. And we are gonna whup your overpaid mercenary-soldier butts when October rolls around again. If you even make it that far. And if not you, then whatever team fate throws us up against.
That’s right. That’s Philadelphia talkin’. Doubt-driven, Quaker-constricted, stuck-between-NYC-and-D.C., hasn’t-been-relevant-since-guys-wore-breeches Phil-a-del-phia, smacking right back atcha. The Phillies made us winners — and we made them winners. (Is there any fan base in the nation so convinced of its ability to sway the outcome of games by faith alone?) So — batter up! Throw that first pitch! Ryan, for God’s sake, don’t overthink it!
You know what? We really love this team.